St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Soccer St George's Park - ‘Played Football and Lost’
‘Played Football and Lost’

South Africa vs Australia - Third Test - Crusader Ground - July 8, 1950

AC Parker

“We won the first two Tests playing tripe. We played football in this one and lost.”
This was Springbok skipper Harry Naish’s terse, yet apt comment after Saturday’s third soccer Test.

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The line-up for the Australia vs South Africa international soccer match held at St George's Park.

He might have added that Australia took only two real chances that came their way, whereas the Springboks - with centre-forward Classens the culprit - missed at least three easy ones.

Much of the football, especially that served up by the Springboks, was really first-class ball-on-the-carpet, positional stuff with wing-halves and inside-men linking up in the best professional manner.

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I would go so far as to say that no South African soccer side I have seen equalled the display of Naish’s team for sheer science. Yet these Aussies are such splendid fighters that they never allowed themselves to be outplayed, though at no stage did they quite match South Africa in craft.

But it’s goals that count, and Frank Parsons got two “beauties.” Those who’ve seen most of the Aussie games say that Parsons improved 100 percent on his previous tour displays.

Some have been inclined to blame Klonner and Dow, the two wing-halves, for the Aussie forwards coming through in the second half. The fact is that Paton and Botha, the inside-men, didn’t come back far enough to assist them on defence at times, resulting in Klonner and Dow being overworked.

Botha and Paton were too intent on staying in the open space to pick up the loose balls, and they certainly did work the ball beautifully on occasions.

Where the Springbok defence could be faulted was the way in which they allowed the Aussie forwards’ positional switch to confuse them at a vital stage of the second half, when South Africa had already taken the lead.

Klonner and Mechanik were inclined to mark the man instead of the position.

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Johnny Classens, right, and Ray Botha leave the ground in this scene close to the Australian goal in Saturday's Test, while Aussie full-back, O'Neill, looks on.
In the last analysis, however, the Springboks lost the Test because Classens, unlike in the first two Tests, was out of touch. Three times the centre-forward was put clear of his “shadow,” Jack, by delightful chessboard inter-passing, but each time he failed with only that competent goalkeeper, Conquest, to beat.

Certainly the Springboks should have switched from the short passing to the more open game by way of variation. That far-flung pass from inside man to the opposite wing was sadly neglected, though Klonner - who had spells of brilliance - tried it in the first half by bringing Carr into the game.

Dow had his moments, but his distribution is faulty, and the thrustful Carr didn’t see nearly enough of the ball.

The outstanding figures of the match were Jack, Parsons and Johns (Australian) and Frew (South Africa). Jack was especially good in the air. But none of the 22 players failed to pull his weight, though I was far from impressed with the goalkeeping of Tyrell, who has still to acquire the art of “angling”.

Incidentally, Australia had 20 goal-kicks to South Africa’s five, and three corner-kicks to the Springboks’ 10.

In the opinion of Reg Wright and Erich Lichfield, two Rand critics, this was easily the most satisfying of the three Tests.

The “gate,” £1,700, will give the EPFA a profit of about £400, but the match deserved a bigger crowd.

Likely changes for the final Test at Cape Town on July 22 are: Credie (WP) in goal for Tyrell; Bunton (N Transvaal) at left-half for Dow; Botha and Paton back on the right-wing, and Butler (S Transvaal) coming in at inside-left.

Evening Post
July 10, 1950.

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