Tuesday, 31 January 2012

2012 Fixture updates

Been a little bit of adjustment since these first came out. Notably 3pm home kickoffs changed to 5pm... our round three home match against Green Gully switched to an away game... and two Friday night games, against Southern Stars and Richmond.

Friday, 27 January 2012

South Melbourne - the team for the working class!

At least that's what coach Gus Tsolakis in thinks in this article from FourFourTwo. Apart from the very occasional frappe (sweet with milk, thanks), I don't drink coffee, so I don't know why latte drinkers get such a bad rap.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

It's all so quiet

Been a bit quiet recently on here. That's partly to do with the lack of news, which has been a league wide issue. Guess that's what happens when you push back the season by a month. I've also been busy catching upon OzFootball work I've neglected over the past four years.

Still, they tell me that it's been a punishing pre-season for South's 2012 squad. Hopefully they have something left in the tank by the start of the season.

Friday, 20 January 2012

A plea for patriotism from the unpatriotic

In last Thursday's Neos Kosmos, tucked away in the sports pages, there was an editorial cum letter from a Melbourne Heart fan, Dimitris Konteleon. In this piece, he lists the reasons for his supporting the Heart - their colours match his first love Olympiakos, and he wanted to belong to a club here in some fashion.

Calling himself a Heart member since their founding, he goes on to lambaste Neos Kosmos' main rival, Ta Nea, for ignoring Heart entirely, and focusing exclusively on the Victory. The insinuation is clear - that Ta Nea's owner, the Greek Media Group, in turn owned and controlled by Harry Stamoulis, who also happens be a Melbourne Victory shareholder/owner, is deliberately starving the Heart of coverage.

Kontoleon goes on to talk about how discussions he had with one of Heart's admin personnel, a Mr Kentel, which included measures designed to attract members of the Greek community. He came out of these discussions slightly disappointed, as there was no follow up, though he was glad that his idea of regional games was taken up, as well the handing out of free tickets to youngsters.

He finishes up by talking about the quality that Heart has on the field, hopes they finish in the top six and that their coach is in the top five coaches in the league, if not the top one, (with a probably unintentional nod to Brian Clough). Somehow, when you have only ten teams, finishing in the top six is still considered a significant achievement.

To some of his other points - Heart played a game in Morwell because every club had to play at least one game in regional areas. Despite Morwell's soccer past, Heart still managed to get less than what most South games in the area would get back in the day. As for calling himself a member, it just goes to show how far this new notion of membership has carried - there are no members at A-League teams - only season ticket holders. Still, that lie will persist, another victory of marketing over reality.

What really grinds my gears with his letter was what was all too predictably absent. Where was South Melbourne? Where was Heidelberg? Where were all the other tinpot Greek community clubs?

As a reluctant nationalist as the very best of times, I'm uncomfortable with making appeals to patriotism in the name of South Melbourne, or indeed, Heidelberg or other once high profile Greek backed clubs across Australia. So I seek to turn the focus away from peasant nationalism to the sense of community. After all, there are many opportunities to be Greek outside of soccer clubs in Melbourne.

What I, and I imagine that many other South fans would have liked to have seen happen, is to have been proven wrong. That when the club was in its greatest hour of need, that people wouldn't abandon what they perceived to be a sinking ship. That a sense of belonging, of community, even of duty would have prevailed instead of the bandwagon cliche that has attached itself to the Greek-Australian nationalism of convenience.

So many people put so much money into this club, so many hours, to build it up from nothing to something remarkable, in spite of its many faults. And these people that have turned away from the club are ignoring that sacrifice, one that was made by people that they likely know.

Also confusing is Kontoleon's assertion about the need to attract more people from the Greek community. As a mainstream franchise, why should Heart seek to isolate ethnic groups like that? As much of a furphy as Heart targeting Melbourne's south-eastern suburbs was their apparent targeting of fans of the former NSL clubs. Every man and hos dog knows that those left at those teams are few and far between on all but the most special occasions.

It's a fair bet to say that most of the Heart's support is made up of Victory bitters. People who for whatever reason supported the Victory or went to their games, until such time as there was an alternative that was even remotely more pleasing to them. Sure, they may have picked up a few odds and ends of people from a club like South, who were able to convince themselves that the Heart are an entirely different ideological beast to the Victory, but there's no real benefit in targeting such a small spectrum of soccer supporters.

I've often wondered about the notion of club ownership and belonging - not in the sense of being a financial member, but that 'sense' that the club belongs to you and vice versa - and I've always been flummoxed by the notion that there is more scope for that sense of ownership to exist at something like an A-League franchise. While arguments have been made as to why people can't or couldn't support one of the ethnic teams - some of them quite sensible - I have not been able to understand this new found sense of increased ownership when there are heightened significant barriers to the club's management structure, less history to attach oneself to.

That lack of history, politics and specificity may just be the lure though. A clean start, and less responsibility for a club's success or failure. No clubhouse, no trophy room. And the illusion that you're at the forefront of something new and exciting. But we're now in the era where even the local Greek press, whose priority should be local Greeks and their institutions, are more worried about, in a sporting sense at least, those entities established to eclipse the social place of our community organisations.

Twenty years ago it was a fight between South and Heidelberg for press coverage. Now it's a fight between tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum franchises on our back pages. Says something about the Greek community and its sense of loyalty and kinship in this matter.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Plumbing the depths of upper lower middle class pursuits

So bored during this extended off-season. There's things I could be doing I suppose, but instead I took up friend and once off contributor Chris Egan's suggestion of going with him to the Australian Open tennis. The other suggestions were Melbourne Museum (which I've done to relative death) and Melbourne Heart vs Perth Glory (I think you see the problem there).

I'm not a fan of tennis. I know the names, reputations, basic tactics and approaches taken, some of the controversies, but since I abandoned the clumsy television endorsed nationalism of my long gone youth, I've felt little connection to the players, especially those to whom the media attaches a greater cause. And besides, most of the tour takes place in another place and at godforsaken hours.

I'd never been to the tennis before. And on this hot, clear skied day, I felt most sorry for the little red headed child with the pale skin who was with his mum. Like us they couldn't get in to the court Casey Dellacqua was playing on. On a day like that, it was quite possible that someone of his complexion could spontaneously combust.

So we instead traipsed over to the next court where eighth seed Agnieszka Radwańska was taking on American journeywoman Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The first two sets were all about the American who racked up huge numbers of winners and unforced errors. Eventually the Pole came through in the third set to win.

Then we watched Stanislas Wawrinka against Benoît Paire. Wawrinka swept through the first two sets, we got bored and moved over to the Dolgopolov vs Jones match. Also an anti-climax. The gits starting the Mexican wave seemed to be having fun though.

Discussions on Australian soccer history and the cultural place of Perth Glory in Western Australia were more interesting to me. I wished I could have talked further about American football with the Packer supporting tourists sitting in front of me.

Was able to avoid for the most part those decked in Cronulla Capes, as well as their swarthier brethren in blue and white and those in red and white checks. Couldn't avoid some dreadful line calling however. One was so bad that even I saw it from the other side of the court. Also, apparently Tommy Haas is still playing.

It's also a lot noisier at a tennis match than what you see on television. Don't think I'll make it a habit of going to this event. There's not enough blood in this sport. Players get cramp, pull muscles, get tired, dispute line calls, but there's no sense of risk or danger, no genuine edge. At least the ticket didn't cost me anything.

Something vaguely to do with South tomorrow, hopefully.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Summary Edition

Can't be bothered reading the whole of the available South Melbourne material available on the net? Take this shortcut by looking at Pitch Invasion remembers the good and and not so good times of Hellas.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

It was a marathon alright

In a bold fixturing move, the A-League decided to play five games in a row on a working day Wednesday, one after the other, starting in New Zealand and ending in Perth.

Day 2 at the SCG was what cricket is all about. Minus the rain delays, of course.

People have begun posting so-called strong rumours and inside information that a merger between South and the Melbourne Heart is on the cards, sooner rather than later. Cue bored and aimless speculation of a weary minority.

Despite his protestations, it was evident to all that Ross was not comfortable with Rachel's relationship with Joey.

I thought Melbourne Heart was supposed to have been broke by last September. People had sworn they'd even seen the paperwork.

Angela's ex-husband comes back into the picture, to tell her that he plans to remarry. He also wants to have his son, who is in Angela's custody, to be his best man at his wedding in Los Angeles. Somehow this becomes a pretext for the show to have a California special, bringing along the entire cast, with the requisite beach montage letting us marvel at Tony Danza's physique. The episode was to be continued.

I thought the A-League was supposed to be dead by now.

For reasons that escaped me, The Fonz was sporting a beard.

Whatever happened to that bloke who went by the moniker Western Greek? He used to rock up to our games dressed in exotic football jerseys based on the colours of the opposition, as part of some superstitious gimmick. He went over to the Heart, said he'd still follow us, and hasn't been seen since.

That 70s Show is just a Happy Days remake with marijuana. Discuss.

I wonder sometimes - despite the loss of 90% of our supporter base since the end of the NSL, are there still people supporting this team who are doing so only because they think our return to the top flight is imminent?

The Simpsons golden age is so long ago that it is but a distant memory. They could have stopped ten years ago, perhaps even five years ago, and that golden age would still have been deemed characteristic of the show's output. Now they're fishing for plotlines in the lives of Rod and Todd Flanders. Good luck with that.

How much have I backed myself into a corner, for the sake of a probably phony ideological purity, by resisting not only the charms of the A-League, but also of almost all overseas football?

While The Cleveland Show is for the most part a successful and funny spin-off, there is a meanness that has been added to Cleveland's character that is troubling to me.

The Hellenic Cup released its draw yesterday. Within a few hours, they released an altered version. In about a month's time, the annual pre-season public transport and walking trudge to the south-east begins for me again.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

2012 Hellenic Cup Fixtures now out

Not up on their website just yet, but our 2012 Hellenic Cup group stage fixture is now available. Fewer groups, and probably higher calibre competition because of that - but also because the state leagues this season begin very soon after the VPL season, and thus those teams won't be in the early stages of pre-season.

All games at Kingston.

Sunday 19th February, 5:30, vs Bentleigh Greens

Sunday 26th February, 7:00, vs Kingston

Saturday 3rd March, 7:00, vs qualifier

Top 2 from group progress to quarter finals.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Bye bye balls

In 2008 fans received these balls as part of a merchandise push, and they're still available to junior members who sign up and such. Last year at the Lakeside re-launch, members who signed up got Coca-Cola branded balls. Which was convenient, as I was finally able to get them pumped up and flogged off to the children of two South sell-out relos of mine who I see maybe once every 18 months these days.

Cool story bro.

Monday, 2 January 2012

KB's Korner feature on the new Lakeside

'KB' hosts a sports segment on Mondays on 3XY Radio Hellas 1422 AM (in English) on Monday afternoons at 5:30. Branching out into the big bad world of online video, here KB takes a look at the Lakeside opening.