Pre-NSL, Croatia's flame burned too briefly at the top - and they got banned in 1972 anyway - to say there was a derby at that time. Besides, they were probably gunning more for Footscray JUST during that era. I'm guessing we were more interested in games against Alexander, Juventus, George Cross? At a pinch, against our Middle Park co-tenant Hakoah?
Then we barely played each other for seven years. So I guess 1984, Croatia's first NSL season, where we eliminated on them on the way to our first NSL title, is the start of it? Perhaps. 1991 creates something far more tangible. Then the Mark Viduka show that was the 1995 preliminary final. A few more finals along the way - but still, for a lot of the NSL, as with a lot of our history, it's been Heidelberg that's been our focus.
On a quick and lazy search, there's mention of it being a 'derby' game by 1996. But that's in the context of Sydney derbies, Adelaide derbies etc. And it's still not the Melbourne derby yet. But then every other Victorian team dies or goes away by 2001/02, and we're the only two Victorian sides left in the NSL - so it becomes The Melbourne Derby by default. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's interesting to see how what was a healthy rivalry has been dubbed a derby game partly in retrospect.
Although, as one forum person noted today, the FFV's preview for this doesn't even bother to mention that NSL history.
It hasn't helped that neither side has set their post-NSL eras on fire. Hell, it doesn't help that being in the VPL has doused much of the passion that once fueled these sides. Even the numbering is probably off as well. 87th derby? More like 98th, according to whomever compiled the relevant stats for the Melbourne Knights wikipedia page. It appears that the Knights person who wrote their recent press release and made up that stylish flyer has left out the finals matches, which would actually give them a slightly better record. How generous of them.
But trivia aside, this game is huge for both teams, and both sets of fans still take this fixture very seriously. The Knights are still within sight of a top place finish, something they haven't achieved since 1995. Even a single win will almost certainly guarantee them their first finals appearance since 2008, the year they lost the grand final to Altona Magic courtesy of Carl Recchia's, late, late, late goal in extra time, when the Knights were being coached by one Chris Taylor.
I've seen Knights play three times this season - their away win at Richmond, away loss to Oakleigh, and draw with us at Lakeside. It's fair to say that the first two results, both early in the season, don't matter at all now. Even their draw against us, meh. There's no Ljubo this time to settle them, but also no Ljubo to give us a hand with an own goal.
It's also the second best defence against the second best attack in the league. Immovable object against irresistible force and all that. Do these things actually play out in that manner though? I don't know, I expect us to cop goals every week now, but scoring them is not so easy, even with our recent good form in that department, and the 2013 Knights have a habit of getting last gasp, never give in, Stabba Marth™ wins.
I'd like a win, but I'll reluctantly take a draw on the road.
But Before All That
Me and/or other writers from this blog may well be seen at Port Melbourne tonight the game between the Sharks and the Greens. Here's hoping for a dour, violent 0-0 draw. Tomorrow, life permitting, we may be taking a trip out to Brunswick City for their clash against Altona East. Souvs are only part of the attraction here - ex-South winger/forward Kyle Joryeff is apparently playing at Leonidas these days, and it'd be nice to see him in action again.
A Boring, Petty Old Man (And The People Who Allegedly Talk To Him)
We don't usually like giving Elias Donoudis and his column in Neos Kosmos that much oxygen on here. We've covered our grievances briefly here in 2012 during the Wellington Investments farce. And the Kiss of Death (remember them?) went in harder earlier this season, here.
So, yes, Elias is back on his old hobbyhorse of South not being the real South, and that it's all the fault of the current board and not the people - pleb and committee man alike - who left the club in the lurch, and wasn't it better when Elias' mates were running the club etc.
(It's funny though how the teams we play most weeks these days lift their performances when they face us. Funny also how the Melbourne Knights, leading into this game, have produced promotional material which leaves no doubt that they think we are the real South Melbourne - we get more respect from our opponents than our supposed 'fans' these days).
But this time there's a twist! Elias says he can't reveal more, but he says there are plans for former sponsors or committee people or something to come back and turn the club from poor old unrecognisable and irrelevant South Melbourne back into Mighty Hellas! PHWOAR!
While his details are scant - of course - I welcome any and all South members who want to have a tilt at running the club the opportunity of doing so. Look at me, saying that as if it was up to me, ha.
Of course, one has to consider several things here. Is this even real? At both previous elections, there were rumours of people willing to make a move, create a ticket, and fight for control of the club. It didn't happen.
But assuming this is real, are these people even members? If they are, why haven't they made their move earlier? Unless of course it includes disgruntled recently evicted board people.
If they aren't members, why not? Is the club only worth rescuing now because people - the people who've done the hard yards over the past nine years - have actually made it salvageable?
Ah, the questions that keep you up at night, to quote someone or other.
FFA Cup, Here It Comes (Seriously!)
I've scoffed at this many time before, but here's something a bit more concrete, apparently.
The plan for the FFA Cup includes amateur and semi-professional clubs, including National Premier Leagues, and Hyundai A-League clubs entering the draw on a progressive basis.But will it actually happen? And the final in Decemeber? Two or three months after the state leagues have finished their seasons? Rubbish. Then again, I've never been a fan of this idea anyway.
The options allow for existing State and Territory based cup competitions to remain in place as feeder competitions to the national cup.
The nine State and Territory Member Federations and 10 Hyundai A-League clubs have unanimously endorsed the proposal to stage the inaugural FFA Cup within the calendar year with a Cup Final in December 2014.
Semi-Mandatory NPLV Update
Now heading for mediation in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.