So it turns out it wasn’t Ernie Merrick’s fault.
The Newcastle Jets faced Western United in Newcastle yesterday where the weather spiked as high as thirty nine degrees. Newcastle were dead last on the ladder, without a permanent coach, and arguably not a lot to play for. They got the early kick off, the free-to-air spot on tv, and two drinks breaks per half to try to make the game more playable… but it just wasn’t.
It started ominously for WU, with chief playmaker and general hype man Diamanti out injured. Lewis Italiano was still in goals for Newcastle, with Glen Moss’ calf tear forcing the first pick to announce that he’ll be retiring at the end of the season.
Newcastle’s first chance came a minute in with a Petratos corner finding Bobby Burns who shot it right past goal. Their next best chance was in the 17th minute, with Arroyo heading the ball clear over goal instead of into it. It was a tepid start from both teams but I can’t begrudge them that – it was too hot to do anything much less run around in direct sunlight for ninety minutes – so who am I to judge if a couple of shots go wide.
Western United were more measured. They missed having Diamanti running amok in the midfield and causing general mayhem. You know that game we played as kids? The floor is lava? Firstly, it holds up. Secondly, that seems to be what interim Newcastle coach Craig Deans had told Newcastle: “The goal is lava. Whatever you do, don’t touch it.”
So we got a mutiny of comedic chances from Newcastle – 26 of them – that went just shy or well out of goal. Petratos placed his corners well, but the Jets did nothing with them. Arroyo played in Ugarkovic a bunch of times for him to play himself right back out.
Western United, on the other hand, were wearing their party shirts and taking it laidback. They didn’t have to do a lot because Newcastle were doing it to themselves. Burgess and Berisha had their chances but with 30% of possession, they were few and far between – too far between to build any momentum. Defensively – well things are pretty dire when you can concede 26 good chances against you and rely solely on the football gods and the lava goals to keep them out.
Football is a terrible spectacle in high summer. It just is. It’s not as fun to play, it sucks to sit in direct sunlight to watch, and it translates terribly to television where even the commentary just can’t be arsed. I don’t have an answer that makes sense save for “football moratorium in January” (especially since technically last night’s game was in February) but it leaves everyone on a downer to see half-hearted football be the result of your natural survival instincts to just survive the heat.
In the end it was a 0-0 draw and a warm-up for the women’s game, where Newcastle beat Adelaide 2-0. Newcastle have the Mariners next week, and WU has the bye – and hopefully the rest of us get a cool ocean breeze to cool things down so we can see some goals. Just one goal. Just one would be good.
By Kelly Simpson