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All-Stars steal close victory

Memorial game proves tough battle for Villa
Glen Gibbs

It was just the kind of game that Steve Steele would have loved to take part in.

Powell River Senior Men’s All-Star team scored early and hung on for a hard fought 1-0 victory over Powell River Villa to capture the Steve Steele Memorial trophy on Boxing Day.

Only the weather was cool and damp as the two teams and a couple of hundred fans gathered at Brooks Turf field for the hotly contested title.

After a full minute of silence to honour the game’s namesake, players got down to business and a quick opening pace.

Play went back and forth until All-Star’s Lee Illing won a battle with Conner Brady and beat Villa keeper Matt Liknes from 14 yards out.

“I was a little bit lucky really,” said the game’s only goal scorer who had family visiting from England. “A ball came in fast and I just managed to take one touch, pulled it away from the defender and hit the ball. Before I knew anything about it, it went into the bottom corner.”

Although it was the only goal of the game there were several great chances for either team to add a goal.

Brody Harry just missed on a header and Rob Devlin’s blast from 25 yards almost evened the score at the half, but the score remained 1-0 All-Stars.

The half-time break gave everyone a chance to remember Steele and remark on his many contributions to the game.

“Some of the old guys on the All-Stars played with Steve and I remember he was always the coach of the All-Star team,” said linesman Bruno Cristante. “This year they are doing very well and keeping up with the young boys.”

“Steve was a great ambassador for soccer,” he recalled. “Personally, he was a good friend of mine and he loved this sport. He was one of the founders of Villa and also involved with the Cup of Milk Fund game and now helping the cancer foundation.”

Referee, and someone who knew Steele very well, Bob Bogoslowski was equally proud and pleased to do this game. “Steve was a very hard worker for senior men’s soccer and the referees as well, and he put a lot of time into this community,” he said. “It’s great that his memory lives on with this game.”

The second half started like the first but Villa, desperate to tie the game, brought the pressure in the last 20 minutes.

Mario Paul lifted a free kick into the box from 40 yards out and Sean Jenkins got his head on it but missed just wide.

A corner kick minutes later, narrowly missed off the head of Brady and Nick van’t Schip, also had a hard shot drift over the top corner.

Perhaps the best chance belonged to Mike Hurren who got everything on a shot from 15 yards out but keeper Rick Bombardir made a game-saving leg save to preserve the shutout 1-0.

Bill Cornwall and Ian Livingstone, in the company of Steele’s wife Delma and daughter Andrea, presented Player of the Match awards to All-Star Tony Rice and Villa’s Brady and the Steele team trophy to Rino Parise.

“It was really close,” said Parise of the action. “Both sides played really hard and I thought that this was one of the best ones we’ve had in a long time.”

It was a great day for soccer. In the memory of one of Powell River’s most loved residents, generous donations by the fans will be sent to Canadian Cancer Society.