Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Big Names Provide Headlines But Little Else

Supposing former Lee Hendrie does decide to come and play for Bandung in the Liga Primer Indonesia. How would Indonesian football benefit from his presence? It won’t of course beyond an aroma of glamour through having a fairly recognizable face linked with the unofficial league.

Given Indonesian fans’ devotion to Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea it’s highly probable that Hendrie would have long slipped from the public consciousness and it is highly inlikely there are a significant number of Villa fans in Bandung who would make him feel welcome in the city of factory outlets and Brownies.

The Australians used to try attract big name players down under back in the 1970s and 1980s when all we knew about football there was what we read on the pools coupon during the European summer. Players like Kevin Keegan and Charlie George both had spells down under where their presence added a few thousand to the gate for their guest spell but they were soon gone and the fans never returned.

I got to see former Ipswich Town and Scotland striker Alan Brazil play for Woollongong Wolves in the old National Soccer League back in 1988. He guested for the Wolves for a couple of games including one away to APIA Leichhardt at a greyhound stadium. Having seen him play in England I was probably the only daft bastard who made the trip out for the game as in those days, despite relative success APIA always struggled for support and the Italian fan base would not have been interested in a ginger haired Sweaty.

Brazil, like Keegan and George, came and went and left no lasting legacy for Australian football except perhaps a hole in the clubs’ bank balances and it’s difficult to see players like Hendrie, if they come, having a greater impact.

It’s always going to be difficult to attract players to the LPI given the lack of official recognition by the game’s governing bodies both here in Indonesia and at FIFA but one path open to the clubs has been a steady source of young Australian talent filtering north to try their luck including David Micevski and Alex Vrtevski at Solo Ksatria. (Check their interviews on Jakarta Casual TV)

The local FA, known as PSSI, has huffed and puffed about deporting foreign players in the league but even if they do take drastic action it is highly unlikely the stuffed shirts at FIFA would apply the bans worldwide. To do so would be to risk upsetting the players’ union and could open a whole tin of beans most would like kept well and truly sealed.

UPDATE - LPI Twitter reporting Hendrie arrives Jakarta tonight.

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