Yesterday might not have been an argument for the FFV's proposed National Competitions Review reforms. But it certainly provided a solid argument that something needs to change.
It was an appalling crowd, even taking into account the poor seasons of both clubs, the decline of second tier crowds in general, and the decline of this once great derby. If there were 300 people there as reported by some, then half of them must have been in the Bergers' social club.
The Bergers, as is perhaps becoming the norm with struggling and even not completely struggling teams throughout the divisions, could barely manage to muster a reserves team. Reportedly starting with just nine players, they were 7-0 down before three of their players became injured, and the game was abandoned.
The field was atrocious, one of the worst I've ever seen at this level. Dribbling was almost impossible. Passes were only good if sent skimming across the surface rather than rolling. Players from both sides kept losing their footing, often without opposition interference.
The atmosphere, apart from Clarendon Corner going all out for one last hurrah before moving into at least semi-retirement, was dire. There have been Hellenic Cup matches with more of an edge than this, and not just because of a price hike in the price of souvlakia for the finals day.
The game itself at least had a couple of sides that tried to provide some sort of entertainment value. Heidelberg struggled to get too many chances, but were efficient initially. Some better crossing from our end would have seen a higher score, but who's complaining? Rixon, who came on in the second half for the first time since his six match suspension was ended, smashed a well hit shot against the crossbar. Another goal - possibly in the same sequence of play - was disallowed for offside. But we also had a smidgen of luck for once as well - one of our goals in the first half hit the post, went across the face of goal, hitting the hapless Heidelberg goalie before going in.
It was the first time we'd scored five against the Bergers since the NSL days, and the first time we'd beaten them three times in a row since that era as well. Don't ask for specificities on that though. Shaun Kelly, brought across mid-season for defensive replenishment, ended up as our top scorer for the season with a tally of four goals. Baggio Yousif managed to add his name to the list of South scorers, as did Matko Budimir.
Clarendon Corner had a ten year birthday/reunion celebration of sorts. Word is that the concept is being put into at least semi-hibernation. Six seasons of slop and a lack of new members will do that to people. There were a couple of new banners for the occasion, a march to the ground, solid chanting and some spirited moshpit activity.
Heidelberg Harismidis, in his role as ballboy, had a few chants and cheers directed his way, all in good fun. Somewhere between idiot savant and noble savage, and yet actually being possessed by something completely different altogether, his runs and up and down the sidelines of the VPL grounds will be missed, sort of.
Even George Katsakis, that most diehard of Alexandrians, managed to laugh along with a Clarendon Corner chant at his expense ('my cheesecake shop, is better/bigger than yours', I think it was). Gus Tsolakis pulled out a little party trick with a behind the leg pass from a ball going out of play. It was that kind of day, that kind of season. Both coaches have seen better days.
As far as we have fallen, at this stage at least we have not reached the depths that Heidelberg have fallen to. Yes, we hate them, want to thrash them, but it is also true that upon their eventual demise (should it actually happen) they will take with them a part of us. They are our shadow (our unheimlich, perhaps) - less successful for the most part, a perennial warning to what could happen to us if we ever get too hubristic, which is never too far away at South.
Later this week, we'll start talking about the NCR. Next week some time, I'll dish out my awards and a season review. I don't know about what the Kiss of Death has planned for the finals or for their awards, having being unable to provide content for the last month, and seeing as how they didn't manage to get an awards post up last season.
I can't promise much regular posting after that. Since I actually sorta work now, I have writing and reading that needs to be done for that part of my existence. But the NCR and social club work will keep us all enthralled. There'll be a best and fairest evening and an AGM.
Thank yous of course come at the end of the season, and you can wait your turn.