Sunday, 30 May 2010

Late Pumpkins

A bit late, but whatever. You can download it from here. The most notable thing for mine is the reference to a passionate Marxist appraisal of the merits - or otherwise - of the monocultural A-League over the pluralist National Soccer League, by a Queensland academic named Kieran James. I'll have more to say on that in a few weeks. If you're on the Pumpkin Seed Eaters mailing list, you've probably already had it come through your inbox. If not, email me and I'll send you copy.

And the rest? Sounds from the World Football Gala, outdated reviews (my fault), a Singapore Cup preview, Aussies Abroad and the usual angry rhetoric. It's abrasive, sure, but someone's got to provide the Mr Hyde angle to the Dr Jekyll stuff, I suppose.

Channel 31 is now digital

Which I believe is great news.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Last of the Singapore posts... for now

Time to wrap this adventure up. South's opponent in the quarter finals later on this year will be Thai side Bangkok Glass, after they came from 3-1 down to defeat currently struggling Singapore heavyweight Singapore Armed Forces 5-3. The Glass Rabbits were last year's Singapore Cup runners up, so should be another tough contest. Allegedly the match will be played over two legs.

Here's another report on the game, also quite complimentary on our win, from The Electric New Paper. The official site also has their report up now as well. But as can be expected, nothing in The Age or Herald Sun - and they wonder why circulations are falling. I could give them the benefit if the doubt, and mention that they will have oodles of coverage on the World Cup - but so will every other news agency - but once more, the 'Melbourne papers that allegedly know Melbourne', actually know very little. I guess we'll have to wait for Goal Weekly publish a print version.

As noted previously, while interest amongst the rival VPL and A-League fan contingent has been mostly, cautiously positive in nature, there has been some negativity directed our way, again. From those who are still waiting for us to just die already, that's not much of a surprise. From those though who trumpet the impact and opportunity of Australia's move into Asia, to then complain that South has no place in an Asian competition, is a little harder to digest and comprehend - but it does admittedly do nice things for one's ego, that beaten down as we might be, we can still send the occasional shiver down an ignorant spine.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

More reports and reactions to South's win over Gombak

This one from Back of the Net is really good, quite comprehensive. The folks on the Asian Bookie Forums are a little less interested in the quality of the game, or the spectacle, and more interested in what the result could do for their bank balance. One guy lost. This guy won. This thread confused me. And some mixed reactions on the Kallang Roar forum.

And now for some more rational takes on the game

Was so hard to sleep last night - but there was no doubt that it was real. From Today Online. From Bolasepako. More to come - hopefully even from Australian news sources. Cheers also to PoHui for this awesome picture, and to Jim for the video.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Kai tora, borite, na pa na gamithite! THE GREAT SOUTH MELBOURNE HELLAS 2 GOMBAK 1

Thanks to George for letting me use our facebook chat as my initial reaction angle. So much lies and bullshit. All you need to know, for now, is Valilevski latching onto a Kyle Joryeff cross for goal number 1, then Gombak equalise, then we score via Joey Youssef picking up a Vaslilevski through ball. Not many photos, no stream, just betting site updates. Farken pumped farken!

im actually nervous lol

22:39 Me
fuekcne stoopid stream

22:39 George
a few ppl are watchin i understand

22:39 Me
on what?

22:40 George
gavroman, his bro and blueboy

they wont reveal though lol

22:40 Me
frak that shit

22:40 George

boy look at those odds

22:45 George
hopefully gains isnt readin the smfcboard match thread

22:46 Me

22:46 George
kati fuck off kinezi all over the place lol

22:46 Me
ive got you on here, gains, southpole and mildura vas on msn/gamil

22:47 George

22:48 Me
i'm really nervous

farken shaking man

22:48 George
haha same, i just know we will conceed though, we suck at hanging on

cant see us running out the game

apparently we got a penalty, not sure if its lies though

22:49 Me
i want us to woin, not just for the sake of winning, but to see the reaction on kallangroar, lol

22:50 George

22:50 Me
if it was a pen, reckom bet365 woiuld come up wuith it

22:50 George
yeh manga being a msartass i thinik

22:51 Me
he probably saw theta gpmbak got a yellow

22:51 George
im praying for another goal

22:56 George
apparently crowd getting feral

22:58 George
vasilevski poster

22:58 Me
who's coming up with this tutff?

22:59 George

22:59 Me

22:59 George
they r dominating though

23:00 Me
who? us or them?

23:00 George

we are running out of gas

23:00 Me
bet265 has gombak 25/1

23:00 George
maybe cos they cant create anything

the draw looks good

23:02 George
such nervous tension, reacon i've dropped a few kgs

gavroman must be takin the piss, reacons the commentator said joe youssef may be jailed for spitting

wtf lol

23:03 Me
it's time likes this you need twgf tol hold, not crash

23:05 Me
anothe ryellow

23:05 George
12 minutes left, hang on!

23:07 George
we havent made a sub yet, they have made all 3

23:14 George
4 minutes, so close

23:16 George
apparntly 4 mins added time

23:19 George
into 2nd added minute, i cant take this

23:20 Me
this is fucked man

hurry up farken ref

23:21 George
almost 94 mins wtf

23:23 George
we win


23:23 Me

Row, row, row your boat, do we have a stream?

I don't know. The club ain't providing a screening, which is a pity, but understandable considering the cost. Live updates may be available on Kallang Roar or on the S-League website. If I find a stream, I'm posting details here. The game is on tonight at 9:30pm Eastern Standard Time (the best kind of time). Apparently no Keenan or Fernando, which means we're screwed. Oh well. In the meantime, enjoy this piece on the S-League website focusing on, and seemingly replete with information taken from my various postings on here and other places - which I don't mind, informing the public is what I'm here for.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

'Insert Airline Sponsor Here' Socceroos 2 New Zealand All Whites 1

Last week, during my Monday evening class out at Footscray Park - Key Debates in the Humanities if you must know - my teacher Julie Stephens said that she'd be absent the following week. Involuntarily my arms shot up in a gesture of thanks and triumph, making everyone turn around, 'til I explained that now I could go to the sockah. One guy said, 'oh yeah', and really, it was more support than I thought I'd get.

So during the week I started trying to round up a posse to go with me. Already bought tickets. Cleaning my apartment because the landlord is coming around. I'm finishing work late. I'm going to be flying to Singapore. Bah, humbug. So I trundled down to my local Ticketek outlet, located conveniently about a couple of kilometres away (fark you inconvenient Ticketmaster), and bought me a ticket for the match (and also one for The Eels in August, yes I suck for giving Mark Oliver Everett more of my monies but that's my problem not yours, so fob off).

Krowd Watch 
The last Socceroos game I went to see was the Oman Asian Cup Qualifier last year. The last MCG Socceroos game I saw at the MCG was the Japan World Cup Qualifier also in 2009, where I breached some serious journalistic ethics by performing various sorts of character assassination on unsuspecting members of the New Dawn. I was high up in the Great Southern Stand for the latter game, only a few rows back from the edge though (about on the 50 metre line if memory serves correctly). This time I got a spot on the lower deck of the Ponsford, behind the goals, a few rows in undercover. Right next to the bay with all the Kiwis.

The crowd looked lousy, but built up steadily, and I thought 55,000 was fine for choosing a meh opponent on a terrible night - I mean, Monday night, seriously? But here's what gets up my goat. I thought people paid to watch the game - and yet there were an abundance of people going back and forth getting more food and drinks. Dudes (and dudettes), this is why we have before the game and halftime. What else pissed me off, let's see... the almost utter lack of cynicism amongst my fellow Australians towards our performance. Lousy, desperate, last ditch defending was being cheered, as were basic tackles sending the ball out of play. The most annoying thing (about the crowd, anyway) was the the Asian woman in front of me who got excited very, very easily, and kept standing up, hear head getting squarely in front of mine and several others view of the goals. Now I have no problem standing up at a football match - I mean, I attend the VPL and State League 2 on a weekly for crying out loud - but little lady, there is standing room behind the seats you can use if you like.

Hellas Watch
Several past Socceroo players retrospectively received national caps from the Federation/Mark Schwarzer, which in theory, is a nice gesture - but here's the thing. The vast majority of the crowd would have no idea who Kris Trajanovski, Tommy Cumming, Jason Polak and whoever the other guy was that they mentioned first because I didn't catch his name, were. The guy reading out the names mentioned their Socceroo appearances, but the only player to have a club mentioned was Sarkies (Melbourne Victory). One feels, perhaps, that he didn't know, and that really, the vast majority of the crowd didn't want to know, because that would trigger New Dawn guilt and questioning. Oh well, I clapped Jason Polak, even it wasn't the cool thing to do for some people.

Kiwi Fan Watch 
They all had their little flags and such, and they made a fair bit of racket - not that I expected to hear much from the Green and Gold Army, but their performance last night seemed diabolical. Flares? How childish. No, that's not fair. More like, isn't that what the dirty wogs do? Anyway, back to the Kiwis. There was one bloke who kept yelling out 'It's so cheesy'. I struggled to figure out what he meant by that, but when he said, 'Yellow is the colour of cheese', it all made sense. But here's what the dingbat didn't realise - white is also the colour of cheese. Must be really white bread not to know that.

The Game Itself
Deeply troubling. Especially for the fact that BRETT HOLMAN scored the winning goal, and made me instantly think of The World Game Forum, which means I am one sad little geek. How Vince Grella stayed on the field after that heinous two footed studs up jump tackle who knows. Maybe the ref was sourced from the VPL.

The Best Thing About Going To This Game
Not wasting my limited bandwidth on streaming the game and listening to the inane political correctness gone overboard of the FoxSports commentary team.

Last thought(s)
Now I know everything's for sale, and that I should just get over it, but the amount of product being pushed was just phenomenal. Especially the underpants. And if you're going to check my bag for knives, bottles and explosives, you should actually check it properly instead of seeing a black plastic bag in there and going, yep, that's fine.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Transfer season is upon us, again

So far, the ins include striker Hamid Basma from Heidelberg - who scored the goal against us in that fixture - and who comes with wraps that he is 'technically very good and can hold the ball up well', but how many times have we heard that before?  Also a little more controversially, if you believe the rantings of certain George Cross fans, Britisher Kyle Joryeff, another winger/forward - who was on an amateur contract there. The controversial part is that there have been allegations, which have yet to substantiated as far as I know, that Joryeff was paid off by us to not play in the recent game between South and the Georgies. Anyway, there has also been one person on the goodbye list, winger Yusef Yusef. While a part of me is disappointed with losing him, another increasingly dominant part thinks he wasa better player a few years ago, and quite possibly the difference between Heidelberg winning and losing the 2005 grand final (he came off injured early in the game, and the Bergers had little idea how to crack the packed Gully defense). It took him ages to get over his serious injury, and fair to say he was never able to impose himself on a game. How often is it that your final touch for a club before transferred mid-season is a goal, I don't know, but the overall picture here I fancy was clear enough to see past any sentimentality - though that, too, has its place in the game.

Jakarta Casual previews Gombak vs South Melbourne

I was going to commission a reciprocal 'tell us a bit about so and so piece' with PoHui Ko from the Bolasepako blog, but then I found that Jakarta Casual had done one with the requisite acknowledgements of the many ironies of the situation. It's a good read, from a good blog. Don't forget the game is on this Wednesday. Buggered if I know of a stream to watch it on though.

Memory Lane for Dazza against Hellas
Yeah, I know they're called South Melbourne now, the Hellas has been dropped in the name of progress, political correctness and in a bid to appeal to a broader audience. Which is crap. I knew plenty of people who had Hellas as their second team and they weren't all called Postecogelouopolus.

Time moves on if I haven't and South Melbourne, who I last saw play Wollongong Macedonia at Middle Park in 1991, they won 7-3, will next week be visiting Singapore to compete in the Singapore Cup.

It's probably fair to say the Aussies are the biggest ever team to grace the competition.

In one of those delicious twists of fate that make cup football so exciting they have been drawn against Gombak United. A side with an Aussie connection of their own.

They are coached by Darren Stewart, an NSL legend formerly of APIA Leichhardt while defensive midfielder Goran Subara has been earning rave reviews.

The Bulls have struggled so far this season to find any kind of consistency. No surprise when you are told you cannot use two of your best players and couple of games into the season. Kingsley Njokou and Gabriel Obatola had their permits terminated and had to find clubs anew leaving Stewart with only one striker, the injured Agu Casmir. After desperately trying to get Abbas Saad and Scott Ollerenshaw to come out of retirement he was left to sign players nobody else wanted.

In those circumstances 4th spot is a bloody good achievement though their goals for tally tells its own story. As does losing 1-0 at home to Balestier Khalsa, who would finish in the bottom half of a one team league, they went and drew 3-3 with runaway leaders Tampines Rovers

Gombak United FC 14 6 3 5 15 11 4 21

They are though defensively strong. The imposing Mamadou Bah is partnered by the highly thought of Obadin Aikhena, widely thought of as a future international. Obadin has impressed over the last few years with a series of classy performances for both Gombak United and the Young Lions but not just that. Everyone i speak with cannot say enough of his attitude off the field as well.

Up front Gombak will look to the timeless, ageless, Agu Casmir for goals and inspiration while this type of fixture against a truly big name would be a wonderful opportunity for Fazrul Nawaz to show what he is truly capable of.

For their part while South Melbourne have yet to set their league alight they are proving a tough nut to crack. They sit 7th in the 12 team Victoria State League but have suffered just two defeats all season.
7 South Melbourne 11 5 4 2 21 13 8 13

Like Gombak they have struggled to find any consistency. They beat Hume City (wow, a team named after a road?!) 6-0 then lost their next two games. Last time out they defeated Sunshine George Cross 3-1 which confuses the living bejeez out of me. I thought they had ditched all names that carried ethnic inference?

Anyway it promises to be a great evening in Singapore and South Melbourne can look forward to being blown away by the local's support for their heroes.

"cos remember this. Singapore was recently named the second best sports city in the world. 2nd after...Melbourne!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Highlights and interviews from the Georgies game

Some tidy goals, lousy marking, and interviews with Gasparis, Keenan, Yusef and Horsey. Just in case you missed the game or forgot to record the smfctv 31 show.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Kiss of Death, round 12, 2010

No South this weekend, as our game against the Magic has been postponed due to either ground unavailability and/or to accommodate our Singapore trip next week. No rest for the wicked though, as the Kiss of Death looks at the rest of the round's matches, and also our match against Gombak United.

Bentleigh Greens vs Oakleigh Cannons
I don’t think much of Bentleigh, and can’t stand Oakleigh. On form, you need to put your money on Oakleigh. They have been scoring at will and shouldn’t have a problem sweeping aside a pretty poor Bentleigh. Bentleigh 1 – Oakleigh 4.

Hume City vs Green Gully Cavaliers
Hume to trounce the worst Gully side in the last ten years. What is going on down there? Coach after coach, still can’t find the right combos across the park. It’s the end. Hume 3 – Gully 0

Heidelberg United vs Sunshine Georgies
The teams everybody loves to hate. The Bergers because they are just the Bergers, and George Cross because of their fans. Saying that though, the Georgies have some of the most passionate fans of the VPL. Bergers beat Dandy last week in an arsey game 3-2 in the 90th, thanks to Ederaro. This week though Fidel will have a field day for Sunshine. Heidelberg Utd 1 – SGX 6

Melbourne Knights vs Dandenong Thunder
Melbourne Knights 2 – Dandy Funder 1
That’s all I'm saying about this one.

South Melbourne vs Gombak Utd – Midweek RHB Cup Fixture in Singapore
I do not rate Singaporean football. I have seen countless youtube clips and if Alex Duric can be the national competition's leading scorer, and highest goalscorer in the history of Singapore, then that tells me a lot. I don’t see why South can’t go to the Jalan Besar stadium and run amok. Artificial surface, along with 30+ degrees kick off time, and a pretty fit lineup, then there should be no problem. Gombak ain't necessarily the shit. South Melbourne 4 – Gombak Utd 1

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Our London sojourn rated a brief mention in The Age

You may remember the award for Oceanie Team Of The Century awarded by the IFFHS - whose dinner was postponed until May this year? Well, that was last week. Many famous faces were there, and by all reports a good time was had by the South contingent - especially Jimmy Armstrong. Anyway, only rraqson I didn't post anything was because, well, I'm waiting for the video footage to be released by SMFCTV. But in the meantime, here's a curious piece of commentary written yesterday by Mark Hawthorne in The Age's Sporting Life section.

Hellas of a decision

THE Football Federation of History and Statistics has named the ''club of the century'' for each confederation. Real Madrid gets the award for Europe. CA Penarol Montevideo in South America. Al-Hilal FC Riyadh in Asia.

And in Oceana? Try South Melbourne, a club that struts its stuff in Melbourne's suburbs. Hellas gets the gong because of its history of success in the old National Soccer League, but it's a glaring symbol of the problems in Australian soccer.

Is that some kind of backhanded compliment against us? Well done on the trophies, but thanks for holding the game back? Or is it more a case of, these guys are pretty successful, and the current Australian soccer regime should treat them with a bit more respect, like, what are they doing playing in a suburban comp? I hope it's the latter, but I can't tell.

It's true - South to appeal the appeal

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Appeal result from Heidelberg game finally handed down

And it appears that we probably should have taken what we got initially on the chin and shut up, because while we've got our point back for the draw - and Carl Recchia gets a South goal - we've now been deducted six points instead. Which is a fair result the way I see it. Some of the persons banned for life have had those bans reduced significantly, which I suppose is fair enough. But hopefully, finally, this is the end of all this kind of behaviour, and more importantly the incessant justifications of the so called 'exuberance', both from those who are responsible for it, and those who condone it. That the FFV didn't condone the St Albans and Frankston Pines brawl last year, and that we do not have any sort of special immunity when we stuff up, shows that finally, maybe this sport is getting serious about not condoning what isn't condoned in other sports. That the playing arena, and the fence around it, hold a meaningful place in the football environment. That there is a reason why everyone who is not absolutely essential to the performance of a match are asked to be outside this barrier.

Why the security guards weren't in front of Clarendon Corner, as they usually are, and whether that is the club's fault, I do not know. It matters little now I think, because it doesn't excuse what happened. So, there's goes fourth spot at the halfway mark of the season. There goes a great opportunity for the double chance, instead being brought back into the mire with a tough battle just to get a finals position. So, are we all happy now? I, too, would have much rather stuck the boot into the FFV, because it is so easy to do (fun as well). But not this time.

For the full details of the tribunal appeal hearing itself, head to this link.

21s extend lead at top - Women alone on bottom of table

In addition to the mildly reassuring win the seniors had on Sunday, I also managed to see a about an hour's worth of the under 21's stunning 8-1 win over Sunshine. Sunshine were playing with 10 men for a whole swathe of the 2nd half, and I'm not sure if that was due to an early first half sending off or some other reason, but it was pretty entertaining stuff all the same, both sides going at it full tilt until the Georgies just ran out of legs.
The women on the other hand lost once more, this time in the battle of the cellar dwellers against recently promoted Altona City. Losing 1-0, the women are now anchored at the bottom of the WVPL table. The reserves are having a better time of it though, winning, 2-0. But at this rate it seems like only a matter of time before the women return to state league 1, the disappointment of which would only be amplified after last year's excellent campaign.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

More midfield goals - South 3 Georgies 1

Our striking department goes barren for another week, but our midfielders chip in to keep things respectable. Gasparis, Keenan and Yusef with the last kick of the match, leaving a positive mark on a game in which he otherwise struggled. Yet another non-cleansheet, and a few hairy moments at 2-1, and Zois toying far too much with the opposition, but what can you do? De Nittis' first half miss was a shocker - the ball played across by Rhodri Payne, and with an open goal at his mercy, thumped it over to the synthetic pitches across the the way. Oh well. A couple of weeks break now due to ground unavailability and the postponement of another due to the Singapore trip. Not a bad way to end the first half the season.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Did you hear about Ol' Itchy Arm?

Assistant coach David Lugli that is. Well, former assistant coach David Lugli. Somehow he's been pinned for the our stuttering last few weeks, or the defensive mistakes, or something, by someone out there. And he's been sacked. I don't know by who. And it all seemed to be a match made in heaven. Now I have to wait for the stupid AGM to ask the damn question, to get an evasive answer.

Heads up for this week's game

This week our home match against the Georgies is at Northcote City's home ground, John Cain Memorial Park, out in Thornbury. Kick off at 3pm.

You may have also noticed that I've added a couple of new pages to the top of the site. One is a public transport guide to the VPL, which I fancy no one will use, but I think is a nice addition anyway. The other is a fixture/results list. Together, they should make the VPL experience a little easier for some people out there.

KIss of Death, Round 11, 2010

Across this great brown land, tipsters are scratching their heads at the inconsistency of the VPL. Can the Kiss of Death shed any light on matters?

Once again apologies for the inconsistency in tipping this shemozzle of a competition.

Richmond vs Bentleigh Greens
Well, well, well. Rumour from Kingston Heath is that this will be Loza’s last game. After the 1-5 thumping he copped last week, the pressure is on. Richmond had a good away win at Altona Magic last weekend, and will be looking to make it three wins in a row. But unfortunately for them Gavalas will be having a good night for Bentleigh. Richmond 1 – Bentleigh Greens 1.

Altona Magic vs Oakleigh Cannons 
Altona Magic is now being steered out of the wilderness by Saso Becvinoski. Will this change their season? Yeah, most likely, if he drops Tommi Tomich! Altona 2 – Oakleigh 1.

Hume City vs Northcote City
Northcote goes down to windy Hume on the weekend looking to make it three straight wins for the newly promoted club. Hume is looking to give its fans something to make them happy. They thumped Bentleigh away 1-5 last Friday night, but once again this week, they will be on the receiving end of an in form Northcote. Who would’ve thought that Northcote would be doing somewhat well? Hume 0 – Northcote 2.

South Melbourne vs Sunshine George Cross 
South's last game before they travel to Singapore to participate in the RHB Singapore Cup against Gombak United. The pressure is on South to beat George Cross. South is coming off two losses, while Ssunshine have one win and a draw. The win being at high flying Oakleigh. South must win and win well. If they struggle against Sunshine George Cross, then pray to the Gods they survive Singapore. South Melbourne 3 – SGX 0.

Melbourne Knights vs Green Gully Cavaliers
Western Suburbs derby. The Knights too good in the battle of the cellar dwellers. Both teams are struggling but the Knights are playing attractive free-flowing football. Gully is not the Gully of old. Melbourne Knights 2 – Green Gully 0.

Heidelberg United vs Dandenong Thunder
Guess who I’m tipping this week? The boys from Funder to keep the scoreboard attendant busy. Heidelberg 0 – Dandy Funder 12.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Book Review - Adrian Deans' Mr Cleansheets.

Some more conscientious readers may have seen this review already in last week's edition of Goal Weekly. Now that my own self-imposed embargo on posting the review is over, I feel quite comfortable in letting you view it here for posterity - and after all, Goal Weekly by taking the initiative of promoting Australian literary works, should get the benefit of having people pay for the privilege of reading it in the initial phase. How's that for setting myself up as the main attraction? I'm not using their title though, because I thought it was a bit silly. And why did they de-italicise the name of the book? Quite confused about that. You can download the first chapter from here. The book's 500+ pages, but it really doesn't take that long to read.

Sometimes dreams can come true... Adrian Deans' Mr Cleansheets

During the past two decades, mainstream Australian soccer writing – and for that matter, most other Australian sports writing - seems to have almost inevitably returned to the twin pillars of the shortsighted rants of your so called 'professional' analysts, and the ghostwritten autobiographies of local and overseas veterans. The recent emergence of the blogosphere has taken the wind out of the professional's sails to an extent, by showing that simplistic and alarming analysis can also be done for free; but where is the counterpoint to the reliance on biography, the works that show an imaginative and creative response to our soccer lives, and which is not directed solely at children?

Adrian Deans' new novel, Mr Cleansheets, may very well herald the arrival – or at least the return, for those with very wide reading and memory – of the Australian soccer novel to our literary consciousness. The novel's protagonist, Eric Judd, the titular Mr Cleansheetsis on the verge of turning 40, a labourer during the working week and amateur goalkeeping legend on weekends. After winning the title for his basement New South Wales side, his coach forcibly retires him. So Eric makes the foolhardy decision to head off to England to fulfill the dying wish of his Uncle Jimmy – to take up the outstanding offer of trialing for Manchester United – made when Eric was still a teenager.

Things don't get off to a good start; he gets into a fight at the airport, gets no further than the merchandise store at Old Trafford, and finds himself more or less where he started, albeit on the other side of the world – working as a removalist and illegally playing non-league football for the hopeless Bentham United. But his luck does start to change. He lands himself a new girl. The team starts winning. And in his own mind, he's starting to live the dream. But things can never be that straightforward. The past and the future catch up to Eric in all manner of alarming and hilarious ways.

Deans has a breezy and natural flair for this kind of writing, which allows the reader to get swept up in the amazing coincidences which the story throws up. His descriptions of the match action itself, while perhaps a little neat, nevertheless ring true; it's a difficult art to tell the story of a game that does not exist, one with a predetermined result. His strongest work though, comes in his descriptions of violence, especially those of hand to hand combat. The aforementioned breezy manner gets pushed aside for visceral and sensory writing that is at odds with most of the rest of the novel.

There are a multitude of accents in the novel – Irish, Cockney, French, Toff, Portuguese, Tcherman - which for the most part Deans handles well enough, but they are there more for comic effect rather than any sort of meaningful cultural exploration. Mr Cleansheets himself, being an Aussie, has no dialect issues whatsoever – his neutral tone assumed to be natural. Irvine Welsh this ain't, and at times the accents blend into each other, so that characters, especially some of the more minor ones – and there are many of them - can seem interchangeable.

Some readers, though crucially, not what I imagine is the intended audience, might blanch at Deans' explorations of masculinity – a very old school, protective form of it, with a few edges shaved off. In its own way, Mr Cleansheets is a love letter to masculinity – and the bastions of that masculinity that women can't ever enter or understand. In this case it centres on sporting clubs and the drinking and mateship culture – and Deans combines it with the classic 'you'll only go in for your mates' line, the sacrifices and camaraderie that can only be forged in battle, even if the war is fought on an enclosed patch of grass.

Deans also has some interesting, and potentially polarising things to say about the place of soccer in Australia, even though so little of the novel takes place there. Soccer in Australia is almost irrevocably a game outside the mainstream – and it will likely never win its place authentically inside the nation's sporting consciousness. Real soccer is in England or in Europe, where it is the main game, where it is in the blood of the people so to speak. For those in Australia for whom Australian soccer has always been the main game, and has (or had) its own mainstream that it has looked after for generations, this will perhaps place the novel as a work directed towards those fans more recently arrived at the game. The extraordinarily vicious portrayal of the rugby journo in particular is a classic example of the convert's attempt to prove their belief in the cause.

Being a certified intentional page turner, Deans' attempt to write a novel on football, but also on such other weighty and complex matters such as love, international pop stardom, the criminal underworld and Aryan conspiracy theories, could have turned into a right mess; yet he's actually managed to write something coherent and remarkably enjoyable. Mr Cleansheets is no literary masterpiece, but it is a lot of fun. By taking the notion of a midlife crisis to its logical conclusion, Deans has provided a novel for every person who has ever sat and wondered in the quiet of the night, what might have been had they taken the opportunities presented to them, instead of doing the sensible and responsible thing.

Monday, 10 May 2010

More convenient for me I suppose, maybe

In checking out the women's team results (their round 5 match was rescheduled for the Queen's Birthday long weekend), it seems they're now playing out Doxa Yarraville's McIvor Reserve, and not from Albert Park Field 13 as has been the case for several years now. The field will be of a more a regulation size, and there isn't the massive walk to the changerooms. But still, it's a fair way from 'home'. One would hope that it's due to some sort of redevelopment related ground unavailability, as opposed to they've pissed off someone they probably shouldn't have ground unavailability, a phenomenon we understand has been more than creeping in lately with regards to the women's team. If that makes sense, Wait, let's try this again. There's seems to be lots of internal ructions, and no end in sight. Not good.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Cornered - South 1 Oakleigh 2

Another corner, another set piece, another blow, or in this case, two. We started off well enough, but as the game slipped further and further out of reach, found ourselves battling to create anything decent. And even when those opportunities did come - quick counter attacks, and that half pass, half shot that should have made it 2-2 - we just didn'yt know what do to do with.

One could blame the referee, who had a poor game, but that would be taking too much away from Oakleugh, who forced several good saves out of Peter Zois. And so another crucial game comes up, against the Georgies, to mark the halfway mark. A win will temporarily halt the sudden slide, a loss make one ponder what it is an otherwise capable and talented side can do to get itself out of a mire.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Ladies and Germs, I have failed you

This post on The World Game Forum, the infamous Australian soccer cesspool (full of funny kunts, but) was made all the way back in August 2009. Me and Psile laughed it off - hell, I even questioned what the hell the poster was smoking. He's an Adelaide born poster named Bernardinho on the forum, or Bernie for short, who does allegedly enjoy the occasional bit of grass. He was also a contributor to a long dormant website and podcast enterprise called Football Nonstop, who used to be linked here until they, well, just stopped.

I was speaking to someone who has links with South Melbourne yesterday and this afternoon after I finished work. He was telling me that the current president of the club is trying to secure a move to the Singaporean league after having the Southern Cross FC bid rejected. Over there they don't have a salary cap and SMFC do have a bit of money to use.

I for one am a bit sceptical, but the idea itself is a bit intriguing. IF something like this was to happen at all what would the ramifications be? How would it impact the national team and the current crop of A-League players who are in search of a bigger pay packet?

Considering the length of time to be had from the rumour being published to the certainty of the situation being confirmed - and a check with my sources, who have validated the gestation period to roughly the same time - it's a fair effort to even get close.

To Bernie - I bow down to your greatness. To my small, loyal fan base, I apologise for disregarding what appeared to be random, speculative guff. I hope that my admittance of my failing will appease you, and will be less fussy about the guff I choose to ignore.

Lastly, for the time being however, it's a bit of a concern that the board thought they had kept it a secret for months, but that secretly in reality seemingly lasted mere minutes. Something to ponder.

And something else before I head off for the moment - had I posted it on here, as a rumour, would people involved have been honest with me? Would they have even have dared mention it? It makes me wonder where exactly on the information food chain I am. I know it's not very high, but still - this low? This untrusted?

Nah, that's not fair. They tell me things. Things I can't post in here, until they get official clearance.

Back to listening to the Field Mice for me I guess.

Kiss of Death, Round 10, 2010

10hen it all goes wrong, follow the Kiss of Death's example and blame someone else.

Once again apologies for the inconsistency in tipping this shemozzle of a competition.

Bentleigh Greens vs Hume City
Bentleigh to beat Hume 3-2. In what will be a great game of boring football, Bentleigh will just have that extra edge in the 92nd minute.

Green Gully Cavaliers vs Heidelberg United
Bergers are dead. Forget it. They won’t win another game all year. Gully won’t get relegated and will hopefully (fingers crossed), give the Bergers a bag full to take back to the Village. Green Gully 8 – Bergers 0

South Melbourne vs Oakleigh Cannons
Match of the week by far. Oakleigh is defying all the odds and sitting on top. South has its mind on Singapore in three weeks, but no excuses! South must win and win well. After coming back down with a thud at Richmond, it’s time we started getting serious about our football. We need to put away teams like we did at Hume. South in a 4-1 romp.

Altona Magic vs Richmond
Richmond didn’t convince me last week. Neither did Altona Magic. Altona Magic has replaced their coach with Saso Becvinovski, and it looks like Andy Sfet might be getting another run. Altona 2-0.

Northcote City vs Melbourne Knights
Hmmm, tough one here. Northcote on fire after giving the Bergers five to think about last week, and the Knights doing well at Altona. I’ll give this one to an in form Northcote after close statistical and mathematical analysis of past results. Northcote 2 – Melbourne Knights 1.

Sunshine Georgies vs Dandenong Thunder
Dandy…pfft. Sunshine George Cross to beat them at Somers Street 3-1. That is all.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Moris Mihailidis resigns as South Women's coach

As revealed in Goal Weekly, and as also seen in the comments section of a recent post, Women's team coach Moris Mihailidis has resigned, after South lost it's fourth game in a row, finding itself at the bottom of the table below even newly promoted and struggling Altona City. It's hard to tell how much of it has to do with results, and how much it's to do with internal wrangling. The loss of several key players hasn't helped the cause either, the net result being that South has a massive fight on its hands to avoid relegation, a long way from the breakthrough finals appearance they made last year.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Vale Antonis Karagiannis, Henri Van Groningen

Sad to hear of two deaths of former South players, one recent, and one from a few months back.

Antonis Karagiannis article taken from the official site.

The entire South Melbourne FC family would like to extend its deepest condolences and wishes to the Karagiannis family on the passing of former South Melbourne FC player Antonis Karagiannis, who sadly passed away last Sunday.

Karagiannis was a foundation player for South Melbourne FC and represented the club for two seasons from 1960-61. In 1960, he played an integral role in the club's promotion from Metropolitan Division 1 North (now State League 1) into the Victorian State League (now the VPL). In 1961, Karagiannis scored 15 goals for South in the Victorian State League and finished as the club's leading goal scorer for that season. In recognition of his efforts in the club's early years of existence, Karagiannis was inducted into the SMFC Hall of Fame at the 50th Year Anniversary Gala Ball at the Crown Palladium last year.

South Melbourne FC President Leo Athanasakis, speaking to, remarked that "it is sad to see the passing of one of the individuals who were part of the Club in its formative years. We would like to extend our best wishes and condolences to the Karagiannis family."

As a mark of respect at Mr Karagiannis' passing, South Melbourne FC players will wear black armbands for Saturday's match against Oakleigh. In addition, a minute's silence will be held prior to the match commencing.

Little is known of Henri Van Groningen - whose sole reference in online Australian soccer archives is in a game for South Melbourne Hellas against Moonee Ponds in our inaugural 1960 season (he was listed erroneously as Van Gronignon). Initially it was thought by club historian John Kyrou to be an error, as there was no other supporting evidence for his existence - but a recent email by his son Anthony, who is living in the United States, has helped clarify matters. Van Groningen, born in the Netherlands, was a goalkeeper, and apparently also played at South Melbourne United prior to playing at South. He passed away on January 1st 2010, at the age of 74. Our sincerest condolences to both families.

Time and place for this week's game against Oakleigh.

Just so you know, and so you can't say I didn't tell you, this week's 'home' game is at Bentleigh's Kingston Heath Soccer Complex, 3pm, Saturday. Will do my best to get out there.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

And to think there are some douchebags out there...

... yes, the relevant numpties on the Adelaide United forum, and probably a few yet to come on other bulletin boards - who think we should have been barred from participating in this tournament by the FFA. But being bored, and sorta by accident, I came across this piece, which shows that this offer or opportunity isn't new... and of course Sydney Olympic were allegedly offered an invitation in 2004, but with the end of the NSL, needed like the rest of us to get their shit together. But the point is, to get back to it, what's good for the goose is good for the gander, no?

Singapore Cup invitation seen as bridge to Asia
By Michael Cockerill
December 30, 2004

Four A-League clubs have been invited to participate in next year's expanded Singapore Cup, with Singaporean officials claiming the opportunity represents a gateway for closer ties with Asia.

Perth Glory, Sydney FC, Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory have all been asked to enter the knockout tournament, which carries $120,000 in prizemoney and begins in April. Perth have already rejected the approach, claiming their priority was to prepare for the World Club Championship qualifiers a month later, but the other three clubs are believed to be assessing the benefits.

Football Federation Australia officials, who have made it clear they want greater contacts between Australia and Asia, are known to support the move.

Singapore's 10-team S-League wants to expand its cup competition to 16 teams, and invitations have been sent to countries throughout South-East Asia as well as Australia. A team from Brunei and two local amateur teams have already been added to the 2005 draw, leaving three vacancies.
The S-League's chief executive, How Seen-Yong, said last night that Australian clubs would be a major attraction for local fans, and the competition would be a "good starting point" for developing closer ties with Asia. "We know from past experience [two defunct clubs, the Perth Kangaroos and the Darwin Cubs, competed in the S-League in the mid-1990s and dominated the competition] that the Australian teams would be strong, but we are not afraid to have a foreign team win the prizemoney," he said.

Learn a little about Gombak with Goran Subara

Gombak United actually has an Australian on its books, Goran Subara, formerly of Bonnyrigg White Eagles. In this clip from Jakarta Casual TV, Goran talks about the relative standards of Australian and Singaporean football, a bit about Gombak, professionalism, crowds and how one ends up in Singapore as a pro-footballer in the first place.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Children, Cheerleaders and Coloured Balls

That is to say, if you want more pics of the 2010 Singapore Cup draw, head over to this article on the incomparable Bolosepako blog. There's quite a few pictures of the process - and what a, er, fascinating process it is. Quite colourful. I've chosen this photo for some reason. I'm guessing Miroamer will be loving the coverage. And why not? Being pictured next to a shirt with Canon as the sponsor can't hurt an internet technology company. Can we have more money now?

But seriously, it's a pity that Alex Duric ain't at Singapore Armed Forces any longer (he's now at Tampines Rovers) - if both us and SAFFC won their first round games, we could have met again, and what an unlikely meeting that would have been.

In other news

South has been drawn to play Gombak United (nee Redhill Rangers) in the Singapore Cup. No idea of the when, where, etc, as of yet. Can I also say, that's a pretty big fucken trophy. Pics stolen from Po Hui Ko of the Bolosepako blog.

So much exploded cream and crust - Richmond 3 South 0

Cherry cake was delicious, though perhaps overdoing the cloves a bit.

Now for the game.

Three very cheap goals. I felt we dominated this match, had many, many chances to score, and paid the priece for fucking up at both ends.

There are people saying Richmond deserved their win - I won't deny them that much, seeing as they did score more goals.

However, what I will not swallow is the notion that it was an even game. It wasn't. We dominated the majority of this game, but couldn't finish. So, really, I could be more disappointed, but I won't be, because we actually played pretty well.

And what the hell was it with that mist floating over the ground intermittently? At least get a fluoro or orange ball if that's what people are going to be playing in.