Friday, 8 November 2019

Book Review - Trevor Thompson's Playing For Australia

ABC journalist Trevor Thompson had previously written One Fantastic Goal, one of a slew of books that were commissioned (or were reprinted) during the time the Socceroos had made the 2006 World Cup. And I must admit, I wasn't a huge fan of that book.

Apart from its general tone, which was (naturally) celebratory of what had been achieved in a very such short space of time under the Lowy regime, I also felt like the book was rushed out to the market by an opportunistic publisher looking to cash-in on the Socceroos' moment in the sun, and that the book was therefore released in a manner which did not to the author justice, feeling a bit underdone, with many parts of that book repeating themselves.

I am glad to say that I enjoyed Thompson’s Playing for Australia: The First Socceroos, Asia and World Football far more and I'm glad to recommend it to readers, albeit with a couple of necessary caveats.

Playing for Australia came out late last year via Bonita Mersiedes’ Fairplay Publishing. Its main focus is the early days of the Australian national team, long before they were the Socceroos, and long before they were entering international competition - with a couple of exceptions, we’re largely talking about the inter-war years from 1922 through to the early 1940s.

What we get from Thompson about this era (and the years immediately preceding them) is informative and lively, and just as importantly, highly accessible. At its best, Thompson is able combine the narrative with interesting anecdotes. Playing for Australia's greatest strengths lie in the little details that Thompson regales us with, such as the “Ego yah!” chant. Here, Thompson notes the attempt by Australia's soccer players to establish their own version of the All Blacks haka, during a tour of the Dutch East Indies in the 1928.
Ego yah, ego yah! The Emu, The Wallaby, The Kangaroo, The Wombat; Who are, who are, who are we? We are the boys from the Southern Sea, Bonza Cobber, Dinki Di, Best of luck to you and I, We'll not fail her, young Australia, Ego Yah... Boska!
(although Thompson is not quite correct about the chant being created by the players for this tour; variants of the "ego yah" chant existed prior to the 1928 tour).

The book covers the various touring teams which visited Australia, including by Chinese, Indian, Czechoslovakian, New Zealand, Jewish, and English sides. These tours were both a boon and a burden to Australian soccer. When the touring teams were of good calibre, they provided excellent entertainment - but if they were too good, they made Australian soccer look second-rate. Just as often, the visiting teams were not what they were advertised as, with the promoters - often private financiers - who funded the tours marketing the tourists as being national teams when they were more likely to clubs sides. Australian crowds, too, were a fickle lot, at least when it came to value for money. They wanted to see visiting teams partly on novelty grounds (such as the Chinese touring sides), but attendance for novelty's sake is something that quickly wears thin.

The Australian teams (whether local, state, or national) cobbled together to represent the country against these touring teams, or to venture across to New Zealand or South-East Asia were scarcely able to avoid controversy in their own right. National teams and their selection policies were fraught by questions of amateurism of professionalism, national team vs state club loyalties, New South Wales dominance, and the “necessity” of playing Victorian and South Australian players in the national team in their home states, even though those states were weaker. Along with splits in the national bodies which created a weak base from which to evangelise the game, and the failure to maintain meaningful interstate competition, Thompson's overview is a useful way of seeing how soccer's lack of a dominant administrative centre has a long history.

But politics aside, there is also the matter of Australia’s slavering devotion to England's Football Association, as Australian soccer throws its lot in with a body (the FA) which cares little for soccer's fortune's in the Antipodes. The longstanding and persistent lack of moral, financial and logistical support offered by England towards Australian soccer, and at times even hypocrisy of British sporting authorities should have rung alarm bells for Australian soccer years before the penny dropped. Yet the Australian soccer authorities, even as they became ever more aware of this lack of support, nevertheless remained devoted to the FA, even as Australia remained a subsidiary member of the FA on the same level as the Elementary Schools Association.

The book also detours into chapters about contemporary Indian, Indonesian Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, and Kiwi football. Some of these nations obviously had interactions with Australian soccer, either via tours to Australia or by Australia, but the main point of Thompson’s summaries of those neighbours of ours is to show how differently they approached international competition – not friendlies – and in some cases the differences in their relationships with their own colonial masters (East Indies/Dutch) or as colonial masters themselves (the Japanese in Korea and Manchuria). A point that the book seeks to make is that Kiwi soccer was especially poor by the 1930s – and that as a consequence of this, an inward looking Australia lacked meaningful competition among its own Empire brethren.

While I enjoyed the book, it does still suffer from some of the issues that Thompson’s previous book did, as well as some other issues. The book jumps around very quickly at times, and it can be difficult to follow the central argument and/or narrative. That’s because the book is at times underwritten, in that some chapters feel they're one anecdote or point of interest following another in a heady rush. That may be the case here because it’s a bit under-edited, an issue which can be put down to what is still in many ways a production of a fledgling small publisher finding its way.

Of more concern is the complete lack of footnotes as well as a bibliography or reference list. I understand that on one level the book isn't meant to be an academic treatise, but clearly there’s been a fair bit of research undertaken by Thompson to write the book, and I think it would've been valuable for people to see the sources that he’s relied upon, especially where it presents information that may new to researchers. Overall however, I really enjoyed the book, and recommend it to anyone looking for a history lesson on the early days of the Australian national men’s team, and the era and conditions under which they played.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Environmentally Friendly

Our off-season recruiting does resemble is a case of pick your own cliche. Is it "everything old is new again" or "we're picking off the carcass of the deceased"?

Defying those definitions are the signing of midfielder Daniel Clark (Port Melbourne) and centre-back Stephen Folan (various Irish clubs).

But as for the rest? There's clear scavenging of newly cash-strapped clubs (somehow even more than us...), with the signing of defender Lirim Elmazi from Altona Magic.

There's also former players scavenged from the same newly cash-strapped club, in the form of defender Amadu Koroma.

There's also former players scavenged from recently relegated clubs, in the form of defender Chris Irwin.

And then there's former players returning to Lakeside under who knows what circumstances, in the form of defensive midfielder Luke Pavlou.

Apart from the wisdom of the recruiting in general (the fruits of whose labour will only be judged when there's actual meaningful contests), one will continue to wonder what the recruiting methodology in use during this off-season means in terms of keeping wage spending under control (if it ever was in control), and what all of this could possibly mean for the hoped for youth policy (which may or may not exist). I suppose the one thing we could say is that these recruits, along with the better remnants of the 2019 squad (and probably a goalkeeper), should see the club be able to field a competitive starting eleven next year.

2020 SMFC senior squad roster as of 4/11/2019
Signed
  • Daniel Clark
  • Lirim Elmazi
  • Stephen Folan
  • Chris Irwin
  • Amadu Koroma
  • Perry Lambropoulos
  • Jake Marshall
  • Brad Norton
  • Luke Pavlou
  • Harrison Sawyer
  • Marcus Schroen
  • Gerrie Sylaidos
Played for us in 2019 but now on the payroll in another guise
  • Luke Adams
Played with us at the end of 2019 but who knows about next year
  • Tom Aulton
  • Keenan Gibson
  • Peter Skapetis
  • Nick Krousoratis 
  • Manny Aguek
  • Ben Djiba
  • Amir Jashari
  • Will Orford
  • Zac Bates
  • Josh Dorron
  • Melvin Becket
'They' say that he's not coming back for whatever reason
  • Kostas Stratimitros
On the proverbial knife's edge 
  • Pep Marafioti
Going... going...
  • Nikola Roganovic
Possibly already moved on to Kingston
  • George Gerondaras
Has he even been in Australia since early in the 2019 season?
  • Andrew Mesourouni
Last time anything was heard from him, he was exploring options in India
  • Billy Konstantinidis
Out
  • Kristian Konstantinidis (time to say goodbye)
  • Leigh Minopoulos (retired)

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

All Greek To Me artefact Wednesday - 3XY Radio Hellas' Oceania Club Championships final broadcast

This week's artefact pays tribute to two anniversaries, although I was more aware of one than the other when I started writing this piece.

It seems kinda sad that - so far - the club's 60th anniversary has gone by without too much fanfare, but that the back-to-back championships and the Oceania triumph have also slipped by. Maybe there's something in the works to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the club's peak, but we'll see I suppose.

2019 marks twenty years since South won the Oceania Club Championships, although this post also missed the boat by a good month. Closer to the mark - in fact, being celebrated right now - is 3XY Radio Hellas' 25th anniversary, the Greek-Australian radio station which has been both friend and foe to the club, depending on who (and when) you ask.

On September 26th, 1999, after a gruelling run in which they played four games in about eight days, South Melbourne Hellas were crowned the inaugural club champions of Oceania; an honour which saw the club win the right to represent the Oceania confederation at the first World Club Championships in Brazil the following January.

South had qualified for the tournament by virtue of winning the 1999 National Soccer League grand final against minor premier Sydney United. The fact the minor premier didn't qualify for this tournament probably sticks in United's craw to this day, but doing it via grand final winner is the Australian way. Still, an administrative bungle by Soccer Australia could've - in theory at least - have seen United go to Fiji in South's place, as seen in this August 1999 article by Michael Cockerill in the Sydney Morning Herald.
South must win the Oceania club title before confirming their passage to Brazil, but that seems a formality, despite an amazing administrative blunder by Soccer Australia. 
A fax bearing the signature of NSL general manager Stefan Kamasz and sent to the Oceania Football Confederation in Auckland on July 27 nominated minor premiers Sydney United as Australia's representatives, instead. Kamasz is in Greece on holiday and unavailable for comment.
Anyway, the Oceania Club Championships were played in Fiji, in tumultuous weather, difficult pitch conditions and occasionally, as in the final, in front of large, boisterous, crowds. The tournament also seems to have been marred by an overly physical style from some of the Pacific Island teams, the occurrence of which took its toll in particular on the team that South Melbourne would have expected to play in the final, New Zealand's Central United. United were so beaten up by the schedule, that not only did they lose their semi-final, but the third place playoff was called off because of their injury toll.

So South went on to play Nadi of Fiji in the final at Prince Charles Park, in front of 10.000 locals

The South Melbourne squad on the day was:
Milan Udvaracz, Steve Iosifidis, Fausto De Amicis, Robert Liparoti, Con Blatsis, David Clarkson (George Goutzioulis 67'), Steve Panopoulos, Vaughan Coveny, Paul Trimboli, Michael Curcija (Jim Tsekinis 55'), Goran Lozanovski (Anthony Magnacca 46').
(One of the heroes of the previous two grand final wins, John Anastasiadis, missed the final because of injury.)

There were apparently only about 70 South fans present for the final. The rest of us probably had to make do with either waiting for reports to be published in the print media, or if they were too impatient for that, listen to the 3XY Radio Hellas broadcast of the game. I was never a big fan of listening to the 3XY broadcasts of our NSL matches. I mean, if you didn't have a choice in the matter, you tuned in regardless, but the signal quality was often crap, and as for the quality of the commentary... let's just say that it could be ages before the commentators would update the score.

But at least I understood enough of the Greek that was the predominant language of these broadcasts! It must've been much worse for fans of ours with a sketchier or non-existent knowledge of the Greek language. During the NSL, there were sporadic updates provided in a heavily accented English, but this was years before livescore apps. And what else could you do, if you weren't at the game or didn't have subscription television? I suppose if you were ahead of the technological curve at the time, you could've used a mobile to call a mate a the game. But that was probably not an option for this game, what with it being in Fiji and all.

Anyway, when I was cleaning out the old social club back in the day, one item I took with me rather than allow to be packed into storage was an audio cassette with the label:
OCEANIA CUP FINAL 
Sunday 26 September 1999 
PRINCE CHARLES PARK, FIJI 
NADI (FIJI) 1
STH MELB (AUST) 5
I don't know who the person was who recorded the broadcast, nor what the circumstances were, nor if they're even still South fans. You'd like to think they're still with us, but the past 20 odd years have done a number on the club and a lot of its supporters,

Back in the day I was dabbling with transferring some JJJ Live at the Wireless tapes (The Strokes, Something For Kate, Pollyanna) onto my computer, ending up with huge WAV files and not much knowledge about what to do with the material after that. And that's kinda what happened with this tape, albeit a few years later. A couple of chunky WAV files, converted into appalling quality MP3 files, and then no real idea about how to get them to the stage where they could be uploaded to the internet, especially in an era when YouTube still restricted you to very short

That, and for the longest time I couldn't really bother listening for long enough to figure out which side had which half of the game, and what the hell was actually going on. So, a mea culpa on my part for exaggerated slackness. But here we are, finally, with this little artefact now available for all to enjoy.

The recording begins about four or five minutes into the game. The chief commentator is Kostas Paterakis, a long time contributor to both 3XY and its sports content, who while commentating on the game, also liaises with "Aleko" back in the Melbourne studio.

Apart from calling the game, Paterakis also makes observations about the weather (heavy rains the previous two days); the state of the pitch (muddy and soft, but at least no longer the rock hard version of earlier in the tournament); the nature of the local crowd (a party atmosphere, ala Brazilian football); the attempts by someone to steal the match ball as a souvenir during an early part of the second half; an observation that Fiji is first a rugby nation, and then a soccer one; and that the Fijians are a very devout Christian people, with many of the crowd leaving the game early to attend evening church services..

The audio quality isn't the best, but is mostly clear enough to understand what's going on.
The recording on the tape is also incomplete. Apart from missing the first few minutes, signal problems mean that the first two minutes of the second half are missing, and of course there's also a small amount of time missed when the tape is flipped over to "Side B".

There's a very brief English language summary midway through the second half, but the overwhelming majority of the game is broadcast in Greek. At the end of the game, Paterakis corrects an early mistake he made, where he credited Steve Iosifidis with a goal that belonged to Fausto De Amicis. It would've been Iosifidis' first goal for the club - I'm not sure Steve actually ended up scoring any goals for South.

Post-match there's a summary of the game and its meaning; speeches and the trophy presentation in the background; a brief chat with Steve Iosifidis; relaying the congratulations of then Victorian state Liberal MP (and later WA state Liberal) Peter Katsambanis;  a chat with "Eleni" and her husband "Vasili" - Eleni had assisted Paterakis during the week; and a chat with some random from Greece named "Dimitri" before the tape ends.

So, while not nearly as good as video footage, for those with the language skills and patience to listen to its lo-fi entirety, it's a worthy artefact in its own right.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Old South doco artefact Wednesday - Afifa's Game

In the mid-2000s, Afifa Saad was a goalkeeper for South Melbourne's women's team. The Victorian Women's Premier League goalkeeper of the year in 2006, apart from personal success, Saad's soccer career was also accidentally controversial (through no fault of her own), when in 2004 a referee refused to let Saad play in her headscarf, an issue on which she was still offering commentary on in 2010, when the matter of the headscarf/hijab went international.

Part of the SBS 'Halal Mate' documentary series looking at the lives of Muslims in Australia, this documentary from 2007 focuses on Saad weighing up whether a soccer career is compatible with her Muslim faith. There's quite a bit on her family life, but there's also some shots of the old Lakeside Stadium


Monday, 21 October 2019

Lucky guess

All hail the mighty oracle that is South of the Border.

Well, not really, but I wouldn't be me if I didn't deliberately seek to undercut my own moment of irrefutably minor online glory.

Yesterday morning the club's social media accounts put out the mystery-and-intrigue laden notice of the  "new striker and Australian marquee player" that was going to join us in 2020. That sent people rushing to speculate both honestly and mischievously. I guess some people thought it was going to be Avondale's Liam Boland, whose name has been thrown up during this off-season as a possible signing for us.

But me, I went with my hunch that the announcement was going to be Harrison Sawyer, a 22 year old Queenslander who has been on the books with a couple of A-League teams, but who has also played in the Philippines and Hong Kong. That hunch was proven correct at a touch after 6:00PM, and after which I went to claim my theoretical prize of internet kudos.

But it's easy to be right when the rumour of Sawyer's signing with us was posted on the South forum over a week ago. That must surely annoy the remnants of our once fabled media team, but the truth is that we're a long way of the Chris Taylor led no South Melbourne Hellas news leakage era.

As for those wondering about the language used in terms of "Australian marquee", one has to give credit to the South media team for that one, exploiting the designation given to a certain kind of player under the PPS system.
An Australian Marquee Player is an Australian Player (i.e. not a Visa Player) that was registered as a professional Player for a Hyundai A-League Club or an overseas Club immediately prior to registering with the NPL Club. 
The Australian Marquee Player will only incur a maximum of 10 points on a Player Roster and will not otherwise be subject to the Switching Player category. The Player can benefit from the other categories of the PPS (i.e. Homegrown Player).
Sawyer comes with big wraps from former South man Jesse Daley (I assume they were once Brisbane Roar youth/NPL teammates) and from Queensland soccer media type and football historian Garry McKenzie.

Also about a week before that centre-back Jake Marshall signed on again for another season, a bit of news which garnered a lot less interest.

2020 SMFC senior squad roster as of 21/10/2019
Signed
  • Perry Lambropoulos
  • Jake Marshall
  • Brad Norton
  • Harrison Sawyer
  • Marcus Schroen
  • Gerrie Sylaidos
Played for us in 2019 but now on the payroll in another guise
  • Luke Adams
Played with us at the end of 2019 but who knows about next year
  • Tom Aulton
  • Keenan Gibson
  • Peter Skapetis
  • Nick Krousoratis 
  • Manny Aguek
  • Ben Djiba
  • Amir Jashari
  • Giuseppe Marafioti
  • Will Orford
  • Nikola Roganovic
  • Zac Bates
  • Josh Dorron
  • Melvin Becket
'They' say that he's not coming back for whatever reason
  • Kostas Stratimitros
Possibly already moved on to Kingston
  • George Gerondaras
Has he even been in Australia since early in the 2019 season?
  • Andrew Mesourouni
Last time anything was heard from him, he was exploring options in India
  • Billy Konstantinidis
Out
  • Kristian Konstantinidis (time to say goodbye)
  • Leigh Minopoulos (retired)

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Match program and sundry items update

With thanks to stuff loaned from the club, this is what I have added in the past little while in terms of South programs:

  • Presentation night materials from 1988 until about 2000. Not for every year, but most of the 1990s seems taken care of on this front.
  • Testimonial dinner booklets for Mike Petersen, Steve Blair, and Ange Postecolgou.
  • The 1991 NSL final series program, which I had inexplicably not uploaded before.
  • The 1999 Oceania Club Championships program.
  • A South Melbourne Hellas journal from 1986, from the eve of the 1986 season rather than after it. This one is particularly good.
  • I've not linked to them on the blog, but if you really, really want South gala auction booklets from the 1990s and 2000s, you can get them at this link.
You can find - and download! - all these in the relevant year in the usual place.


Elsewhere, I have added a few clubs histories, some pinched from Mark Boric's superior Australian soccer library, and some Dutch related ones from Adam Muyt. I've also added the first Australian Soccer Hall of Fame book from 1999, and all those things can be found in my inadequate library page.


Saturday, 12 October 2019

Book review - Jason Goldsmith's "Surfing for England: Our Lost Socceroos"

Jason Goldsmith's Surfing for England: Our Lost Socceroos, begins with the kind of question which keeps certain kinds of Australian soccer fans up at night: what if we didn't lose all those players who couldn't or wouldn't commit to Australia? What if we had Craig Johnston or Tony Dorigo playing for the national team during the 1980s? What if Joe Simunic hadn't played for Croatia in the 1990s? Would we have made World Cups during that time, and changed the course of Australian soccer history?

Take for example the inspiration for the book and its title, Craig Johnston, simultaneously one of Australian soccer's greatest players and one of its greatest villains. When the Australian national team was struggling to make world cups using semi-pro players, we had at our nominal disposal a player plying his trade at one of the strongest clubs in the world. And yet when asked to front up

These days Johnston is a weird sort of pariah, in that while he was persona non-grata in this country for a very long time for his "surfing for England" commentary, and has since had a sort of minor rehabilitation of his legacy despite his best efforts to undermine that with nonsense rants about the state of Australian soccer. Having read parts of Johnston's biography, I was on top of the personal commitments required of Johnstone to play football in England at the time as a foreigner - especially the precariousness of being a squad member at a successful club like Liverpool, in an era where starting XIs seldom changed even with a crowded schedule, and where flitting off to Australia to play in World cup qualifiers could cost you your livelihood.

But it's the Tony Dorigo chapter which follows Johnston's which makes the situation as it was as the time much clearer. Unlike Johnston, Dorigo doesn't have the self-aggrandising character traits that immediately, and thus the reader is able to elicit empathy not just for Dorigo, but also for Johnston. The situation is as straightforwards as this: with no worldwide fixture windows set aside to give international football clean air within the crowded domestic and continental club scenes, players from far-flung corners of the football world such as Australia had to make a choice - choose their club and continue making a living as a professional footballers, or choose country and squander their hard-won position in the starting XI of a club.

To its credit, Surfing for England also goes beyond the well-known cases of players "betraying" Australia (especially the well-known Croatian examples of the 1990s), and looks at players who made decisions based on other factors. These include the existence of the perennial Australian goalkeeping glut (Joey Didulica and Sasa Ilic) with Ilic being the hilarious surprise packet of this book. There's also Australia's 1960s FIFA suspension, which cost Indigenous player John Moriarty a national team cap, also covered in John Maynard's The Aboriginal Soccer Tribe. There's even the great 'what if?' moment in the form of Christian Vieri - including how he never really stood out as a junior at Marconi - but also the tragic case of Dylan Tombides.

Surfing for England also looks at players who knew they never had a realistic chance of playing for Australia, and thus made decisions based on other factors. On that front the stories of Manny Muscat and John Hutchinson playing for Malta - especially the latter's lack of awareness of his eligibility for the Maltese national team - add to the quirkiness of the story of international football. And Buddy Farah's travails through the Lebanese and Asian football scenes, at a time when Australian soccer had yet to cross over to the Asian Football Confederation, are the kind of story you hope someone is eventually inspired to flesh out.

Some of what Goldsmith misses in this book - and it's by no means through lack of trying - are players who existed well before the time of current controversies of player allegiances, such as Frank Mitchell. I would have liked to have seen more on players like Jimmy Jackson, probably Australian soccer's first genuine star. And as noted by Adam Muyt, who is writing a history of Dutch-Australian soccer, there's also the matter of Western Australian players who by virtue of the state's long-term soccer isolation from the east coast, remain unknown despite their quality.

The book, published within the last couple of months, comes at a curious time in international football. Where once national team loyalties were largely clear-cut - you were eligible for one team and that's it - we are now in a situation where the factors of heritage, citizenship, residency, birthright and FIFA rule changes, have combined to give players and national teams options. Australia is in its own way well-placed to acquire a certain calibre of player through those channels, and the recent cases of Apostolos Giannou, Martin Boyle, and (just this week!) Harry Souttar demonstrate that.

The outcome of Goldsmith following through on the question of national team loyalty, is a book which sits somewhere between a guest contributor's article on The Roar and a weighty tome dealing thoroughly with the matters at hand. In that regard, people may find it an idea not worth being stretched out to the 80 odd pages here; or conversely, treating this relatively slim tome as an idea that deserved a more thorough exploration. That's not to take away from what this book does well however, which is fill in an important gap in the story of the national team, while also acting as a primer for why some of these things happened in the first place. Hopefully some people reading this book are intrigued enough by some of the stories that they decide to fill them out.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

2020 SMFC senior squad roster as of 9/10/2019

To keep the blog ticking over and just in case you missed it, Marcus Schroen won the Theo Marmaras Medal for our best player this year, much to no one's surprise but perhaps to some people's disappointment. I'm not losing any sleep over it, but it takes all kinds, doesn't it?

On both the re-signing and "need more Greeks" fronts, Gerrie Sylaidos and Perry Lambropoulos have both retained, but Kristian Konstantinidis' time at Lakeside is over. Injury and inconsistency were hallmarks of KK's time at South, but there is this to be said as well - he was a fun player to watch and have around the club, and he clearly cared about South - and he scored some nice goals as well.

Signed
  • Perry Lambropoulos
  • Brad Norton
  • Marcus Schroen
  • Gerrie Sylaidos
Played for us in 2019 but now on the payroll in another guise
  • Luke Adams
Played with us at the end of 2019 but who knows about next year
  • Tom Aulton
  • Keenan Gibson
  • Peter Skapetis
  • Nick Krousoratis 
  • Manny Aguek
  • Ben Djiba
  • Amir Jashari
  • Giuseppe Marafioti
  • Jake Marshall
  • Will Orford
  • Nikola Roganovic
  • George Gerondaras
  • Zac Bates
  • Josh Dorron
  • Melvin Becket
'They' say that he's not coming back for whatever reason
  • Kostas Stratimitros
Has he even been in Australia since early in the 2019 season?
  • Andrew Mesourouni
Exploring options in India
  • Billy Konstantinidis
Out
  • Kristian Konstantinidis (time to say goodbye)
  • Leigh Minopoulos (retired)

Friday, 4 October 2019

More match programs (and more to come..)

Sometime late in the 2019 season, I borrowed some match programs and other things off the club, and have gradually started scanning and uploading them.

But we've also all been fortunate enough the Mark Boric inspired scanning and uploading projects of all things Australian soccer history and publications, has seen all sorts of people come out of the woodwork - especially Graeme McGinty - to share their collections, including some South Melbourne Hellas related material.

For those who are aware of South of the Border's online collections of South Melbourne Hellas match programs, but who don't follow my social media exploits, here's the gist of what's been updated recently:

  • Programs from the late 1970s, including Olympiakos tour game.
  • A smattering of home and away programs throughout the 1980s.
  • A lot more 1989/90 and 1990/91 programs.
  • Odds and ends filled in elsewhere.
I still have more stuff to scan and upload, including non-match related material, but in the meantime you can find the collection so far in the usual place.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Advance preparation to smite the Alan Scotts of South Melbourne Hellas

It's been just over a week since the season finished, and typically no one has given a rat's about who won the title, which is as it should be when two teams no one cares about were the grand final participants. But as we gently ease into the quiet torpor of the off-season, noting as we did that Esteban Quintas was signed as our senior men's coach for 2020, one has to ask this question:

Who the hell chose that photo of Quintas for the official announcement of his appointment on Twitter? 

I mean, one of my brothers has a penchant for true-crime serial killer movies (and er, the slightly less real Law & Order: SVU) and for that reason, having seen a few of those movies myself, I am really creeped out by the blank, sweaty stare that Quintas is putting out here. You'd think that with Luke Radziminski's photo library efforts this year that the club couldn't have found anything better?

Anyway, I'd retweeted the notice, not out of either support or condemnation for the club hiring Quintas, only to note that it had happened; also to keep the club's social media metrics ticking over, even if the club no longer boasts about such things.

Not long after I did that, someone responded to the club's tweet, and I got a notification on it because I follow the relevant re-tweeter and because I'd retweeted the original post.
A pretty merciless assessment of our 2020 prospects by old mate George, an opinion which exists at one end of the spectrum of fan reactions to Quintas' appointment. But once it was said, the comment would have fallen into obscurity had I not received another notification a few days later that Esteban Quintas himself had "liked" George's tweet.

So what was all that about I wondered? Is Quintas agreeing with George that he (Quintas) doesn't have the brand recognition among the Victorian playing establishment to attract to them to the club, and thus he would (like George) want to see the South board commit to a serious increase in the senio men's wage budget?

But then I dug a little deeper, and saw that Quintas had also "liked" the tweet below by another South fan, Jim Barres:
And then it became clear to me that this was all about Quintas finding fuel for the motivation fires. Gosh, I hope he doesn't print these things out and stick them up on his office wall.

To be a little bit fair, Quintas did also "like" some posts  where he had been congratulated on his appointment by friends and well-wishers - but that's normal social media behaviour.

Then again, imagine if we could look forward to our own Choco Williams "Allan Scott, you were wrong moment!"? Considering our results over the past two seasons, one can only hope that our performances improve to the point where such antics could be possible.

Monday, 23 September 2019

40th anniversary of bottoming out artefact

At the end of the 1979 National Soccer League season, South Melbourne Hellas experienced the ignominy of finishing in last place for the first time in its history. The club had not adjusted well upon entering the national competition in 1977; it recovered briefly in 1978, and then tanked hard in 1979 - finishing one and a half games behind Sydney Olympic at the foot of the table. In truth, it should have been two clear games, but South had earned a bonus point for winning a match by four goals, which was the style at the time. By rights this should have seen us relegated, but the powers that be had decided that they needed to cull some of the Sydney teams, and thus Sydney Olympic was sent down to the state leagues, probably very much to their chagrin - it would be the only season they would spend outside the NSL during its existence. What influence South Melbourne Hellas president and NSL chairman Sam Papasavas had on that process I haven't bothered to look up, and it's not like I haven't had the time - I wrote this piece in 2017. For its part, South recovered well in 1980, finishing in the upper reaches of the league, and was usually near the top of the table, eventually culminating in its first national title in 1984. Mark Boric put up this photo when he was scanning and uploading Soccer Action back in the day, around the time the new Lakeside social club was opened, and he asked if we still had the wooden spoon. If it did exist, I didn't see it when I had been packing away items in the social club. One suspects it went missing a lot earlier than that.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Roster notes, grand final day notes

2020 SMFC senior squad roster as of 21/09/2019
It's not really a surprise - I mean, I think we kinda all expected this to go the way it did - but the club has finally announced that Esteban Quintas will continue as South Melbourne coach next season. After the two most talked about likely alternative options - even if those were more wish-desire rather than anything based in reality - in Scott Miller and Nick Tolios were snapped up by other clubs, it wasn't likely to go any other way.

And that's even if the late forum rumour of getting former championship player and current Moreland Zebras coach Fausto De Amicis had any truth to it.

Some people are willing to give Quintas and the club the benefit of the doubt - and the benefit of the off-season transfer window - but I think the more dominant reaction from our supporters has been a resigned disappointment to struggling again next year, and treating this appointment as a sign of a larger malaise within the club.

I've heard good things about some good things about Quintas, in that his training sessions are firs rate - but match day has been a mess this year, from tactics, to team selection, to Quintas' basic decorum. Then again, the club's PR blurb says that Quintas' "appointment has already been welcomed by all of our senior players", which might very well be true if it's limited to the two senior players we've managed to re-sign.

The injured Luke Adams, who spent much of the 2019 season as a sort of assistant to Quintas, has been officially appointed as Quintas' assistant for 2020. The only other news being bandied about is the possible signing of defender Lirim Elmazi from Altona Magic

Signed
  • Brad Norton
  • Marcus Schroen
Played for us in 2019 but now on the payroll in another guise
  • Luke Adams
Played with us at the end of 2019 but who knows about next year
  • Tom Aulton
  • Keenan Gibson
  • Peter Skapetis
  • Nick Krousoratis 
  • Perry Lambropoulos
  • Kostas Stratomitros
  • Gerrie Sylaidos
  • Manny Aguek
  • Ben Djiba
  • Amir Jashari
  • Giuseppe Marafioti
  • Jake Marshall
  • Will Orford
  • Nikola Roganovic
  • George Gerondaras
  • Zac Bates
  • Andrew Mesourouni
  • Josh Dorron
  • Melvin Becket
Exploring options in India
  • Billy Konstantinidis
Maybe retiring
  • Kristian Konstantinidis
Out
  • Leigh Minopoulos (retired)
"I prefer the cat. He hates Mondays -
 I think we can all relate to that." 
Brief notes from grand final day (without any actual grand final notes)
Headed out last week to the Bubbledome for the grand final extravaganza, while only being interested in the first game, the promotion-relegation playoff between Dandenong Thunder and Bulleen.

I had media access to this, and gained entry to the venue via the ground level gate 5, and soon found that this year the crowd had been placed on the eastern side. Not wishing to walk all the way around to the other side of the ground, I decided to break one my personal rules of mixing with the hoi polloi and instead nestled into the press box on the western side.

The most notable sight on that side of the ground was the big set up being undertaken for the televised/streamed part of the day, with all three games being streamed not only on Football Victoria's channel's, but also on SBS' World Game page. I understand there were audio problems at some points of the first game (ranging from no audio to looped audio during replays), but FV have talked up the numbers watching (as you'd expect). One wonders if SBS, now lacking any sort of soccer match coverage, might invest in broadcasting more NPL games?

As for the game itself, it was not a completely turgid affair, but it tried hard to get there. Neither team showed any particular flair, and Bulleen in particular were cowardly in their approach against a team that had conceded goals against even the most inept attacks in 2019 (ie, South Melbourne). Every now and again a Bulleen player would make a break or beat his direct opponent, only to end up with no support from his teammates, who were lagging well behind the action. Eventually Thunder's Brandon Barnes - who otherwise had a poor game - latched onto an awful Lions defensive error late in the game, and saved Thunder's season, which has been Barnes' modus operandi for this year.

Then I went home, and caught the second half of one of the VFL prelims on TV, happy that Monday night football has been banished from the NPL for 2020.

Later it was announced that it was to be Barnes' last game for Thunder, as he was due to return to the UK with his young family. A thoroughly impressive goalscorer, and loyal to Thunder as well, but his scoring feats never led to Thunder actually challenging for the NPL title. It'll be a big hole to fill for Thunder, and his departure puts them on the back foot already for next season.

For those wondering about such things, even though the NPL 2 is becoming a 12 team division next year, I'm told that the promotion-relegation playoff will remain a feature. More discussion has swirled around other matters to do with grand final day though - including whether AAMI Park is a suitable venue for Victoria's grand final day showcase, and whether the triple-header format is the right way to go about things.

There were complaints from some of those who watched the grand final, criticising the Bubbledome's surface. The day before the grand final there had been a rugby league match, which necessitated high pressure watering to remove sponsor and ground markings from the surface. Then there were two games before the showpiece event, and it rained again during the game. Add to that the poor attendance, only some of which you could put down to the participation of Avondale and Bentleigh, two of the league's poorest drawing sides in a league full of teams with negligible supporter bases.

If it were up to me, I'd change these things about the finals. I'd work the season so that grand final day could be held on a Saturday, preferably the Saturday where the AFL has a bye week before its finals, which would mean no clashes with any footy matches. Sunday is a lousy day to hold a final, especially when the game finishes late.

Since we "have to have" a finals system, I'd get rid of this nonsense top six A-League style system which offers no benefit to the teams finishing at the top of the ladder, and either bring in the classic McIntyre final five, or if we have to have a top six, bring back the finals system that at least gives the top two teams the double chance.

I'd schedule the women's grand final for a separate day, ala 2017, where the event could become its own gala day for women's football, instead of being uncomfortably smooshed between two men's games. I'd also limit the amount of games on the day to two. Three games is far too many, especially when by necessity of having to allow for the possibility of extra and penalties, there are huge stretches of time between each game.

And finally, we should acknowledge the value of what for our purposes would be boutique stadiums, and avoid the tempting but expensive lure of AAMI Park. That there are no perfect alternatives should not dissuade us from playing in venues more suited to our crowd sizes. Rotate the fixtures between Lakeside, Knights Stadium, the revamped Olympic Village, and whatever other ground provides adequate seating and cover. If one of the competing teams ends up being the de facto home team on the day, so be it.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Tasmanian trip artefact Wednesday - South’s Slow Start Spares Blue and White Blushes

This Friday marks five years since we ventured to Hobart to play South Hobart in the NPL national playoffs series. Though I linked to the article below from South Hobart blogger Richard Rants in my original piece on the game, it's nice to reproduce it here in its entirety so that it doesn't get lost to posterity... also Richard is a preyy decent writer.

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SEP
Blue shins in the sunset
Connor Kass and his blueSouth’s Slow Start Spares Blue and White Blushes shins in the sunset.
South’s second National Premier Leagues adventure – this time against the mighty (sic) South Melbourne Hellas, Victorian Premier League’s champion – saw us come mighty close to a humungous upset, going down 1 – 0 after scaring the living fecal matter out of the sleek and highly fancied semi pros from across the big water. Some of these Hellas players, so I’m told, are paid thousands a game, and this mob are one of the best outside the A League. Real contenders to win the NPL. On this showing I’ve got to say: Really?
They brought a 150+ yapping, chanting, potty mouthed, whinging and beautifully passionate fans, and for 93 minutes or so, it felt like somebody cared. There was a gaggle of their fans yelling personal things about our players parentage from behind the fence the whole game, or it might’ve been the wonderfully passionate mister George Mamacas, I’m not sure. The great thing about having a yell for your team at the footy is it crosses the boundaries of the contemporary oh so polite, PC and correct social norms and allows one to exercise his inner boofhead. For many, their inner boofhead is buried so deep, was last seen so long ago, probably up the scrub where no-one could hear you scream – that they believe it simply doesn’t exist. They feel themselves far above those kinds of lowly proletarian forms of utterance. It’s therapy, it’s primal scream, it relieves the tensions, it shows you belong, and I would never think ill of a bloke for expressing himself as long as we keep it within boundaries – no violence, racism, sexism etc. The support of the fans rang about the foothills of Kunanyi and it was just wonderful. Loved the South Melbourners for coming over, for going nuts, for lifting off the roof – thanks guys!
With 18 year old Connor Kass as a makeshift right back thanks to the muscularly inconvenienced Jayden Hey failing his physical on the morning of the match, and Scott Lamont as Defensive Midfielder allowing Caleb to play further forward, South began with their imitation of a cute little fluffy bunny caught in the dozen 120,000 lumen spotlights of a massive Blue & White Albert Park Bogan Humvee. South Melbourne’s VPL legacy physicality, size and speed were too much for us early, and Connor had an almost vertical learning curve in the first 20, with his winger getting slipped in behind constantly, they also got behind us centrally far too easily, every corner we conceded almost ended in catastrophe, our defense let the ball bounce repeatedly in our box, and it was six minutes in from one such fluffbunny bit of defending that we left a bloke called Reed completely unmolested and watched as he performed “le bicycle kique” into the right side of our onion bag. He’ll go home and tell his dear old mum all about it, and maybe she’ll think he hasn’t wasted his life running about kicking a football after all.
The tension is there for all to see as South Hobart Ultras Uber Squawker Jono fronts a the soporific South Hobart fans.
The brave South Hobart Ultras Head Squawker Jono fronts the almost soporific South Hobart fans, whose idea of raising hell is probably dropping a scone and wincing at the splat. C’mon folks – loosen up ya tonsils, will yas?
So as they all trotted back to the halfway line, I had that sinking feeling, and started to think we were about to witness the much predicted mother of all shellackings. It didn’t get better quickly, Hellas still could’ve scored again, with dangerous balls flashing across our zone of uncertainty particularly from their left.  In fact our zone of uncertainty seemed to be growing. But the fighting spirit was about to make a comeback, and we began to show glimpses of composure, and began to get into more dangerous areas, albeit sporadically.  For some reason, the lads started to feel better about themselves – being a goal down and all and these blokes being Victoria’s finest and all – and suddenly we began to get a bit more on the front foot, got a bit more aggressive, started to play some combinations, and began to settle into the higher tempo of the game. We always do so much better when we defend from the front, and in numbers, and we soon became more recognisable as that team of ball pressers, nipping in and snapping into some tackles. Matty Le Wis, Scotty Lamont, El Fruit Salad – all got their toe in to good effect, Liam Scott looked composed and was his usual unflappable reliable self. Then in the 28th minute or so, we should’ve had a penalty. Braydos chased down some very ordinary work by the left back, nicked the ball, charged into the box, and the defender tried to get round his leg to get the ball from behind, but took out his legs, brought him down. It was a penalty. A big mistake by the referee. South Melbourne began to fray as our attacks began to be more regular and dangerous, they began to get fractious, their right back began to develop some kind of obsessive compulsive disorder, and collectively they left their foot in, went over the ball, pushed and shoved, all was waved blithely on by referee Brenton, then on about the 40th minute, the seemingly bonkers James Musa who’d been chirping like some kind of unhinged 6 foot canary went through two footed on Andy Brennan only about three quarters of an hour late, and most referees would’ve shown him a straight red. The Scottsman came in to Andy’s defence, and that was warranted and good sight to see.  It was a dangerous tackle, late, aimed at taking the player out, he should’ve gone. The players got more and more angry as nasty little ankle taps were let go by Brenton, and then just before the half ended Andy went for a wee bit of revenge, went in late and the handbags were out. This might’ve got worse, as Mister Kopra had lost the plot, and the longer the frustration grows and the spiteful behaviour is let go, the more likely someone was gonna get badly wrecked.
Half time was a welcome opportunity for everyone to take their medication and take a look in the mirror, perhaps. As the game wore on, and particularly in the second half, South Melbourne still threatened, and looked like they could score whenever they got forward, especially through the services of their big number 9 Milos “The Submarine” Lujic  who won the inaugural NPL Biggest Whinger and Obvious Diving Spiteful Bastard Award but we began to get on terms, and really started to stretch them. There is still plenty of room for improvement for our lads – the decision making falls apart at times, and poor options are tried when simple passes in the opposition’s box are missed because some of our lads develop tunnel vision when the opponents onion bag looms. Ken replaced the ankle knackered Matty Le Wis and threw on attackers, The Hammer put in a tidy and bothersome for the opposition shift, Darcy Hall came on later, and we huffed and puffed. Whatever the haters may scribble about Hellas being in second gear, they genuinely were panicking for much of the last half hour, and that’s a credit to our lads. Bren Bren had the golden chance after being put through, and I seem to recall 3 terrific opportunities he missed as he skied his effort. Mind you the opposition were guilty of that also, with a few glaring misses and some incredible goalkeeping from Kane Pierce.
As we continued to chase the game, we left a few holes at the back, and when Reed put The Submarine clean through with only KP to beat, our Kane not only took the Submarine out, but ran up into the change rooms, flushed his car keys down the dunny and sent a rude email to his aunty. A certain red and it was game over. Perhaps Brenton was evening things up, but arguably both teams should’ve been down to 10 men, and we should’ve had a penalty.
Kane had a cracker, made some terrific saves, and his rugby tackle on Musa was worthy of the NRL.
Kane had a cracker, made some terrific saves, and his coat hanger on Musa was worthy of the NRL. Houdini never made a greater escape than this guy today.
I spoke to a bloke from South Melbourne who goes to see ’em every week, and he thought they’d been complacent – had it won in their heads before they even got out there. He also reckoned that if we played in the VPL we’d be top four. Interesting.
He could've and perhaps should've but next time I bet he will. With consistency will come greatness. He made some blokes in blue and white look silly, though they had a hand in it.
He could’ve and perhaps should’ve but next time I bet he will. With consistency will come true greatness. He made some blokes in blue and white look dead silly, though they also had a hand in it.
Quite an amazing afternoon, arguably we were robbed, but Hellas could’ve won if they’d finished better, as they had more chances. We seem to never get the fabled home team advantage from referees, indeed, quite the opposite – I remember us going down 3-2 to Bentleigh Greens from a late penalty that never was from Kim Barker – the striker ran into our box, crossed the ball, kept going, tripped over Hugh Ludford’s leg and that was enough for Kim.
Our young players looked gutted post match, hopefully some more composure in the box will come with greater age & maturity and while it was sad we lost, these hard working talented lads did us and all of Tasmanian football proud.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

And that's finally that for South teams in 2019

Photo: Luke Radziminski.
I was unable to attend the women's team semi-final last Saturday because of *reasons*, reasons which the usual ones, and what could be done about it? Not much under the circumstances, but you'll have to trust me that I wish I could've been there.

Succeeding against Calder United was always going to be a tough ask, and I don't think there was anybody who didn't think otherwise. Some people thought we shouldn't even bother, and I get that - know when you're going to get beat, and just go out on a high note.

Still, such courses of action like taking the afternoon off and going to the pub instead might work for lower league men's clubs engulfed in self-inflicted crises, but here at Victorian top-flight women's football such behaviour would be considered uncouth, disrespectful, even unprofessional.

Photo: Luke Radziminski.
So the game, played on a poor pitch, with rain and wind going crazy, went on. Sitting in a local fish and chip shop at about a quarter past two, waiting for my order of flake and minimum chops to get sorted, I checked out YouTube and bloody hell! We were 3-0 down after 14 minutes, to which all I could do was exclaim on Twitter that we were 3-0 down after 14 minutes, which elicited responses ranging from "well, I think we all knew this could happen" to "well, I think we all knew thus could happen, but this really sucks."

Being 6-0 down at half-time meant that no one could see our side keeping the score line under double figures. Miraculously or otherwise, we did, keeping Calder scoreless and even pulling a goal back ourselves. So, the season and even its conclusion were not a complete disaster, and I guess everyone hopes that the young squad will have learned something from the whole experience, and will come back better for it in 2020.

And then it was done to two
Caught bits and pieces of the Moreland Zebras vs Bulleen Lions NPL2 playoff match, while watching Highway Patrol repeats and then 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. This match sucked fr the first half, and since I was watching it on and there were no score or time graphics, it was an ordeal that I did not want to resume until both the standard and the graphical display were fixed.

Eventually this is what happened, and I rejoined the action at about 10 minutes to go in regular time, with Zebras up 1-0. And then Bulleen equalised from a penalty.
Worse, the Bulleen Lions Twitter account soft-trolled me and my loathing of Monday night soccer by liking my tweet, and further salt was rubbed into that wound when the Lions took the lead and won the game via another penalty. Bulleen now go into the relegation-promotion playoff against Dandenong Thunder on Sunday, which in all likelihood I will attend, and hopefully report on.

Friday, 6 September 2019

(NPL)Woah! South Melbourne 2 Heidelberg United 1

This about as late a match report as you can get. How 2019.

I finally, finally managed to get out to another game for our women's senior team. And lest anyone doubt my resolve to do so, yes it helped that this game was on a Sunday - but having to negotiate a very annoying double rail-replacement (radial and city loop) service should demonstrate that while I'm hardly on my way to being top-dog in the South Melbourne Ladies Active Supporters, I do at least try and get out to a few games where possible.

Before the senior women could get started, there was the matter of the under 19s, who were soon enough trailing Heidelberg 2-0, and not looking too good. Soon enough however our 19s worked their way back into the game, and stormed over the top of the visitors, winning 5-2. The thing I most remember though was the melee which nearly kicked off into a full-on dust-up after a bad tackle. It's not the kind of thing I see in women's soccer too often - usually there's a much more obvious "compassionate/duty of care style reaction" to fouls and injured players, so it was interesting from a sociological perspective, even if undesirable from a sporting one.

Photo: Luke Radziminski.
The equation for the senior women was pretty simple - win, and they'd make the finals. Any other result, and the Bergers would get in instead. Even prior to the game, there was the less than ideal situation of not having replacement keeper Shannon Flower available, and having to put in Sascha Lypiridis from the 16s for her senior debut. There was also no Sofia Sakalis, who was injured.

Our women started off well enough, looking threatening and creating some good chances. We really should've gone 1-0 up with one particular sequence of play, where it seemed the universe was conspiring against us. Then the rain and the wind came, sending the ball girls, Our Resident Cockney, and I think eventually even Heidelberg Harismidis running for cover. It was during this burst of mother nature's wrath that Heidelberg scored, whipping in a corner that went straight in, thanks in no small part to the wind swerving it in. Let that be an argument against women's teams resorting to short corners.

Second half, and you just had that feeling that despite getting on top of the game well and truly - apart from rare moments - we just weren't going to score. And then Leia Varley sent home a long range free kick into the top corner levelling the scores, and then my feeling was that we wouldn't manage to get another goal, and the season would end on this bitter disappointment - that despite the improvement we'd shown from the 5-1 loss against the Bergers, and then the 1-1 draw, that we'd be left to rue the sorry 1-1 draw against NTC.

Yes! Photo: Luke Radziminksi.
The clock ticking over to 93 minutes, in the media control room I buttoned up my jacket, put on my beanie, and got ready to go down into the social club. Then we got a free kick too far out for a shot, and though I'd hoped in a perverse way throughout the 90 minutes that we'd steal the game and the finals place from the Bergers at the absolute death, I didn't really believe that we would actually do it. But then the ball was sent into the box, the Bergers' keeper committed to getting to the ball without getting anywhere near it, a flicked header from Kelsey Minton sailed over the top of everyone and into the back of the net for the win.

The team's reward for making it to the finals? An elimination final against Calder United, this year's standout team, at Keilor Park Recreation Reserve this Saturday (ie, tomorrow) at 2:00. Calder have beaten us comfortably four times this season, three times in the league and once in the cup. While I'm not ruling out an upset, it's really very much a nothing to lose game for us.

2020 SMFC senior squad roster as of 06/09/2019
For teams still aiming for success in 2019, the season has not ended yet, but that doesn't mean our club can't get on the front foot and start announcing squad members for next year - in this case, Brad Norton, who I think we'd all have been surprised if he wasn't around next season.

For any other player on our list, it would perhaps be odd to do a re-signing announcement now without having officially named the coach, but it's Braddles, so there's nothing to see on that front. Not too long afterwards Marcus Schroen was announced as having re-signed for two more years, and the public response ranged from the relatively cheerful to those pencilling in the death of the club.

Leigh Minopoulos is the only absolutely confirmed 100% out so far, having announced his retirement prior to the end of the 2019 season. The future of Kristian Konstantinidis doesn't exactly look too promising, so there'll be umming and uhhing about that for a little bit. Meanwhile striker Billy Konstantinidis was on Football Nation Radio yesterday talking about exploring his options in the Indian Premier League.

In terms of coaches, the two names thrown up - by desperate and/or hopeful South fans more than anybody else - have been secured by other teams. Regular South Melbourne watcher and local resident Scott Miller, currently coaching at Langwarrin in NPL2, has reputedly been signed on there for another season. 

The other name belonged to ex-South player Nick Tolios, most recently of Kingston City, who have just been relegated down to NPL 2. Tolios had long been rumoured to be heading towards the Bentleigh head coaching job left vacant mid-year by John Anastasiadis, and surprisingly, Tolios has ended up at Kingston Heath on the eve of the Greens' finals campaign. Ever seen a coach get a team relegated and win a championship in the same league in the same season? Not me, but we're two weeks away from that happening.

Signed
  • Brad Norton
  • Marcus Schroen
Played with us at the end of 2019 but who knows about next year
  • Tom Aulton
  • Keenan Gibson
  • Peter Skapetis
  • Nick Krousoratis
  • Perry Lambropoulos
  • Kostas Stratomitros
  • Gerrie Sylaidos
  • Luke Adams 
  • Manny Aguek 
  • Ben Djiba
  • Amir Jashari
  • Giuseppe Marafioti 
  • Jake Marshall
  • Will Orford
  • Nikola Roganovic 
  • George Gerondaras
  • Zac Bates
  • Andrew Mesourouni
  • Josh Dorron
  • Melvin Becket
Exploring options in India
  • Billy Konstantinidis
Maybe retiring
  • Kristian Konstantinidis
Out
  • Leigh Minopoulos (retired)
Just take the damn survey for the sake of your old pal Paulie 
The wording here is confusing to me, because I thought I was on a Football Victoria Historical Committee already. Anyway, Football Victoria has released a survey about which direction the organisation should take with regards to its historical commitments:

Football Victoria history survey

At the moment Football Victoria's historical committee (of which I am a member) has a role largely limited to oversight of things like the Hall of Fame and Life Member approvals - the survey asks whether Football Victoria should be doing more, and if so, what kind of action people in the soccer community would like Football Victoria to take.

If you could take a few minutes out of your day to fill in the survey, that would be great. If you're uncomfortable using your real name, you could always fudge that bit. Not even sure why they're asking for it.

Throwing stones from glass houses
It was a big week in footy, with some disgruntled person setting up an anonymous Twitter account and publishing document details allegedly derived from the contracts of two current Avondale players, as well as snippets of Avondale's week-by-week payment spreadsheets.

After the initial post, where the leaker had posted the contract details for Kiwi Avondale player Scott Hilliar as well as an extract from an early season portion of the payment spreadsheet, it looked like the account was locked or shut down. Soon enough however it was back up, posting details from Japanese star Tasuku Sekiya's contract - including his wage - as well as posting a spreadsheet extract from the middle of the season.

While there were some legitimate grumblings about breach of privacy most of the attention on this leak of sensitive information naturally centred upon Avondale's spending, which based on the spreadsheet snippets would be up toward the $700,000 mark.

(and for the record, while some questioned the legitimacy of the published extracts, believing them to be fake, I think the level of detail - see for instance Liam Boland receiving a sizeable monetary bonus around the time he reached 15 goals - as well as the publishing of player signatures, suggests that the documents are all too real.)

Around the grounds, those with more insight into the Avondale back office were wondering about the identity of the leaker and their motivations, while others wondered about the tax and regulatory implications, which the leaker had also emphasised as rules that Avondale had broken. I'm more of the opinion that it's the players who are probably in bigger trouble, assuming that there is actual Australian Tax Office investigation and that the players involved didn't manage their tax affairs probably.

Prurient interest aside in terms of seeing behind the curtain of semi-pro player payments, there was the unfortunate but predictable spectacle of some South fans forgetting the lessons of "be careful what you mock, lest you become it", and instead of just slowing down past the bingle on the side of the road, decided to get involved. Why, when our club is so often the subject of similarly prurient well/semi/and un-founded speculation?

Cue some minor blow-back from a former youth team coach and a former a technical director of ours, the latter of whom provided some rather unflattering comments on his time at South Melbourne. These comments were later deleted, I assume under some legal duress. It's going to be another fun off-season.