Monday, 3 June 2013

One Life And It's All Politics - Pascoe Vale 0 South Melbourne 0

A disappointing result to say the least. Did we drop two points in the first half? We were well on top even before Pascoe Vale's red card in the 8th minute for a head butt on Brad Norton. And we blew several chances to take the lead, perhaps the worst miss of the lot going to Trent Rixon, who pulled his shot wide with the goal beckoning, missing the target by about two metres. But still, that first half was only missing a goal from us, and didn't foreshadow the lackluster second half to come.

Norton got a sore head, his opponent a red card. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Indeed the second half resembled what in footy speak might be called circle work, running and passing and keeping the ball without doing much with it. When we did choose to move it quickly, we either miss hit our passes, or were reticent in taking on opponents and trying to get into the box. There was an issue also in delaying putting in crosses. And despite having an extra man for 82 minutes, it was sometimes hard to tell where that extra man advantage was. Brad Norton was perhaps the serial offender on both of these last two fronts.

Credit must go to Peter Gavalas. Though he had very little do throughout the evening, he saved the day right at the death when Pascoe Vale threatened to steal the win. While it hurts to not win that game, I get the feeling that last year we would have lost this match. The turnaround in Gavalas' form has been a big part of our better season to this point.

The home team celebrated a hard earned point, while we walked out of the ground incredibly frustrated. There are still questions about Tsolakis' tactical decisions. But the earth keeps turning, and the focus must now move on to next week. At least we got to see Alan Kearney get on the field and get some game time. And we got our first clean sheet in several weeks, for those who care about such things. So disappointing, yes, but not a complete disaster.

As for the ex-South boys at Pascoe Vale... Joseph Yousseff was out injured. Stefaan Sardelic perhaps wasn't tested as much as he should have been - except from Rhys Meredith, who clattered into him in the first half - but otherwise didn't put a foot wrong. His ground kicking still leaves a lot to be desired though. Jake Vandermey, like the rest of the Pascoe Vale defence, rode out the storm of the first half onslaught before putting in a very steady performance when South ran out of ideas. Apparently Marco Santilli - a member of the 2006 Crazy Johns Cup final winning team, where he was one of the goal scorers - was also out there. Shows how observant I am.

Hosken Reserve
Only been there the once previously, several years ago for a state league two north/west match between Pascoe Vale and Altona East, and what a fantastic game that was.

Pascoe Vale 2 Altona East 1
Right team won on the day, no doubt about it. Paco kicking with a strong wind in the first half dominated, a great goal from about 25-30 metres out leaving them 1-0 up at the break. 2nd half was everything you'd want from a top of the table clash, with East really getting into the game and equalising only for Paco to take back the lead within 5 minutes. Some send offs and wasted chances at both ends, with the Paco keeper pulling out some great saves. Paco best team I've seen over the past couple of seasons at this level.

Gains and me got off at Merlynston station, and like the Zoroastrian magi of that familiar myth, followed the light (tower) in the sky, albeit this was a dimmer object than those Persian would have followed. So dim in fact that I was a bit worried that the lights wouldn't be up to scratch, and when we got there, it didn't look too good. But when all the lights were turned it was adequate, if not spectacular.

SMFCTV cameraman Tim Dovas acknowledges the crowd. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
In terms of the food, the pizza was actually pretty damn good (I'll let Steve from Broady gush over the food), but there was no chinotto to go with the pizza, and I had to settle for a blood orange soda. But you can't have everything I suppose. A ground worth taking into consideration when pondering which game to see. Like other venues without a hill, the viewing isn't great when the crowd gets more than one deep along the fence. Not sure how good the video footage will be either, considering there was light pole in front of the scaffolding used for filming.

Around the Grounds
How much soccer is too much soccer? I think I got close to finding out the answer this weekend.

First Stop: Jack's Place
Thank goodness for Steve from Broady, who made the right choice on Friday night's offerings. I was all up for going to Richmond vs Green Gully, in the superstitious belief that Richmond were 'due' for a win. That game got washed out with Richmond down 2-1. How the FFV will sort out that game will be interesting.

Instead we ended up at Oakleigh vs Hume. The under 21s match was a bit of a goalfest, 4-3 I think it finished to Hume, though I only caught the last half hour or so. The senior match was largely unspectacular for 60 odd minutes, Oakleigh doing nothing and Hume doing the simple things finding themselves 2-0 up. When Oaks unexpectedly pulled it back to 2-1, the game was on, and Oaks hit the post soon after. A backheel goal from a goal mouth scramble by the Hume striker variously dubbed 'Lurch' and 'Star 21' by some of the South faithful seemed to pretty much ice the game at 3-1, but Oaks kept coming. Then Hume's little no. 30, who was playing like it the pitch was bone dry, slipped past two defenders on the by line and cut it back for an easy to finish to someone or other. 4-2 it finished to Hume, who are on a bit of a roll now, while Oakleigh under Miron Bleiberg are going nowhere fast.

From about 6:00pm onwards the rain didn't stop. It slowed down at times, bucketed down at others. Steve from Broady was disappointed, because he wanted to stand next to the Oakleigh bench and listen to Bleiberg. It got very interesting when the thunder and lightning got real close to the ground, the thunder rippling through the covered terrace at Jack Edwards Reserve, so close you could feel it in your belly, and so loud that I couldn't hear the footy match that I had on my earphones. The ground held up well though, and at least we were able to finish the game.

Second Stop - Xavier vs Melbourne Grammar
I'd been asked several times by a friend to come watch some sport at Xavier, as part of the continuing tradition of alienation that we love on this blog. I had been asked to go to a cricket match - against their main rivals St Kevins - to get the more authentic experience, but life had gotten in the way.

The tram goes uphill from the corner of Collins and Spring. It also flies along the avenues. That's a crucial part of the experience. Most of my tram experiences have been laboured affairs, meandering in a stop/start fashion through the inner suburbs.  After ending up a lot further on than I was supposed to, and making a wrong turn into some sort of car park - I eventually made it to the proper gate to see a match already in progress. The field the soccer was being played on was nearest to Barkers Road, which at least made it easier to find. The different fields apparently had names as well - at my high school the oval was simply 'the oval'. There were large puddles on the other side of the field, but otherwise the ground had held up well.

As a novice to such carnival style sports days - my two year stint at the Corporate Games excluded - I suffered from an acute case of sensory overload. There were two Aussie rules games being played adjacent to the soccer match, as well as a rugby union game being played a little further on. Whistles and sirens, balls, crowds switching between different games. Add to that the large electronic scoreboard on the main footy ground - which also of course has a little grandstand. Even the traffic is captivating, and I normally couldn't give a stuff about cars except as a way of getting from point A to point B. Looking around, just about every car is new. In contrast, I reckon that there's three 1989 Toyoto Camrys on my street alone.

Xavier's soccer team was playing host to Melbourne Grammar. I had been promised a higher calibre of football, with neat, crisp passing. Instead, thanks to the weather, I got something else entirely. There were some pretty poor sliding tackles in this match, with players not taking into account the slippery conditions. What made this more interesting is that as a whole, the game wasn't actually very physical. This was especially in the moments where I expected it to be almost inevitable, where the ball got stuck in one of the puddles on the other side of the ground, and yet more often than not players were able to extricate them out of the lakes without too much opposition interference.

Grammar looked the better team when I got there early in the first half, playing a bit more direct. Xavier were playing a style that was too fancy for the conditions, and found themselves 3-1 down at half time. Still, Xavier came out the stronger team in the second half, and managed to pull it back to 3-2 early on, only to then not to do very much for the rest of the match. And then almost out of nowhere, they won a late, late penalty. The sideline cheered in celebration. The young man who had scored both of Xavier's goals stepped up to the spot, aiming for both the equaliser and his hat-trick. Of course he skied the shot about five metres over the crossbar, to the unbridled joy of the Grammar players and supporters.

The whistle blew, and the Grammar team sang out their school song with gusto in the middle of the field. School pride was always a nebulous, even fruity concept where I came from. Concepts such as alumni associations are anathema to a system where people can't wait to get out and hope to never see 95% of the people you were forced to be with. We also didn't have a school song as far as I can remember, so hearing something like that roared out was fascinating and also disturbing, but I suppose that's all part of the culture shock that I had experienced.

We don't often talk about social politics on this blog, because frankly, I don't think that's what our audience is interested in, and I also don't think that our audience is particularly interested in my poorly constructed pseudo-anarchist ramblings in particular. But there was something undeniably wrong about the scenario, where a community which is that privileged, and seeks to create an insular environment, while priding itself on its 'independence' and which has so much more than my old high school could ever have had, could possibly want even more from the taxpayer?

This is not about the politics of envy. It's about a bizarre social experiment that's been created, that is supposed to include, in Xavier's case at least, social justice, but who can't even stomach playing against its poor Catholic brethren, instead aligning itself with other wealthy Protestant schools. It's about how in attempting to stay relevant, public schools like mine have had to become marketing machines, trying desperately to mimic the aesthetic tropes of the private school system.

It's probably not fair to come into such a situation, with all my lower middle class western suburbs prejudices, and then come out of a mere two hour experience with all the answers. When I did take that detour into the car park, I was faced by cyclone fencing and barbed wire. Why was my immediate reaction to think that at a public school, this would be used to keep people in, but at an elite private school this would be used to keep people out?

Like I said, they are some poorly constructed ramblings. It was a relief to get out of there though, and head to a place that seemed a bit more grounded in reality.

Third Stop - Campbell Reserve
A sample of Moreland's shirt collection. Photo: Gains.
The overnight downpour did put into doubt whether the third leg on my Friday/Saturday football journey would go ahead, as Moreland City's Campbell Reserve is more likely than most grounds to turn into a swamp at the first hint of deluge.

On arrival at the ground, there was no action at all. The reserves match was postponed at Campbell Reserve, but luckily the senior match would go ahead.

I like Moreland City. I don't blame them for being able to get away with having four different ethnic symbols on their jersey (leek, thistle, clover and rose), and not receiving flack from anyone for it. That's the fault of Australian culture who don't think of these symbols as ethnic, or at least not in a negative way, and the soccer authorities who are supposed to be on top of all these issues. I also love straining my neck looking up at the soccer jersey collection that adorns the ceiling of their social club. And it's always a treat to hear the banter directed towards the visiting team's goalkeeper from behind the goals.

Moreland City have been one of the form teams in state 2 north/west this season, but conceded a heavy defeat at Preston the week before. Altona East have won one match all season. It didn't start well for East, falling 2-0 behind early on. They pulled one back, but soon conceded again. East weren't really in the game, but won a lucky penalty - they should have scored from the same play anyway - and made the score 3-2. It should have been 3-3 soon afterwards, but instead Moreland piled on the next three goals, and it finished 5-2, although the official records say 5-3. If I missed a goal, I'm not sure where that happened.

Steve from Broady's Canteen Report
On Saturday evening I ventured down to Pascoe Vale's ground Hosken Reserve. There was a lot of hype about their canteen, so I was expecting big things and I can confirm big things is what I got. A wood fire oven cooking some very good pizzas was unbelievable to see at a VPL venue - perfectly cooked, not burned, not an overload of topping - it was awesome. Inside was another canteen with food that was not as good as the pizzas but let's be honest, nothing could live up to those pizzas. After assessing both canteens at the venue I must without a doubt award Pascoe Vale's canteen a perfect 10 and encourage all VPL fans to get around this canteen for the rest of the season.

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

The Pitfalls of Taking Public Transport 
In the morning while taking the 48 tram, stop 26 became stop 32 in the space of about five seconds. Not cool when I wanted to get off at stop 29. In the evening, after traipsing through the mud of the Hosken Reserve carpark and hoofing it uphill to Batman station, we missed the train by about 30 seconds. Still, I managed to catch the 10:07 to Werribee, and didn't need to top up on the day either. Twenty-two cents left on my myki card.

Next Week
Queen's Birthday Monday Dockerty Cup game against Northcote. At least they've finally stumbled.

Flaaaaaaaaaaaaanders. Flaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanders.
One of our friends at the game needs to come up with more than one line to yell out over the 90 minutes of play. One of our readers who was at the game suggested that this person needed a Jewish writer, and I think he also suggested the image on the right as an obtuse way of making that point.

In addition, if you want to submit photo or picture suggestions for upcoming posts, send them to and I'll see if I can make them relate to the topic somehow. Cartoon related references preferred.

Final Thought
It was good to meet Bill, Jake Vandermey's old man. Always nice to put a face to a name.


  1. I have to say, one of the thrills of this weekend was actually getting to see a few games of soccer, as opposed to having the discourse dominated by NPLV discussion, though goodness knows some people tried to keep pushing that barrow.

  2. Good to see the FFV website updating the scores.

    Savvas Tzionis

  3. 10/10 ?
    u obviously didn't have one of their bread dogs, i mean hot dogs.
    score em a -.5 for that.

    1. I think Steve got a bit carried away this week.

    2. There needs to be an adjustment tolerance for when Steve goes to games hungry, after he's consumed red cordial etc.

    3. Good point, Anonymous!

  4. It was good to meet you too, Paul. Always been a fan and I believe we all enjoyed some good "Ole Fashioned" banter. Would be great for Pascoe Vale to play South in the Finals???. Regards, Bill.

    1. Maybe even in a Dockerty Cup fixture?

  5. Also, yes I recognise the potential hypocrisy of bemoaning elitist social structures while supporting a club with a $3200 junior program.

  6. South and Pascoe in the finals ?
    can't see that to be honest.
    BUT if they do make it, i'll buy u a beer Bill

  7. I believe i'll take you up on that. If Pascoe Vale make the finals and South don't , i'll buy you a scotch

  8. Another scotch bottle bet?


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