Monday, 10 December 2018

So very tired

As the A-League expansion licence process enters what I hope is - one way or another - its actual true ending point on Wednesday, we've been made to endure one last media flurry from the bid team. Where probably many of us are exhausted by the whole business, Bill Papastergiadis, South board member and SMFC for A-League bid chief, has been sprinting to the end of the process.

Last week began with an attempt to claim the 'south-east' as our natural territory, what I hope is more of a cheap PR move than a genuine belief that we actually have any popularity in those suburbs outside of extant and/or latent Hellas fans. Then came the 'revelation' that we have the support of what was it, a touch under 50 Melbourne clubs? Then a bit where Ange Postecoglou does his filial duty. 

And there was the big one, at least for those of us wondering who was going to pay for all of this should the bid be successful, with property developer Ross Pelligra revealed as the money-man that would add the necessary liquidity to make it all happen. What Pelligra's ultimate motivations are, and why he would spend a millions on a facility that's owned by the government, I haven't the foggiest.

In the meantime, those of us with slightly longer memories will wonder whatever happened to major sponsor Luvarc and/or Luisa Chen, who seemed attached to the bid in early publicity, but which have since disappeared.

And some will say, and have said, why haven't we heard of any of these initiatives before now? If one assumes that these late stage media interventions will make a difference, I suppose it could be said that keeping our powder dry might be worthwhile. For those unconvinced by that possibility, I guess we'll wait to see the outcome of all these efforts, and remain unconvinced one way or another.

Outside of us, the bid process has maintained high grade levels of farce, which need little elaboration - bids without stadiums, waiting for government handouts; bids without stadiums, vowing to build their own, along with one assumes government handouts to build supporting infrastructure; bids with stadiums, waiting for government handouts to make them better. And that's just in Melbourne!

Across several if not most of the remaining bids, there is no obvious signs that the public these bids will rely upon are in any way interested in what they have to offer. Now there are threats by some that if they don't get in now, they will never try again. You have a league under new management that knows it must expand or stagnate further, while also contending that expansion must not infringe upon the supporter bases of existing franchises, while only one of the remaining bidders exists outside the current licence holders.

And outside of what actually matters in the decision making process, burner accounts battle across social media. But if we hold on a for a couple more days, we'll finally be at peace...

Friday, 7 December 2018

There are doors that open by themselves / There are sliding doors / And there are secret doors

I was going to talk expansion, South Radio, expansion, South Radio going overtime, and perhaps also ponder when the AGM might be, because once again it looks like it will be on the 12th of never, but I can't be bothered, mostly; except to say that on Tuesday one bit of South Radio stuck out like the proverbial dog's balls - this was when the hosts were chatting (and I'm paraphrasing here) about how great a facility Lakeside was, and that there was a social club, and if you were free you should all come down to Lakeside tomorrow night for the pre-season hit-out against Moreland City.

Then all of a sudden, there was a very hasty reversal to that whole-hearted invitation, as it was noted that they had been informed by 'someone' that the game was in fact not an open-door affair. I'm sure they have their reasons for this, though I don't know what they are. Now I, being a very good boy, did not attend the pre-season game, but others are less virtuous, as one could see from Facebook and Twitter posts.

Thankfully, one of those people who did enter via a poorly manned entrance, was kind of enough to write up a short review of what he saw, and we thank him for that.

South Melbourne 4 Moreland City 0 (goalscorers: P. Marafioti, A. Mesourouni, M. Aguek, K. Konstantinidis) - guest post by Josh McKenzie.
This game was, as pre-season so often is, a bit hard on the eye, but not as bad as you can get in these kinds of things.

There was a decent turnout last night, and even a bit of passion for pre-season - the chanting and drumming provided by two young blokes I hadn't seen before was quite impressive (less impressive was their Zorba dancing performance)

We looked OK I guess, though who can know for sure? Moreland looked fairly rubbish, having apparently lost their best players over the off-season, and we seemed to be pretty coherent.
Our new lads all looked pretty promising, with Sylaidos and Lambropolous providing a decent combination down the left flank, as well as the Canadian DM we've allegedly signed who looked solid enough. The English trialist striker seemed to be a quick, off-the-shoulder type, who had a couple of good moments where he broke away from the defence.

The only three senior players not seen were Schroen, Adams and Howard- whilst our finishing let us down, it was nice to have those chances available.

Reassuringly, our set pieces are still rubbish.

I mention that last fact just in case someone, whether of any particular importance or not, wants to know what's wrong with the team, based in some part on what I remember annoying me the most, or rather perhaps the last thing I remember annoying me.


On the whole, a solid first hit out for the mighty white and blue!

South Melbourne soccer club timeline pottering (2018)

While you're all waiting to find out whether South will secure an A-League licence and arguing about the matter with Twitter randoms, I'm going in the opposite direction and making a quick historical post.

The other day Socceroo and South Melbourne Hellas championship player Ted Smith asked for a timeline of all clubs which have ever borne the name 'South Melbourne', and after shooting off the email I kind of realised it'd be nice to post it here for all to enjoy and have as a handy reference. It may also act as an incentive for me to renew my efforts to do some more research on these clubs, and might be something I update each year around this time.

Timeline of soccer clubs which have borne the name 'South Melbourne'.
  • South Melbourne (1884-1890). This team played in Melbourne's first soccer competitions - such as the Beaney Cup, and the George and George Cup - under the auspices of the Anglo-Australian Football Association, and lasted until the end of the 1890 season. I haven't been able to find anything after that date for this team. It is not known whether any people involved with this club became involved in Victorian soccer once the game officially reformed in 1908.
  • South Melbourne (1908-1909). In 1908, when organised soccer in Victoria re-emerged from its long slumber during the 1890s and early 1900s, a South Melbourne team was one of the clubs that was involved. The only references to this club's existence - and the term 'club' should be used with caution here - are a scheduled match against Prahran in September 1908, and a scratch match on the South Melbourne Cricket Ground in April 1909. The result of the match against Prahran does not appear to have been reported in any media outlets of the day. At this stage it is unknown why South Melbourne failed to take part in the subsequent league and Dockerty Cup competitions, whether any of its players or officials moved across to the other clubs, or whether the club changed its name before the start of the 1909 season.
  • South Melbourne (1910-1911). Possibly the same club as the previous entry, but I'm uncertain - I've only recently come across this club in Mark Boric's statistical history work. This club played two seasons in the Victorian Amateur British Football Association's Amateur League (which was above the second tier 'Junior' league), and finished bottom of the table in both seasons.
  • South Melbourne (1927-1940). This club appears in 1927, which was the year Victorian soccer split into two competing organising bodies. It appears that this South Melbourne remained loyal to the original soccer body during this dispute. I have a hypothesis, as yet untested, that this South Melbourne is a re-badged Albert Park, but I need to do more research to confirm that theory. Albert Park had played in the post-war competition from 1919-1926, and an Albert Park club - possibly related to the post-war outfit - had also played before the war. At any rate, this South Melbourne does not seem to go beyond 1940, nor does it re-emerge after the Second World War. 
  • South Melbourne United (1937-1960). The exact origins of South Melbourne United are unclear;Soccer News article from 1953 claims that the origins of the club date back to 1932 in the guise of a club called 'South Melbourne Juniors', formed when members of the Middle Park Schoolboys' Soccer Club changed names, and that later on this junior club merged with the pre-existing South Melbourne senior club to form South Melbourne United (I have my doubts on this though - it is worth noting that the 1927 South Melbourne and South Melbourne United did play against each other in the late 1930s). Contemporary (and probably more reliable) sources seem to locate United's official founding to 1936 as a junior club formed by former pupils of the Middle Park School and the South Melbourne Technical School. By early 1937, South Melbourne United had decided to field senior teams in the local competition. It is unclear if this team played in the 1943 season, but it certainly competed in every other season from its foundation up until the point it helped form South Melbourne Hellas. Occasionally in the record books - principally in the early 1950s - the club is sometimes referred simply as 'South Melbourne' without the 'United' name. In 1946, some younger players split from South Melbourne United to form Park Rangers.
  • South Melbourne Hellas/Lakers/FC (1959/1960 - present). In August/September 1959, two local Greek clubs - Hellenic and Yarra Park - merge to form Hellas. In early 1960, the newly formed Hellas amalgamates with South Melbourne United. The club decided to use 1959 as its foundation date, but more correctly, the true foundation year is 1960.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Cruising

FIXTURE THIS!
The 2019 NPL senior men's fixture came out some time last week. There was some good news for South fans: we're guaranteed* 3.5 home league matches in the first half of the season, an increase of half a home game on 2018's offering. The uncertainty factor comes from South being unable to say exactly when or where its round seven home against Green Gully will be played. 

But at least we get a home game early on this time around, a round two affair against Dandenong City. Not sure why a round one home game couldn't have also been fixtured considering our traditional grand prix and athletics affiliated home ground access issues, but I'm sure there's a really good reason for it not happening; there always is. 

In terms of what the other clubs are doing, it's more of the same for the most part. Kingston are sticking with Monday nights. Most other clubs are going for Friday or Saturday nights, while Gully seem to have considered their Friday night experiment a bust, and are going back to Saturday afternoons. The recently promoted Dandenong City and Altona Magic are doing Friday nights and Saturday nights respectively. By comparison, our club's persistence with Sunday afternoon kickoff is the height of civilised quaintness.

As usual, I've written up our fixture on the blog. It's probably chock full of mistakes, but what are you going to do about it? Go to another website there and get the info from there? You think by doing that you'll be both better informed, and crash the blog's advertising yield? Well you'd be wrong on both counts, but whatever, it's your life.

*not a guarantee

No friendly - Maybe friendly - Future friendly
An article posted to the Greek section of the Neos Kosmos website said that we were due to play a pre-season friendly at Lakeside last Saturday afternoon against Geelong. Lucky for me I asked the club on Twitter whether this was actually happening (in a manner of speaking), and they quickly replied with no; my subsequent mail is that Geelong cancelled some days before the friendly was due, and that for whatever reason that info didn't make it to the person responsible for the article. These things happen.

The same article says we're going to play Moreland City at Lakeside on Wednesday evening, but geez, you'd want to check your local guides for confirmation of such, because you might want to go check out the Shaft/Super Fly double feature at the Astor instead.

In a different Neos Kosmos article, also in Greek, we have what may be considered confirmation that we'll be visiting West Adelaide in February as part of our pre-season preparations. The game will also be the official opening of West Adelaide's new facility, which looks pretty snazzy.

I listened to the new iteration of South Radio so you didn't have to even though you probably did anyway
Keep in mind that this is me commenting on this matter as a long time listener of many kinds of radio, including being a reasonably dedicated listener of the previous version of South Radio, and certainly not me commentating as a radio industry veteran of four episodes of my own show co-hosted on the same network. In summary:
  • It's slicker than the previous version of South Radio, which was to be expected, especially when you have George Donikian dominating or directing proceedings.
  • Related to this, the show had the kind of awkward banter that comes with making a show that's basically a pilot episode going out to a much larger potential audience than the old show would have done. Thus the 'banter' was affected by no longer being informed by the pre-existing friendships that the former South Radio cast had - and that includes this audience member being 'in' on many of the in-jokes - and which was also a way for members of the then South media team to let their professional guards down.
  • There was quite a bit of content dedicated to the A-League bid, but nothing new. After having been promised at a members' meeting during the season itself that there would be more information revealed to the public as the various deadlines approached, nothing happened. Bill Papastergiadis suggested again during this show that they would release more information. I'll believe it when I see it, not that any of that matters.
  • There was quite a bit on the culture and history of the club and how great it is.
  • There was a little bit on the powerchair team, which I would like to hear more of in future. 
  • There was nothing that I can recall on new signings or any such things.
  • There was an obligatory shout out to South of the Border. I thank David Henning for recognising this blog's ongoing importance to... something. Shall we call it sublime-pettiness? Arch-contrarianism? You-can't-handle-the-truth-ism? But I must admit, it was nice to reminisce about the social club's official opening in 2017, and the geekiest cutting of a ceremonial ribbon anyone could think of, back when I was still if not friends with certain people, than at least on friendly terms. Ah, that's where this blog's importance lies: adolescent woe-is-me-ism! 
Over time I expect the show to become less stilted, and even if the shadow of the club's oversight will always be there, I imagine I'll be listening in most weeks. Someone close to these things suggested to me that I call in during a show, to which I demonstrated the likely outcome should I choose to do so.

Speaking of South and FNR, tomorrow night from around 6:30 there'll be an A-League bid special. 

The Western Melbourne/Region/Universe bid people won't be there, but it might be worth a listen anyway, just in case someone says something mildly interesting. It could happen.

2019 SMFC senior squad roster as of 2/12/2018
Not much news this week on the signings front. Backup keeper Rory Brian has signed at Preston in State League 1 North-West.

Signed

  • Dean Bereveskos (Bonnyrigg White Eagles)
  • Kristian Konstantinidis (signed until end of 2019)
  • Nick Krousoratis (Green Gully)
  • Perry Lambropoulos (Port Melbourne)
  • Brad Norton (signed until end of 2019)
  • Gerrie Sylaidos (Northcote)
Seen hanging around pre-season training
  • Luke Adams
  • Manny Aguek
  • Alistair Bray
  • Ben Djiba
  • George Howard
  • Giordano Marafioti
  • Giuseppe Marafioti
  • Jake Marshall
  • Leigh Minopoulos
  • Nikola Roganovic
  • Tim Mala
Holiday in Cambodia (It's tough, kid, but it's life)
  • Marcus Schroen 
Rumoured
  • Visa player no. 1 (English striker)
  • Visa player no. 2 (Canadian midfielder)
Out
  • Rory Brian (Preston)
  • Matthew Foschini (Oakleigh)
  • Christos Intzidis (who knows)
  • Milos Lujic (Oakleigh)
  • Oliver Minatel (who knows)
Unknown / MIA / Assumed dead from 2018
  • Josh Hodes
  • Iqi Jawadi
  • Ndumba Makeche
  • Andrew Mesourouni
  • Will Orford

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Για την Ελλάδα, ρε γαμώτο! Or not! And Britain too, I think! I'm not sure

I'm starting this piece by way of one of my standard unnecessary preambles. Earlier this week I was at my day job, attending one of the daily stand-up meetings that management is using to tell us how great their latest project is. 

To help prove how important and interesting this new endeavour is, one member of management referred to a PowerPoint slide linking to positive news articles (I assume positive, because why else would management link to them otherwise), not caring that they were behind a Murdoch paywall, and probably not caring or perhaps even oblivious to the fact that a room half-full of humanities academics is probably the last group of people likely to be taken in by such obvious PR guff passing as journalism.

I begin with that pointless anecdote if only to ask the question of whether we as South fans could do with looking at the news we consume with a bit more caution and a detached critical eye, rather than interpreting even the slightest ambivalence about our A-League bid as a call to furious arms.

To wit, a situation was created by what was and is a rather straightforward article of little consequence about A-League expansion; a summary of what to the jaded and the unbiased alike are the obviously lesser hopes of the Canberra and South Melbourne A-League bids in securing one of the two expansion licences on offer. It was an article written by Michael Lynch, The Age's chief soccer reporter, and someone I've posted my occasional criticism of during the past eleven years on here, and before that, too. And if I'm being honest and fair, Lynch is someone whose forté is beat writing rather than dense or lyrical analytical pieces.

That's not a crime, but it does acknowledge a historic structural issue in the relationship between Australian soccer and the media. Australian soccer has been and remains an also-ran insofar as its treatment goes in the mainstream written press. It might not be a palatable fact, but it is true. And even as that relationship goes through peaks and troughs, each daily newspaper tends to end up with one and only decicated soccer writer, who is expected to cover all angles of every issue, even as the space allotted to them to do so is limited, and even as they are expected to be all things to all people - beat reporter, political analyst, on-field tactician, and quasi-historian.

These days you can add click-bait writer to those functions, a less than appealing idea for any news writer with a semblance of self-respect, but utterly necessary when newspaper revenues are in such steep decline.

(And incidentally, this is one of the reasons why I took out a digital subscription to The Age - yes there are noble sentiments in this somewhere about being part of the solution rather than the problem, but it's also for the chance to be smug and note that as a subscriber, the concept of the click-bait reader is marginally less applicable to me because of the $4.?? I allocate to this weekly expenditure.)

In the article, Lynch points out that Canberra and South are perceived - both in the public sphere, and within the behind-closed-doors decision making sphere - as being the obvious outsiders compared to the other four remaining bids. Lynch rightly asks the question about Canberra's previous poor history of soccer at a national level - both on and off the field - and the feedback he has received from current Canberra soccer followers that times have changed, especially with the nature of the city itself. Lynch compares Canberra's difficulties of being a regional centre (and thus having doubts about its ability to raise sufficient sponsorship, as well as getting a new stadium), with South's troubles of being perceived as an ethnic/old soccer throwback with limited broad appeal.

Now, Lynch is clearly not saying that he himself thinks South should be excluded from an expanded A-League because of 'ethnicity'; only that, rightly or wrongly, such perceptions exist, and that they will be a factor in the decision making process. While singling out ethnicity as a drawback factor for us, along with Canberra's tainted 1990s national league history, Lynch puts these issues into the perspective of representing:
... interesting arguments about the history, diversity and geography of the game in this country. 
These are arguments which Lynch doesn't expand upon on this article. Like I said, it's neither his speciality, nor do the constraints of time, space, and editorial line allow for something more effusive on what multiculturalism actually means in Australian society, and the way in which Jim Cairns' dream of a pluralist Australian multiculturalism persisted beyond his term in government most notably via deliberately and inadvertently insular ethnic soccer clubs. In short, history can be a launching pad, but it can also be an albatross, and if you want to read something with more expansive intellectual heft on these issues, read Joe Gorman's book rather than a quick semi-throwaway article designed as much to leverage your anger as your sense of reason.

Now Canberra fans seem to be able to handle this casual dismissal of their A-League chances better than South fans. Not having a race issue attached to that exclusion certainly makes things less emotive, but we should also note that as far as controlling their tempers online goes, South fans have been garbage at it since they first got access to the internet. I say that as someone who when they were 16 years old would use school computers to act like the prototypical uncouth online Hellas knob. Things have only gotten worse in the ensuing years, as the experience of exponentially increasing irrelevance combined with the faintest whiff of hope from FFA's Pandora's Box sends fully grown men into a collective apoplectic rage whenever someone considers South to not exactly be a prime candidate for A-League expansion.

And thus Lynch's Twitter feed went into (relative) overdrive with people wanting to hammer him and correct him. The response from Lynch to that, er, 'feedback' is made up of several tweets amalgamated by me.

Hardly ironically, Lynch's article predicted such blowback:
It is not dissimilar to the arguments that South fans – often the most vociferous, if at times intemperate – make on social media when the plausibility of their bid is questioned.
But somehow being accused of being a racist by the very same people he described as borderline nutbags surprises him. Irony dies in the deep dark internet sea. It's not like he's the first journalist either in recent times to cop that kind of abuse merely for reporting what he hears that the public is not privy to. Recently hired Sydney Morning Herald soccer writer Vince Rugari has also copped his share of social media hate from some South fans for making similar observations about South's outsider status, with those South fans being unable to grasp the idea of confidential sources, much as the same people will willingly accept obtuse answers and impossible to verify information from South Melbourne board members.

No surprises though about who one of the ringleaders of the anti-Lynch lynch-mob was, a fact one can surmise by several "tweet not available" notices (because I'm blocked by him), but disappointing if not surprising that several other South fans chose to follow that particular lemming over the edge of the cliff. To be fair though, there was a higher than usual dose of bewilderment from South fans as well, wondering what all the fuss about Lynch's article was.

Of course our lovable larrikin soon-to-be former prez Leo Athanasakis also jumped in with his own 'facts'.


Facts which are anything but of course, and which are easily debunked only if you actually know what you're talking about on these matters. Unfortunately such knowledge is limited to a mere handful of people, most of whom have nothing to do with Twitter or social media and even when they do, they are rightly reluctant to wrestle with metaphorical pigs.

[And while no doubt well intentioned, the other bloke who said it was a four-way merger including a Jewish club is also peddling half-truths at best - because let's be honest, the 1980s merger with what was left of Hakoah was little more than a takeover by South which probably mostly served to secure us a few more grounds in the Middle Park area. And I'd love to be corrected but it was my understanding that the Hamilton (named after either former South Melbourne United and founding South Melbourne Hellas committeemen Des or Bill Hamilton, or perhaps even both) award for club best and fairest was actually a supporters group initiative, not an official award from the club.]

For starters, the 1959 date - which South Melbourne FC uses as its foundation date - is the birth of the Hellas club, which was a merger of the struggling (and still very young) Greek-Australian Hellenic and Yarra Park clubs. The new entity they formed, Hellas, amalgamated with South Melbourne United, an Anglo-Celtic Australian club (what you might also term an Australian club, for lack of a better term, to describe a club founded by non-migrants), at some point in early 1960, ostensibly to get access to Middle Park, the home ground of South Melbourne United (and also Melbourne Hakoah).

To make the merger more palatable to the supporters of the small United club, the Greeks of Hellas throw a few bones United's way. They add 'South Melbourne' to the front of the Hellas name, inadvertently making the thing sound more poetic while also being unusual in being an ethnic club in early 1960s Melbourne with a ready-made and self-selected and unforced district name. They keep United's white jersey with a red vee. And they allow some committeemen from United to be on the new South Melbourne Hellas committee.

It's an arrangement which lasts a mere half decade or so. Soon enough non-Greek committeemen are a thing of the past, United's red vee is gone, and all pretence that this club represents anything in the South Melbourne area apart from the Greek migrants who live there is over. Since that time, in its glory days the club had mostly been content to gloss over that early history and the Anglo connection. This is not a judgement call - whether what happened is right or wrong is for someone else to mull over - but it is an acknowledgement of what actually happened.

Later, toward the end of the NSL era there were the beginnings of attempts to recognise that early history, though I always get the vibe that it was a minority of forward thinkers rather than staunch traditionalists responsible for those efforts. As the club found itself in the (now seemingly without end) rut of being simultaneously abandoned by the Greek-Australian community (its core supporter constituency) and alienated from its identity of being a big fish in a small pond (which had begun to attract its share of non-Greeks, but not quickly enough to form a critical mass at the critical moment), one of the flailing measures taken to recalibrate the club's identity saw some people engage in bumbling and not entirely intellectually honest attempts to leverage elements of the club's history (and parts of pre-South Melbourne Hellas history) that had been neglected (and sometimes derided) for decades.

This led to some people trying to link South Melbourne Hellas directly to the very earliest soccer clubs with the name South Melbourne, as part of an attempt to claim something that is not ours to claim. As I have noted in several places, at best South Melbourne Hellas can lay claim to being the most important club in the South Melbourne/Albert Park/Middle Park precinct; at a stretch it can perhaps lay claim to being the most notable current custodian of a local soccer culture going back to 1884.

But since we know of no formal connections between the 1884 South Melbourne club to the South Melbourne club which was almost formed to play after soccer was reformed in Melbourne in the early 1900s, and certainly no known connection to the 1920s/30s South Melbourne, can we really claim a legacy that fragmented and uncertain? Never mind also that the 1920s/30s South Melbourne was a totally different club to the Middle Park Schoolboys junior club which eventually became South Melbourne United in the mid 1930s (with United thus being more aptly classed as an Anglo-Celtic Australian club than as a British club).

These are, in the greater scheme of things, annoying and pedantic points of history, wielded here by me not to show how smart I am - because at any rate, most of the work in this area has been done by others - but rather as an illustration of how utterly stupid discussions of history are, especially when they are made by people who have no respect for something they claim they have respect for while also claiming that others have no respect for that same history. In other words, as much as I'm drawn to the facts of what happened pre-1959, these bits of trivia become less important in a situation like this than the reasons and manner in which they are deployed -  too often in a shallow way to score cheap political points, ironically mostly in an environment where most supporters of Australian soccer see history as neither burden nor blessing, if they think about it at all.

Not that any of that matters, of course.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Coasting

I worked in something resembling an office environment for the past couple of weeks for the first time in my life, and I have no idea how You People manage to do deal with the assorted nutjobs who seem to populate these places.

Anyway, the only important news on the signings front is that striker Nick Krousoratis has signed from Green Gully. The talk of the visa player slots is that an English striker who's played in the second division in Spain will take one, and that a Canadian midfielder named Ethan Wesley/Gage or something, who had played at Bentleigh this year, will take the other spot.

Unless of course one of those two also counts as a permanent resident, thus creating the possibility that another player could take up one of the visa slots. In other news, it seems likely that Marcus Schroen will return to South, though at the moment he's on an overseas holiday. Defenders Tim Mala and Jake Marshall, as well as youngsters Manny Aguek and Ben Djiba have been seen around the club, so I've moved them around to the appropriate categories.

2019 SMFC senior squad roster as of 26/11/2018
Signed

  • Dean Bereveskos (Bonnyrigg White Eagles)
  • Kristian Konstantinidis (signed until end of 2019)
  • Nick Krousoratis (Green Gully)
  • Perry Lambropoulos (Port Melbourne)
  • Brad Norton (signed until end of 2019)
  • Gerrie Sylaidos (Northcote)
Seen hanging around pre-season training
  • Luke Adams
  • Manny Aguek
  • Alistair Bray
  • Ben Djiba
  • George Howard
  • Giordano Marafioti
  • Giuseppe Marafioti
  • Jake Marshall
  • Leigh Minopoulos
  • Nikola Roganovic
  • Tim Mala

Holiday in Cambodia (It's tough, kid, but it's life)

  • Marcus Schroen 
Rumoured
  • Visa player no. 1 (English striker)
  • Visa player no. 2 (Canadian midfielder)
Out
  • Matthew Foschini (Oakleigh)
  • Christos Intzidis (who knows)
  • Milos Lujic (Oakleigh)
  • Oliver Minatel (who knows)
Unknown / MIA / Assumed dead from 2018
  • Rory Brian
  • Josh Hodes
  • Iqi Jawadi
  • Ndumba Makeche
  • Andrew Mesourouni
  • Will Orford
We're gonna read a book, and Boutsi's gonna write it
Could it actually be coming out? Fair Play Publishing has the following item listed in its "titles being planned" section:
The Truth Behind My Boots by Con Boutsianis with Ben Hudson (2019)
South of the Border knows that Hudson and Boutsi had been working on a book some years ago, based upon a thread that was posted on smfcboard (RIP). But that forum thread had gone moribund, and there was no outward indication that  Boutsi's biography was an ongoing concern.. yet there seems to be life in this project yet. It probably helps explain Ben Hudson's contribution to this post

Return of South Radio
South Radio is back, in a slightly different form. It'll be on Football Nation Radio on Tuesdays at 8:00PM, hosted by David Henning and, er, George Donikian.

It'll probably be the first in a series of club affiliated shows to take up residence on FNR, as the station tries to fill out its schedule and broaden its listener base. I'll be listening with an open mind, though I have the feeling that ye old ramshackle days of South Radio are probably a thing of the past.

If You Know Your History episode three
Meanwhile mine and Ian's FNR show trundles on. In episode three, we talk Brisbane's missing trophies, teachers, schools and soccer, and a weird bit where we segue from The Heartbreak Kid to Prahran High School as a sacred soccer site.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

In / Out / Other

Another quick update on what's being going on at South over the past week.

We've signed players! The new signings include Perry Lambropoulos (see right), a right-back from Poet Melbourne, and who had re-signed at Port and had been announced as doing so as recently as a month ago. That probably shows you how much these signing announcements are worth. Lambropoulos had previously played for Oakleigh, including against us in the 2016 grand final if memory serves me correctly, and even if two of the three goals we scored came from his right -hand side, we must remain optimistic and believe that Perry will at least be an improvement on an end-of-the-road Tim Mala.


As noted last week, we've also signed young winger Gerrie Sylaidos, who had been at the recently relegated to NPL2 Northcote. Sylaidos was reputedly being chased hard by a number of teams. so it's nice to snare a promising talent like Gerrie.


There had been talk of the club making a signing from the NSW NPL, and this has turned out to be midfielder Dean Bereveskos from Bonnyrigg White Eagles. I'd asked my NSW #sokkahtwitter folk for some intel on Bereveskos, and Tony Tannous supplied the following.


They say more signings could be announced this week, but we'll see.

 On the departure, front, apart from losing Milos Lujic, we've also parted with Matthew Foschini by mutual agreement (some say he had two more years on his contract). Like Lujic and Nick Epifano (via North Sunshine), Foschini has also joined Oakleigh, where Chris Taylor and co seem to be trying to get the band back together (minus Andy Brennan, who's shipped off to Green Gully), but being South Junior/South 2.0/Diet South has been part of Oakleigh's program for over a decade now. 

Oh, and it also appears that Nick Marinos, the coach of our best youth team (the 2018 under 16s) is now the under 20s coach at Port Melbourne.


The list below is an unscientific attempt to corral where we're at this particular moment with our senior men's squad. 


2019 SMFC senior squad roster as of 21/11/2018

Signed
  • Dean Bereveskos (Bonnyrigg White Eagles)
  • Kristian Konstantinidis (signed until end of 2019)
  • Perry Lambropoulos (Port Melbourne)
  • Brad Norton (signed until end of 2019)
  • Gerrie Sylaidos (Northcote)
Seen hanging around pre-season training
  • Luke Adams
  • Alistair Bray
  • George Howard
  • Giordano Marafioti
  • Giuseppe Marafioti
  • Leigh Minopoulos
  • Nikola Roganovic
Out
  • Matthew Foschini (Oakleigh)
  • Christos Intzidis (who knows)
  • Milos Lujic (Oakleigh)
  • Oliver Minatel (Japan?)
Unknown / MIA / Assumed dead from 2018
  • Manny Aguek
  • Rory Brian
  • Ben Djiba
  • Josh Hodes
  • Iqi Jawadi
  • Ndumba Makeche
  • Jake Marshall
  • Andrew Mesourouni
  • Will Orford
  • Marcus Schroen
  • Tim Mala
If you know your history episode 2
Yes, they let us make another one.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

This, that, something else

Not much going on, but we'll keep an eye and an ear out for anything if it does happen. I think pre-season training starts tomorrow? Anyway,iIn the mean time...

FFA's NCIP survey
For who knows what reason - cheap populism, desire to watch the world burn, sudden appreciation for the Star of Vergina - FFA is holding a survey to gauge thew views of Australian soccer supporters with regards to the National Club Identity Policy. Up to you whether you complete the survey or not. I'm not going to pressure you. Enjoy the loaded questions if you do decide to fill out the form.

I'm on the radio, for now
So Football Nation Radio have commissioned Ian Syson for what at this stage is a pilot run for an Australian soccer history radio show. And of course I've been roped in to help out. We did our first episode last week for Armistice Day, so we talked about soccer Anzacs and such, but we also covered some other stuff. If you've been missing the sound of my dulcet tones, or if you want to learn something about soccer history in this country you can listen here. Or not. No arm-twisting from me.

Well, that's finally sorted then
I'll keep this relatively brief.

Yesterday I received the news that the corrections for my doctoral thesis have been passed.

I'm not going to go into too much detail about the entire process of the thesis, and its extended examination period, except to say that I was relieved and overwhelmed by the news.

I thanked a whole bunch of people in the acknowledgements section in the thesis itself, and I will thank more of those needing to be thanked when I see them. But it would be remiss of me not to thank again my supervisors Ian Syson and Matthew Klugman, for their support across the five years of this project, and in Ian's case, far longer than that.

It would also be negligent however not to thank the South of the Border readership and the broader South Melbourne Hellas community. The blog has hindered my ability to finish this thesis earlier, but without it, I'm not sure I would've finished it at all.

It was through the combination of South and smfcboard.com (RIP) and Ian that I got back into the game, even if it was the only game I'd ever known - career student. Since then in my own slow way, I've made my way through the uni system, culminating in something that only towards the end did I think I would actually achieve - and even then, it was rarely straightforward.

And while it's slightly naff to say it out loud, I dedicated the thesis to South Melbourne Hellas, because it felt like the right thing to do.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Yet another off-season placeholder post

Not much going on at the moment, but it's up to you to decide if that's any cause for alarm. Maybe they're trying to keep it all hush-hush so other teams don't come in and swoop on recruits.

With other teams making announcements on signings, it's natural to get antsy about what it is we're doing or not doing, especially since a player like Oakleigh's Dusan Bosnjak - someone who, even if there was no firm intel that he was heading our way, would still seem like a good fit, and thus his eventual whereabouts the natural preserve of rumourmongers - has signed at Altona Magic. So it goes.

Last week Con Tangalakis was on 3XY Radio Hellas' sports program last week, but I only found this out later, via the South forum, where someone posted a screengrab of a tweet that had been sent to his phone by someone else, with the original tweet coming from SMFCMike. So thanks to Mike for listening and providing the summary, while some of us were listening to jazz noodling on community radio.

So that's Gerrie Sylaidos, and two visa players. Meanwhile, another person has said that we have signed a defender. So, not up to the bare minimum of the seven players required to start a match, but we're getting there.

Of more genuine concern is that when the 2019 fixture gets released, we'll have another ridiculous run of away games to start the season, followed by an equally ridiculous run of home games. So that's something to look forward to.

Monday, 5 November 2018

More Hellenic history

This is a photo of Hellenic that I haven't seen before, found by Mark Boric, I assume in the old Greek sports paper Athletic Echo. The photo's a little dusky, and it'll probably be hard to compare the faces to other Hellenic photos to see if there are any resemblances with hitherto unknown players.

I'm guessing this is an away/alternate strip, but I don't have access to a Victorian soccer yearbook which lists the alternate kits for any clubs. The player listed here as K. Papadopoulos seems to have non-matching socks. I'm not sure what years this is from either, and though the article the photo came with mentions 1956 and '57, they are mentioned within the context of the club playing in the Victorian second division at the time.

Hellenic, 1957(?). The players are Arvanitakis (GK), K. Papadopoulos, George Karakyriakos, M. Karakyriakos, P. Rivans, Alecos Nanos, Costas Tzinis (player-coach), John Tsarouchas, G. Pipis, Luchetti, Antonis Karagiannis.


Some of the names I haven't come across before, while others I've seen but only with an initial, not a full first name, as is the case here. The short extract from article below the photo, notes that G. Kararakyriakos was a George. Ozfootball digging says that along with P. Rivans, there was a separate player named J. Rivans. Missing from the team photo, according to the article, are D. and H. Moshakis (the latter possibly a Haralambos, and Anglicised into Charlie), P. Tzimboglou, G. Papadopoulos, P.  Paleogiannidis (a goalkeeper, also spelled elsewhere as Paleoyiannidis, and finally an initial for him), and D. Karagiorgis.



Of course adapting Greek surnames into English, especially when you don't have access to what would've been the standard Anglicised spelling for each individual, makes things much more difficult. And that's not even getting into the Greek conventions when it comes to the initials used for first names. There are also some non-Greek names, which for the Rivans we can be sure of the spelling; for the possibly Italian Luchetti(?), well good luck with that.

The funniest part of this article is the description of Antonis Karagiannis as a "well-known cowboy", whatever that means! In a part of the article not shown here, playing coach Tzinis is quoted as saying "these boys played for the shirt and for the Greek name. But behind the team was an unspoken hero, who gave his soul for the team, and that man was George Lekatsas".

Cheers to Mark Boric for taking the time to dig this photo out!

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Generic car engine sputtering into life noises

Where was the kaboom? There was meant to be an earth shattering kaboom! 
Like an apocalyptic cult waiting for doomsday, we reached the hour of judgement and... nothing happened. How do we go on with our lives under such conditions? Well, like any good cult with a failed doomsday prediction, we'll reconvene and let everyone know of our revised date at some future point of time.

More seriously, the transition from one FFA board and Congress model to another was always likely to cause issues. The current board of FFA, which has been treading water since Steven Lowy succeeded his father - and which cobbled together a half-hearted expansion process that neither they nor the current A-League teams really wanted - has failed to deliver an outcome to its own purported deadline.

These things happen. And what's more, if we are to believe certain media platforms, there are ongoing concerns about the viability of all six final bidders. Well, duh! I said the same thing when there were three times as many bidders; that there was no magic bullet Wanderers-style bid which would solve (or at least alleviate) the persistent issue of stagnant A-League metrics, while also not requiring new stadiums, suffering from uncertain investment streams, or significantly cannibalising the fan-bases of existing franchises.

The more conspiracy minded of you will no doubt gravitate towards the theory that despite its obvious drawbacks and deficiencies, South is probably the only ready-to-go franchise of the remaining bids, but that there's no way that the authorities or whoever succeeds would let that happen. And I'm not here to disabuse you of that belief; after all, since the only way I could ever see South returning to the Australian top-flight is via an extraordinary case of last resort default. I can't entirely deride a line of thought which bears some relation to the way that I think about these things.

Anyway, even if we kept the receipt, it's not like we're (or whichever director was responsible) going to get our application fee back. We're just going to have be a bit more patent as this farcical process extends into the indeterminate distant future. Not that any of that matters, even if it is frustrating.

Of course there is always that second division and promotion/relegation idea
And if you're interested in such shenanigans, then the AAFC have a treat for you. They'll be hosting a forum for potential candidates for the chairpersonship of FFA. Register here if you'd like to go, though I think Football Nation Radio may cover it as well. I'd like to say I'd be there, but I may be otherwise occupied.

But back to more important things
Con Tangalakis' appointment as senior men's coach is finally official. Now that it's official, what can we say about such an appointment? Purely on a surface level, both on the appointment itself and the way it happened, it seemed like Tangalakis was not our board's first option.

Whether Bentleigh coach John Anastasiadis was serious about considering our offer to him, or whether he was merely stringing us along, there was an offer made from us to him - and it didn't work. Whether the club had anyone else in mind, I do not know. Whether anyone else would've been interested is also a question that you'd hope would be answered in the affirmative, but it could be that we are seen as a basket-case not worth bothering with, a condition working in tandem with free-agents of any worth being vacuumed up by cashed-up clubs.

When combined with scandalous rumours and articles about our perilous cash-flow situation, and 2018's unceasing aura of senior squad disharmony, things aren't exactly looking chipper. Anyway, pre-season training starts in a couple of weeks - or so some of the forum people say - and it'll be interesting to see which players actually turn up. Speaking of which...

Farewell Milos Lujic
It was a fait accompli, some would say from months ago, but it's now official: Milos Lujic has departed the club. Five times our leading scorer, even in 2018 when his commitment levels (and the service to him) wasn't at its best. That's going to be a huge gap to fill, but it probably won't be the only one.

And just in case some of you were holding out hope...
Former skipper Michael Eagar has re-signed at Port Melbourne for 2019. So we're not getting him back.

From a distance, the world looks blue and green (and the snow capped mountains, white)
Mike Valkanis has been appointed as "Head of Football Development", which seems an odd thing to do for someone who fairly recently decamped for The Netherlands to work in football there. So is Mike coming back? Er, not quite.

While the reaction from our own fans on social media was one of unbridled enthusiasm for having a sort of favourite son "come home", the supporters of Dutch club PEC Zwollw - where Valkanis is currently employed in some sort of assistant role - certainly seemed to be confused by the situation.

Valkanis himself clarified that he would, in fact, be remaining in The Netherlands while delegating day-to-day operations to other people. How all that will work is a question best left to those who have made the decision and those tasked with making it work.

Besides, as long as the stream of players from Queensland to Victoria doesn't stop, do we even need juniors anyway? I mean, apart from fulfilling our duties under the NPL licence agreement?

South Radio to return in 2019?
Heard some talk that there's a chance of a South Melbourne Hellas radio show returning to the digital airwaves in 2019. If it happened, it'd be via Football Nation Radio, who are trying to fill out their programing with club specific shows. Not sure if we're likely to take up the offer, though I believe other clubs are keen to grasp the opportunity.

Haven't done this in a while
Match programs! Well, one South one, and one Queensland one. The South one is from our ill-fated first attempt at the FFA Cup national stage - ie, the Palm Beach game. The other is from 2017 NPL Queensland grand final. Many thanks to Garry McKenzie for sending these our way.

I've put the call out Knights fans for what South of the Border is missing in terms of Knights vs South match programs from 2005 onward... we'll see what happens. I'm more hopeful of getting match programs involving South Melbourne and Newcastle's various NSL representatives, though we'll all have to be very patient with those.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Like a little kid waiting for Santa, but much better

So, tomorrow's the big day. Or at least it's meant to be.

It's the day where FFA finally, probably, maybe announces who has won the coveted A-League expansion spots, and we South fans can finally get on with our lives when it's made official that the Team 11/Dandenong bid is FFA's preferred Melbourne bidder.

Then one or both of the political parties vying for election in November's state election can announce as policy the building of a stadium next to Dandenong railway station.

As for me, I'm mostly looking forward to this entire thing being over so there can be one less plausible reason or excuse for the club to be practicing social media radio silence.

It's a slightly perplexing thing though - the club has 10,000 Twitter followers, and 60,000 or so Facebook followers, and yet very few of them seem to care about the club's lack of announcements on signings, the coach, or anything to do with the club's day-to-day operations.

Almost as if those people didn't actually exist, at least not in the conventional sense, but that's another matter entirely.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Carrier Pigeon Express

Hi, how is everyone? I'm doing OK, thanks for asking.

Not much news from me or anywhere else, but I'm posting something quick here just to keep things ticking over. Let's just assume the club is waiting for the A-League expansion decision on October 31st - aka Not That Any Of That Matters Wednesday - before remembering that we have a supporter base that would like some news about anything related to our NPL fortunes,

Anyway, so former general manager of the club Peter Kokotis is now our director of football, or our football director, or something like that. Don't know if that means he's joined the board - I mean, I'm guessing not, but I'm trying to read between Greek lines here. Kokotis does say in the article that it was a mistake to sign Chris Taylor up to a five year contract. Of course the club hasn't announced how long we've signed Con Tangalakis up for, or that we've signed him up at all, but it seems that we have signed him up as our manager.

Further reinforcing the likelihood that Tangalakis is our coach is that Neos Kosmos' Greek pages refer to him as such. Today they noted that it appears that we've agreed terms with Northcote's Gerrie Sylaidos, a signing rumour that's been doing some of the forum rounds and probably the northern suburbs Greek café rounds before that. The article also says that South has reached agreements with a player from overseas and a player from New South Wales, whoever they are.

The journo then goes on to note that the South stints of Milos Lujic, Nick Epifano, Christos Intzidis, Iqi Jawadi, Matthew Foschini, Oliver Minatel and "probably Matthew Millar" are likely over, which is strange on so many fronts. I say strange, because for most of those names a majority of us would probably assume were out the door ages ago, not least because Epifano left during the season. But the Matthew Millar is even more bizarre, because he is - last time anyone cared to look - in the A-League, again something which happened yonks ago.

Well, that's all for now. I've got a ton of marking to do over the next week or two, but I'll try and keep up with whatever news comes up during the next week.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Hmm, I don't remember a bowling alley being there

Last week I remarked at how eerily calm everything seemed to be, and how I didn't want to hear anything to the contrary, if for no other reason than that I was (and am) busy marking essays, making corrections to my thesis, and generally trying to earn a living by pretending that I am an actual productive member of society until the end of October when my sessional teaching contract effectively ends.

Well, starting last Friday the club did a great job making headlines, even if they weren't all part of some greater plan. Now that the dust has settled on a few of these things - and since I have just enough time on my hands to write up some nonsense on all of it - let's recap what's happened over the past week or so.

Hail to the Chief
As reported on the official South website, which has otherwise been near comatose in the off-season - so much so, that by comparison it's made the necessarily semi-dormant South of the Border seem like the proverbial hyperactive kid dosed up on red cordial - we have a new president and a new vice-president. The director primarily responsible for senior men's football, Nick Maikousis, has been elevated to the role of president, while the director responsible for women's football, Gabrielle Giuliano, has taken up the role of vice-president. I'm not sure and I can't remember who the previous vice-president was, and going off the most recent update to the club's board of management web page (see above), it seems like the club was pretty much in the same boat as me. Who is even actually on the board apart from Nick and Gabby? I don't even know anymore. I'm assuming they've got their minimum requirement of seven.

I'm not privy to the behind-the-scenes machinations to know if it was an orderly handover of power; I'm not even sure that really matters. I wish Nick all the best, because there's this vibe around the club that we're in this real deep hole, and someone or some persons have got to take responsibility for what's going on. Anyway, Leo got to thank everyone and wish them well at the presentation night last week, so it can't have been too traumatic an experience. For his part, Leo says he always intended to leave his post at the end of 2018, which might be news to a lot of people. Though he did add this idea into the mix.
“If we do make it to the A-League, I will take a position on the A-League Board, but not as a chairman or in any leadership role there. I will continue on the Board until South Melbourne goes to elections,” he says, reaffirming that another SFMC board member, Bill Papastergiadis, had already put his hand up to be the Chairman of the A-League team.
Not that any of that matters, of course.

That's right, there was a presentation night last Saturday
It wasn't exactly a secret, but at the same time it was barely promoted as well, at least in online places that I visit. Given the events of the day before - and more on that in a later segment - a few people who didn't go to the presentation night later spent their time scouring the club's increasingly elusive social media presence looking for clues as to which senior men's players weren't completely pissed off with us, coming up with no one apart from old reliable Leigh Minopoulos. Later updates at least showed us Brad Norton was in attendance, along with most of the women's team, and... you guys who went need to tell me who else showed up, because I wasn't one of those slinking around social media like a madman looking for clues which would up at the RAND Corporation and the reverse vampires.

Anyway, Leigh won the Theo Marmaras award/prize/medal for our best and fairest, which just quietly, I think is a good choice, not that the club would or should take any advice from me on such matters.

Do we have a coach? And do I have to read the Greek papers to find out?
While everyone has concerns about everything going wrong at the club, some concerns are more equal than others. Those of us with only small barrows to push - or even no barrows at all, because I've either misplaced mine or loaned it to someone and I can't remember who now - only really want to know who we've picked to be the senior men's coach for 2019. It's something that really should be a run-of-the mill decision, and something that probably should've been sorted out by now, especially once John Anastasiadis made the decision to stick with Bentleigh.

The rumour had been going around that Con Tangalakis has been offered a three year deal. In true South Melbourne fashion that rumour had been reported as hard fact by a few people, showing that we'd learnt nothing from the previous week's antics. Other people have said that it has actually been reported in the Greek press, but it certainly hasn't come up in our club's once legendary social media presence. I guess the club must have lost its social media profuseness somewhere between a couch cushion in the last couple of months.

Though my Greek is getting rustier by the day, I think somewhere in this article is confirmation that Con Tangalakis has been appointed as coach... but you know, wait and see and all that.

And you want to be my A-League franchise / And you want to be my hard-hitting Australian soccer news-breaker 
Late on Friday afternoon a news report was published with the eye-catching headline accusing the club of wage theft. The story quoted former player Liam McCormick, a former employee of the club in Despina Donato, and an unnamed current player. The club, via outgoing president Leo Athanasakis, claimed that the allegation that staff and players are owed money is false.

(As an aside, I wonder if Leo made that comment with the endorsement of the rest of the board, or felt that he could do so in his capacity as president even as he was soon set to leave the post. Eh, it probably doesn't matter.)

Some people say you shouldn't laugh at things like this, and I won't. But I will note a few things which I find hilarious, in that grim, clenched teeth kind of way. First, Clement Tito, the journalist who wrote the story, was attacked by some South fans for doing his job, as opposed to our fans asking relevant questions of the club. Now where have I seen that kind of behaviour before? Oh yes, the time a young photographer was hauled over the Twitter coals for taking a photo of Kristian Konstantinidis jamming his fingers where he shouldn't have.

I mean, I get the innate desire to defend the club - and there are times when we should be doing that - but there are ways of going about this which are more effective (and ethical, if that's a relevant consideration - it probably isn't) than others. Our normal online fan behaviour in such situations tends to be of the foaming mouth rabid dog variety, but every now and again people surprise you - like here, where one pseudonymous supporter provided evidence contradicting McCormick's claim that he was owed money.
That such information was posted online by a pseudonymous character is a bit of a concern - where did they get the document from? It has to be either someone from the club, or someone connected to the board. It doesn't seem like the best way to play the game, especially when board members have often been critical of the anonymous posters on this blog - but why should I apply my own flawed notions of ethical purity onto others? It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and since I prefer the aloofness of cats, it's probably not my place to cast aspersions.

Though another possible interpretation is that McCormick was owed money at the time of his departure, but agreed to waive his rights on those matters in order to get a clearance to different club which, by the dubious sources I rely upon, was going to pay him a lot more than what we were doing anyway.

Still, the line being run by some people that the article was part of the great masonic anti-South Melbourne Hellas conspiracy was, as usual, a bit over the top. Tito was accused by some South fans of writing the article in order to damage our reputation and by extension our A-League bid (not that any of that matters), and taunted him and the website which published the piece with the threat that he'd be sued. Tito didn't do himself any favours by not actually standing up for his work (at least on Twitter). Maybe he has better things to do than hang around on social media all day and argue with people, and good luck to him if he does. But my feeling on these things is that if you're going to post incendiary material like that under the guise of being a professional journalist (as opposed to the hackiest of hack bloggers, such as yours truly), you should probably be prepared to defend your work, especially if your mates come to your defence and you kind of leave them hanging.

Unless of course Tito has another article up his sleeve, and wouldn't that be fun to read?

Insofar as the wages and benefits owed to Donato (who is no longer at South Melbourne) and other staff members and volunteers (who are still at South Melbourne) it is pretty much an open secret that various staff have been or are owed money or benefits, though I'm not as up to date on these things as I used to be. Maybe all those issues were sorted out ages ago. I do know that former and current staff members have taken different paths in dealing with these issues, and it's not my part to judge how they go about collecting what they're owed, if indeed they are owed anything. Suffice to say that Donato and any other staff member owed money is fully entitled to be paid what they are owed according to their contracts and the law, and if the club is in the wrong, then it deserves just about every bit of grief it receives.

As far as what the players may be owed, since I don't talk to them about such things - and unless personally approached, I never would - it's always going to be rumours as far as I'm concerned. McCormick's pisspoor attempt at getting back at the club aside, the fact that another, current player has spoken out (albeit under the promise of anonymity) should be cause for concern. As a general rule, whatever players say to each other in private about wages, they rarely come out and talk about such matters in a public forum, especially in cases where they could be theoretically identified. That they have done so here should be ringing alarm bells.

The situation with regards to the player payment situation takes me back to the comments section in this post from just over a month ago, where an anonymous poster claimed that "Players have not been paid in over two months. PFA has been contacted apparently. This season is turning out to be a nightmare for the club." Another anonymous poster responded with "What a pathetic rumour to post, well done Paul." for my approving the original comment, but with nothing more than competing allegations/points of view, it was pretty much a case of the irresistible force against the immovable object cancelling each other out. Until Tito's article came out anyway, and then the club responded, and then nothing happened. I'm not saying it's a letdown, just an anti-climax.

The funniest thing though by the length of the straight is thinking back to the A-League information night a few months ago, and the pleas from Bill Papastergiadis to the fans to not do anything stupid which would embarrass the club. Well our fans being who they are, some of them did engage in some less than stellar behaviour - at least according to the club - and were banned from Lakeside for various indeterminate lengths of time. But even the worst of those fans would have been doing well to drag our club's name through the mud in the way it has been here. Still, there's always new depths to plumb.

As alternately horrifying/comic as this situation turned out, it is also worth putting things in some perspective. Most clubs in Victoria who pay players go through periods where they struggle to resolve their wage bills. Some clubs end up making the difference at the end of or after the end of a season, and plenty of others never even get that close. Some players have enough street-smarts, or have been around the block enough times, that they know how to work around the issue, or are content to cut their losses and move on. A special few talented players know precisely the value of their on-field worth, and can wield their reputations both to collect their owed moneys and move on to another club to start the process again. Probably everyone else is content enough to move on with whatever they've managed to squeeze out of clubs, considering that below the NPL2 level players aren't meant to be paid at all, except for expenses.

It's easy to target South Melbourne, because who cares what "insert other no-name brand club" does in this matter? But people should care. Wage inflation in Victoria has gone bananas, and since a good portion of clubs in our fair state are supportive on a second division - and wages will be an important part of the increased costs of such - it would be worthwhile actually having a mature debate on the probably untenable salaries being paid to part-time footballers playing in front of very few people, and bringing in very little revenue. But again, some people who promote the pro-rel argument also promote the live and die by the sword manifesto as it applies to soccer, and the idea that there'll always be some club available to replace one that fails. If that's the driving philosophy, then let the wage recklessness continue.

But just because these things happen on an all too regular basis across the state leagues, it doesn't mean that it should happen. It especially shouldn't be happening at a club with top-tier aspirations even if the vast majority of funding from any A-League bid attached to South would be provided by private interests. And how stupid did those internet heroes look trying to make out as if this would actually have any bearing on South's A-League ambitions, especially when they already claim to believe that we're no chance anyway. It also doesn't even matter if these things have happened in the A-League with their own alarming regularity. South boasts of its on and off-field professionalism, and even the suggestion that it fails to live up to those boasts doesn't do the club any favours.

I'm not enamoured either of the idea put up by some fans - even if it was an idea largely made in jest - that because the players didn't do well this season, that they don't deserve to be paid anyway. That's a crock. The fact is we've made legal commitments to players in the form of professional contracts, and we are obliged by the law if not common decency to honour those commitments. Any other response is flat out immature.

The club did eventually release a more formal response to the article, hinting at players breaching contractual obligations, as well as accusing Clement Tito of declining the opportunity to check the club's accounts in person. But really, the biggest mistake Tito made - apart from relying on McCormick as a source - was getting the article published on the same night Usain Bolt was pissfarting around against park footballers. Who cares about South Melbourne Hellas' sideshow antics when you have the three ring circus in town?

Also, geez man, if you come at the king, you better not miss.

Preparations for 2019
If I understand some of the things I've read correctly, we've been invited by Newcastle's Hamilton Olympic to go up there for a preseason game, though I can't see if we've actually accepted that invitation. Seemingly more certain is that we're doing a preseason game in South Australia early next year against West Adelaide. Whether we have a team to take up to either locale is another wait and see proposition.

South gets another red rose in A-League Expansion Bachelor(ette)
Well, well, well. After some people said last week (and don't people say so many things) that the FFA had decided who they wanted to be their A-League expansion franchises, and that it wasn't us, Ray Gatt noted yesterday that the Wollongong and Ipswich bids had been turfed, and that the
Not that of any of that matters, because apart from clearly just being strung along for laughs and/or an insurance policy in case the FFA and A-League's preferred bidders turn out to be hollow nothings, will expansion even happen next year? There's plenty of talk (always so much talk) that the FFA or whoever ends up running this process is going to Honey Badger (why do I even know what that is?) the process and not pick anyone, or make them wait another year.

Which is fair enough in my opinion, because like a puppy, an A-League franchise is not just for Christmas, although most puppies probably have a better anticipated lifespan than some of the A-League's former and possible future franchises.

Lastly, good to note this particular extract from a recent Vince Rugari article on all these things.
"It's believed some A-League clubs would view their (@smfc) inclusion as a retrograde step for the competition. The proximity of their home ground, Lakeside Stadium, to AAMI Park is also a concern." 
That sounds a lot like something you'd read on the FourFourTwo forums or from a columnist on The Roar. Which is not having a go at Vince by the way (and congrats to him on getting the Sydney Morning Herald gig), who like others obliged to cover these events is only reporting what he's being told. It's just an observation on the kinds of things being fed to journalists, and the ways in which they sometimes seem to align with tropes used on popular discussion boards populated by people even less credible than South of the Border's chief correspondent

Unless... what if those forums were also being used by people connected to competing bids, extant A-League licence holders, and/or FFA? Hmm, I'll have to consult the positions of the sun, the moon and the stars, and maybe read the φλιτζάνι to see the likelihood of that being true. Not that any of that matters.