Monday, 31 March 2008

Has Johnny A' walked?

Strange rumours flying around yesterday seemed to indicate that Johnny A' had quit halfway through yesterday's match. No confirmation yet as to the truth of that claim, but if anything happens, I'll keep you updated.

South Women lose to Preston 1-0

You give 'em a plug and... oh well. No match report up yet anywhere, so hard to say what happened. Better luck next time I guess.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Comeback kids - Preston 1 South Melbourne 2

Well, I would give you an in depth match report - ok probably not in depth, but a match report nevertheless - had I been able to actually get inside the ground. The Clarendon Corner contingent which had organised collectively to do things by the book, did so, and were refused entry, for our own safety allegedly. So our view was eventually the limited one behind the goal at the far end, not really ideal.

What I did manage to see was Deano pulling out a ripping save from a freekick, only to later screw up and hand Preston a goal on a plate. Our 2 goals, in the space of 3 minutes in the 2nd half, I did not see, but really that's not the point - the point being that they went in, and Zoric and Caldwell were the deliverers of sweet justice, or whatever the fuck you want to call it.

As for anything else you may have heard. The people that were there know what happened. Full respect to everyone that came from beginning to end. And a big fuck you to the FFV for letting a club dictate terms to them, when the same excuse for us wanting a members only game against the Knights was knocked back with that reason. And don't believe everything you read.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Press Release from Hellas Fan Club, not turning up tomorrow

Not something I would've liked to have seen come out before this game, and from one of my least favourite sources at the moment, but we can't just report good news can we? I suppose they could've not turned up and not said so, and let their absence speak for itself, but they're well within their rights to let everyone know anyway. Whether this means that people who are HFC members will turn up 'unofficially' is anyone's guess, as you would expect. I do disagree quite strongly with much of the content of the press release, but the South of the Border readership are a fairly clever bunch, and could probably guess for themselves where I think they're wrong. As for their beef with President Leo, I've said my piece already, no need to add anything further. So with the intro out of the way, I'll hand you over now to the Hellas Fan Club.

HFC Press Release regarding this match:

MEDIA RELEASE - Round 6 - Preston Lions FC vs. South Melbourne –

The Hellas Fan Club Melbourne (“HFCM”) have advised its members not to attend Sunday’s clash against arch Rival Preston at BT CONNOR RESERVE.

The HFCM refuse to show support for a sporting club that constantly fails to take responsibility for its deficiencies. The purpose of this release is to ensure that the HFC and HFCM are not used as scapegoats by South Melbourne Football Club, or subjected to any further inaccuracies which have caused great distress to many members of our club and our image, in recent times.

The HFC and HFCM are hopeful that the events of 2005 are not repeated, and that both clubs work co-operatively to ensure a safe environment for all supporters.

The HFC & HFCM wishes SMFC fans the best of luck, and hopefully it is a incident free event.

In further news, The HFCM can confirm that legal advice has been sought and a potential action is being considered against Mr Athanasakis (current President of South Melbourne) in relation to defamatory comments made against Mr Chris Vlahogiannis in January 2008.

South Melbourne Women get new site

As mentioned in the entry 'Things learnt while sober', the South Melbourne Women's team were due to get themselves a new website. Well, regular blog correspondant on the women's division 'anonymous' has informed South of the Border that the new site is up and running. Needs a bit of work from a layout point of view, but it has up to date info, a photo gallery, a bravenet counter like the one at the bottom of this site, and a link to this blog, which is very much appreciated. Of course this doesnt mean that I'll stop providing updates on the women's team occasionally, but for more in depth coverage there's now a far better alternative. And if anyone wants to vent their spleen at something to do with the women's game, with particular reference to South Melbourne, just give us a bell and I'll add you to the contributors list. Also, one more thing, it's probably superfluous but a forum would kick arse. Also, quite clever to make the South of the Border link go directly to everything under the 'SMFC Women' category.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Singapore vs Lebanon, Part 3

ok, also now the addition of the 2nd half, Duric features in the early part of the clip hitting the post, also at the 4:00 minute mark missing from point blank range

Excuse me if i come across as a bit obsessed :P

Duric scores against Lebanon part 2

Below is footage of the first half highlights of Singapore vs Lebanon. It's the Duric goal that's relevant to us here, and that comes in at about 2:55. But also check out the very wonky singing of the anthem by the home fans, the impressive roar (no pun intended) when the goals go in, the 2nd goal at about 5:40, the odd placement (to these Euro-centric ears) of the basketball 'defence' chant and overall, for any South players reading this, how to set up opportunities, if not how to finish them off necessarily.

Johnny A's last stand? - Round 6, Preston Lions vs South Melbourne

Last time they met
Round 12, 2007 at Lakeside Stadium

South Melbourne 3 Preston Lions 3

Through two defensive blunders a and stunning strike from Marino Gasparis Preston found themselves 3-1 up with less than 20 minutes to play. But a fierce fightback from the hosts with two goals from Billy Natsioulas almost saw them snatch the game at the death, the late heroics of Preston keeper Lou Acevksi denying South a memorable victory.

Another in the endless procession of 'derby' games the VPL throws up. Preston's form so far this season has seen them take a fairly linear and yet nevertheless bizarre arc. They were belted by early pacesetters Richmond, drew with the struggling Zebras, squeezed past the Pines, clawed back a 0-2 deficit to draw against the more than competent Heidelberg and last round thumped big spending Coburg 4-1. So which one is the real Preston? I can't answer that, and I don't think this game will either. Preston isn't quite the side that took the title last year, but at the very least they're heading in an upwards direction. The forecast of showers for Sunday will also mean that players from both sides won't be able to play their natural games. Or more likely, it'll make the game way better, with balls and tackles flying every which way. They really should bring back the shoulder charge, would suit a game like this.

As for South, well, the real South is probably easier to pin down. Haphazard long ball attacks which will not be finished off by the strikers. A loss here, and really, it should be all over for Johnny A'. I mean, how much more would it take? South may get O'Dor back from suspension, which will help the defense somewhat, but it's the lack of fight that's troubling fans at the moment. Then again, it'll allegedly be captain Dean Anastasiadis' 150th league match for Hellas, and that might fire them up up a bit. I can't rally pick the result of this one. Stupid derby, rain, two average teams, you name it, of anything has 5-5 written all over it.

Oh, and in further evidence of this blog's impact on the real world, the official South site has partly adopted South of the Border's use of the 'last time they met' device, which admittedly I borrowed off The Age's aussie rules previews.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Duric scores in Lions win over Lebanon

While I was fighting a losing battle to watch the China-Socceroos match over a P2P stream (come on TPG, get that damn ADSL2 here already!), and with no radio broadcast either meaning having to follow crappy minute by minute texts, there was another game played by Singapore against Lebanon. Our ex-defender Alex Duric got the opener in their 2-0 win, which apparently should have been more. Alas, there isn't a video online yet of his goal to savour, but here's the utterly ridiculous, utterly brilliant tv promo for this clash of the titans.

Pumpkin Seed Eaters Episode 4

So episode 4 is now available, download here. Usual shenanigans which, again, I'm not necessarily comfortable with or agree with, in particular their continuing smart-alecky take on our 2nd meeting, - our first meeting by the way was in a churchyard where they told me of their plans for the show - but there is the addition of a very important element, a lengthy editorial. It focuses mostly on the post-NSL era treatment of the ethnic clubs. I agree with much of it, disagree with other parts, worry about many of the generalisations and there's stuff that I would contest the accuracy of, but above all, it is mellow, measured and something which should definitely be heard. Now, will they make the transcript available? This way a proper round debate and analysis can be set up, and hopefully some good points will come out of it. I for one would appreciate the opportunity to give it the once over on here, without fear or prejudice to anyone's feelings.

Correspondance FFV Style

Here's a bit of a treat loyal readers. In case you didn't quite pick up the public relations basics in this earlier entry, one of South of the Border's informants/raconteurs has provided this email back and forth he had with the FFV over the state of the game, in particular the Federation's kowtowing to the Melbourne Victory without receiving anything in return. We'll keep you up to date with any updates on this. Enjoy.

Subject: Straegic Vision query
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2008 16:27:02 +1100
From: Jim

Can I ask why the Melbourne Victory are part of the Consultation and planning process ?

The Melbourne Victory is a private footballing entity owned by a private business man, for the sole purpose of making a profit. The Melbourne Victory is not a club working in the interests of football in this state.

I would like a reply to this explanation if you will as to why a private business venture is part of the consultation and planning process of football in this state !


FFV Response

Dear Jim,

Thank you for you enquiry and interest in the FFV Strategic Plan. On behalf of Mark Rendell, CEO, FFV, please find below some feedback concerning your enquiry.

Your query in relation to Melbourne Victory's involvement can be answered simply in that the Melbourne Victory currently provides a pathway to young men in the state of Victoria to play A-League football. Currently over 26 Victorians are playing in the A-League competition throughout Australia some of which who originate from Victoria and have gone through the "Victorian system". As the state governing body we want to ensure these numbers continue to increase and that we provide the best opportunities for Victorians to play at the highest level possible.

It should also be noted that we have engaged the VIS for the same purpose, to provide opportunities for Victorian players to represent their state and country and create the best possible opportunities in representative football.

Without the support or engagement of the Melbourne Victory and VIS it is difficult to present a continual pathway for game development to players as I am sure you can appreciate.

Thank you once again for your email and we hope you will find the forthcoming developments in the game throughout Victoria of interest.

Belinda Wilson

Jim's Reply 24/03

Dear Belinda.
Thank you for your prompt reply regarding my enquiry. You say that Melbourne Victory currently provides a pathway to young men in the state of Victoria to play A-League football. I fail to see this point, when the Melbourne Victory's squad currently consists of only 8 Victorian players out of a squad of 25. They are also yet to open their doors to Victorian trialists.

Belinda, i'm not going to sit here and badger the Melbourne Victory, because simply you will fail to respond to my emails. My point is simple. The Melbourne Victory is a private business NOT working in the interests of football in this state. I believe it is wrong for the FFV to be even advertising the Melbourne Victory on their website. FYI there is no FFV advertisement on the Victory website is there ?

As the state governing body you should be supporting and ensuring numbers increase at local level, rather than at the National Level. The FFA can do that on their own. Instead of assisting in the slow death of football in this state, it is your organisations responsibility to enusre the wellbeing of the sport at local level. The sport at local level is slowly dying. I invite CEO Mark Rendell to see the state of the local game when the state leagues kick off in 2 weeks. When teams are struggling to find grounds suitable for competition, where is the FFV ?

I can tell you where the FFV is. The FFV is too busy worrying about Geoff Lords Melbourne Victory...not the states ! Melbourne Victory will never represent this state in the A-League. The belief that it does is a figment of the imagination of the un-knowledgeable. When you have been following football in this country for the last 26 years, you get to know what's right and what's wrong with it.


FFV Response

Hi Jim,

I have passed your email on to FFV CEO, Mark Rendell as he is always happy to hear the opinions of the membership, especially those who have been involved in the sport for many years like yourself.

The FFV will continue to work towards setting up the right environment for Victorian players from the grassroots up as this is our primary business as you know and should be our focus going forward.

We do value your opinion and thoughts on how we are going about this and will certainly take your points below on board.

Thank you again for your correspondence.


Belinda Wilson

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

SMWFC kick off season with 6-1 win over GSL

Last year the women's team was pipped at the post for first place by the Gippsland Soccer League combined team. So it's with no small amount of pleasure to hear of their thumping of that same opponent 6-1 last night at Darebin in the opening round of the WVPL. The following is a guide to what will likely be required to avoid relegation, and the points required to make the finals.

In 2005, Ballarat Districts finished with 1 point, and Melbourne University with 12. In 2006 the bottom two sides, Brimbank and South, finished with 2 and 13 points respectively. In 2007 Geelong Region earned only the one point, while Melbourne University were relegated with 12. While it does show that the difference between the top and bottom sides in the WVPL is fairly large, it also shows that South has probably already avoided finishing last this year. Looking further ahead, in order to almost definitely make the finals a total of about 38 points will be needed, going by the last three years. Good luck to SMWFC as they take on Preston this week at Lakeside on Sunday.

Keep up with Postecoglou's Panachaiki adventure

As reported some time last week, Ange Postecoglou is having a Greek adventure at Con Makris' Panachaiki. So there are a couple of new links on the right-hand side, which will be there for as long as Ange has the job.

There's the official site with an awol flash intro, it's in Greek by the way, so get someone to translate for you. Or I'll do it for ya on request.

The other link is for the UK based Panachaiki supporters. It's available in English and Greek, there's two forums as well, mostly in Greek, with a single English section.

By the way, he's off to a reasonable start, a 2-0 home win and a scoreless draw away, albeit to one of the bottom teams.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Masochism for beginners

Thanks to those who took these videos. This time Cliff had no trouble with being potentially hit by the ball.

First up, from right behind the goals.

And from a slight angle.

Better luck next time, I guess. Tomorrow's lesson will be on how to correspond effectively with your constituents.

Disappointing - South Melbourne 0 Australian Institute of Sport 2

I wish I could write more, but after deliberately waiting until the day after, so as to be calmer about the whole thing, this is just about all I could come up with. That these days, every loss is like a little death. The club's heart is fragile, and while the core will always be there, their willpower becomes weaker and their enthusiasm becomes drained. That kind of performance, lacking energy and direction, is not necessarily just a one off on the field. It's the kind of performance that could perhaps define us as a club; tired and without a sense of purpose.

And despite the lack of intensity and the general lack of method, we still created chances enough in the first half. Had a penalty. Could have taken the lead. But perhaps it's better that we didn't. To keep the game going at 0-0, to see what we would do in that situation. As expected, not much. I was an advocate of removing Johnny A' at the end of last season. To me, it had been obvious that part of the cycle had run its course. Leaving aside Green Gully's Ian Dobson, who took time off for family reasons, we're the only club who hasn't changed coaches in the three and bit years if post-NSL VPL. There was a case for giving him another year, in that he had won us the championship in 2006; but for mine it was better to nip the downward spiral in the bud. Some may say it's only been 5 weeks, but it's been more like 18 weeks. How much longer? And even if we do win the derby against Preston this week, will that be a one off or a true return to form. I suspect the former.

Monday, 24 March 2008

South Melbourne kick season off tomorrow evening

Today's game will be dealt with tomorrow. For now, here's something that was going to be posted tomorrow but will now be done today because today's men's performance needs time to be written to give it proper justice.

The women's team kicks off proceedings tomorrow night against fellow promotee - and the team that pipped them at the post for first place last year - Gippsland Soccer League, at FFV HQ. I had my doubts about how the women would do this year, seeing as there is quite a gap between the top and bottom sides in the WVPL, but their performance in the Hellenic Cup final against reigning champion Heidelberg leaves room for optimism that survival is certainly within reach and perhaps an outside chance of reaching the finals.

Now, I know that the women's team is hardly the priority for much of the South Melbourne family, but anyway, if you find yourself with a free weekend, check out a game. The fixtures will hopefully be up soon on their site. They play four games at Lakeside in the early part of the season, with the remainder at Albert Park Field 13, an unenclosed pitch near the grand prix pits. Some of their game days clash with senior men's fixtures (particularly and peculiarly away games), but speaking for myself, I'm going to try and make an effort to see at least 4-5 games this year. Good luck ladies! And hopefully later in the year I (and my team I suppose) can repeat our trivia night victory of last year.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Things learnt while sober

Saturday was eventful, and if I wasn't sober I wouldn't be able to relate all the following items to you. So here's to sobriety, it helps you remember the good times.

* What the fuck is with people wearing soccer jerseys to AFL games? Not the first time I've seen this, and Aussie Rules courtesy of its very confused and diluted supporter culture, with its giant inflatable novelty hands/fingers, soccer style scarves and unnecessary touches of grey in polo tops, but at yesterday's game, I was still perplexed at the thinking that goes behind wearing a Juventus or Newcastle United top to a 'Pies game. Sure the colours match, and there's nothing wrong per se with supporting more than one code, but is there some sort of cultural cringe at not wearing actual Australian supporters gear? And why are there still far more people wearing foreign soccer tops as opposed to local ones? Are the latter only for game day, or has the game not made the leaps and bounds into the public consciousness as has been claimed?

* South Melbourne will have a new website by the end of the year. Was supposed to be launched by the start of this season, but whatever. I've been nominally commissioned to do the history section

* South Melbourne's Women's team will also get a new site, soon allegedly. Might explain why the current one, which takes awhile to load even on a half-decent connection, is not being updated.

* Very likely I will soon have my own Peter Buljan General Diagnostic Laboratories mouse pad. I've been wanting one of these ever since I learned of their existence, irrespective of the fact that mouse pads are useless now that everyone's shooting lasers with their fifty button mice.

* I've been promised my own sort of vintage 'Pies flag from an ex-fan.

* A step in the right direction has been taken into the production of the season 2007 DVDs. Hopefully they become available soon.

* There's been a shuffling of roles amongst the inner sanctum of the South board and in general operations. These relate mostly to merchandise and the website, and suffice to say at this stage it comes across as a welcome change. Time will tell on how well it all works out, but so far the signs are good.

* Learned that a certain South board member, known for his high level of education, handsome appearance, ability with the ladies and his hatred for all things Heidelberg, has Heidelberg supporting friends. Bit disillusioned to be honest.

* A Global Positioning Device is pretty much useless if you don't know what you're doing or where you're going.

* A sole piece of paper on a bit of street furniture is probably not the best way to inform people of the change in location of the Nightrider bus service.

* Lastly, Happy Birthday to Yianni and Dubs, Greeksta relax, and Cliff show yourself on Monday and no one will belt you. Honest.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

For Football In The Capital - South Melbourne 3 Canberra Cosmos 1, NSL Cup Sem-Final 1995/96

In the spirit of waiting for this fucking game with the Canberra based AIS to get here, thought we'd have a little look back at the 2nd last NSL Cup tournament ever held. That's Canberra Cosmos in grey by the way. Interesting to note how the reporter doesn't bother to mention who actually scored for them. That perhaps should've been a hint to their fans. Anyway, we went on to win the cup the next week against Newcastle Breakers, a video I may upload someday, but the clip I have doesn't have all the goals. Enjoy Eamonn!

Friday, 21 March 2008

Barbecue Day! Free Ladies! South Melbourne take on AIS on Assimilated Pagan Festival Monday

I think it's fairly safe to say that most people will turning up for the free BBQ, a select few because it's 'ladies day', and everyone else, probably parents of the AIS lads.

Last time they met:
Round 9, 2007 at Lakeside Stadium

Australian Institute of Sport 1 South Melbourne 2

South were fortunate to take all three points from this match. They scored first, but the visitors leveled within a minute. South managed to sneak a second in before the break, and after that, despite outrunning, outplaying and outlasting the 'away' team, the AIS couldn't put the ball in the back of the net, and therefore the goddess Tyche smiled on Hellas for once. The Institute had a highly competent team on the park, but ultimately lacked players with the x-factor.

The AIS are one of the better teams thus far. Three wins, a draw, and another three points here will send them top of the table. It seems they're actually taking the competition seriously this time around, not chopping and changing their squad week by week. But we are only five rounds into it, so there's time to go back to old ways. But really, what do the AIS offer Victorian football? High costs to host them since they bring zero fans. High costs to travel to Canberra to play them. Taking the spot of a local team. A team which does not have the same costs of facilities or player payments, has different transfer rules, and which should realistically be playing in the new A-League Youth, er, league, and leaving us alone to play with our stupid wog hobby horses.

As for South, they need to start winning games. That's about it. You want more in depth? Buy Neos Kosmos. Better yet, buy The Age, that great sporting paper, which would never, ever cover 2nd tier sport, unless it was aussie rules, in which case let's go down all the way to whatever level of the Under The Table Ammos or Bumpkin River District League you can find results on. Anything so you-know-who won't have to get up off the couch and report on something other than what some third rate aussie player had for breakfast before taking his position on the pine for some division 50 club in Engerlund. And let's keep those wire services going as a financial concern with crusty day old results from Portugal and Spain, which anyone who actually gave a toss would already know because of something called the Internet. Because what exists here and now, during the time when the magnificent Alpha-League is in the phase I like best, its 23 month off-season, is not worth reporting on.

By the way, South'll do well to get a draw out of this one. The way we're going, I just hope the snags are good and I don't get food poisoning.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

To Morwell it is - AIS away match venue settled

While the Shepparton trip seemed like a good bet at one stage, turns out that one of the other suggestions from my part of that link has come true, and South will be heading to Morwell and Falcons Park for the first time in 7 years. As seen on Soccer-Forum:

Institute pours cold water on cup game plans Teo Pellizzeri

Cobram Victory and Shepparton South have been denied the chance to host Foxtel Cup Victorian state league games after proposed plans fell through at the Australian Institute of Sport's end.

After passing a ground inspection last week, South was hopeful of playing host to a match between AIS and former National Soccer League champion South Melbourne, while Victory had Whittlesea Zebras lined up.

But left with a choice of Morwell or Shepparton, South Melbourne opted to return to La Trobe City Sports Stadium where it played various Gippsland franchises in the now-defunct national league.

Victory's plans were scuppered by an overseas tour for the AIS to the Hong Kong Sevens tournament on what was the proposed weekend for the match in late May.

Football Federation Victoria operations manager Tony Persoglia said the South Melbourne match had been keenly sought after and ultimately it was the club that turned down Shepparton in favour of Morwell.

``It was the fixture every rural association wanted,'' Persoglia said.

``The AIS and our chief executive Mark Rendell struck a deal for four games to go to rural Victoria and this has left Shepparton with the one game.

``There were issues for the AIS trying to raise the funds to continually travel around rural Victoria and also clashes with the international calendar.''

Mercury Dve will host AIS' match against defending Foxtel Cup champion Preston Lions, with Shepparton playing Tatura as the curtain raiser on July 19.

Should be fun, though being on a Saturday it means that there'll South fans playing games who will miss it. Will they also put on a curtain raiser? Also interesting to see that we were highly sought after by the various regional centres. Perhaps we should listen to the Victorian Government's advice and relocate to Provincial Victoria, where we can build a nice house, take heaps of holidays, find plenty of work and take up whatever other hokey promises they've made in their ads. Goodness knows our current inner city lifestyle ain't going too flash.

Also changed the blog's font, should be easier to read now. Times New Roman, what was I thinking?

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Sponsors of yore - Southern Motors

Something a little different for today. For those not in the know, Southern Motors were a sort of large car dealership owned or operated or both by a bloke called George Kotses. Back in the day they were noted for sponsoring quite a few Greek backed soccer clubs in Melbourne, including Heidelberg and South (even being the major sponsor in our championship year in 1998 for example). The company eventually went broke I think, and Kotses started a new dealership somewhere out in the arse end of Brooklyn (and that's saying something) called New Concept Car Sales, the new concept probably being, well, not going broke.

Anyway, the ad below is from happier times, sometime in the mid 1990s. In the clip, Kotses seems happy, Frank Arok is Frank Arok but much quieter, and there's some really random and quite fast Greek being spoken which combined with the dodgy animation of the ball flying all over the place, gives it a fucked up Japanese TV/Mr Sparkle kind of aesthetic. I'm not sure if that was their intention, but hey, just roll with it.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

VPL needs more Xinlisupreme

A minor tremor has been set off by some VPL fans about the playing of music before games and during the half-time break. More specifically, the playing of ethnic music, imitation John Lennon tunes from Manchester not fitting into that category. The two main culprits at the moment seem to be Coburg and Heidelberg, playing Turkish and Greek music respectively. The specific FFV regulations on this are as follows:

12.3 No Club may distribute, disseminate, broadcast or publish by any means whatsoever whether electronically or otherwise any material in a language other than English, with the prior written consent of FFV to do so.

This also brings up another problem in regards to Coburg, as they have a fair bit of Turkish language content on their website as well, as part of an obvious attempt to appeal to its core Turkish-Australian fanbase. So the questions which must be asked are: did the FFV allow this, or as usual have they not been paying attention? If they have allowed it, why put in any restrictions at all? Where does one draw the line between what is acceptable ethnic content and what is not-acceptable? Are ethnic names and foreign languages on official merchandise ok? Foreign language advertising boards, say for non-English newspapers?

For what it's worth, I reluctantly agree with the outright bans on ethnic insignias and flags, in the sense that they're unfortunately used by a significant enough minority as part of something other than football. But this sort of half-half approach to non-English communications and content just doesn't seem logical or workable. The FFV need to either get serious and clamp down on all of it, or celebrate the diversity and let clubs try and attract whoever they want. If they do anything, I can only see it being the former, as per the John Howard 'ok, we're all different and that's good but can we please all act in an Anglo-Celtic manner because otherwise we'd have to come up with a new and relevant Australian identity' legacy.

For the record, I'd rather not have that sort of music played, as a matter of taste. A bit of Xinlisupreme on the other hand is always welcome. Ignore the clip, it's the music that's important.

Hmm, would they allow a track called Kyoro? Sounds a bit ethnic to me.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Flashback to 1991/92 - Preston 1 South Melbourne 2

Seeing as South actually gets to travel with fans to BT Connor in a couple of weeks for the first time in many years, and as per requests to review classic games and players from days gone by, I thought it'd be good to upload something specifically for that occasion. The clip below is from season 1991/92. South were reigning champions with a great squad, Preston were pretty much on their last legs NSL wise after their 1980s heyday, and they were only to last another season after that before dropping into the VPL. There's a good crowd, a lot of fierce attacking play, one time Socceroo Andrew Zinni running amok, superb goalkeeping by McLaren, Trimmers flattening an opponent, a bushfire in the nearby scrub, hypnotic scenes of waves of people jumping up and down, and Kyle Patterson narrating the highlights. Enjoy.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Yusef Yusef does ACL, out for season

Sad news this Sunday, as it is confirmed that South winger Yusef Yusef has injured his anterior cruciate ligament, the injury suffered during the loss against Oakleigh in round 4. The injury will sideline him for the rest of the season. As a player who can play on both the left and right side, his versatility as an attacking option will be missed. South of the Border wishes Yusef all the best in his recovery. Thanks to Mildura Vasili for obtaining the news.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

While the esteem of the club goes downhill...

... the price for South related memorabilia remains at a healthy level. While Northern Spirit items go for peanuts, and Melbourne Zebras t-shirts sit in piles at rags'n'riches markets for $2 (I really should have bought it, as part of preserving aussie soccer history), South related items can still fetch a price in the hundreds, in particular signed tops, as can be seen in the example below of this 2001 signed jersey.

and how about this signed team of the century print going at a cool $1000, from the same seller? (thanks to South of the Border's good friend 'Cuddles' for alerting me to it).

So why is this? Despite all the assurances that we are nothing and were nothing, some people still think they can make handy sums off those who still believe. And why is it the 2000/01 season which provides by far the most signed tops on ebay? Because they lost the grand final? Post-Brazil jumping off the bandwagon guilt? I support Melbourne Victory and can't afford to have it known that I supported Hellas guilt? This item's at about half the price that's usually asked for, but still for an NSL piece of memorabilia, that's quite high. Hopefully if this youtube upload which I'm doing which is taking forever on my medium-rated connection succesfully uploads, I'll have a nice treat for you tomorrow. Otherwise, it'll be Plan B, which is not nearly as good.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Party like it's 1985 - FFA considers nationwide cup competition

As a good anarcho-syndicalist according to the Political Compass site (something like -7.8 and minus -8.6 on their scale), it's not inappropriate to recycle old news articles like yesterdays.

FFA considers cup tournament

A domestic cup competition along the lines of England's FA Cup is one of the issues being considered by Football Federation Australia after it met yesterday with a group of former Socceroos.

The informal forum included FFA chief executive Ben Buckley, several past Socceroos including Alex Tobin and Charlie Yankos, and players from previous eras including Ray Baartz, John Watkiss, Ted Smith and Doug Wendt.

Buckley said the issues discussed included the mentoring of current players by their predecessors, the new national youth league, recognising the game's history and the establishment of a Socceroo Club. Tobin said a new cup format could allow teams from state leagues a crack at the A-League clubs, in much the same way the FA Cup allows lower division and non-league minnows a chance to upset English Premier League giants.

So many ways of looking at this. Firstly that it will never happen, because of the natural obstacle that Australian sport has always faced, the tyranny of distance and the costs associated with that. But one also needs to take into account the difference in class between the A-League and leading state league competitions, but perhaps more importantly the difference in class between the states, and then add the fact that the FFV can't even be bothered in resuscitating the Dockerty Cup (so we can get results like the 1988 upset of then state league 3 Clarinda defeating then NSL-era Preston 2-1).

Anyway, this meeting sounds like they were sitting round the barbie pissed off their tits, just coming up with random ideas as you do in that environment. After all, they've tried to destroy almost everything that came before, and now they want us, gasp, to be part of the system? Highly doubtful. But then again, the mere existence of the arcade game Ninja Clowns (which was surely created by some guy high as a kite sitting on a beanbag watching music videos) always leaves hope.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Ange Postecoglou to coach in Greece

If you're anything like me, you love stale, almost week old news, which is far better than looking at what's actually happening today. But good on Michael Lynch for finally catching up to what dedicated viewers of smfcboard were first informed of last Saturday.

Postecoglou to fly flag in Greece

FORMER South Melbourne championship coach Ange Postecoglou is blazing a trail for Australian soccer managers by moving to Europe to take over at a struggling Greek club.
Postecoglou, who won titles with South in the National Soccer League in the late 1990s and then coached the Australian under-17 and under-20 teams, will take charge at Panachaikai, a third division club, this weekend.
The club is owned by Adelaide-based Greek-Australian Con Makris, who, says Postecoglou, initially approached him about taking over two seasons ago.
"At that time, I was a bit keen to take a break from coaching after my period with the national teams and I wanted to see how the A-League developed … But he approached me again last week and asked if I was interested and I said I would be."
Postecoglou made his mind up to take the job after flying to Greece last weekend.
"It should be an interesting challenge and it gives me the chance to try and get established as a coach in Europe. The club is in the third division — they got relegated last year — but Con has plans to invest and get it back up to the higher leagues. They used to be a first-division side and played in the UEFA Cup in the 1970s and 1980s," he said.
"All of my football experience has been gained in Australia … this is a great opportunity to further my own development and maybe help raise the profile of Australian football …"

Good luck to Ange. As one of the few ex-South players or coaches who didn't leave the club on bad terms, and who still enthusiastically hangs around the club, South of the Border has no hesitation in wishing him all the best, especially in having to deal with Con Makris, surely one of the most despised people to have ever had involvement with Australian soccer, especially amongst supporters of West Adelaide Hellas (who have reformed their senior teams after many years absence under the name West Adelaide Blues). And it would be nice to also start exporting coaches overseas as opposed to just players. This would indicate truly for mine that Australia is a growing soccer power.

1,000 visitors, hoorah!

Sometime during this week, the little counter at the bottom clicked over to 1,000 visits. Of course, this is not indicative of the true moment of 1,000 visitors, as the counter was installed some time after starting the blog. But anyway, not a bad result, since the blog has had very little publicity, apart from some inclusions at the bottom of my Das Libero pieces, and the very recent plug in the Pumpkin Seed Eaters show. The lack of publicity has been a deliberate ploy, with the emphasis on building up a backlog and a rhythm of sorts, and listening to various people who have provided their comments, ideas and insights as to how to make it all work better. Thanks to those who have left comments and given feedback, and thanks also to the original South Melbourne blog, Park Life, for inspiring this blog to begin with and providing a hint as to how to not lose interest in the whole thing so soon after starting. Here's to the 10,000 mark and the continued obsession western society has in measuring milestones according to the base 10 system.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Michael Petkovic, proven goalscorer

How about this for a long range effort?

At least someone South related knows how to shoot from range. Pity he's on the other side of the world when we need him most. Also saved a penalty, and his side won 3-2 to be a point off top spot. Always knew we had the better of the two brothers.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

South of the Border has an impact in the 'legitimate press'.

In yesterday's Neos Kosmos English Weekly (you know, the free supplement that is about 7.3 times better than the Greek content), there's meant to be a debut article by one of the rising stars of Australian sports journalism, talking about the new Summer League the FFV has pulled out of its arse to seem as if they're actually doing something. Haven't bought a copy myself to see if it's in there, but let's take it for granted that it is. Anyway, unlike that editorial vandal Ian "I don't get what you're trying to say in the 2nd last para'" Syson, NKEW Sports Editor James Belias has a far lighter and more appropriate touch. What can I say, the bloke seems to know how to appreciate good work. And when he eventually learns that short sentences suck, and that I should be allowed to ramble as I wish, then he'll rise even higher in my esteem. For those who don't have the courage to steal a copy from their local newsagent, here is the unadulterated piece, which had its genesis here, because this way I can save drafts and not forget to take them to school.

The Football Federation of Victoria have launched an ambitious plan to reinvigorate football in the state, with the goal of quadrupling participation numbers across the board by the end of 2011.

The cornerstone of their new plan is to create a zone-based summer competition going all the way from the seniors down to under 12s, including the women's game. This is in line with the FFA and national technical director Rob Baan's goal of having the country's best players playing 35-40 games a year. At present, most players at the Victorian state level will play at most a total of 30 competitive games a year.

Eight of the zones will be located within metropolitan Melbourne, with the remaining four to come from regional areas, in an attempt to promote top level football in country areas. The zone system could also be a handy mechanism in promoting senior football in metropolitan areas in which it is struggling, particularly in the eastern suburbs, who haven't had a serious contender in the Victorian Premier League since the late 1980s in the form of Croydon City.

The 12 sides to participate will all be new franchises, though so far there is no indication of who will fund these new operations. The FFV hopes to use the state's premium football stadiums, such as Lakeside, Knights and Epping stadiums, as well as its own headquarters at Northcote, to also use it as a launching pad to source funding from councils and government to upgrade facilities across the state.

Players for the senior men's competition will be sourced from the various VPL clubs, as well as recruiting from regional areas and interstate. It is expected that players who participate will still be the nominal property of their 'winter' clubs, so that in the event of them being transferred to the A-League or overseas compensation would be paid to those clubs.

While the changes have been warmly received in some quarters, principally from those in regional areas and those who believe the Melbourne Victory model of broadbased franchises can work at a state level, many supporters of VPL clubs are sceptical about the changes.

Their concerns range from the practical, in terms of players lacking pre-seasons and the possibility of injuries to their players, to the more ideological, with some seeing it as a further attempt to marginalise the traditional ‘ethnic’ clubs by adding another tier in between the VPL and the A-League.

Their doubts also take into account the previous mooted and never actedon reforms of recent times, principally the so-called V-League, which was supposed to be introduced for the 2008 season. That plan which was also meant to overhaul the way clubs operate, essentially by compelling them to produce women’s and junior teams, as well as upgrade their facilities in order to participate at the highest level, was eventually delayed and then shelved.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Socceroos to take on Singapore... again

We're coming to get you Pohui!

From The World Game

National coach Pim Verbeek has announced a five-day camp in Singapore and a game against the island state on March 22.

The vital China match will be four days later.

"We want to play as many matches as we can against teams from Asia and, with Singapore also in the process of attempting to qualify for the World Cup, it is a perfect opponent for us," said Verbeek.

Due to club matches being played on the same weekend in Europe as the Singapore match it is likely the squad will be made up of mostly A-League players, giving them another important chance to earn a place in the squad to travel to Kunming to play China.

"This match will give valuable experience to A-League players and will be another important part of our program to keep them fit during the off season," said Verbeek.

"Once the match is over I will then decide who will make the final squad for the trip to China."

Verbeek also revealed that he took a lot of information away from a recent trip to China where he saw their national team in action.

"China played in a strong tournament so it was valuable for me to be able to see them play."

"They have stayed in camp and have already moved to Kunming to continue their preparations so the match against Singapore is vital for us."

Selected players from Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory who will be involved in Asian Champions League matches will join the camp once they complete their club matches on March 19.

The squad for these matches will be announced next week.

I'm not sure what the point of this is myself, using mostly A-League players who by Pim's own admission are better off playing reserves football in England, and not forgetting that most of them are now in their off-season (which goes for what, about 6-7 months or something), but it'd be interesting to see how some of them go regardless. Oh wait, it's not on free to air. I guess I'll have to imagine it then.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Finally, adequate recognition of a meaningless title

After last week's diatribe against the carelessness of making a promotion and then not making it known to the entire universe (beautifully captured in the piece 'Where's my fucking t-shirt'), it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the deed finally done. As can be seen here, I have now publicly been crowned as an associate editor of Das Libero. Contrary to the promises made to me however about lack of added responsibilities, Ian Syson has attempted to burden me with such concerns as the philosophical direction of the magazine, but since this mostly amounts to Monday morning meetings with the editor most of which is centred around bagging people off two certain Internet forums and general railings against 'the Man' , it's more like acknowledgment of the hard metres I've already done in this area.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

In the end, it's the result that counts - Oakleigh 1 South Melbourne 0

One early defensive mistake cost us the game last night, but what can you do? Not that we played the most sterling football, but we easily outplayed them, had far more chances, and were let down by our finishing and crossing. A bit of luck wouldn't have hurt too. We had only two freekicks in the first half hour, not one freekick in our final third for the entire match, and basically saw just about every 50/50 decision go Oaks way. Oh well. If we play that way we'll win most games I fancy, but the defending needs to shape up a bit, still plenty of communication problems and poor clearances.

We don't have a game now until the 24th March. O'Dor's red card (2 yellows) means he'll be sitting one or two games. Yusef got a pretty bad injury to his knee it seems. A chance to regroup and refuel now. Effort wise I cannot fault the team, they gave it their all and should've taken all three points. But that's football.

Friday, 7 March 2008

South travels to Jack's Place looking for more points - Round 4, Oakleigh vs South Melbourne

No more final predictions, as basically no one holds me accountable and soccer-tips are not my specialty anyway.

Last time they met:

Round 20, 2007 at Lakeside Stadium

South Melbourne 5 Oakleigh Cannons 2

The 2nd half will live long in the memory of all who saw it, with South ridding themselves of their Oakleigh curse. A high quality match in which Hellas outlasted the visitors, the latter equalising twice before eventually being overrun in what was South's best football of the season. Diaco's top corner freekick to make it five was one of the goals of the season.

Oakleigh come into this game undefeated, and having just handed Coburg their first taste of VPL defeat, should be quite confident of being able to take all three points at home. The make up of the team that has excelled in recent home and away seasons but failed at in the finals has changed significantly however. Where the big names at big prices ruled the roost in three post-NSL seasons, there has been a high amount of player movement in the off-season for the Cannons. Masi is gone up front, Boutsianis is finally gone, Turnbull is gone in goals, Poutakidis of course joined South, and many have felt that their replacements are not up to the calibre of those departures. Nevertheless, Cagalj is a good pick up in goal, Apostolikas had a good year at Whittlesea, and they have an assortment of players who played finals football at other clubs last year, not forgetting the evergreen Damianos in central midfield. The most notable recruitment as far as this game goes, will surely be Trent Waterson; he who had several good games for South last season, prone to go missing in others, and who became the second successive midfielder poached by the Cannons from South in as many years.

South have some actual momentum to take into this game, having finally picked up their first points of the season in emphatic style in the previous round. This game should provide a sterner test however, against an opponent who is a genuine finals candidate as opposed to a relegation favourite. Will Johnny A' stick with his pairing of De Nittis and Armenian up front? Or will he revert to the previous dysfunctional set-up? Will Fernando get as much room as he did against Western Suburbs? How will the defense cope with a much a bigger workload after rarely being troubled last week? Will La Verde be able to step up another level in only his second senior game? South have a big five weeks ahead of them with games against Preston and the Knights away, and the as yet unbeaten AIS and always difficult Green Gully at home, so a win here, or at least a credible draw, will give confidence to the side that they can match it with the better teams and not just against the stragglers. But with Oakleigh at home, undefeated, and with South only having beaten Western Suburbs, the former should still be favourite, and would be disappointed to lose this one.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

The other side of the "Summer League" debate

It's fair to point out that not everyone's against the FFV's new direction. Lance Jenkinson, a sports journo from the local Fairfax media has a different spin

Summer league sets some ambitious goals

Of course I disagree quite a bit with his opinion piece, feeling that it is far too optimistic, uncritical and contains a fundamental misreading of Victorian senior soccer, as well as not taking into serious account the logistical requirements. Sticking to the proposed men's senior comp for the moment, because I wouldn't know where to start with the womens and junior stuff.

You have to hand it to the Football Federation Victoria and its proactive board.

Proactive? Ambitious? You bet. On that point one must agree, considering a lot of the stalling done in the past to prevent change happening. But why this sort of change, why not what was proposed in the past? And what are the contingencies if this fails? Or is this an all or nothing approach? Who's going to pay for all this? Why aren't they contributing to the game now if they aren't already? What's in it for them?

What was so impressive about the project launch was the FFV's ability to cop criticism on the chin and learn from past mistakes.

Where have the FFV shown the ability to take criticism and learn from their past mistakes? A lot of people keep banging on about how they keep making the same mistakes over and over, and can't even do the basics right.

It is an ambitious plan - but one that has been meticulously planned with a lot of input from people outside and in the FFV.

And yet a lot of people seem to know very little about what's going on at all, with seemingly quite a few people alarmed at the lack of information and consultation provided. On the same token, it appears as if some VPL boards (and there is reason to believe South is one of them) who are much better informed and seem to have far more input.

Integration: Can the FFV successfully use the 'Melbourne Victory model' of creating a team from a blanket region instead of a suburb or ethnic background?

Melbourne Victory works because it is at the top tier. Interest in top tier sports pretty much across the board is at a high level. Yet interest in 2nd tier sport is falling, with clubs merging and some disappearing altogether. Market correction perhaps, in that there are too many entities to sustain at a senior level? Possibly, but I think the trends show that people care about junior sports, top-tier sports, but care less and less about the in-between stuff.

Crowds: Will the supporters embrace the new league with the understanding that it will not affect their support of established clubs such as South Melbourne, Melbourne Knights or the Fawkner Blues who will still form the Foxtel Cup?

On the one hand, with the crowds that most VPL clubs get, does it really matter? Then again, the majority of the VPL clubs for a long time now have been located in the northern and western suburbs - the eastern suburbs haven't a serious senior contender for many years. It could be argued that there is a serious problem with senior soccer out in the eastern suburbs, will this kind of thing help reverse that trend? Hard to say, but I'm doubtful.

Facilities: This could make or break the FFV's plans. Will it find the dollars and the government backing to upgrade facilities in the next four years to be able to establish the mooted centres of excellence?

This is a good point he brings up, but what kind of efforts are the FFV putting in now to secure upgrades to VPL venues? Or to secure the future tenancy of clubs at venues? Or to help clubs at all levels g4et equal treamtent from council's compared to their aussie rules counterparts? How will their bargaining power change?

The player development point is a red herring. Your Joe Spiteris and Michael Curcijas are not the future, and yet, with the A-League's youth competition due to start this year, that also means that another batch of players, supposedly the next in line for top-tier senior selection and recruitment, will also be unavailable. So who will the players be that will be called up? And will they get better? If so, how much better? Can players have the option of refusing to participate? What if a lot of players refuse to participate? What happens to pre-seasons?

Most of the reactions I've read lean towards the negative, with responses ranging from the hysterical, the cynical, to the just plain unsure. In writing that opinion piece, not only has Jenksinson put forward the first overwhelmingly positive view that's I've seen (which is a good thing in the sense that it's interesting to see another side of the coin, apart from one associate of mine), but he appears to have a lot more more faith in the FFV than most people.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Public Relations 101 - Say anything, but don't actually say something

In more recent times, South's current president Leo Athanasakis sought to make an effort to be more open about the club's affairs with the few people still intent on coming. There was an open forum late last year, poorly attended, but illuminating nonetheless. There appears since then to have been a hasty retreat from that position, to the more accustomed "it's our information and we don't have to share it with anyone else" approach, as can be seen from this press release on the future of Lakeside Stadium.

South Melbourne FC Media Release

Wednesday, 05 March, 2008


Albert Park has been the home of the South Melbourne Football Club for almost fifty years. For the last 13 years the club has been based at Bob Jane Stadium. In that time, the South Melbourne Football Club has invested heavily in both the local and general community, as well as in the Bob Jane Stadium itself.

The South Melbourne Football Club will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2009 and is committed to remaining at Bob Jane Stadium long term and remaining an integral part of the local community and the Victorian sporting culture.

The club is currently in the process of participating in discussions with the Government in relation to the possible future redevelopment of the Bob Jane Stadium.

The discussions are ongoing and the South Melbourne Football Club is satisfied with the process and the discussions to date and intends to remain a part of the process with a view to ensuring a positive outcome and to secure the future of the club.

The club does not intend to make any further statement at this stage.

Now if anyone can get something out of that other than we've been here for a little bit, we intend to stay here for a little bit longer, and we're talking to some people about that, then good luck to you. Basically, they just said what everyone knows already. I understand that negotiations are taking place, that nothing has been finalised (although one rumour from a fairly reliable source says it was all decided some time last year to put a running track round the joint), and that there are all sorts of confidentiality constraints blah blah blah.

But where does that leave supporters? Floating around Internet forums, and with an eye on Neos Kosmos and an ear on 3XY, with only the former at all really worth paying attention to. Not an ideal situation by half.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Eddie Everywhere's eviction notice to himself

The latest episode in the Olympic Park precinct restructure saga

Olympic Park grab for Collingwood

Right off the bat, I'll make it known that I am a keen Collingwood fan. Don't get to enough games (usually 4-5 a year), but in action it's quite obvious I'm far more a South fan (nearly every game, plus an assortment of pre-season stuff and miscellaneous events). Unlike a majority of Collingwood fans, I have a massive problem with Eddie's many conflicts of interests, though not in the way that was most reported, in terms commentary bias, but rather the blurring of the line between 'journalist' and 'club official'. See his covering up a few years ago of the story of Collingwood players trashing a hotel up in Queensland during the mid-season break as one example.

Now for those not up to speed with the whole situation. A few years ago, Collingwood deserted their home of over a century, the legendary but rundown Victoria Park, to move to a new purpose built centre next to Olympic Park. They train on the former site of Olympic Park ground no.2, former greyhound track and home of Brunswick Juventus. But the government is now building the new 'Bubbledome' stadium, where the Victory and the Storm will play. Collingwood and Melbourne aussie rules club, (who also train there) have been pretty much asked to train 300 metres further east. Not really such a big ask. But because Eddie is not only president of Collingwood but also on the board of Athletics Australia, he's basically trying to evict the organisation he is supposed to be looking after the interests of, and who don't want to move from Olympic Park, so they can be replaced by his other, bigger interest.

Why the heat is not being applied with the most massive fucking blowtorch in the universe by local journos is a disgrace but not exactly unexpected. The AFL gets a dream run in the local media, and anyone unfortunate enough to get in their way will get short shrift. Let us not also forget the (now apparently aborted) push from the Sydney Swans, even supported by dickhead Victory supporters, to get evict us. I don't have a problem with a running track around Lakeside. It's not ideal, but if it secures our tenancy there for a long time and by extension our future, then that's the most important thing. But the way Athletics Victoria and South are being treated is nothing short of disgraceful. More comment to come as the new stadium gets built, and a decision has to be made.

The latest SMFC craze - Ultimate Straw Clutching

What the hell are they trying to achieve with this?

Ex-South keeper captures award

Now I must make it clear for the outset, this is not an attack on George Kouroumalis who was commissioned to write the article, nor is it particularly an attempt to devalue former South NSL keeper Michael Theoklitos' achievement of winning the A-League's goalie of the year award (that's already done by the fact that he has what, only 7 other guys to compete against), but more against the utter stupidity of the thinking behind this.

Immediately one must ask, are we really that desperate for relevance? What next, congratulating Danny Allsopp for being leading scorer in the 2006/07 season, Kevin Muscat for all time leading penalty scorer, Eddie Krncevic for most conspicuous player agent at VPL games? South is still a proud club, with many achievements in the bank and a lot more to come through one would hope. Did the genius who came up with this realise that Theoklitos played a grand total of five games for South (1970s Arsenal striker Malcolm MacDonald played three in his guest stint in comparison), and was one of the players that upped camp and moved to the Football Kingz with Micky Petersen at the end of the 2000/01 season? Granted he was a keeper, and therefore has to go look for opportunities where they lie, but the point still stands. Yes he was one of our players once upon a time, but really, the links are pretty tenuous, and there's little credit to be gained from leeching off the back of Theo's success in this way. South is supposed to be a bigger club than that.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Finally off and running for 2008 - South Melbourne 5 Western Suburbs 0

When you play the right players, and play them in the right positions, and with the right formation, sometimes against all logic you score a bundle of goals and win handsomely. Now, Western Suburbs were far from the best opposition, but they were almost never in the game. They had one very good chance in the 1st half to pull it back to 2-1, but that was pretty much it.

Fernando was outstanding. De Nittis, Zoric and Armenian all very good, and there seemed to be the inkling of and understanding between them. Poutakidis was a little hot and cold, but was useful when coming forward. Natsoulias looked good, Nunes looked ok, though the defence in general had very little to do. La Verde making his debut was a quiet revelation; the kid knows how to play, and could just be the kind of thing we need in central midfield, very creative. Vasquez who came on late also had a decent game, though with the game dead, it's hard to judge.

1st goal - Fernando running right across the the edge of the box, past a couple of defenders, shoots into the keepers bottom left hand corner, out of his reach.

2nd goal - a pass to the back post (again on the keepers left hand side) tapped in by Natsoulias

3rd goal - De Nittis slots home a one on one.

4th goal - Fernando whips in an incredible free kick to the far post, the keeper no chance.

5th goal - another pass across the face of goal, where it was missed by one player, but put away by a desperate Poutakidos effort.

Congrats must also go to the under 21s for also breaking their duck, hanging on for a 1-0 win. They were on the back foot for a large parts of the 2nd half, but their 1st half goal (which i missed), was good enough in the end.

Below is some absolutely woeful amateur footage of Fernando's brilliant 2nd goal, a free kick into a corner I didn't know existed, courtesy of some kid called Cliff. I'm not sure if you actually even see the ball at any stage, but the crowd seems excited.

It's like it didn't even happen

As you may be aware, I have recently been contributing to the soon-to-be prestigious soccer journal Das Libero. At this moment this consists of a couple of reviews and a look at Tony Ising's departure from his creation, but hopefully more soon, including a letter I wrote in reply to Gweeds' reply to my Ising piece, yesterday's worthy rant - which unlike most of my work I still like 24 hours after I finished it, not to mention the rave review it received - and a couple of other pieces which will likely be of a more significant length, ie. longer, therefore containing even more creamy goodness.

All this after being nagged for months to get stuff written, to read the books I was meant to review, to actually write said reviews, and even creating this blog partly as a way of avoiding all that effort. So anyway, for some reason and without asking, I was made associate editor. After making sure it entailed no actual responsibility, I reluctantly accepted. Wait, reluctantly is not the right word. Gladly accepted. And yet, despite the upgrade in rank, all the trappings that come with your typical promotion have failed to materialise. The swish new office, the extravagant business lunches, the company car, the generous travel allowance, the all expenses paid trip to the Bahamas to research beach football culture in the Caribbean. But it gets worse. Not even any acknowledgement on the site itself of this promotion.

So here's the deal. I'll let all that other stuff go, if I can get a Das Libero t-shirt. They look like shit, but there's not many of them in existence, and if I can get 'associate editor' on there somehow, I'll even try to be less cynical while I'm wearing it. And by the way, I only appear cynical because I'm such an idealist that whenever something fails to reach my lofty ideals I react with a wry, withering or despondent disposition. That's what this young woman who used to find me annoyingly cynical told me, and I'm thankful everyday that she did. Anyway, when I googled myself, my reference on Das Libero came up first, and South of the Border on the 2nd page. See everyone at the game.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Walking, After Midnight

efils good and the time is right / i'll bundle up and slip away
the count is down and the drip is up / it's time to split this hunk of clay

Eels, Efil's God

So it's come to this. A new twelve team summer competition, with all new regionally based and privately backed franchises (or in some cases quite possibly, regional federation backed), using existing VPL players (as well as ring-ins from wherever) under some scheme where if they get picked up by an A-League side, VPL clubs will get compensated, watched and paid for by whom exactly I'm not sure of, but what the hell do I know. I just follow South after all, and who can say what turns the game will take in these heady times.

Some might say this is the game running before it can walk, others a long overdue move and bound to succeed thanks to the soccer boom led by the success of the Socceroos and the Melbourne Victory. Good luck to them. Unless you want to argue the point for some reason, we're pretty much third tier now. What this also means is that the FFV has effectively given up on Old Soccer too. Maybe they're right to do so. Hell, most people jumped off that ship fairly quickly, to be brutally honest. Why shouldn't the FFV be able to do what even most of its constituents have done and focus on development pathways for players to the top, rather than the sad little dreams of 60 year old migrants who still turn up long after their friends bailed or died, 20-25 year olds rusted on to an antiquated belief in club loyalty, and money men (and one woman) throwing cash at the blackest of black holes, the VPL, and Victorian senior soccer in general.

Let face it, it's all about the juniors today people. The usual whiny minority aside, it's been evident for enough time now that no one gives a stuff. And yes, all you people still attending and supporting the club your forbears, or your mates forbears built, or some schmo who just wanted to have a place where his mates could have a kickaround, you are no one. You are no longer important. The FFV have looked into the FFA's crystal ball, and seen the future, and it looks kinda like this. Heaps of juniors across the land, playing 'football' so they wont get fat or seriously hurt, and helping to fill the coffers quickly while taking little out. The creation of a well oiled machine, to pump out thousands of little champions, who after the various squad cuts throughout the years will become bigger champions, who can pass with both feet, know dozens of moves, be a library of tactics, and be more or less exact clones of each other. Senior soccer at the lower levels if it still exists (and it probably will) will be almost completely amateur, and will be based amongst localised suburban competitions ala aussie rules comps, probably on unenclosed public reserves.

As the history of the local game pre-World War 2 has been forgotten, so will the history of the last 60 or so years be forgotten. Few will rejoice or despair; the great games, clubs, players and administrators, except in the cases where recorded and maintained on little visited websites by bleary eyed trainspotting nerds, will be as if they never existed. A bit of lipservice, and then scorched earth, clean slates, c:/format, and off into the bright happy world of tomorrow. A world in which well 'ard ultras protest against 'modern football' while supporting Evil Geoff Lord's franchise, and aussie rules families, safe from reminders of what multiculturalism is, clap and cheer politely while they firmly believe that their little Anglo-Celtic world is diverse because the people around them look different, while clutching their meat pies and super dogs (thanks to Pavlaki for that phrase).

In retrospect the signs were all there. Not just in the big things, but the little things too. Every half competent person leaving the FFV for greener pastures. The almost determined incompetence of running senior competitions, including the pisspoor prizemoney. The clandestine season launch in which the state's only dedicated local soccer publication wasn't invited. People like 3XX wanting to broadcast games and the FFV not wanting the publicity. The endless delays and changes to what would eventually become the V-League, or whatever they're going to call it. And on it goes. But don't complain. This is market forces we're talking about - wait sorry - this is what Victorian football's constituents want in order for the game to progress in this state. And they shall have it.

So what now? Easily combustible members of a certain club which wears royal blue and white and once won four national titles in a fantasy comp called the National Soccer League have variously called for action to be taken, protests, sabotage, breakaway leagues, playing in Asia or New Zealand, complaining to FIFA, the FFA, the courts, whoever will listen, calls for an Apocalypse Now themed ending, (surely we could hire a helicopter to fly over the top at least for a little while), banding together with our disenfranchised brethren/enemies or going at it full bore, riots, flares, everything that we've held back on, everything they said we did to ruin the game because we were selfish.

Well, so let's be selfish. In some of my more despondent moments in recent years, my idea went something like this. South is celebrating its 50th anniversary next year. There's no hope for a better future, we have nowhere to go, the standard will keep falling as more and more players are used for the higher tiers, and there's little replenishment of support. Verily, it's better to die on your feet than live on your knees. The club's dignity must come first. So flares at every game. Pitch invasions every game. Streamers and banners on full bore, confetti to piss off the constabulary who hate the sight of litter so much. Every game to be a raucous wake not just for South but the local game as a whole. The team not to be made up of players with aspirations of playing for the chance to join a team which competes to win a toilet seat, but the best players out of the fans that are left, who will play for free, for the simple honour of the shirt. And then at the end of the season, we burn the whole stadium down, burn that shit heap remnant of the aussie rules stand, just another monument to a time when all of this sort of thing had some sort of meaning, when we weren't the walking dead. And as a bonus it'll be an easier cleanup job for when they build that athletics track that's going to go round Lakeside anyway.

In time, one may calm down, see it all differently, accept, acquiesce, adapt, find the niche that may exist, and go on regardless of whatever the great dreamers of dreams will dream up, and let the focus groups and demographers advise the new world order of their every move. Sometime later, I might come to my senses and may even write something sensible on the situation. For the moment though, in the words of FFV CEO Mark Rendell, "let's suck it and see".