Thursday, 31 January 2008

The old and the new

While killing time until the next major event, I thought I'd put these up. I can't remember where I found the first pic, only that it was taken by some guy in a hot air balloon. The second pic was taken by the fellow who runs this blog.

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Monday, 28 January 2008

The joys of volunteering and collecting statistics

When you're a community based club, and in particular one in the lower leagues where every cent counts, volunteers of all sorts giving up their time are hard to put a price on. Back in the NSL days, my involvement with the club didn't stretch too far beyond going to games and catching up with the occasional and where possible replay. Since our descent into the doldrums of the VPL, and the emaciated crowd numbers that accompany it, one starts to get to know and appreciate the many behind the scenes people putting the club first.

They range from the quite old, to the quite young, with tasks ranging from ground and venue upkeep, fan mail-outs, website updates and maintenance, and not forgetting the under appreciated work done by various board members. My personal volunteering time is quite minute compared to most of the people who give up their time, but still, every bit that I do makes me feel me ever more connected to the club and its members. Last Saturday, some of us cleaned out boxes, picked up and moved rugby posts, and also continued pursuing my personal niche area, helping to build up the statistical history of the club, no mean feat for as the further back one goes, the more records become sketchy and elusive. Amongst the disappointments of certain frames and pictures not being up (such as one of South's first president Theo Marmaras with Sir Stanley Rous), one also comes across stashes of match day programs, some dating from as far back as 1979, as well as stickers, Ballarat Red Devils key-rings, a Rangers pin, and an audio cassette tape (in Greek) of the 1999 Oceania Cup final (which I am putting onto my PC as I type this).

Currently, some fans (of which I am just one) are attempting to put together a website dealing with as many players, coaches, games, and ephemeral stuff of this great club we can possibly get our hands on. While some of the people involved are doing this stuff as part something specifically South related, my own interest in the area is slightly broader, using my work as part of the Ozfootball site to complement both areas. As part of the process of clearing up the names, positions, and even existences of some players primarily from the 1960s, myself and two other fans traveled out to Oakleigh to a humble souvlaki joint; on entering one notices a South Melbourne Hellas vase, and that the walls are filled with framed articles and pictures of a long gone era, with the jewel in the crown being a copy of the South Melbourne Hellas Team of the Century painting. The proprietor of course is none other than South legend and Team of the Century member Jim Pyrgolios. After finishing off our meal, we sat nervously for awhile wondering how to approach Jim. In the end, my apparently superior Greek language skills made me the default choice. Jim invited us out to the back porch where we sat under thundery skies, going through old players and photographs. Rest assured that efforts are being made to preserve these artifacts for future generations.

Jim's memory was magnificent. Forty years on, after numerous championships as a player with South, and coaching stints as disparate as a minor premiership in NSL season 1992/93 and coaching Floreat Athena to a league and cup double, it was amazing how he remembered the first names and club origins of so many players, as well their positions and the clubs from which they came. As we handed him picture after picture to help us identify players, officials and grounds of yore, the most frequent comment was "kati omada" (what a team!), and who would be game enough to argue! Going back inside (he was meant to be working after all!), he pulled out one scrapbook and one photo-album from behind the counter. Inside were well preserved photos similar to the ones we had brought to him, as well as dozens of articles, including one which reported on him winning the 1971 Bill Fleming Medal. The standout item which floored all of us though, was a rare early photo, with the team clad in the original strip, in colour. Eventually the time came for us to go, but as there is still much more information to elicit, and many more fine souvlakia to feast on, we will return.

Throughout our time with Jim, one thing stood out. Here was a bloke who had played in the top flight for a top club in Greece, was a legendary striker in the glory days of 1960s and 70s Victorian soccer, who'd been assistant coach under no less than Ferenc Puskas, and yet his humility and generosity was pervasive. In another country, and perhaps another era, Pyrgolios would be feted as the legend that he is.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Pedestrian and awful - Hellenic Cup group games

This is basically a wrap up of the two remaining group games played over this weekend.

Saturday's match was against South Springvale Aris, a state league 2 outfit. Mix of regulars and ressies. Got there late, so missed Caldwell's opener. Caldwell also got the 2nd, and was denied a hat-trick by a spectacular save from a free kick by the opposition keeper. In general, South barely raised a sweat and rarely looked inspiring, but having said that, Aris never even got close. Ricky Diaco missed the game with a groin injury but should be right for the start of the season. Your correspondent had a terse conversation with Rockem Sockem Poutakidis about the whereabouts of Perth goalkeeping recruit Neill Young. Rumour is that he hasn't signed, unhappy about having to play second fiddle to Johnny A's brother Dean. "No comment" was the response, in my opinion more or less an admission that it was true. He stuck to his guns and I stuck to mine. I reckon I won that argument on a points decision, but it was a Pyrrhic victory, what with an experienced and seemingly quite capable keeper being let go for reasons other than talent.

Sunday's game was against amateur side South Springvale Serres. With the exceptions of Natsioulas and Tosic in goal, no one else could be considered even close to a senior player. Still, the performance was very disconcerting. A bunch of young, fit and allegedly talented guys struggled to put together almost any decent moves. Luckily, Serres almost never threatened to score, but still, Hellas needed a dubious penalty to make sure of the result. There were some bad tackles in this game, the one that will stick the mind the most is that of a South player lucky to stay on the field after committing an atrocious and plainly deliberate two footed studs up tackle. Johnny A's absence was also noticed by some supporters, and not with pleasure either.

South now goes on to meet Bentleigh Greens on Thursday evening, with the winner of that going through to the semi final on Sunday.

Alex Duric on The World Game

Continuing on from an earlier entry, comes this very poorly done but still clear enough video of Alex Duric on The World Game show. All time leading scorer in Singapore? Jeebus! We had him as a defender!

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Fernando to play for Futsalroos

Fernando 'Nando' De Moraes has been selected to play for the Futsalroos in some Kuala Lumpur (France) tournament.

South fans are already familiar with his fancy footwork on the big field, including his wonderful trickery which set up Gianni De Nittis winning goal in the 2006 VPL grand final. Bravo Nando, and good luck to the entire team. And don't come back injured Nando, or there'll be hell to pay.

Reports on the weekends Hellenic Cup games (and other adventures) on Monday.

Nothing to do with Ising getting the arse

* Gully game set for Saturday morning - canceled or postponed.
* Hellenic Cup games - still very much on.
* Family Day announced for the 10th February - should be fun.
* Jersey Presentation night on 15th February, $60 - I'll probably end up going, about time I turned up to one of these things.

Oh and in only slightly relevant news

* Some Victory fans chuck a sook because Tony Ising gets the arse from Melbourne Victory, while others are glad to see him gone – in a somewhat inverted reaction, some South fans dance on his metaphorical grave, while others are a little more philosophical, and some do both.

Poor Tony. Or not. The man's dream started in the Carlton SC outer back in the bad old NSL days (saying 'old' together with 'NSL' is still mandatory; 'bad' is optional, used with venom by the new footballing breed, while 'old soccerites' make use of it with sarcasm or irony). He even posted it on a webpage which he later had torn down. He apparently tried to ram his idea through the South board at one stage; either that or they weren't very perceptive or progressive.

Anyway, in this writer's opinion, there are essentially two factions operating at A-League level. One is represented by your Ising types, who in numerous interviews prior to the A-League's beginning, made more references, at least in my opinion, to uniting existing soccer supporters, and creating some sort of new footballing culture. The other types were your Geoff Lords, who let's be honest, are in it for the money. And if Ising thought he was going to be able to buck the general sporting trends in this country, well good on him, but I reckon he was wrong, even if hindsight works a treat.

Because it works like this. Say you're a rock band with a heavy leftist political slant, calling itself for all intents and purposes, The Machine Rages On. Now if you happen to stay small time, your ability to make a difference is compromised by the fact that you're preaching to the converted, and frankly, the converted are fairly few and far between and already doing their bit. Of course, should you have a surprise breakthrough song, perhaps with some anti-police/authority motif, you may find yourself with quite a few more fans, word spreads, radio's playing your song everywhere, and heaps of people love you. But people are more in tune with the heaviness and the barely restrained anger of your song rather than with the politics. Some of your original fans criticise you for selling out, while others feel uneasy with you being the in thing with a lot of people who are merely on the bandwagon. Your message of social upheaval and change gets lost in the pop-cultural milieu. And all of a sudden the idea you had of starting a political rock band to make a difference stares you back in the face. Yes you did make a difference, but what sort? In the end and despite all your best intentions, rather than making the difference you wanted, you only made a difference in so far as you furthered the capitalist ambitions of someone who saw your idea and happened to see it differently, and was able to make money off you and those whom you sought to help or call to action, who frankly couldn't have cared less to begin with. And the world keeps on turning in more or less the same fashion before you and your lofty dreams arrived on the scene. And it's not as if you did anything wrong per se; after all, you yourself maintained your integrity for the most part. But once your idea wasn't just yours anymore, but also that of some guy who saw a chance to make some dosh and as well as it getting attached to some guy semi-consciously nodding along in his car, your control of that idea is gone, and you ain't getting it back.

There was a time in this country, and I was born into the tail end of it, where most of the people at sporting clubs really gave a toss about their team's fortunes. They were at the home games almost every week, most got to as many away games as they could, their emotional barometer was heavily affected by a win or a loss. This crossed sporting codes and all strata of society. Their club was something they believed in, it was their imagined and at the same time very real community, at a time when sport and entertainment industry in the same sentence would have been incompatible. But the times changed, the old community clubs were eventually destroyed from without by those who couldn't appreciate what was already there, and often from within when the money ran out, and revolutionary steps were taken to bring in more people, more money, and in turn more success, whatever the consequences.

And the price paid in the end, in this writer's opinion, was far too great. The AFL destroyed itself, in its quest to dictate what culture should exist, by choosing the corporate and fairweather over the philanthropists and diehards. In soccer's case, the diehards were essentially most of those who were left at NSL level, whether ethnic club or broadbased. The money wasn't there, people across the board generally felt that changes needed to be made, but pretty soon it was obvious that the baby was thrown out with the bathwater, and we were going to have a fresh new start, for people who believed that stuff's possible. And so about 50 years of accumulated culture, the good, the bad and the bizarre was discarded, and not even consigned to a history book. Everything had to be new, even the primordial creation myths had to be reinvented. But I digress.

There are people who cling on to some notion of the A-League being for the 'real' football fans, people who went to the NSL, people who couldn't make an association with existing clubs or the NSL, yadayadayada. And maybe it was a little like that in the beginning. But pretty soon it was taken over by people who needed something to do over the summer, those sucked in by the far too serious and self-referential 'atmosphere' and those who wanted to be in the 'in crowd', and who saw soccer as giving them some sort of cosmopolitan flavour in a country torn between cringeworthy parochialism and a need to be loved by everyone overseas.

But all this could just be the bitter nostalgic rant of a disenfranchised NSL supporter. And for all anyone knows, Tony might be happy with how the club and league ended up. But on the same token, it is worth wondering why Tony did get the sack, who gave him the sack, and the potential reasons for this. Because for all the bullshit propaganda of a new era, Tony was one of the many remnants of that past mythical age, and therefore his departure does mean something, even if it doesn't exactly correspond with the general thrust of this piece.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Reardo Luka on his to way a full recovery

Found another South related blog, seems to have been started recently, and is still alive. The most interesting news is that Reardo Luka's recovery from a horrible injury last season is nearing completion. Luka broke his leg in last year's Hellenic Cup in a collision with the opposition keeper. The following borrowed from the above site, contains the low down on his current state.

After a long period of time out of the game, due to breaking his leg while playing soccer, Reardo LUKA is back to training with South Melbourne FC.

Facing many difficulties to recover, which were directly related to the bad job that was on his leg done by one of Melbourne’s hospitals, Reardo is very happy to return to his beloved game.

Starting light sessions yesterday January 8, he aims to be back on the field by the end of March 2008 and give his best to regain the top goal scorer position, which he lead for 2 years in a row with SMFC Youth Team.

Sincerely, Reardo thanks all supporters who helped him pass this hard time and at the same time is determined to reach his ‘shattered dream.’

South of the Border wishes Reardo all the best with his recovery and with the hope that he gets back on the field and regains his scoring touch.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

No lah, so old lah, so tall lah - Alex Duric plays for Singapore National Team

When I first heard about this, I was like no way, but good on him, another South player on the international stage, scoring a goal as well against Tajikistan. It came a bit late for my presentation last year on soccer and globalisation, but what the hell? And yes i realize this is old news, but this is still a new blog, it's still catching up.

Some forum

Straits Times profile

Singaporean blogger eating his words

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Original still the best - South Melbourne 1 Port Melbourne 0

South vs Port. One came from the other, and yet the parent has ever outshined its bastard son. One just about did as much and went as far as an Australian team could, the other failed, in its own lesser domain, to take the oppotunities it was granted. Today's meeting once upon a time may have contained some spice, but these days both sides are far from their glory days.

With Port now two divisions below South and fielding a young team, there could only be one winner. South threatened throughout most of the match, and in particular a stylish first half, to absolutely destroy Port . Caldwell got the only goal in the first half, while poor crossing and the usual walk the ball in stylings of South kept Port in the game, and to their credit, they improved sufficiently to trouble South on a couple of occasions, but luck not being on their side they didn't manage to get the equaliser. The game was entertaining enough, but defensively there are still concerns.

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Poor picture I know, taken with a crappy camera while the train shook violently, but somehow despite that Crateman managed to get in the photo.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Apparently this was a friendly - South Melbourne 3 Melbourne Knights 1

Perhaps it's because a fair few of them live around Sunshine, or perhaps it's because they've got real high hopes for the upcoming season, but there were plenty of Knights fans at Chaplin Reserve. The MCF even had their 'MCF' and 'Against Modern Football' (whatever that means; a more accurate description would perhaps be 'against post-modern football') banners out. On the flip side the South contingent was very small. A couple of board members, some support staff, an out of action for this game (courtesy of a keeper collision in the Heidelberg friendly) Hamlet Armenian, the odd fan and one grand slam tennis line caller who turned up at half time. Of course attendance by South fans is rarely anything approaching awesome at these things, but this was pretty poor. Maybe they were at the tennis, or still on the forum banging on about Leo. Goodness knows the forum's rarely that lively when there's an actual soccer match to talk about, which is a little bit of a cause for concern.

Anyway, the game itself lacked any real fluency, on a level but rock hard ground. For South, Poutakidis, Diaco and Fernando played the first half, Natsioulas did not play. New South recruit MacDonald scored about 10 or so minutes in from a corner. Knights leveled after the break with Deano in goal. Perhaps a little against the run of play South scored twice late to take the game, with Caldwell providing a good low pass for the third for De Nittis to put away. A number of players from both sides received knocks. Fernando hurt his left knee, but should be fine. New keeper Neil Young collided with Ramazan, the former getting a cut inside his mouth as a result. Danny Miller somehow got a broken rib which made it difficult for him to breathe.

I'm concerned that De Nittis is still being persisted with in a midfield role, instead of his usual place up front. Goran Zoric is a real gem, but will his small stature work for or against us? A pleasing aspect was the hard tackling put in by some players, a very good omen. Not the most brilliant work from either side, but there were enough signs that both will be up there probably fighting for a top four spot. Most noticeable on things to work on for both sides was the back half. South's new look defense is still taking time to gel, but should have enough games in between now and Round 1 to sort most of them out, as well as working on linking up with the midfield. For the Knights, their defense seems a little slow, and a little vulnerable on the counter attack, so quicker sides, like South, may well be some of their more difficult opponents this year.

So now on to Saturday (tomorrow) where a decent squad will take on Port Melbourne at the Hellenic Cup, so that should be worth going to see. On the way home while sitting on a bench at Sunshine station, some nut driving by in a car I presume threw an egg which missed me by about a metre, hitting the rock on which the stolen plaque which contained the names of the victims of the Sunshine train disaster used to be. And also in between Spotswood and Newport stations there is a crateman on one of the buildings (west side). If it's still there by tomorrow might try and get a photo.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Never a dull moment at South Melbourne, alas

Here we go again.

Link to article

The president of Greek-based soccer club South Melbourne FC, Leo Athanasakis, said Mr Vlahogiannis was a serial pest.

"These guys seem to be the common denominator in all of these incidents. They've got no credibility with anyone, especially the Greek community," he said.


And now a whole lot of argle-bargle has been started about this more or less true statement. Why did he say it, why say what he said, why say anything at all, why dob in your your own race, I'm tearing up my membership; all the usual and all too predictable comments have started flowing thick and fast. It's times like these when all the usual suspects come out to play, and yet when the time and opportunity is there to act or take up the challenges the club faces on a daily basis, it's never or seldom their turn, and after all, who has the time, or knows how to actually do things away from a keyboard? As evidenced recently in an unrelated incident (which, alas, is not for publication) everyone always seems to know better when they're not the ones faced with the responsibility of making the tough decisions, which more often than not whichever fork in the road you choose will get the bile going in our all too frequently emotionally combustible supporters.

Pause.
Take a long deep breath.
Play.

Chris Vlahogiannis and some members of his posse are far from my favourite people in the cosmos. I don't know the bloke well enough, and he seems like a nice enough person, but he's got an ideology and a way of going about things that seriously clashes with my own strongly held beliefs. What went down at the tennis I don't know. I wasn't there and it's all second hand information that I'm getting. Perhaps he and the Hellas Fan Club are in the right this time. As far as I'm concerned that's for the law to decide, and for the Victoria Police and HFC to sort out amonsgt themselves.

Pause.
Went out to the city to see if I could get Missing Link to get me The Autumns self-titled disc. They'll get back to me tomorrow.
Play.


But the stick Athanasakis has been copping is, in the main, uncalled for. The wording wasn't great, and he underestimates also the respect that Vlahogiannis has amongst some in the Greek community. But he was basically damned if he did and damned if he didn't. The mainstream media in this country is fairly lazy. Even before the President made his comments, the media were linking it to soccer and South. It's probably reasonable to say that the public in general were linking it to soccer and South. What's a guy to do? Obviously to say nothing or 'no comment' would seem like an admission of guilt to the media hounds. Saying what he did, in his vernacular style, probably didn't help, but at least he wasn't being defensive and negative. But ultimately a no nonsense, neutral toned press-release style statement like the one below would probably have done the trick

South Melbourne FC has nothing to do with what happened at the Australian Open tennis, and is disappointed that the media has linked us to this incident. 
Chris Vlahogiannis, the leader of the Hellas Fan Club is not a member of South Melbourne FC. 
All further queries should be directed to the Victoria Police and Hellas Fan Club. Have a nice day.

Pretty easy. Even easier in hindsight, especially for someone who's done Intro to Media Writing. Of course, you're never going to please everybody. And at South, unless you bring in the championship three years in a row, most people will always find truckloads of things to whinge about. What's done now is basically done, and the ramifications will play out over the coming days, weeks, months, and become another chapter in the typically over the top, never by halves history of this club. But for now at least, there's going to be a lot of showboating, grandstanding, frothing at the mouth, and higher than usual amount of random crap being spilled out. How long it goes for, and what the net effects of it will be remain to be seen.

But until it all subsides, and eventually one way or another it more or less will, the sane supporters on both sides of the issue (and there have been opposing statements made to Leo's comments that have been within the calm, reasonable part of the spectrum), this is just another one of those really stupid things the club will have to ride out. How many more of them the club can withstand is probably a good question, but I'm not going to panic. I saw a $12 million turnover student union go insolvent. This really is minor stuff, and the club itself has gone through worse. But the more pessimistic amongst us may not see it as just another thing to get over, but rather as part of the whole process of the club's decline. The sad things is, they may be right.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

2008 Hellenic Cup

That's right, everyone's favourite pre-season tournament the Hellenic Cup is upon us once more. We won this last year of course, so we've got a crown to defend. This year the competition is being played out at Kingston Heath and The Grange, with finals at Olympic Village. How they ended up choosing two south-eastern grounds is something I haven't quite figured out yet. Of course it doesn't really suit north-western clubs (and people like me from the west), but the south-eastern oligarchy that runs these things probably doesn't give a stuff.

For the record, in the group stage South is in the south-east section (at Kingston City's The Grange) with the following games and times. Your correspondent foresees a chance of appearing at the first two games, work permitting, with a preference for the 'derby' against Port.

Saturday 19th January vs Port Melbourne (4:00)
Saturday 26th January vs South Springvale Aris (5:30)
Sunday 27th January vs Serres South Springvale (4:00)

Top team goes through to the sudden death rounds. I wouldn't count on South progressing through for certain, even though the group features two state league 2 sides 2 months out from their season starting, as well as an amateur team, playing weakened sides due to play simultaneous games with more senior players elsewhere means there's always a chance of screwing up.

After sitting out last year's tournament, our women's side is in this year playing out at Bentleigh Greens, here are their games, and there's a few junior sides in there as well. Should be a lot of fun all round, hopefully the men's side can go back to back and the women can at least make it to the final.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Rockem Sockem Poutakidis

Last year there were plenty of times when the fighting qualities of our side came into serious question. Thankfully, South's new re-recruit Sam "Knock Your Block Off" Poutakidis appears to be coming onboard with a new attitude, which hopefully inspires or at least scares the shit out of some of our more timid players to have a real crack this coming season. Pouta's set the standard and now it's time for the rest to follow.

* Pre-Fight
* Round 1
* Round 2

Monday, 14 January 2008

South Melbourne 2 Heidelberg 1

Game out at Keysborough last night, yesterday, whatever. Pice here. Didn't go of course. I went bowling instead, my first time, apart from four gutter balls to start off my career generally picked up after that, and really enjoyed myself. Good thing there's a centre just up the road from my place.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

South Melbourne, Western Suburbs, in radical ground sharing arrangement

The FFV cops a lot of flak, most of it totally justified. But they also don't get the praise they deserve when they get something right. The drought has affected sporting grounds quite massively across many sports. The FFV's solution is quite a novel one actually, which I cannot do justice by describing with words.

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Bravo FFV, and Excelsior!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Monday, 7 January 2008

Found an old chant awhile back

Was browsing the world game forum once upon a time, and saw this. Not sure how good it would've sounded, but an interesting find nevertheless. Allegedly sung at the 2001 grand final/

*to the tune of Rule Britannia*

We're South Melbourne,
the Lakeside is our Home,
we shall never, ever, ever be defeated

All you wankers, we do not give a toss,
South Melbourne 'll always be boss.

South Melbourne Army
Blue and White Army

Sunday, 6 January 2008

2008 Memberhips

Time for my HD in Intro to Media Writing to start paying dividends (though I only got a Distinction for the advertising component, because someone didn't quite appreciate my colourful, minimalist style, which was not done to cheat my way out of the word limit, but for maximum impact).

South memberships are out now for season 2008. Maybe you're a lapsed member or supporter. In which case head over to the official site and download a brochure and form, or just rock up to the club and buy several in person. Perhaps you've already got that brochure sitting around somewhere, perhaps as a stand in coaster because you're too lazy to use a proper one. Maybe you'd rather spend your money on stuff like 'food', 'bills' and 'essentials'. Personally I can think of few things more essential than buying than an SMFC membership, preferably one for the 2008 season, because you probably won't get any value for 2007, and anyway that was a pretty piss poor year. But 2008 will be much better, because we've got new players, new old players, a new futuristic sponsor, and some really awesome merchandise as well. Have you seen the hoodies? According to people who like hoodies, they look freakin' sweet. Me, I'm more of a jacket person, and can honestly say the jackets are awesome too. I'm probably going to get me a beanie, because I'm also a hat person and because I'm going to need one for freeze your arse trips like Epping Stadium.

But seriously, there's some good deals in there. And there's like balls for every junior member, and they're really nice balls, I've seen myself. If you pay $150 for the Gold Membership, as I did, you get to go to the AGM (how many A-League fans can say that?) and ask where the 3.8 million from the world club championships went (a combination of going professional, debt paying, player bonuses and stupid accounting). And you get a kickarse polo top as well. According to the brochure, if you sign up to the corporate package, you get sandwiches, and who doesn't like sandwiches? That's right, no-one.

I went out and bought mine even before the brochures came out, and felt guilty because I didn't do it on the first day. I'm also still pissed off that I was only gold member number two, because some chump was given the number one card before me because he had to leave early on the family day. This year that card is mine.