Monday, 28 January 2013

AGM 2012 - Onwards Toward the Final Victory!

One could argue that I'm here to provide a public service. But at the same time, the AGMs are for members only, so why should we spill all the beans to those who aren't members of the club, or who can't be bothered making the effort to turn up?

Anyway, yes, the Australia Day long weekend was a crap time to host this delayed event, but the turnout was still made up of pretty much exactly the same people you'd normally expect to see, give or take a couple of people on holidays and one or two who slept in and missed it.

The club recorded its first profit since the Brazil adventure. There was no applause for this milestone. A sign of maturity from the members?

Social Club
Will it be ready by the time they want? Have to wait until FA Cup night. Here's hoping for a Brentford vs Luton final.

The club as usual claims progress is being made. I get the feeling that the two parties are still on very different wavelengths.

National Competitions Review
Not much change from the last time we talked about this. The FFV and FFA insist it will go ahead in 2014. Off the record, one proponent suggests that most of the VPL clubs acknowledge this fact, and that they are beginning to at least consider applying for an 'elite' licence. George Koukoulas, who is a member of the FFV men's standing committee, claims the opposite, that most of the clubs are still fundamentally opposed. South claims it is prepared for either eventuality. The FFV comes put with its next stage of recommendations and and possibly bidding process information in two weeks.

Vote Early, Vote Often
An election is due at the next AGM. Unlike all the post-NSL elections, which have seen no rival tickets showing their hand (despite murmurings at the time that there would be), we could see some more action for two reasons.

Firstly, this will be the first elections after the FFV's constitutional reforms which saw players and parents of junior players added automatically to the list of people who can vote. In our case, we have been assured in previous AGMs that these people will only be eligible to run for SMFC and not SMH (the SC got dropped off the end of SMHSC at the previous AGM)

Secondly, there is the obvious dissatisfaction with the current regime shown by former(?) board members George Koukoulas and Lucky Chrisomalidis. Will this be enough to get them to start their own ticket? And who would be on it? Whatever happens, I hope that there is at least some sort of opposition, not because I think the current board are doing a bad job, but just to see a different set of ideas so we can weigh them against what we have now.

The club needs to be more ruthless in vetting who is a member and who isn't, and in which meeting they should be in, and if they should in a meeting at all. Having the SMFC and SMH AGMs on separate days seems like an obvious solution to at least one of these issues.

Apparently Melbourne Knights are far more thorough with their arrangements, not even allowing notes to be taken (there goes my question sheet!) and all documents given out during a meeting to be returned at the end of the meeting - and if that doesn't happen, no one goes home. Sounds like another level of fun to be added.

Not Around The Grounds
I was disappointed with the representatives of the football department, when it came to explaining their attitudes towards going to watch other VPL and state league matches.

You see representatives of other clubs at grounds all the time, in their thick, club branded tracksuit jackets. I even made the quip (which got a few laughs!) that I see  Heidelberg coach George Katsakis at so many games that I sometimes think he's stalking me.

Yes, I have no life, and that is why I can be seen at 1-2 games a weekend which don't involve South. But I would expect to see South football department people at other games every now and again, instead of rarely. It's not just about scouting players and reconnaissance - it's about being seen mingling with the hoi polloi. It may not mean that we won't be seen as aloof, but at least they'll see us being aloof.

Farewell, Steve O'Dor
The rumour circulating during the off-season has been confirmed - Steve O'Dor has apparently retired, at least from VPL football. Work commitments appear to have taken their toll.

The Best Question
Someone, I assume new to this whole experience, asked about a rumour he read on the internet about whether we were going to take over Melbourne Heart. This is what happens when you let your children read FourFourTwo forums unsupervised.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Bouzis Cup/Almost Famous/SMAGM 2012/Fries With That

Bouzis Cup
Those of us who have been dragged kicking and screaming into the local asylum for lack of South action, will be pleased to note that some South Melbourne related pre-season fixtures have been released.

With the Hellenic Cup taking a sabbatical for this year at least, it looks like some individual clubs are attempting to fill the void with their own tournaments.

To that end, Westvale Olympic is hosting what they're calling the George Bouzis Cup, starting on February 23rd. It's three groups of four, and we're in group one with Westvale, Western Suburbs and Old Camberwell. I've added the matches to the fixtures/results page.

There's no women's, veterans or youth competition, just senior men. They're using both pitches out at McKechnie Reserve, which is good to see, but sadly they've already committed to the mistake of trying to crowd too many games into the schedule - instead of having the three group winners and the best second placed team play semi finals, they've got the top two of each group and the two best third placed teams going through to the quarter finals.

Which results in the semi-finals and final on consecutive days. Have people learned nothing from the farcical scheduling capers of the Hellenic Cup?

Northcote and Oakleigh are the two other VPL clubs taking part, so there's a good chance we'll be meeting them at some point during the tournament.

I'm mostly glad that I get to see pre-season South matches in the western suburbs (and across the road from St Albans station!) without having to travel to public transport black holes in the eastern suburbs.

Almost Famous
The following notice has been issued from the SMFC Ministry of Infomation.

Calling all SMFC Fans!

Do you want to be a part of the 2013 Membership Commercial?

If yes, register your interest by contacting the clubs Marketing Manager George Kouroumalis via email at

Please note!

You MUST be available on the evening of Wednesday January 30th and MUST own a piece of SMFC attire or any BLUE clothing.

South Melbourne AGM 2012
The AGM so Greek that it'd be late to its own funeral is on this week. I wonder what surprises the committee will have for us...

Would You Like Fries With That?
If you're going to be charging $29 for a chicken parma, could you at least provide hand-cut chips instead of something out of a freezer bag? And would it be too much to ask to not chuck them under the schnitzel? First world problems, I know.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Dina Dounis - Soccer At Middle Park

In my other line of existence - being a career student at university - my honours thesis looked at the history of Australian soccer literature. That is, creative written work by Australians on soccer, and by Australians or otherwise on soccer in Australia. As has been mentioned previously, the nature of this work was in large part bibliographic - trying to find all the disparate texts and create a genre of sorts for them. The secondary goal was to begin analysis into the issues of the naturalisation of soccer in Australia; that is, at what point and how will soccer become genuinely Australian, and not subject to the whims of the cultural cringe.

One of the more interesting aspects of this research is how little of the substantial work has been done by members of the major community players in Australian soccer. That is, where was the work by the Greeks, the Italians, the Croatians, etc? Yes, there are certainly works about these groups and their involvement in Aussie soccer, but often times these are written by people from outside these communities.

So the question that leads on from there is, why are there so few texts from Aussie wog writers dealing with soccer? The easy answer is, combined with their under-representation in Aussie literature anyway, and ingrained antipathy among the intellectual class for sport (David Malouf's poem 'At a School Athletics Day' always comes mind) and it seems utterly natural that these works shouldn't exist.

But when you dig a little deeper, you find the apparent lack of even mentions of soccer within migrant written works as problematic. Soccer clubs are some of the major institutions created by Continental European migrants. And it's not like other major areas of their lives are not covered in Australian literature. Social life, family life, church etc. And yet soccer seems to fall by the wayside for some reason.

Maybe the texts do exist, but are hidden in language/community specific literary journals (like the Greek 'Antipodes' journal)? Perhaps because they are written in languages other than English, it makes it more difficult for databases to annotate and archive their existence? Perhaps, influenced by their Anglo brethren, writers from non English speaking backgrounds do not conceive of sport as important enough to be written about 'seriously'?

All of which is a circuitous way of getting to the thing that I wanted to cover most in this entry. While having another look at the AusLit database, which collects and categorises works of Australian literature (sadly for the general public, access is generally limited to people with university library accounts), I found something intriguing. Among several new entries, there was this poem by Konstandina Dounis, who also goes by the name Dina Dounis.

I was happy to find it for several reasons. It's about South and it's (of course) about Middle Park. It's the first text that I've found that deals with our club outside of allusions one could take from David Martin's 1962 novel The Young Wife and my own haiku phase, and disregarding uses of Middle Park and South in the film adaptation of The Heartbreak Kid and of course the still much loved sitcom Acropolis Now.

It's also by a Greek, unlike most of the main literary texts dealing with Aussie-Greek soccer. It's by a woman, which helps undercut the notion that it was only blokes at the soccer in the old times - indeed, Dounis says it is a family outing. Dounis also brushes aside the issue of crowd violence as something 'occasional'. It also brings class issues into the picture, something which I told my students in my Australian Literature tutorial to do, but which they seemed to not be interested in.

My guess is that Dounis seems to be talking about going to Middle Park at some time during the 1960s. The poem makes allusions as to why crowds have fallen at all ethnic clubs (putting aside for the moment South's exclusion from the top flight). That sense of ethnic community solidarity, which was once so necessary for newly arrived migrants, on an individual and community level, is no longer a driving force. As discussed by Matthew Klugman in his work on Sydney's Italian-Australian soccer community (which you can find in here), while there is still nostalgia among first, second and third generation migrants for that part of Australian soccer, these days it is almost entirely a nostalgic phenomenon.

In the present, members of these communities do not feel that they need that tangible or formal bricks and mortar style of community interaction in order to be 'Greek' or 'Italian' or whatever cultural tag may apply. The same could probably be said of regional associations, local community groups and churches. The decline of the ethnically backed soccer club does therefore not exist in a social vacuum. The poem is balanced in both undercutting and confirming stereotypes of supporting South, but being anchored by a nostalgic tone, it avoids making a direct comment on the present and future.

If you want to find out more about Dounis you an start by going here and here. If anyone out there knows of any literary texts dealing with Australian soccer, no matter how trivial and whatever the quality or language, do let us know. We'd love to know about them.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

2013 preparations slowly building steam

This off-season has seemingly lasted forever, and there's still two and half months to go. And without a Hellenic Cup to add structure to the pre-season, it will be an even more meandering affair than usual.

The latest news is that we've signed another forward/striker from Queensland, one Rhys Meredith. Meredith has been another one of those types on the edges of making the A-League.

Of course, we've already signed one Queenslander in Tyson Holmes. Interestingly, Hume City have also signed a couple of Queensland based players. Is this the beginning of a trend, or just an aberration? And why the VPL rather than NSWPL?

We've also signed Alan Kearney from Southern Stars, an apparently hard working Irish midfielder. Could do with one or more of those.

The players have started their pre-season schedule. Some of the players people thought may have been on their way out are still around. Goalkeeper Peter Gavalas is perhaps the most high profile of these. Gavalas had an awful year in 2012.

But with a two year contract, it was either keep him or find a club willing to buy his time out. It looks like he'll be number one again for this season - here's hoping he gets back to some of the form that prompted us to sign him in the first place.

Apparently former under 21s keeper George Malliaras is also taking part in pre-season with us, after a year at state league 2 outfit Clifton Hill. I saw him play for the Hillmen against Altona East last season, and to be honest I saw nothing in that game to suggest he had rectified his weaknesses. But maybe that was an off day.

Marinos Gasparis is still around, as is Dimi Hatzimouratis. I was prepared to see Gasparis leave - at his best he is one of the more effective midfielders/forwards in the VPL, but consistency has always been his enemy. Hatzimouratis was severely restricted by injury last season, so I'm interested to see him with a full and proper pre-season under his belt.

Steve Burton is reportedly gone back to Perth, as is back up goalkeeper Jason Saldaris. The status of Rhodri Payne's tenure depends on who you ask. Some claim he's still wanted, at least for pre-season, while others think he's gone. I tend to fall into the latter group. I liked both players, and felt that Saldaris was stiff not to get more opportunities considering Gavalas' woes in 2012.

Nicky Jacobs will miss most of the year recovering from the broken ankle he received while playing school football. Some of other 21s like Matko Budimir, Anthony Giannopoulos and Baggio Yousif are also training with the senior squad, but is that much different to last year?

Not too much word on random trialist types, but then again, we haven't played any friendlies yet. I was so bored last week that I went and watched an Altona East pre-season session last Saturday.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Our Lakeside lease in the Victorian Gazette

From here. What's interesting about this is that we had been told at an information meeting that the club had to use its exclusive areas for in a particular manner - for football purposes. There was argument about why we couldn't use the space for say, the previously medical or corporate suites, as opposed to the board's choice of establishing a futsal court.

The board's explanation at that meeting was that commercial enterprises such as corporate suites were not allowed under our lease agreement with the government. The Victorian Gazette though, seems to contradict that - you can see the details below. Perhaps by the time it got to the minster, it became out of date?

Or perhaps the board meant to explain it in the sense that our government grant for the redevelopment of the social club could only be used if we redeveloped the space for football purposes? Either way, I'm happier that a facility is being provided, in the form of a futsal court, that can be used by our own juniors. The commercial implications of taking this route have been and will be debated for some time though. I'm also interested to see what the board's response is to the seeming contradiction.

Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978
Under sections 17D and 17DA of the Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978, I, Ryan Smith,
MP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, being satisfied that there are special reasons which make the granting of five leases reasonable and appropriate in the particular circumstances and to do this will not be substantially detrimental to the use and enjoyment of any adjacent land reserved under the Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978, approve the granting of five leases by the State Sport Centres Trust for the purposes listed in Schedule 1 below, over parts of the Lakeside Stadium Reserve described in Schedule 2 below, and, in accordance with section 17D(3)(a) of the Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978, state that:

(a) there are special reasons which make the granting of these five leases reasonable and appropriate in the particular circumstances and

(b) to do this will not be substantially detrimental to the use and enjoyment of any adjacent land reserved under the Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978.

South Melbourne's lease arrangement will see it Administration offices, members lounge and bistro, change rooms, medical suites, museum and shop.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Glenorchy Knights striker Simon Strang to trial with South

Here's some pre-season player news from Walter Pless' blog.

Simon Strang shakes hands with his coach, Chris Hey of Glenorchy Knights [PlessPix]
Simon Strang, the 22-year-old Glenorchy Knights striker, is off to Melbourne on Wednesday.

Well-known Melbourne football identity Jimmy Armstrong will take Strang to South Melbourne and Moreland Zebras for trials.

Strang has played for Tilford Zebras, New Town Eagles and Glenorchy Knights.

He scored half a dozen goals for Knights in the Southern Premier League last season.

“I’m going to South Melbourne first and see what happens,” Strang said.

“After that I will have a look at Morwell Zebras and I’m very excited about it all

“I have to thank George Krambousanos and John Muir for all their encouragement and help in arranging this.”

Krambousanos has in the past assisted local players James Sherman and Matthew Hill to find clubs in Melbourne.

“Jimmy Armstrong has strong links with South Melbourne and he’s a leading figure in Victorian football,” said Krambousanos.

“He’s always doing something for people and he’s just returned from Scotland so he’ll help Simon out on this trip.”

Sunday, 6 January 2013

What happened while we were on break...

Tyson Holmes officially signed. Here's a brief interview.

In a great example of South Melbourne FC Digital Media Team™ tomfoolery, the signing of Carl Recchia was announced with a video interview on youtube - only for it to be changed to 'private'. Then opened up again when they felt the time was 'just right'.

Even though, it's not open, I'm not going to bother linking to that video. Instead I'll do the churlish thing and describe it. It's a very brief chat with Carl, interspersed with highlights of Carl's previous South stint - this will be his third? - combined with the requisite fawning over the new facilities and goodtobebackisms. Just don't expect any illumination as to why Carl left in the first place.

There was also an AGM date announced - Sunday 27th January. About time, though some are grumpy because it's over the Australia Day long weekend.

I lost my patience at some new dawners. First time for everything.

The best book I read over the break was Miles Vertigan's 'Life Kills'. The story of plane hijacking told from the point of view of the terrorist, two bimbo stewards and a couple of macho pilots. A hyper-passive nihilist death march to the justified end of western civilisation. It's also funny.

Lastly, a mystery has also been apparently solved - the mysterious jersey which no one could identify was probably a women's team jersey. Check out 1:45 of this video.

Thursday, 3 January 2013