Sunday, 29 November 2009

Seagulls searching for worms in the mud

Waiting at the corner across from Lakeside as the rain was coming down at the lights which take forever to change to a favourable condition, Rhodri Payne let me shelter under his umbrella. Thank you.

Ok, so we lost a shortened halves game against the West Sydney Berries. It was a god awful boring match.

The Pan-Hellenic men's final was on before, Victoria vs South Australia. The rain pissed down for most of this game, the field was already in a mess, and it was only worse afterwards. Some terrible tavkles in that game, lots of niggly crap. Vics won 3-1, all heir goals having some sort of deflection apparently - I only saw their two last goals.

What terrible organisation this event had also. The winning team got their photos taken and such, then the girls winners had their medals and presentation, and then the men had another go. There were numerous renditions of the Australian and Greek national anthems. Some kids choir got to sing in front of the 50 people that were left at the end of the day. Not inspiring stuff.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

It's blue!

There was an article in the Herald Sun today about the pending redevelopment. Nothing new really, except what was once a traditionally coloured running track - as presented in the initial plans released by the relevant government departments - is now being presented in an unmistakeably blue hue. Really, when it comes down to it, it's not the most important part of the project - but it appears that the gentle nagging via board, via in person at information meetings, and via web, has been sorta heard.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Saturday, 21 November 2009

To verb the adjective noun!

Just posting some random and not so random crap, some off smfcboardm which most of you can't see - and it is nearing to AGM time after all - more on that on a later issue.


Item! Already received one private message, from my good buddy Gains, wishing that my review of the Tony Squires book had come out earlier so he wouldn't have bought the abomination. Ah well.

Item! At last year's AGM, I brought along a printed list of questions, some spare paper and a clipboard (and a training jersey from 2001 that I bought off ebay for some guy, but that's not really relevant) and for my efforts received this question on the forum

PS Does anyone know who was the dude near the front with the glasses who asked many questions????

12 months on, and one senile poster has forgotten my awesomeness, so much so that I had to sorta ask someone to mention it. We'll see how this turns out.

Item! It was fucking funny last year when the old bloke known to me only as Karantoni walked out of the meeting and everyone thought it was because he was pissed off, when he actually just went for a smoke.

Item! First it was the 1980 championship. Now the Bergers have moved another step closer to booking a bed in Ward 7. With thanks to Psile, as this is verbatim off his post.

On the bergers facebook page they have the neos kosmos article of the 1-2 at middle park when MM got the double for them, anyhow underneath it says:

ΕΛΛΑΣ/ΜΕΓΑΣ 1-2 93-94,SEASON LAST GAME AT THE PARK FOR HELLAS BEFORE IT CAME DOWN WHAT A DAY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS IS FOR THE OLD MEGA FANS WHAT CAN I SAY NEOS KOSMOS SAYS IT ALL

No you clowns...we thumped you 4-1 and it was round 1 of 94/95.

Naffness personified

I was been recently comissioned I guess to write two pieces for the official South site. I don't like the first one, on the gala ball, very much at all, but the second one, a season review, is a little better I guess. But then again, what do I know about these things?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Overdue and out of date Tony Squires book review

This review was originally commissioned by Ian Syson to appear in Das Libero 2. It took me far too long to get around to writing it, but after I'd finished it Ian said he liked it, and that he'd put it up soon. He didn't, and it's been sitting on my USB stick for months now. I shudder to think how many people have gone out and bought this book without first reading the genius that is this review.


There are many things wrong with Tony Squires' Cracking The Footy Codes: A Beginner's Guide To AFL, League, Union and Football. First of all, it's written by Tony Squires. The reasons for his longstanding and continuing popularity of any sort elude me. So, if you happen to be a Tony Squires fan, you can skip the rest of this review. You're probably already enamoured with near everything he does, and likely already have a signed copy of this tome.

Cracking The Footy Codes seeks to take a general look at the four major football codes in Australia, in an attempt to provide a useful primer to those wishing to brush up on unfamiliar sports and possibly become some sort of convert. It contains relatively thorough overviews of the rules of soccer, league, union and Australian rules. It also throws in some trivia and cultural observations which are intended to prepare the neophyte follower for their early experiences, done with what I presume is Squires' trademark humour.

What works well in this book are the clear rules and regulations, together with diagrams. The problem with this is that all this information is also available, for free, online and has been for quite some time. Therefore the book’s strongest characteristic – and perhaps its only one – is technologically defunct. There is no real point acquiring this book if all you want to do is read up on the rules. The book in that sense is fundamentally a 19th century product. It ignores the existence of video games, the internet, television – especially Pay TV which lets us watch so many sports. I learnt most of what I know about American football through these means, often by osmosis rather than careful study.

Which leaves us with what remains. The humour was lost on me. I found it lazy, generic and outdated. AFL – not the name of the sport, but hey, he's from New South Wales and that's what they call it up there for some reason - gets some of its club theme songs mulled over. Rugby League has some of its teams mentioned – Manly are rich, no one can remember South Sydney’s last flag even though they've won so many, haha. Soccer though misses this. We get the 'Hand of God', diving, references to Posh and Becks and that mysterious gap between 1974 and 2005 that no one can penetrate. The skirting of local soccer issues is obviously because Squires is not fluent in that language – or he does not want to impose new and strange knowledge on soccer noobs of the alternate reality that was Australian soccer before it began its Cultural Revolution a few years back.

The presumption of sports generality – the ability to become a fan of multiple sports – also left me feeling cold. Who are these people that have so much time that they can become experts or dedicated to more than 1-2 sports simultaneously? I, and I assume most sports fans, have the time and emotional capacity to dedicate themselves to only that many sports. So what kind of person who is already interested in one or two of these sports with any sort of dedication, would have the time and inclination to pick two or three more? This book is therefore firmly directed towards the sports generalist. The one for whom sport is a pastime and not a duty, for whom the spectacle and the occasion is just as important if not more so than the result. An oversimplification? Perhaps, but I think the point is valid.

But seeing as this is a soccer/football publication, we should take some time out to review that particular section in a little more depth. It doesn't start well. In the opening pitch for the game, Squires refers somewhat obliquely to the difficulty of choosing a team in Australia until recently, and how many Australian fans have fallen for English clubs. There are also elementary factual errors. The A-League choosing to play in summer is a furphy. It merely followed on from the NSL's practice since 1989. Johnny Warren was not the captain of the Socceroos in the 1974 World Cup – that was Peter Wilson. Craig Johnston was not the first Australian to play in the FA Cup Final – that was Joe Marston. Someone using this book as a reference for a trivia night is going to get a nasty surprise.

Yes, I understand that this book is meant to be light-hearted, though it failed to raise chuckles at this end. And yes I understand it's not meant to be a hard hitting sociological piece on the where, why, how etc of football fandom in Australia – though if it does contribute to that debate, it doesn't paint a very positive picture of Australian sports fans and their supposed loyalty. But most of all, it doesn't perform any of its purported instructional functions any better than a quick web search would. One day some of these people who are still insisting on top down modes of communicating to the masses will come to realise that the masses just aren't listening. One for the Squires fans, people with a pathological fear of computers – who won’t see this review anyway – and no one else.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

We Eat Our Own

It has probably been this way since day one.

Brinkmanship.

Ta polla that gelia telionon sta klamata - Too much laughter ends up in tears.

Surviving what outsiders dish out.

And then showing them how it's done.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Les Murray on South Melbourne and its Gala Ball

From the The World Game Website - if you clik through to there you can add comments as well. Or just leave them here. Whatever makes you happy.


Fifty years of love and its lessons

By Les Murray

The late 1950s have a lot to answer for. Like giving rise to a poppy field of new football clubs that have recently been celebrating their 50th anniversary, despite now lingering somewhat in the shadow of ‘new football’.

I’ve been to a few of these in recent times, the latest being the celebration of South Melbourne FC’s half a century as a club.

Held at the Crown Palladium, it was a glittering night in which emotion and nostalgia overbore the shimmer, the champagne and the long dresses.

There were over 600 guests, most of them paying $220 for a seat. Former players, coaches, officials and undying fans came from everywhere, many from Greece and others from other corners of the world. One fan diverted his holiday voyage to Florida to be there.

John Margaritis, an iconic former player and coach, flew in from Athens (and then was forced to speak on stage in Greek because he had forgotten most of his English, or so he claimed).

Con Nestorides, whom you would now call a ‘marquee player’ if he came here as a 37-year old superstar, as he did in 1966, was hunted down in Athens and thrust in front of the video camera to send a goodwill message. Now 80, he looked sprightly, smiling and fit.

Others not so youthful. One old timer, a source of vibrant spectacle when he played for the club in the early 1960s, was unable to negotiate the stairs to the stage to receive his award. He could have stayed at home but he chose to come, despite the cane and the debilitations, and many in the room were thrilled to see him again.

Leo Anezakis, president of the club when it won its first national league title in 1984, a lovely and decent man, spoke to me about those times, how his sense of dedication to the club taxed him to the point where it nearly destroyed his business.

More easily recognised men of a more modern era mingled in the room, embracing and exchanging regrets about not seeing each other more often: Peter Tsolakis, Ange Postecoglou, Mickey Petersen, Kimon Taliadoros, Paul Trimboli, Mehmet Durakovic, Con Boutsianis.

Emotion filled the air and the night was thick with the powerful sense of bonding that football, and only the sense of belonging to a football club, can provide.

The passion and loyalty for football, and for a football club, was everywhere in the room, so much so that one felt a wish to be able to bottle it and somehow transfuse it into ‘new football’.

But of course that’s easier said than done. The A-League clubs don’t have this because for a start they don’t have 50 years of history but more importantly because, as one colleague put it to me, they are franchises not clubs.

Still, there are lessons to be drawn for the franchises which, so far, have appeared to exist more for the directors and the investors than the fans, the complete reverse to what has been the case at South Melbourne FC for half a century.

George Vassilopoulos, club president through the 1990s, made a stirring speech about loyalty, sacrifice, love and untiring dedication to a club and about giving something back to the fans.

A modern chairman, one suspects, would only orate about money, the bottom line and the need to win trophies.

Football clubs are primarily about people, something South Melbourne has not forgotten over 50 years but which the A-League, five years into its life, is yet to learn.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Someone beat me to it

Thank to SouthPole for finding this - South of the Border blog.

Notes on the 50th anniversary gala ball

I don't think I will ever have an original thought, much less put down words that will inspire them. But here goes anyway.

The Casino

It's the final day of horse racing's spring carnival, which means that my rented tuxedo doesn't stand out as much it normally would. That's a good thing. Much as it may surprise some people, I'm not fond of seeking attention.

I've probably only been to Crown Casino five times, and never in the gaming room. After asking for directions to the Palladium, I'm instructed to walk through there until I get to the Atrium and then take the stairs up.

Walking through the gaming room is dispiriting and otherworldly experience. There is no day, no night. The casino must also be the most democratic institution there is. Its clientele, if we can call it that, crosses so many more borders of ethnicity, language, gender, age, class, sobriety and wearing of shoes than Athenian democracy could have ever dreamed of. Security and venue staff in dark clothing circle and hover. While there is the occasional cheer, the most common expression is blankness. The Casino calls itself a place of entertainment, but I've never seen so many people so bored.

Up stairs upon trying enter the function area, I was asked for which function I was entering. Turned out the room wasn't ready when I got there. I guess I should have said I was there for Trent and Tenille's wedding. Eventually we got let into the foyer, where I caught up with a few familiar faces, and Ted Smith, who I'd done the interview with Ian with some time ago.

Les Murray

Les Murray seemed to be in good spirits throughout the event, posing for photos, and chatting to pleb and household name alike. He suprisingly stumbled over many of the Greek names, especially those of the pre-NSL era, but he soldiered on, and generally did a good job. The man knew the crowd he was playing to; he referred to the importance of clubs like ours, and even cheekily mentioned the score from the Victory game - 4-0 to Central Coast - which got a polite cheer from sections of the crowd.

Players and Coaches
Several players got their chance to speak on the podium. Paul Fortomanos, who spoke on behalf of his late father Stefanos, was perhaps my favourite speaker. Concise, passionate, measured and efficient in the right way. Mike Mandalis was beaming. John Margaritis was to the point. Jimmy Armstrong was his usual amusing self. Ange Postecoglou recounted his trip to Brazil with George Vasilopoulos for the World Club Championship draw. Paul Trimboli talked of his 17 years at the club. Peter Laumets spoke on the 1984 title; Peter Tsolakis for 1991. The 2006 grand final side got a teensy bit of short shrift in my opinion, but John Anastasiadis got to speak about that era as well as the world club championship stuff.

Video interviews and photo montages peppered the evening. Amongst those on tape, who did not speak on stage, were Ulysses Kokkinos, Con Boutsianis, Takis Mantarakis, and even Kostas Nestoridis, hunted down by a fan on his travels in Greece. Also within those montages were board and fan interviews, including one with the notorious fan called Banger - even credited as such.

Presidents

Tribute was of course paid to those who have come and gone; those who were absent due to being deceased were represented by family, such as Marmaras and Papasavas. George Donikian sent a rather newsreaderly message via video Leo Athanasakis was surprisingly well spoken - the man is known more for his enthusiasm than public speaking.

The most dreaded, or perhaps most anticipated speeches of the evening though naturally came from George Vasilopoulos and Peter Mitrakas. George Vasilopoulos almost singlehandedly changed the tone of the evening with his speech. Everyone before had been relatively humble and brief, promoting the club above themselves, being lighthearted about the whole thing.

Vasilopoulos turned it into something altogether more solipsist. On one level, you can't blame him; so much of his life was spent around and dedicated to the club, and so much of the club's greatest successes were under his reign. But there was an anger that was fascinating and disappointing to see. What it was that he was railing against I'm not exactly sure; one would could probably safely guess though that he was sending out a message to all his detractors. This went on for some time, much longer than pretty much any other speaker. He did manage to inject some levity into it though, which is more than be said for the next speaker.

Peter Mitrakas outdid Vasilopoulos for most despised. Another self-serving speech, from another person who has vanished in the hard times, but who seemed to take little responsibility for where the club had ended up under his administration - rather crediting his time with actually saving the club. He was the only person to be heckled on the night, being accused of 'going to the Victory'. He denied it, and then the response came from the same source, 'bullshit'. He soldiered on though.

Within all these speeches, there were interesting anecdotes and insights into the culture of the club; some things have changed, some things have stayed the same. They'll all be on the DVD.

Ephemera

It's a good thing that the videos managed to work eventually, after the initial couple of attempts saw them freeze.

What is it with this club and people speaking over the top of speakers? Poor Nick Galatas in particular, who fought to be heard over the top of the chattering classes.

The pasta entree was very small. The chicken was delicious. The dessert was also delicious, but also very slight.

The staff were seemingly on a mission to get everyone ploughed. I would have preferred more food to be honest.

I pretty much skipped watching Cirque Mystique. They seemed boring so I left the room when they were on.

There are numerous things which occur and which are said at these events - especially by certain patrons who've had a little too much to drink - of which you can ethically say nothing on a public medium, as they were conducted in private discussions, not for public consumption. I feel a little bit sorry for Mehmet Durakovic though.

Well done to the organising team. A fantastic event. Even I enjoyed myself, and that's saying something.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Gala Ball Tonight - Redux

Or,

I specifically requested no romantic music!



If you're confused by the redux reference, let me explain.

Originally, this entry was one line long. Basically saying, should be great, got my ticket, gonna have a good time. As much of a good time as I usually have. I'm not renowned for smiling.

And then something happened. Something massive.

Somehow, the biggest issue of the night will not be the club itself.

Not 50 years. Not great players, not great coaches, or goals, or memories, or stories or paying dues to those who made this club what it is, the five decades of blood, sweat, tears and corruption.

No.

The biggest issue will be the soundtrack. That's right, the biggest thing to get in a head spin about is the music that will be played on tonight.

Fuck. Me. Dead.

Will there be Greek music? Will there be the right type of Greek music? The right amount?

Oh my god we are this close to selling out the Greek community again! How could the organisers do this!

Whenever I rock up to one of these things - that is, a formal or semi-formal or just plain 'event' with music - I know pretty much from the get go that I won't like any of the music played. I remember my Year 12 Valedictory Dinner, where the only thing played that I remotely enjoyed was the intro to Start Me Up (they didn't play anything more than that - praise to Apollo for Taylors Lakes reception centres). Anyway, here are some solutions I conjured up real quick.

  • Play Harry Lookofksy's Stringsville record on continuous loop.
  • Play the entire Manic Street Preachers catalogue from beginning to end.
  • Get a Lemnian band to play. Because, let's be serious, they made South. Every other Greek should bow to them.
  • Get Frozen Tears to play. A Greek-Australian or Australian Greek singer. He loves the club. May have even played at South in the 1980s in the junior system. Commentated a grand final win for us. The band have a song about the club. That song is available in English and Greek. It's got a naff 80's Van Halen vibe. What's not to like?

Nah, fuck it. Let's be petty and mean. It's so much easier, and it suits our nature.

I weep for Dr. George Triantos and the team who have worked their arse off to provide an experience the likes of which every other pissant club in this state, nay, country, could even dream of. But to conclude on a more positive note. Hope to see some of my loyal fans - and the fans of the club too, I guess - tonight, where we can reminisce and celebrate in the company of our club's greatness. It may be the last chance we'll get with some of these blokes.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Vaughan Coveny talks about All Whites qualification chances

A nice interview with Vaughan Coveny by Daniel Phan on Goal.com yesterday, talking about the All Whites' world cup qualification campaign, his coaching ambitions and New Zealand football and the AFC. Needed to be proofread though. I ain't doing it. Here it is in its entirety, but click on the link anyway, there might be other good articles on there too.



New Zealand is in pole position to defeat Bahrain in the second leg of their 2010 World Cup play-off on November 14 in Wellington, claims former All Whites striker Vaughan Coveny.

Speaking exclusively with Goal.com, the Kiwis’ all-time record scorer expressed cautious confidence ahead of his nation’s clash with Bahrain in the return leg.

The first leg ended goalless last month.

“The guys did really well to get a great result to take back to New Zealand. As long as everybody involved stays fit. I believe we are in pole position to qualify,” Coveny told Goal.com.

“Firstly, we are playing at home in what will be a packed stadium and we’ve got the players capable of scoring a goal at home.”

“However, I don’t want to say we have one foot in the door already.”

The first leg in Manama ended 0-0 – with Bahrain enjoying the bulk of possession in front of their rapturous home crowd, however, the South Melbourne player-turned-manager expects the tide to turn come next month’s reverse fixture.

“It was always going to be tough. These games played over 180 minutes – your just two games away from the World Cup with not many scoring chances,” he began. “The home team will always have the crowd behind them and it was tough for our boys given the hostile environment.

He added, “We did well not to concede – and even had a couple of half-chances ourselves.

“I’m looking forward to our home leg as I believe we got the players in Rory Fallon [of Plymouth Argyle], Chris Wood [of West Bromwich Albion], Shane Smeltz [of Gold Coast United] and Chris Killen [of Celtic] – all goal scorers that are in form.”

Long-Term Asian Test?

With Australia defecting to the AFC (Asian Football Confederation), much has been said about New Zealand potentially following its trans-Tasman rivals into FIFA’s largest confederation.

Coveny is in favour of a potential link-up with Australia in the AFC, although concedes the unlikelihood of such a move eventuating.

“New Zealand would love to move into Asia if they gave us the chance to do so.”

“It will improve us as a nation and football side. “We’re in Oceania and that is the way it is at the moment so have to do everything by the rules.

“I agree it’s not a strong federation but others can come up with suggestions to make it more make it more difficult.”

But with New Zealand 90 minutes away from a place in the World Cup finals, Coveny has no complaints of the qualification pathway handed by FIFA.

“At the moment Asia is where we have to go qualify through, and it’s an easier pathway we must admit rather than playing the fifth placed South American team.”

Wellington Phoenix

Before returning to South Melbourne, Coveny spent two years at A-league club Wellington Phoenix.

There are lingering doubts surrounding the club’s long term future – with less than two years remaining on its A-league licence, and Coveny insists that the FFA (Football Federation Australia) should continue with the New Zealand franchise beyond the two years remaining on its license.

“I would love to see Wellington [Phoenix] continue [in the A-league],” he started.

“It’s good for the game in New Zealand. I know there’s a little bit of rivalry where I don’t think a lot of Aussies like them being in the A-league.”

Despite competing in an AFC registered competition, Wellington are unable to qualify for the Asian Champions League given its geographic representation being outside of AFC territory.

However, the All Whites legend wants the AFC to compromise its stance against Wellington Phoenix due to the fact it is New Zealand’s sole professional club.

“In terms of the Asian Champions League issue – that’s a tough one. I accept that we’re not part of Asia,” admits Coveny.

“But it’s the only professional team in New Zealand so why not give them a little bit of flexibility and allow them to compete in the ACL?

“I just hope people can sit down and sort it out. It’s a funny one because we’re part of Oceania and they are part of Asia – it’s a real sticky point.”

Coaching ambitions

When asked if coaching in the A-league or international arena with New Zealand was on his radar, Coveny nodded in affirmation.

“Definitely,” he said. “I do have ambitions to coach at the highest level.

“I’ve always been involved in the professional environment working with elite athletes and I’d love to give back something back to New Zealand – even if it was at the youth level; get involved in some capacity,” he continued.

“We’ll see what happens after this World Cup game [against Bahrain] – some doors may open.”

Daniel Phan, Goal.com

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

No Berry Puns Here

In case you didn't read the latest Neos Kosmos English Weekly - or the one before that maybe, I don't know for sure - the Pan-Hellenic games are coming to Melbourne! Yay! No, wait. More like, meh!

Anyway you can read the full article here. The interesting part for South fans is though.

The two major Greek football teams, South Melbourne FC and West Sydney Berries will also play a friendly match on Sunday November 29.

In case you were thrown off by the 'major Greek football teams' bit and were wondering who the hell the West Sydney Berries are, I'm here to help. They were formerly known as Canterbury Marrickville Olympic, and before that some time in the past just Canterbury, one of the more prominent pre-wog clubs of NSW football from what I can gather anyway.

It doesn't say what time or where we'll be playing - Lakeside's surface is apparently 'fucked' at the moment to use a technical term - and ne wonder what kind of team we'll have out there so early in pre-season but it will nice to see the boys play some more interstate competition, I guess.