Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Derby Week! Kiss of Death, Round 5, 2014

Bentleigh Greens vs Green Gully – Wednesday 16th April @ 8.30pm @ Kingston Heath Soccer Complex
The Green Derby. Bentleigh had a good result down at Werribee on the weekend winning 0-1. Green Gully on the other hand had an absolute shocker going down 6-1 to Oakleigh. What is happening at Gully? Is the clique falling apart? Is Dobbo going to come back and rescue them? I can answer all three questions.
  1. Their recruiting has been poor which is a shame, as Gully have one of the best youth setups in the country.
  2. The clique IS falling apart.
  3. Dobbo will not be coming back as there are no finals in the NPL and any hope of Gully winning the thing has faded away very quickly.
Will they be good enough to beat Bentleigh? I really doubt it. Gully is mentally fucked at the moment, and will take a while to recover. Bentleigh on the other hand have had a not too bad start to the season, but they’re a bit impotent in front of goal. However, their impotency will be enough to beat a shithouse gully.Bentleigh Greens 2 – Green Gully 0.

Melbourne Knights vs Hume City – Wednesday 16th April @ 8.30pm @ Knights Stadium
The quarry/deep hole derby. According to the owner of this blog, I have a love affair with the Knights and it’s costing me tips. Yeah, I kinda get a hardon for the Knights, however my tips are calculated and not just willy nilly. Complex mathematical algorithms are used to make you people money. The Knights were good but not good enough to beat Dandenong, losing 1-2. Hume had a very good first half against South Melbourne, but football is a game of 90 minutes, not just 45, and South proved this once again in Hume's 0-3 demolition. This will be an interesting contest, and I may just jet in for this game. The Knights will be too good for Hume, and will be the victors. They need this win, I need this win, we all need this win for the good of Victorian football. Melbourne Knights 3 – Hume City 1.

Port Melbourne Sharks vs Northcote City – Wednesday 16th April @ 8.30pm @ JL Murphy Reserve
The douchebag derby. I have no time for these two clubs. Port's facility is one of the shittest in the state, and Northcote has this obsession with South Melbourne that reeks of jealousy. This makes me angry. However, I’m here to comment on the game at hand. Port struggled at Goulburn Valley with a late winner, while Northcote had an OK match at Pascoe Vale winning 0-1. There have been rumours floating around that Eric Vassiliadis, coach of Port will be gone after this week's loss to Northcote. Port Melbourne 0 – Northcote City 3.

Dandenong Thunder vs Oakleigh Cannons – Thursday 17th April @ 8.30pm @ George Andrews Reserve
The South Eastern Derby. Dandenong shocked the footballing fraternity with their 1-2 win at Knights last week, while the Cannons took advantage of South's good work last week with a 6-1 win over Gully. Let’s not get carried away here. South was 2-4 up at Gully before they had the keeper sent off and a key defender. Oakleigh reaped the benefits by playing a keeperless Gully for 90 minutes. Wank wank. Dandy is starting to come good. Even though they have a new logo which was drawn by some five year old, the FFV pages still show the old one. Get your shit together FFV. Dandenong Thunder 3 – Oakleigh Cannons 0. Oakleigh to be finally shown up as to how shit they really are.

Pascoe Vale vs Heidelberg Utd – Thursday 17th April @ 8.30pm @ Hosken Reserve
The Northern Suburbs Derby. Pascoe Vale lost to Northcote last week, while the Bergers match against Ballarat was postponed due to the ground condition. Now, that game was scheduled for Sunday twilight. The match was postponed on Friday! How the fuck does that happen? Saturday and Sunday were pearler days and the ground would’ve been fine. Instead they cancel it 72 hours before kickoff. Fucken joke if you ask me. If the ground ain't up to a bit of rain, then why are they in the NPL? Pascoe Vale will struggle in a somewhat exciting encounter. Pascoe Vale 0 – Heidelberg 1.

South Melbourne FC vs Ballarat Red Devils – Thursday 17th April @ 8.30pm @ Lakeside Stadium
The City vs Country Derby. Contrary to public opinion, THIS will be South's toughest game of the season so far. South had an excellent win at Hume 0-3, while the Devils stayed at home and lumbered a few gum trees due to their game being postponed at Bergerville. South's first half at Hume was ordinary, and somewhat looked very much like pre-Taylorish football. We weren’t the best, but we weren’t bad either, just very, very flat. The second half was a completely different mindset. From the 45th to the 90th, we dominated and couldve have more than three if we were a bit more clinical. Reed's run down the pitch was very classy. Such a big lad running at full stride and finishing it off with a ball on a plate for South's second was fantastic. Taylor really has them going at the moment. Ballarat, well I’ve been keeping tabs on the Devils for over four years. They are not bad, but not that crash hot. However, this is the danger game for South. Complacency and we will be punished. They will attempt to park the bus and counter at any opportunity. But on saying that, we are South Melbourne playing our first home match at Lakeside, we are the team of the century and we don’t lose to a bunch of lumberjacks from the bush. South Melbourne 6 – Ballarat Red Devils 0.

Gouldburn Valley Suns FC vs Werribee City FC – Saturday 19th April @ 7.30pm @ McEwen Reserve
The who gives two shits derby. I really really hate doing reviews for a match of such poor calibre. No Leigh Minopoulos, no Werribee. Goulburn Valley Suns 2 – Werribee City 0.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Perfect start to 2014 maintained - Hume City 0 South Melbourne 3

Was there a player in the under 20s match who was wearing a headband? Iqi Jawadi, sitting behind me in the stand during that game, seemed to think so, and what's more he was jealous of that player being allowed to do it when he himself wasn't allowed for reasons unknown to me.

As for the seniors, that first half from us wasn't crash hot. Going forward we were disorganised and slightly careless, sending through balls forward that were almost always over hit. We also resorted to too many long balls, which were easily dealt with by the Hume defence for the most part. Even though I guess we were going to the end favoured by the breeze, it's not like it was last week's four goal wind. Besides, it was as much as a crosswind as anything. Jamie Reed got angry at Milos Lujic, Milos Lujic got angry at the linesman with the oil slick hairdo, and I was wondering how the hell we were going to score aside from the possibility of a Hume defensive clusterfuck, which almost happened anyway.

Defensively, things weren't looking much brighter. Hume hit the post with a well taken free kick which went out of Jason Saldaris' reach, and were particularly penetrating on our right hand side. It's a wonder we managed to limit them to probably just one real clear cut chance, which ended up being fluffed with a weak attempt on goal. So, 0-0 at halftime, and I was wondering what we were going to do to turn the game in our favour.

The second half was altogether a very different story. Ladies and gentlemen, we dominated. We controlled the midfield, played well out of the back, and were starting to get forward in a much more organised manner. Still, you gotta get the goal to make it all count, and my was it worth wait for when the deadlock was broken.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Either way, Referee Perry Mur
 doesn't seem to give a toss. Photo: Cindy Nitsos
A lovely bit of work from several players on the left saw centreback James Musa make a run forward, cutting the ball to the top of the 18 yard box from where Nick Epifano - who ran himself into the ground today - put the ball out of the reach of Chris Oldfield in the Hume goal for 1-0. It was the best bit of play we've put together all season. Hume finally managed to get it up to their end in a meaningful manner, but couldn't make their big opportunity of the second half count. Who knows what would have happened if the game had gone level?

Instead a few minutes later, Epifano was the beneficiary of more good work up the field, this time by Jamie Reed I think, making it 2-0. The most pleasing thing about these first two goals, is that they weren't dependent on opposition mistakes, the kinds of goals of we've had the fortune of scoring from a few times this season. Of course they all count the same, but it shows that it's not just our pressure and the frailties of the opposition that can get us goals - we can create them from scratch, too.

We got one of those fortuitous ones in the end, as Milos Lujic made the most of Hume's poor and confused attempt at clearing a cross. At 3-0, this game was done, and the important thing was to not get some yellow cards or injuries. Both seemed under threat when on the grandstand side, a tangle of players decided to try their at some wrestling maneuvers. I think we managed somehow to get away with both from that incident, though I'm not quite sure how. The second half was the best football we've played this season. It may not have been as exhilarating as some of the other games this season, but for effectiveness, it was very good.

Getting home was a bit of a slog, as it usually is from there if you're doing the public transport thing. Didn't hang around to clap the players off this time, instead trying to get out as quickly as possible to cross the no good option Barry Road. Then power walking (by my standard) up the hill, then down the road to the station, where at least this time the lift was working. Made it in time, but boy the legs were sore after it. Had some random on the Werribee train claim to remember me, even though I was in year 10 at the time and she was in year 7. 15 years on and she still remembers my face. I had no idea who she was though.

Anyway, four from four and top of the table. Things could be worse.

Can someone tell me where the line for too ethnic is exactly?
We've spoken about Hume's new grandstand and facilities before, and they were augmented today by a nice, sunny day, a surface in excellent condition, and a decent PA system, even though I'm not sure how they get away with their theme song with its prominent chorus of 'Anadolu'. I'm kinda disappointed that they use the slick version of the song, when they could be using this version instead.

Also, what's the deal with getting the red and white seats when you've changed the strip to a black and white deal?

Next game
The undefeated (only played two matches) Ballarat Red Devils at home on Thursday night. Why this got moved to Thursday from Wednesday, I'm not sure. I suppose it's a good thing that we're not a religious club, what with it being Μεγάλη Εβδομάδα and all that, when 98% of Melbourne's Greek community remembers that they're Orthodox.

Oh yeah, get there early to pick up and/or buy your memberships.

Jersey night rundown
Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry. - John Lennon
Some interesting things happened in between the times I was checking Twitter etc for footy and NPL scores. Interesting lay out for starters. This year both the 'indoor' and 'slightly less indoor' areas were used. The latter was used as a sort of poor person's purgatory, which doesn't bother anti-social me, but might have made it harder for people to socialise if that's what they wanted to do.

It actually reminded me a bit of the way the tutorial I was in for 'Freedom and Constraint' at Melbourne University was set up back in 2002 (taught by this bloke), with the good looking and popular students on the main table getting all the attention, with whoever was left over ending up on the other table in the back corner of some really poorly designed and selected room. Now I'm not putting all the blame in my failing that subject on that arrangement - after all, I did fail eight subjects during my year and a half stint there - but it didn't help.

Look, women! Here come some now!
As mentioned last week, South Melbourne Women's FC have a new president, albeit with much of the same people still on their committee. Last night some of these people were at the jersey night, and the implication seemed to be from the presentation that we were - at the very least - on the way to reconciling the two factions. Unfortunately, not very much detail was provided on that front, so it's hard to know exactly what's going on. Cause for optimism?

Tweets will set you free, check the tweets
While I hope my cynicism is misplaced, I'm less optimistic about the social club situation being resolved in our favour. Local member of parliament Martin Foley was there, and he gave a little bit of a speech after being made no. 1 ticket holder for 2014. As part of that speech he asked for the current state government to honour the deal made by the previous state government with South to give us our 40 years and let us complete the Lakeside facility.

A commendable sentiment, which was taken up quite quickly by a couple of serving committee members on Twitter. For example:
which is a little different from this one:
comments which were followed by a tweet from Foley himself:
Which seemed an unusual comment to make, since the current state government has actually come out with some detail about what the issue is, as they see it. The question I wanted to (and then did) ask Foley was:
The answer to that is not yet known definitively. Short of hoping that Labor win the upcoming election - and as yet I've seen no ironclad guarantee yet that they will deviate from the Liberals' policy position - what is the plan for resolving the situation, either by taking the government on or acquiescing to their preferred 21 year model? Maybe time to crank out another letter to John Eren or something, and maybe this time I'll get a response.

Overall, it was an enjoyable evening. The food was a step up from the previous year's offerings at this venue. Soup as a starter(!) instead of the usual antipasto and dips, garlic bread, good mains, and dessert that wasn't fruit or a cheese platter. Stay tuned to SMFC TV and South Radio for related things that happened. How the hell did I live my life before Twitter and before having a phone that could easily and cheaply access Twitter? Sometimes it feels good to be part of the present instead of my usual existence in the past.

Around the grounds
Part 1 - Golden rays of sunshine light a Coburg afternoon
Moreland City were at home to Sydenham Park, on a field that was surprisingly not bogged down after recent rain, but rather had. After an even start, Sydenham took control of this match and eventually ran out deserved 3-0 winners. The first goal was quite nice, as it involved a nutmeg on the byline. Tommi 'Gomer Pyle' Tommich in the Sydenham goal had very little to do until the last 15 minutes, when the visitors went down to 10 men but were already 3-0 up. The inevitability of the result seemed to calm down the Sydenham coach, with his massive chin and fan-like yelling of instructions every two seconds.

The downside? There was no HP sauce this year. Even worse, I didn't win the raffle. Massive props though to the Sydenham player who copped a yellow card for letting loose at the ref with a 'пичка ти матер', after an admittedly pretty crappy no advantage call.

Part 2 - Ξεκάρφωτες μαλακίες 
For the first time in many years - probably since 2003 - the Paisley Park derby between Altona Magic and Altona East was on. The NPL shuffling of the decks  has seen the Magic demoted to East's division, and the home side marginally had the better of it in the first half, though East had the half's best opportunity - any shot on target would have done the trick, but it went over the bar instead. The second saw Magic step up their game and begin to take more control. They opened the scoring with some neat play around the box, a pass inside to an unmarked striker, who popped it into the back of the net while East were waiting for an offside to be called, which is pretty stupid, because it wasn't offside.

East were never out of the game though, and eventually snared a late equaliser from a goalmouth scramble, and were able to avoid defeat with the last play of the game, when some Magic player headed his effort from the six yard box wide when it seemed harder to miss than score. I think 1-1 was one of the two fair outcomes for this game. There was also a bit of ETHNIC VIOLENCE when one old man slapped another old man, after the latter dared him to do it during what initially appeared to be a half joking conversation.

Magic's raffle prices are a bit of joke by the way. $2 for one ticket? Moreland was selling them for $1 each or three for $2.

Frenemies department
Listening to 3XY Radio Hellas the other week, I was surprised to hear one George Triantos being interviewed on the phone about the South game against Gully. What happened to our being blacklisted? When did we drop the mutual animosity? Why didn't I get a memo about this? I'm feeling all disoriented.

Speaking of which, when I went to listen to the show today, all I got instead was the Oakleigh Cannons show, by which I mean some Orthodox Palm Sunday church service.

At least we still have Elias Donoudis to hate without fear or favour.
Final thought
Victorian soccer hasn't been the same since the nut sellers stopped stocking παστέλια.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Kiss of Death, Round 4, 2014

Pascoe Vale vs Northcote City – Friday 11th April @ 8.30pm @ Hosken Reserve
Pascoe Vale had a good 1-1 draw at Bentleigh last week, while Northcote succumbed to a very good Ballarat side 1-3 as predicted. As much as my heart is saying Pascoe Vale, my brain and algorithms are saying Northcote. This will be Northcote's first win of the season. Pascoe Vale 1 – Northcote City 2.

Oakleigh Cannons vs Green Gully – Friday 11th April @ 8.30pm @ Jack Edwards
Oakleigh drew 2-2 at Port last week, while Gully put in a laughable performance in a 3-5 loss to South Melbourne. They had Gonzalez (GK) and some other douche sent off. I think their youth keeper did well when required. Oakleigh on the other hand have yet to show me anything on or off the park. No food, no write up. Simple. Oakleigh Cannons 2 – Green Gully 0.

Goulburn Valley Suns vs Port Melbourne Sharks – Saturday 12th April @ 6.30pm @ McEwen Reserve
This is a hard one to pick. But I don’t pick matches will-nilly. A lot of thought goes into them. The Suns got hammered last week by the Bergers. See, that right there just doesn’t make sense. How can a team as poor as the Bergers hammer a team like the Suns who are poor anyway. Port will be triumphant and drop into SPC on the way back. Goulburn Valley Suns 1 – Port Melbourne Sharks 7.

Hume City vs South Melbourne – Sunday 13th April @ 3pm @ Broadmeadows Valley
Finally get to suss out this new grandstand down at Broadmeadows Valley Park. A few people reckon it’s pretty good. I’ll see for myself I suppose. South is coming off a rampant 3-5 win at Gully. We were 0-4 up very very quickly last week, and it should’ve been at least six by half time, no exaggeration there. What happened in the second half was a wee bit disappointing. To cop two goals in the first five minutes was pretty woeful. People were losing their shit at that hunk of man meat Saldaris, but on closer inspection, I don’t fault him with any of the goals. Gully were just cunts. The tackles were thick, and the red cards were warranted. The rest is history. The team of the century was just too good. They will also be too good against Hume. Hume City 0 – South Melbourne 3.

Werribee City vs Bentleigh Greens – Sunday 13th April @ 3pm @ Galvin Park
Werribee robbed the Knights last week. Dodgiest penalty I've ever seen. Well actually, no, Olympiakos is awarded the worst non-penalties known to man. Bentleigh struggled against Pascoe Vale but will be too good against the Bees. I really can’t see Werribee beating the Greens. The scouts will once again be at a Bentleigh game, and word on the grapevine is they like what they see. Werribee City 1 – Bentleigh Greens 3.

Melbourne Knights vs Dandenong Thunder – Sunday 13th April @ 3pm @Knights Stadium
What a shit penalty to cop, ey? Maybe next time you can put away your chances! The Knights will not let that happen again. A source close to the club is confident the Knights will bounce back after last week's speedhump. Dandy on the other hand are looking OK I suppose. Haven't really seen them other than on youtube. Note to DandyTV guys. Maybe do a voice over before you publish. The language is bloody ridiculous. Melbourne Knights 2 – Dandy Thunder 0.

Heidelberg United vs Ballarat Red Devils – Sunday 13th April @ 6pm @ Olympic Village
The two big winners from last week. Note to the Bergers. Ballarat will not be a pushover. Me has a feeling they will beat yous. Heidelberg United 1 – Ballarat Red Devils 2. *92nd minute controversial penalty to the Devils. Bergers to lose their shit.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Social Club Artefact Wednesday - a post-social club reminiscence

Oh lord, another in a series of sooky 'wasn't the past better than what exists now' posts. Tomorrow marks four years since we left what was Bob Jane Stadium, before it became Lakeside Stadium again. It also marks four years of having no social club (no, Beachcomber doesn't count), which our helpful timer has been illustrating for some time now, much to the dual amusement and annoyance of everyone at the club, including myself.

Ah, it was a poker night, not a casino night.
 Image courtesy of George Kouroumalis.
But even though that's the 'official' duration of having no social club, the fact is that the social club was used after that for at least one club function. Later that year, probably around August or September (or was it even the next year? surely not) there was some sort of casino night hosted by the club. I didn't attend that night (and by all reports it was a fun night out), but I did help set up the tables and such the night before.

Although works had started earlier that year on bulldozing the terraces, work on the social club hadn't really got far. The casino night therefor was meant to be the pre-redeveloped social club's final official usage. I think I got roped into helping out by virtue of the fact that I was at Port Melbourne watching a game, and one of my companions got a phonecall from one of the movers and shakers, and all of a sudden we were off to Lakeside.

Anyway, the job done we chucked the TV above the bar on to watch the footy, some pedestrian affair that I think Hawthorn was winning in a canter, so I said to one of the blokes 'change it to SBS'. Now Friday nights of course at the time being SBS' soft-porn night, and after giving me a quizzical look he changed the channel, and there was Diary of a Nymphomaniac, with its inventive use of a glass coke bottle on a lithe female body.

See, the last the four years without a social club haven't been completely terrible! As for the timer, if we never end up getting a social club, let it stay there like the Mark of Cain.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Like something out of that twilighty show about that zone - Green Gully 3 South Melbourne 5

It might be a strange thing to say - after all, just about every legitimate football match has two teams in it - but this game was as much about Green Gully as it was about South Melbourne. It was a game based on momentum, complacency, and a slight breeze going to the northern, downhill end, which maybe played more of a role than it should have, with seven of the eight goals being scored at that end.

It was also hands down, one of the most bizarre games I've ever seen. Bizarre for the ease with which we kept scoring during the first half. Bizarre for its seismic momentum shifts. Bizarre for it not being us with the most calamitous and costly goalkeeping performance at this ground, so often a grave for our keepers. Bizarre for a stunt attempted by Green Gully after their goalkeeper Kieran Gonzales was sent off, which I can't recall ever being attempted before.

It's fair to say that the game was just nuts. Gonzales was in part responsible for the first goal we scored, after he parried a low ball in front of Milos Lujic for 1-0. He was clearly responsible for the second goal, when in attempting to be smart - and even early on he'd be performing his goalkeeping duties with a sort of recklessness that would wouldn't even make sense if his side were 3-0 up - when he kicked his attempted clearance straight into Lujic, whence it deflected back into the net for 2-0.

Even the Dodgy Asian Betting
guy at the game thought Epifano
couldn't muck up that chance
from point blank range.
A deflected low cross or shot from Tyson Holmes ended up at the back post for Lujic to tap in for 3-0. Just 26 minutes had passed for Lujic to achieve his hattrick. But still more was to come. Nick Epifano released Jamie Reed into a ton of space, whereby the grey-haired striker easily lofted it over the oncoming but stranded Gonzales for 4-0.

After the retirement of Peter Gavalas at the end of last season, Gonzales had been targeted by South, and had reputedly actually been very close to signing. Yesterday's performance made a few of us think that we perhaps dodged a bullet on that front, as he put in a combination Peter Gavalas-Abdelhadi Deroune Green Gully Reserve 'Vortex of Goalkeeping death'

We went into halftime 4-0 up, but it should have been six or seven, without any exaggeration. The most glaring of the missed opportunities came a minute after Reed's goal, with Epifano hitting the right post from very close range - we all assumed it was in, even the Dodgy Asian Betting guy had already marked it down as a goal. Some South fans were half joking that it'd be a costly miss, not believing for a second that Gully could mount any sort of meaningful comeback. As we watched the planes fly behind us on the outer side, the talk even turned towards where flight MH370 was.

It's hard for me to recall ever seeing a Gully side so inept and so uncompetitive. Except for one late chance that hit the post in the first half, they offered almost no threat at all. Their defending was abysmal, their midfield little better. Their passing was a mess, with even simple passes mucked up. The guy in charge of the scoreboard, either because he couldn't be bothered climbing up and down to keep changing the score, or out of shame, stood in front of our scoreboard number.

Yet within minutes of the second half beginning, it was 4-2, and the old Gully we all love to hate was back; physical, aggressive, and very dirty. Matthew Sanders managed to find himself on the end of two easy opportunities, and he buried both of them, our defence all of a sudden becoming a sieve. Panic set in among the South faithful, and quite obviously among the players themselves, as their complacency became rank ineptitude.

Unfortunately for Gully, Gonzales took the home team's re-discovered aggression too far. As Lujic was called for offside while making a forward run, his momentum seeing him run past the Gully keeper, Gonzales kicked out at him, copping a straight red for his troubles. It was bizarre (there's that word again) and entirely unnecessary, and yet he saw fit to complain to the ref who had no intention of changing his mind.

Yet that wasn't the end of that incident. After Gonzales left the ground, a new keeper came on, but without any substitution actually being made. Chris Taylor was going crazy on the sidelines trying to make it clear to the officials that Gully still had eleven players on the field. Eventually they sorted it out, and South settled down a smidge. But even when Gully went down to nine men after Steven Stephen Downes was sent off for swearing at the ref - after which the officials seemed to perform a headcount - the home side still looked more likely to score.

And score another they did during the first minute of what would be a long injury time, via our old enemy Roddy Vargas - who popped up in the six yard box unmarked and headed home truly from a corner, as the South defence and Jason Saldaris went MIA. Even worse, we gifted Gully the ball from the ensuing kickoff, as panic mode well and truly took hold. Luckily substitute Leigh Minopoulos made it 5-3 from close range to end what was a pretty bizarre game.

So, three points is good especially at that ground, as is three wins from three starts all on the road, but it will be interesting to see how the team comes out on the other side of this match. Will their confidence take a knock, after playing so poorly in the second half, especially defensively? Or will they see this as a massive and necessary kick up the arse, showing that complacency and lack of concentration will see you get into trouble very quickly in this league?

Next Week
Hume City away on Sunday.

Around the grounds
Screw this, I'll make my own friends - on the internet!
I headed out to watch Port Melbourne host Oakleigh on Friday night. Since none of the Friends, Romans and Countrymen I alluded to on Twitter managed to make it out there, it was just me and my earphones listening to the FFV's radio broadcast which I'm really digging, especially for its interactivity. I had a go at them on Twitter for the abysmal pronunciation of several Greek names by Adem Barolli, their 'around the grounds' person, and I even got my name read out (poorly) with apologies. All in good fun. Too bad next week I'll be stuck at some function, otherwise I'd tune in again. Give it a go if you haven't yet, because questionable pronunciations of Greek names aside (and even the 'j' in Dusan Bosnjak's name went missing at one point on that front), they do a great job.

Anyway the match itself was kinda weird. The crowd was pretty much what you'd expect it to be, with the 'NPL, new ear hoorah' vibe already gone, and even most of the goals weren't greeted by much of a cheer. Port went ahead early after some very poor defending from a free kick out wide. Oaks gradually got on top, and equalised with a cross from the left to an unmarked player in the six yard box. The game swung back to a more even keel in the second half, and Port scored a cracker of a long range goal which went low through traffic and curled into the bottom corner. Then gradually Oaks got on top, and equalised with a cross from the left to an unmarked player in the six yard box.

Lastly, $4 for a chocolate bar? You're having a laugh Port Melbourne. Your ground ain't Docklands or the MCG.

Changing of the guard, change of attitudes?
I've been made aware that South Melbourne Women's FC have a new president, one Gabrielle Giuliano, the daughter of legendary of South Melbourne Hellas coach John Margaritis. Will this see a change of fortunes with regards to the re-uniting of the men's and women's teams? Who knows, but one can only hope so. I'm still of the opinion that together we would be stronger than what either of is right now, though SMWFC may disagree, seeing as they've had their most successful period off-field since breaking their ties with us.

Mountain of a molehill
It's probably not fair for this blog to be laying into Oakleigh two weeks in a row, but I would say two things on that:
  1. Last week's Dockerty Cup shenanigans were an own goal as much as anything, thanks to Miron Bleiberg coming out and admitting their cock up on SEN.
  2. Honestly, it's not just me who's noticed this week's apparent farce.
To elaborate on that second point. Last week it was pointed out to me by a South fan, as well as being noticed by several different people across the net, that Oakleigh's 2014 jersey seemed, well, a bit overwhelmed with sponsorship, somewhat akin to the infamous jersey South attempted to take to the World Club Championships in 2000.

Now while I'm sure the Oakleigh people are very happy that they have such great financial support - something which has been evident at Jack Edwards Reserve for several years now, judging by the plethora and variety of sponsor boards at that ground - but the question some people are asking is, have Oakleigh broken part of the NPL Victoria rules by having so many sponsors on the front of their shirt and on the front and back of their shorts?

2014 NPL front of kit guidelines. Click to enlarge the picture.
You see, in the licence agreement that NPL clubs have been obliged to sign to enter the competition - an agreement which, it must be remembered, was at the heart of last year's discontent - there are guidelines pertaining to a team's on field kit design, as can be seen on the image on the right hand side.

It gives you room for just one sponsor on the front of the jersey that's not related to the apparel sponsor and/or manufacturer. It also limits the amount of sleeve and short sponsorships you can sport. There has also been some talk that the rules may even become stricter next year. But by any reasonable estimation, Oakleigh's 2014 jersey
has clearly crossed the limitations every club is expected to adhere to for this season.

This is probably just making a mountain of a molehill, but if these rules are meant to establish a certain level of conformity, why should one club be able to flaunt those rules, or indeed any others it considers inconvenient? Already we have several NPL and NPL1 clubs with non-compliant venues. To some extent, that's understandable, if the ideology behind letting those sides in from the start is that they'll eventually get there within a well-established time frame (with hopefully severe consequences if the outcome is that they don't). Of course there is also the counter argument that they shouldn't be in the NPL in the first place if their facilities aren't up to scratch.

Oakleigh's sponsor filled jersey clearly stands out among
 the 2014 NPL pack. Image: MFootball/Don Sutherland.

But a jersey isn't a venue. While venues largely stay the same year in, year out, each year the jersey becomes reborn. Or so it would seem, because the Oakleigh kit in question seems to be the same one that Oakleigh sported last year, only this time with the NPL badge squeezed in there. So from that a number of questions arise: did anyone actually notice the aesthetic abomination that was this kit last year, or has the new season, new league and its supposed rules heightened awareness of all these compliance issues? Is Oakleigh planning to actually introduce a new jersey this year? If they don't, will the FFV pull them up on their breach of the guidelines? If they do, what will that cost Oakleigh both in terms of kit costs and sponsorship costs if the various sponsors were promised a place on the match day kit?

Back in 2000, when South's brains trust either arrogantly or ignorantly tried to flout the rules with their sponsor laden jersey, they were forced to change it. It was embarrassing and costly. This is a competition of much lesser importance in the grand scheme of things, but all cynicism aside for a moment, one of the key things the NPL was meant to usher in was a certain level of professionalism, conformity and standardisation.

Speaking of jerseys
South's 'Jersey night' is on this Friday night, at Beachcomber, $50. I'll be there. Other people will be there. Maybe you should be there, too?

Final thought
"You lost your NSL, huh?"
"Uh huh."
"It's not coming back, is it?"
"It might..."
"No, it's not."

Ten years with no NSL - where did the time go?

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Kiss of Death, Round 3, 2014

Port Melbourne Sharks vs Oakleigh Cannons – Friday 4th April, 8.30pm, SS Anderson Reserve
Port Melbourne showed how pathetic they were last week against South. Again they found themselves leading, yet succumbed to late winners. The Cannons struggled at Goulburn Valley and struggled again against the Bergers last week before getting a last minute winner. This will be an OK encounter I suppose. Crowd will be poor, because quite frankly both teams are skint in that department. On field Port will finally get their first win of the season. Port Melbourne 2 – Oakleigh Cannons 1.

Bentleigh Greens vs Pascoe Vale – Friday 4th April, 8.30pm, Kingston Heath Soccer Complex
Bentleigh had a good win last week at Northcote even though they were 0-2 up on the half hour. Pascoe Vale lost to a dominant Knights outfit 0-2 as expected. Bentleigh will dominate Pascoe from the get-go and this will be a high scoring match. I can’t see them dropping any points to bottom of the table Pascoe Vale. Bentleigh Greens 4 – Pascoe Vale 1.

Northcote City vs Ballarat Red Devils – Saturday 5th April, 3pm, John Cain
Probably the hardest match of the week to pick. Northcote is a rabble with 0 from 2, and Ballarat are playing not bad, but have a lot of improvement. Will this be the shock result of the round? Possibly. To be honest, I think Northcote's small and shitty ground will suit Ballarat's play. Ballarat love small compact grounds. Northcote City 1 – Ballarat Red Devils 3.

Dandenong Thunder vs Hume City – Saturday 5th April, 7pm, George Andrews Reserve
Hume. What a disaster losing away last week to Werribee! Joke of a result which absolutely necked everyone's multis. What the hell is going on down there? Wheels fallen off already, or you guys only play against decent teams? Dandenong had a good win against Green Gully last week and should continue that trend this week against Hume. Dandenong Thunder 3 – Hume City 0.

Goulburn Valley Suns vs Heidelberg United – Saturday 5th April, 7pm, John McEwen Reserve
You know you’re shit when you’re sitting second last and your opponent is fourth last and the only thing separating you is goal difference. HAHAHAHA. Ah fucking hell, you Berger boys make me laugh. You know what, this will also be the upset of the round. The Suns will beat the Bergers and all of Victoria will laugh their tits off. Goulburn Valley Suns 2 – Heidelberg United 1.

Melbourne Knights vs Werribee City – Sunday 6th April, 3pm, Somers Street
The Knights will right a wrong from last week. They will do what Hume should’ve done. They will absolutely bukkake Werribee City and destroy their soul. I am expecting goals and plenty of them. I want the Knights to finish them. Kaman Kroatsia, you can do it fucken! The Knights are hot hot hot, and so are their cevapi. The Knights will be all over Werribee like a rash. From go to woe, it will be all Knights with the occasional counter-attack from Werribee. No Leigh Minopoulos, no Werribee, simple really. Melbourne Knights 4 – Werribee City 0.

Green Gully vs South Melbourne – Saturday 5th April, 3pm, Green Gully Reserve
Booyah bitches! nom nom nom. Last season South won convincingly at Gully. This week South will do the same. Who is Green Gully? Fucked if I know, fucked if I care. South will stretch its legs and show muscle. We shall eat their hearts and pillage their village. There is no escaping the Team of The Century. We are South Melbourne, Team of the Century, no one gets in our way. Last week we visited the shithole that is Port Melbourne. We went, we saw, we conquered as expected. Were we lucky? No. Did we play well? Fuck yeah, bitches, we are South Melbourne, Team of the Century. How good were we, eh? Fucking magic. Jealous much? Ole! Minute with Mala absolutely sick! FML where did I leave my meds? Green Gully 0 – South Melbourne 3.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Social Club Artefact Wednesday - Save Our South T-Shirt

This Friday marks one of the most significant moments in the club's history - as well as perhaps its lowest point - the 10th anniversary of the 'Save Our South' campaign.

A month after being eliminated in the finals of the last NSL season in heartbreaking fashion by Adelaide United, South wasn't just on the ropes, it was down for the count. Despite the windfall of the infamous World Club Championship money just four years previously, we had huge debts and no income stream on the horizon. South was placed in administration. Our players, their contracts declared null and void, all left.

We weren't involved in any competitions,  being blocked along with Melbourne Knights from joining the VPL in 2004 by certain insecure clubs, most infamously Whittlesea Stallions and Ernie Tapai's bloody fridge magnets. I guess the assumption was also at the time that, with the Melbourne licences for the new competition reduced from two to one, that we were a goner anyway.

A rally was organised to save the club, much like many VFL clubs had had to do over the preceding decades. Where thousands were expected to turn up, only a few hundred bothered to do so. I'm ashamed to say that I was one of those many thousands of South fans that did not turn up to that day. Whatever personal issues I may have had at the time, I suppose like many South fans I just assumed that someone else would rock up to save the club. In the end, that's what happened, but only just.

In several ways both tangible and intangible, the legacy of that period still follows us to this day. Tangibly in the sense of having to pay back the Toumbourou/Christopher money, with the attendant hysteria that came with it, or the Lakeside issue still not being resolved. Intangible in the sense that the club's sense of invincibility and self-importance was dealt an incredible blow, both to those who followed our club and those outside of it who reveled in our fall from grace.

But I'm not looking to dwell on that. What I want to emphasise is that we still have a club ten years on, when many thought it was doomed. And I would like to thank all those people, whether they are still with the club or not, who fought for the club on that day, and after that day, to keep it alive. You showed that we can't just take the club for granted, that it has to be fought for, and that duty belongs to all of us.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

It's not how, but how many, right? Port Melbourne 2 South Melbourne 3

That first 20 odd minutes, it looked like we would rip them apart. And that last 15 minutes, kinda the same. The in between part though is where we almost came unstuck, and that's something we're going to have work on, because there will be opponents this season who will not be as defensively suspect as Port have been so far this season, who will manage to contain us and who we can't allow to make the most of limited opportunities when we decide to step off the gas for 20 minutes in the middle of the game, thinking we have control.

There were, I think, some surprises with regards to selection, with Norton and Tsiaras picked ahead of Mullett and Musa. Minopoulos was back on the bench with Lujic starting. Anyway, those first 20 odd minutes, we looked shit hot, shots coming in, blocked, hit the post etc. We eventually scored when Brad Norton's low cross from the left was bundled in for an own goal. And then we kinda lost our way a little, as Port started working their way into the game.

Chris Taylor's serious face. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
And then we copped the goal we probably, maybe, kinda deserved to cop. Now, from my angle (a lousy one), eyesight (usual lousiness), and attention span (always lousy, not helped this time by having my mate Chris Egan over from Perth, as we were talking about all sorts of things that had little to do with the game), it looked like a pretty cheap goal to conceded. Those who did see it more clearly than me put the blame on Nick Epifano for a piss poor effort in trying to get the ball clear after a Port corner.

Chris Taylor's angry face. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Anyway, 1-1 at halftime sucked, but worse was to come. All of a sudden Port were controlling the midfield, and their defence were all over what had become quite pitiful South attempts at going forward. Soon enough they had the lead, with former South winger Kamal Ibrahim - who has a looked a lot better in these first few weeks than anything he managed to produce at South, which says something perhaps for a player maturing, though of course there's also another 20 odd games to go, so who knows how he'll end up - finishing a dazzling team move, full of speed and quick movement of the ball.

Chirs Taylor's happy face. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.

It was at around about that moment (or perhaps the half arsed attempts at wresting back the initiative immediately after that) that
I thought we were fucked, 'scuse my French.
Thankfully, the entrance of Leigh Minopoulos managed to change the momentum of the game again, as we started pressuring Port again and getting into dangerous positions. Minopoulos took a shot which took a massive deflection and sailed over the keeper's outstretched arm and underneath the crossbar into the back of the net. If nothing else, it was a just reward for having a go.

Chris Taylor's 'soup or salad?' face. Photo: Cindy Nitsos
All of a sudden we were all over Port, as they seemed to tire and become dare I say it a bit nervous as well. We blew a few more chances because we just wouldn't take that damn first time shot, but Minopoulos eventually completed his super-sub routine when he cut in well and placed the shot out of the Port keeper's reach. We managed to hold on, and the rest as they say, is history. Of course there's only so many fightbacks a team can make during the last 15 minutes in a season, but three points is three points is three points.  Having said all of that though, credit to both teams for putting on a good show, lots of attacking flair, worlds away from the Bergers-South long ball fest.

Next week
Gully away. Surely we couldn't win two in a row at that ground?

Nick Jacobs retires
I was very disappointed to hear confirmation of the retirement of young forward/winger Nick Jacobs, due to ongoing issues with injury. A week after scoring the winner in this memorable match against Southern Stars, a broken leg while playing for his school has seemingly never quite healed. All the best to the young man for whatever his future holds.

Footy! Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Footy, footy, footy, footy, footy, footy, footy, footy, footy, footy etc
Back in the day at the local soccer, it used to be common for a couple of blokes standing on the fence with their radios, maybe an earphone, but just as likely a plain old transistor radio, to be relaying the footy scores to everyone else. These days of course everyone has phones with the requisite app (which crashes on my phone), so fewer people make the effort or have the need to listen to the game on the radio.

Still, some choose to do so, and I'm not going to criticise those who listen to a footy match while the soccer is being played in front of them, and maybe exhibit an over-exuberant celebration of a hard fought win - not least of all because I've done it plenty of times myself. Nor will I admonish FFV radio match commentator Teo Pellizzeri for making a tweet variant of that behaviour. But it just goes to show I think how people are able to blend their love of both sports into the one experience. Away from the sometimes boorish code war rhetoric, most people just get on with doing what's in their hearts. It's perhaps a very Melbourne soccer thing to do, having no idea if rugby league loving soccer fans do the same north of the border.

South Radio and TV
After a very patchy first episode, episode number two for 2014 of South Radio was actually quite good, and not just because South of the Border got a mention for its hard hitting investigative report into the crazy antics of George Cross goalkeeper Robert Santili. It looks like they're going to have weekly player interviews as well, starting off with Tyson Holmes last week. The TV show's new segment 'Minute with Mala' seems to be a promising new direction also.

Around the grounds
Part 1 - Sweet VFA
On Saturday arvo I somehow ended up at Coburg's City Oval ground for the clash between the newly standalone Coburg Lions and Port Melbourne. By somehow, I mean Chris Egan wanted to go there instead of Vic Park or the Morris Street Oval. First time for me seeing this ground outside of an ABC TV broadcast. I was aware of the concrete terracing, not so much of the odd grandstand (dating back to 1925 - should have taken a photo) with two thirds of its capacity closed off to the public.

The crowd was around 600 I reckon, and about 3/4 of them I guess would have been Port fans. Memberships were being sold at the astonishingly low rate of $55 for an adult (normal entry is $10 for an adult, so we're talking half price for the season).

Inside the clubs rooms there were separate trophy cabinets for the footy and cricket sides, as well as a lot of bluster about being standalone and being off for it, but whether it actually leads to a revival of the club's fortune's on and off the field remains to be seen. For the sake of history you'd like to be wrong, but I can't see Coburg surviving for long, even if all those sponsors stick around.

Funnily enough the electronic clock next to the footy scoreboard - there's a separate one for cricket I think - wasn't working, even though it was sponsored by the Electrical Trades Union. Anyway, the game itself was pretty ugly, but at least it was close until halftime, before Port realised they weren't completely awful and kicked away in the last quarter to win by 12 or so goals.

Part 2 - (State League One North-West) Struggle Street
Sunday arvo was spent at Ralph Reserve, home of Western Suburbs, as they played host to Altona East in the opening round of state league action. The league structure for this division looks a lot like last year's State League 2 North-west (which on the whole, was generally rubbish), but with the addition of the formerly state league 1 Western Suburbs and Altona Magic.

With the exception of ex-South, ex-George Cross and most recently, ex-Altona East midfielder Andy Bourakis, Suburbs had a very young team. East was better off in that department, but man did they make hard work of this game. There were few chances for either side, but eventually a calamitous error in their own box saw Suburbs gift East a goal in the first half.

The second half was more of the same really. East hit the crossbar from close range, and I feel weren't seriously tested going the other way. In the end, one goal was enough in what is expected to be an otherwise tough season for East. The souv was excellent, chips on it without asking, and a bit of fresh parsley in the salad as well, which was a nice touch.

Amount of times that I was mistaken for a North Melbourne fan on Friday because of my scarf.
1.5 (it's complicated). Season tally, 3.5.

The size of Steve from Broady's stats and video posse
At least three people. This is disturbing in the sense that what started off as a gimmick at the Altona East reserves in 2012 in exchange for a passing grade and free souvlakia, has now become a faction at the club in its own right. In a couple of years time he'll have a large enough group to actually run a rival ticket in the elections. Hey, if he manages to get us a social club...

The approximate moment I wrote off our 2014 league season.
Probably around 68 minutes into this game. Leigh Minopoulos managed to win me back for the time being. Fickle much?

Whoopsadoodle department
You may recall that last week we noted that Oakleigh was one of the more notable casualties of the Dockerty Cup fourth round, losing to fellow NPL side Werribee City. Well, it turns out that Oakleigh didn't realise until after the game that the Dockerty Cup doubled up as qualification for the FFA Cup.

Cannons coach Miron Bleiberg fronted up SEN 1116 to make the revelation, claiming he (and I assume by extension, the Oakleigh committee) thought they were two separate competitions with no relation to each other. I'd sympathise with their predicament, except that:
  • How could they not know? It's been all over the media. Oh, they probably only read Neos Kosmos.
  • Since it wasn't a midweek game, and they were playing an NPL opponent, why not put in a full strength team anyway? You know, because winning the Dockerty Cup might be a goal worth achieving in and of itself?
  • It's Oakleigh, so fuck 'em.
Final thought
Here is the crux of the matter, and I come back to the case of learned theology. For whose sake is it that the proof is sought? Faith does not need it; indeed, it must even regard the proof as its enemy. But when faith begins to feel embarrassed and ashamed like a young woman for whom her love is no longer sufficient, but secretly feels ashamed of her lover and must therefore have it established that there is something remarkable about him - when faith thus begins to lose its passion, when faith begins to cease to be faith, then a proof becomes necessary so as to command respect from the side of unbelief...

Soren Kierkegaard, Faith and Subjectivity

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Judge, jury, executioner - Kiss of Death, Round 2, 2014

Pascoe Vale vs Melbourne Knights – Friday 28th March, 8.30pm, Hosken Reserve
The Knights had an excellent result at home to Northcote City last round. Northcote played the suspended Trent Rixon, and as expected nothing has been done (more below). Covarrubias was the star of the show and missed a penalty which would’ve been his hattrick. Should he have taken the penalty? Some say yes, others say no because it put the Knights into a bit of a shit. I for one would say yes. He was on a high, and who better to take a penalty that a player whose adrenaline is going through the roof at that moment. I have been privately mocked via email about my prediction that the Knights will do well this year and probably end up winning it. But to those emails I say a big FUCK YOU. I’m the KOD and you’re fucking not. Pascoe Vale surprised me as to how poor they were last round at Hume. This unfortunately will continue this week. Pascoe Vale 1 – Melbourne Knights 3.

Oakleigh Cannons vs Heidelberg United – Friday 28th March, 8.30pm, Jack Edwards Reserve
Oakleigh struggled up at Goulburn Valley last round. The home side had their chances but never took them. Un-fucking-lucky I say to that. Oakleigh got the all important early goal and came away with the three points in the bag. The Bergers were woeful against South. Actually, worse than woeful, pretty shit, the Bergers we all know pretty shit. They were a rabble. Unorganised at the back, slow in the midfield and poor up front. Their squad is about four years old. What I mean by this is, Katsakis has built a squad of has-beens who played their best football about 4-5 years ago. The Greek derby somewhat, with a crowd of about 300 people expected. Oakleigh Cannons 2 – Heidelberg United 1.

Goulburn Valley vs Ballarat Red Devils – Saturday 29th March, 6.30pm,  McEwen Reserve
The Willy Wonka derby. The golden ticket winners. This match is of no interest to me whatsoever. Who can really be necked giving a preview of this shit. Fingers crossed the game gets postponed and the Devils have to make it back to Ballarat in that ‘Gold Bus’ that takes them everywhere, two weeks in a row! Goulburn Valley 2 – Ballarat Red Devils 4.

Dandenong Thunder vs Green Gully – Saturday 29th March, 7pm, George Andrews
The game to be at on Saturday night. Did Dandy struggle against Port, or did Port struggle against Dandy? That is the question here. Can I answer it? Yes I can. Will I answer it? No I won’t. CBF majorly. Anyhoo, Dandy is looking OK I suppose. Much improvement needed if they are going to be any real threat this year. Gully had an easy match at home to Werribee City. Two goals each side of the break was enough to discard of the Bees. Good result as Werribee are an unknown quantity at the moment. But Gully as always are looking good. Dandenong Thunder 1 – Green Gully 1.

Werribee City vs Hume City – Sunday 30th Match, 3pm, Galvin Park
Is Werribee out of their depth this season? Yes, after one match I can confirm that Werribee is in fact out of their depth. They will drown very quickly. Green Gully attached the anchor, and Hume will drop them off the NPL ship. This will all end in tears for Werribee on Sunday. Hume will absolutely hammer them. I will be at this match. Hume is looking good. I sacked the intel guy who told me before round 1 that they are a rabble. I’ve employed a new guy and he has given me the heads up that Hume will be strong. After running some complex algorithms I have come to the conclusion that the score will be Werribee City 0 – Hume City 5.

Northcote City vs Bentleigh Greens – Sunday 30th March, 3pm, John Cain Memorial Park
Northcote played a suspended Rixon last round, and no I will not let it rest until some integrity is brought back into this competition. What a shambles. Good to see they still lost at Somers Street. Absolute rabble of a team so far. My sources tell me that they are a shadow of last season's team and it will take them some time to gel. Bentleigh on the other hand is yet to play after their match against the Devils was postponed due to bad weather. My sources tell me that there will be two A-League scouts at this match. I know who they will be looking at, but I cannot say it yet. I will release this info once I’m given the green light. *hint, not the blue one* Northcote City 1 – Bentleigh Greens 1.

Port Melbourne Sharks vs South Melbourne HELLAS – Friday 28th March, 8.30pm, JL Murphy Reserve
What a match this will be. Expect a sellout. Get to the game early as parking is very limited. Have your FFV passes to piss off the ticket guys. FFS if I get harassed one more fucking time by the old guys at the gate about my FFV pass, I will be lodging an official complaint with the FFV. What don’t you people get? An FFV pass gets you entry for FREE. Just because you have no fans and your wage bill is excessive, does not mean we need to pay. The pass holders are guests of the FFV and shall be treated as such. End rant. Port Melbourne let a two goal lead slip against Dandy last round. HAHAHA, jokes of the highest order! South on the other hand is a team to be envious of. We held our 0-3 lead at the Bergers and should’ve had more. South is a team oozing talent. South is a team everyone wants to be a part of. South has the best playing surface, best facilities, best coach, best board, best fans, best scoreboard, best forum, best kit, best backoffice staff, best phone number, best location, best president, best merchandise guy, best running track, best grandstand, best barcode scanner, best ex-board members, best TV show, best radio show, Oceania team of the Century and fucking excellent porn knowledge amongst its fans! We know a porno when we see one! Port Melbourne 0 – South Melbourne 5.

FFV and their suspensions list.
I received an email last week, and after confirming the details, issued a stop press to all media outlets in regards to Trent Rixon of Northcote being suspended yet playing against the Knights. If the carry over suspensions list is looked at here (bottom of pg 15), one will see that Trent Rixon was in fact supposed to be serving a carry over suspension from a match between Northcote City and South Melbourne at the end of last year. Now all the sooks on soccer-forum came up with the wildest excuses:
  • It’s the NPL not FFV, that means it doesn’t count.
  • Get over yourself and you obsession with Northcote.
  • We rang the federation and they said he’s good to play.
Blah, blah, blah. Well to all you I say, let’s look at the FFV’s GDT. Let’s look specifically at Section 8.2 (b) & (c).
  • (b) In the case of all Suspensions until the Suspension is served a Club Associate must not participate in any other fixture at any level in FFV competitions. This shall be inclusive of suspensions that are not totally served in any given competition season which will need to be carried over and served in future and/or subsequent seasons respectively.
  • (c) A Suspension arising out of a Finals Series which is not served in full in that Finals Series shall be carried over to the following competition season in which the Club Associate participates. 
Both the above clauses relate to this case. So after all the twittering and re-twittering last week of this incident, has the FFV done anything about it? Unfortunately, no. This just throws the integrity of the competition into disarray. Some dicks were saying “it’s up to the Knights to lodge a protest”. Yes, you’re right, however, what is the whole point of having discipline in a competition when it’s not implemented by the federation which wrote the rules? Why is it the responsibility of the other team? That is just bat shit crazy. Hypothetically speaking, and by God, I hope this happens, teams can get together, make a gentleman's agreement that both will play suspended players, and neither will lodge a protest regardless of result, and the FFV does nothing about it. Pretty fucking sweet competition if you ask me. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Lakeside Stadium artefact Wednesday - Middle Park plaque

Like its Lakeside counterpart, which we looked at last week, this is located on the front of our grandstand, though on the right hand side of the players race as you face the stand.

It's a reminder that while it was typically associated as being the South Melbourne Hellas ground, Middle Park was in fact a venue that we shared with Hakoah, and later several other clubs, and that both Hakoah and Hellas contributed to the building of the grandstand.

Prior to the building of the stand, South Melbourne Hellas had barely existed. Of course it was the merger of 'Hellas' - itself a merger of Yarra Park and Hellenic - with South Melbourne United, the longer term tenant of the ground, which saw South Melbourne Hellas play out of Middle Park (it was of course a massive part of the reason for the merger occurring). In contrast, Hakoah had a history dating back to 1927, with a history of playing out of several venues before eventually settling down at Middle Park by about 1957.

While Middle Park and neighbouring suburbs such as South Yarra, St Kilda and Prahran (but not, curiously, Port Melbourne) all had a longstanding soccer culture and presence, Middle Park appears to have been the original heart of that culture dating back to the 1880s. Why this is so is still to be fully teased out, but one of the core reasons was the Albert Park precinct itself.

If you can think of a sport or hobby that could be pursued outdoors, Albert Park probably hosted it. According to the Gillard Report, a government report from 1961 on the management and usage of Albert Park, the following activities were all taking place at the time:

...on the lake, there is rowing, yachting, boating, speed boating and canoeing. Fishing and sailing of model boats is allowed. On land, the park is regularly used for golf, cricket, lacrosse, hockey, baseball, soft ball, girls’ basketball, Australian Rules Football, Soccer, Rugby, Irish football, Hurling, Archery, Tennis, competitive walking, athletics and the flying of model aeroplanes. In addition, the Park has at times been used for cycling, and on several occasions in the past has been used for motor car racing. In renovated buildings, provision has been made for indoor sports of basket ball, badminton and table tennis. 

So rather than being a special case in and of itself, it appears as if soccer was part of the great many activities that were played there, perhaps chiefly because it was the largest and most easily accessible space to use for a fledgling sport, and because of its reputation as being the 'lungs of Melbourne'. This intense sporting usage was at the heart of the conflict between some locals, who wanted to use what was one of the few public parks available to them for walking and passive recreation, and those sporting persons who often came from outside the local area, who saw it as just the right spot for their sporting interests.

The Middle Park field (oval no. 18) used by South Melbourne United by the early 1950s (in the south-west corner of the boundary between the South Melbourne and St Kilda councils, on a reclaimed landfill site) also saw conflict between different sports. For example, the venue at the time also had a cycling track around it, built at the expense of the Albert Park Management Committee in the early 1950s (and hence the odd curve behind the goals at Middle Park). The cyclists never paid that money back, but were also incensed at the damage caused to the track by both footballers' boots as well as the spectators who were coming in increasing numbers to watch the games. They soon abandoned it.

Postcard with a photo of what is probably a Hakoah game (opponent unidentified) at Middle Park, circa early 1960s. This is just one of a series of postcards depicting sporting life in Albert Park during this era. The postcard series can be viewed on site at the State Library of Victoria, though you need to book this in advance (hence the white gloves I'm wearing).

The Middle Park ground just prior to the release of the Gillard Report was an unenclosed venue. This was at the heart of how and why Middle Park eventually became enclosed. There were only three enclosed venues in the precinct - these were the South Melbourne Cricket Ground (Lake Oval), the St Kilda Cricket Ground (Junction Oval) and a bowls club. These weren't officially enclosed - the public was supposed to be able to gain access to those fields outside of match days - but the reality of course was quite different. There was also the concern of accommodating spectators as opposed to participants. Oliver Gillard's preference was for the latter, but the existence of the Lake and Junction Ovals with their grandstands and brick walls complicated matters.

Gradually, and not exactly legally, a fence started going up around the ground, with the public only left with access from the northern side of Oval No. 18, followed by introduction of turnstiles. In the Gillard Report, the exact way this enclosure had happened was never quite explained, and there remained rather a lot of doubt and confusion on this matter, as politics and non-minuted details combined to see the area enclosed almost by default. Labor senator Pat Kennelly, also a member of the management committee, had almost had his endorsement for the senate blocked by the union movement for denying access to public land during the early 1950s.

Kennelly himself was a supporter of the need of newly arrived migrants for a proper soccer venue and the ability of clubs to collect gate money. This was a view that went against some on the management committee, who thought of soccer as just one of many passing fads that had been seen in Albert Park (ignoring soccer's long history in the area), and not one with any chance of longevity once all the migrants assimilated. The example of the cyclists, too, was also fresh in the memory.

The Middle Park grandstand plaque, photo uploaded to Twitter on December 12 2013. Contrary to some scaremongering on smfcboard, the plaque was still there during the 2013 pre-season, even while the concourse in front of it was being being re-concreted. Photo: Paul Mavroudis. 

However it came about, the fact that the Committee loaned money to Hellas and Hakoah to build the grandstand necessitated or at the very least encouraged the quiet enclosure of the ground, to allow for more money to be raised at the gate, and therefore allow the grandstand debt to be paid off; in addition, the enclosure saw soccer quickly become one of the management committee's biggest earners.

Later attempts to improve upon the venue were frustrated by both the management committee, but especially local residents, but that's a story for another time. For those interested in reading further on the history of the Albert Park from the 1850s up to about the mid 1990s, I highly recommend seeking out Jill Barnard's People's playground: a history of the Albert Park. It was exceedingly helpful in providing the background for much of this article, as well as for referring me onto the Gillard Report.

As for the plaque itself, while many items supposedly went missing during the shift from Middle Park to Lakeside, this was not one of them. It famously appeared in this video with Greg Blake and Kyle Patterson during the demolition of Middle Park. And while Middle Park may be gone, 53 years on a piece of it remains with us, and long may it do so.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Keeper's brain snap gets us over the line - Georgies 0 Hellas 1

Every time I go to Chaplin Reserve, I always wonder if it will be for the last time. I went there twice last year (I think) for cup matches as a neutral, and the entire outer side was off limits, along with most of the Anderson Road hill, due to the Regional Rail Link works. It was the same deal yesterday while walking over the grade separation on Anderson Road which the Ballarat line now travels underneath, instead of weaving my way through the old gates. I regret now not taking any pictures, because it was kinda cool. Can you believe a fellow South fan (who doesn't come to many games anymore), once accused me of being a gunzel?

Before it was Chaplin Reserve, it was the Railway Reserve.
Photo: Paul Mavroudis.
Like last year's visits, most of the smallish but still vocal crowd was squeezed into the northern side of one of Victoria's oldest soccer grounds, which will someday no longer exist. The media box was tarted up something nice as well - it no longer looked like a shabby portable, though the filming position wasn't ideal. But then again, unless you're game enough to get on the roof, Chaplin Reserve is a rubbish ground to film at anyway.

While the history of the preceding Sunshine soccer clubs prior to George Cross' arrival in the early 1980s has been pretty much obliterated (we're not the only wog club to have negated an anglo club's existence via a merger/amalgamation), I at least managed to get a photo of the old Railway Reserve Pavilion lettering. Hopefully once it's all gone, they take it with them to wherever they end up in Caroline Springs, in one form or another.

But most history gets lost into the aether anyway. Who today associates the suburb of Sunshine with the Sunshine Harvester, and one of the landmark legal judgments of Australian history, let alone the reminiscences of those who remember Sunshine City, a good local team who wore yellow and black and who were the custodians of the Railway Reserve prior to George Cross' arrival after the latter's peripatetic existence up to that point? How many Georgies fans are left to mourn Bobby Adams, centre half in George Cross' greatest achievement, the 1964 Australia Cup winning team? It was a long time ago, and it's not getting any closer.

After the minute's silence for Adams, the game was on. South had a very strong line up, even with a few changes from last week. Kiwi recruit James Musa made his South debut in place of Dimi Tsiaras at centreback, Brad Norton made way for Andrew Mullett, while Leigh Minopoulos got a start ahead of Milos Lujic up front. The field was in very poor condition, back to the usual Chaplin Reserve antics, and not conducive to pretty football by any stretch of the imagination. This meant that somehow this game was even uglier than last week's game against Heidelberg. Still, South tried to be patient and build out of defense, and I felt that we avoided the overuse of the long ball tactic.

Playing into the breeze during the first half, South should have probably been two up at half time, but all our best chances seemed to be hit straight at George Cross keeper Robert Santilli. At other times Nick Epifano, who otherwise had a decent game, was castigated by some South fans for not pulling the trigger earlier and taking a shot. For their part, it's not like the Georgies weren't showing any initiative in the first half, what with having a few free kicks and corners, but in general big striker Bobby Lojanica was too slow to get past our defence, and he wasn't able to bulldoze his way through with his strength either.

So 0-0 at half time, with the positive being that at least we weren't down, but who was thinking about the positives? Every minute that passed during the second half added to the tension, as George Cross wrested the early ascendancy and were finding ways through our right hand side in particular. Things weren't looking great for us when they managed to break through that side again, but their best chance of the game was placed wide with the goal beckoning.

The decisive momentum shift in the game came when a fired up Milos Lujic was subbed on for Minopoulos. Lujic seemed to be well fed up with not only our performance but also the time wasting tactics of the Georgies, who right from the start of the game were taking an eternity to take their throw ins, free kicks and corners. When the ball was kicked out of play for an injury, Lujic chased down the throw in, without quite managing to get close enough. When it happened again (and of course the ball was kicked out only after the Georgies realised their attacking play was going nowhere during that possession), Lujic almost made it to the ball before Santilli, who, after collecting the ball and clutching it to his chest, threw a shirtfront with a possible raised elbow, and Lujic went down.

To my surprise and delight, the referee awarded us the penalty. While it wasn't a carbon copy of the goal from that game in 2009, it may as well have been for its effect on the game and the opposition supporters. Santilli has form for being a bit of a nutter (others use much stronger language) and for more than the odd brain fade, as this clip from a few years ago (check from 3:00 to 4:00) suggests. Anyway, Jamie Reed stepped up to take the penalty. He put it away and we held on reasonably comfortably during the extended allotment of injury time.

South defender Tim Mala skydiving, last week maybe? Photo
 stolen from the South Melbourne FC official twitter feed @smfc.
What confused me and a few others (apart from why the hell would you even think about giving the ref an excuse to penalise you for pulling such a stunt) was that if Santilli had indeed committed such a heinously violent act, shouldn't he have also been sent off? Then again prior to all of that, Tim Mala was even luckier to stay on the field when, after having given the ball away with a poor pass, then put in a less than stellar effort in trying to get it back in anything resembling a legal manner. At the end of the day, because we won the game I can say without the merest hint of bias that it all evened out in the end.

Special mention to Vin Cottagio/Leo Sayer/Arnold Horschack, aka the linesman on the northern side, who had an absolute shocker. I reckon at least 3/4 of his decisions were the complete opposite of what should have been given, but everyone has bad days. He can probably thank Santilli for taking the attention off everything else that happened yesterday.

Next week
Away to Port Melbourne in the league. I've seen Port twice this year, and while they've shown signs that they could definitely beat anyone on their day, if we play at our best we should be able to come away with all three points. The surface there isn't looking as crash hot as it usually does either, though it still should be about 10 steps up from Chaplin Reserve.

It will also be interesting to see how they serve their souvlaki. Last week it was in a roll, and pretty bland. Yesterday it was in a pita, not wrapped in paper but placed in a box as an almost open sandwich, which meant any spillage of meat or salad ended up in a safe place and not on the ground. It also tasted OK (I think that may have been cucumber in their tzatziki, which is a step beyond what most clubs offer when go down that route).

Around the grounds
Last week after my match report, I managed to get out to Paisley Park for the North Sunshine Eagles vs Altona East game. Nice day for it (souv was great), pity that Altona East found themselves 3-0 down and not firing much of a shot until some dodgy keeping got them back into the game making it 3-1. Then a late penalty could have seen them make it 3-2, but they hit the shot straight at the keeper. Finished 4-1, but North Sunshine for all their limitations have a recent habit of derailing the cup hopes of higher ranked opposition, knocking out Altona Magic a few years ago, and even Box Hill United yesterday.

Since we won our match, it was safe to head over to Port Melbourne for their cup game against Northcote, on paper probably the pick of the fourth round fixtures (actually, I really had my eye on Pascoe Vale vs South Springvale, but it clashed with our game). I never get hassled as much about FFV passes as I do at Port Melbourne (yes, I managed to wrangle one on Thursday for my history committee work), but I reckon now that they realise that I'm Greek (a long story of red headed/auburn haired Thracians) it just might get easier.

Anyway, Northcote were the better team early on, with Marinos Gasparis looking in ominous form. Rixon looked a bit proppy, not moving very freely and which only seemed to get worse once he seemed to pull a groin muscle, but he stayed out there. It was interesting to see Kamal Ibrahim playing as almost a box to box midfielder for Port. Northcote went into the halftime break 2-0 up, the difference between the two sides being Northcote's finishing (even if one of those was from a penalty). Port had two or three killer chances of their own and took none of them.

Northcote shut the game down in the second half, turning the match into a fairly tedious experience, as was their right to do. Port couldn't muster up pretty much anything of note going forward, and that was that. If you're trying to figure out some of the 'notable' teams who made it through to the next round of the cup, they include Thunder, Gully, Knights, Hume City, Preston(!) and Werribee City. The losers included Heidelberg, Ballarat Red Devils, Pascoe Vale and Oakleigh. If we're going to qualify for the FFA Cup, let alone win the Dockerty Cup, there are still plenty of good teams to get through.

Elias Donoudis' bright side observation
After Oakleigh was bundled out of the cup by Werribee City:

Amount of times that I was mistaken for a North Melbourne fan yesterday because of my scarf.

Ratio (only slightly exaggerated) of Victory merch to Georgies merch at Chaplin Reserve

Vaughan Coveny's (current George Cross technical director/head of football or some such) response to my question on whether he would consider coming out of retirement to play for Altona East, because they really, really need a striker.
Polite 'no'.

Final thought
If we never play the Georgies again, the one thing I'll miss most is the Kinnie. The burgers and kransky rolls with the curried onions, not so much (if you have to choose, go for the burger).

Friday, 21 March 2014

South at Sunshine tomorrow for Dockerty Cup match

Tomorrow at 2:00PM, we have a tricky opening Dockerty Cup game at Sunshine George Cross. The wounds of falling to lower division sides in the cup are still raw - not just once, but twice to Port Melbourne of course, and let's not forget that only a Fernando inspired 'dig up, stupid' intervention got us out of that hole against Preston last year.

Of course we can't afford to be complacent anyway, not just because we haven't won anything that wasn't a pre-season tournament since 2006, but also because of the opportunity to play in the FFA Cup should we make the semi finals. I expect Sunshine, who came off a reportedly dour but comfortable win over Brunswick City last week, to be fairly fired up.

There'll likely be an old friend lining up against us well, in the form of defender Eddie Cetkin. For the Altona East watchers out there, there's also Bozidar 'Bobby' Lojanica, a proven striker at levels below the VPL.

The last time we played the Georgies was in Round 22, 2010. That was an away game, but was at Knights Stadium rather than Chaplin Reserve. The last time we played them at Chaplin was Round 11 2009, a pretty dull game, much like its Lakeside counterpart from Round 22, except for that Fernando goal. The last time we beat them at Chaplin was probably back in 2007, a great away trip. The blog didn't even exist then.

If you haven't been to Chaplin Reserve for a while, you may be in for a shock. The Regional Rail Link works have taken their toll. The entire outer terrace on the southern side is no more. Neither is there any access to the Anderson Road hill. I'm not sure what the parking situation is like there at the moment either, but at this stage the public transport options don't seem to have been affected for this weekend.

In case you were wondering, the best public transport option is to get the Sunbury/Watergardens train out to Sunshine, and walk to thr ground, I haven't had the chance to go there since the government undertook the Anderson Road grade separation, so who knows what labyrinthine maneuvers you'll have to make. Hopefully, absolutely none. Whatever the case may be, it just won't be the same without being able to see trains go by on both the Ballarat and Sunbury lines.