Sunday, 29 April 2012

South squeeze through against Malvern in state cup

Watched my second and third games of cup football today, after having watched Moreland City go down 1-0 in extra time to Hume City yesterday.

Today saw South's entry into the 2012 tournament, up against Malvern City, whom we had accounted for fairly easily a few months ago in pouring rain during the Hellenic Cup.

A much more polished performance from Malvern today. Nothing spectacular, but we were so half arsed, with most of the more fringe players taking part today not doing themselves any favours.

Saldaris in goals looked OK, and Marinos Gasparis looked hungry, harrassing and harrying in the midfield. But Fernando looked a little slack, and Gianni De Nittis probably didn't do himself any favours.

Dimi Hatzimouratis surely edged himself in front of Gianni in that regard, with the opening goal, a long range effort which smashed in under the crossbar. Malvern then equalised, deservedly so, after an old forgotten foe in Juan Nilo slid one in.

Thankfully Joe Keenan's cut back was met by Kyle Joryeff, and we held the lead until the end. The boys will need to play a lot better against Port Melbourne in the next round, to be held during the Queen's Birthday long weekend.

The second half of the double header was between Northcote and Morwell Pegasus. It was a pretty interesting game, and quite enjoyable after the slop we produced.

Pegasus had an early, possibly dubious penalty, which was saved - and the follow up shot from the rebound was very poor, straight at the keeper with almost the whole goal to aim at. Morwell kept beating Northcote's offside trap, eventually making it count, after a very nice build up in midfield released their striker into space, who hit a beautiful chip over the keeper.

Pegasus almost doubled their lead early in the second half, with the ball hitting the crossbar and coming down, but not crossing the line. Thereafter, Northcote dominated posession and territory, with Morwell defending in numbers, though clear cut chances were few and far between. Late on Northcote missed what looked like a sitter from inside the six yard box, their best chance of the game. Pegasus had a man sent off about 10 minutes from time I think, just outside the box.

Bit of cup romance for the tragics, with last season's cup winners, albeit a shadow of the team they were then, bundled out by a team who didn't even have a sponsor on their shirt.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Fourth Round Cup Match Details

No league action this week. Probably for the best after the last couple of weeks.

Instead, this Sunday at the very special time of 12:30PM, we're making our 2012 entry into the Dockerty Mirabella Statewide Knockout Cup, against Malvern Stonnington Malvern.

As an apparent gesture of goodwill or out of guilt for moving two games away from there last season, including a final and the final match of the home and away season, the match will be at Northcote's John Cain Memorial Park.

And before anyone jumps off an internet forum ledge, yes, Lakeside was available, but the club thought it might be nice to try something a little different.

And by different, they mean being the first serving in a fourth round double header, as after our match, Northcote City will be taking on Morwell Pegasus at 3:00PM.

Hercules were originally drawn against Bulleen, but the Lions have pulled out. Don't know why, but the comments section is open for your speculation needs. I'll provide the first one as example to get you started.

I'm guessing that as per last year, your membership won't entitle you to entry to this game. Frankly, I don't care, as I have access to both an FFV season pass and a media pass.

Will we rest injured players? Will we give players like under 21 squad left winger Anthony Giannopoulos a run, even after he refused to come celebrate with your correspodent and his associates, after scoring from the penalty spot? Will Gianni De Nittis get a run,m and if he does, will cost us victory?

The last time we played Malvern in any sort of game was in one of those 70 minute farce matches in the 2012 Hellenic Cup. We won 3-0. The winner of this week's game will play the winner of the match between Port Melbourne and Yarraville. As one wit has already noted, it's like the Hellenic Cup all over again.

And isn't that something to look forward to.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Lots of pies, but still not satisfied - William Barr's, 'Real Fans, Real Football'

Perhaps two years ago now, my buddy Gains gave me a copy of William Barr's Real Fans, Real Football, as a thank you for letting me show him the South Melbourne Hellas ropes. But as is my way, I didn't get around to reading it until very recently, having slogged (or drifted, depending on your point of view), through honours thesis reading and catching up on other reading I didn't do because of thesis work.

But we've finally made it. And I must say, while there are some poignant and thought provoking moments in this book, they tend to become lost among personal flights of fancy and a loose, uncertain narrative. Now if that sounds like a definition of this blog, well, it's probably not too far from the truth.

But I would argue that this blog does have a narrative, albeit not a driven one - and that the flights of fancy are gregarious and bizarre enough to stand on their own two feet, as part of the greater experiment that is this enterprise, and part of my own method of creating the character of the narrator. This is where perhaps the Kiss of Death falls short - while it has plenty of strong opinions, only those who know the KOD's identity may equate it with a character.

But back to the book, as all the other stuff is perhaps a discussion left for another day. Barr sets the scene thus - the romantic top-flight football past, of players on salaries almost as low as the common man, of cheap entry and community engagement, is gone. Clubs are now owned by foreign moguls, who know nothing of the history and culture. The Premier League is planning a 39th round to be played overseas; and Wimbledon have been forcibly moved to Milton Keynes.

As a Norwich fan, Barr has seen his fair share of ups and downs at a club that, like so many in England's second tier, strive to escape to the riches of the top division, while knowing full well that their stay there will likely be short and painful - without the financial clout to challenge the big clubs, it is a cycle they are set to repeat year upon year.

But they do not compare to the struggles of teams at the bottom of the football league, playing in front of small crowds, fighting insolvency, crumbling infrastructure and desperately trying to connect to their communities in a crowded sports and entertainment market.

Each chapter takes basically the same format. Barr visits every club that played in the 2007/08 Football League Two season. He takes in some of the sights of the host town, occasionally talks to some of the local supporters, eats a few pies, recounts the game, rinse repeat

The pie segment is easily the least interesting portion of the book. Barr's discussion of his scoring system and the imaginary Pie Stewards begins to grate very quickly. The fact that 3/4 of the pies he consumes seem to be chicken balti doesn't offer much variety in this area either.

Barr's match report notes are detailed enough, though dull. This blog is renowned - admittedly only among its readership of seven - to have atrocious match reports, but that's part of the point. Match reports, except in the hands of the truly gifted sportswriter, are the most pragmatic of all sports writing. And I'm too busy either enjoying or lamenting our performances to take the requisite notes.

By far the best moments of the book are those sections where Barr gets to talk to members of the Supporters Trusts, or indepedent supporters groups. So many clubs are living on or have gone over the financial edge, that supporters at some clubs have decided to take matters, and the operating of their clubs into their own hands. And while a certain amount of stability can be achieved, ambitions must be kept firmly in check - the financial clout of such structures is minimal, and big spending is almost inconceivable.

Not that this is understood by the average fan in the terraces. Basic economics seem to elude people when it comes to football and success. Witness this classic encounter where Stuart, a member of the Notts County Supporters Trust (formed to save the club from extinction) discusses the lack of big signings with another fan:

'Why don't you spend half a million on some goal scoring forwards?'
'What car do you drive?' comes Stuart's reply.
'Ford Mondeo'
'What car would you like to drive?'
'BMW 5 Series'
'Why don't you?'
'Haven't got the money'
'Why not borrow it?'
'Because I couldn't keep up with the payments'
'And then what?'
'I'd go bust'

While the temptation is there for certain clubs to put their lot in with a big spender, there are many cautionary tales to take note of. The reign of Darlington's former owner George Reynolds is one such affair - apart from his abrasive management method, he moved the club to a brand new 25,000 seat stadium - most of the clubs in the division, including Darlington, would be doing well to fill 20% of that capacity - and was done in for tax evasion before the paint had dried.

The fans are friendly, and Barr notes there is none of the tension and aggro that seems to inhabit the upper echelons. Indeed, several people Barr interviews recall a fondness of their club's days in non-league football, where such behaviour was even more common - even the lower tiers of the Football League can be seen as too commercial for some. That friendliness is not necessarily passed on towards the supporters of Milton Keynes, however, with the farce that led to thar club's creation still fresh in the memory.

If this book does one thing well, it shatters the myth of the English football supporter being any more loyal to their local club than fans from other parts of the world. For example, certain South Melbourne fans have often claimed that in England, one wouldn't change teams. And yet, Barr provides ample evidence that especially with regards to Lancashire, an area with a glut of Football League clubs, that people would rather make the one or two hour journey to watch Manchester United, City or even Blackburn, ahead of their own town's representative. The lure of glory and a better class of football is just too much, and thanks to pay television, and the ubiquity of the EPL, one can just as easily call themselves a fan from the comfort of their loungerooms, decked in 'their' club colours.

Indeed, throughout the entire book, only two clubs get close to the 10,000 mark for attendance - one time Premier League battler Bradford City, and the reviled Milton Keynes Dons. Just about every other club is settled on crowds of about 2000 spectators. Three clubs were run by supporters trusts. Several had been in or out of administration. Rotherham got out of it and back in before the book was finished; Wrexham lost its place in the Football League for the first time in almost 90 years; Chester City went bust.

There are several connections one can make between what's happening in English soccer and and the game in our own backyard. Finances are tough, fans fickle and distracted by brighter lights, and lower level clubs mistreated. But there is no definitive way out, no workable manifesto for a healthier and more just football future put forward.

And ultimately, this is the book's biggest let down. Putting aside the pies and the football, there is almost no narrative, and not enough of a deeper engagement with the system. No updates on the tables, only brief, isolated mentions of a team's form. The reader never feels as if he has lived through the League 2 season in all its glory and gore, only an assortment of random games.

And we learn very little about Barr as well, about his character and his own past - he comes across mostly as a thin caricature, one of Jarvis Cocker's tourists slumming it in poverty, all while being able to escape at any given moment. It speaks to the questions of authenticity of trying out such an enterprise - Barr obviously means well, but there is little to no risk of Norwich City ending up in the bottom tier. Even at their lowest ebb after being relegated from the second tier, they spent only one season in the third, playing against just four of the clubs that Barr wrote about.

The whole project seems like something that would have been better off done as a blog, something more conducive to prompting feedback and discussion. Such an enterprise may have even allowed Barr to take some photos of all the places, people - and pies - he has seen - in this book, there no photos. None. Someone with the narrative focus and eloquence of Tim Parks can get away with that, but not Barr.

The title, too, is incredibly provocative. It adds to the broad brushstroke nature of Barr's work, and Barr doesn't take into account those 'genuine' fans of the Premier League clubs, or even those who've been left out in the cold by the march of capitalism - Jakarta Casual's Antony Sutton has several such laments scattered on his blog. Still, as a cheap and quick primer to life in the dregs of the system, there are insights to be had, and probably worse places to start. It would have been nice had the book focused more on those interesting things than so much that is ephemeral.

For another take on the book, there is also a review done in When Saturday Comes.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Rough and Tumble - Richmond 1 South Melbourne 1

Lost it somewhere in the car park I reckon before I got to the game.

Very irritating.

Should have been a few more dished out for both teams. But Richmond went nuts last night, could have easily finished with less than the nine players they did. But considering the regime and culture we're located in, we should be surprised that they were punished at all. Anti-South backlash is in full swing on the forums, but that was expected. Actually relieved that we're on some sort of perch, no matter how flimsy, that people feel they need to knock us down from.

Kransky, good as per usual, made better with sauerkraut. Poppy seed cake. Fantastic. Should have taken a photo. Gains didn't like his, so I did a Steve from Broady and finished it off for him.

Goal Weekly
People still lament its print passing. Not that the FFV care.

Heinous in-joke chant
'There's only one Paul Mavroudis'

'There's only two Paul Mavroudis'

'We've got one Paul Mavroudis'

It's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)
National Competitions Review should have been released by now. The word seems to that the Victorian Champions League will be scrapped and/or ,oved to winter, with one club from each zone picked to be the designated development club. Sounds farcical. Will wait and see what the truth of the matter is.

Old light tower for sale. For more details, contact Richmond. Photo: Gains

Richmond have new lights, and they're a definite improvement on the former set up, with the rolling mist proving less of a problem. If you're interested in purchasing the old set, for use say, on a training ground or local tennis court, contact Richmond. Not sure how much they're selling them for, but you'll need to organise pick up yourselves. They seem pretty robust, considering the kids jumping up and down on them last night didn't break them.

Thank you to Mark Boric for getting us copies of the VPL/WVPL 2011 yearbook. Strange sort of publication, in that it gets put out before the season has finished. Also thanks for the Rapid (defunct Hobart club) pins, very nice.

Neil Hamburger
What's the difference between the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Harriet Tubman? Well of course the great Harriet Tubman was a heroine to the slaves, while the Red Hot Chilli Peppers are slaves to heroin.

Next Week
Cup action, against Malvern. Will be interesting to see if any players are rested, few of them were left with black and blue legs.

Short Corners
Can't stand them.

Steve from Broady
'Dude I woke up this morning with a orange cone in my bed WTF'

Steven Topalovic (no love lost)
'We're not fickle, you're just shit'

'Topa, garden shed, Topa Topa, garden shed'

Walking the ball into goal
Enough already! Take a shot!

Friday, 20 April 2012

German Shepherd Edition - Kiss of Death, Round 4, 2012

8:30 PM Fri 20th April  
Hume City (8th) vs Bentleigh Greens (4th)
Hume is coming off a 1-1 draw at Northcote last week, while Bentleigh are coming off a 2-0 win against Southern Stars. Bentleigh is looking good so far this season, but their bubble will be burst tonight. Hume is due to slap someone, and that time is now. Can’t see Bentleigh escaping lightly either. Hume City 4 – Bentleigh Greens 1.

8:30 PM Fri 20th April  
Richmond (5th) vs South Melbourne (2nd)
Richmond won 1-0 at Heidelberg last week, while South Melbourne had their first loss of the season 3-1 away at Gully. The keepers' curse is well and truly confirmed after the dismal performance of Peter Gavalas in the South goals. I put all three goals down to keeper error. Was a poor match with no team really threatening. South scored through an own goal, and Gully scored all three goals thanks to the keeper's fuck ups. South might be without the groin injured Trent Rixon tonight, but they have enough firepower to do the damage at KB Reserve. Only issue would be the size of the ground. South struggles on compact surface area. Richmond 0 – South Melbourne 2.

3:00 PM Sat 21st April  
Green Gully Cavaliers (3rd) vs Oakleigh Cannons (6th) 
Oakleigh is coming off a 2-1 home win against the Moreland Zebras. My sources tell me that last week, Oakleigh was lucky to get away with the win. Gully has got to be the ugliest team in the VPL. This has been my argument for centuries, about how the VPL is a league where the ugliest team usually wins games because they can grind them out. Pretty football looks good, but most likely you will lose. On this topic, Oakleigh this season is neither. They will question their existence this weekend, and sack the coach, who is already under immense pressure. Green Gully 4 – Oakleigh Cannons 0. NB: Do not park inside the German Shepard Club. 

7:00 PM Sat 21st April  
Southern Stars (10th) vs Heidelberg United (11th) 
Cellar dweller derby. Backpackers v POS. Both teams coming off losses. I’m calling it from now, that whoever loses this one will be relegated. There is no turning back from here. Southern Stars 2 – Heidelberg United 2. Just to confuse everyone. 

3:00 PM Sun 22nd April  
Moreland Zebras (12th) vs Dandenong Thunder (1st) 
It would be better if Moreland doesn’t even show up for this one. Dandy is rampant. Best attack with nine goals, and best defence with zero goals conceded. Complete opposite for Moreland. one goal scored, nine conceded. Moreland is proving to everyone that money does not buy you success on the park in the VPL. Joe Palatsides has a battle on his hands, and although there was a glimmer of hope against Oakleigh, Dandenong is a different kettle of fish. Moreland fans, if any, will be jumping off the sinking ship after this one. Desertion en masse down at Epping on Sunday.  Moreland Zebras 0 – Dandenong Thunder 6. 

3:00 PM Sun 22nd April  
Melbourne Knights (9th) vs Northcote City (7th)
Knights had an expected 2-0 loss away at Dandy last week, while Northcote hit a 91st minute equaliser against Hume to get the draw last week. Haven’t seen these two teams as yet, but I’d be putting my money on the Knights to do the job in a tight affair.  Melbourne Knights 3 – Northcote City 2. 

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Jersey Night on next week

Next Friday 27th April, at Beachcomber Cafe, two course meal, usual deal. Best bit for this year, is that if you're a Gold Member, you get half price entry, just $25! For everyone below that, it's $50. That's tipped me over the edge in making an appearance. Apparently there's also going to be a panel as per last year, so starfuckers rejoice!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Green Gully 3 South Melbourne 1

That was so bad. It's probably for the best that Ian Syson took notes all day long on his new blog.

South Melbourne: Gavalas, O'Dor, Tsiaris, Rixon, Trifiro G, Norton, Byles, DeMoraes, Trifiro J, Joryeff, Matthews. Res: Payne, Gasparis, De Nittis, Saldaris, Keenan.

Green Gully: Keane, Jones, Cicak, Vargas R, Hayne, Sanders, Robson, Basma, Medjedovic, Munoz, Ederero. Res: Roganovic, Fleming, Fisher, Nikolic, Dib.

Kick off 3.01.

3.05 Floated free kick caused some grief in gully goal box.

3.09. Blazed over by gully from the left

3.12. Cc banner causing drama. Meanwhile gully scores own goal. South lead 1-0.

3.14. Apparent gully handball (red cardable) not picked up by ref.

3.15. Period of south domination produces yellow and free kick on edge Of D. Fernando tries to curve it over wall. Too high.

3.21. Gully press. Shot over.

3.23. Rixon blazes over after good lead up. Deserved better.

Ederero heads wide. Should have scored.

3.28. Good period for gully.

Ederero subject to some searching treatment. Jason Trifiro up-ends him.

3.38. Goalmouth scramble after Gavalas drops the corner. Gully equalize. 1-1.

3.45. Ederero down again.

Gully finish the half strongly. Half-time. 1-1.

4.04. Second half Underway. South with the sun at their backs.

Scrappy first few minutes.

4.13. Yellow to Sanders.

4.17. Yellow to Ederero for dissent

4.21. Rixon hurt and stayed down for while.

4.22 Tsiaris yellow. Rixon hurt again.

4.23. De Nittis on for Rixon

4.26. DeMoraes blazes over from right.

4.28. Keenan on for DeMoraes

4.30 Sanders turns and shoots wide for gully.

4.33. Good positing by Byles to clear off the line after a poor fisted clearance by Gavalas.

4.34. Sanders goal. Gully 2-1. Miskick by Gavalas.

South looking scrappy in midfield. Gully free kick 30 out. Cleared.

4.39. Hayne blazes over.

4.41. Good work by Keenan on right leads to cleared shot.

4.43. Good lead up work leads to shot by Robson put around for corner. Corner directly in from Hayne. Gully 3-1

4.45. South being shown up. Keeper having a poor game. Too many bad choices made in defence.

Ending badly

4.51. Ederero hits the post. Probably deserved a goal. Full-time 3-1. The hoodoo still in place after south looked likely early

Under 21s
Another week, another big win. Was that first round loss to Zebras just an aberration?

Steve from Broady's Positive Spin
I get annoyed by a lot of things. Out of those many things, rapaciously blind optimism is up there in the annoyance stakes. And Steve from Broady is one if its greatest practitioners.

Fed up with what he perceives to be the negative or depressing tone of this blog - which he believes is also an extension of my negative and depressing personality - he had offered to write a short piece on the positive spin.

So, after yesterday's calamitous display, I came knocking for his positive take. Alas, there was nothing to collect. I feel that the blog has been cheated of the great wisdom of Steve from Broady. Now we're all stuck with my negativity, just like every other week.

Car Park Capers
Amid the doom and gloom, there were some highlights. Firstly, there was the person amused and astonished by the fact that I was driving. 'Oh my god, Mavroudis is driving, someone take a photo'. Haha, heehee.

But best of all, were the people who ignored the two announcements over the public address system, to remove their cars from the German Shepard club car park next door, as the council was soon to shut and lock the gates.

The second time, they even read out the licence plates of the three cars left in there. Of course, on trying to exit the car park, a harrowing ordeal even with Gully's small crowds, my buddy Gains, sitting in the passenger seat, spotted an olive green probably 1980s model Mercedes bouncing across the grass on the wrong side of the fence cross country style.

Let's hope they made it out alive.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

It's blogtastic!

Another day, another blog. Neos Osmos has thus far mostly provided reheated Ian Syson articles, but has promised to offer new digressions soon. Will be interesting to see where this ends up, and how long it takes to get there.

Also, if you're looking for this round's Kiss of Death entry, you can either scroll down or head here. Bit of a faux intellectual flavour this week.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

South drawn against Malvern in cup

We're the home team. To be played weekend of April 28th. More details closer to the date.

What happens next - a comment on our times

The game goes on.

People turn up to their local  clubs, maybe watch a senior game, maybe not.

They send their kids to soccer clubs.

These kids will play until they no longer feel the urge to do so.

They may leave the game entirely.

Later, they may take up fustal or indoor soccer, something to do with their friends, to keep fit.

They may find their way back into a lower tier club, or a thirds team.

They may end up marking lines, or manning the canteen.

They may or may not become fixtures on a hill or terrace.

And when they go, they are replaced by others.

And the game goes on.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Kiss of Death Round 3, 2012 - Year 12 English Lit edition

The regular columnist hasn't shown up for this week, so we've hired Paul Mavroudis from the year 2000 to do it this week.

Heidelberg United vs Richmond, Easter Monday, 3pm, Olympic Village
After supper she got out her book and learned me about Moses and the Bulrushers, and I was in a sweat to find out all about him; but by and by she let it out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so then I didn't care no more about him, because I don't take no stock in dead people. Heidelberg 1 - Richmond 1.

Oakleigh Cannons vs Moreland Zebras, Easter Monday, 6pm, Jack Edwards Reserve
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
Oakleigh 4 - Zebras 2

Dandenong Thunder vs Melbourne Knights, Orthodox Easter Saturday, 3pm, George Andrews Reserve
May I speak plainly?... If you'll forgive me, he's common... He's like an animal. He has an animal's habits. There's even something subhuman about him. Thousands of years have passed him right by, and there he is. Stanley Kowalski, survivor of the Stone Age, bearing the raw meat home from the kill in the jungle. And you - you here waiting for him. Maybe he'll strike you or maybe grunt and kiss you, that's if kisses have been discovered yet. His poker night you call it. This party of apes. Thunder 3 - Knights 2.

Green Gully vs South Melbourne, Orthodox Easter Saturday, 3pm, Green Gully Reserve
It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire. Gully 2 - South 0.

Northcote City vs Hume City, Orthodox Easter Saturday, 3pm, John Cain Memorial Reserve
To me, Antigone, no word of friends
Has come, or glad or grievous, since we twain
Were reft of our two brethren in one day
By double fratricide; and since i' the night
Our Argive leaguers fled, no later news
Has reached me, to inspirit or deject
Northcote 2 - Hume 2

Bentleigh Greens vs Southern Stars, that Monday that isn't today, the next one, 8:15pm, Kingston Heath Soccer Complex
Foreigners have much less sense than Greeks. Greens 3 - Stars 3.

Hibernating for the winter - where to now for Goal Weekly?

Disclaimer - while I have been both an occasional contributor to Goal Weekly, as well as a current member of the FFV's history committee, the following article does not claim to be representative of the views of either organisation.

Goal Weekly's decision to go on a print version hiatus during the winter season is a blow to the local soccer scene on several fronts. The FFV's decision to take away its portion of funding from Goal Weekly is, from this outsider's position, seemingly the straw that broke the camel's back.

No other publication focused so broadly on the local game, at all levels. Where the FFV struggles to even get results into the mainstream papers, Goal Weekly had not only those results, but also reportage from across the range of competitions.

Because of its marginalised status in the the Australian sporting landscape, soccer has perenially found itself with people willing to plug the gaps, by writing on the game and creating publishing avenues for the sport from their own good will and because of their passion for the sport.

As much as the internet revolution has accelerated and taken down more than a few specialist magazines down with it, the print medium is still the dominant news form. And frankly, Goal Weekly's website is atrocious.

And blogs and internet forums can only go so far. So many versions of the FFV website alone have risen and fallen, taking with them copious amounts of the game's history and data. Much the same has happened to the Goal Weekly site, several forums, and the array of online puiblications I've written for - 86th Minute, Half Time Heroes, etc. Yes, the OzFootball site is still kicking on in its ramshackle fashion, but that mostly provides the raw data of a given moment in time.

Goal Weekly was perhaps the focal point of this state's soccer discourse. It not only had the reports from across the leagues, and even other states, but it also published the humour and the grievances of the soccer public in its diverse forms. In short, it told the story of the game, a weekly snapshot. It was the most obvious place to find the continuing narrative of the local game.

There are people who depend on publications like Goal Weekly. Believe it or not, there are still people who do not have access to the internet on even a semi-regular basis. The famous South supporter and mad fan of women's football known as Josie is one such a person. She was relatively distraught at the prospect of Goal Weekly's print demise - someone had tried to point her towards this blog, but she has no access to the internet, and was unware that fixture dates and locations had been changed.

A whole slew of soccer writers and photographers - both those of a hobbyist persuasion and those who would make a career out of it - have now been denied a major avenue to practice their craft in the public sphere. If local papers don't want to cover local soccer, where do the writers and photographers go?

Michal Skrodzki was one such hobbyist. His job was to cover the happenings of the teams from state league 2 and under (which I filled in on occasionally). His writing was haphazard, prone to cliche and over-exuberant whimsy, but when put alongside the diversity of the other writings - Mark Boric's acerbic take on authority, Craig MacKenzie's coverage of the south-east, the up and coming Sacha Pisani, Niki Cook's coverage of the women's game, the delerium of Tsigan's Tsigar - it created a tapestry unlikely to be found anywhere else in Australian sports writing.

The FFV has claimed that their media budgets are tight, and that their contribution to Goal Weekly returned little value to the organisation. I was prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt, waiting to see what thing they would come up with that was better than Goal Weekly.

So far, all I have seen has been a VPL media guide, glossy but vacuuous and out of date by the time it hit the presses, made up of incorrect and incomplete squad lists, and cursory glances at the possible prospects of the season's participants. Another wesbite revamp has been promised, but since articles on the womens and junior facets of the game have predominated for years - not that there's anything wrong with that, it's where the growth is - the VPL will still likely suffer in comparison.

The notion that the FFV got nothing out of their contribution to Goal Weekly except for a bit of flak is laughable - but the fact that they genuinely seem to believe that is the case must be taken seriously. It shows an organisation that is unwilling to take criticism on board, despite the mission statements plastered across its office walls.

The clubs are also not blameless in this area. The support of a good deal of the leading clubs in the state has often been described as poor by people who have contributed to the paper. Unfortunately, there are also clubs who would agree with the FFV's stance, that the organisation donating some of its money should be able to dictate terms - not even considering the possibility that something like Goal Weekly should be the exception to that rule, that it serves a greater good.

Some may point to this blog and accuse it of hypocrisy in this matter. 'Haven't you sought the end of the print medium on several occasions?'

That would be an incorrect assumption. I have only celebrated the declining circulations and tightened financial situations of publications which have either been superseded by something better, or whose downfall is of their own making, in their fervent race to the bottom. As yet, Goal Weekly has not been superseded by something better and its pluralism was something to be celebrated.

Even if there was no money involved, it's the principle of that matter that comes to the fore - that the FFV can not even find something positive to say about the  publication should be troubling everyone in Victorian soccer.

Friday, 6 April 2012

a minor passage

It was amazing, he decided, how things like sex and Hibs, which were nothing to him when he was on smack, suddenly became all-important. He speculated that his drug problems may be related to Hibs poor performances over the eighties.

- Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting