Thursday, 30 May 2013

Kiss of Death, Round 8, 2013

Oakleigh Cannons vs Hume City @ Jack Edwards on Friday @ 8.30pm
Oakleigh take on Hume on Friday night, in what is a must win if they are to have any chance of finals football. They looked very poor on Sunday vs South Melbourne, and they should’ve copped more than two. Miron Bleiberg continually put his hands on his face in reaction to the way his side was attempting to do anything. They just couldn’t do anything right. The same can be said for their season so far. Hume on the other hand are getting the results they need in order to still have a sniff. Oakleigh will beat Hume convincingly with a score that will surprise everyone. If they start that new boy up front, they shouldn’t have a problem. Oakleigh Cannons 4 – Hume City 1.

Port Melbourne Sharts vs Southern Stars @ Port Melbourne on Friday @ 8.30pm
Well, well, well. Eric survives another week. They will beat Southern Stars, I mean these days who can’t beat Southern Stars. People shouldn’t get too excited however, as Southern Stars are the new whipping boys of the VPL for this season. Port Melbourne Sharts 4 – Southern Stars 0.

Richmond vs Green Gully Cavaliers @ KB Reserve on Friday @ 8.30pm
Richmond, Richmond, Richmond. FML. Will you ever win a game this season? Yes, yes, yes you will! This is the game to lift Richmond off the bottom of the table. They will beat a poor form Green Gully. Even though Richmond has the leakiest defence with 23 goals, they have actually scored two times more than Gully who don’t travel away from home too well. Being a Friday night, Gully will stumble hard. Richmond 3 – Green Gully 1.

Pascoe Vale vs South Melbourne @ Hosken Reserve on Saturday @ 7pm
The clash of all clashes. Pascoe Vale surprised everyone with a 0-2 win away at Dandenong last week, while South dispached Oakleigh with no real issues there. Apparently the best thing about Pascoe Vale is their canteen. Wood fired pizzas, souvlakis, cevapis, and a smorgasboard of tasty delights. I haven’t been there for about four years when they were in state league 2, but apparently things have changed. They might be a bit of a handful for South, who played well against Oakleigh, but I couldn’t get my head around some of Tsolakis’ decisions. Rixon is unfit, it’s flaming obvious. From the 60th minute onwards he was poor. He had a limp, didn’t challenge for balls in the air, was slow, and really, we were playing with 10 men from then on. Gus got the subs to warm up. He only made one change Petreski for Gasparis who copped a knock. Not making a sub nearly cost us the game. If Vlahos for example was to come on for Rixon, he would’ve turned an already shambolic Oakleigh defence upside down. But, instead we had to sit there and watch us hang on to a win which should’ve been more comfortable. But anyhoo, people say who cares we got the win. I say, a responsible coach makes changes which are required, especially when blind Freddy can see it. Too much faith in your players can be a detriment to your team. Cut out the mateship and play your best eleven.
Pascoe Vale 0 – South Melbourne 4.

Melbourne Knights vs Dandenong Thunder @ Knights Stadium on Sunday @ 3pm
The Knights this week face an up and down Dandy Thunder. The Knights will be on their high horse after releasing a press statement midweek confirming that they will NOT be applying for the new NPLV. I support this move as the NPLV is a piece of shit that needs to be canned. Melbourne Knights 3 – Dandy Thunder 1

Northcote City vs Bentleigh Greens @ Northcote on Sunday @ 3pm
The first time this season that Northcote will be tested. They have a few tough games coming up away from home. Bentleigh is playing really good football. Exciting to watch.  Northcote City 1 – Bentleigh Greens 2.

Finally what you have all been waiting for. My NPLV rant.
Seriously what a joke of an idea. To expect an ‘elite’ competition to kick off without the FFV putting their hands in their own pockets is a joke in itself. The clubs are the ones who will risk losing everything, all while the FFV does the ‘der um, hmm, ask an expert’ routine. Green Gully and the Melbourne Knights are the only two clubs who have gone public with their position and declared that they will NOT be applying for the NPLV. Good on them. They took this to their membership and they voted no. Other clubs which I won’t mention, think they don’t need to go to their membership and instead will take it to their members once they have been accepted by the FFV. Well what’s the fucken point then? I know how this tactic works. You tell the members you have been accepted, and how good it is, and the members being sheep will clap their hands, congratulate you all and pass the motion. Then the club will be royally fucked.

I am as anti-NPLV as the anonymous poster down below. Fuck the NPLV. It is to benefit no one other than certain footballing entities in the country. Why try and reinvent the wheel? It’s not corporate enough for you ? Football is not a corporate sport, it is a religion, and if you are a non-believer then fuck right off. We do not need the NPLV, and we do not need some suits in fancy offices trying to tell us what’s good for our game.

All this fear mongering about playing in the highest league possible, is a fucken joke. The sad thing is that people actually fall for that shit…

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

News Straight from the Corey Hotline

Dockerty Cup match against Northcote
It has been scheduled for Queens Birthday Monday - that is Monday, June 10, at 3:00. Bit of a shame, as I was lined up to do a guest report on another blog, which would have required my being at the Melbourne - Collingwood AFL game, but such is life. We'll be at South, of course, just in case anyone was in any doubt.

Knights officially out of NPLV, Green Gully follow suit
It was hardly a secret, but it was nice to see both these teams make it official. Knights put out a press release to go with it. While it's pretty obvious that the vast majority of clubs from the western suburbs have indicated they're not interested, unfortunately the local press here has focused more on the opinions of the coaches of teams such as Werrribee and Yarraville. I want to hear from their committees.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Melbourne Knights for including South of the Border in their press release mail out. It made us feel closer to being a real journalist than any amount of FFV media passes ever could.

So who's in?
Surf Coast and Ballarat Red Devils look like they're putting their hand up. Some Geelong consortium is also apparently interested. Not sure about metro clubs, and that includes us. There was a rumour going around that we'd somehow actually managed to wrangle all of the concessions we'd wanted. Then there was an smfcboard rumour that we're ready to announce we're pulling out, supposedly to be release tomorrow evening. All that amid the confusion among our supporters, some of who are 100% anti, some reluctantly for, others who want to hedge their bets, and the rest just waiting to be told what to do.

Socceroos to train at Lakeside for Melbourne camp
How about that? Apparently some talk abut being able to register to meet them, whatever that means, though I'm not. Of course it's provided an opening for the jokesters

Marvelous. So what I want to know is, are we in the A-League yet?

Monday, 27 May 2013

The Dimi Hatz Show - South Melbourne 2 Oakleigh 1

First up there was a minute's silence for Tony Toumbourou, who as was reported recently, passed away after a long illness.

Games between these two sides usually provide the goods in terms of a spectacle. The most notable exception to that off the top of my head would be the finals match we lost to them a couple of years ago. For my buddy Gains, it was a bit more obvious - the dour 0-0 draw at Lakeside in 2009 that was his first South Melbourne experience. Thankfully, this game had its fair share of action, and regardless of the result was the kind of game that would have the punters coming back for more.

Perhaps a little unusually, I hadn't seen Oakleigh play at all this season, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Their form hasn't been great, and thus there was the coaching change with Miron Bleiberg now at the helm. A few people have said that it was the worst Oakleigh side they've seen for a long time. I'd disagree, but I don't think that I can. I didn't think Oakleigh looked too bad going forward, and they probably should have opened the scoring about 15 minutes in - Peter Gavalas pulled out a terrific save after bolting off his line.

Matthews was making his first start in several weeks, after having broken his arm in a work related accident, and thus Dimi Hatzimouratis was moved further upfield to a more suitable midfield position. Rixon started again. There was no Van Eeken, and no Fernando. Apart from a brief period early on, and the last 10 minutes or so perhaps when we went into our sehll, we dominated this match. Our midfield was well on top, moving the ball quickly, winning the 50/50 challenges, and opening up the oakleuigh defence almost at will.

All that was needed was the goal, and eventually Hatzimouratis drilled one home that left everyone stunned, not least Italiano in the Oakleigh goal, who stood rooted to the spot. One observer reckoned that it must have taken a deflection for the keeper to stand still like that. I suppose we'll see when the video comes out. Hatzimouratis' second goal looked so easy, I was wondering how we didn't stuff it up. Some good team play exposed Oakleigh out on their righthand side, and the ball was cut in without much fuss for a simple finish for the goal. 2-0 up at halftime and looking good.

Those wackly ballboys! Photo: Cindy Nitsos.

The second half was more of the same, only without us being able to really put Oakleigh to the sword as we should have done. That wasn't helped by Rixon being shirtfronted on the goal line when it looked like he would have scored an easy header to make it 3-0. It was about a billion times the penalty than the one he received last week. Italiano's rugby tackle - outside the box! - not being punished was just hilarious. Not so hilarious was Gasparis being injured, and hobbling off. I've really enjoyed his play this season, and hope that this doesn't derail his season. Rhys Meredith's miseed opportunity will be hard to beat this season. With so many options available - most notably to either go around the keeper or pass the ball laterally for the supporting player - he decided to try and tuck it past Italiano who made a good save.

A half decent crowd was in attendance. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
 Oakleigh started to make some inroads towards the end of the game, mocving away from the fancy stuff they'd favoured for the most of the macth - and usually thwarted by a poor final pass or masses of South defenders - and tried a simpler approach. It piad off in the 91st minute when new recuirt Alex Smiht scored, but we managed to hold on for the win. Why Tsolakis didn't make any subs, especially for an obviously labouring Rixon, I don't know. He didn't even make a sub for the sake of running down the clock. It was quite frustrating, especially watching the team fumble its way to what may have ended up being an unjust result.

Still, it would be unfair to focus on the negatives too much, because for the most part we looked good out there, even if the opponent was not at its best. Rixon had a much better game than last week, and looks to be getting his touch and match fitness back. Kelly was fearsome with his tackling. Matthews, while not faultess, also looked to be on the improve from his scratchy form in the seconds. An interesting middle portion of the season coming.

Steve From Broady's under 21 report
On Sunday evening South Melbourne's under 21s took on Oakleigh Cannons at Lakeside Stadium. South, who were coming of a poor result last week, kept their squad unchanged. The game started off very slowly and it took 10 minutes for the first bit of action to occur when an Oakleigh defender appeared to swing a fist at Anthony Giannopoulos and started a minor scuffle. The ref ran in quickly and broke it up but to the amazement of the crowd the Oakleigh defender managed to stay on the park.

After that Oakleigh Cannons pushed forward and tried their luck taking a shot from 30 yards out and finding the back of the net to give them a 1-0 lead after 15 minutes. In a half that was very even South Melbourne's Solano picked up a yellow card just before half time for a rash tackle. Oakleigh went into the break leading 1-0.

South come out attacking early in the second half, dominating the game for a long period of time with no reward. The South coach made a very attacking move putting on a third striker, Sebit Moun, early in the second half. As the second half started to come to an end another South player found themselves in the ref's book. In the final stages of the game Oakleigh thought they were on their way to three valuable championship points before an Oaks defender brought down a South striker in the box and the ref awarded a penalty to South in the dying seconds of the game.

Anthony Giannopoulos stepped up to the spot and smashed the ball into the back of the net to earn South a 1-1 draw in what was a disappointing showing from South this afternoon who are starting to fall behind in the league now dropping into the bottom half of the table. Next week South play Pascoe Vale away and they must be going there for a win if they're serious about wining the championship this season.

Steve From Broady's Canteen Review
South's canteen was in the spotlight for the second time this season and must have taken the advice on board about making their souvs better with the South canteen taking their souv up a notch this week with a very nice serving of good meat and garlic sauce evenly portioned through out the whole souv. I give this week's souv a 7 well done South food truck.

  1. Hume City 8/10
  2. Bentleigh Greens 7/10
  3. Southern Stars 2/10
  4. Green Gully 1/10
  5. Dandenong DQ
South food truck
  • Week 1 - 4.5/10
  • Week 2 - 7/10 

Three Prawns are Hardly a Galaxy!
At least Gary Coleman managed to get three prawns. I only got two in my nasi lemak at the Mamak outlet on Lonsdale Street. This was somewhat made up by Steve from Broady getting a nose bleed. Could it have been from the food being too spicy? I don't really know about such things, but for some reason it was funny. How very immature of me.

You're supposed to be in church!

Around the Grounds
Altona East 0 La Trobe 0. Fairly forgettable game. At least last season East were able to eke out a few 1-0 wins - on Saturday, outside a five minute period in the second half where they had a couple of good chances, they never seriously looked like scoring. Had a few corners and frees around the box, but for the most part delivery was atrocious. La Trobe defended well enough and looked disciplined, but it would have been nice to maybe see them chance their arm a bit, and play with an extra man up forward.

Next Week
Pascoe Vale away. They toweled us up during the pre-season, were apparently atrocious at the start of the season, but have since picked up somewhat, and are coming off a 2-0 win away at the Thunder.

Final Thought
It's a few weeks late, and I'm not really much of a metal fan, but RIP Jeff Hanneman.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Saints Be Praised! Kiss of Death, Round 7, 2013

Bentleigh Greens vs Melbourne Knights @ Bentleigh on Friday @ 8.15pm
Bentleigh entertain the Knights on Friday night. A game I might be at. Bentleigh sit second while the Knights sit fourth. A game of two sides. Should have plenty of action and plenty of goals. Both teams will play for the win, and both will concede. Bentleigh Greens 3 – Melbourne Knights 2.

Richmond vs Hume City @ KB Reserve on Friday @ 8.30pm
Richmond is on the up. Or are they? They still sit bottom of the table with six losses from six games. But they are playing better somewhat. Hume on the other hand, are a disgrace to the league. Their coaching duo of Lou Acevski and Zoran Markovski leaves a lot to be desired. Two of the most hated players of the past, are now coaching and letting their antics get out of hand. Zoran Markovski is just a joke. To charge at the South players after the game in the manner he did is unacceptable. Joke. Richmond 1 – Hume City 2.

Dandenong Thunder vs Pascoe Vale @ George Andrews Reserve on Saturday @ 3pm
Another three points in the bag for Dandy. They will absolutely kill Pascoe Vale. Pascoe might as well not rock up and just lose 3-0 on forfeit. Dandenong Thunder 5 – Pascoe Vale 0.

Green Gully vs Port Melbourne @ Green Gully on Saturday @ 3pm
Green Gully will have their hands full against Port Melbourne. Seriously, when is Port going to sack Eric? With the amount of popstars he has down there, there is no excuse. Taki Svigos is waiting in the wings. LOL. Green Gully 3 – Port Melbourne 1.

Southern Stars vs Northcote City @ Southern Stars on Saturday @ 6pm
Southern Stars are hopeless. Northcote City are top of the table unbeaten with six from six. FML. Southern Stars 0 – Northcote City 6.

South Melbourne vs Oakleigh Cannons @ Lakeside Stadium on Sunday @ 5pm
The game of the round by anyone's standards. Oakleigh continues to sign HAL hacks, the latest being some dude from New Zealand LOL. When will they ever breed some of their own talent I ask? Then again talent down at Oakleigh is slim. This game should be a cracker on and off the park. The question remains however, is will Oakleigh rock up? There are three saints celebrating on Sunday, and with Oakleigh being all religious, I expect a forfeit. If they manage to rock up and play, well won’t that be a mistake they will rue for a while. South on the other hand are pagans. We would even play on Christmas Day if we had to, because football is our religion! We are coming off an MMA fight with Hume last weekend, and I'm not sure of the injury count, but some of the tackles last weekend were terrible. A decent ref would not have lost control of the game. Which brings me to question the refs assigned to certain fixtures. Knowing our luck, we will have some kid in the middle and two chicks on the lines. Not that there’s anything wrong with women officials, but please not in the VPL. Stick them down in the lower leagues to gain a bit more experience. Anyhoo, about this weekend. South should beat Oakleigh. Oakleigh have been very poor this season, and I can’t see Miron Bleiberg turning things around anytime too soon. Last weekend we witnessed poor coaching from Gus. I’ve waffled on forums about it, and I'm not going to waffle on anymore. I just hope he's learned from his mistakes. South Melbourne 3 – Oakleigh Cannons 0 (1 for every saint).

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

New Blog - Melbourne Soccer

Do you harbour less than complimentary opinions of the FFV? When you look deep inside your heart, do you think they could be a significantly better job? Are you some kind of misanthrope who wishes doom and destruction on Australian soccer? If you fall into any of those categories then this might be the blog for you. It's also got a kickarse background, which has kind of got us thinking about how to steal their idea for use on this space. The writer behind it also apparently plans to do some historical stuff as well. Whenever a new blog turns up, we're never too sure how long it will stick around for, but I'm hoping this one has some staying power.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Late Report - Hume City 3 South Melbourne 2

This isn't going to be much of a match review, even by my standards.

There's only so many times you can give up two goal headstarts and expect to get the chocolates at the end of the match. Defensively, for whatever reason, we are a mess at the moment. Is it all due to the absence of Alan Kearney? Some may like to think so, but we'll have to wait until he comes back to get a clearer picture on that.

Going forward, at least in the first half, we weren't much better. What to several people looked like an obviously not ready yet Trent Rixon was selected to start ahead of Renco Van Eeken. Van Eeken apparently was suffering from the ill effects of last week's game, but still managed to come off the bench.

Meanwhile the game plan we had constructed for this season was thrown out the window, with long ball after long ball being sent forward. What was surprising about this is that in its own cackheaded way it worked - well, one time at least, when Rixon got what looked like the most un VPL-like of penalties. Take what you can get and all that. Still, we managed to get it back to 2-2, and looked the more likely side to score a winner, but that defensive frailty stung us again.

Some of the substitutions and tactical decisions seemed strange. I still don't get why Joe Keenan, who has no right foot, is being played on the right hand side. Also, why was Rhys Meredith taken off? He was the one troubling Hume the most out of any of our players. Why at 3-2 down did we bring on Tom Matthews, a defender? Well, at least we're scoring a few goals this season, which is a lot more entertaining than whatever we were trying to do last year. Are we in the A-League yet?

Steve From Broady's Under 21s report
On Sunday the 19th of May South Melbourne's under 21s took on Hume City at Broadmeadows Valley Park. South were coming of a solid 2-0 win over last season's champions Richmond. The game started off very sloppy with both teams consistently turning over the football. South pushed forward in the 23rd minute and earned a free kick just outside the penalty area. Cartanos stepped up and curled it around the wall and into the top corner to give south a 1-0 lead half way through the first half.

South hung on for nearly the rest of the first half but controversially the ref played seven minutes of injury time in a half that had no injuries at all. Hume managed to equalise in the 51st minute of the first half with a classic counter attack that ripped through the heart of the South defence. 1-1 it was when the lads headed into the sheds at half time.

Hume come out in the second half meaning business, putting South under pressure from the get go and 10 minutes into the second half South's defence was breached again when the Hume City striker rounded the keeper and fired a shot into the frame, but Hume City had their left winger ghosting in and he got the follow up shot off the frame and made no mistake putting the ball into the back of the net to give Hume City a 2-1 lead.

As the half went on South just could not get into the game. South thought they earned themselves a penalty in the 80th minute when a Hume City defender was all over Anthony Giannopoulos and tackled him to the ground, only for the ref to wave the appeals away. Hume City then ran the ball down the other end and a throw in was awarded to South next to their defensive corner flag. In the following events that saw the South number 22 get a straight red card for telling the ref to fuck off. Three minutes later a Hume City player found himself sent off for an early shower when he received his second yellow card.

2-1 it finished for Hume City, a very disappointing loss for South - hopefully the boys can bounce back next week when they play the Oakleigh Cannons at Lakeside Stadium.

Steve From Broady's Canteen Review
On the 19th of May Hume City's canteen had its chance to shine and did not disappoint, producing a quality kebab ticking all the boxes. Hume managed to fill the kebab with lots of meat that's a big + and at a reasonable price. I have decided to give the Hume City canteen an 8 out of 10 which sees them take the lead off Bentleigh Greens on the VPL canteen championship leader board.

  1. Hume City 8/10
  2. Bentleigh Greens 7/10
  3. Southern Stars 2/10
  4. Green Gully 1/10
  5. Dandenong DQ

South food truck
Week 1 4.5

Room Without A View
I know that their new stand is half under construction and thus fenced off, but even so, the viewing experience on Sunday was seriously sub par. Watching the game from the opposite wing was nigh on impossible, thanks to large metal benches - and their metal scoreboard cousin - blocking huge chunks of the field of vision. The only place to watch the game from even semi-adequately was in the corners, as directly behind the goals they've erected these large black fences to stop balls flying off into some gosh forsaken quarry or something. I suppose the one saving grace was that for once the wind was entirely absent as factor.

In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream
It also doesn't help if you're not there. Hume's support has never been crash hot - and who are we to talk considering how our crowds have abandoned us - but their attendance was just pathetic on Sunday. There was a cheer, I suppose, for each of their goals, but the atmosphere was more like that of a pre-season friendly.

I Say, Good Sir, That Was An Outrageous Decision! I Demand That You Rescind It Immediately!
So security was sent over, because someone, somewhere had had enough of the foul language. To be fair, the supporters and security person handled the situation well. Cue then the calls of goshdarnit, dangnabbit and the like. My pick? Whoever blurted out 'what the dillyo?'.

The Ethics of Kicking the Ball Out of Play for an Injury
To sum up. When Gavalas was down hurt, Hume played on. Late in the game, they kicked th ball out because one of their players was cramping I guess. We refused to give the ball back. They got angry. We've pretty much been here before, so I don't think we need to cover this again.

Other Sports From Other Planets Department - Rugby Union
As a favour of sorts to Steve from Broady, who's been to several footy matches with me, even though he doesn't like the game - I think he mostly gets a kick out of watching me being sullen in a different context - I decided that it was time to make my debut at a rugby union match last Friday.

I bought my ticket from a scalper outside the gate. OK, he was probably just some guy with spare tickets, and honestly, I don't even know if I got a good deal or not, but man, did I feel like a badass by not buying a ticket at the gate.

Now I know the basic rules, some of the history, but otherwise don't give a toss about the game. I knew it was a Rebels' match I was going to, but I had no idea who their opponents were. Turned out it was the Stormers from South Africa. I was hoping that it would have been one of the Kiwi teams, as that would have increased the Maori and Islander count a bit, but there were a few Saffas in the crowd at our end, including one who waved his flag around like nobody's business.

Otherwise, it was classic case of 'who are these people and why are they here?' Part of that answer was that a lot of them in our vicinity seemed to be from private schools. Marcellin was one of them (I have no idea who they are; their website seems to indicate they have a rugby program, but no soccer, even though I've read elsewhere that they have or had a soccer program). I could tell they were from Marcellin because it was written on their hoodies.

There were some others behind us in maroon tracksuits with blue and yellow trim, but couldn't see what school they were from. And yes, there were blazers, and talk of whether one had ever been to Xavier or not. The rest of the crowd seemed to be made up of a certain upper middle class type of person, in that they wore tasteful scarves, cheered and occasionally jeered at the appropriate moments and mostly kept to themselves. Pretty boring.

Every time there was a break in play, there was music. Not just for injuries, not just after tries, but even every time the ball went out of play. And I thought the AFL was bad in this department. There was scarcely a free moment to think, and considering the copious amount of time lost due to as far as I could tell, not much at all, it was bloody irritating. The Mexican style trumpet at the start of each half also grated.

Though this was of course not a Wallabies game, it has always confused me as to why the upper classes, those descendants of the squattocracy, who watch this sport at a national level, have somehow chosen Waltzing Matilda as their song. It makes no sense. It's an anti-authoritarian song you goons. Anyway, the game of the upper class calling their Melbourne franchise the Rebels is also a bit of a laugh - more so when you see people displaying the Eureka flag as well. Jas H. Duke might have had something to say about that. Or perhaps not.

I used to think, perhaps in my own Victorian way, that the extra kicking in rugby union made the game more watchable than its league cousin. Seeing it in person made me realise how wrong I was. While I still think there's a place for kicking in rugby league - if they bring back unlimited tackles - the kicking in this match was terrible. More often than not, when the Rebels were resorting to kicking it was also unnecessary.

And the knock ons! So many knock ons! I suppose it was a combination of the quick play - somehow I had this idea that rugby union wasn't quite as fast as that - and the relative crappiness of the two teams on show. But back to the fast play for a moment. Rugby union on a pristine surface didn't make sense to me - shouldn't these matches be played on a mud pile? But there wasn't much time to ponder that because of the classic 'What was that for? Oh, you've got it on the screen' moments.

In soccer there seems to be a limited number of infractions, and thus you can pretty quickly get on with the game while abusing the referee for giving the opposite decision of what he should have awarded. In the footy, the umpires make it up as they go along, but at least provide clear signals most of the time as to what made up decision they actually decided on, and then we have the pantomime of everyone craning their necks towards the scoreboard for the replay to justify to ourselves that they got it wrong.

In rugby, it goes like this. Everyone gets in a big pile. At random moments during these piles - and not at every pile - the official in charge declares that some sort of infringement has happened. And apparently we look to the screen not for a replay, but for a text message telling us what it was for. Good luck to people like me for whom every one of these piles looks exactly alike.

It may be due to my own petty Victorianism, but I could not get this question out of my head. Why is this team in existence? Whose needs are they serving? Yes, I understand that as a city with a certain amount of people in it that we 'need' to have one of everything when it comes to sports franchises, but someone should have drawn the line here.

Finally, two things stood out above all else. Firstly, South needs to play at this stadium. Hurry up and make the grand final you clowns. And secondly, tries mean nothing to me. Seriously.

First They Came For Stunning Steve McKee, and I Said Nothing...
Apologies to everyone I bored with talk of last Saturday night's atrocious AFL umpiring.

Next Week
Oakleigh, at home. They're a rabble at the moment apparently, but even if that's true, they're a rabble with some good players still in their team. Not to be taken lightly.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Kiss of Death, Round 6, 2013

Oakleigh Cannons vs Dandenong Thunder @ Jack Edwards @ 8.30pm Friday
Oakleigh has hired Miron Bleiberg as its interim coach according to media reports. It just didn’t work out with the previous coach whose name I do not know. Oakleigh has been struggling bad. You all know it, that’s why they are sitting in ninth position. Dandenong Thunder rolls on in fifth position, but won’t be able to do enough at Oakleigh. Oakleigh Cannons 2 – Dandenong Thunder 0.

Saints celebrated on Friday are Andronikos, Androdniki, Iounia and Solon. Get that fish ready!

Pascoe Vale vs Bentleigh Greens @ Pascoe Vale @ 8.30pm Friday
I was probably the only person on the planet who tipped Pascoe last week. I laughed all the way to my online betting account! In this seventh vs third clash, I think that Bentleigh will shell shock Pascoe with a big score. Bentleigh are pretty fluent in how they do things. Pascoe Vale 0 – Bentleigh Greens 4.

Richmond vs Port Melbourne Sharks @ KB Reserve @ 8.30pm Friday
Richmond looked good last week for at least 50 minutes or so. They should’ve parked the bus. Instead they let South do what they wanted. This week they will be successful in their endeavours against sixth placed Port Melbourne. Rumour has it that Victorian coaching legend Takis Svigos is being teed up to take Eric’s job at Port. I hope this happens. I tipped it! Richmond 3 – Port Melbourne Sharks 1.

Hume City vs South Melbourne @ Hume @ 3pm Sunday
This week South visits Hume. Can’t wait for my yearly fix of Gazoza (do they have gazoza? I thought that Dandy - Ed.). That in itself should be interesting. After trailing Richmond 0-2 at Lakeside last week, one could only have flashbacks of last year's poor home results. South was poor for 50 or so minutes. Yeah OK, Richmond was sitting deep, but how about some creative attacking South? Instead we had to sit there and witness crosses going to no-one, ball being shifted left-right-left-right, and long balls from Kelly going absolutely nowhere. It was obvious they weren’t going to move out of their half until the 46th minute, yet we kept doing a big fuck all. Their biggest weakness was the centre of the park. Instead of exploiting this, we kept trying to go down the wings. Every fucken corner was hit onto the keeper, we were pulling stupid fouls, and our creativity up front was woeful. Then came the 0-2 which sparked us into action. One of the Queenslanders pulls a rabbit out of the hat with a semi-overhead, then he gets a second, then we get a third. Andy ‘pappou’ Vlahos came on at the right time. Gus decided, to the shock of the crowd, to make a sub before the 80th minute. That my friends, was a masterstroke. Pappou came on and turned Richmond's defence on its head. His mazy run for one of the goals and pretty crap shot requiring the keeper to parry, put us I think to 2-2 (3-2 actually - Ed.). I kinda forgot how we scored and when because I was too busy talking shit to the rest of my South friends. Anyhoo, the question is, have we used our ‘get out of jail’ card too early this season? Should we have used it? Richmond hasn’t won a game, yet they come to South and nearly get a win. Defensively with Brad ‘plasma’ Norton at left back we look very weak. He got skinned alive for Richmond's second. Kelly needs to stop those long balls to no one and nowhere, and just play it simple. We are missing Kearney. He is a key for us this season, and we miss that dog midfielder. We won’t have a problem disposing of Hume. If my two year theory is correct, we enjoy compact grounds, rather than our big one. Hume City 0 – South Melbourne 3.

Melbourne Knights vs Southern Stars @ Knights Stadium @ 3pm Sunday
Melbourne Knights entertain dead and buried Southern Stars on Sunday. Should be a goal fest. The only decent player at Stars is the young keeper Koc. Excellent talent. Expect a goal fest if you can beat him. Melbourne Knights 5 – Southern Stars 0.

Northcote City vs Green Gully Cavaliers @ Northcote @ 3pm Sunday
Northcote seem to be galloping away with this year's championship. Playing really good by all accounts. Gully on the other hand are languishing in tenth position. Methinks the players are waiting for Dobbo to come back before they start playing again. How much time does Hennessy have? Northcote City 2 – Green Gully Cavaliers 0.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The FFV, National Premier Leagues and You

This post was submitted to us by one of our readers, a passionate, non-South Melbourne affiliated supporter of the game. The contributor has been involved in football for most of his life, as a player, volunteer and committee member. While we may disagree on certain issues, I have never doubted his passion and sincerity on all matters related to soccer in this state. South of the Border would like to thank the writer for their contribution, and I hope that that the readers of this blog enjoy this piece.

Why we must see this restructure for what it is
Two years ago, the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) announced a National Competitions Review (NCR) with a view to bring all top-tier state-competitions more or less in line with each other. They later announced the National Premier League, unveiling a flash new logo with David Gallop in tow for a photo opportunity. The NPL has already kicked off in Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania, the ACT and in South Australia (see here for state-specific information).

I'm not going to go into the differences between each state and their pros and cons - the bottom line is that these National Premier Leagues are 'what the FFA envisage as the future 'B-League' - or platform for promotion and relegation into the A-league. The fact that it doesn't state that fact or purpose in any of the proposed or accepted frameworks for the NPL should have alarm bells ringing.

Football Federation Victoria, the FFA-recognised organiser and promoter of the round-ball game in the state of Victoria has unfortunately, lost its way. So much water has passed under the bridge since the heyday of George Wallace and Michael Weinstein that it had me wondering recently if this was the vision they had for football in Victoria.

Let's quickly look at the NPL Victoria Criteria. The two key operational documents pertaining to the NPLV are the Participation Criteria and the Participation Licence. The Participation Criteria stipulate the process for which a club/franchise/other body will be admitted into the NPLV, while the Participation Licence outlines the more operational rules that will be enforced once the league gets off the ground.

The FFV Board of Directors announced the NPLV criteria at the end of April giving clubs just over a month-long window in which to fully research the ramifications of the NPLV, organise an Extraordinary General Meeting of all members and to submit an expression of interest form. Kind of gun-to-the-head stuff when you take into account that this is historically, other than the VASFA/VSF split in the early 1960s, the biggest restructure this game potentially will go through. Irresponsible?Unorganised? Deceitful? You decide.

The next step in the application process is to consult the 'NPLV Subject Matter Expert Contact List'. The alarming point about this is the distinct lack of real-world, on the ground knowledge among those lucky souls to be dubbed 'Experts'. I dare say that this is the fruit of shutting clubs out of the moulding process that was the NCR, relegating them to a checkbox in their 'Stakeholder Engagement' process. More alarming is the fact that every single one of the people listed are currently employees of the FFV who are meant to be fulfilling their duties to the clubs that pay for a level of service. I am of course referring here to the exorbitant, extortionist-like FFV imposed affiliation fees on clubs to enable them to compete in a league.

At the basic level, the FFV provides insurance for players and officials, fixturing and referees. That is the basic level of service that clubs demand and even then at the highest level they are unable to get referees on time, fixtures confirmed, wrong results entered into 'Sporting Pulse'... the list goes on. Instead the clubs receive services that are actually in competition with services the clubs offer. Club-funded FFV programs such as the NTC, Victory Youth and Women's teams are only the surface issues. Does anyone ask themselves what their full time employees do day-to-day? Have a look at the contact list and see for yourself the top-heavy organisation the FFV has set themselves up to be. Yet you have publications like GoalWeekly having to adapt to a non-Victorian specific market that was actually servicing the clubs, competitions and interests of all 'stakeholders (I hate that word) in a more than satisfactory manner. A few home truths printed about the FFV will get your funding pulled. Fair enough. At least they were principled in their approach and weren't bought off like so many other media outlets.

Clubs this year, more than any other, have felt a distinct lack of service over any other year. Well, now you know why - we are financing them to introduce a structure that is going to kill our heritage, our future and everything associated with it. Clubs don't even get their results in the paper on a Monday morning anymore, yet some obscure table tennis league played at Coburg Pools across the road from Pentridge can get a full results listing.

A packed Quarry Hill - will we ever see such a sight again?
Let's call a spade a spade. The FFV is inept. They are running the game in the interests of the FFV (commercial interests) and not in the interests of the game as a participation sport and another key 'stakeholder' they have forgotten about as a spectator sport. Had a look at SportingPulse recently? Or at the FFV email signatures? Both have had major edits to include an advertisement, yes a shameless plug – Get your NPLV application done before the 31st of this month! Shameful.

It is not a coincidence that crowds have declined dramatically in the last 7-8 years. The FFV in all its cunning, got through the biggest constitutional reform ever seen in Victoria where all the bigger (read: majority vote holding) Victorian clubs were asleep at the wheel and signed over all of their voting rights to the 'faceless ones', the zone representatives and chairmen of five standing committees. It was from here that they did and continue to do what they please. Exorbitant fines, concentrating on peripheral issues, being in competition with clubs these are only the small issues that every fan who has turned away from the FFV has felt on their own skin. Whether they will return is another issue, but the fact is that the FFV have a track record for being out of touch.

This brings us to our next point. Upon successful entry the applicant will have to sign a licence agreement. They have set themselves up as the organisation that gives out licences, meaning that they can just as easily take them away. That is the legal premise of a licence over a lease or affiliation agreement. The licence period has been listed as three years without promotion and relegation. This flies in the face of healthy competition and breeds mediocrity. Don't forget to nominate your three 'preferred' playing names (club/identity) to the FFV for ratification in your NPLV submission.

This is seriously beyond a joke and I haven't even touched on other contentious issues such as the Player Points System (PPS), recruitment zoning and intellectual property rights demarcation between the competition and clubs.

An Applicant cannot enter senior or junior teams (including small sided football teams) in FFV community competitions. It can and should be encouraged to train the best junior players through a SAP or Academy program to prevent NPLV clubs from decimating community clubs of their best players at this level and also give community clubs a road or pathway for those players. Applicants are encouraged to include details of any such SAP program in its application.
Take from this direct quote what you will, but the bottom line is for clubs to be part of the NPLV, they must field a minimum and maximum of one team per age group in the boys competition (under 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18) whilst also fielding under 13, 15 and 18s in the girls competition, while also fielding a men's under 20s and men's and women's seniors. For example if you have four under 9s teams they will no longer play under you. They are effectively out on the street with smaller clubs, which probably don't have the facilities to accommodate them in the first place. They now have to pick up the slack.

This NPLV is envisaged to be 'the' development league for aspiring youngsters wanting to get into the A-League and overseas. Nowhere does it mention driving crowds to games or getting in corporate sponsorship dollars to offset the very real possibility of a large deficit when you take into account the coaching situation. Clubs must appoint a Technical Director who reports quarterly to the State's Technical Director Sean Douglas. The shortage of licenced coaches in Victoria is very real.

Courtesy of the FFV Memes Facebook page.
Those lucky enough to have such accreditation already have on the face of it, less real-world experience than the Peter Tsolakis and Andrew Marths of the world. They have rightfully been ignored by the top-level Victorian clubs for decades for being 'paper' coaches whilst they will now find themselves in a position of favour in getting well paying jobs under this new system. Will the 9 or so A-Licence coaches currently in Victoria demand less than $50 an hour? Translating into a simple calculation of training 5 nights a week for two hours plus a game totalling a weekly spend of $600 a week? What about the team's mandatory assistant and goalkeeper coach? This drives up the already high costs of playing soccer in Australia. All for an unproven system not tried, tested or established anywhere in the world. For the first time in Australian soccer history, we have now become smarter than the rest of the world without the results to back up such assertions. This has time-bomb written all over it.

Club fees for juniors are capped at $1700 for each player. Working off these figures it remains to be seen how clubs can offer the level of service expected by the FFV with accredited senior coaches, assistants and their goalkeeping instructors. Forget about pricing in the sports trainers, physios and doctors a prospective NPLV club will have to employ as part of the FFV's over-the-top scheme. Don't expect the NPLV clubs to be 'elite' in all senses of the word. The climate in Victoria more than likely doesn't demand such high standards in the first instance. Secondly, should the NPLV get off the ground, corners will be chamfered at every stomach-churning hook turn. How will 'elite' clubs afford a good level of apparel for their players considering their budget? No adidas or Nike for them. We'll go with Jako or Best n' Less.

In line with FFV's enforced constitutional changes upon clubs, new NPLV entities will have to recognise “all its key members under its Constitution including registered players, coaches, administrators and volunteers." No longer are club members the people that actually pay a membership subscription, now you have employees of the club (players and coaches) having a say in the club's direction. For me this is not in the spirit of the game. If players in general wish to be members of their clubs nothing prevents them from doing so - an annual subscription fee to the club which in the current VPL structure hovers at around $50 for voting rights.

There are so many rules and regulations that are simply not in the interests of clubs, their players and members, that they are too numerous to mention. From business plans, financial auditing (A successful Applicant must make available to FFV or FFA any financial information requested within 3 days of receiving notice of an inspection.) all the way through to commercial exclusivity and veto rights of the FFV.

Let's get to one of the main sticking points: Facilities.
The Open Men's side of the NPLV club must play out of a Class A facility. These facilities actually don't exist beyond a sprinkling of State League 2 sides. And we all already know that the overwhelming majority of VPL and State League 1 clubs have rejected the NPLV framework as unfeasible. So where will these Class A facilities come from? Will the FFV gloss over their own rules stipulating minimum facilities as they have in the past? Will government invest in prospective NPLV club facilities?

Green Gully, one of Victoria's leading clubs, is not in favour of the NPLV.
The FFV have already been told in no uncertain terms what councils think of the proposed NPLV. Oakleigh and Green Gully have already been informed by their local councils that should they apply, they will lose exclusivity of their facilities. So where are they going to get these 'two clubs per zone' to constitute a competitive NPLV? In the western zone, the zone with probably the most registered players and clubs they have already hit a major bump in the road. The two highest ranked clubs, Melbourne Knights and Green Gully aren't looking to enter. So who has a Class A facility in the western suburbs that is willing to roll the dice? St. Albans, Altona Magic or Point Cook in State League 5? But alas, the FFV has made it clear that they will redraw its zonal boundaries to accommodate whoever applies to the NPLV.

Nowhere has the FFV mentioned that they have secured a multi-million dollar sponsor to run this league. Nowhere have they mentioned how they will drive attendances to games. Are they content in having a glorified under 25s competition? Definitely. Thus far their attitude towards the 'bigger' for want of a better word, more experienced top level clubs, has been, 'we don't care who we get, as long as we get them.' So far the two clubs that have publicly stated that they will apply are Surf Coast FC and Ballarat Red Devils. All well and good, but to be brutally honest, neither has the financial backing or experience to run an 'Elite' club, competition or teams.

This is the core of the problem. Taking away all other issues and contentions, the FFV is hell bent on ramming this reform down the throats of those expected to implement it. Clubs must take on all of the risk while the FFV take all the plaudits should it get off the ground. If it doesn't it will be the fault of the clubs.

The Community Leagues
Let's have a look at the alternative, the derogatorily dubbed 'community leagues'. Where is the criteria for these leagues you ask? Well... FFV haven't figured that out. What has been confirmed to clubs off the record is that the FFV will only run one semi-professional league in 2014. That will be the NPLV. State League 1 as we know it will be an all-amateur affair with clubs unable to register players as professionals.

When a club representative asked this question last week, the FFV replied that they will do all it takes to protect the NPLV. What that means in real terms remains to be seen but I'll give you my cynical opinion. The FFV will do exactly what they stated. Clubs will have no professional players that they will be able to demand compensation for. State League 1 will be dissected into North, South, East and Western zones to further dilute the quality of that competition. They might also remove the club's right to charge entry at the gate for senior games and parking.

I'm not against any club having their time in the sun, but the way that used to be done always ensured that clubs with community support worked their way through the levels, learned what it takes to run a club at each level and progressed organically. These days we have these queue jumpers that see this NPLV as a ticket to the top. To be honest, they can have their ticket.

What is for sure though is that the VPL and State League 1 clubs that will be brushed aside to the scrapheap of great FFV ideas (remember FootballAce?) will not take this lying down. Over seven centuries of combined history in the VPL alone does not count for nothing, no matter how often they bang their head against the wall and put us down to believe that we should be ashamed of the players that Victoria collectively produced under the 'old' system (it worked) compared to now. Apparently we're holding the game back or something?

What is important is that if you're heading along to your club's EGM to vote on joining the NPLV - vote a resounding NO. You never know what opportunity awaits around the corner.

And at the end of my rant I realise that I haven't adequately covered each document that I said I would. Unfortunately such is the passion against these reforms I find it difficult to calm my emotions; such is the game of football for those that truly love it and have its best interests at heart.

The FFV have lost touch with the football world, they have poisoned the well from which we all draw from and charge us accordingly for an inferior product. We will stand up for what is just even if it is unpopular. The South Melbournes, the Melbourne Knights', The Sunshine George Cross' and the Heidelberg Uniteds of this world still have some fight left in them.

Say NO to the NPLV.

NPL Victoria - damned if you do, damned if you don't?

This is the first part of a two part look at the FFV's NCR/National Premier League reforms. The second part, written anonymously by one one of readers, will follow soon. I'm hoping that together these pieces will perform a sort of complimentary function, looking at this major issue from different angles.

This wasn't an easy post to write. A larger part of that is because I admittedly don't know much about junior development, nor do I really care too much about it either. Call it a massive blind spot on my part, and I'll agree with you 100%. It's not easy for me to write this post also, because I like to think of myself as open-minded on these issues. Maybe I'm kidding myself. Maybe I like playing devil's advocate too much. Maybe I'm longing for a different hell to this one.

I recall that last year, when I went to the FFV's information evening for the Central Zone, there were five of us from the general public in the room. There were a rep each from Port Melbourne and Box Hill, Alex Alexopoulos of South Melbourne Womens FC, and myself and Gains. I wanted to attend to give the benefit of the doubt to the FFV, or at least hear what they were proposing in their own words. I did intend to write about it here, but life got in the way. I do remember wondering at the time whether Rendell would make it to see the start of this program - he didn't. I also remember rolling my eyes at several claims that the FFV were making, but also at how South would be able to implement this program.

So I've decided to look at it from what I see as South's point of view, rather than as the view of all clubs, the majority of clubs, or even those who choose to support the NPLV. This is not to say that this position should be taken as endorsement or otherwise. I can already tell this doesn't bode well when I've started with this many disclaimers.

Application Process
We still have to wait and see who actually puts in an expression of interest, and who actually then follows it up with a full scale application to join. There is always the concern among the Victorian soccer hoi polloi that many of the decision makers in this case have never run clubs in their lives. Are the FFV's expectations therefore completely out of kilter with what the clubs can actually produce? Can a club with a culture and history focused mostly on male football successfully run female football? Like it or not, women's football has a very different culture to male football. That may or may not be changing, but the fact that one is still spectator oriented at the top and the other is still participant oriented necessitates a difference of culture.

Why then is there not the leeway being given to let clubs that are good at what they do keep doing it, without making them do things they aren't good at? While I am all for the bigger clubs especially being more active in promoting women's football, doesn't that by necessity lead to the exclusion or downgrading of those teams who have been better at promoting women's football for the last two or three decades?

The Licence Period
A three year commitment, with the option of a three year extension at the end of that. No teams allowed to enter outside of the initial licensees inside that first three year period. It's a massive commitment, without much clue about what happens if enough teams drop out to create a non-viable competition. Too much hubris methinks from the FFV on this part, considering the failure to get any new independent consortia going over the summer league's lifespan - which is a point I brought up last year during their consultation process. This what they had to say on the matter:

FFV will work with all interested applicants to assist them in submitting their applications. At this stage we are confident we will have sufficient quality applications to form a viable competition.

Which doesn't actually answer the question. From the FFV's own admission, it appears that some prospective regional applicants have serious concerns about being able to field teams in all the age groups.

Identity and Names
What I can't figure out is, why is the FFV asking for three names from each applicant? Are the names clubs are using now not good enough? Fair enough if it's for some newborn entity created for this NPLV purpose, but what's wrong with South Melbourne FC? I don't buy their answer on their Facebook page that it's in the event that the junior committee of an NPLV club want to split off from their seniors and become a community club. Why do the see senior and junior wings of clubs as separate entities instead of as part of a larger whole?

The Teams
No surprises here, much as the FFV had put forward last year, mandatory male teams - one per age group from under 12s to under 20s, and an open age men's team - and four mandatory female teams, one of which is an open age team.

No small sided teams is a problematic issue for me. Not that most people who play juniors at a club end up supporting it in adult life, but this kills any possible renewal from the grassroots - players are there for a particular purpose, development, and when that ends, what's their reasons for still watching the club? It's no better than what we have now, under 21s players and their parents who won't stick around to watch the seniors.

These clubs in the NPLV will become something closer to the AFL's Victorian development pathway, an assembly line of 18 year olds. The difference there is, it's all funded by the AFL. The other difference is that these AFL teams don't go all the way down in age groups. As suspected, the FFV has attempted a power grab, while placing all the costs - players, training, coaches, registration, marketing - and all the risks, onto the clubs.

There seems to have been one temporary compromise made with regards to the player points salary cap, where the open men's division will start with a cap of 275 points before being phased down to 200 over a period of three seasons. This is similar to what has happened in New South Wales. It will be interesting, as has been noted by a few, whether the PFA will ark up about it. So far, as far as I can tell, they've not made any noises about this system, which will disadvantage older members of their union. But maybe they don't care about state league players?

While I've been one of the few proponents of the implementation of a player points system - with or without an NPLV system attached to it - I feel this will slant it too much towards younger players - they could have been more flexible on the matter, and left it at higher points cap. Still, it's not one of my major issues with this. An easy place to start would have been on restricting the use of visa players, and I'm not sure why moves towards implementing such a restriction haven't happened yet.

Financial Auditing
The one area where I have next to no reservations about our club's compliance ability, though there would still be challenges to meet. Not sure if I could say the same for a lot of other teams though. Having said that, considering that the FFV made an $800,000 loss last season - and blamed it on a reduction in fines - who are they to start dictating to clubs about fiscal responsibility and due diligence?

Venues and facilities
Considering the very short supply of sports fields across Melbourne in particular, I'm interested in knowing where new consortia will get grounds from. Sure, those using the existing facilities of a multi-club consortium might have several options (there's a whole range of issues to do with that, but that's for them to sort out), but completely new fangled groups? If some of the stories out there are to be believed - including the possibly defamatory ones involving the FFV's council liaison person - then some local councils aren't necessarily too happy with this NPL stuff, as it's not conducive to maximising use of their venues. What has that got to do with South you may ask? Well, we use venues across several council areas. We've already had North Caulfield quite unhappy with the fact we have a ground in the City of Glen Eira because of our takeover of the old Caulfield. Could this be used as leverage to get us evicted?

Intellectual Property
More troubling is why the FFV is seeking to control or share the intellectual property of the clubs, changing the current arrangement. It might be a trivial thing for them, but considering the way they have treated their own intellectual property, such as the Dockerty Cup, it doesn't inspire much confidence. I'm no lawyer though, so I'm not sure if this is standard professional sport boilerplate. Either way, the club must fight tooth and nail to maintain control if its intellectual property - including its media productions.

Recruitment and Zoning
I can understand the FFV's desire for more regional representation, and especially development pathways for kids in those areas - we've referred to that issue here and there. Of course there are issues with it - the travel component for regional teams, should they get anything like the amount of teams the FFV wants, will be much more onerous than the relatively truncated summer league season. And I wonder who's going to be responsible for paying that.

I'm not convinced by zoning either for metropolitan areas. I don't see the benefit and I don't see the point. Clubs should be able to choose the best players from wherever they want, and from whoever wants to play for them. Most other states are not using a zone system. While the FFV has made the argument that NSW doesn't have to do this because of the Northern New South Wales league, there's still no zone system within the metro districts. Indeed for several years the NSWPL did try to adhere to a version of a zone system, but abandoned it because strong senior mens clubs were being excluded and being replaced by weaker interests from other areas.

Maybe they just didn't wait long enough for the zones to become fixed in people's minds? Then again, the FFV doesn't even know yet what the zones will look like.
We are flexible as to the number of clubs per zone but we need to see who applies for a licence before finalising the recruitment boundaries.
Which considering the effort they've gone to mandate these zone systems - including butchering the flawed but fixable super league system, and the farce of messing up the cup draw several times based on the zones they drew up - is a total crock.

In addition, nine months after being asked the question, there's no new information as to how the proposed A-League academies will be integrated into this system. Just that 'more discussion needs to be had on this topic'. That's not good enough. From where and how will they be allowed to recruit players from? If they're allowed to recruit from anywhere - and that's the assumption I'm going with - doesn't that disadvantage the other NPLV clubs?

What the South board needs to tell the members
If the club is still interested in joining this project, it has some explaining and a lot of convincing to do - unless it of course manages to win by appealing to the junior parent constituency, which now has representation and suffrage at our club.
  • Since under this scheme, the FFV is only allowing fees of up to $1,700 (not including GST), how is the club going to make up the shortfall of $1,400 per child based on its current $3,200 program cost?
  • How will the club demonstrate the separation of junior costs to senior ones?
  • Why should we be asked to give up our intellectual property to the FFV?
  • Demand that our IP is ours in perpetuity, especially in the event that we enter the NPLV and then withdraw.
  • What the risks to the club short and longer term, for both sides of the ledger. And no sugarcoating please.
  • Why the club failed to win the concessions it thought it could from the FFV.
  • Show us the three year business plan if they choose to go through with this.
  • How will it impact on the facilities we use, considering we access venues across several municipalities - and will they be happy if they are not being used to the capacity local councils are increasingly looking for?
  • And we haven't even discussed what the hell is happening with our years long dispute with South Melbourne Women's FC. 

Part of the problem is that the clubs still haven't learned to work together. And while it's easy to point the finger at South as being the key intransigent party in this case, how does petty behaviour such as Oakleigh's cup forfeit - and its associated media and intra-club match antics - help build that trust? If the FFV is being accused of not listening and not responding to club concerns, I'm interested in learning how much the clubs actually did in terms of trying to get information. It seems like some clubs, for better or worse, did try to engage with the FFV on this reform process. I'm not so sure about a lot of others though.

In any case, I can't see the South board being able to convince the majority of its long term supporters to back this plan. It's hard even for me to back this plan, certainly not without very detailed evidence of how we are going to both comply with these regulations and maintain our social integrity as a club.

Additionally, if the board expects the parents of the children currently in our youth system, who are now able to vote on club matters, to support this, they might need to think again. If they live outside the designated zone (however the FFV decide to draw it up), they won't be allowed to be a part of the set up. For parents with children that would participate in small sided games, they would also be ousted. And unlike in NSW, where it appears that you can at least set up an affiliate club for social youth football, on the surface of it the rules here seem to be tighter and less ambiguous - and more open to allowing a junior team to split from its senior wing.

The net result seems to be that if we enter this competition, we'll be doing all the 'right' things and making the 'right' noises, but we'll in all likelihood have the soul ripped out of the club, and all this after fighting tooth and nail to keep it alive. If we don't get into this thing, and it somehow manages to get started and become even a feint success, we'll be dumped into a regional competition undoing much of our good work, devaluing the status of the club even further.

It's a complicated matter, because a lot of garbage is put into the mix. There are deluded souls who put all the blame onto the FFV for the way that the VPL has gone. While the FFV have had their part to play in all this, the decline of the VPL is not an isolated phenomenon. Most second tier sport has declined over the past 30 years. Look at what has become of the VFA. Which makes it all the more ludicrous that people are thinking that crowds will flock to a breakaway league or the community league which will theoretically have a better standard of play. Because you know, Green Gully vs Southerns Stars on a cold and windy Saturday afternoon is a marketer's dream - if only we knew how to promote this damn game!

This loss of culture coincides with a standardisation of the product of junior development. The fact that it is a product instead of a cultural experience is paramount. Instead of having different styles of coaching and club culture, the FFV (and the FFA) are trying to mandate a homogenisation of development. One of the more amazing things about the old clubs, at least the way that I remember it, is that each club had a different philosophy and playing culture. Those points of difference, that plurality, that volatility of the unexpected is now under serious threat. And to do away with that multiplicity of cultures, all for the sake of trying to create a winter version of the failed summer leagues, just seems callous to me.

Let's End This on a Lighthearted Note
Chances are we'll probably be in the A-League this coming season or the next one at the latest, so all this discussion is probably moot.

Monday, 13 May 2013

The Thing That Would Not Die - South Melbourne 3 Richmond 2

What a week. Even if it was only in the world of pretend - and who knows where reality ends and fantasy begins at South Melbourne - it was nice to feel like we were genuinely alive again, instead of pretending that we weren't only marking time.

So after so much A-League ambition nonsense, it was time to actually play a game. First home game of the season after a month away and an Oakleigh forfeit, and according to Chinese whispers going around the ground, even the FFA and Michael Lynch were there. Sadly, I could not verify that either of those was true. Regardless of these the truthiness of these facts, this was the kind of occasion where we usually balls it up. And when Richmond scored their second goal early in the second half, it looked like it'd happened again.

Indeed at 0-2 down I had people yammering away that this was like the Southern Stars debacle last year, I however unusually had the feeling that if we could somehow manage to pinch a quick goal, we'd have a good shot at getting the win, or at the very least a point. Tyson Holmes' overhead goal was as good a way as any to get back into the game. A goal mouth scramble saw the ball bounce high, and you could see the scenario set itself up, see Holmes intent to try it even before perhaps he knew it himself. It looked perhaps more spectacular than it was, the shot just looping into the back of the net, but they all count the same. And when in future times, we'll let fallible memory make it a screamer from the edge of the 18 yard box that no one could have saved.

The 2-2 goal was more regulation. A Brad Norton cross, a header, a goal, Holmes with his second. Have I mentioned that it seems like we've been sending in a lot more crosses this season? It eventually paid off. The third goal was less classic, but just as important. Andy Vlahos, who came on after the second goal replacing Joe Keenan, made himself a nuisance from the get go. After an earlier sideways pass across bamboozled the Richmond defense - and unfortunately the South players who should have done better with the shot - Vlahos found himself free thanks possibly to quick work by the ballboy. His shot was parried by the keeper straight into the path of Rhys Meredith, deflecting off him into the goal.

The rest of the game saw us mostly control the tempo, and thwart a couple more attempts by Richmond to pinch a late equaliser. There are problems. Obvious problems. We look vulnerable out wide. There were communicating issues. I suppose some would counter balance that by saying we also look dangerous on the wings. Perhaps I expect too much from part time footballers. We also miss Alan Kearney's control of the midfield. But we're scoring goals, and thus far winning a lot more games than not, so let's save the complaining until we collapse in a heap mid-season.

Ball Boys
Now I'm all for them being out there and doing their job, but someone has to give them a little bit of instruction, lest I end up having to yell instructions from the back of the grandstand to them again and end up looking like more of a twat than I already do. Here's how it should be.

If we're in front:
  • Unless we need more goals for goal difference, or if it will enable our player to take advantage of a slack defense, give the ball back to our players slowly. 
  • Don't give the ball back quickly to the opposition. Maybe act like it slipped out of your hands, make it bounce a few times.
If we're behind:
  • Give our players the ball quickly.
  • Give the opposition the ball quickly
Very simple. They seemed to sort themselves out by the end, which was good to see. But this was no thanks to Gus Tsolakis though, who tried to play up the sportsmanship angle by giving the ball back quickly to Richmond when they were behind. What were you thinking man!

Most of these clubs don't have ball boys. Some even take delays because of balls going onto the freeway as a normal part of the game. We must take advantage of this as much as possible.

You Got To Know When To Hold 'Em
After we'd well and truly started our comeback, you had more than one wit ask Richmond coach Grant Brebner how multi-bet was going.

Long Time No See
After the game, on my way down the stairs, someone called out to me. It wasn't one of my usual acquaintances. In fact I thought my eyes were deceiving me. It was my cousin George. Growing up, George had been as passionate as any South fan that I knew. He had taken me to a few NSL games (such as this one against Perth Glory - he should have taken me to more, but that's a long and complicated story). Like many others, he'd pitched in to help fund the construction of Lakeside after our move from Middle Park.

And then the NSL ended, and things changed. Whenever I saw him – and my family being the way it is, I was lucky to see him once a year – soccer talk revolved around Greek soccer, the EPL, maybe the A-League. After professing to going to Victory games, he thought it quaint that people were still going to South, that I was still going. In what could only come across as patronising, he said it was nice that people were still keeping the club going, even if most people had moved on.

Being a South fan in the situation we've found ourselves in, my reaction was quite predictable. I was angry. I felt insulted. How could someone who'd professed such love for the club now write off that experience as nothing more than being there for the sake of supporting soccer? When the club had given him so much – being 10 years older than me, he would have seen every national title that we won – could he not repay that with, if not attendance and memberships, than at least the courtesy of not re-writing his own history?

And on Sunday, as I took my usual spot up the back of the grandstand, he was there, about 15 rows further down in the same bay, with one of his sons, watching South come from 2-0 down for a 3-2 win. We chatted for a bit, these things always being harder than they should be. He said he'd be back, and while I certainly hope he will, the fact that he came back at all speaks volumes to me about the true place of the club in his heart. After all, he said as much himself.

Maybe I've been too harsh and too dogmatic on this front.

Steve from Broady's Under 21s Report
South Melbourne's under 21s were back in action on Sunday afternoon returning to Lakeside Stadium for the first time in 2013, to take on last season's champions the Richmond Eagles. Trent Rixon and Tom Matthews both remained in the 21s after Peter Tsolakis deemed both players still not 100% fit. South Melbourne were looking to bounce back after the poor showing in the previous round. Sebit Muon found himself on the bench after scoring last week, a decision that raised a few eyebrows. The game started off very slow and it took South ten minutes to kick into gear. In the 13th minute South whipped the ball into the mixer for a towering Trent Rixon to head home and give South a 1-0 lead and that it stayed like that for the rest of an uneventful first half.

In the second half South come out firing and in the 49th minute Anthony Giannopoulos found himself one on one with the keeper. He rounded the keeper with ease and chipped the ball into the back of the net to give South a 2-0 lead. 20 minutes later Giannopoulos found himself in a great position inside the mixer but Rixon was unable to provide the magical cross that he had received in the first half. As the game drew to an end it started to become quite clear that Matthews was not having the best of games and maybe will need another week or two in the 21s until he gets his game back. The full time whistle went and South were 2-0 victors against last season;s champions and will march on with lots of confidence next week against Hume City away until then GET AROUND IT!

Steve from Broady's Canteen Review
Sunday saw South Melbourne's food truck in the spotlight for the first time in 2013. The score system for South Melbourne home games will be as follows. A score each week will be all put together and averaged out to give South's food truck a final score to rank them in the 2013 VPL canteen championship table. I had a souvlaki and was not too impressed. It was very dry and cost $10. Later on in the day I had a kransky; the price was a little better, but the quality of the food stayed the same. I rate week one of the South Melbourne food truck a 4.5/10. They will have 10 more chances to get their act together and get a magical Altona East style souv 10 pointer.

  1. Bentleigh Greens 7/10
  2. Southern Stars 2/10
  3. Green Gully 1/10
  4. Dandenong DQ
South food truck
Week 1 4.5

Jersey Night
My chips under parma issue at Beachcomber seems to have become semi-legendary. Anyway, the jersey night last week was very much like the jersey night last year. Same location, same food, a bit better fundraising. Not much to tell really.

Next Week
Hume away on Sunday. Haven't seen them play this season, but their form seems a bit all over the shop. I expect us to be tested though.

Final Thought
They played Zombie Nation after one of the goals went in. A fan and I talked about Time of the Season by The Zombies. Someone whose love for the club I assumed was dead was, at least for a little while, resurrected. Is there a theme emerging here?

Vale Tony Toumbourou

This was a bit of sad news. Toumbourou had reportedly been ill for quite some time. I never met the bloke, nor any one of his family, but the donation he made along with Chris Christopher when we were about go under in 2004 were critical in saving the club. Though that donation/loan became a contentious issue later on - far too many entries from last year to single out - hopefully that contribution is not forgotten by current and future generations of South supporters.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Kiss of Death, Round 5, 2013

Friday 10th May @ Bentleigh Greens @ 8:15pm
Bentleigh Greens vs Oakleigh Cannons

A derby somewhat. Second placed Bentleigh entertains eighth place Oakleigh. Bentleigh is looking good, and should be good enough to beat the Oakleigh Cannons. I watched Oakleigh against Southern Stars two weeks ago, and they were pretty bad. Lack of organisation in the back, no structure, no game plan, and instruction lacking from the bench. Bentleigh on the other hand is organised, has a structure, has a game plan, and gets plenty of instruction from the bench. A game of two very different teams. Bentleigh Greens 3 Oakleigh Cannons 1.

(P.S. Friday is St's Zisis, Zoi, Krini, Panagiotis, Panagiota, Simon, Simone, Paraskevi, and Paraskevas Day. I am expecting Oakleigh to not turn up, as they are all religious and shit. I am also expecting Bentleigh to have fish on the menu as it's Friday, and if they want to sell anything to the Oakleigh fans, then have fish, because they don't eat meat on Friday).

Friday 10th May @ Port Melbourne @ 8:30pm
Port Melbourne Sharks vs Northcote City

Port Melbourne is sitting in fourth, yet they haven't really played anyone of note. Northcote is top of the table unbeaten, and have had a comfy run so far. This will be a test for Northcote and they will most likely drop points. Both teams are playing someone for a change and should be an entertaining encounter. Port Melbourne 2 Northcote City 2.

Saturday 11th May @ Dandenong Thunder @ 3pm
Dandenong Thunder vs Hume City

Seventh placed Dandy have sixth placed Hume this weekend at George Andrews. Boring. Dandy Thunder 2 Hume City 1

Saturday 11th May @ Green Gully @ 3pm
Green Gully vs Melbourne Knights

Green Gully who are ninth, play the fifth placed Melbourne Knights. Both teams are a rabble at the moment. Probably the hardest one to pick. I wouldn't put my money on this one. Gully is up and down, and the Knights lack leadership. The fish rots from the head, I heard someone saying at Northcote once. You know what to do. You know who I'm talking to. Green Gully 1 Melbourne Knights 2.

Saturday 11th May @ Southern Stars @ 6pm
Southern Stars vs Pascoe Vale

Relegation derby. 11th v 10th. Already these two teams are playing to avoid relegation. I have no interest whatsoever in this one. More like a FML, do I need to talk about it? Southern Stars 0 Pascoe Vale 4.

Sunday 12th May @ Lakeside Stadium @ 5pm
South Melbourne vs Richmond

Match of the round by far. South Melbourne is cruising in third place, while Richmond have replaced their coach with Grant Brebner and are languishing bottom of the table in 12th. This result is a 'gimme' for South. Fucken seriously, if we don't wipe the floor with these muppets, we should shut the doors. I expect, and shall receive a Mothers Day Massacre down at Lakeside. On that note, very strange the game is scheduled on Mothers Day. Why would anyone do such a thing? I don't have much to say about Richmond. I have been reading Steve from Broady's canteen reviews, and if your team is as shit as your food, then fucken LOL. The five or so fans you have might as well stay home. South Melbourne 8 - Richmond 0.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

SMFC TV to cover A-League bid shenanigans tonight

Cripes, normally I forget to tune into the channel 31 show, but it might be worth checking it out tonight. Apparently board members Tom Kalas and Andrew Mesorouni will be on the show to discuss the Melbourne Heart takeover shenanigans. I'm sure those of our supporters who love to stir the pot on the FourFourTwo forums will be keeping an eye on this for more trolling material. You know who you are.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

On Australian soccer's multicultural paradox

We normally never visit The Roar wesbite, let alone promote it, but Joe Gorman's piece South Melbourne saga shows the divisions in our football family is certainly worth a look, and not just because I spent a lot of years peddling much the same arguments on several forums. Gorman looks like an Australian soccer writer worth watching.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Mark Bosnich gives us the thumbs up - but should we actually care?

A whole two years ago now, we had a jersey presentation night at Kinisi. Among the guests on the footballing panel was that was a part of the event, was one Mark Bosnich, of Socceroos, Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea, cocaine, down and out followed by rebirth as the rehabilitated crazy thing on his head, stupid laugh and tell it like it is pundit on Fox Sports soccer coverage.

Back then, whatever my opinion was of what he was saying, at least it seemed like he actually believed in it, and wasn't trying to pander to our la la land hopes of getting back into the top-flight. Here's what I noted as the gist of what he said about that issue back then:

Unlike Les Murray in the past, Mark Bosnich at least had the courtesy not to humour our delusions of grandeur, by being unapologetic about his and/or the FoxSports team's stance that change was necessary in the game and that we should be relegated to the toxic waste dump of Australian football.

Though he did not use the phrase 'toxic waste dump of Australian football', his message was pretty damn clear: South, and clubs like South, had had their time in the sun, but everyone else had moved on, and it was time we did, too. No offense, you still have good tradition and that.

Two years on, and his opinion seems to have softened on the matter somewhat.

The person who posted this video has called it an endorsement of our A-League ambitions. I wouldn't go that far myself. But Bosnich goes further in this piece on the Fox Sports site.

How did he get from his previous line of thinking on the matter, to where he is now? Two years ago he would have politely knocked this on the head. But now when talking about our great tradition, he's not pushing us aside as yesterday's news, but claiming that we actually have something to offer.

To be honest, it's all a bit confusing. And we don't even have a game this weekend to take our minds off this rubbish.

Oakleigh forfeit cup match

As seen here. And as demanded by the Kiss of Death, here.

So South get a 3-0 forfeit result in their favour, and porgress to the next round of cthe cup. And for the second season ina  row, Orthodox Easter sees Oakleigh forfeit matches. Last year it was their juniors who had all their matches forfeited, much to the annoyance of certain parents at that club. Club of their convictions at least.

Nice to know that the family day is still going ahead, memberships and merchandise avilable for pick up and purchase.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Crazy over capitalised press release on recent SMFC/Melbourne Heart argle bargle

Poorly phrased as well I reckon. Also, these people seem determined to both steal the Kiss of Death's thunder and interrupt my dinner this week. 


Following yesterday’s media reports on SBS World Game Fox Sports and Statements made by the CEO of the Melbourne Heart.

South Melbourne FC wishes to confirm the following:
  • South Melbourne FC that it made an offer to acquire 100% of the Melbourne Heart Licence.
  • The offer was in excess of 3.5 million
  • The offer was made after several discussions between Heart & SMFC Directors.
  • South Melbourne FC has received an expression of interest from Emerson (Brazilian Legend) to coach & has already secured Major Sponsors for its A League ambitions.