Sunday, 29 July 2012

Injury Time Pandemonium - Southern Stars 2 South Melbourne 3

At halftime, I'm not embarrassed to say that I'd written the team off. They had played terribly, gave up a softish goal, and didn't look remotely like being in the game. Well, in this game at least, they proved me wrong, with three second half goals - including two in injury time, to Steve Burton and Nicky Jacobs - pulling us out of the mess we'd made for ourselves.

The result shouldn't paper over the method however, which left a lot to desire. We fell behind twice, and seemed to be making much the same mistakes we have all season. Undermanned though we were, it's always disappointing to change the personnel and still make the same errors.

Still, when the winning goal went in, it created 'AWOL' celebrations among the faithful (and the dutiful; one bloke had ducked out of his nephew's birthday for this), with one person slipping over on the wet grass, and the usual random array of hugging, jumping, yelling, fence thumping etc.

And the winner for best dressed squad goes to...
Southern Stars, who look very sharp in their gray suits, with white shirt and red patterned tie combination. Too bad we haven't got a photo to go with this award.

Fernando De Moraes
He may be getting to the end of his outdoor career, and I haven't been alone in writing him off, but last night he stepped up with his leadership, chasing and tackling, doing all those things that he's never been associated with. Showed a lot of character, and a lot of leadership.

Getting the Ball Back to the Middle After a Goal
Fascinating, maybe just to me, to see none of our players go anywhere near the ball after we'd scored the 2-2 goal.

I Still Don't Know...
Quite how any of our goals were actually scored. In that, yes, I did see the majority if not all of of the sequence, including the balls crossing the line, but that they didn't quite make sense wgen looked at rationally. The first took a deflection and seemingly rolled in; the second was hit well and hard, but hit the post going across the face of goal getting me all confused before eventually crossing the line - I had started celebrating before it had even gone in I think, and then managed to contain myself, then celebrate again all within a very short space of time - our last trip to Kingston Heath, where everyone had thought we had scored the goal of the season before the ball was cleared off the line from point blank range makes such situations very difficult. The last goal was created from sheer will and created utter pandemonium. I'm still buzzing.

Jason Trifiro
Has gone to Western Sydney Wanderers (horrible, Anglocentric, Anglophile name, but I suppose there's a tasty irony in it being the name of the team for all the disenfranchised wogs) so get your 'now who will his brother pass to?' jokes out of your system as soon as possible (I much preferred the line about how it was the Wanderers fans' to say 'he would have scored that at Northcote). For help on speculating on how much he was transferred for, see this link, especially if you're Steve from Broady.

Marinos Gasparis
At halftime, my comment on his entire career was the rather unsubtle, 'stick a fork in him, he's done'. But his second half was decent enough that I was compelled to reconsider that position, albeit on one proviso - that he should never, ever be allowed to pass the ball backwards again. Hell, there should probably be a moratorium on him even passing it sideways. If he sticks to forward passes, no matter how outlandish, he just may have some sort of future at South.

Next Week
Hume City at home, hopefully at least a couple of players back. Of course it's all one week at a time and all that, but they're three points ahead of us in sixth place - a win here could be useful. But before that, tribunal showdown to see if we can get Trent Rixon's suspension reduced, as well as Gus Tsolakis fronting the tribunal to see what punishment, if any, he'll get for his dismissal into the stands against Richmond.

Fresh from scoring the winning goal, Nicky Jacobs waits for his
turn to be interviewed by the SMFCTV. Photo: Gains.
Nicky Jacobs
Just remember, I saw him first. There's no need to go completely over the top with the plaudits and calls for him to be put into the starting eleven, especially when he's still only 17 years old and reportedly focusing on his schooling this year. And it was a bit of a right place. right time scenario (admittedly a skill in itself). Still, it did reiterate that there are worthwhile players to be found in our youth ranks, and while you don't have to give them a starting gig, the occasional decent spell off the bench does not always go astray. Good to also see Trent Rixon giving Nicky instruction from over the fence.

Play the Whistle
I don't know whether Stars' first goal was offside. Certainly our defenders seemed to think so - but that was no reason to stop and call for it, allowing the opposition to waltz through on goal unattended. That kind of stuff pisses me off when I see it at state league two ressies level, not need for that crap in the VPL.

Under 21s
Also 3-2 winners. Had been leading 2-0, until two quick fire goals in as many minutes saw Stars level in the second half, only for a late goal from South.


Thursday, 26 July 2012

Kiss of Death, Round 16, 2012

Friday 8:30 PM Hume City (7th) vs Heidelberg (12th)
Last weekend Hume drew 1-1 away at Bentleigh while the Bergers had a 2-2 home draw against Southern Stars. Heidelberg has still only won one game all season, and I cant see them winning this one. Even with seven games to go and 21 points up for grabs, they are destined for State 1 in season 2013. Hume on the other hand is pushing for a top five spot and a win will get them back into the mix. Everyone should get around it and fingers crossed a draw will be the result. Hume City 2 – Heidelberg United 2.

Friday 8:30 PM Richmond (6th) vs Oakleigh Cannons (2nd)
Probably two of the poorest sides in the VPL. Richmond had a 1-3 win at South Melbourne while Oakleigh scrambled a 1-1 draw with Green Gully. Both these sides play poor unimaginative football but that is irrelevant. They are getting results and that is what counts. To an outsider watching this match they would think both these teams are low down the table. On the contrary, they are both top five contenders. Don’t ask me how because I don’t know the answer. Richmond 1 – Oakleigh Cannons 1.

Saturday 7:00 PM Dandenong Thunder (1st) vs Northcote City (4th)
Dandy had a text book 4-1 win over Moreland, while Northcote had an exciting 3-2 win over the Knights. This will be the tightest match of the round to call. Even I’m in a bit of a spell as to what the result will be. But as confused as I am about this one, I can see Dandy getting the win. They have been the team of the season, and deserve their first position on the ladder. Dandy Thunder 3 – Northcote City 1.

Sunday 3:00 PM Moreland Zebras (11th) vs Green Gully (3rd)
Moreland had a 4-1 loss at Dandy and Gully had a 1-1 draw at Oakleigh. Gully should win this one. Moreland Zebras 1 – Green Gully 3.

Sunday 3:00 PM Melbourne Knights (8th) vs Bentleigh Greens (5th)
Well ain't this a pickle of a result to pick? The Knights were unlucky in their 3-2 loss at Northcote, and Bentleigh had a 1-1 draw at home to Hume. As much as I see South's finals chances slipping away, I still must believe in a miracle of epic proportions. That is why I am tipping a draw at Somers Street. Hopefully the draw goes South's way. Melbourne Knights 2 – Bentleigh Greens 2.

Saturday 7:00 PM Southern Stars (9th) vs South Melbourne (10th)
Southern Stars drew 2-2 at Heidelberg and South Melbourne had its seventh loss of the season at home to Richmond 1-3. What a shambles at the moment down at Lakeside. We couldn’t score in a brothel. Just looking at some season stats and check this out. The senior side has had ten goal scorers this season. Out of those ten Hatzimouratis is gone for the season with an injury, O’Dor will probably miss for a couple of weeks, Keenan is carrying a niggle, and Jason Trifiro is our top scorer, a midfielder. Trent Rixon has only scored one (Rixon has actually scored three goals;  Ed.), and after his red card against Richmond will probably miss for the next 12 weeks!!! PLUS a tribunal hearing. Oh yeah, and how could I forget, Kyle Joryeff who has two, is now at Richmond. We signed all these attacking players this year, and somehow forgot to sign some defenders. Let’s have a look at the current defensive situation. Tom Matthews has two more weeks on the sidelines, Steve O’Dor limped off injured after ten minutes last week, Kelly was sent off for a second yellow, Tsiaras will be missing this week due to five yellow cards, which leaves Byles and Payne as the only recognised senior defenders. Brad Norton is not a defender, hell he ain't even a player in my books. How can someone go from VPL to A-League, and come back as a worse player? In the midfield, Gus’s biggest mistake was changing the lineup that lost to Gully. That lineup would’ve beaten Richmond. It’s not as if Gully outplayed us. Fernando is beyond outdoor football. He is now slower than slow, and isn’t the Fernando of old. Gasparis is not the Gaspa we are used to, has been very poor this season and seems to be getting worse. Keenan started, but what can he do with one leg? Burton was good, but needed Rixon to support him. Vlahos was BOG by a long way. I just don’t understand what the fuck is going on. We better fucken win. Southern Stars 0 – South Melbourne 1.

Admin Stuff and General Ranting
  • I suggest you keep your wives at home. When a fan launches a tirade towards the players, there is no need for the WAGs to abuse back. If you don’t like it, grab your handbag and high heel your arse out of there. A lot of the WAGs have just strolled into the ground like they have a right to abuse South fans. Listen ladies, when your hubbies/boyfriends/booty call, play for South, they are not playing for a pissy little club with ten fans. They are playing for a club which has expectations and a heavy shirt. If your roosters can’t hack it, then go. The lot of you can go. The exit points are to the right of the grandstand. Oh der, it’s the same gate you entered from, had a blonde moment. 
  • South is now at crisis point. I can’t remember us being in this position in the last 30 years. We can keep blaming the refs, but you can’t blame the refs if we are missing sitters or hitting the woodwork and the other team goes up once and scores the winner out of nothing.
  • Speaking of refs, what a joke of an official representing the FFV/FFA against Richmond. He is not a referee's asshole. The Federation should be ashamed that they stand behind these officials. Officiating at all levels of the game has gone from bad to worse in the last three years. I hear there were FFA referee inspectors at the ground to see this arseclown and promote him to the A-League. Mate, you guys can take him. Your league is already shit and he would add to what is already a list of shit officiators.

Over and out muppets.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Rixon suspended for 12 matches

So, the FFV has handed down severe punishment on Trent Rixon, for his attack on Richmond's Milardovic, who came out of their heated encounter (after Rixon's goal to make it 2-1) with a broken cheekbone. Can't say I'm surprised with the FFV's response.

One of the risks with getting Rixon was that he's no stranger to the serious red card. What effect, if any, this will have on his future at South remains to be seen - if he stays, he'll miss the first five games of next season, maybe less if we somehow score an unlikely finals place.

It'll be an even more unlikely feat to make the finals not just because of our poor form and/or erratic form, but because we're low on strikers - having already let go of Gianni De Nittis, and losing Dimi Hatzimouratis to injury for the rest of the season. Andy Vlahos may have to pinch hit further up the field. Or maybe bring in Nicky Jacobs in from the cold?

It appears as if the club intends to appeal the decision. I'd be interested in seeing their angle, and what good the video will do. The only possible positive thing to come out of this, is that Trent may get the opportunity to rest his body and hopefully get on track to overcome his chronic groin/osteitis pubis condition before next season.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

On towards 2013 - South Melbourne 1 Richmond 3

A note on match reports following Sunday matches
These will probably not come out until Monday evening for the rest of the season. This is because I'm usually having dinner out with folks, and don't get back early enough to put in a completely half arsed effort, and also because I will commence teaching a Monday tutorial class which I need to prepare for.

And yes I realise that this match report is also heinously late for reasons completely irrelevant. But it had nothing to do with watching SBSPopAsia while eating my corn flakes.

Anyway, refereeing issues aside - and we'll get to those later - it was a disappointing, almost limp effort for about 75 minutes. Neither side shone, but some of the errors we were making, especially defensively went beyond the pale. Marinos Gasparis in particular had a nightmarish performance, so bad you have to wonder if he'll ever get back to the kind of player we all know he can be, or whether he hit his peak years ago and is no longer worth persisting with.

Steve O'Dor, despite what I consider as the valid criticisms I made of him last week, will be missed if the injury he sustained in the first half keeps him out for a few weeks. Turns out Rhodri Payne is still around, but with Shaun 'slide tackle' Kelly getting himself sent off in his debut game (though some swear the penalty was an incorrect decision) it looks like we'll be thin on the ground defensively for a few weeks, what with Tom Matthews still to serve three more games suspended. Time to drop Brad Norton and get Matko Budimir and Anthony Giannopoulos into the senior squad?

Up forward, Steve Burton looked a little lost without Rixon next to him. Is it a case of not playing to his strengths? Why do we focus so much on trying to attack with our backs to goal? Rixon looked good when he came on - and he scored for the first time since the last time we played Richmond - but then got sent off before the restart, after an altercation with Richmond's Milardovic. The basic facts seem to be this - they fought over the ball in the goal net, as Rixon sought to get the game restarted as quickly as possible. After Milardovic tried to tackle Rixon, Rixon retaliated (how I'm not sure), and Milardovic ended up in the ground for five minutes, apparently with a fractured cheekbone.

Who knows what the video will show, and whether it will exonerate Rixon, Kelly (there are also inferences that there was a Richmond handball prior to his foul), and perhaps even shed light as to whether an earlier South chance crossed the line (I didn't think it did, but others insist that Gal scooped the ball out from behind his goal line). It'll also be interesting to see if Richmond's final goal was offside.

The officiating was so poor in the last 15 minutes, that South fans went from booing their own teams to clapping them off the field, turning their hostility towards the officials. No serious person would go even close to claiming the the officials were tge main reason we lost - only that their performance at the end was so farcical, and that the referee in question has a habit of making the game all about himself.

Andy Vlahos
Incredibly sad, in a way, that Andy was our best performer for most of the match. I made the (obvious) comment at the game, an idea which has now spread to the rest of the interwebz, that you could tell he had played at a  much higher level than most of those on the park (for both sides) could ever aspire to.
Fernando De Moraes
On the flip side of that, was the disappointing performance of Fernando. After being used as a substitute for most of the season, the absence of the Trifiro brothers from the starting eleven (for missing training because of trialling with the Western Sydney Wanderers, perhaps?), gave Nando a chance to shine, and yet he came up short. Is the great man's outdoor career at it's natural end? Are his futsal commitments, now that they've gone professional and with Nando himself looking at the futsal world cup, taking their toll?

Financial Problems?
Someone hit this blog after doing a google search for 'South Melbourne Hellas financial problems' and 'South Melbourne Soccer Club financial position'. Someone know something we don't? Some opposition supporter of a club hard on their luck? perhaps looking for proof of us emulating their downward spiral? Someone doing their research going into business with us? No idea to be honest, but it's not a pleasant sight seeing that stuff come up.

Liquor License
No booze available at the ground, thanks to the State Sports Centres Trust letting their temporary liquor license expire without getting a permanent replacement. I don't drink booze at sports events, so I'm not really that fussed. But some people were annoyed enough about it that they started singing about it.

Next Week
Southern Stars away at Kingston Heath next Saturday. By Belenos, I hate that place. Undermanned, under siege, understand if we manage to lose again.

Sack Gus
This is what I love about this place. Everyone wanted stability. Everyone was sick of coaches and players being turned over after just a season. Gus was signed to a two year contract, which was commended by fans prior to the season because it meant that we had committed, in principle at least, to restoring some sort of stability to the club's on field.

But then we lost a whole bunch of games and now it's 'sack Gus' time. Stability? Meh. I'm just as guilty of being fickle as the rest of the supporter base. But when I really knuckle down and think about it, the conclusion that I keep coming back to is this - that we're by and large a good team that's playing badly.

Sack The Board
I'm not sure the board can go out there and play for the team. They splashed out the cash, got the players the coaches wanted, and yet here we are. There's a ton of other things you could have a go at them for, but the team's performance is really one of them.

Social Club
Speaking of which, a few months ago, I was sort of put in charge of inventorying the social club's artifacts, on the premise that very soon the remodeling crew was going to go in and start work. Months later, the Valkanis' are still cooking in there and we're using it as storage for the toblerone sponsor cushions. Now I'm all for taking our time to do things right, but this is getting concerning. You'd hope there's a solid idea at the base of this approach. Would be very disappointing and damaging if we weren't close to re-opening the social club space to the supporter base by the start of next season.

Finals, we pretty much all agree now, are out the window. It's all about survival, the one thing - aside perhaps from blooding some youth team players - that we can salvage from this wreck of a season. We're seven points ahead of Moreland Zebras, with seven games to go. One more slip up from us, combined with a win by the Zebras, and the battle to avoid relegation could be on.

Thai Deli on Clarendon Street (a couple of doors up from the dreadful Pizza Hut). Great Thai food, lovely service, good serving size, and cheap! Get around it, as they say.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Desperate Times - Kiss of Death, Round 15, 2012

The end is near. Not many games to go and the top five is still in South's reach, at least mathematically. By South's expected standards it has been a poor run so far. Once again, it’s time to pull the finger out and start getting the results. No excuses, no surrender!

Friday 8:15PM Bentleigh Greens vs Hume City
Both teams are coming off convincing 3-0 wins from the weekend. Both teams need to draw against each other in order for South to keep their top five chances open. Should be an exciting game for those of you who are venturing out to Kingston Heath this weekend. Eat before you go though, as the food out there is questionable. Bentleigh Greens 2 – Hume City 2.

Friday 8:30 PM Oakleigh Cannons vs Green Gully
Oakleigh beat lowly Moreland 0-1, while Gully somehow beat South Melbourne 0-2 at Lakeside. Typical Gully and typical Dobbo. Grinding out the win from nowhere. Oakleigh should be able to grind out a win at home, but irrelevant of what South needs, this game should end up as a draw. Oakleigh Cannons 1 – Green Gully 1.

Friday 8:30 PM South Melbourne vs Richmond
Pfft. South Melbourne somehow lost 0-2 to Gully while Richmond beat the Bergers 3-2. South is in trouble. Seven points from relegation, and four points from the finals, with eight matches to go. What are we going to do? Worst case scenario is Moreland start winning and we don’t. Best case scenario is we win our next seven games and barnstorm into the finals. This can only happen if we start putting away our chances, and stop fluffing them. No team has come to Lakeside this season and outplayed us to get a result. All goals have been conceded from mistakes. Rarely this season have we played away and been outplayed. Changes have to be in the mix for this match, especially in our defence. As much as I love O’Dor, this season he has been too slow to push out his backline. The gap between defence and midfield continues to grow. This needs to be rectified. We cannot allow teams time on the ball towards goal when the midfield has pushed too far forward. With Tom Matthews suspended for four weeks this will only get worse. How depressed am I as I write this. Not many positives to think of.  South Melbourne 4 – Richmond 0. Fingers Crossed.

Saturday 3:00 PM Northcote City vs Melbourne Knights
Northcote copped three at Hume last week, while the Knights upset the bookies with a 1-0 win over high flying Dandenong. Good result for them. A draw is on the cards for this one. Saturday kick off sucks. Northcote City 2 – Melbourne Knights 2.

Saturday 7:00 PM Dandenong Thunder vs Moreland Zebras
Both teams coming off 1-0 losses. A dead rubber. Dandenong Thunder 3 – Moreland Zebras 0.

Sunday 3:00 PM Heidelberg United vs Southern Stars
Was at Richmond last week watching the Bergers slowly add nails to their coffin. They were unlucky not to at least get a draw in their 3-2 loss. Southern Stars were hammered 0-3 by Bentleigh. Bit of argy bargy between the Bergers keeper and Aleksovski after the game with the keeper in full rights. Aleksovski had two corners in the last minute of the game and both couldn’t clear the front post. Probably what cost them the draw in the end. Heidelberg to win their second VPL match for season 2012. Heidelberg United 3 – Southern Stars 0.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Of rucks, mauls and scrums - South Melbourne 0 Green Gully 2

The first 20 or so minutes of the game, we carried on from where we left off last week. Free flowing football, our opponents on the backfoot looking clueless. We hit the crossbar twice within five seconds, then not long after basically gave Gully the opening goal, and that was that. Gully deployed their rugby union tactics - lots of fouls and stop start play, and the old 'if in doubt, kick it out' - and our team lost all confidence and idea of how to go about their business.

For all the attacking issues we've had over the course of the season, we've scarcely been able to keep a clean sheet at the other end. On our bad days, the midfield seems to leave a huge gap between themselves and the defence after a turnover; and when we eventually regain the ball, they are either too near the defense or too far away from it.

One also gets the feeling that we always have at least one weak link in our defensive line up that the opposition will exploit mercilessly. A few years ago it Arthur Tsonis post knee operation; then Ramazan Tavsancioglu and his inability to properly position himself; then Rhodri Payne, who'd cough up in midfield and leave a massive gap behind him; and now it's Steven O'Dor, who opposition teams don't bother about closing down because they believe that he won't do anything of note with the ball coming out, and who'll they target with a speedy player because he doesn't keep the offside line as tight as he should.

Gully is an ugly team to watch, but they keep getting results. I'm not sure I could stomach their kind of play on a weekly basis, but that's their culture and it works for them. Good or bad day, there is no mystery to how they play, but why our club seems to have an issue in dealing with this I don't know. At halftime I was sent a text message asking for the score - 1-0 to Gully - and then a follow up question 'deserved' - all I could reply with was, not really.

By the end of the match, the summation was more definite - 2-0 ft, dreadful. By that stage we'd gifted them another goal, had Tom Matthews sent off for abusing a linesman, Joe Montemurro walking off the bench either sent off or in disgust, and spent 45 minutes going round in circles, or worse, going no where at all, playing the ball out slowly as if we were 2-0 up instead of 2-0 down.

Compounding the disaster of the day, was that just about every other result went against us well. Oakleigh, Hume, Knights Richmond and Bentleigh all won, which combined with our Gully loss means that the gap to the top five that'd we worked hard to close opened up again.

Next up is Richmond, who whatever limitations they may have on the field, will at least come out fired up. I saw them play Heidelberg on Friday night, and while the game was far from impressive, Richmond was at least able to grind out a 3-2 win. And you can be sure that Kyle Joryeff, who crossed over to Richmond during the transfer window and scored the opening goal last week, will be especially fired up to prove a point.

I'm not saying that all is lost - there's eight games to go, a lot of points to get, and a lot of strange things yet to happen - but with performances like that second half especially, we should be thankful that the bottom two relegation spots are basically done and dusted.

I'm also hoping that there's a player in this squad who will come out and have a blinder of a run home. Rather atypically, I was thinking earlier about who I would give my best and fairest award to, and I could not think of one player that has stood out even half consistently over the course of the season. That's not a good place to be in.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Kiss of Death, Round 14, 2012

Friday 8:30 PM Hume City (4th) vs Northcote City (9th)
Northcote drew 0-0 against Southern Stars, while Hume lost 1-0 at Dandenong Thunder. Will most likely be a tough match. Northcote needs this win to establish themselves properly in the five, while Hume needs this win to keep up with the pack. South need this one to be a draw to slow down Northcote and keep Hume off their tails. Hume City 0 Northcote City 0.

Friday 8:30 PM Richmond (10th) vs Heidelberg United (12th)
I’ll be doing autograph signings at this one. I saw Richmond beat Bentleigh 0-1 last week, but didn’t see Heidelberg lose 1-2 to Green Gully. Obviously, the Bergers need to win, and this is a winnable game for them. If they lose here then I’d definitely consider them a State 1 champion next season. Richmond did well last week at Bentleigh, they looked good going forward and comfortable at the back, except for the last ten minutes, when Bentleigh threw everything at them. I think Heidelberg can come good for this challenge. Even a draw will be a good beginning. Richmond 2 – Heidelberg 3.

Saturday 7:00 PM Southern Stars (6th) vs Bentleigh Greens (5th)
This is the easiest to pick. A no brainer if you will. South needs a draw. The co-tenant derby. I won’t write much about this one. Southern Stars 1 – Bentleigh Greens 1.

Sunday 3:00 PM Moreland Zebras (11th) vs Oakleigh Cannons (2nd)
Moreland got taught a lesson at Somers Street last weekend by a youthful and exuberant Knights outfit 2-1. Oakleigh lost 2-1 at Lakeside in what could’ve been a bigger margin if not for their keeper. Both teams coming off losses. Moreland needs to win to survive the drop, while Oakleigh needs to win to consolidate their top five position. South needs a draw or win to Moreland. Moreland are for the tip. Oakleigh surprised me how they are second. Is the VPL that bad? YES, YES, YES! Moreland Zebras 2 – Oakleigh Cannons 1.

Sunday 3:00 PM Melbourne Knights (8th) vs Dandenong Thunder (1st)
The Knights were excellent against Moreland last week in their come from behind 2-1 win. Dandenong as expected had a 1-0 win over Hume City. A win to Dandenong is the recipe for the day. South needs to shake off the Knights who are behind them on goal difference. I still think the Knights will give them a run for their money, but Dandy will just be better where it counts, on the scoreboard. Melbourne knights 1 – Dandeong Thunder 2.

Sunday 5:00 PM South Melbourne (7th) vs Green Gully Cavaliers (3rd)
Last week Green Gully beat the struggling Bergers 1-2. South Melbourne absolutely made a mockery of Oakleigh's second place on the ladder with a 2-1 win at Lakeside. The score coulda, shoulda, woulda, been bigger but for Italiano in goals. He has impressed this season, and tell ya what, he earnt his money against South. South was good, very good. Burton has been a wonder signing in this transfer window. Takes the load off big Trent and is a tough tackling Brit. Seems to have a wicked shot on him too, but how he hit the post from a couple of yards out in the first half has me necked. South was all over Oakleigh from the get go. It took Oakleigh two minutes to finally touch the ball after South kicked off. South did everything right. Chased hard, tackled hard, worked hard, attacked as a group, defended as a team, didn’t lose their shape, and was clinical in their passing and shooting. Overall a great day. For a change everyone left Lakeside happy, and we go into the Green Gully game with more confidence than usual. South Melbourne 3 – Green Gully 0.

Editors note: South's game this week is the FFV live stream game of the week. While of course there's nothing like the South Melbourne Hellas live experience, if you can't make it to the game, head to the FFV's Official Youtube Channel for their live coverage.

Admin Stuff
  • Congratulations to Arthur Papas for beating me in the Euro 2012 tipping comp. A thank you for agreeing to participate.
  • Match clock at Lakeside. It would be handy if the clock stopped with five minutes to go. Teams play to the clock and it gives an unfair advantage to the leading team. We get this at no other stadium. Turn the fucker off.
  • Liquor Licensing. A big ‘well done’ to the State Trust. How can you not apply for a permanent liquor license from the opening day of the venue, and instead you go and get a temporary one ? Seriously, how fucken amateurish. Also, that is no excuse for not having the food outlet open for the game against Oakleigh. The souvs and sausages that caravan sells are not as good as your pies, some of us actually wait a week to get a decent pie you know.
  • FFV. I am still waiting for my media pass. Season is nearly over you know.
  • Rumours. When people start rumours they should have some basis for them. Not bullshit ones that don’t even make sense. The key to a good rumour is a concrete source. 

Those wacky campers

Found while doing inventory a few months ago.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Nice - South Melbourne 2 Oakleigh Cannons 1

What can one say? That was good to watch.

We moved the ball more quickly, we linked up well, as all our little flicks into space started coming off, and we should have buried Oakleigh well before they made a late flurry. Apart from the improved forward play, which has probably been in evidence for a couple of weeks now, the midfield seemed hungrier for action - there was some thrilling tackling in the middle of the field, and to cap it off, for once the loose balls seemed to end up with us.

Our set piece play, especially from corners, has also improved. We're actually now, more often than not, at least making the opposition keeper and his defence worry a bit, instead of immediately playing it short, or worse, sliding it straight out for a goal kick. The team will still make mistakes, but football is a 90 minute game, not a five minute highlights package.

Oakleigh was in mine, and a lot of the other South fans' opinion, very unlucky not to get a penalty in the first half. It seemed pretty clear cut from where I was sitting, but the ref just waved play on. Apart from that, a period in the first half where the Cannons had a string of corners, and one or two shots needing saving, they seemed a little short of ideas, though our defensive work was pretty good, especially that of defensive midfielder (and I hope he stays there, instead of being shuffled back into defence proper) Dimi Tsiaras was huge.

Ricky Diaco's late free kick was always going to go in - in my opinion, he's probably the best free kick taker in the league at the moment, his shooting in general being excellent - it was just a matter of how. The fact that it had to go through the wall was less than pleasing however.

It shouldn't have come down to Peter Gavalas making a fine save right at the end to give us all three points, instead of just one, and that will be something to be worked on.

Arthur Papas
Back in town, and for some reason back on the Oakleigh bench as 'team manager'.

Back Room Booze Bonanza!
Congratulations to the person who won the raffle, consisting of two or three bottles of booze, which I found sitting in the back of the social club's bar, and which had probably been sitting there since we moved out to Northcote.

For the health inspector dudes who read this blog, don't worry, the bottles were sealed (wine and rum improve with age, no?) and I tossed out the Bailey's.

Had to wait almost ten minutes for kick off, because the refs didn't do their due diligence and check the nets well before the game was due to start.

Freekick Frenzy
gif maker 
Photographer Peter Psarros has a nice knack for taking sequenced photos of freekicks - the sequence of Steven Weir's free kick against Northcote in round 22 last year was lovely - and this one of Glen Trifiro's 30 yard effort is pretty good too. I sequenced the separate images using some free site doohickey.

Turn that fucking shit off already, it's fucking bollocks.

Next Week
Green Gully, at home. Eleven rounds ago, after another inspiring win against Oakleigh, this is where our season began to fall apart. Our record against Gully but not at Gully is actually not too bad. We'll probably screw it up.

Still mystifying. Instead of maybe bringing on a defender to beef up the defensive end, we brought on three attacking players. Did it almost bring us undone? Perhaps. Curious to see Joe Keenan have a bit of a run as well.

The Things That Keep You Up At Night
The latest stupid Steve from Broady catchphrase which has taken off among a certain portion of the supporters. See also: 'Get around it!' and 'Put it in the Mixer!'.

Under 21s
Won 2-1. Anthony Giannopoulos' scissor goal for the team's second was unfortunately not caught on video.

Vlahos, Burton, Kelly, etc
Vlahos only had a brief period on the field as a substitute. Kelly wasn't in the squad. Burton impressed. While he certainly should have scored a goal or two, his mere presence was beneficial to the entire team, and especially to Trent Rixon, by taking some of the attacking workload off him. Added to the fact that Rixon has actually been used by his team mates over the past two or three games, and there's reason to be a little optimistic about the second half of the season.

Thanks to that shocking first half of the season, there's not much room for error from here on in. We all got excited with our gangbusters start to the season, and fell into a deep depression when it went the other way. Top three gives you the double chance and a decent stab at the championship. We're not even close to thinking about that yet. For now, it's about re-establishing meaningful contact with the top five.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Kiss of Death, Round 13, 2012

This week's Kiss of Death is being tipped based on what results suit South Melbourne. As of now, all results must go South's way. Gamble at your own peril based on these tips. You have been warned.

Euro 2012 Tipping vs Arthur Papas
Congratulations to Arthur Papas for winning the tipping comp against the Kiss of Death. The final score was 20-14. Not only did Arthur get more win/loss/draw points (15-12), but he also won the correct result tally (5-2).

Friday 8:15 PM Bentleigh Greens (4th) vs Richmond (10th)
This game needs a draw. A draw will enable South to pull away from the bottom and climb into the upper half of the table. Richmond are the draw specialists this season, so hopefully they continue that trend. Bentleigh lost 2-0 at Gully last week which was not good for South, and Richmond drew 0-0 against Northcote which was good. Transfer window opened up this week and Skorich has left Bentleigh for the Zebras. Bentleigh Greens 1 – Richmond 1.

Saturday 3:00 PM Northcote City (3rd) vs Southern Stars (6th)
Southern Stars upset everyone last week. They beat the high flying Thunder 2-1. But, I have heard a rumour that the Stars have run out of money and the players have been told not to expect anything. Hopefully this stops their little run out of the bottom. Northcote is doing well under Loza. South needs Northcote to win. A draw is no good because then South can’t jump Southern Stars. Northcote 3 – Southern Stars 2.

Saturday 7:00 PM Dandenong Thunder (1st) vs Hume City (7th)
Pretty much a dead rubberfor South. A win by Dandy will be good. We can’t catch them anyway, but we can catch Hume. Dandenong Thunder 3 – Hume City 0.

Sunday 3:00 PM Melbourne Knights (9th) vs Moreland (11th)
You all know I’m a secret Knights fan, but I’m going to have to tip a draw here. South above all else and South needs this one to draw. The Knights have recruited a couple during the transfer window and Moreland has gone and signed Grant Brebner, Andrew Nabbout, Skorich and some dude from Ballarat. Only one I rate is Nabbout. At least the food will be good at Somers St. Cevaps and cabbage with some Karlovacko Pivo. Melbourne Knights 2 – Moreland 2.

Sunday 3:00 PM Heidelberg United (12th) vs Green Gully Cavaliers (5th)
The Bergers are in real trouble if they lose this one. They have been emptied out apparently in this transfer window, and Katsakis has a difficult task of keeping them up. For the sake of Hellas, the Bergers need to win against Gully. Here’s a conspiracy I’m making up now and hoping it will spread. If the Bergers lose to Gully, it’s so that South don’t make the finals. They would rather go down to State 1, as long as South doesn’t make the Top 5. Get around it and spread it my children.
Heidelberg United 2 – Green Gully 1.

Sunday 5:00 PM South Melbourne (8th) vs Oakleigh Cannons (2nd)
Match of the round. Will this be South's turning point? Will South pull out all stops and start putting teams away? Will Oakleigh start to falter? Will Zois hear about how much he “loves this club”?(LOL)

South was very good at Whittlesea last Sunday night. Fuck me was it cold. We played a calculated game with attacking purpose. A win would’ve been a bonus, but when you hit the post, the crossbar and McMaster pulls saves out of his arse, you can’t blame the team. What I can blame the team for though is, short corners, quick free kicks and bad decisions. Some examples. O’Dor comes up for a corner, we decide to play it short, we lose it, then O’Dor needs to sprint the full length of the pitch to get back into position. Gasparis took three corners in the first half that all went out of play. Don’t know which Trif, but one of them has this thing about taking quick free kicks. WTF? Just wait for a second man. Then we have players in not so good positions to shoot, yet no one in the middle for a cross, so they decide to cross anyway. Either hold the fucken thing, or try your luck with a shot. Why oh why does Gus persist with Petreski. He is not starting eleven material at South. We are not desperate to fill positions because we have no players. Take him off please, in the name of Hellas. A positive though is the subs Gus made. Surprise, surprise, he made them with 20mins to go. WAHHH Wild Scenes! Oakleigh had a 3-2 win against the Bergers last week after being 3-0 up. This shows defensive frailties. Hopefully South can exploit this. South Melbourne 3 – Oakleigh Cannons 0.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Digging a hole to 1974, and proud of it

Two Englishmen and a chain smoking, hard gambling senior citizen with manboobs walked into a bar... sounds like a decent set up for a joke, except the punchline is that the bar is South Melbourne Hellas, and the three blokes are our new signings. Good grief.

Stick a 'Soccer Action' masthead onto the article, maybe a Laurie Schwab or Fred Villiers byline onto it, and it would probably pass as a legitimate 1970s or 80s article.

So, Steve Burton (not the Green Gully one, but some schmo from England via Perth), Shaun Kelly (England via Shepparton) and Andy Vlahos (deep breath, ex-Heidelberg United, Collingwood Warriors, Carlton, Panathinaikos,  AO Agios Nikolaos, South Melbourne [who?], Football Kingz, Cercle Brugge, Melbourne Victory [apparently they don't exist according to our official site, which is an incredible, if slightly mystifying relief], Heidelberg United, Hume City, Heidelberg United) are our mid-season signings.

Also, out the door are Gianni De Nittis (again, maybe to Port), and Kyle Joryeff (unlucky, allegedly to Knights, but now probably Richmond). And what of Rhodri Payne? Who knows.

The only thing I can say, being one of those critics who has never kicked a ball and can't even lift a leg (then again, I heard the latter criticism made last night at the Port vs Gully cup match of Vlahos from a 1970s Polonia player), well, everything else has failed since 2006, so why not? This will be a second half of the season to remember.

And seriously, do click on the link above, and check out the attached videos - especially Kelly's, where he looks like a slide tackling machine even above and beyond Ramazan Tavsancioglu's efforts of the days of yore.

Monday, 2 July 2012

You can't always get what you want - Moreland Zebras 2 South Melbourne 2

But if you try sometimes, you get what you can.

Putting aside that the opposition weren't the best, this was the best football we'd played since round two. It still wasn't fast enough or determined enough in its spread of play, but it was leaps and bounds ahead of anything else we'd done attacking wise for months.

This time it wasn't for lack of trying that we didn't score, though some more trigger happy decisions in dangerous spots could have made all the difference. It wasn't that Trent Rixon didn't get any supply - he had more than his fair share for probably the first time this season, but chose that day to not be able to make it count. It happens.

The Zebras' chances, though not plentiful, were usually dangerous enough, and they were less wasteful. How many stray crosses from us? Sliced corners? Failure to punch it home from the six yard box? Two shots on the woodwork, and 3-4 good saves from McMaster. It all adds up.

It was frustrating for fan and player alike, yet it was a massive step in the right direction. There are others though, and our present status and possible future failure may very well show them to be right. We aren't where we are for no reason. And when one problem seems to be sorted, another pops up, this time in the defensive end. There is still much work to be done.

Bear Grylls for Pansies Epping North Trekking Experience
Took public transport there for the first time. The South Morang line is not one of Melbourne's more scenic train rides. Saw Steve from Broady at Bell Station, farewelled him at Preston station, as he was taking another route.

Saw the famous Josie and David at Epping Station. Got on bus. After 15 minutes, got off bus. Hands froze holding umbrella while walking through rain. At some point, the footpath ended, and we had to go cross country a little earlier than expected. Over the jagged and slippery rocks for a shortcut, around the muddier patches, and through the gate.

Barring some sort of finals match, this could be the last time we play at Epping Stadium for a very long time. Hume will probably be be back at their John Ilhan base soon enough. Moreland will be moving to, eh, Moreland, at just the moment the housing developments in the area really hit their stride. A ground that always seemed on the edge of nowhere was finally, thanks to Melbourne's relentless urban sprawl, somewhere. Even if that somewhere was really far away from a lot of places.

I know I won't miss the cold, the appalling food, and the long journey whether by public transport or car.

Civil Disobedience Spectacular
Those who've been to Epping know that the best spot to view the game is not from the grandstand, with its array of poles and delirious black fencing, but rather from the outer.

And regardless of weather, visiting South fans of the more vocal variety have pretty much always chosen to stand behind the goals, and that's where we were yesterday.

Most chose the grassy hills, but some (like myself), wanting a different or better view, went down to the fence along behind the goals.

Well, for some reason, someone wasn't happy about that. They didn't show their face during any of the proceedings, but sent the crack security teams down to get us to go back up the hill.

They told us we'd get fined, that the police would be called. No logic worked with these people, that we hadn't actually done anything wrong, that one could stand behind the goals at pretty much every other ground in the state.

Then the rest of the behind the goals crew decided to come down the hill and stand with us. It highlighted the farce of the situation. One wit asked the chief security person where the evacuation points were, to which he only received a blank stare.

For 20 odd minutes, we were united again. Sad that it has to be something so stupid to make it work.

Hainanese Chicken Rice for Dinner
Singapore's de facto national dish goes down a treat on a cold, cold night.

Next Week
Oakleigh, in the first of three consecutive home games. Their players will be keen to both avenge the earlier 3-1 loss at Jack Edwards Reserve, as well as be glad to play on a decent surface more conducive ti skillful play.

Hopefully the refs don't pay too much attention to the rantings of Oakleigh co-coach Peter Zois and his crew. And hopefully our boys are on song from the get go - whatever failings Oakleigh may have in terms of on field organisation or morale, their sqaud is usually full of quality players, who can score in a variety of ways.

There was a five week spell there where one could ask for the footy scores without fear of being guilt ridden for doing so. That ends this week. Pity.