Football: All Whites' visit stirs memories of the 'Cale'

All Whites and Otago stalwart Mike McGarry challenges Australia's Oscar Crino during the match at...
All Whites and Otago stalwart Mike McGarry challenges Australia's Oscar Crino during the match at the old Caledonian in 1988. Photo from ODT files.
It is 25 years since the All Whites played in Dunedin. Steve Hepburn catches up with Mike McGarry, who played in that game against Australia.

The old Caledonian Ground is no more.

For many, that is a good thing. A big red retail store now sits on the spot. It is a better place for a shop than a football field.

Wind sweeping up the harbour, rain that came in from a horizontal direction at times and a field which sometimes seemed like a mile away, thanks to a cycle track and running track outside the playing area, made the Caledonian a tough slog at times.

But it was there where the All Whites last played in Dunedin.

They took on Australia for the imaginatively named Trans Tasman Trophy in October 1988.

The Socceroos were just back from playing in the Seoul Olympics and put out a useful side with the likes of Graham Arnold, Paul Wade and Scott Ollerenshaw in their ranks.

The All Whites were no mugs, either. They had Clint Gosling in goal, Ricki Herbert in defence, and Billy Wright and Fred de Jong up front.

Also included in the All Whites was home-town boy Mike McGarry.

McGarry, who these days teaches at Otago Boys' High School, said it was an occasion for the city.

About 3000 supporters turned up, quite a crowd for those days.

''They were quite a loud crowd but at the Cale, it was always hard to hear the crowd. You could never hear individual voices,'' McGarry said.

''It could have gone either way, really. We both had our chances.

''They were not a bad side with the likes of Graham Arnold, who was going to go on and play for Rangers soon after this.''

The Australians won 2-1 through goals from Oscar Crino and Ollerenshaw. The visiting side was 2-0 up before Robert Ironside got a goal back, after he had come on for de Jong.

''It was probably at a time when we could still compete with the Aussies. Then there was that 10-year or so period where they got ahead of us.

''A lot more of their players went overseas and played in Europe, which really helped them.''

Ironside's goal meant something as the trophy was decided over two legs, but in Bendigo four days later, Australia won 2-0 to take the spoils.

McGarry said the Australians were a nice bunch of guys and the teams mingled afterwards.

Three of the Australian team - Arnold (Central Coast Mariners), Gary Van Egmond (Newcastle Jets) and Ange Postecoglou (Melbourne Victory) - are now managers of A-League sides.

As for the present All Whites, McGarry has only positive things to say. They possessed plenty of attacking talent and a solid defensive trio, he said.

''There are a lot of young guys coming through who have got plenty of potential.

''Hopefully, a good crowd will turn up and get right in behind them.''


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