Ok that was a lie. Anyway, over to Chris now. I'll be posting a response to it eventually within the comments section, and as usual, if you would like to send something in, send it to me, at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Trials and Tribulations of the Post-NSL Era
As I read Paul's blog, I realise the differing paths of our respective football clubs. I as an old NSL supporter still able to support my team in a plastic, franchise style league where attendance means more than the quality of support. The cataclysmic journey of the pathways two giants of the world game in the late 1990's is one to record for future generations, here is my take on South Melbourne and Perth Glory's post NSL history.
There were three big clubs in the NSL Perth Glory, Sydney Olympic and South Melbourne. These three seemed to have that added impetus in terms of a culture that bred success as compulsory not an option. Winning a right, not a privilege. Only one of these clubs remain in the A-League.
Forget Adelaide United and Newcastle United, they have little to celebrate from the NSL, we do. South Melbourne supporters also have much to celebrate.
Indeed my fondest memories come from the NSL days. Other than a few last minute goals against clubs such as Sydney FC and the ever annoying Newcastle Unite.
Both fans seem to be dissatisfied of what we don't have. The matchday experience, success, not being the top dog in the pack, our whole club culture neatly being packed into the A-League. Matt Carroll trying to strangle the values and culture that had been established by Glory, not being in the elite competition, dwindling crowds and finances.
South Melbourne fans seem to decry incompetent league administrators, the pitfalls of participating in a league that doesn't have the TV rights, sponsorship that would sustain better standards of football. However they are fiercely proud of their heritage and culture which has not been forced to change or challenged by new age football. They can act and do what they like without the glare or control from the governing body. They have freedom to express and continue the same match day experience they have had for 30 years. They have not had to fight for their clubs very identity, colours and history.
I watch the MCF crew who are from another world that I grew up in, completely foreign to my Anglo-Saxon community on the urban fringe of Perth. I see the Knights and I hate them more than any A-League club. I don't want them to win, fuck em, let them die. I miss this, I have honestly no club I could name that I have this sort of passion for hatred due to our poor performance restricting any decent club rivalry. The Newcastle United one is building up, especially with a thinly veiled insult by a Newcastle fan at the Socceroos pre-match regarding how many championships we have won? Bastards, we have one more title than you...
South Melbourne still has this.
I click, Perth and South Melbourne fans are both dissatisified. Glory had gone through the last four years were in all honesty many times it was a chore to go to the games. The venue, atmosphere and culture during the FFA era had been trampled on and life support was the strongest imagery I had of the club. Up until this off-season me and my friend a few years younger than me were jealous of what South Melbourne had?
Only to an A-League supporter...
I have deep suspicion for the FFA, as do most Glory fans. Sage has made a habit for mostly positive publicity purposes to attack the FFA. Indeed as a Western Australian if you don't attack the national body or Federal Government you do not gain popularity. It works well, Sage is a masterful businessma.
We have a club however that has divisions within the home end, wristbands, chanting and GSSC governance major themes that never resolve themselves. Just underlying tensions that involve official comments attacking other fans on websites when the infighting goes overboard. We also have a desire that our history must be protected - at all costs. Public outrage at colour change, name change and the Carrol inspired declaration that ruined Glory's 10th birthday.
This is our NSL culture that had run head on with an FFA that declared a national policy of newness, excitement and anti-NSL at the beginning. We are a club stuck in the wrong league. But a club too big to die. We have to compromise.
South Melbourne have nothing culturally to impede their culture, their fans are much more content because they have not had the fights against FFA and club administration to maintain our values and colours. Nothing at a Glory home game is the same, except the fans and the culture within the venue. As much as Carroll would have liked, he never could change that.
Indeed you strip out the spanky new stadiums on the Gold Coast and the new bubble dome as its been affectionately called by the folks at Austadiums and you wonder what is there? How could I ever be involved in a club that has been told who it is rivals with, has home end supporter culture sanctioned and controlled by the club. Look at the impediments of the Roar Supporters clu.
Welcome to the A-League.
We now have no club song, no longer the team everybody wants to beat, we have failure, misery and for the most part of our A-League history off-field incompetence.
I go to South Melbourne v Melbourne Knights at the humble Knights Stadium and I hear stories of corruption, hardly any clubs in profit and despair that this proud club has been reduced to this level.
Am I any better off than a South Melbourne fan?
No, the era post-NSL has been very difficult for both of us. But we probably should have seen it coming, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
I think in the long run we both have the same culture, the same passion. We are brothers in kind, Glory despite being a new club at the end of the NSL embraced its history because the so called ethnic clubs did, we are a product of the league we were created in. The club itself was the lifeblood of the community, the politics would mean that you did not talk to another fan for weeks on end...three months later when it died down you had a beer with them until the next time hell broke loose.
We have both made sacrifices in the post NSL era, Glory are now associated with ineptitude and failure from both their old fans and those from opposing fans. Both clubs will have to deal with unsavoury situations as we have been transported into a league that is not our domain. Not ours to bitch about, we are a club in a foreign league fighting to maintain our clubs identity in a league that neither respects or in many cases cares of what we have previously done for Australian Football. We are nobodies...
South Melbourne will win the VPL and hopefully look at an FFA Cup into the future to present itself to the nation. It may never get back to the top league, but by god despite the 'Greek' slur being put on them, their fans and the club essentially have the same desires as Perth Glory fans.
The re-awakening of Glory has come about with understandings of our past and the positivity we view it in. I do hope in 100 years time Football historians understand this and reflect accurately the NSL and not forget about it like many within the FFA headquarters wished at the beginning of the A-League.
Indeed, South Melbourne and Perth Glory fans united in challenges will both have similar joys when success returns, regardless of whether they are in the A-League or Victorian Premier League.
We just both happen to play in a foreign league, that in one way or another is not really to our liking.