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Barristers show silky footballing skills

Last weekend, some esteemed members of the Bar squared off on the football pitch. Anthony Lo Surdo SC from 12 Wentworth Selborne Chambers in Sydney provides a blow-by-blow account.

user iconDigital 26 October 2012 The Bar
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Last weekend, some esteemed members of the Bar squared off on the football pitch. Anthony Lo Surdo SC from 12 Wentworth Selborne Chambers in Sydney provides a blow-by-blow account.

The second annual Sports Law Conference and the fifth annual Bar Football ‘State of Origin’ tournament took place in Melbourne on Saturday 20 October.

With the generous support of the Victorian Bar Association and its chair Melanie Sloss SC, the Sports Law Conference was held in the Neil McPhee Room in Owen Dixon Chambers. The conference was attended by more than 50 barristers from the NSW, Victoria and Queensland Bars.


Participants were informed and entertained by Ian Prendergast, general manager (player relations) of the AFL Players Association, who spoke about the often conflicting interests of the player, the club and the AFL arising from players’ off-field conduct; Stephen Lee of the Queensland Bar, whose presentation covered the circumstances in which a court will intervene in the affairs of a club, including the potential causes of action available to an aggrieved member; Chris Nikou from Middletons, a director of the Asian Cup 2015 local organising committee, addressed the legal, political and commercial issues faced by Australia as the host nation for the Asian Cup in 2015, and Graham Turnbull SC of the NSW Bar provided an entertaining insight into the circumstances in which non-contact in sport, such as feigning injury, sledging and racial abuse, can constitute a crime.

The NSW Team, with Anthony Lo Surdo SC on left wearing the yellow referee's outfit

The touring party from NSW consisted of Houda Younan, David Patch, Rohan de Meyrick, Graham Turnbull SC, Anthony Lo Surdo SC, Vahan Bedrossian, Daniel Tynan, Gillian Mahony, the Hon Justice Geoff Lindsay, David Stanton, Craig Bolger, Pouyan Mazandara, Greg Watkins, Simon Philips, Cameron Jackson, Faraz Maghami, Michael Fordham SC, Adrian Canceri and Alex Kuklik.

The stakes were high at the tournament, which was held at the Darebin International Sports Centre, as NSW Bar FC defended the Suncorp NSW Bar v Vic Bar Perpetual Trophy and the Suncorp NSW Bar – Vic Bar – Qld Bar Perpetual Trophy.  As undefeated champions, NSW Bar FC, captained by Simon Philips, headed into the tournament as strong favourites.

The Victoria team

The NSW team was able to hold an enthusiastic home team, led by Warwick Rothnie, to a narrow 2-1 win to retain the Suncorp NSW Bar v Vic Bar Perpetual Trophy. Each of the NSW goals was slotted by Vahan Bedrossian following magnificent teamwork, especially in the hard-working midfield by Greg Watkins, Pouyan Mazandara and Faraz Maghami. Bedrossian also took the gong for best and fairest for NSW in the match.

However, the ever-competitive Queenslanders, captained by Johnny Selfridge, were dressed to impress and this they did. First, they humbled the Victorians with a 4-0 drubbing. There then followed by far the best game in the history of the ‘State of Origin’ series as NSW and Queensland battled it out for the coveted trophy.

First blood went to Bedrossian again after some impressive team play, but the Queenslanders struck back, despite some heroic defending by a stalwart backline (Philips, Younan, Fordham SC and Mahony). Both sides had opportunities that they failed to convert and in the end had to settle for a one-all draw. With the ‘State of Origin’ series tied at one win and one draw apiece to both NSW and Queensland, the Perpetual Trophy was awarded to Queensland, which had the superior goal difference at the end of the tournament. Michael Fordham SC was the worthy recipient of the best and fairest for NSW in this game.

The Queensland team

Though NSW Bar lost the silverware it remains undefeated, a fact not-too-subtly made at the presentation ceremony at which the Honourable Justice Geoff Lindsay of the Supreme Court of NSW officiated.

The Annual Sports Law Conference and Bar Football ‘State of Origin’ will move to Sydney in 2013.

NSW Bar FC currently consists of more than 60 barristers drawn from diverse practice areas. Apart from the ‘State of Origin’ series, NSW Bar FC competes annually (April to September) in the Domain Soccer League and will this year compete in the Law Firms Challenge Cup. New members are always welcome. Any enquiries concerning membership of NSW Bar FC or the Sports Law Conference and Bar “State of Origin” should be directed to Anthony Lo Surdo SC (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 02 9223 3181).

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