Gavel / Hard work to kick summer goals

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I AM often wrong about these things, but next year’s Asian Soccer Cup and the Cricket World Cup are shaping as a tough sell to the Canberra market.

Tim Gavel.
Tim Gavel.
For a start: none of the games involve Australia; the timing for the Asian Cup isn’t great with most Canberrans down the coast when the seven games are scheduled during January; and some of the teams have little following in Canberra.

The Asian Cup has the potential to be one of the biggest sporting events Canberra has been involved in. Canberra Stadium will host six pool matches and a quarter final with the first game featuring Korea and Oman.

Canberra’s participation will start on January 10 and finish with the quarter final on January 23.

Manuka Oval will host three games in the Cricket World Cup starting with Bangladesh against Afghanistan on February 18, followed by the West Indies versus Zimbabwe and South Africa versus Ireland on March 3.

The marketing campaign for both events is in full swing with organisers doing all they can to get people in Canberra interested, with plenty of promotion and reasonable ticket prices.

Sometimes when the expectation isn’t great, as it may be for Bangladesh taking on Afghanistan in the cricket or UAE versus Qatar in the soccer, the experience turns out to be far more enjoyable. Let’s hope Canberra takes this on!

This was the case during events such as the 2003 Rugby World Cup where Australia wasn’t involved in games at Canberra Stadium but the crowds turned out to be part of the experience.

Canberra has shown that it will support major events in the past so the hope is that it will continue in January and February next year.

When Sheens faced the chop

TIM Sheens’ revelations that he faced the sack early in the 1989 season before the Raiders went on to win the Grand Final simply adds to the folklore surrounding Canberra’s first rugby league premiership.

As Tim explained, there was a faction on the board that didn’t want him as coach. Some on the board believed the 1988 season was a failure with the side eliminated by Balmain in the semi-finals after the Raiders had made the final the year before.

Some on the board told him that he only had five games to prove himself after the 1989 season started with a loss to the Sharks. Club founder, Les McIntyre, then stepped in and quashed any move to sack the coach and the team went on a winning run with Mal Meninga replacing Dean Lance as captain.

John McIntyre was the Raiders’ chief executive back in those days. He says some on the board wanted to pursue Warren Ryan or Brian Smith as a replacement for Sheens.

Ryan was still contracted to Balmain and McIntyre says he threatened to quit his post if Smith was appointed. It was a board room at times divided; yet when I was reporting on the Raiders’ at that time there were no leaks about the disharmony.

In fact, it has taken 25 years for this to be revealed. Perhaps some on the board wanted it to remain hidden given the Raiders’ premiership success in 1989, 1990 and 1991.

It is hard to imagine that such information could remain hidden in the current world of sport with everything in the public domain through social media and increased scrutiny. Yet it provides an interesting glimpse into the workings of a sporting organisation and history shows that the decision to keep Sheens was a good one.

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Tim Gavel
Journalist and ABC sports broadcaster

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