Mariners’ Master falls agonizingly short

He’s achieved more than most in the Australian game, and this weekend, Central Coast Mariners assistant coach Alex Tobin went within touching distance of adding a World Masters Games gold medal to his burgeoning trophy cabinet.

He-s achieved more than most in the Australian game, and this weekend, Central Coast Mariners assistant coach Alex Tobin went within touching distance of adding a World Masters Games gold medal to his burgeoning trophy cabinet.

Tobin linked with several members of the Olyroos side which competed at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul over the past week, to take part in the Over 35-s category at the games in Sydney.

After brushing aside all before them, including a team featuring former Japanese internationals, and an ABC Radio Sydney celebrity XI, the "Olderoos" finally met their match in the form of "Master Class", a team made up of some of New South Wales- leading over 35-s players, many boasting National Soccer League experience.

Despite losing the final 3-nil, Tobin says he and the rest of his teammates enjoyed a week to remember.

"(Former Socceroo) Jeff Olver put a lot of work in to get a lot of guys together, especially from interstate. There were a lot of guys from Victoria and a lot of guys from Queensland.

"It was originally going to be a 1988 Olympic Games reunion, and it was, but as it turned out I don-t think there were enough fit bodies, plus a lot of those guys have commitments, like Frank Farina, Robbie Slater and Graham Arnold.

"We had a few ring-ins along the way, one notable one was former test cricketer Gavin Robertson, and a few other former Socceroos like Kimon Taliadoros and Francis Awaritefe and guys like that all came in.

"It was a great experience, and great to get the boys all back on the park. A few are unfortunately not involved in football anymore so they probably haven-t had much of a run in the past ten years, and the effects of that were fairly dramatic in terms of injuries.

"We started with a squad of over 20 and ended up barely able to field a team, but that-s the nature of Masters Football, but it was all good fun," said Tobin.

As well as an opportunity to see if the requisite skills were still there, the week gave Tobin and the rest of his former teammates an invaluable opportunity to spend some quality time with those they share so much history with.

"A lot of guys haven-t seen each other much, getting this group together is quite rare, and a lot of guys were saying when we were getting team photos, make sure the photos last because this might not happen again, but I tend to think if someone organised it they-d all put their hand up to do it again.

"Most of us all managed to catch up to watch the (Australia vs.) Oman game which was pretty special, a group of old Socceroos getting together to watch the current Socceroos," said Tobin.

While many will be feeling the effects for weeks to come, and although the use of heat rubs, ice and painkillers could well be on the rise, this may not be the last time these forefathers of football in this country grace the same turf.

"It-d be nice if something like this rolled around again, there is a regular event on the Gold Coast and in four years time it-s in Turin, Italy which wouldn-t be a bad place to go, I think we-d all be eligible for the over 50-s by then!

"I wasn-t privy to all the nights out but there were some new stories created this week. It was great sitting around shring experieinces, and reminding us of some of the older ones, there were some Seoul (Olympic Games 1988) stories, which was 21 years ago now so that puts into perspective how old we-re all getting!" Tobin laughed.

Health, and an active lifestyle is often incongruous with an older population, but the World Masters Games is testament to the fact that ageing doesn-t necessarily mean an end to physical activity.

"The tournament was huge, and while I didn-t get to see much other than the football tournament, but speaking on behalf of that (Football NSW headquarters at) Parklea was packed every day, and for the final I probably had to park a mile and a half away from the ground because there was such a crowd. I-ve been to Parklea plenty of times and never seen it that full.

"The teams coming from overseas, Brazillian, Canadian and Japanese teams are all regulars, and while the Masters games thing is new to me, some people have probably done dozens of them.

"I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the age range is huge, I think there was a 100-year-old involved in the long jump and I heard on the radio this morning she wants to be there in Turin in four years.

"You-re never too old to compete and to stay active. It-s a great advertisement for good health in all age groups, everyone needs to keep active and I think a few of the ex-Socceroos would acknowledge they would have liked to keep their bodies a little bit more active after breaking down after two games, I think it-s a good message for everybody," Tobin said.

Tobin managed to juggle his participation in the 2009 World Masters Games with his Central Coast Mariners commitments, alongside Lawrie McKinna architecting the 3-nil victory over Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Tobin will again be by McKinna-s side when the Mariners take on Newcastle Jets this Friday, 23 October at EnergyAustralia Stadium. Kick-off is at 8pm.

The Mariners take on Adelaide United on Saturday, 31 October at Canberra Stadium. Kick-off is at 7:00pm. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now on sale by clicking here