Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Things to look forward to in my blogging career

Even if you have little interest in the football of our immediate neighbours, the Jakarta Casual blog can provide a right old laugh - and certain dose of perspective - that we all could do with after watching the slopfest that is the VPL - especially us writers and bloggers who for some reason seek to pore over the specifics of the aforementioned slopfest. Now I've had a few experiences that I probably wouldn't have had if I hadn't started this blog, but nothing close to the events in the latter part of the following piece from Jakarta Casual.

Oh Crumbs, Oh Gosh, Oh Golly Gee

Still Singapore resonates to the sound of dirty washing being displayed. Hallelujah and praise be to the media who do love this kind of tripe.

Some old pro who now works in gas shows he knows a thing or two about his product when he compared today's Lions to back in his day when, get this, players would play computer games and smoke after lights and even, heavens to Betsy, 'some didn't even sleep at all'.

I mean oh golly, who would ever thought a group of young men together would be flouting curfew?! I guess it shows what a dull old place Singapore is when a footballer being late for a bus makes headlines.

Anyway it appears that the players who were late for the bus were M Riduan and Baihakki Kaizan. In their defence they do live in Indonesia and it is easy to be seduced by the old notion of jam karet here where nothing ever happens at the appointed time. Or place.

All reminds me of an interview I did there a few months back. Player turned up 20 minutes late, apologised saying that he had had to wait a long time for the number 13. As we ordered our beers from the delightful Mabel he lit up a really large joint and we watched some porno on the large screen TV.

As we were finishing the last of our chewing gum who should walk around the corner but a journalist. There we were, empty Tigers lined up on the metal table, 4-4-2 of course, blankly watching the spit roasting on the plasma.

Don't remember too much after that mind.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Send In The Clowns - SMFCTV hightlights against Dandy

It's all good when you win. Amongst the several things to look out for:

  • Stuart Webster's seal impersonation.
  • The ice attack suffered by Gianni De Nittis.
  • Sebastian Petrovich taking control of the post-game show.
  • The President and SMFCTV crew cacking themselves in the background.
  • Marinos Gasparis' use of the word fantabulous.
To be honest, it's the best SMFCTV post-match segment yet. It's what the punters want to see. At least the ones that I know.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Confession time, sigh, again, sigh

Despite my lambasting of the Antipodes Festival, I must admit that for the first time in ten years or so, I did attend. This was on Saturday, mind. But it was only to help hand out free passes and such. Now, with a student union politics stint behind me - for the mighty Activate/Pride/Left that wasn't Socialist rich kids or drunk ALP Left kids that worked in Lindsay Tanner's office - I knew how to hand out pieces of paper to people who did not know, nor care, what it was stuck in their hand eight tenths of the time until they'd already wandered.

If you want to read a self-aggrandising pro-Antipodes rant about how to fix up the festival, you should head here. But me, I hate the sea and everything in it, if you catch my drift. Here are some of my highlights, in my just over two hour shift.

  • Les Papasavas, son of the legendary Sam Papasavas, dropped in for a chat. Him not knowing who the hell I am, let alone that I have a half-arsed South blog (and me being supposedly on a short leash owing to the chaos I can cause - even though it's all fucken justified, farken), it's probably not fair for me to relay the conversation. But apparently we're irrelevant, and we should give up. Or something. I don't know, that's what I got out of the conversation. In my brief 'Form and Content' class last Thursday, someone reacted sarcastically when I said self-deprecatingly that perhaps I'm a bit more cynical about such things (in reference to global trends in television programming - Canadian Ice Hockey Thugs in a pairs figure skating talent show of some sort, used as part of an analogy about in the same way more roads doesn't lead to less traffic - despite everyone's best hopes - more channels and more programming time doesn't lead to better television shows - but I guess you just had to be there).
  • People looking at the DVD footage on the television screen, looking at the stall title which was above the small tent, and then asking what it was all about. Even after they'd read their freebie double pass.
  • One person took a pass, walked, had a look, then came back and gave back her pass. Well, it's a form of recycling I guess.
  • There weren't too many young Greeks, as far as I could tell. Mind you, this was around 2pm to just after 4pm. Maybe they were all sleeping, or styling their hair or something. There were plenty of people of Subcontinental and East Asian appearance, wandering through mostly after having done their shopping.
  • I like Thin Lizzy's 'Boys Are Back In Town' as much as the next person, but it's hardly Greek. Even if it is played by a Greek band, or band made up of Greeks or their descendants, and therefore I didn't heed the call from the announcer to be proud of them. 
  • Rhodri Payne came past with a housemate carrying a relatively tasteful amount of booze. 
  • One random loon came up and had some sort of rant about the game being the most corrupt in the world, and big business and something. While he was glad to have got it off his chest, I'm not sure what difference it makes to the broader argument about whatever he was rabbiting on about.
  • Antipodes volunteers - who I assume were Greek, or knew something about local Greek culture - being given free passes and asking where Bob Jane Stadium was. 
  • Something about Greeks and fickleness and shit. 

I was apparently quite lucky I didn't spend any time out there on the Sunday. A lot of naff comments, including a variation of one that I hadn't heard for years, about us being Melbourne Victory now. If you were out there at all over the weekend, please feel free to vent your spleens in the comments section.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Comments and such

Ok, so perhaps I went overboard - or not, depending on what you think of tomorrow's piece - so anonymous, non email required commenting is back. But it's still moderated.

Please be patient...

Blogger has got some new, very user friendly - certainly compared to their old purely html based gunk - templates to play with. As such, this blog has been reorganised, sorta, kinda - and stuff looks different and it's been moved around. There's finally right and left hand columns - cutting down on the clutter quite nicely, I think. In future, also, photos will have captions... so, up in the world and all that. Maybe even a banner, hut that's a more of this blog based initiative rather than Blogger HQ. I know the colours are a bit off, but we may try to sort them as we go. Also, death to counters. Had enough of trying squeeze them, and them being inaccurate anyway.

And a clean sheet to boot - Dandenong Thunder 0 South Melbourne 2

A good performance against an opponent struggling to regain what made them far and away the best team in 2009. The Thunder's central midfield was pretty much non existent - we were pretty much able to do as we pleased in there, putting together several excellent short and quick passing chains. It was the Thunder defence's ability to read the play which denied us more than anything in that first hour or so - even good crosses and swift moves were being picked off at the opportune moment.

Perhaps it was little surprise then that South's opening goal was an opportune one. Carl Recchia's powerful shot forced a diving save from Stuart Webster, but rather than going out for a corner or cleared  away, the ball bounced next to the goal post, with Marinos Gasparis netting in easily from a tight angle to give us the lead.

Then we dropped back and tried to absorb whatever pressure the home side could throw at us. Though we had our scary moments after scoring our goal - Dandenong took advantage of our dropping back and delayed use of badly needed substitutions - to have lost or even drawn this game would have been an injustice. De Nittis tapped in with the last kick of the game to make it 2-0.

A clean sheet is a great, but it required a bit of fortune. Recchia, still obviously not entirely match fit, is getting there, and had his best game so far. His reading of the play was first rate going forward and back. Gasparis had his best game for the club so far. Sammy Torrens could have done better with some of his crosses, but nevertheless ran himself into the ground. Apart from the 15 or so minutes after we scored, the defence did an excellent job, especially considering Steven O'Dor was subbed early yesterday with a hamstring injury.

Next up is Heidelberg in two weeks, in what will almost certainly be the final game at Lakeside in its current state. Plenty of time for injured players - and we have several of them - to get themselves right to continue our strong start to the season.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Kiss of Death - Round 5, 2010

He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake...

Green Gully Cavaliers vs Altona Magic

Altona Magic missing key players through suspension. Green Gully playing good football but unlucky. Green Gully 2 – Altona magic 0.

Northcote City vs Bentleigh Greens

Hmm. I'm going against the grain somewhat, and putting Northcote down for this one. I still can’t tip Bentleigh. Northcote City 2 – Bentleigh Greens 1. The peanut man is doing very well lately. His team is on the up, a few Greek derbies to start off the season, yet the ‘Kalamatiano’ at South is still a thorn in his side.

Dandenong Thunder vs South Melbourne

Kitchens aplenty! The sooner this season finishes and puts Funder out of their misery, the better. Munro loses this weekend, he is gone. South also need to start playing for 90 minutes, not just 20. Oh Zeus, God of Gods, please give us something to be proud of this season. In return we will refrain from jerking off over the big names that we have. Dandy Funder 0 – South Melbourne 2.

Hume City vs Sunshine Georgies

Hume is playing really well. Damn it hurt saying that. But they have been for a while so I can’t deny them that. Sunshine is just Sunshine. Working man's club. Hume 4 – Sunshine 1.

Melbourne Knights vs Richmond

In probably the most boring game of the round, Melbourne Knights 1 Richmond 2. I can’t really say much about this game.

Heidelberg United vs Oakleigh Cannons

Two of my favourite teams. Heidelberg will be hassling Oakleigh all week to give them this game for the glory of Greece. The battle of the supercoaches. In what will be a pretty poor game that a certain radio station will be jerking themselves over, and a certain newspaper journalist will write an article this week telling us about how this game is one of the greatest derbies in the world, Oakleigh will beat Heidelberg and beat them well. Heidelberg to stay below 0. Heidelberg 0 – Oakleigh Cannons 6.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Podcasts and such

The Pumpkin Seed Eaters latest missive has hit the streets. The latest South radio broadcast is also out - probably the best one yet.

You may have also noticed that there's a few new links underneath the banner. This has helped slightly unclutter the right hand side, as well as explain what's going on, how to heckle or praise us, and paying credit to those who've chipped in along the way.

Bad news for Paddy K

Patrick Kisnorbo snapped his Achilles tendon earlier this week, in Leeds United's 2-0 loss to Millwall - and the general consensus seems to be that, apart from missing the rest of the season, will also miss out now on any chance of making the world cup squad. A real damn shame. 

South at Antipodes again this year

I'm not a fan of the Antipodes Festival, but then, to butcher a line by Devo, I was through being cool - or in this case 'Greek', whatever the fuck that means - years ago. Still, the club will once again be holding a stall, with merchandise, memberships and other stuff. So if you're in the city this Saturday or Sunday, go past there and say hello.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Honouring our takeover of Melbourne Hakoah

These South Melbourne Adidas members polos are top notch.
Just one thing though.
Have you seen the logo?
I mean, really looked at it?
Four stars as is normal.
But four stars now with six points as opposed to the previous and customary five.
Not quite Star of David, but pretty close.
Subtle. Hooped socks and a red v away top can't be too far away.
You know it makes sense.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Take whatever you can get - South 2 Gully 1

Screw Craig Foster and screw his Dutch Mafia. Long balls, and more of them please! Less passes, less chances to fuck up. The science bares this out. Oh it might be ok for your Arsenals and Barcelonas to play keepy uppy and amuse themselves - they also have players that have the collective capabilities to do all sorts of things that we mere mortals can only dream of.

And that's just it. We're made up of mere mortals, and nothing more. Every pass past number four diminishes your chance of scoring a goal exponentially. So fling it long, into the open spaces, get a little lucky with some bad defending, and slot home a one on one. Ride your luck for the rest, and the VPL championship can't be too far away after that.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Kiss of Death, round 4, 2010

The Kiss of Death has something to say about last week's predictions...

Firstly, an apology to all the Dodgy Asian Betting fans in South East Asia and Western Europe. An apology not for the Kiss of Death tips last week, but for the inconsistency of the teams in this league. We now move on to Round 4 Kiss of Death of the VPL.

Oakleigh Cannons vs Dandenong Thunder
Oakleigh surprised everyone with their 1-2 away win at Gully on Saturday, while Dandy Funder surprisingly lost 0-3 at home to Richmond last week, with Jesse Krncevic marking his debut with two sizzlers. The game is really a no brainer. Oakleigh fluked their win at Gully, and Funder will need to perform after their 0-3. In what will be a bore 0-0 draw, nothing exciting will come out of Jack Edwards. Unless of course a politician's sponsorship board is damaged.

Richmond vs Heidelberg United
Richmond surprised everyone with their 0-3 at Funder last weekend. Can they do it again against the hapless Bergers ? Of course they can. Expect plenty of goals in this one… especially from the home team. Bergers are falling apart. For starters, they haven’t played South yet, they don’t have enough Greeks in the team, and the travelling ‘Alexanders Army’, is as extinct as the dodo. Richmond to eat the Bergers 4-0, with a side dish of the famous Bavarian cheesecake for dessert.

Altona Magic vs Northcote City
Altona Magic will bounce back after their predicted performance down at Bentleigh. Northcote's 3-3 against South Melbourne was just a derby result, nothing more. Magic should teach the new boys a lesson or 2 about the VPL. It’s all about lessons this year for Northcote. I really can’t see them stopping Tasevski down the left, right or center of the park. I rate this kid highly and he will be a Socceroo one day. Magic 2 – Northcote 0.

Hume City vs Melbourne Knights
Hmm. This is probably the hardest match of the round. Hume is unbeaten, and the Knights are coming off two draws against lowly opposition. However, my crystal balls tell me that the Knights will draw again. A 1-1 draw to Hume's disappointment.

Sunshine Georgies vs Bentleigh Greens
Bentleigh's bubble to finally burst, thank fuck. I’m kinda sick of these teams bragging about how good they are, when really, they are just recycled. I’m probably the only person who Bentleigh has failed to impress. I can see beyond all the bullshit, whereas no one else can. Put your house, car, dog, kids, wife on Sunshine. Sunshine 3 – Bentleigh 1. Apostolikas to score first for Bentleigh.

South Melbourne vs Green Gully Cavaliers
Vaughan Coveny's job is on the ropes. Unless South absolutely give it to Gully, he will be under pressure. A number of fans have offered to help him pack. Gully surprisingly lost to Oakleigh last weekend and will be looking to bounce back. But can they do it at BJS ? Against Northcote, South were absolutely rubbish in the 1st half. Performances like that will not win you fans, but will make you enemies from within. South need to give it Gully, so anything less that six goals in their favour will be disappointing. South 6 – Gully 0. De Nittis to silence his critics with four pearlers.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Life is one depressing thing after another

Shigematsu fastened this account away as an appendix to his "Journal of the Bombing." Then, at Shigeko's request, he set off for Kotaro's place with rice dumplings for the Mass for Dead Insects. The lacquer box containing the dumplings was inside the metal wash-bowl in which Kotaro had brought the loach, and the whole was encased in a wrapping-cloth.

The Mass for Dead Insects was a rite performed on the day after the festival, when farmers would make rice dumplings as an offering to the souls of the deceased insects they had inadvertently trodden on as they worked in the fields. On the same day, custom also demanded that they should return any articles that they had on loan from their neighbours.

from Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse

Monday, 15 March 2010

Round 3 Highlights

Notice the nice layoffs by De Nittis and Gasparis to set up a couple of those goals. The offside call on the third Northcote goal is at best, inconclusive based on the footage. One thing you won't notice is that in his brief post-game interview Daniel Vasilevski, is apparently not wearing any pants. Or so I've been told.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Half full or half empty? Northcote 3 South Melbourne 3

Ok, so we got the first goal, a long range effort from Fernando - scoring it meant he'd scored the last four South season proper goals. But Northcote stuck to their game plan. We were playing high up the field, so Northcote stacked the midfield, waited for us to make mistakes - which we did - and then hit us with counter attacks marked by swift, direct movement of the ball, and clever exploitation of the gaping holes we were leaving behind defenders - which were exacerbated by us not pulling off the offside trap with any sort of competency whatsoever. Though Northcote's third goal was deemed offside by a number of witnesses, I wouldn't have begrudged them that one anyway - they deserved that lead. We struggled to penetrate through the middle, getting pinned on the wings, and were unable to make use of De Nittis in any meaningful way.

The 2nd half is harder for me to comment on, because I switched from the grandstand to behind the goals. How we looked in defense especially I'm not sure - Northcote made it up that far enough times for them to add another. But to their credit, our lads picked up their game. Some changes in personnel helped also. Sash Vranesevic showed some class - balls headed his way seemed glued to his feet, he put in some nice crosses, and generally made the right choices - playing alongside Joey Yousseff could be a plan of sorts - though, you know, playing two up front could also be a plan, regardless of who's up there. Daniel Vasilevski was all class with his finishes. And Fernando is finally, hopefully, getting back to the Fernando we know and love - though he was quite spent by the end of the game, with another pre-season interrupted by Futsalroos duty.

I'd like to think that we're close to something good. But I don't know for sure. We clear out some chinks in the armour, and new ones get introduced - and some of the same ones, like conceding another goal from a set piece, remain. We seem to have a plan b, maybe even c - but we don't necessarily know when to put it into effect. The lineup is unstable - injuries have played an effect, sure, but I'm not sure even Coveny knows what his ideal lineup and setup are yet - despite so many pre-season games. I think they'll settle on something soon.

Friday, 12 March 2010

South of the Border welcomes the Kiss of Death - Round 3, 2010, match previews

Someone out there has finally cracked. They've grown weary after enduring the endless, mind numbing and poorly formatted pieces that pass for match previews on this site, and have decided to take up the famous Kiss of Death role on here. Of course, the anonymity of the Kiss of Death will be a tightly guarded secret, unless of course they choose to out themselves - suffice to say, it isn't me.

So welcome Kiss of Death to the South of the Border stable - let's hope you don't go the way of our last - and only prior regular contributor - Cliff Hussey, who's been missing in action since the end of 2008 (where he would write match reports for us), with reports being that he either joined a vampire fetish cult of some sort, or is too busy living it up as much as he can before he, like millions of teenagers before him he comes to realise how much of a tool he was at that age. Nah, Cliff's alright. But that haircut...

KISS OF DEATH - Round 3, 2010

Bentleigh Greens vs Altona Magic
Bentleigh Greens to win this one 2-1. The Magic will struggle down at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex. The facility does not suit their wide playing midfielders. On a positive note, Bentleigh is playing the NTC 2 days earlier, but as expected will field a stock standard 'who gives a shit’ side. The peanut man to make a killing down at his beloved Pangyprios.

Northcote City vs South Melbourne - The battle of the ‘sister clubs’.
Northcote City are looking for their first win in this years VPL campaign and so are South Melbourne. Northcote is yet to gain a point after 2 rounds, whereas South Melbourne have drawn 2 against Altona Magic away, and Bentleigh at home. South Melbourne to continue Northcote’s battle to stay up with a convincing 0-3 win away from home. A good crowd is expected, Greek dancing, Greek music on the PA, and a queue as far as the eye can see to purchase food and drinks. Ahmet Turer to do absolutely nothing.

Green Gully Cavaliers vs Oakleigh Cannons
Green Gully to convincingly put away Oakleigh 2-0, with plenty of missed chances. Jerry Karpeh to cost Oakleigh at least three clear goals. After this game, an inquisition will be held down at Jack Edwards Reserve.

Dandenong Thunder vs Richmond
Dandy Funder to get their second win this season against the mixed bag of Richmond.
In what has been an expected slow start by Dandy, this will just be a flash in the pan performance. Poor results to continue for both sides this season.

Melbourne Knights vs Sunshine Georgies
Melbourne Knights to let Sunshine George Cross know why they are paying rent. Melbourne Knights to win 3-1 with a performance more polished than their 3-3 draw against the Bergers. In what was a stroke of coaching madness, the Knights let a 3-1 lead with ten minutes to go wash away into Melbourne's wild weather. Knights to teach Sunshine George Cross a lesson in football fluency.

Heidelberg United vs Hume City
As they drive home from the Village with 3 points in the bag, Hume will be left to ponder what could’ve been a record victory. A miserly 1-0 victory should’ve been at least 7, but when you play the Bergers on a terrible pitch, in piss poor conditions, in front of a crowd of 85 (excluding the bar staff and officials), low scores are expected. They only play to beat South.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Round 2 Highlights

The package and its presentation is coming along in leaps and bounds, a credit to the people working on it. Some other things you may notice.

  • You can clearly see a gentleman clad mostly in black on Clarendon Corner call the handball before everyone else does, including the lineswoman. I agree with him, it was a good call.
  • Johnny Sapasovski surely had to be a few metres offside for his run which eventually lead to a good save by Peter Zois.
  • Where are all the bad tackles by Bentleigh? Omitted in the interests of good taste is the only reasonable explanation.
  • Arthur Akritidis doing commentary in the background! Yes! Not gone, still around! Brilliant.
  • Gianni De Nittis seems to be in a decent state of mind despite only getting a point. Think he's on his way back.
  • David Lugli has a very itchy arm.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

This club is alright, I suppose

That's the slogan I want for next year. Did you know that 'I Love This Club', the slogan for the 2010 membership campaign - looks great on a car sticker - is actually a volunteer in-joke? It's true. It got attached to every stupid, funny or bewildering situation, comment or character that made a post-ironic, post-modern, coping with the absurdity of the universe impression amongst the people who spend far too much time at the club.

Me, I don't spend that much time at the club, and so I never really took any ownership of the term. That, and Aristotle said that you can only love something which has the capacity to love you in return. So, does the club have the capacity to love me? I don't know. It depends I guess, whether you define the club as either an abstract collective of people, who are capable of love, or as merely the name by which a loose association of otherwise disparate individuals pools their collective wealth and time in order to watch some blokes kick a ball around for the glory of becoming Victorian champions.

Then again, if we follow the words of Thomas Aquinas, that to love is to will the good of another, than I guess, maybe, if the club is considered a suitable other, and perhaps even if not, at least the players out there can be loved, and since they are the team playing on behalf of the club - playing on behalf of the club, of course, though for payment, in exchange for their temporary loyalty, and because the fans of the club actually playing would lead to a massacre. Money talks, bullshit walks. You won't find that in Aristotle. Well, at least not in such blunt language.

Monday, 8 March 2010

And then it rained all night - South 1 Greens 1

Now, I like to overreact as much as the next person, but the nonsense spewing forth already is rather silly. Yes it was disappointing to cop a goal in the manner we did, with so many unmarked players from a set piece - but pretty much every other ball they floated up or across into our area was cleared with relative ease.

As for not creating chances - as the game went on, we took over, even before they had Goutzioulis sent off, and it was just that bit of bad luck that the ball doesn't drop into the right spot which prevented us from getting an earlier lead, or perhaps a second. I would like to see a second striker, and for us to play with some more width - which did happen when we got on top, but stopped when we conceded. I don't want to have our heads go down when we concede.

The effort was there, especially Gianni De Nittis, a player I have criticised for his lack of effort in the past two or so seasons. Sam Torrens provided some good drive on the left, despite getting little protection from the referees. Our central defence was strong. At times, especially the first 30 or so minutes, we struggled to control the central midfield. But I thought that overall, if either team deserved maximum points, it was us.

As for the penalty. I instinctively went up for he handball, but wasn't sure if it was in the box. Only the video can possibly clear that up, really.

Friday, 5 March 2010

VPL Needs More Greeks - Round 2, South Melbourne vs Bentleigh Greens

Last Time They Met

- In a 90/120 minute game

Hellenic Cup Final 2010,

South Melbourne 0 Bentleigh Greens 0 (Bentleigh won 5-4 on penalties)

- In a competitive match

Round 26, 2005

South Melbourne 3 Bentleigh Greens 1

I was on my Lost Weekend. Apparently pretty much everyone else was at the Oakleigh - Preston 5-0 game. And Bentleigh were on their way out of the VPL.


We'll probably lose. But come buy a membership and shit anyway. It's an election year, you know?

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Vale Jim Diamantaris

Once more, I'm ripping this straight from the official website.

The entire South Melbourne FC family would like to extend its deep condolences and wishes to the Diamantaris family on the passing of former South Melbourne FC President Jim Diamantaris.

Diamantaris served as president from 1985-1986 and was recently inducted into the SMFC Hall of Fame at the club’s 50th Year Anniversary Gala Ball at the Crown Palladium.

South Melbourne FC President Leo Athanasakis, speaking to, remarked that “the passing of Mr. Diamantaris represented the passing of a true Club legend, and his smile and presence will be severely missed by the SMFC family. I wish to pass on my condolences on behalf of everyone at SMFC to the Diamantaris family. We will miss him dearly".

Michael Cockerill endores biffo - on and off field

Apparently Sydney and Melbourne are playing for the 50 millionth time this season. I only bring this to your attention because I want to have a cheap internet attack on various groups. I don't think there's any real point that I'm trying to make, and if I am, it's as poorly as per usual.

Mike Cockerill's article. The relevant part is below.

On the field, it's often been a war. Off the field, things can get even more heated. In cyberspace, and in open space, the fans bait each other incessantly. Sometimes they even hit each other. Pubs in Sydney, and in Melbourne, have borne the brunt. The long arm of the law usually gathers in the culprits. After a few hours in a paddy van, they're out and proud, their brief incarceration claimed as a badge of honour.

This is the way of football the world over. This is the character which defines the A-League's biggest rivalry. There was a time when Football Federation Australia tried to dampen down the fires. Heavy-handed security. Seating arrangements changed. CCTV cameras installed. It didn't work. It was never going to work. Now they have come to realise the emotion driven by the clubs, the players, and the fans, is a strength, not a weakness.

The boys will be boys line - again. Is anyone surprised? Maybe we as a sport, maybe just in this country, maybe a select part of it, but an important part, actually want there to be this kind of thing, just quietly. Reminiscences of violent incidents past - off field ones, unless you count pitch invasions as on field - there's often an unnerving twinkle and glaze in the eye of the storyteller. A sort of fondness for the taste of blood, whether it was experienced firsthand or merely observed and absorbed vicariously. The attachment to the danger and vitality of youth, and its neglect of middle aged common sense.

Of course, we shouldn't completely disregard or downplay our own failings. When people get into soccer fights, self identifying as members of one ethnic group fighting against another, it doesn't leave other people with much room to negotiate a different description - whether they want to or not. And while it may suit those who despise soccer and foreignness to pin the blame on foreigners and a foreign game - it may suit the patricians of our own sport to also pin the blame on ethnicity as the defining factor behind violent soccer incidents - and when it's gone, as it is now in the A-League, there is a layer removed, there is a certain level of clarity, and a wistfulness, and perhaps even an end to some of journalistic hibernation as the bears of the winter come out for the spring, and perhaps the sensing of an opportunity to, just quietly and very carefully, endorse what polite society and the PC Brigade don't want them to.

Personally, I think it's a stupid stance to take, no matter what beliefs I may have held, or irrelevant slogans I may have chanted as a lonely teenager back in 1996. The violence on the terraces and in the backstreets, whether ethnic or mainstream, drunk or sober, is just stupid - an easy statement to make from the safety of my ivory tower, I know. But that doesn't matter, really, if the turnstiles continue to click over at a decent rate, and fully grown men with respectable jobs and much more popular authority than I will ever be able to muster have the opposite opinion.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Blogs, forums, surrender to good taste, proper manners

I mean, no, really? Does the PFA have nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing better to do with its time? So some 9 to 5 office schmo who hates his job, can't maintain a steady relationship and is watching his once pleasant, youthful features slide into oblivion, who logs onto a random football forum to alleviate the boredom, creates a few obviously bogus to everyone except the braindead accounts and amuses himself and a few others like him, and somehow that is more important than every single other issue the PFA deals with?

More important than unlicensed and unregistered player managers? Safe playing surfaces? Clubs who veer between being ok and being on the brink? Players mental and social welfare? Dodgy academies ripping parents and kids off to the tune of thousands of dollars? All these things more important than bloggers and facebookers calling a shite player a shite player, or participating in the at times heady vaudeville that is football fandom?

The likely initial reaction of any sane, experienced user of the internet who realises that the web is not a new domain full of demons and saboteurs, but rather just an extension of the old one, will be either a quiet chuckle or stunned bewilderment. I mean, these are the things that football fans did all the time before the internet. Impersonations, fanzines and generally taking the piss is what makes the majority of football fans hang on grimly as their permanently financially stricken, relegation threatened sides full of haircut obsessed nancy boys with suspicious nightclub habits go from bad to whatever it is they've decided to dish out this week, able to keep severe depression and the thoughts of a cold and indifferent universe at bay.

It reminded me of this piece by Ian Plenderleith, published in the British football magazine When Saturday Comes all the way back in 2007. Once more, it shows an example of those in power faced with what they perceive as a new threat to their commercial integrity and intellectual property and identity rights - getting it completely wrong. The people who partake in this injoke laden theatre, and the people the authorities want to destroy or at least heavily curtail, are the most dedicated, rusted on, knowledgeable fans out there - who are thinking up this stuff even when they're not online. As Plenderleith suggests, will the clubs be sending the fuzz or the subpoena wielding lawyers down to local pubs or onto the terraces to clamp down on some git saying, 'gee, I thought Adam Van Dommelle's play was a bit stagnant last week'?

Casual football fans, whose experience of the game is from the nicer seats, whether at home or at the ground, and whose information on the team or league comes pretty much solely from acceptable mainstream sources, will scarcely come into contact with the ribald counterculture antics of the people apparently targeted by the measures suggested by the PFA. So why so much angst? Are we going to scare the children away? Is our childish namecalling so much a threat to your benevolent reality? Here's a tip guys. Yes, there's big money, and livelihoods, and legacies involved - but at its core, it's a bunch of people kicking a ball around, mostly poorly. So sue me.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Altona away highlights

A new year, with new graphics and a slightly new aesthetic - in terms of having crowd noise in from the get go. Also includes Coveny and de Moraes interviews.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Two other things that happened yesterday

Our under 21s came from behind to win 3-2! I missed our last two goals because I was busy pressing the flesh with my beloved public. Nevertheless, well done lads. The other thing of minor note was my suffering withdrawal symptoms of not being able to watch last night's Sunshine George Cross vs Heidelberg match online. Look at me, after just one live streamed game and already the rare sound blips of the live betting sites no longer cut it.