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Soup of This Day #33: Not Kewell Mate, Not Kewell At All

July 11, 2011

Atatürk Olimpiyat
Atatürk Olympic Stadium, site of the 2005 Champions League Final. It’s a glorious stadium, a large 1 – It would be easy to go missing in it. Just ask Harry Kewell – Photo: Myrat, 2010. Myrat is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about relationships going bad. As an example I talked about Dean Saunders joining Liverpool. I could also have talked about Harry Kewell. Harry was a genuine football superstar. He joined Leeds United at a young age and debuted for them in 1996. Over the next 7 seasons he proved to be a potent and creative attacking midfielder, driving down the right wing most often but capable of popping up all over the park.

And he was good.

He was allegedly the subject of a £25 million bid in 2000. In 2001 he helped Leeds to the semis of the Champions League. Unfortunately though, the club had reached this peak via a reckless spending policy and by 2002 they were selling off all and sundry in a bid to survive financially. Thus in 2003 they sold Kewell to Liverpool and man was I happy. The Socceroos star was coming to Anfield. How could it go wrong?

Well, there were warning signs. Harry often seemed to go missing in big games. His transfer to Liverpool was acrimonious at the Leeds end. It seemed that £2 million of the £7 million fee was going to his agent, Bernie Mandic. £2 million that could have made a world of difference to a struggling club like Leeds. He was inheriting #7, the shirt made famous by Keegan and Dalglish and those were big boots to fill. Last, at an interview post transfer he slagged off a bunch of Leeds officials, blaming them for his string of injuries.

This was all ok because Harry would silence the doubters on the pitch.

He didn’t.

Harry was ordinary for Liverpool. There were few good games and they were almost never crucial matches. There were a few goals, but hardly ever when Liverpool needed them most. There were more than a few injuries. And excuses.

Famously in the 2005 Champions League Final in Istanbul Kewell was substituted on 23mins with Liverpool a goal down. He had got the gig ahead of the more defensively minded Didi Hamann but his groin gave out. Shortly thereafter Liverpool conceded 2 more but thereafter, sans Kewell, they came back to record the win in the Miracle in Istanbul. In the 2006 FA Cup final he came off in the 48th minute, this time with abdominal pains and Liverpool again rallied for a win without him. In 2008, the club had had enough and he was shipped off to Turkish side Galatasaray.

At international level there is a similar tale of promise and injuries. He participated in failed campaigns for qualification for the 98 and 02 World Cups. In 2005 he was part of the Socceroos team that qualified for Australia’s first World Cup Finals tournament since 1974. In the 2006 World Cup in Germany he was overshadowed by Tim Cahill in the 1st game and then reported for verballing a ref in Australia’s 2nd outing. In the 3rd he scored Australia’s crucial equalizer against Croatia, a result that saw them qualify for the round of 16. He was then ruled out of Australia’s ultimately failed meeting with Italy with suspected gout.

Yes, I said gout.

It was later determined to be septic arthritis but seriously Harry?

Through all of this I hoped that Harry would rediscover that stellar Leeds form. That he would do something that could allow all of us to overlook the fact that he seemed like a fragile, self-centred arse. He never did. And now he’s finally snapped the last bonds of admiration that I had for him.

At the age of 33, now in the twilight of his career, he’s been offered a gig in Australia’s A League. It’s a chance to come home, play in front of local fans who have applauded him from afar, maybe build the profile of his sport in Australia.

The deal has fallen through. Because Football Federation Australia won’t accede to Bernie Mandic’s (Yep, still around) demands for Harry to get 30% of any away gate receipts over and above ‘normal attendance’. ‘Normal attendance’ is sans Harry. Or to put it another way, Harry is sans ‘normal’. So here now is an open letter to Harry from a guy who just wanted him to prove that he wasn’t a whiny, lazy jerk:

Dear Harry

Sod off. Don’t need you. Thanks anyway.


PS. Naming a DVD of yourself ‘Kewell World’ is just a little bit arrogant and dumb. If this wasn’t you and you hired someone else to name a DVD of you ‘Kewell World’ then you are an idiot sir.

It’s hard to imagine one of the Matildas stars putting out a self-promoting DVD. Which is a shame because they’re really quite good and would make better role models than Harry. For all that they were knocked out of the World Cup last night, going down 3-1 to the Swedish. Longworth72 favourite Elyse Perry, dual Australian international, got the only goal for the Matildas, who tried hard but just couldn’t get back from 2 early goals.

At least they weren’t in a bike race in France. The Tour last night saw carnage on a grand scale with 2 team leaders going home after a crash on a tricky descent. Belgian hope Jurgen van den Broeck and Kazakh nutjob Alexandr Vinokourov are both out. The former with a broken shoulder and the latter with a broken femur after he shot off into a tree below the road. Vino’s career is almost certainly over as this was to be his last Tour anyway. The man who was kicked off the 2007 Tour for blood doping probably won’t be missed. German veteran Andreas Kloden also went down and went to hospital post race for xrays of his back. He is the leading contender from Armstrong’s RadioShack outfit, particularly since Levi Leipheimer has been hammered by crashes of his own already this Tour.

The peloton sat up and waited for those of the fallen who could remount and ride on but this honourable gesture seemed a little foolish as the breakaway failed to provide the same courtesy, stretching out to almost 8mins clear. When the peloton shook off the malaise and agreed to get on with it they received unexpected assistance from a camera car which cut in on the breakaway, sending 2 riders flying, including one, Johnny Hoogerland, who was catapulted into a barbed wire fence. In the end the breakaway stayed clear gaining around 4min on the leading contenders and gifting the maillot jaune to Thomas Voeckler. Cadel Evans has dropped to 3rd, 2:26 adrift, however is still the leader amongst those likely to figure in Paris.

Of small note is that Alberto Contador took a tumble early in the day, possibly thanks to a little shove from Katusha’s Vladimir Karpets. The video is worth a look and Contador is now claiming that his knee is injured. Foxing or whining, I’m not really sure.

Mark Webber is definitely whining today and I reckon with good reason. Chasing teammate Sebastian Vettel hard for 2nd in the closing stages of the British GP at Silverstone last night, he was asked and then instructed by team management to leave Vettel in the clear. Team orders are now allowed in F1 but Red Bull must be pretty insecure if they think that 3 points is going to make a difference for a guy leading the standings by over 3 clear wins. Poor form for mine and a distinct sign of favouritism from the Austrian outfit.

Over at Hispania and there were no team orders for 1st timer Daniel Ricciardo. Mostly because he was last. He didn’t finish last as 5 other cars retired so a creditable 19th place and a full race under his belt. He will get better.

As will another rookie getting a start this morning. Kyle Weiland, a lanky right hander up from Pawtucket, was ok in the 1st but then got a welcome to the big time in the 2nd, conceding 6. He kept it scoreless thereafter although that wasn’t as long as he would have liked as he was ejected in the 5th for hitting an Orioles bat on the hand. Tito went with him for fun, which was mirrored by the O’s in the 6th when Michael Gonzalez came out of the birdpen to throw a pitch behind Ortiz. Gonzalez was subsequently given his marching orders and when Buck Showalter doth protested too much he was booted as well.

In the meantime the Sox bats rallied around Weiland, notching 2 in the 1st, Big Papi with a RBI single and Reddick with a sac fly. In the 2nd Scutaro and Pedroia with solo long shots and Youk with a generous 2 run blast tied the game back up. Thereafter a forced walk in the 4th scored 1 and an Ellsbury RBI single in the 7th were enough to see Boston home. Aceves, Bard and Paplebon shut the Orioles down and it finished 8-6.

So, heading into the All-Star break and the Red Sox with a 55 and 35 record and a 1 game lead over the Yankees in the AL East. Friday at the Rays down under the Tropicana dome. There’s the All-Star, but I figure I might use the break to chill a little myself. Tonight is also a Tour rest day and the first of the big mountain stages isn’t till Thursday. Freo isn’t up till the weekend and all is quiet for Liverpool on the transfer market.

All in all it’s a good time for a break from blogging. Partly because I’m tired but mostly because Wednesday marks my boy’s 3rd birthday. Happy Birthday Noah William Sirius – your dad thinks you’re one awesome little man, who’s worth all of the maillot jaunes and home runs in the world.

Lots of love chief.

Check the rest of you in 4 days or so.

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