FFA CUP: Magic crash out against Heidelberg United

FFA Cup: Magic crash out of Cup FFA CUP: Heidelberg United FC were too good for Broadmeadow Magic downing the local side 3-1 at Magic Park. Picture: Ryan Osland

FFA CUP: Heidelberg United FC were too good for Broadmeadow Magic downing the local side 3-1 at Magic Park. Picture: Ryan Osland

FFA CUP: Heidelberg United FC were too good for Broadmeadow Magic downing the local side 3-1 at Magic Park. Picture: Ryan Osland

FFA CUP: Heidelberg United FC were too good for Broadmeadow Magic downing the local side 3-1 at Magic Park. Picture: Ryan Osland

FFA CUP: Heidelberg United FC were too good for Broadmeadow Magic downing the local side 3-1 at Magic Park. Picture: Ryan Osland

FFA CUP: Heidelberg United FC were too good for Broadmeadow Magic downing the local side 3-1 at Magic Park. Picture: Ryan Osland

FFA CUP: Heidelberg United FC were too good for Broadmeadow Magic downing the local side 3-1 at Magic Park. Picture: Ryan Osland

FFA CUP: Heidelberg United FC were too good for Broadmeadow Magic downing the local side 3-1 at Magic Park. Picture: Ryan Osland

FFA CUP: Heidelberg United FC were too good for Broadmeadow Magic downing the local side 3-1 at Magic Park. Picture: Ryan Osland

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AN encouraging second half performance was not enough for Broadmeadow as they exited the FFA Cup with a 3-1 loss to Victorian club Heidelberg United in front of 1342 fans at Magic Park on Wednesday night.

Down 3-0 and outplayed up to half-time, Magic had the better of the second half in the round of 32 game but failed to take their chances.

Broadmeadow had seven opportunities, including four shots from Dino Fajkovic, before Scott Pettit finished a one-two passing move close to goal with Fajkovic in the 72nd minute to give the hosts hope.

Rhys Tippett had a long range goal denied for offside in the 86th minute and Ko Sanjin hit the side netting with a header off a Pettit free kick in the 89th.

But the revival was not enough against the classy Heidelberg, who are second in the strong Victorian National Premier League and dominated the first half with a double from Daniel Heffernan and a stunning strike from Jack Petrie.

Pettit, who scored in Broadmeadow’s 2-1 loss to Brisbane Strikers at the same stage last year, said it was disappointing to bow out but his side would take confidence from the second-half effort into the NPL, where they need to win their last three games to have any real chance of making the finals.

‘‘I thought we started well but that strike for their first goal was magnificent, and it was a real hammer blow to us,’’ Pettit said.

‘‘We showed what we are capable of in the second half, but it comes down to taking chances and we didn’t do that.

‘‘At half-time we spoke about pushing higher up the park and what we could do better, and I think the nerves faded as well.

‘‘We also spoke about playing for pride and not letting it get out of hand. We did that, so hopefully we can take some confidence from that into the league.’’

Magic started promisingly against their more fancied opponents and had a great chance in the 10th minute when Luke Virgili was on the end of a cross to the far post.

He was off with his lunging attempt and from then there was no joy for the hosts in the first half as Heidelberg took control.

Petrie found the top left corner with a bullet strike from 30 metres out in the 22nd minute.

Five minutes later Heffernan was put away on goal and buried his chance.

Heffernan was on the scoresheet again in the 38th minute when he took a long ball before taking advantage of a mistake from goalkeeper Nathan Archbold, who came too far off his line.

Heffernan went close again in the 44th minute but Archbold made an excellent save with his legs to keep it 3-0 at the break.

The result leaves Edgeworth, who play Melbourne City on Tuesday night, and the Newcastle Jets, who take on Perth Glory the week after – both at Magic Park – as the remaining Northern NSW representatives in the nationwide knockout.

Mayor votes on sand mine despite conflict of interest

Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie.THE mayor of Port Stephens, Bruce MacKenzie, admits he has a ‘‘conflict of interest’’ in a controversial Williamtown sand mine, but says it shouldn’t stop him voting on the issue at council meetings.

At Tuesday night’s chaotic council meeting, Cr MacKenzie and five allied councillors voted to approve the transfer of the mine lease from the Tinkler-backed Castle Quarry Products to another company, Williamtown Sand Syndicate.

During the meeting, Councillor Geoff Dingle, who opposes the mine and is a political enemy of Cr MacKenzie, said the mayor should excuse himself from the debate because he had a conflict as the ‘‘local sand baron’’.

Cr MacKenzie’s private business, MacKas Sand, holds major sand mining interests in Port Stephens.

He dismissed Cr Dingle’s comments as ‘‘garbage,’’ saying he had ‘‘no interest at all’’ in the mine. However, the Newcastle Herald has accessed an email from February 24 this year in which the mayor told Cain Gorfine, a Williamtown resident who leads a community group opposed to the mine, that he could not comment because ‘‘I have a conflict of interest in this matter’’.

In subsequent emails, Cr MacKenzie wrote that he couldn’t comment because of ‘‘my position as mayor of Port Stephens’’.

‘‘Given council is the owner of the land in question, I do not feel it appropriate to comment on the proposed activities on the subject site,’’ he wrote.

When asked about the email on Wednesday, Cr MacKenzie admitted to having a conflict of interest, saying it was ‘‘because I am a sand miner’’.

He argued he could not join Mr Gorfine in opposing the mine because he might have been accused of obstructing a potential competitor.

When asked if that conflict meant he shouldn’t take part in voting on issues relating to the mine he said he ‘‘couldn’t see why’’ it would.

‘‘I have absolutely no financial interest in this mine at all,’’ he said.

The transfer of the lease for the 4.6million tonne sand mine on Cabbage Tree Road to Williamtown Sand Syndicate on Tuesday marks the next chapter in a process that a number of councillors described as ‘‘smelly’’.

The tender for the mine lease was awarded to Castle Quarry Products in 2013 against the advice of council staff.

Castle Quarry Products is part of the Buildev Group and its sole director is Darren Williams. Mr Tinkler is the largest shareholder of Buildev Group and for years Mr Williams served as a confidant to the former billionaire.

After continued speculation about the company’s financial state, the council staff confirmed last week that there was ‘‘a risk that CQP will not be able to fund the outstanding approval process or the start up of the project’’.

The staff wrote in an email to councillors that Williamtown Sand Syndicate, which was only registered with ASIC this month, was a ‘‘stand alone company with no connections to Nathan Tinkler or any of his companies or operations’’.

The company’s director is Newcastle accountant Chris Sneddon, and the council previously said there were two other businessmen involved in the firm.

On Tuesday night a senior council staffer described those men as ‘‘reputable businessmen’’.

The Newcastle Herald can reveal that the two other businessmeninvolved in the company are Mr Williams and former Castle Quarry Products employee Murray Towndrow.

Last year Mr Williams was at the centre of the ICAC hearings that saw the resignation of Hunter politicians.

Mr Gorfine has called on the Local Government Minister Paul Toole to investigate the council.

Ashes 2015: Batting woes for Australia as England roar back into contention

Ashes 2015 scoreboard: As it happenedBaum: more swing, more roundaboutsTeammates unhappy Haddin left outVoges snares unbelievable catch

Australia’s fragility against the moving ball was demonstrated again as they were skittled for 136 within 37 overs by England on an Edgbaston pitch they chose to bat on.

Menacing bowling from Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and the recalled Steve Finn, helped by some Australian batsmen who played at deliveries they should not have and Peter Nevill who did not when he should have, was the cause of the capitulation on day one of the third Ashes Test.

England went to stumps at 3-133, with Joe Root on 30 and Jonny Bairstow on 1. Had it not been for a late rain delay, the fifth for the day, that brought a premature end to play, it would have been the first time Australia had batted first in a Test and finished day one in deficit since the Boxing Day match in 2010, the Ashes Test England went on to win to seal a series victory.

Opener Chris Rogers earlier scored 52, one more than the combined scores of the next eight batsmen on Australia’s team sheet.

Only seven times in Test history have Australia batted first in a Test and been dispatched quicker than the 36.4 overs England needed to take all 10 wickets.

The outcome of Australia’s innings calls into question captain Michael Clarke’s decision to bat first – although his England counterpart Alastair Cook said he would have made the same decision had he won the toss.

While Finn was impressive in his first Test appearance in two years and claimed the pre-lunch scalps of Steve Smith (7) and Clarke (10), he could not rival Anderson for level of influence.

A week and a half after emerging from Lord’s with his worst Ashes match figures, 0-137 from 33 overs, Anderson emerged from day one with his best in an Ashes innings: 6-47.

Anderson was swinging the ball sharply, as he does at his best. Crucially, he was able to get some deliveries to hold their line. That was the cause of the downfall of Nevill (2). The right-hander shouldered arms anticipating more outswing and was bowled by the cross-seam delivery.

Anderson’s efforts, in which he elicited movement off the pitch with the seam as well through the air, were rapturously welcomed by an Edgbaston crowd that justified their reputation as one of England’s most consistently enthusiastic.

The second of England’s three wickets was as unlucky for Cook as it was lucky for Australia, with short-leg fielder Adam Voges rewarded for not turning his back on an aggressive pull shot. The ball lodged in Voges’ midriff, to end an innings in which Cook looked in fine fettle on 34.

Australia’s bowling was generally poor, with the fast-bowlers too short and wide. Generally anything short sat up to be punished on this pitch. The exception was the 196-centimetre Englishman Finn, who forced Rogers into survival mode off the back foot.

Survival mode does not sit comfortably with Australia’s mantra of playing with aggression, but at times it is warranted. A day featuring four rain delays by tea, creating conditions conducive to tricky fast-bowling, fitted that category. Voges (16) and Mitch Marsh (0) were among the players who could have left the deliveries they fell to (although Voges, admittedly, was attempting to do just that but left his bat dangling).

Cook came into the third Ashes Test desperate to avoid another 3-30 start. Presumably that did not extend to inflicting it on the opposition. David Warner, Smith and, most concerningly for the Australian hierarchy, Clarke were all back in the pavilion within the first hour as Anderson regained his new-ball aura and Finn gave an emphatic endorsement of the decision to pick him for the first time in two years.

The captain’s departure for 10, having been comprehensively bowled by a Finn yorker, extended his barren run of scores. In his 15 innings since his courageous 161 not out in Cape Town in March last year, when he withstood a fractured shoulder caused by a buffeting from South Africa’s Morne Morkel, he has only once reached 50: in last summer’s Adelaide Test, when he made 128 in his first innings since the death of Phillip Hughes.

If Clarke does not score at least 48 before his next dismissal his average will fall below 50 for the first time since Australia’s April 2012 tour of the West Indies.

His Test predecessor, Ricky Ponting, stressed the importance to the Australian team of Clarke regaining his batting zeal.

“Michael Clarke needs to stand up and start making some runs in that middle order, because if he doesn’t then the lower order does look that bit more fragile,” Ponting told ESPNcricinfo.

“All the signs coming out of Derby, the tour game, was that he’d started to find a bit of rhythm, a bit of form . . . but we know the [size of] step up from a county game to a Test match is quite vast.

“He doesn’t look to be in the sort of form that we’re used to seeing Michael Clarke in, but none of us ever are [always at our best]. You go through these . . . little troughs in your career. You’ve just got to find a way to battle through it.”

Australia narrowly avoided a repeat of the disastrous 2010-11 Ashes Test in Adelaide, when they lost a wicket to a run-out in the first over of the match. Then, Jonathan Trott’s direct hit removed Simon Katich, who was battling an Achilles injury. This time, Warner survived Broad’s direct-hit from mid-wicket thanks to his typical intensity when running between the wickets, having responded to striker Rogers’ call for a single.

Warner’s survival, courtesy of his desperate dive, was of little consequence, as in the third over he fell leg-before to Anderson. Australia’s second wicket rewarded an atypically early bowling change from Cook. Broad was not bowling badly but Cook nevertheless replaced him after just three overs with Finn.

The lanky paceman had not played a Test since the 2013 Ashes. He toured Australia later that year but was so badly out of form he was not considered for selection, and was eventually sent home early because of it. He got his chance at Edgbaston because of Mark Wood’s ankle injury.

Finn’s best has never been an issue; it’s the gap between that and his worst. In his opening two overs there was only a hint of the worst, a half-volley duly dispatched to the boundary, but strong evidence of his best, with the wickets of Smith and Clarke. He needed only one ball to Clarke, producing a yorker that, while very well directed, did not seem as unplayable as the captain made it look.

The closest Australia came to steadying was a 10-over period straddling lunch in which Rogers was complemented by Voges. The latter’s departure in the second over after the break started a flurry of wickets that culminated in a session collapse of 7-64. The last three batsmen – Mitch Starc, Hazlewood, Lyon – scored 36 runs between them.

In making 52, before being trapped leg-before by Broad, Rogers continued his glut of 50-plus scores. Only once in his past 10 innings has he been dismissed short of a half-century. Given that consistency, and his preparedness to adopt survival mode when necessary, his fitness after his head blow at Lord’s was crucial for the visitors.

The drop in discipline of the Australian bowlers since the preceding Test was best illustrated by the fact that England scored their 20th boundary by the 26th over, 15 overs earlier than it had taken them at Lord’s against the same bowling attack.

Not even the usually economical Hazlewood, who earlier extended the miserable run of opener Adam Lyth (10) was immune. The first three deliveries of his second spell were all dispatched to the boundary by Ian Bell, in a period that Clarke made five bowling changes in six overs.

Bell responded to his promotion to No 3 with a typically elegant, but also effective, innings. His 10th boundary brought up a half-century, from just 51 deliveries, that was relished by his home crowd.

One source of frustration for England on an otherwise superb day was the manner of Bell’s dismissal in what ended up as the second-last over of the day, for 53. He advanced to Nathan Lyon and tried to heave him to deep mid-wicket, only to get too much elevation and allow Warner to take a good catch running with the flight.

At that stage it left the odd situation of Australia’s four seamers – Starc, Hazlewood, Johnson and Marsh – with the combined figures of 1-125 from 26 overs, while the off-spinner had 2-3 from 10 balls. Even after Lyon had got the wicket of Cook, he was immediately taken off as his captain backed his seamers, as he had at Lord’s. This time, however, none of them delivered.


Australia’s shortest innings after batting first in a Test.

18.5* overs: 53^ vs Eng at Lord’s, Jun 1896.31.5 overs: 118^ vs Eng at Edgbaston, Birmingham – Jun 1997.32.1 overs: 112 vs Eng at MCG, Melbourne – Jan 1902.33.1 overs: 88^ vs Pak at Headingley, Leeds – Jul 2010.34.3* overs: 82^ vs WI at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide – Dec 1951.36.1 overs: 90 vs WI at Queen’s Park Oval, Port-of-Spain – Mar 1978.36.2 overs: 116^ vs WI at SCG, Sydney – Jan 1952.36.4 overs:136^ vs Eng at Edgbaston, Birmingham – Jul 2015.

* = adjusted to reflect 6-ball overs ^ = chose to bat first

JAMES GARDINER: Seven days of league

Allegations of secret payments, mystery accounts and unregistered third-party deals fly at Parramatta Eels HQ. Picture: Getty ImagesThursday, July 23

THE boss calls me into his office. The auditors have been through the books of League HQ. No secrets payments, house deals or cheap renos, but it seems the salary cap is stretched to the limit. Something to do with regular Seven Days columnist Robert Dillon, a Walkley award and bonus fees. The upshot is that Dillon has to put his feet up for a week. Game on.

My boys, ‘‘The Negotiator’’ and the ‘‘Little Blond Nugget’’, celebrate the call-up in typical fashion. The three-year-old (LBN) hits me from the blindside with a shoulder charge. His older brother wipes the dust off the 89 grand final DVD then rummages through the bookcase for the autographed copy of Local Hero – The Wayne Pearce Story. A night in.

Interim Parramatta chief executive John Boulous feels like he has been run over by a rampaging Dave Klemmer when he answers the phone and Sydney Morning Herald investigative reporter Kate McClymont is on the line. Allegations surface over secret payments, mystery accounts and unregistered third-party deals totalling more than $1million. If I’m a Slipperies fan, I’m hoping they have robbed the bank to keep the Hayne Plane in fuel. You wouldn’t feed the rest.

Friday, July 24

FORMER Knights and Jets owner Nathan Tinkler is back in the headlines after a run-in with a pesky journalist out the front of a Brisbane pub. Displaying the agility and dexterity of his days playing in the front row for the Muswellbrook Rams, Tinks fends off a cameraman in a bullocking run to his car. Buoyed by his palm and offload, the fallen magnate lines up for another hit-up. Responding to questions about his failed empire, Tinks says: ‘‘At the end of the day I lost my own money. I haven’t ripped anyone off. I haven’t done anything wrong.’’ Hmmm. A worldwide web of creditors may argue that point.

Friday night footy. ‘‘Here come the Tigers wearing black and gold . . .’’

And, boy, didn’t the young Cubs have a dig. An upset is in the offing when James Tabasco Sauce sizzles over for a solo effort and closes the gap to 8-4 after 26 minutes. The Chooks eventually get home on the back of a James Maloney field goal for a 33-8 triumph in a match that could have gone either way.

Up north, Clint Eastwood’s Broncos ride roughshod over the Gold Coast. There are later unconfirmed reports of the Titans doing a nude run down Cavill Avenue after the pantsing.

Saturday, July 25

THE Kotara South Tigers under-6s lift the spirits of Tig Togs fans with a gritty 3-1 win over neighbours New Lambton Eagles (not that you keep score in under-6 soccer). The Negotiator doesn’t get on the scoresheet but manages to talk himself out of a yellow card and later convinces The Bride to buy him a bag of lollies at the canteen. Genius.

Mark Hughes appears on social media wearing a beanie and the Kurri Kurri jumper that he scored a double in to topple Western Suburbs 24-3 in the 1995 Real NRL grand final. The post is part of the Hughes Foundation’s Beanies For Brain Cancer promotion.

However, it’s not enough to inspire the Bulldogs to a repeat of ’95, going down 25-20 to the Maggots.

A brain cancer survivor now known as ‘‘No Booze’’ Hughes, the former winger contemplates getting back on the drink after his other team, the Knights, get lapped 52-6 by the Bunnies.

At the foot of the mountains, Fifita brothers Andrew and David do their bit for referee relations by offering a whistleblower some IT advice about his iPhone after running the water in a seniors A-grade game.

Sunday, July 26

THE Bulldogs turn back the clock with a return to Belmore. I’m half expecting Peter Tunks, Geoff Robinson and Darren Britt to burst down the tunnel. The nostalgia is overshadowed by the furore over the Fifita brothers and the Sharkies’ decision to allow them to play. If only Mick Fanning had been a referee instead of surfing world champion.

In another blast from the past, the Penny Panthers return to the days of the Chocolate Shoulders with a retro jersey against the Faiders. Thankfully the Panthers cheerleaders stick with their spandex jumpsuits. On the field, there are serious concerns for Panthers kamikaze back-rower Nigel Plum after he clashes melons with Josh Papalii. Plum, whose car wreck of a body costs the Panthers more than $1500 a year in strapping tape, refuses to be stretchered off and becomes the first player to walk from the field in a neck brace. Plums . . . more like boulders.

Monday, July 27

Suspended indefinitely: David and Andrew Fifita. Picture: Getty Images

WITH a win over the Dogs in the bank and the NRL circling, the Sharks finally hook the Fifita brothers and suspend them indefinitely.

There is no such leniency at the Knights, where the board flicks coach Rick Stone. Club legend Danny Buderus is installed as caretaker coach for the final six rounds.

Former premiership-winning boss Michael Hagan and assistant Craig Sandercock will provide support.

Speaking of nicknames, the man affectionately known as Ogre is back in the limelight.

The 34-year-old former Kangaroo comes out of retirement to play a one-off match alongside his 17-year-old son, Nick, for the Wyong Roos. Apparently ‘‘Ogre-Jr’’, a centre, is a star in the making and has attracted interest from the Knights and the Chooks. Incredibly, both Ogres score a try in the Roos’ 44-4 win over Umina.

Tuesday, July 28

WHEN Dillo talks, the punters listen. In a back-page Newcastle Herald article Dillon endorses former Western Suburbs and Waratah-Mayfield premiership-winning fullback Garth Brennan as the man to fill the seat vacated by Stone.

A former police prosecutor, Brennan has spent the past two years at the Panthers. He led their under-20s to a premiership last year and his reserve-grade side are at the top the table.

Bookmakers William Hill had Brennan listed at $7, behind Nathan Brown ($3), Geoff Toovey ($5) and Kevin Walters ($5) when betting opened on Monday.

That was before Dillon’s tick of approval.

Luxbet, which is the corporate arm of the TAB, responds by winding Brennan into $1.90 favourite.

Wednesday, July 29

MANLY greats demand an ‘‘investigation’’ after Geoff Toovey is officially dumped.

Meanwhile, a disturbing report from Papua New Guinea comes across the Seven Days desk.

The PNG minister for public enterprise and state investment, Ben Micah, says in parliament that Kumuls players are ready to ‘‘hunt down, kill and eat’’ their Australian and New Zealand counterparts.

The ABC reports Micah as saying: ‘‘I think Australia and New Zealand can look level at us and not laugh at us any more.

‘‘I predict, Mr Speaker, our Kumuls are going to beat the Kangaroos.

‘‘We are going to hunt them down, we’ll kill them and we’ll eat them.’’

On that appetising note, it’s back to you, Dillo.

The Bachelor: Australia’s verdict on Sam Wood

The Bachelor: Episode one recap

On Wednesday night, Ten’s new season of The Bachelor debuted. They say there’s nothing more important than a first impression, and so Ten’s executives will have been holding their breath to see how the new face of love was received by the viewing public.

Luckily, Australia loves the new Bache, and have immediately forgotten the old (evil) Bache. Long live new Bache.

The new Bache’s name is Sam, but he prefers Woody. Like the Toy Story character.

Australia loves his low, low shirt showing off his enormous chest (and almost his nipples). Sam has an abnormally ginormous mouth just fyi #TheBachelorAU— Nat (@kahlarsee) July 29, 2015Sam + cute lab = I think I just got PREGNANT #thebachelorAU— Osher Günsberg (@oshergunsberg) July 29, 2015

Now, to meet the women who will fight it out to the death for his love.

Our first contestant is… well, Sam/Woody is not sure of her name, and neither are the viewers. Say what ? Szajana?? Svagina? PARMIGIANA! #TheBachelorAU— Ian Williams (@Dropbear67) July 29, 2015

Also she’s not white so Bache makes sure to call her “exotic”.

Her actual name is Snezana, which I know because I looked it up. Here she is.

Our next contestant is quickly christened “Anal glands”, after she tells Bache about… well, we’re not really sure what that was all about. But anyway, Sam/Woody does not seem keen. Neither do the viewers: How to make a good first impression: talk anal glands #TheBachelorAU— Dylan Matthews (@DylanMatthews91) July 29, 2015#TheBachelorAU … After hearing the dog arse story … pic.twitter杭州夜网m/dam6FYfu21— Steve (@eighteighty8) July 29, 2015

Next up is Heather, who does not talk about anal glands. Woody and Australia instantly warm to her relative normalcy. Heather is my favourite, easy!! #TheBachelorAU— Sam Frost (@Sam_Frost) July 29, 2015

#TheBachelorau Jacinta is trying to flog the Sam butt pic to the other ladies. She’s a good little earner.— Gidgit VonLaRue (@GidgitVonLaRue) July 29, 2015

This #TheBachelorAU is average. We need Australia’s bachelor: Shane Keith Warne. “Will you accept this dart?” “I will.” “Cheers love.”— Conor Ryan (@conorVryan) July 29, 2015

After an ad break, we meet Madeline, who is *on point* beautiful, and gives Bache some food which he puts in his mouth. Omg dis cup cake girl yes #TheBachelorAU— CHELSEA (@princessyesthx) July 29, 2015

Here is a beautiful photo of her which to be honest does not do her justice.

Sandra is a PE Teacher, which means she teaches kids how to run or some nonsense. She gives Bache a big fist bump and then is straight into the cham-pag-ne. Is Sandra already drunk? #TheBachelorAU— Melissa (@holybatgirl) July 29, 2015Who honestly wears white on a first date? Like come on #TheBachelorAU— Regan Adam (@RMCdigi) July 29, 2015

Although yeah judging by the music Ten cut in behind her she’s pretty much already got this one sewn up. Ok we may have found a winner, lucky last #TheBachelorAU— melbny (@50thand8th) July 29, 2015

Here is beautiful Emily.

And now, wrap your minds around this, reader. This year there are two varieties of rose – red, and a new one, white. Win it, and you get to ask Bache for a date at ‘any time’.

So, Emily and Madeline are our early favourites. But who knows who the Bache and the viewing public will slowly grow to love/hate.

Industrial stench still offends after 20 years

Resident Steve Jordan makes a point to EPA Hunter manager Adam Gilligan at Wednesday night’s meeting. Picture: Stuart ScottMORE than 50 Rutherford residents demanded to know why a combination of industrial odours still haunted their homes after 20 years of complaints when they met top officials from the Environment Protection Authority on Wednesday night.

The residents attended a community information night put on by the EPA to explain the problems and to outline progress.

And while EPA Hunter manager Adam Gilligan told the group he understood their frustration, he said the combination of odours from different sources – and the difficulties people had in identifying the smells – meant the problem remained.

“This is an issue we have been struggling with for quite a period of time,” Mr Gilligan told the meeting.

He said the EPA had received 90 complaints from Rutherford residents about offensive odours since April: 14 in that month, 22 in May, 36 in June and 18 in the past week alone.

“We have had a spike of complaints in the last month or so, and there are still a lot of complaints we are getting,” he said.

But he also complimented some industries who had worked to improve matters, without being consulted.

“We know we haven’t solved the problem – there are still issues here and we need to do more work on it,” he said.

Asthma sufferer Ramona Cocco said: “I have been ringing up about smells for the past 20 years – I don’t think I have another 20 years left to complain about this,” she said.

“Surely someone can do something about this problem – or we will all die off before we know what we’re dying from.”

Resident Peter Murphy said the smells were far stronger at night and in the early morning.”

Mr Gilligan told the residents EPA was working hard to resolve the problem.

The Bachelor recap: Mr Nice Guy better not mess with Awesome Heather

The Bachelor season three: Sam Wood and contestants Laura and Sarah.Is this the most normal Bachelor yet?Australia’s verdict on Sam Wood

Buff up the acrylics, flick on the ceramic straighteners and set the chemically whitened teeth to stun – it’s time for another season of The Bachelor, the trashy reality TV show that takes the “not” out of “make love not war”.

Now I’m a tad uncomfortable with the idea that writing a recap of The Bachelor means I’ll wind up slagging off people who, away from the cameras and emotionally-heightened situations, are probably pretty nice. So I have to approach the show as if it were a scripted and carefully stage-managed production in which the characters are all fictional phonies. That way I’m only slagging off the presented image, not the real people, and can sleep slightly better at night.

First, let’s meet our Bachelor. Sam is a 34-year-old Tasmanian-born Melburnian who runs fitness courses for kiddies. He’s tall, has designer stubble and a half-buzz, half-floppy haircut, and thanks to some gratuitous shower scenes in which the camera caresses his figure like I caress a bucket of the Colonel’s finest, we know he has washboard abs.

He’s also got a picture-perfect family in a picture-perfect family home in Tasmania – the only thing missing is that special lady to share it with. And kids. Sam really wants kids. He has man ovaries (movaries?) and they’re in full yearning mode.

Clearly Sam has been hand-picked to be the polar opposite to last season’s villainous Batch, Blake. He’s being portrayed as the ultimate family man in waiting, the kind of guy who will roast you a lamb over a fire he’s built himself (shirtless of course), bathe and put the kids to bed, listen intently and sympathetically as you discuss your day, then pleasure you senselessly deep into the night.

Put simply: Sam is not a man who farts.

When he finally fronts at “The Mansion”, the mysterious Sydney harbour-front property that is probably three-quarters responsible for the city’s housing price woes, he’s kitted up in full James Bond regalia and looking nervous.

He and host Osher Gunsberg, whose own hair is something of a national treasure, have an intense conversation about what he hopes to get out of the evening. Sam even asks Osher to be his wingman, and the giggles and intense looks the pair give each other makes you wonder if they shouldn’t just call off the 19 girls now.

But no, Sam has committed to heterosexual elimination bigamy, so it’s time for the ladeez.

My first thought as they all arrived was – would it kill someone to try an updo? All these glamorous gowns and not a chignon, twist or bun in sight. I know we’re all trying to escape the memory of our tendril hell in 1990s formal photos, but really, how long must we all suffer under the oppressive rule of hair extensions and curling tongs?

Back to the mill, where the girls file in one by one and try to make a good impression on Sam. Striking Snezana​ instructs him how to say her name using a cheese meme (ensuring her nickname is forever Parmigiana);  Joni has a great dress but Joan Collins circa Dynasty hair; and Rachel shows her breath control by presenting Sam with a suspiciously-phallic balloon rose.

Madeleine is Jessica Rabbit with very nice cupcakes; Krystal shows foresight in bringing not only a couple of beers, but a bottle opener (now that’s planning); Emily is so stunning Sam cannot resist staring at her breasts at least four times (then claims they had “an immediate connection”, snigger) and Zilda looks like an alien space lizard wearing a human skin suit.

Jacinda is an early favourite for me. She looks like Gloria Estefan and is brassy and fun. Her tactic of taking a Polaroid selfie with Sam is cute, and particularly funny when she turns the beat around and snaps a pic of his bottom.

Speaking of which, it’s time to talk Laura, aka Anal Glands.

To be honest, I really like this contestant – she’s a vet! Vets help animals! I love animals! – but I cannot for the life of me now call her Laura as she’s already been seared into my brain as Anal Glands.

In Anal Glands’ defence, the Bach did ask her about her job, and her Yorkshire accent actually made the act of expressing fluid from the congested rectal organs of a canine almost charming.

But Anal Glands aside, it’s clear the producers have established a definite hero and villain – for this opening episode at least.

Aspiring filmmaker Heather is so awesome, I would officially like to apply to be her best friend. In her sparkly black dress and spot-on red lippy, she is the epitome of old Hollywood glamour but without any of the artifice. She likes superheroes and yoga and seriously Heather we would be such good friends. I’ll even let you take first hit in the traditional pyjama pillow fight.

Conversely, I expect primary school teacher Sandra to wake up as Australia’s new Public Enemy Number One. Loud, brash, inescapable – she’s like Clive Palmer in a wig.

Osher brings the ladies together to welcome them and drops a bombshell – not only are they competing for a Red Rose, but a White Rose. It’s like the Battle of Bosworth Field all over again.

Sam will give the White Rose to the woman who makes the best impression, and allow her to plan a date for the pair of them. Such power! Immediately Zilda pivots her disguised lizard head in the direction of the prized flower, no doubt pondering how she could lure her competitors to the powder room and swallow them whole.

For Zilda’s ultimate goal is to return to her home planet with the Batch in tow, so the alien space lizard people can learn what makes him hypnotic to television viewers, genetically splicing his DNA with theirs, they can return en masse to conquer Earth by taking over all reality TV channels and rendering us all gibbering idiots.

There were some fun moments during the 43-hour cocktail party, such as Parmigiana revealing she has a daughter, Tessa deciding her flannelette and Timberlands were a far comfier option than heels and Spanx, and Sarah giving Sam a salute to the sun right there on the grass and winning herself a red rose for the effort.

Sandra also did more to un-endear her to viewers by launching a one-woman gang war against Rashael, a woman so gentle she would lose an arm wrestle to a newborn kitten.

And of course it was Awesome Heather who took out the White Rose, making me incredibly jealous of the Bach himself. No fair. I want to go on a date that Heather plans. I bet there’ll be ham sandwiches and gelato.

Eventually it was time for the Rose Ceremony, that time honoured tradition in which a woman hopes a man will hand her the sex organ of a plant to show their four-minute conversation made her worthy of his ongoing attention.  Ahh, progress.

Predictably, Sandra received the last rose, although Sam did seem to baulk when she declared he’d saved the best ’til last. She had to be kept on the show – she actually had personality, and her inevitable ruffling of feathers will keep us all entertained.

That meant two women had to miss out: Jessica, a 24-year-old Gold Coaster, who made absolutely no impression on anyone. I seriously don’t even remember seeing her before the Rose Ceremony, and am fairly convinced she was parachuted in on a taffeta cloud after a headcount snafu.

The other one to miss out was our lady lizard Zilda who, despite her best efforts and incredible cleavage, failed to convince Sam she was in fact human. She was clearly disappointed, as punishment for an incomplete mission on her home planet is being boiled alive in mercury.

Having seen off the alien threat, Sam now turns his hand to the simple task of dating 17 women at once. I’ve only got one word of warning – treat Awesome Heather right, or I will END you. Have a great time, Batchy!

Life running on plasma power

Gillian McMinn is one of those with an immune disorder countered by the blood plasma product IVIg.Pic: SuppliedBEFORE competition road-cyclist Gillian McMinn became ill with an immune disorder she lived by the mantra ‘‘you can do anything if only you try hard enough”.

Now the Newcastle physiotherapist prefers, ‘‘with support and love, a little experience and flexibility, you can make the most of every day, with whatever you have, wherever you are’’.

Since her diagnosis of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy – an illness she said feels like ‘‘someone has pulled out my power cord at the socket’’ – she relies on a three gram dose of the blood product IVIg, made from blood plasma, to keep her batteries charged.

Before the treatment Ms McMinn said she never imagined she would have a child, travel or live a normal life again.

‘‘It took all my energy just to go to work and do some occasional exercise … A shower would feel exhausting, my balance would be off, my bladder and bowels would be very unreliable and my arms and legs had strange pains and sensations.

‘‘For the couple of weeks after the infusion I usually have enough energy to take my son to the park, do a couple of bike rides and manage some of the physio exercise therapy that helps my strength and pain.’’

The treatment has meant she has been able to achieve physical feats she had thought impossible, like riding her bike up a mountain in the French Pyrenees and having a baby.

‘‘I know how lucky I am to have access to IVIg here in Australia. If I were somewhere else in the world my life would be very different now – I almost certainly would not be able to walk, work, have my son,’’ she said.

As part of National Blood Week more than 150 Newcastle donors, who collectively made 15,000 donations, will this week be recognised and the need highlighted.

Due to a shortage of the plasma Ms McMinn has to be temporarily treated with an overseas product.

She is concerned that importing plasma could mean others overseas miss out.

Mullah Omar dead: reports

Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is dead, according to reports citing Afghan officials.

Afghan government and intelligence sources told the BBC that Omar, who led the Taliban in Afghanistan, died two to three years ago.

No further details were released.

The militant group has not commented on the claim but a Taliban spokesperson told the BBC that they would issue a statement shortly.

Reports of the reclusive leader’s death have surfaced in the past.  Omar has not been seen publicly for more than a decade.

A spokesperson for Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said on Wednesday that a press conference had been called on the subject of the Taliban leader.

Taliban splinter group Mahaz Fidayee had recently claimed that Omar was killed two years ago in an insider attack, according to local station Afghanistan 1 TV news.

But a biography released by the Taliban in April claimed the supreme leader was alive and in good health.

During Eid, the Taliban posted a message claiming Omar endorsed peace talks as legitimate.

Afghan officials and Taliban representatives are expected to meet for second round of peace talks on Friday.

Omar supported al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, triggering the US-led campaign to quash the Taliban and prompting the United States to put a $10 million bounty on Omar’s head after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Omar and Bin Laden reportedly spoke daily by satellite telephone when the Taliban were in power and even met for fishing trips.

Omar was forced into hiding after the Taliban government was overthrown in 2001. He and most of his senior comrades managed to evade capture.

No Western journalist has ever met  Omar, who mainly communicated through his foreign minister, Wakil Ahmad Mutawakkil.

His right eye was damaged by shrapnel when he fought with the mujahideen against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s.

Under Omar’s rule, Afghanistan was subject to a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

More to come

Man Booker Prize longlist has more Americans than British writers

Marilynne Robinson is one of five American novelists on the Man Booker Prize longlist. Photo: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images Marilynne Robinson is one of five American novelists on the Man Booker Prize longlist. Photo: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

Marilynne Robinson is one of five American novelists on the Man Booker Prize longlist. Photo: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

Marilynne Robinson is one of five American novelists on the Man Booker Prize longlist. Photo: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

Irish writer Anne Enright is longlisted for her second Man Booker Prize.

Irish writer Anne Enright is longlisted for her second Man Booker Prize.

Irish writer Anne Enright is longlisted for her second Man Booker Prize.

A year after Richard Flanagan’s win with The Narrow Road to the Deep North, no Australian novelists made it onto the longlist for the Man Booker Prize – the first step towards winning the £50,000 prize in October.

In the second year that the most prestigious international fiction prize was opened to American writers, five appear on the longlist of 13, enough to confirm the fears that former Commonwealth  writers would be edged out.

On the longlist are Bill Clegg (US) for Did You Ever Have a Family, Anne Enright (Ireland) for The Green Road, Marlon James (Jamaica) for A Brief History of Seven Killings, Laila Lalami (US) for The Moor’s Account, Tom McCarthy (UK) for Satin Island, Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria) for The Fishermen, Andrew O’Hagan (UK) for The Illuminations, Marilynne Robinson (US) for Lila, Anuradha Roy (India) for Sleeping on Jupiter, Sunjeev Sahota (UK) for The Year of the Runaways, Anna Smaill (New Zealand) for The Chimes, Anne Tyler (US) for A Spool of Blue Thread (Chatto & Windus) and Hanya Yanagihara (US) for A Little Life.

Peter Carey, who has won two Bookers for Oscar and Lucinda (1988) and True History of the Kelly Gang (2000) was widely expected at least to be longlisted for Amnesia, his wild vision of a young woman resembling Julian Assange who hacks into US prison security; however, his fictional political conspiracy reaching back to the dismissal of the Whitlam government might not have resonated with the British judges, Michael Wood, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, John Burnside, Sam Leith and Frances Osborne.

Despite the absence of Australians, the judges said they were struck by the international spectrum of the novels, with the longlist featuring three British writers, five US writers and one each from the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, India, Nigeria and Jamaica. Marlon James, who lives in Minneapolis, is the first Jamaican-born author to be nominated for the prize. Laila Lalami, now based in Santa Monica but born in Rabat, is the first Moroccan-born.

Anne Enright is the only former winner in the running. The Irish writer won the prize in 2007 with The Gathering. Tom McCarthy was shortlisted in 2010 for C and Andrew O’Hagan in 1999 for Our Fathers; he was also longlisted for Be Near Me in 2006). Marilynne Robinson has been shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2011 and 2013. Three debut novelists are on the list: Bill Clegg, Chigozie Obioma and Anna Smaill.

The chairman of the judges, Michael Wood, said: “We had a great time choosing this list. Discussions weren’t always peaceful, but they were always very friendly. We were lucky in our companions and the submissions were extraordinary. The longlist could have been twice as long, but we’re more than happy with our final choice.

“The range of different performances and forms of these novels is amazing. All of them do something exciting with the language they have chosen to use.”

The shortlist will be announced on September 15 and the winner on October 13.