When supporters talk about hard men in the IGA NPL NSW Mens 1 Competition, one of the first players who comes to mind is Sydney Olympic midfielder, Marton Vass.
It’s a distinguished club to be a member of when you rattle off the names of such famous performers like , Nobby Stiles, Graeme Sounness,Vinnie Jones, Dave Mackay, Ron Harris, Billy Bremner, Stuart Pearce,Tommy Smith and Roy Keane in the British game while in Australia Jim Sambrook, Col Bennett, Murray Barnes , Steve O’Connor and Kevin Muscat also showed no fear or favour to their opponents.
“I do play hard but I do try to play fairly and when I was sent off against Bonnyrigg two weeks ago for a second bookable offence, I believe I was playing the ball”, says Vass.
“However, the referee saw differently and my season abruptly came to an end”, he adds.
“There was a lot of pressure on the squad after coaches Peter Tsekenis and Peter Papoythis and seven established players left the club,and as one of the senior players I was forced to shoulder a lot of responsibility with so many youngsters promoted to the team ”.
Ironically, it was the round 15 deferred match against Sydney United 58 FC which produced Vass’s greatest performance of the season but also was instrumental in United’s surge towards the Premiership.
Mark Rudan, the United coach, knew his players and had offered the big man a contract to play at Endensor Park in 2013.
“I decided to reject Rudan’s offer because I believed I had to show loyalty to Tsekenis and Papoythis for giving me the opportunity to play in 2012 when I didn’t have a club.
“Also, we had a strong squad at Olympic but nobody could’ve predicted the events as the season unfolded.
“It was disappointing the coaches left the club midway through the season but whatever their reasons, it was a great shock to the players because we certainly weren’t expecting it”.
In that critical match against Sydney United 58 FC, Vass dominated the midfield, won every tackle and aerial duel and pushed forward to play several perfect balls behind the United defence.
Olympic raced to a 2-0 lead in the 33rd minute and could’ve scored more if Ramirez had found the target with a few guilt edge chances.
You would’ve been a very optimistic Sydney United 58 FC supporter to believe their team could change the result in the second half.
However, the unthinkeable happened in the 52nd minute when Mitchell Speers committed a crude tackle on Vass and was instantly shown the red card.
Unfortunately, Vass was forced to leave the field with a large gash on his leg but the warrior he is, returned to the pitch four minutes later.
This passage of play unsettled the inexperienced Olympic players and they appeared to drop off the ball and give United’s ten men the ascendancy as they lost their shape and conceded three goals by the 70th minute.
Vass was not about to give up,despite the injury he had suffered, and continued to make sorties into Sydney United’s defensive third.
In the 83rd minute he hit a looping left foot shot just outside the area which grazed the cross bar and denied Olympic a draw on the night.
How different the result of the Premiership may have been if Vass had’nt been injured that night.
In the end, Sydney Olympic finished a disappointing seventh but with all the disruption during the season with players leaving and a large list of injuries, coach, Grant Lee, can only plan for next year.
At the moment Marton Vass is in talks with Sydney Olympic for next season and there is no doubt Grant Lee wants to retain his services.
“He’s an amazing trainer with superior fitness levels and is a great example to the younger players”, says Lee.
“He gives 100% and his technical and tactical ability have improved incredibly during the season so he only has to curb that natural enthusiasm to become an even better performer”.
-By Roger Sleeman