Adam Taggart in Socceroos final 23

Adam Taggart in Socceroos final 23 Adam Taggart kicks for goal during the practice game against Brazil second tier side Clube Parana. He and Oliver Bozanic both scored.
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Adam Taggart in action against Parana Clube.

Adam Taggart.

TweetFacebook Socceroos defeat Parana Clube 2-0The Socceroos make a solid start, defeating Brazilian Parana Clube in a warm up match. Pictures: Getty ImagesADAM Taggart has tonight became the first Jets player to be selected for a World Cup.

The 21-year-old striker was a surprise inclusion in the Socceroos’ final 23-man squad to compete in Brazil.

His promotion came at the expense of Josh Kennedy, who along with attacking midfielder Tom Rojic was ruled out due to fitness concerns.

Taggart, whose birthday was on Monday, was one of seven A-League players to make the cut.

“I’m over the moon,”Taggart said after the announcement.

“It’s a dream come true and something you can onlywish for as a little kid.”

He said he was “extremely grateful” and selection was “something I won’ttake for granted”.

With Tim Cahill and Matthew Leckie the only other strikers in the squad, the adopted Novocastrian has a chance of getting game time.

The Socceroos begin Group B against Chile on June 14 (AEST) before matches against Holland (June 19) and Spain (June 24).

There was no room for Jets teammate Mark Birighitti, who missed out to Germany-based Mitch Langerak, Adelaide United’s Eugene Galekovic and Mat Ryan (Club Brugge).

Langerak is on the comeback from a knee injury and Birighitti will stay with the squad until the opening game against Chile.

Right back Luke Wilkshire was the other player trimmed from the group, which has been in camp in Vitoria, Brazil.

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou had insisted from day one that fitness and form were the main criteria for selection and lived up to that mantra.

Kennedy’s injury is not thought to be serious, but having missed five weeks for Japanese club Nagoya Grampus on the eve of the World Cup, his back flared up during the Socceroos’ high-intensity sessions.

The stringbean striker, who scored the goal against Iraq which earned Australia a place in Brazil, was on course to play in the warm-up game against second division side Parana Clube on Monday before his back seized up at the end of training.

His setback opened the way for Taggart, who made the most of the opportunity with a well taken goal to seal a 2-0 victory.

Selection caps an amazing rise for the Perth-born front man, who scored a club-record 16 goals for the Jets to claim the A-League Golden Boot and Young Player of the Year awards last season, his second at the club.

Recruited by Gary van Egmond, Taggart was lured east after two seasons at the Glory in which he was stuck behind Shane Smeltz and Billy Mehmet.

He scored two goals in 19 appearances, nine in the starting side, in his maiden campaign in Newcastle before exploding into form.

Col ‘‘Bunny’’ Curran is the only Newcastle-born player to compete at a World Cup.

He was a member of the 1974 side, who until 2006 were the only Australian side to have made the final.

Ray Baartz was vice-captain but had his dream dashed by a career-ending blow to the throat in a lead-up game against Uruguay.

Meanwhile, coach Phil Stubbins confirmed that the Jets were close finalising a deal with a South American striker.

‘‘We have a couple of little hurdles in dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s to overcome, but hopefully that’s a formality and we will be in position to announce something very soon,’’ Stubbins told SBS.

‘‘He has played for his national team at an early age and is from a country doing good things and he would be a good, solid signing for us.

‘‘We believe that in tandem with Adam Taggart and Joel Griffiths he can be very effective.

“He has pace, strength and would handle the rigours of the A-League with no problem.”

The striker is a replacement for marquee Emile Heskey.

‘‘Emile was somebody who came and had a real impact at the club,’’ the coach said.

‘‘You can only say good things about the guy as a person and as a professional – but that said we have decided to take a different direction with the player we have in mind.’’

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Ruben Zadkovich : I didn’t want to leave Jets

Perth bound former Newcastle Jets Captain Ruben Zadkovich with his fiance Bianca Foteff, relaxing at Bianca’s parents home in Cooks Hill. Ruben wanted to stay at the Jets, but has been told that he doesn’t feature in the clubs plans. Picture Jonathan Carroll RUBEN Zadkovich never wanted to leave the Jets.
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In the end, the wholehearted midfielder felt he had no choice.

Zadkovich last week agreed to terminate the final year of his contract at the Jets and will head west on a two-year deal at Perth Glory.

‘‘It is bittersweet,’’ Zadkovich told the Herald yesterday.

‘‘I love Newcastle. I think everyone knows that. It was such a massive honour to lead the Jets. It was one of the highlights of my career and something I hold very close to my heart.

‘‘All the fans, members, sponsors, business owners, media – all of the honest, hard-working people I have made friends with in Newcastle – I’d like to think I’d be friends with them long after the stadium lights are out. That is what I will be taking away from Newcastle.

‘‘It was a hard pill to swallow at first.

‘‘From what I have learned in football, you are best to be around people who really want you.

‘‘[Hunter Sports Group CEO] Troy Palmer told me that if I wanted to stay until the end of the contract, go for it, and that he would support me.

‘‘When it came down to it, the Jets didn’t really see me in their plans.

‘‘While that can be a slap in the face, you just have to find the positives.’’

Zadkovich played 97 games in four seasons at the Jets.

He won the club’s Ray Baartz medal in 2013, finished third last season, and 10th inthe Alex Tobin Medal for the Fox Sports player of the year.

The only Jet to start every game last season, Zadkovich was called in to a meeting with club management last month and told of the interest from Perth.

‘‘I was not outwardly looking to leave,’’ he said. ‘‘I was keen to stay here and captain Newcastle as long as I could.

‘‘Management made it clear to me that I was not in their plans moving forward.

‘‘I was told it was more a business decision. They wanted to free up some money in the cap and look for more attacking players. Initially it was a shock. I thought there would have been a bit more loyalty and respect shown. Football is a business. I’m no mug. I know what it is like.’’

Although yet to speak to Zadkovich, coach Phil Stubbins believed the best outcome had been reached for both parties.

The Jets have missed the finals for the past four years, and Stubbins decided something – someone – had to give.

‘‘I certainly needed, along with the direction of the staff, to make some changes,’’ Stubbins said. ‘‘Everyone knows Ruben is a very good player and has been a good servant for the Jets. There is no doubt about that.

‘‘Having looked at the squad, and a good salary goes to a good player, it was felt that we needed to get somebody else in at the pointy end who could service the needs of the team in the front third.

‘‘We had quite a few players in that central midfield position who could fulfil that role – Ben Kantarovski, Josh Brillante, Zenon Caravella, Mitch Oxborrow – and quite a bit of money tied up in that position.

‘‘When the interest came from Perth and they offered him the time frame of the deal they did, it made sense.’’

On the surface it might have seemed a cut-and-dried decision for Zadkovich. But nothing is that simple when, like Zadkovich, you have given your heart and soul to a club – to a region – for four years.

‘‘I had so much going on and, to be honest, it [the decision] was getting the better of me,’’ Zadkovich said.

But any lingering doubts were dispelled after a get-to-know-you chat with Glory coach Kenny Lowe.

‘‘I asked him what role he had in mind for me,’’ Zadkovich said. ‘‘He laughed and said, ‘I just want you to do what you do.’ It was a simple sentence, but it says a lot.

‘‘He doesn’t want to change me. He knows I can more than hold a spot in that position and he is grateful to have me. That means everything to me. To have people who want you, I will look to repay that faith by giving them 150 per cent.’’

Zadkovich and fiancee Bianca Foteff have recently bought an apartment in Cooks Hill and are in the process of planning their wedding next May.

‘‘We have a lot of things going on,’’ he said. ‘‘Things like this happen for a reason. That is the silver lining. It gives me and Bianca a chance to let our relationship evolve. It is a new challenge for both of us.

‘‘She has never lived anywhere but Newcastle, whereas I have been around the world a few times.

‘‘Her family and friends are very supportive.

‘‘We will set up camp somewhere near the beach.

‘‘All the people I have spoken to over there love Perth and the area around it.’’ Zadkovich will replace retired Glory skipper Jacob Burns, who now works for the club in football operations

‘‘I think that says a lot about the kind of club they are looking to build,’’ he said.

‘‘They are keeping the good-quality players involved in the club when their careers have finished.’’

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Valeri signs with Melbourne Victory

Carl Valeri is set to sign with the Melbourne Victory.Socceroos veteran Carl Valeri has signed a three-year deal with A-League club Melbourne after completing a medical on Tuesday.
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It ends the midfielder’s 11-year stint in Italy, where he fell narrowly short of realising his dream of playing in the Serie A – Italy’s top flight.

The 29-year-old always planned to return to Australia at an age when he could contribute, rather than just to cash in during the twilight of his career.

His wife is originally from Victoria, which makes Melbourne a perfect fit for Valeri and his young family.

He sustained a dreadful ankle injury during his 50th game for the Socceroos – against South Korea in November 2012 – and spent more than a year on the sidelines.

“I’ve certainly watched and admired the A-League from afar,” Valeri said.

“The league just keeps getting better and better each season and I’m really looking forward to being back home and playing in a competition that has such great potential.

“You just to have to look at all the quality young players over in Brazil with the Socceroos to see how far the game has come in this country.

“A lot of those boys started their professional careers in the A-League, and that speaks volumes.

“The opportunity to join Melbourne Victory and work with [coach] Kevin [Muscat] was one I certainly couldn’t pass up and I can’t wait for pre-season training to get under way.”

Valeri joined Italian giant Inter Milan as a teenager, but couldn’t crack their Serie A side.

After years playing in the second-tier Serie B, Valeri finally looked like making it when Sassuolo was promoted to the top flight for the 2013-14 season.

But when he was finally over his ankle injury, Sassuolo couldn’t guarantee him game time and he opted to move to Serie B’s Ternana during the January transfer window, where he helped them avoid relegation.

Now he’ll join the Victory, where fellow Canberran Tom Rogic was on loan from Scottish giant Celtic last season.

Muscat said Valeri’s expertise on the pitch wasn’t the only asset Victory were getting.

“Carl has a wealth of football experience and will be a very valuable addition to our club and we can’t wait to see him in Victory colours,” Muscat said.

“Carl is a versatile midfielder and I have no doubt he will have an impact on the A-League and we are very much looking forward to his leadership around the club also.”

Valeri is back to full fitness and while he’s missed out on Ange Postecoglou’s squad for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, his move to the A-League could still re-ignite his Socceroos career.

The Asian Cup will be held in Australia, including games in Canberra, next summer and if Valeri finds form at Victory then he could add to his 50 international caps.

”I am back at full fitness and looking forward to the next challenge … maybe [playing for Australia at the Asian Cup] can happen, but there’s work to do between now and then,” he told SBS’s The World Game last week.

The Melbourne Victory didn’t return Fairfax Media’s calls.

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Charlestown to coast cycleway plan hits obstacle

IT’S long been a dream of cyclists – a cycleway from Charlestown to the coast, linking the Fernleigh Track.
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COAL ROUTE: Phil Buckner and Don Owers want a cycle path on the old rail route used by trains from Burwood mine. Photo by Marina Neil

IT’S long been a dream of cyclists – a cycleway from Charlestown to the coast, linking the Fernleigh Track.

The route would use the historic coal-haul railway line at Dudley and take in schools and a public swimming pool on its way to Charlestown.

Dudley residents have been pushing for the track for 20 years.

They were buoyed when Lake Macquarie City Council was set to conduct community consultation on the plan last September. .

Dudley resident Phil Buckner said the council “put the kibosh on it at the last minute”.

Asked why it did this, the council did not directly say.

“Council has a comprehensive cycling strategy that was compiled using community consultation,” it said.

However, in an email to Mr Buckner, the council said its resources “can be more effectively deployed engaging community members about projects that will be funded in the short and medium term”.

Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell said the council’s cycleway strategy had underestimated the cost of the Dudley route.

Mr Buckner said there were “various funding sources we could go for”.

“All we needed was a plan from council and costing,” he said.

Dudley resident Don Owers said Gosford MP Chris Holstein had won millions in state funds for transport infrastructure, including a $25 million pedestrian and cycleway underpass at Woy Woy.

“If they can do that in Woy Woy, they can do it here,” Mr Owers said.

“We are probably going to get a ghastly [Glendale] interchange that will cost more and give land to developers.”

The Dudley miners train at Burwood Colliery. Photo by Ralph Snowball 1898

Mr Cornwell said he was “very supportive” of the Dudley project but the council must do more before applying for state grants.

“Council needs to conduct further consultation with adjacent property owners because they have concerns,” Mr Cornwell said.

Mr Buckner said officials had prevaricated over the plan because of “opposition from a few residents”.

He said the two-kilometre route would require a tunnel under Burwood Road, costing about $1 million, and a further $2 million for the track.

It would be a “fitting acknowledgment of our mining tradition and the men who built the line 122 years ago”, Mr Buckner said.

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Classic comedy Withnail and Ihits stage

PHILOSOPHICAL: Actors Jay Piper and Michael Byrne engage in long pub sessions in the British comedy Withnail And I. Picture: Max Mason-HubersTHE cult classic British film comedy Withnail and I looks at two young men coming to terms with life’s realities. So it’s not surprising that a group of Newcastle people in the same age group saw it as an appropriate first work for their new theatre company.
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The members of the group, Pencil Case Productions, have adapted writer Bruce Robinson’s screenplay for the stage.

It will begin a four-performance season at Newcastle’s intimate Royal Exchange Theatre on Saturday.

Director Libby DeVenny, who appeared as a teenager in Tantrum Theatre productions, said Withnail and I appealed to the group because of the quality of the writing.

“The hilarious dialogue and characters entertain watchers in what initially feels like a light and somewhat flippant plot,” she said.

“But it deals with profoundly enduring themes, including the dynamics of friendship, the decay of youth, the loss of ambition and the end of an era.”

Pencil Case Productions isn’t alone in seeing Withnail and I as the basis of an engaging stage work. There have been numerous adaptations, including one that played to packed houses last December in a hotel called the Old Timers Bar near the University of Essex in Britain.

Robinson’s complete screenplay, which was based on his early life as an actor, was published just after the film’s release in 1987 and incorporates incidents that were cut from the film.

In their adaptation, the Pencil Case team have included lines and incidents that didn’t make the final cut, including a comic duel between the two title characters.

Scenes and characters that wouldn’t work in a theatre setting have also been cut.

Pencil Case Productions was formed late last year by Michael Byrne, Alp Akbas and Libby DeVenny and targets theatregoers aged from youth to middle age.

Their co-operative will program gritty comedic dramas that explore and reflect people’s aspirations, obsessions, disappointments, mistakes and successes.

The trio also want to offer opportunities for people with interests in writing, theatre and design to gain experience.

Ultimately, they hope to focus on works set in Newcastle and written and performed by Novocastrians.

The company’s name, Pencil Case Productions, incorporates the team’s hope that eventually much of the work will be locally written.

Bruce Robinson based Withnail and I on his experiences as a young actor seeking work in London in 1969.

He’s the “I” of the title, a character whose surname, Marwood, appears in the script’s commentary on the characters’ movements, but is only mentioned once in the dialogue.

Marwood succeeds in getting a good stage role, but his friend and flatmate Withnail finds success to be elusive.

The story has the pair becoming unhappy about their life in a gloomy and dirty flat in London’s Camden Town, with long pub sessions filling their spare time.

They talk Withnail’s uncle, Monty, into letting them have the key of his Yorkshire country house and head there for what they hope will be a relaxing holiday.

Things don’t go that way, of course.

The cast includes Michael Byrne as Withnail, Jay Piper as I, Simon Cattell as Danny, a young drug dealer who takes over their Camden Town flat while the pair are away, Libby DeVenny as Withnail’s effusively gay Uncle Monty, and Joe Lappin and Gus Milan in roles including a poacher, farmer, bartender, teahouse proprietor and policemen.

The show incorporates a narrator, played by Aaron Silver, who voices some of the comments about the characters’ behaviour that Robinson included in the directions in his screenplay.

Michael Byrne, who won a CONDA last year for his sensitive portrayal of a very troubled husband and father in Newcastle Theatre Company’s When the Rain Stops Falling, said the actors realised while rehearsing Withnail and I that at one stage in their lives they had lived in much the same way as Withnail and Marwood.

“It’s a story about moving into adulthood and making the most of your potential,” he said.

Libby DeVenny noted that Withnail is aware of the expectations placed on him by his experiences in attending a good school and acting college and feels betrayed by society as the story develops.

Withnail and I has made the top-50 British films list in several polls conducted by film organisations and magazines in the past decade.

Margaret Pomeranz, one of the reviewers on the ABC’s At The Movies, noted recently that it was the first film she gave a full five-star rating in her career as a film critic.

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