THE LOWEDOWN: True blast from the past

YOU may, dear reader, have to forgive my self-indulgence today, it's been a pretty emotional weekend.

The 35-year reunion of KB United on Friday afternoon brought back a host of memories, a flood of laughter and a tiny irritating reminder of our mortality but, most importantly, reaffirmed a sense of belonging and pride among the football community.

On my Sunday morning constitutional coast walk, it mattered not that grannies were striding past me on the steep climb to Strzelecki, and two or three of the attendees stopped and chatted briefly and were glowing in their appraisal of the afternoon and evening we had enjoyed.

Congratulations to Billy Pryce and his Men of Football team for providing such an occasion, and Steve Smyth and his team at the Duke of Wellington for the venue, ambience and service.

The function was beautifully overseen by guest MC Mark (Bozza) Bosnich, whose earnest and interesting interviews with past coaches Alan Vest, Ken Kaiser, Ray Baartz and Celtic legend Willie Wallace, were fascinating and fun.

He then took a turn at being the interviewee as yours truly had 15 minutes - which may have stretched to 30 - to probe the inner recesses of Bozza's mind.

What emerged was evidence of a steel trap memory, an enormous love and respect for the game, a vast reservoir of knowledge and humility, an honesty and candour often hidden or guarded by those in the public spotlight and, of course, that element of mischievous prankster that we get to see on various football shows.

It struck me that Bozza is in a real good space. The rookie interviewer meant to ask that as a final question and forgot, and he also failed to mention one other important fact.

In Newcastle, we admire a champion sportsman, but we love one who cuts to the chase, calls a spade a shovel and shows genuine passion, respect and humility at the same time.

If Bozza walked into the room as a famous former champion, he walked out with everyone's respect.

It's funny how some things change.

We were told Kenny Boden signed for a weekly $30 basic, $30 appearance money and $30 a win, back in 1978-79. Today, he would be a $300,000 a season man in the A-League.

Yet some things stay the same - Howie Tredinnick and Brett Cowburn's clothes, Michael Boogaard's moustache, Neal Endacott's boundless zest for life.

Oh, and there were the two "Fabios" of the early eighties - Craig Mason and his flatmate Gary Dooley - who whizzed around town in a green Triumph Stag during Mason's "Hazell" phase, calling on expert legal counsel in the shape of Peter Tredinnick, probably a QC by now, to decide who was wearing the trendiest, higher quality pair of shoes!

A couple of thorough professionals had to leave the gathering early, Phil Dando with his radio commitments and your columnist to blog the game for The Herald.

I am sure the stories got raunchier and the drinks flowed even more freely after the enforced departures, but what a bloody great day.

Getting back to the Jets-Brisbane clash on Friday night, and the brave and hardy fans who ventured to Hunter Stadium were served up a pretty decent game and contest, given the atrocious weather conditions.

It was a game that could have gone either way but, in fairness, Brisbane probably just shaded the contest and will feel slightly aggrieved that they had a good goal incorrectly disallowed for offside.

However, had Emile Heskey's lunging slide and shot gone in, rather than clipping the outside of the post in the first eight minutes, the match might have taken a different course.

What that result and a series of others on the weekend mean is that the log jam for fifth and sixth spots is almost unbelievably tighter than ever.

The Jets' mid-week clash, as we suspected it might be at the time the FFA rescheduled the fixture, could be absolutely pivotal to how the race for the finals plays out.

Wellington, who sit bottom of the league, could conceivably have 27 points by Sunday evening, given the Jets' poor record at the "Cake Tin", and the appalling away form of Melbourne Heart, who they play on Sunday.

If the Jets were to then lose to Melbourne Victory, and Perth beat Sydney FC in the west, then, depending on Brisbane's result in Adelaide, we would have two or three points between the fifth and last.

That's a lot of "ifs" Lowey, I hear you say, and certainly Gary van Egmond's men can jettison all of those calculations and gnawing doubts by taking three points tomorrow evening but, believe me, it is a distinct possibility.

Backing up for Sunday's game against the Victory at AAMI Park will be difficult, and there is a chance that Victory talisman Archie Thompson will return from injury for this game.

Perth were decent against the Wanderers, and will fancy their chances at home after beating the Mariners there 10 days ago, and given Sydney's poorest defensive record on the road.

Brisbane are still in the hunt, are only two points behind Sydney and the Jets and have a vastly superior goal difference. They will be hard to beat at Adelaide on Saturday.

The other game on the weekend is the low-key clash of the Mariners and the Western Sydney Wanderers at Gosford on Saturday night! The result in this one could well shape the destination of the Premiers Plate for season 2012-13.

What an intriguing week ahead.

PS: For those too young to remember, Hazell was a trendy young investigator in a 1980s' TV show set in London.

Emile Heskey during Friday night's game. Picture: Simone De Peak

Emile Heskey during Friday night's game. Picture: Simone De Peak


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