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Newcastle striker Jeremy Brockieready for graveyard shift on familiar turf

LETHAL: Jeremy Brockie celebrates his goal against Sydney FC.THERE may be a degree of apprehension among his Newcastle Jets teammates, but Jeremy Brockie will walk without fear into the graveyard on Friday night.
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In their past seven visits to Wellington’s vast, intimidating Westpac Stadium, the Jets have returned empty-handed each time.

Seven games, seven defeats.

Goals for: one.

Goals against: 18.

It would be enough to give even battle-hardened veterans insomnia before they so much as board their trans-Tasman flight.

But Brockie is exuding all the enthusiasm of a kid told he can open his Christmas presents two days early.

Not only is the passionate New Zealander heading back to his native soil, but also he will do so in perhaps the form of his life.

Now 24, Brockie burst on the scene when he was a teenager with the now defunct New Zealand Knights, scoring four goals in nine starts during the inaugural A-League campaign.

But the footballing gods seemed intent on making an outstanding youngster pay his dues.

By the time this season kicked off, Brockie had pinballed around among Auckland, Sydney FC, North Queensland and finally Newcastle, playing in only 47 A-League games along the way.

A succession of injuries, including a broken ankle and broken foot, threatened to cruel a promising career.

All the while, Brockie never lost faith.

And finally it seems his fortunes have turned. Having played in only 14 of Newcastle’s 30 games in 2010-11, this season his attendance record is 100per cent – 11 out of 11.

Along the way he has scored four goals, including a cracking volley in Newcastle’s 2-1 loss to Sydney FC on Saturday.

Brockie rated his strike against Sydney as ‘‘definitely one of my best’’ but was disappointed it did not earn his team three competition points.

‘‘It took a long time to come down from space, but it just hit the sweet spot on my foot, and as soon as I connected with it I knew it was going to be flying,’’ he said.

It took a split-second, but Brockie said his dazzling goal was hours in the making.

‘‘It’s great to be feeling in this shape,’’ he said.

‘‘I worked really hard in the pre-season to prepare myself to make sure I wasn’t going to break down, and I’m getting some rewards at the moment.’’

Not that the 24-game New Zealand international – the only Jet to have appeared at last year’s World Cup – is about to rest on his laurels.

Finding a level of consistency is his main focus.

‘‘I haven’t been performing in away games as well as home games, but that’s the same for the whole team,’’ he said.

‘‘But in terms of goals and getting into goal-scoring opportunities, I’m pretty happy with how that’s going.

‘‘Hopefully I can keep adding to the tally and help the team move up the ladder.’’

Jets coach Gary van Egmond is also eager to see fewer peaks and troughs in Brockie’s form line.

‘‘He’s getting better,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘For me, he still drifts in and out of games a little bit too much.

‘‘He scored a wonderful goal, and he’s been doing that for us, scoring goals that perhaps not many people can do.

‘‘But he has to become more effective over the whole of the 90minutes, not just on one piece of magic.’’

There would be no better place for Brockie to prove he can be a week in, week out contributor than in the New Zealand capital, which is just across the Cook Strait from his home town, Nelson.

Having represented his country at the ground they call the Cake Tin, Brockie is one of the few Newcastle players with fond memories of the venue, which is perhaps most famous for its inhospitable weather and natives.

‘‘You never know what you’re going to get in Wellington,’’ he said.

‘‘One day it can be raining and windy and a horrible place to play, and on another day there’s not a cloud in the sky and the sun’s shining … [but] Wellington always has good, passionate supporters, especially after our achievements at last year’s World Cup.’’

The loyalty of Wellingtonians, however, extends only so far.

Last season Brockie was heckled as a ‘‘traitor’’ during the pre-match warm-up, a comment he typically accepted with a wry smile.

‘‘I think that’s all just fun and games. I look at the positives, and if they’re winding me up I suppose that shows they respect me as a player,’’ he said.

On Friday there will at least be some friendly faces in the crowd.

‘‘I’ve got a few relatives in Wellington,’’ Brockie said. ‘‘My brother is coming over from Perth to stay on for Christmas.

‘‘My dad and his partner are coming across from Nelson, as well.

‘‘Obviously we’ve got Christmas Day and Boxing Day off as well, so I’ll manage to spend a bit of time back home after the game with the family.

‘‘I’ll have Christmas back over there for the first time in about five years, so I’m looking forward to that.’’

As for one day making himself at home in Wellington, the self-proclaimed ‘‘proud Kiwi’’, who is off contract this season, said it was not a subject he had considered.

‘‘I’ve never really thought about it, to be honest,’’ Brockie said.

‘‘I’m happy here in Newcastle but football’s a funny game.

‘‘Anything can happen at any time, but I don’t even know if they’d be interested in having me.’’

If Brockie keeps scoring goals like his screamer against Sydney, Wellington may have to join the queue.

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Renewed pressure on Thomson

Labor MHR Craig Thomson is under investigation for misuse of a union credit card.CANBERRA – The federal coalition has stepped up pressure on a government agency to conclude a two-year investigation into the alleged misuse of a union credit card by Labor MP Craig Thomson.
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Fair Work Australia said in December it expected its investigation into the Health Services Union, which Mr Thomson headed from 2002 to 2007, to continue into the new year despite being at an advanced stage.

The New South Wales federal MP faces allegations his HSU credit card was used to pay for prostitutes and make cash withdrawals, which is the focus of police investigations in Victoria.

The workplace watchdog started looking at the allegations in April 2009, but a formal investigation did not start until March 2010.

Former industrial registrar Doug Williams, the public servant who began the investigation, criticised its longevity on Thursday.

“Over two years, in the overall scheme of things, is unaccountably protracted,” Mr Williams said.

“I would have been exceedingly reticent to allow proceedings to drag on.”

Mr Williams’ comments were fresh ammunition for the coalition, who renewed its calls for an urgent end to the investigation.

“Mr Williams’ unprecedented intervention is very serious,” opposition workplace relations spokesman Eric Abetz said.

“When you have the former industrial registrar saying he wouldn’t allow this investigation to go on for as long as it has, you know that something is amiss.

“Fair Work Australia must prioritise and finalise their investigation.”

Senator Abetz said the issue would be a focus at Senate estimates in February.

“Members of the Health Services Union are entitled to answers and the public are entitled to know the outcome of the investigation into somebody that is allowing the Gillard government to limp on,” he said.

His resignation from parliament would put pressure on the Labor minority government, but would not lead to its fall.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Anti-social behaviour on probation

UNPRECEDENTED: Superintendent John Gralton with the 25 new probationary constables hitting the streets yesterday. – Picture by Max Mason-HubersNEWCASTLE police have warned anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated over the holiday period with 25 new probationary constables hitting the streets yesterday.
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Superintendent John Gralton said the intake was a record for the Newcastle local area command and would help to keep drunk and disorderly behaviour to a minimum over Christmas.

Newcastle’s CBD has five establishments on the state’s most-violent hotels list, including three categorised as level-one, which is the highest based on the number of assaults.

‘‘It is absolutely unprecedented for Newcastle LAC to get that many probationary constables,’’ Superintendent Gralton said. ‘‘Northern Region was given 183 in the allocation from the academy with a recognition that country policing needs a boost at the moment.

‘‘The message needs to be ‘if you are out and about on the street at Christmas time enjoy yourself, but we will not tolerate any anti-social behaviour’. If you are walking down the street we want you to feel safe and as soon as somebody commits an offence they are going to have to deal with the consequences.’’

MJ Finnegans was listed as the region’s most violent venue, ahead of Fannys and the Cambridge Hotel while King Street Hotel and Maitland’s Belmore Hotel were level-two listings.

‘‘It’s coming into our busy period when we have a lot of anti-social behaviour around the licensed premises in the CBD we really need extra support on the street,’’ Superintendent Gralton said.

‘‘We’re trying to send a strong message to the community that if the police turn up there are going to be consequences and we will be taking action to try to reduce that anti-social behaviour in the city.

Superintendent Gralton said Newcastle’s command had significantly reduced the number of police on sick leave over the past six months.

He was also looking forward to the arrival of another six officers on transfers and four or five sergeants that had been recruited.

‘‘That means about 35 extra cops for Newcastle coming in December and January,’’ he said.

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Decoding the longevity of Hawking

Stephen HawkingBRITISH scientist Stephen Hawking has decoded some of the most puzzling mysteries of the universe but he has left one mystery unsolved: how he has managed to survive so long with such a crippling disease.
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The physicist and cosmologist was diagnosed with motor neurone disease when he was a 21-year-old student at Cambridge University. Most people die within a few years of the diagnosis, but tomorrow Hawking will turn 70.

“I don’t know of anyone who’s survived this long,” said Ammar Al-Chalabi, director of the Motor Neurone Disease Care and Research Centre at King’s College London. He does not treat Hawking and described his longevity as “extraordinary”.

“It is unusual for (motor neurone disease) patients to survive for decades, but not unheard of,” said Rup Tandan, a neurology professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.

Hawking first gained attention with his 1988 book A Brief History of Time, a simplified overview of the universe. It sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. His subsequent theories have revolutionised modern understanding of concepts such as black holes and the Big Bang theory of how the universe began.

To mark his birthday, Cambridge University is holding a public symposium on “The State of the Universe”, featuring talks from 27 leading scientists, including Hawking.

For 30 years, he held a mathematics post at the university previously held by Sir Isaac Newton. Hawking retired from that position in 2009 and is now director of research at the university’s Centre for Theoretical Cosmology.

Hawking achieved all that despite being nearly entirely paralysed and in a wheelchair since 1970. He has round-the-clock care and communicates only by twitching his right cheek, relying on a computer and voice synthesiser to speak. It can take up to 10 minutes for Hawking to formulate a single sentence.

Motor neurone disease attacks cells that control the muscles. Only about 10 per cent of patients live longer than a decade, and life expectancy generally ranges from two to five years.

Mr Al-Chalabi and colleagues are analysing a DNA sample from Hawking, along with those of other patients, to see if there is something rare about his disease or any genetic mutations that could explain his long survival and if that information could be used to help others.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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NEWSMAKERS OF 2011

Ricky Ponting Michelle O’Byrne
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Bob Brown

Nick McKim

Darrel Baldock

Princess Mary

John Kirwan

Terry Martin

Matthew Goss

The Examiner has picked the top 50 newsmakers in Tasmania in 2011 …

Click here to view The Examiner’s top 50 newsmakers in 2011

THE TOP 10

1 – LARA GIDDINGS: When Ms Giddings took over as Premier of Tasmania from David Bartlett in January, she couldn’t possibly have imagined how badly 2011 was going to turn out.

She kept Treasury and oversaw a horror budget, saw her Education Minister defeated in the Legislative Council elections and ended the year answering questions about a rumoured leadership challenge from Franklin MHA David O’Byrne.

2 – BOB BROWN: The leader of the Australian Greens seemed to be wielding nearly as much power as the Prime Minister as he used his party’s balance of power in the Federal Parliament to push the environmental lobby position on key issues such as the carbon tax and alternative energy.

3 – TERRY MARTIN: The former politician finally faced court over child sex charges and received a 10-month suspended jail sentence for having sex with a 12-year-old girl prostituted by her mother and a family friend. Justice David Porter said Martin’s hypersexuality was an illness that had to be treated as a mitigating factor in considering his sentence.

4 – RICKY PONTING: After relinquishing the Australian captaincy at the beginning of the year, the Launceston-born cricketer found himself fending off calls to retire altogether from international cricket. As Australia’s most prolific run-scorer, Ponting said he was determined to bat on.

5 – MICHELLE O’BYRNE: Not many people were surprised when Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne said she was worried that the state’s hospitals wouldn’t meet their budget targets. In October she fronted 1500 angry health workers in Launceston concerned about their jobs in the face of a $100 million budget reduction at the LGH.

6 – MATTHEW GOSS: The Launceston cyclist capped an outstanding 2011 by winning the Tasmanian athlete of the year award in December. His victory in the Milan-San Remo classic was just one highlight of 2011 as he set his sights on representing Australia in London at the Olympic Games.

7 – NICK McKIM: With responsibility for education and the prison service, the Greens cabinet minister in the Labor government certainly had his hands full in 2011. There was the unsuccessful plan to close 20 Tasmanian schools in the state budget and a few problems at Risdon Prison, including cells that couldn’t hold prisoners and a hostage situation.

8 – DARREL BALDOCK: He remains the St Kilda Football Club’s only premiership captain and his death in February was a time of sadness as well as celebration for the life of a man who continued to achieve after his illustrious football career. His state funeral at Latrobe was attended by 5000 people from all sections of the community.

9 – PRINCESS MARY: The Crown Princess of Denmark started the year by giving birth to twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine and then dealing with the worldwide interest in her growing family. She spent the latter part of the year relaxing with family and friends in Hobart.

10 – JOHN KIRWAN: Faced with making savings of about $100 million a year, the Launceston General Hospital chief executive told a University of Tasmania graduation ceremony that he’d never seen health services reduced the way they were being cut in Tasmania. He described the situation as a fundamental shift and not a short-term adjustment.

Click here to see who else made The Examiner’s top 50 newsmakers in 2011

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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