There's a new club on the A-League beat. Melbourne Heart, another top down franchise, just like every other 'club' in this competition, who are now competing against the Melbourne Victory without any clear indication, at least amongst vast swathes of the local soccer public, of why they should even exist. Geographical reasons? Hardly. Playing style? They're using that argument now, but since when have playing styles at clubs ever remained static? And surely the need to eventually grind out results will become a factor in their quest for glory. So, sure, that argument, of a different method of play to Evil Ernie's might work for some. But that's not quite enough. There has to be a social reason why people will attach themselves to this organisation, so that it feels like a group of people seeking to win something together rather than a budget Aussie soccer Harlem Globetrotters.
So, the route that Melbourne Heart have attempted to take is this. We're not actually another heartless franchise - we're actually one of you! We love tradition and stuff! It's heaps good! Of course this means the requisite clinics all over the shop (no complaints there), but what does it actually mean to be 'traditional' and why is it even a worthwhile trait to pursue? Traditions are merely the things we have been doing for a very long time. In themselves, they do not contain any sort of intrinsic value, except to make us feel safe and secure by providing a solid basis of routine, the steady ground which allows us to continue our miserable lives without complaining too much.
The issue at the core of these political games, is the 'we'll decide when you are useful to our ends' approach. The knocking down and enforced exclusion of ethnic clubs from top flight football, and the looking away while the FFV tries to make us third tier. The rearrangement and erasure of history in order to facilitate the building of this new regime. And when it needs or desires it, for reasons I can't fathom - considering we've been banished by these same people to the shadow realm - oh, please come across and give us some sort of credibility with the weight of history at this stage only you have, and we (perhaps) fear we may never possess.
And so a Melbourne Heart supporter group, Yarraside, decided they'd get in on this show of alleged empathy, and put up a banner (click on the image to enlarge) which included the logos of the past Victorian NSL clubs (or at least the Melbourne based ones). I don't doubt for a second that it was done with the utmost respect in mind - unlike their management, which includes several former boardmembers and financial contributors of the Victory. But they shouldn't have done it. South's history, the Knight's history, does not belong to Melbourne Heart. For Melbourne Heart, its administration and support, no matter how much they would like to convince themselves and us, the so called bitters, that they understand us and our grievances, and most importantly, that they are not a replica of the Melbourne Victory, for the minority of us left at Knights Stadium or Lakeside, I would safely bet that it just doesn't wash.
I've also read that it was an attempt to prove to the Victory that football was here before them. Well, duh. That's why we have the A-League - because what constituted top flight soccer before was considered at best inadequate and at worst a front for ethnic crime syndicates - mostly by the people who are following this new league! And apparently some of their fans didn't feel they needed to ask the permission of those clubs to use their logo to make that point - way to reinforce the whole us and them approach of the FFA and A-League. And leaving the bleeding obvious until the very end, while also neatly reconnecting with our Vercingetorix analogy made at the beginning of this post - Melbourne Heart defeated a bid backed in part by South Melbourne! The mind boggles at some of the logic being used.