For those who haven't seen it yet, here is the video in question. (video no longer available)
After watching the piece, I felt so disconnected from my experience of the National Soccer League, that I had to check my body for scars. Not finding any - except for those inflicted by my cat Scratchy - I was wondering how even SBS could fall so head over heels in love with the portrayal of the game. Not that I had been expecting favourable treatment from the Sydney Broadcasting Service. But what kind of weird hatchet job was this? And how nicely timed was it that it was played while Les Murray was on his way home from the studio? No, that's a conspiracy theory line of thought. The question is did Les even see it? Les who is supposed to be working for us/Sexy FC? And if he did see it, what prevented him from saying, "Hey, that's a bit fucked up you know? The NSL wasn't that bad, and besides, why can't we show both sides of the issue a little more fairly?" Or if he didn't see it, what kind of clout has this guy got at SBS anymore? And is it worth even keeping him on the payroll of the Sexy FC team?
Anyway, it starts off with what appears to be the Pratten Park riot - in Sydney and nothing to do with South. Then goes to footage of flares and such at The 2005 South-Preston argle bargle. Which wasn't in the NSL. And even includes the Bonnyrigg vs Sydney United violence - which is not even NSL or South Melbourne related. And of course completely ignores the multiple incidents of violence at A-League games. And as one observant fan put it, why did they go with only the riots? Some great players scored some great goals in front of great crowds, and yet we get the same footage repeated ad nauseum. It's one thing to have this done by a commercial network, but SBS is supposed to be more culturally sensitive to the negative portrayal of ethnic communities and that of football as well.
But the most bizarre thing of all was the appearance of some Victory supporter called Jordan Caridi. Introduced as a 'Victorian football fan' - whose claim to fame appears to be that he's been following the game for ten years, once posted on a 'sack Merrick' petition site and that he was once owed $156 by Telstra. Apart from his comments which are essentially a rehash of the newbreed/O'Neill spin we've been hearing since day one of year zero, how did he get the gig out of the hundreds of thousands of football fans in the state? Because it just so happens that I too am a football fan. And I've been following the game since about 1992/93. And if you want my credentials, just ask and ye shall receive. But should I be asked to put forward an opinion on behalf of every football fan in the state?
To be fair though, the posing of Jim Mellas as a Southern Cross FC official/spokesperson and not at all as one of South Melbourne's vice presidents is at best disingenuous, and at worst, and this was I'm leaning more towards now, blatantly dishonest. And the tightrope walking being done to embrace South supporters on the one hand and deny South's existence on the other - and I mean this in the existential sense of trying to deny its very character and identity - is getting quite ludicrous. What is it that not only we as South fans - whether we choose to physically support the new franchise or not - as well as the general not Victoryfied, still open minded and undecided demographic are being asked to support? The longer the PR battle goes on without the substance to back it up that everyone craves, the stupider everyone, including South Melbourne, will look. Did these people learn nothing from the 'Press Release Follies' episode of our A-League bid?
So, to sum up. Mostly out of context footage, one biased virtual nobody speaking on behalf of everybody, one doppelganger of a South boardmember and one once renowned and respected football journalist with hands in two pies and unable to eat any of them to his liking. It's a wonder why anyone is taking any of this seriously whatsoever. And that's the problem right there in a nutshell.