Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Friendly vs Gully tonight cancelled

Apparently the pitch is stuffed. Your correspondent was going to be at the Socceroos match regardless, some of you may have intended heading down there. Our next game therefore, will be against the Hellenic Cup tie against Malvern on Saturday at the new time of 4pm.

Monday, 27 February 2012

A brief digression on only football people running football

Only because it is an issue which won't die. From page 196 of Josef Vondra's 1979 work, Hellas Australia = Ellada Australia.

Perhaps one of the most articulate explanations of the enthusiastic support received in those days comes from Anthanasios Hatzianestis (editor of the Hellenic Herald). 'I would like to tell you a story which to me is what soccer is all about. The story is about a Greek who is very big on the soccer scene in Australia now, and how he came to be involved with the sport. He told me that that twenty years ago, he wasn’t at all interested in soccer. Then one day, friends took him to watch a game; he was amazed at what he saw. He said he saw Greeks shouting and screaming  and it was obvious to him that Greeks went to soccer matches for other reasons than just to watch the players. They went to the game to release their emotions in the security of a crowd who spoke their language and understood. He realised then that soccer was a big part in the emotional well-being of the Greeks. I remember his words: “If soccer is so important to the Greeks here in Australia, then I’m going to devote myself to soccer.” He did just that.' 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

South 1 Kingston 1

A very dubious penalty got us out of jail last night. Kingston were the better team, and should have scored at least one more. Fernando was back. Marinos Gasparis is out for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury sustained during a midweek loss against the Georgies, hoping to be back for round 1. Looked a bit toothless going forward, not good. Here's to the keeping it positive crew, who are betting that a poor pre-season will mean a good regular season, the inverse of our last few years.

Highlight of the evening was a thin crescent moon in the western sky, bright Venus nearby, and a little further out, mighty Jupiter.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A heartfelt message to the people at Western Suburbs

Hi, how you doing? It's been a while since I was last at your venue. Sure I was there on Wednesday evening to watch my South Melbourne play, but last Saturday's Hellenic Cup match day was the first time I've been able to spend an extended period of time at Ralph Reserve for several years.

I see you have a little covered terrace now. Very nice. Sure it faces the setting sun, and the rain will get through the gaps during the winter, but it's better than what a lot of clubs have. And your souvlaki, while a little salty for my taste, was still good value for $7. Throw in a soft drink and it';s an even tenner, no need to fiddle around with change. And the lady working in the canteen said she'd made it extra special for me. But despite all your improvements, I was most astounded - and as you'll see soon, disappointed - by one of your lower key acquisitions. It appears you now have a pinball machine tucked away behind the pool table.

But not just any pinball machine - a Family Guy pinball machine, a table I haven't played yet. It looked a bit sullen sitting hidden away in that corner. But it caught my attention anyway. Surely it couldn't have been as bad as the Pirates of the Caribbean table. Was it worth my time and money? Sadly, no. And not because it was a poor table - it's because you hadn't even bothered to turn it on. How can you have a pinball table and not have it on?

It's hard enough to find a pinball machine these days in Melbourne, thanks to the gradual death of video game arcades across Melbourne (except for those ones allegedly on Russel Street which are allegedly just a front for drug dealing, allegedly) - and most of those offer the same stupid music or dancing games or one on one beat em ups.

Back in my day lost weekend at Melbourne University, when I wasn't trying to lead John Stockton and the Utah Jazz to NBA Jam glory, I was across at the pinball machines - Dr Who, Indiana Jones, some blasted fishing one, Last Action Hero. At the old Playtime on Bourke Street, they had that soccer with the moving goalie, and sometimes he worked, sometimes he didn't, and one time he wasn't even there! Oh, and the dollar coins I threw into that slotted abyss at Highpoint! Those dreadful Star Wars tables, the legendary South Park table with the flushing toilet, the too easy but logical Monopoly table and the tolerable because it was the by then only one left Elvis table.

Um, where was I? Oh yeah. Good folk of Panellinios. I am a sad case, yes. That is why I hang around soccer grounds where there is scarce interest from even the most diehard of soccer fanatics. But during that down time of half an hour on Saturday, while Heidelberg and Brunswick City warmed up, the former with a slimmed down Tommi Tommich, after he allegedly dropped 20 kilos after allegedly being dumped by his girlfriend - wouldn't it have been better for me to get out of the sun and away from the old men, and wasted some idle time, and maybe even earned a replay on Family Guy pinball?

There's a reasonable chance I will still be the same sad case next week. Will you have your pinball machine on then? I'll have a dollar spare just in case.


Paul Mavroudis

Professional sad case and pinball aficionado, despite my poor aim and reflexes

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Hellenic Cup fixtures. Changed. Again.

Word has come through that our Hellenic Cup schedule has been changed yet again. Rather than playing Kingston next Thursday, we are now playing them this Saturday at 7:00PM.

We are trying our very best to keep up with these ceaseless fixture changes, but it's not easy.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Schadenfreude? What schadenfreude?

Normally, we here at South of the Border steer clear of A-League issues unless they have something vaguely to do with South. Not this time though. Following on from the mess that is the Gold Coast United situation, expectations were high for Clive Palmer's appearance on SBS' World Game program - yeah it still exists.

And it did not disappoint! This was material well in the tradition of Australian soccer comedy - no matter what your new dawn or bitter stripes may be, this stuff deserves a Logie. Look out for:

  • As politically incorrect as it may be, simply how huge Palmer is. Luckily I was watching this on my little Hitachi, and not on my widescreen Sharp.
  • The 'Come Play' world cup bid scarf. Facetiously outstanding.
  • The accusations of rampant corruption directed at player agents.
  • No mention of Miron Bleiberg at all.
  • Deflecting all attention away from his own failures.
  • The A4 sheet of paper he keeps looking at. Kinda like a certain person at South Melbourne AGMs.
  • His 68-0 remark.
  • His allegation that he was asked to dump the Gold Coast and become involved with a Western Sydney franchise
  • His attacking of the overpaid bureaucrats and foreign lackey coaches.
  • The chutzpah (to use a term Frank Lowy would appreciate) in calling FFA CEO Ben Buckley a 'non-football' person.
  • The way he just would not stop talking, and the deer in headlights approach of the SBS team.
  • Inferring that there is mass dissent among other A-League owners.
  • His idea that somehow denying Fox Sports live access (by blacking out games within a city hosting a game) will mean a larger television rights deal.
  • The implication that other media bidders have been blocked by the FFA from showing an interest.
  • In general tearing apart Fox Sports.
  • Inferring that the FFA's treatment of North Queensland Fury owner Don Mathieson lead to him being run of town and to his divorce!
Seriously, do check it out, it's worth it. It's what public broadcasting and Australian soccer are supposed to be all about.

Take whomever, whenever, for whatever reason

Melbourne Heart are off to some sort of pointless Hawaiian invitational. And they've padded out their squad for this trip with an assortment of VPL players, including South's new recruits Jason and Glen Trifiro. While I'm sure it'll be a lovely opportunity for them, I can't wait until one of the brothers does a season ending injury ala Joe Keenan playing for Adelaide United during an injury replacement stint.

Friday, 17 February 2012

2012 Hellenic Cup campaign kicks off this Sunday

South kicks off its Hellenic Cup title defence on Sunday against Bentleigh Greens. Venue is Kingston City's The Grange, time is 5:30. I'll be heading out there to catch a couple of matches before that. Looking to make an appearance on Saturday, too, at the North West component of the draw out at Western Suburbs. Should be able to get home before Star Trek Voyager starts.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Saudi Arabian national team to use Lakeside

As rumoured among alert and/or bored members of our local soccer community, the Saudi national team will be using Lakeside for their preparation for their upcoming 2014 World Cup qualifier against the Socceroos on February 29th. Their use of the ground will consist of training sessions and a practice match.

When will this practice match/friendly be played? Don't know. Will it be open to the public? My initial mail says yes, but who knows? Who will be the opponent? This is where it gets fascinating. I've heard Malaysia, or Paraguay, or New Zealand's national teams will be flown out.

At one stage, even our very own South Melbourne Hellas was touted as a possible opponent! Now wouldn't that be something?!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Qu'est-ce que c'est ?

This blog links to us. Their description of their link to our site - What is this, Old Soccer? Does Ben Buckley know this kind of of subversion going on?

2012 Mirabella Cup entries open

Much the same format as last year. In the press release I was forwarded, there was no mention of whether our beloved A-League brethren would be participating this year.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Our youth system is not working

So, the news coming out of Lakeside is that experienced VPL goalkeeper Peter Gavalas - most recently of Bentleigh Greens - is training and has probably signed with us for 2012. That he has been training with us is true, as I've seen him at one such session at Lakeside. It does raise issues from this correspondent's end, however.

Peter Gavalas would not move across to South, or any other VPL club for that matter, if he didn't think he was a shoe in for the first choice keeper's position. And that would entirely be his right, seeing as he has done the hard yards and built himself a solid reputation.

But where does that leave Zaim Zeneli, last year's eventual first choice goalkeeper? After winning the three way battle between himself, Stefaan Sardelic and Abdelhadi Deroune last year, including his double penalty save heroics against Heidelberg, the Sydney native looked to be a good thing to keep his place, with an opportunity for long time under 21s goalkeeper George Malliaras to get one step closer to fulfilling his dream of playing for the blue and white.

But this no longer appears to be the case. And logically then, one of Zeneli's and Malliaras' tenure must be close to an end. It brings into question the problems of bringing in players from interstate, but also of the fate of promising or what one may call 'project players' from the youth system. One could rattle off the names of several young players who, for whatever reason have departed the club in recent times.

In some cases it may be out down to impatience, lack of skill or family connections at other clubs. But for the sake of topicality, let's name two recent apparent departures: Jake Vandermey and Josh Colosimo. Unlike several of their under 21s teammates, they did not move on in mid last year, but rather spent a large portion of it playing with Hobart Olympia. They started every week, and were credited by  several southern Tasmanian observers with being integral to Olympia's turnaround in form.

As part of the deal for playing for Olympia, Vandermey and Colosimo would have been promised and expected to have been given a genuine shot at senior football in 2012. Now of course it's a coach's prerogative to select and seek to recruit players of his choosing, within the budget allocated to them by the football committee. But at the same time, let's not pretend that the football sub-committee does not have any influence in the general direction the club's recruiting may head.

After all, it's quite well known now that the football sub-committee ignored the preference of new senior coach Peter Tsolakis in the hiring of the new under 21s coach. Added to this, despite the shambles at the end of last year after the external academy affiliated personnel in our system upped and left, we're now involved with a partnership with another academy in our junior system, with a group and individual whose reputation at best could be described as controversial.

The football sub-committee, in its various forms, is also responsible for the selection of our senior coach. The previous two choices have been, well, catastrophic. Firstly in the way that they have destabilised and worn down the morale of the senior squad, and secondly with their ethos of playing favourites and ignoring other players, whomever they may be.

If one was to point to an on field ethic or raison d'etre at South, historically it would have been, ignore our own youth system, purchase quality veteran and/or up and coming players from other clubs, and play some decent football. It was arrogant, short term thinking, but it was at least consistent. Almost no player or coach was safe from being sacked, and while that created a lot of bitterness in the ranks of our ex-players - put Paul Wade's departure right at the top of that list - it was no secret how the club operated.

Now there's no longer any sense of a coherent on field direction. In contrast to the off field direction, which has been mostly people pulling in the same direction, and seemingly getting real close to securing the future of the club in a prosperous, self-sufficient state, on field it's a mess. And now that there's a bit more money floating around, the club can afford to splash out on some of the more 'professional' players running around the league.

Of course, like most players in this league, they do enjoy playing the game, but they seem to enjoy it more when and where they get more money for doing so. Most clubs with ambitions of success would rather deal with this sort of 'proven' talent then take even a reasonable risk on players they have in their own backyard, and have seen (if the coaching staff is even interested in watching the reserves, but that's another story) for a number of years.

This is not of course a problem that only South faces - Green Gully and Oakleigh are just two of the other VPL clubs that routinely cop a beating on the forums for the lack of players they source from their own ranks. But if young players are coming and then staying at South with the expectation or promise - sometimes explicit, sometimes not - that they are a genuine and realistic chance at being considered for senior football, and then continually find themselves on the scrapheap, then perhaps the club should be more honest about its senior football recruiting ethos, and make it so obvious that no one can be in any doubt as to what it is.

Of course, there are a legion of parents out there who think little Johnny is the next big thing. Sometimes it's the clubs that foster this belief, other times the parents are deluding themselves. And admittedly, the VPL's under 21s is not the greatest standard of competition. Neither is Tasmania's Southern Premier League. But in the case of our 21s competition, it is the most likely place a half-talented player of that age will get noticed by A-League scouts.

Certain people will tell you that it is better as an 18 year old, to ditch the VPL under 21s competition and play regular senior football - if they're good enough, they'll be back soon enough. And if they're not, well, it just goes to show that they weren't really all that good in the first place. It's a valid position to take, but it's not one that will work for all players. Danny Radojicic, often acknowledged as a promising midfielder with a powerful long range shot, dropped out to play for lower league teams, and has been through half the clubs in the state league system. A good striker or promising young defender saddled with a sub-par midfield can cause myriad issues.

While initially being in agreement with the concept of an under 21s competition for the VPL, I've since come around to the position that in the long run, this does not help young players. They would benefit more from playing in a high standard competition with older players, who know more tricks of the trade. In addition, there are only so many places on a senior list - how many players does one expect to graduate from a sub-par competition like the VPL under 21s? At best you may have one or two genuine prospects in a given year - the problem for South is, do we even see those one or two come through?

One wonders what the future is for young striker Nicky Jacobs. He is still training with the club, and may very well have to fight for his place in the pre-season February and March schedule - but reports are also that Gianni De Nittis has found his way back into the Lakeside fold. And what of all the other promising young players in our system? Is it worthwhile playing beyond a certain age in the South Melbourne youth system?