Tuesday, 26 November 2013

2013 AGM on this coming Sunday

If you haven't heard the news - and that's entirely possible, as apparently not everyone received notice of this week's event - South's AGM is on this Sunday. Every AGM is important, but this one is going to be hard to top for the breadth and complexity of issues that are facing the club at the moment. Indeed, there are issues which normally would take centre stage quite easily in any given year, but which this year will take a back seat to the most pressing issue of them all, the status of the lease agreement.

This is, first of all, an election year. It is the first election year since the club, partly due to the FFV enforced constitutional changes, and partly due to its own maneuvering, has opened the suffrage up to so many people. After we had been promised that the social club wing of the club - the part that controls all the other parts - would remain solely at the mercy of social club members, it appears as if everyone who is a member of the club, including mere season ticket holders of South Melbourne FC, will be able to have their say.

There are always rumblings about people perhaps challenging this committee, which in one form or another has been the only committee to run for office since the end of the NSL. But each time an election comes around, no one else puts their hand up. Whatever my thoughts are on this current committee - and they are admittedly generally favourable from my end - it has always been my contention that the failure of rival tickets to emerge is a damaging prospect for the club long term.

Firstly, the lack of a rival ticket indicates that on the surface at least, there are few other qualified groups looking to take over this club. That may or may not be true, but it's not a good look. Secondly, the lack of a rival ticket gives a certain carte blanche to the current committee. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, even if a hypothetical rival ticket's proposed policies and agendas are backward, conservative, unfeasible, or (Zeus forbid) couched in the rhetoric of 'need more Greeks', at least it would provide a contrast to the agenda of the current committee.

The Lease/The Social Club/Exclusivity
The big item of course is the lease. Four years on from signing the Memorandum of Understanding, two years since we moved back into Lakeside, and we still haven't locked everything away for keeps. Still no social club, no 40 year lease, no football exclusivity, at least in practice. After being promised back in January 2013 that a deal was close, then again in July 2013 that we were a couple of months away from sealing the deal, here we are still waiting.

This is not meant to be an attack on the committee, because I'm sure they're hurting as much, if not more than us, being at the coalface of the matter on a daily basis. In the July meeting, the situation was explained quite clearly, that there were four agreements, and that they all needed to be signed simultaneously. The issue has become messier now, because the State Sports Centre Trust is clearly disrespecting the arrangement that we are supposed to have.

The lack of a social club is one thing. The Trust allegedly going behind our backs and letting A-League franchises use the venue without our permission is quite another. Unlike some South fans, I'm not averse to letting the A-League use the venue for women's and youth games. Apart from the direct income we'd get from their hiring, when the social was supposed to be up and going, there'd be another source of income coming in on a non-South match day. That, and if we didn't let them use the ground, some other club would make the most of the opportunity to make some money. And it's not like we haven't had those teams use the venue in the past.

But it has to be on our terms. If this is a big game of chicken that the Trust is playing to see if we'll blink and take them to court to sort out these matters once and for all, then I hope that we do. If the club is confident in its case, then they should go for it - of course how many legal cases can we take on at once is an issue we must also consider. If Athletics Victoria is also being treated poorly, we should seek to find a way to work with them to take on the Trust. If the Trust is also not treating its other tenants with respect - remembering that it also controls venues such as the State Netball and Hockey Centre - then we should endeavour to work with those groups as well.

There were four or so big ticket items within the lease. The guaranteed income, the football exclusivity, the social club and the 40 year lease. This is what was offered to the club by the government. This is what the club and its members agreed to. This is the least what we expect out of the situation. After finally securing that deal, then we have to work on making Lakeside feel like our home ground. The social club will be a big part of that - but externally, there must also be signs that we belong there, that it is our turf. And again, there should be ways of working with Athletics Victoria so they can make the venue feel like their home as well.

For the record, my mail is that the final sticking point is the lease. Everything else is apparently ready to go, but as we are no doubt aware, leases on Crown land are set at a 21 year limit - thus this government or the Trust trying to weasel their way out of the deal. There has already been pressure put on Hugh Delahunty, the Minister for Sport, and Matthew Guy, the Minister for Planning, by a range of organisations. Whether the situation has deteriorated since then, I guess we'll find out this week.

NPL Victoria
Lest we forget that we are still in the middle of this process. After supposedly being 'in the tent' with the FFV, then out of the tent and now leading the charge against them, it'd be nice to have further clarification on what's going on. Is the 60 odd club co-signatory group going to be happy if the scenario eventuates where South and a handful of other clubs, happy with what they've managed to wrangle out of the NPL deal, break away? What will be the consequences and costs of going to the Supreme Court? Are (us and the rest of the co-signatory group) going to follow through with the threats of not handing over affiliation fees to the FFV? And can we get a stright answer on what's going on with the supposed dealing with the FFA?

Juniors shakeup
Underneath the big ticket items, there have been significant changes to the way the junior wing of the club will operate. After reforming the junior wing, seemingly getting rid of the influence of the old Caulfield mob (unless I'm reading that completely wrong) and attempting to prepare for a tilt at the NPL as the FFV was going to run it, we've now changed things a fair bit. Coaches have gone. The lower level age groups will have more teams added, costs to players will be reduced, and the higher age groups won't have to pay a cent. There would be some who, not without reason, will see this as a cynical ploy of getting money from younger players to fund the higher age groups - unless of course these younger players are given priority over potential imports from other clubs...

Then there's other issues which need to be clarified. The team of course. What news there? What's going on with our A-League ambitions, if they still exist? Have we given up the ghost on ever reconciling with the women's team? Is it coincidental that their most successful period on field at least has come after they've officially split from us? And what the hell happened with this?

What I'm hoping for this week
  • Proper meeting attendance/roll call taken. If you're not a member, you shouldn't be allowed in.
  • Good questions from a variety of people.
  • No putting down of new members, just because they're new.
  • From new members, respect for the emotional attachment for the club held by the long term supporters.
  • No shutting down of sensible debates. We need enough time to discuss the matters concerning our club. Yes, people get tired at these things, and yes, the debates can often drag on, but winding things up quickly for no good reason does no one any good.
  • No disregarding the concerns of our supporters with a 'she'll be right' attitude.
  • Respect for other members, even if you disagree with their point of view.
  • People coming up with solutions, as opposed to just complaints. I know I don't have the best track record on this front - but there must be something that we as members can do to help. The committee does a lot of the day to day work, it's true. But the committee alone are not the club - the members as a whole are the club. Isn't this what we keep bragging about as the difference between ourselves and the franchises?
See everyone there.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Green Gully Soccer Club: 50 Years - Book Review (reprise)

This review of mine originally appeared on the now defunct Das Libero site, probably some time around 2007? Who can remember now. Here it is for posterity's sake.

A Tale of Two Gullys

Peter Desira with Richard Curmi, Green Gully Soccer Club: 50 Years, Sports and Editorial Services Australia in association with the Green Gully Soccer Club, Teesdale, Victoria, 2006, 258 pages including 16 in colour.

When you beg, borrow, steal or even possibly buy Peter Desira and Richard Curmi's Green Gully Soccer Club: 50 Years, you don't just get the history of one club, you get the history of two. Of all the many themes running through the narrative - the early struggles, their steady rise through the divisions, their National Soccer League stint, and the overcoming of its great rival George Cross - one theme stands out: how a club founded and run for 35-odd years on a shoestring is almost instantly transformed by the introduction of poker machines, thereby ensuring financial stability for years to come. Yet in this book, it is perhaps the most overlooked moment of the club's history.

The most fascinating part of the book for Gully and non-Gully fan alike is the club's early struggle in the literal nowhere of 1950s St Albans, a condition that defies the modern Gully stereotype of stability and plenty. That Gully has been run professionally for many years is without doubt; but to read of the early days when they had no running water, electricity or sewage is quite a shock. This isn't just for ‘new football’ noobs to digest: it is also important for the supporters of the once (and in some cases still) bigger clubs who were founded with the assumption that their particular ethnic community would fund them to the hilt and for perpetuity. There were few such luxuries for Gully in the early days, and the particular efforts of the club's founder Henry Moakes and volunteer Frank Kolbl are inspiring. This is the book's greatest achievement. It reminds everyone of Gully's other side, away from the club’s brilliant facilities and consistent success of recent years.

The club's rise through the league divisions is a story within itself. When they finally come face to face with their de facto biggest rival George Cross after 22 years of living in their shadow, they not only match the efforts of that one-time giant of Victorian football, but they surpass them. Yet I found something irritating about the way the authors told this particular tale. Occasionally they seem almost apologetic about the club having a support base comprised largely of people of Maltese background. I don't know whether this is a particularly Green Gully trait, or whether it's a reaction to the 'ethnics under the bed' campaign waged over recent times, but it comes across as quite jarring at times.

The club's rise into National Soccer League ranks is also fascinating not least for it being the scene of Socceroo captain Paul Wade's national league debut and simultaneously that of semi-famous actor Costas Mandylor. While some love to reminisce about the good old days, they like to neglect the teams at the bottom of the heap. Conversely, those who disparage the old days based on the sometimes massive gulfs in class between the top and bottom often do not pay enough respect to the difficulty poorly supported and funded clubs had in surving not just in the NSL, but also the sometimes terminal struggle after relegation. The promotion, demotion and in some cases extinction of clubs across the country due to their participation in the national league is a neglected part of the Australian soccer story. Gully managed the difficult job of survival, when other supposedly better-supported clubs such as Footscray JUST and Brunswick Juventus folded. Crucially, Green Gully accepted that they would never again reach national league ranks. Here lies a topical lesson for some other clubs.

And yet the yin to that yang, the introduction of pokie machines, is not discussed with the same vigour. The authors avoid the negative side of gaming machines. They fail to acknowledge how some other clubs rejected pokies on wider social grounds – or through keeping in mind that they were a soccer club first and foremost and that the introduction of pokies would mean becoming the sort of club that exists north of the Victorian border: high on memberships but low on actual attendances at games. Perhaps I'm being harsh here, but it is part of Gully’s stereotype among supporters of rival clubs.

The result for the neutral or non-Gully reader is that the story of the club's recent success doesn't quite have the same feel good vibe as that of the earlier triumphs, even taking into account the long wait between drinks and the post-NSL struggle to survive. Perhaps this is an inherent problem with club histories. Written or informed by insiders or fans, they almost always see the club's story as an overwhelmingly positive one, not through any deliberate bias but mainly because their story is viewed through the supporters’ prism. This book can't avoid that pitfall and is probably never meant to. Books of this sort are first and foremost for the initiated. Any outsiders who pick it up will of course already have their bias detectors on. That is the the nature of the game and its supporters’ culture after all.

It's a sad fact of Australian football historiography that apart from the odd unpublished thesis or pet project of some club obsessive, there aren't many books dealing with Australian soccer clubs. Apart from Juve! Juve!, Gilberto Martin's look at Brunswick Juventus published all the way back in 1990, and rumours of unfinished or in progress works on South Melbourne, Melbourne Hakoah and the Melbourne Knights it's slim pickings – especially in comparison with works based on the Socceroos or Australian players. Which is why Green Gully Soccer Club: 50 Years is a more than welcome addition to the Australian club genre. While the book has its inevitable flaws, it is an impressive and much needed work. Hopefully one of its effects is to inspire the production of works written about other clubs, so that the fullest picture of soccer in this country can be presented.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Soccer Boom: The Transformation of Victorian Soccer Culture 1945-1963 - Book Review (reprise)

This review of mine originally appeared on the now defunct Das Libero site, probably some time around 2007? Who can remember now. Here it is for posterity's sake, sloppy typos and grammar included.

When Push Comes to Boom

Association football in this country has been viewed as a foreign game for as far back as anyone can remember. For those opposed to the sport, this foreignness is amongst the game's chief evils. It's played by people who aren't from here; many of its customs are seemingly borrowed wholesale from overseas; when we do have decent players they are taken to foreign leagues and lands; when we have decent national teams, rules dictated by foreigners make the task of our team compiled of players playing in foreign lands all the more difficult. Those who love the game often lament Australians’ lack of appreciation of the sport, attaching to it a lack of worldliness; they denigrate the standard and players found here; or they complain that people in this country don't understand 'real' football culture, which can only be found overseas or – in an opinion held by some people in the more recent era of the game's boom – only among those who looked after the sport before it was cleansed and made mainstream.

Thus the immigrant influence has also become the dominant way in which the game has been viewed academically. John Kallinikios' Soccer Boom: The Transformation of Victorian Soccer Culture 1945-1963 is an important book because it diverts from that view. It attempts to cover soccer's change by minimising the 'ethnic' factor and instead focusing on the processes by which an amateur participant sport became a (semi) professional and spectator-orientated sport.

At the beginning of the era the book seeks to cover, the local game is in stasis. It is strictly amateur (to the point where even player transfers between clubs are rare) and most clubs play on open parklands. Tactics used are perhaps 20 years behind the rest of the world and the game’s Anglo-centric administration only has eyes for the English FA and the very occasional favours bestowed from the Old Dart. And then a sea change, primarily driven by immigrant clubs and administrators. New playing styles are adopted, spectators who demand victory necessitate enclosed venues, and players are being paid good money – sometimes more than their Rugby League and VFL contemporaries; Australian football after hibernating for 20-odd years suddenly has an ambition to be part of the world football community.

This narrative is not a major revelation. However, the originality of Kallinikios' argument lies in the contention that this wasn't done as part of some deliberate and exclusively 'ethnic' takeover. Rather the changes were necessary and occurred as part of a push to bring the game up to speed with the rest of the world, to professionalise it. Almost overnight clubs, players and administrators with the experience of participating in professional and semi-professional setups, who felt they could do a much better job than the incumbent administration, had arrived on our shores.

To demonstrate his overall point, Kallinikios delves into the varied problems of soccer's expansion. One of these is the issue of crowds. Following the post-war influx of soccer-loving migrants, match attendances rise rapidly; through this process Victorian soccer inverts from a participant-based sport to a spectator-oriented one. This generates immediate needs: identifiable boundaries between fans and players, spectator comfort, the means to collect money from spectators to facilitate these developments. Ground availability is another problem, particularly with regards to the infringement on local sporting traditions. Kallinikios elaborates on the search for a venue in Footscray, showing that the councils' reluctance to give soccer access to enclosed grounds was not solely a product of attitudes towards the ‘New Australian’ character of the clubs and the game, but also a reflection of the self-interest of Australian Rules officials (sometimes as members of the council making the decision) and fear of the backlash from the community – despite the financial benefits and the logic of making better use of council facilities.

Among the things Kallinikios does very well is put soccer in its place. The game was not merely an island enclave but part of society as well. When he draws parallels between the changes in Victorian soccer in the 1950s and the VFL breakaway of 1897, the realisation is that change is not merely that of an ethnicisation – though that is one its net results – but one of professionalisation. The administration of the time and a great number (though not all) of the traditional clubs were often unwilling, slow and sometimes simply unable to move with the times, to their eventual everlasting detriment. The fact that no winner of the league prior to 1952 won it afterwards is ample evidence of the speed and thoroughness of the old regime's decimation. The last time an 'old' club won a major trophy was in 1957 when Moreland took the Dockerty Cup.

Particularly noticeable were Kallinikios’ frequent self-references to how this work was shifting the debate, part of a new revisionist trend amongst soccer historians in this country. The suggestion is that academic soccer writers in seeking to understand the game's local history via the immigrant lens have overlooked and pushed to the margins other ways of looking at the game. Unfortunately, because the migrant influence is presented as a main theme in soccer histories the game gets further tied to that post. This argument taps into wider community notions of soccer as a foreign game. Kallinikios demonstrates this point by citing examples of soccer journalists who feared the game's takeover by migrants would be viewed negatively by the wider Anglo-Celtic population thereby reducing the game's appeal. Interestingly, their solution was for migrants to assimiliate into the existing clubs – one which bought into the broader contemporary ideology of assimilation and presaged much of the justifying rhetoric surrounding the ethnic cleansing of the A League.

While the book does a fairly good job of covering the era from a different view point of view – especially in the way it parallels the past with the present – it is not without its problems. One of these was the omission of facts which might contradict some of the key arguments. For instance, Kallinikios claims that Camberwell had no soccer tradition when there was in fact a Camberwell club in the 1930s (whether they played in Camberwell is another matter).

More significant is the minimising of the ethnic factor in regards to violent incidents and the understating of notions of national pride, avoiding such examples as George Cross only allowing members of Maltese background to join and Greek-Australian newspapers advocating the separate Greek clubs should unite for the 'glory of Hellenism'. (This eventually happened when Yarra Park merged with Hellenic, with the new entity taking over South Melbourne United soon after primarily to gain access to their Middle Park ground.) Kallinikios' assertion that this sort of thing mainly came about in a later era is where his argument falters, as there appears to be sufficient evidence to the contrary. This is partly because even though the book claims to cover the era up until 1963, in reality it falters well short, leading to the book's other main drawback, its lack of a post-script. I was disappointed that is no mention was made that Schintler Reserve, the long sought after ground in Footscray, is now gone and on its long-since faded line-markings sit shipping containers. And with so much of the book’s focus being on Juventus and Hakoah, the former's decline is ignored even as it was surpassed by South Melbourne Hellas, George Cross and Polonia. In Juve's case in particular, failure to mention their eventual demise 30 years on largely through their lack of a home should be considered an oversight.

Despite these shortcomings, Soccer Boom is still an essential read for anyone interested in the game's history in this country, especially for those looking for a different perspective. Its clarity and accessibility also make it more than suitable for someone not completely familiar with the game's past. It will be interesting to see what responses it will generate from the more traditional historians challenged by Kallinikios, as well as what will follow in its wake from among the revisionists. And as added bonus, you get an Australian soccer book not obsessed with New South Wales. Surely that makes it all the more worthwhile.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Con Harismidis, Tony Ising, Chips Rafferty and Online Petitions From Days Of Yore

A twitter discussion earlier this year on the greatness that is Con Harismidis got me searching for whatever was left of his internet presence. I didn't find much that wasn't already on this blog - if someone can find his mainstream press appearances that would be good.

What I did find was this petition from an unknown pre-A-League date. It was a simpler time, when people still believed that online petitions could make a difference.

Dear Soccer Australia or whichever body of authority this petition may concern in the future,
We, the undersigned, the fans of Australian soccer, are excited about the prospect of a new, quality premier national competition.
We believe that an independent, quality and fully professional premier national soccer competition is essential to the success of Australian soccer, both on and off the field.
The creation of such a competition is critical if the game's most important stakeholders, the fans, are to truly embrace Australian soccer.
You owe it to yourselves, to the players, to the fans, to all Australians past, present and future, to thoroughly consider the hard work and efforts of the Australian Professional Footballers' Association and go about implementing the appropriate strategies in order to establish a league that truly embodies the gigantic potential for soccer in Australia.
We wish to express our support for the PFA's proposed Australian Premier League by signing our names to this petition.
The future is in your hands, we sincerely hope that you take full advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity and make your decisions carefully and wisely.

There are 225 signatories to it. Rather than include all of the submissions, let's take a look at some of the more worthwhile entries.

  • Make of this post what you will.
The NSL club you currently support: Pert GloRi
The International club you support:Engerland
Birthplace: Oztraliya
Comments : I waiting 26 yr 4 a fu.c.king no ethnik klub in melboun!!

  • It was followed hot on the heels by this:
Birthplace : Melbourne
Comments : Soccer just isn't an Aussie game. Get over it.

  • Younger audiences of Australian soccer forums may not remember when the poster known as Chips Rafferty was all for draining the pond.
The NSL club you currently support: Northern Spirit
Comments: The wogs hijacked the domestic game in 1957 . Now it's time to take what's rightfully our back.

  • This person was more interested in self-promotion.
The NSL club you currently support: South Melbourne
The International club you support: South Melbourne
Birthplace : Australian Soccer
Comments : I love australiansoccer.net

  • Cropower sums up the discussions that were happening at the time, in both tone and content.
The NSL club you currently support: Sydney United
Comments : Whats wrong with the NSL ?? Too many wogs is that it ?

  • I think you'll pick up the problem with this post without too much help.
Daniel N
The NSL club you currently support: South Melbourne
The International club you support: Red Star Belgrade
Birthplace: Melbourne
Comments : APL should go ahead only with non racial backed teams. Soccer is a sport for all nationalities. Good to see scum like Melbourne Knights out. HELLAS OLE!

  • Anyone ever been to Bollawonger Canyon?
Australia S
The NSL club you currently support: Butt munch
The International club you support: Liverpool
Birthplace : Bollawonger Canyon
Comments : Lets face it guys we're crap at soccer. Leave it to the English.

  • The man himself, Con Harismidis
Con H
The NSL club you currently support: Hellas
The International club you support: Hellas
Comments : Hello everybody. I am Con Harismidis. My favourite player is Con Boutsianis. My other favourite player is John Anastasiadis. Hellas is best team in league. There is no Hellas there is no league. Hellas is best.

  • Jason, born in Melbourne, supports Liverpool, but didn't feel welcome at NSL games. How do you argue against things like this?
Jason F
The NSL club you currently support: none cos i didnt feel welcome at any
The International club you support: Liverpool
Birthplace : Melbourne

  • Simun has a few ideas on what should have been done.
The NSL club you currently support: MELBOURNE KNIGHTS & SYDNEY UNITED
The International club you support: HAJDUK SPLIT
Birthplace : perth
Comments : ..what this country needs is a competition not an auction, I thought that the best team was the one that always won, not had the most money..if this APL is going to succeed it needs to have more advertising , I hate to say it but like the AFL, turn on any channel and theres a AFL add right there, thats why AFL have 40,000 spectators to an everyday round game not just at a final..we need to start showing the people of AUSTRLIA why its called THE WORLD GAME and why we can travel all over the world to play it unlike AFL where you need to learn a totally new sport verse another nation(aka IRELAND)

  • John sounds like a charming fellow.
Comments : Soccer is a poofs game AFL RULES

  • Chris sees a difference between people and stakeholders. What odds he has a job at the FFV these days?
chris p
The NSL club you currently support: Northern Spirit
The International club you support: Glasgow Celtic
Birthplace : Sydney
Comments :soccer belongs to the people not stakeholders.

  • Manny supports Olympic, but doesn't want Olympic in a national league. I wonder if he's still following them in the NSWNPL?
manny k
The NSL club you currently support: Sydney Olympic
The International club you support: Man U & Leeds
Birthplace : Sydney
Comments : can't wait for the new APL to start....i've waited for over 15 years for the ethnic clubs to disappear so that the comp could be city vs city..just remember...more kids play soccer than league, union & afl put together

  • Bryce nails down not having the NSL on console games  as the burning issue.
Bryce M
The NSL club you currently support: Brisbane Strikers
The International club you support: Arsenal FC
Birthplace : QLD
Comments About time that a change happended in ozzie soccer. Im sick of being ashamed of our australian league. There is a reason why console games forget to include our league.

  • Not the first time Tony Ising used a less than orthodox manner of promoting his Melbourne Victory idea - but that story's for another time.
Tony I
The NSL club you currently support: Melbourne Victory
The International club you support: Socceroos
Birthplace : Melbourne
Comments : Let's all support the APL.

  • I'm with Nick, I still don't consider it a real league. I just hope Nick is still around South somewhere.
Nick S
The NSL club you currently support: South Melbourne
The International club you support: Celtic
Birthplace : Melbourne
Comments : It wouldnt be a real league without the most successful Australian side, its like the premier league without ManU, Liverpool or Arsenal

Monday, 11 November 2013

Farewell to GeordieHellas

A bit of sad news this week, with one of our favourite blog readers and recent South converts GeordieHellas revealing that he and the family are headed back home to the UK. It was always a pleasure to chat with Andrew on the terraces (and hear his catch cry of 'Howay The Hellas!'), and seeing his young son Harry grow up at Northcote and Lakeside.

A proud Newcastle United fan, Andrew was also heavily involved with the local Australian Newcastle United supporters group Aussie Mags, who I'm sure will also miss him. On the plus side, he'll get to see his beloved Toon in the flesh again, as well as watch them at a decent hour.

South of the Border would like to wish Andrew, Vanessa and Harry all the best back in the old country.

Hello lads and lasses,

Sadly the missus and I would like to tell you all we won't be at Lakeside Stadium next season as we are heading back home to Newcastle upon Tyne to live.

The missus and I went to our first South Melbourne FC game in 2007 for three very simple reasons, we liked football, we wanted to be able to walk (we lived in St Kilda at the time) to games so we could have a drink and because I'd heard of SMFC prior to moving to Australia in 2005.

I especially very quickly fell in love with watching SMFC, the missus liked the banter and the beer mainly to be honest, and so did I too but it also filled the void I felt from no longer going to watch Newcastle United games live.

Our son was born in July 2011 and he attending his first game at 3 weeks old! The last two years we've had family memberships, and actually relocated to South Melbourne, making walking to home game even easier.

We been to Richmond away, Bentleigh away, Melbourne Croatia away and Northcote away (and home numerous times of course!).

So we'd like to thank you all for being brilliant Hellas supporters, for being very welcoming and we wish you good luck in season 2014 and beyond. We will be following events from overseas and hope one day the club creates a overseas membership and streams the games live, just an idea!?!

Kind Regards.


Friday, 8 November 2013

No NPL Victoria in 2014

In a classic case of be careful what you wish for - remember how I got fed up with all the NPL Victoria talk, and just wanted five minutes of space so I could discuss our finals campaign? - well, that turned into a solid few weeks of eerie silence post-season, unnerving everyone with its lack of detail and information.

A week or two back, the FFV, FFA and the co-signatory clubs had a marathon 10 hour meeting, as a part of a last ditch effort to avoid the pending Supreme Court action. The FFV tried to claim the moral high ground on the matter, claiming that it was more or less their idea, but I doubt anyone bought that line.

The usual leaks and rumour mongering didn't happen, adding further tension to the situation, and perhaps led to the situation were people were predicting a break in the unity of the co-signatory clubs, and then suggesting all sorts of comprises had been made to get the new format up and going in 2014.

Well, the FFV came out today and settled at least one matter, announcing that there would be no NPL Victoria in 2014, with the leagues to run as per the usual model. So first off, welcome back Heidelberg to the VPL after an absence of one season, and also to Werribee City for the first time since 1995. Secondly, 'the we're stuck in the fucking VPL' chant lives on for another year, which is great.

But all jokes aside, the FFV have again tried to claim the moral high ground, painting the co-signatory clubs as recalcitrant. Its timing could have not been more devious. Releasing your press release at 5:00PM on a Friday? The old 3RRR show The Spin (which focused on media and PR trickery) had a name for that - the five o'clock dump.

Already we had the situation where one of the key co-signatory representatives, Box Hill United's Nicholas Tsiaras, was excluded from the discussions by the FFV. Now the talk is that the FFV had more or less agreed to a compromise solution with the FFA and the co-signatory clubs, but later reneged on that deal. It seems like the concept of good faith has gone completely out the window.

So are we headed to the courts now? Who's going to foot the bills? Who has the staying power? Will the FFA finally come down like a tonne of bricks onto one of the two sides? One mess cleaned up, temporarily. A whole new can of worms about to get started.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

2013 AGM date announced

The 2013 AGMs (and elections) for South Melbourne FC and South Melbourne Hellas have been announced. And in a pleasant change, the date (December 1) is neither

  1. Late
  2. Two days before Saturnalia
  3. On a long weekend, when a certain rotund stats man goes surfing on the coast.

Don't you love progress? Onwards and upwards, as they say.

Oh, the date for the 2013 gala ball - I still don't know why they don't just combine the informal best and fairest night with the gala ball - has been set for December 14th, at what used to Albert By The Lake. $120 if you want to go to that. I'll probably end up going, but I'd rather spend that money on books.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The South Melbourne Hellas Hymn!

Everyone knows about Frozen Tears' legendary mid 1990s club song. However, fewer people know about the Hellas Hymn, a Greek language club song I'm guessing dates from some time in the 1980s, or perhaps really early 1990s.

I must apologise for the poor audio quality on this track - the mp3 was inherited from someone else several years ago, and I really should have insisted on them making a better copy. Then again, you may argue that the distortion on the track only adds to the cheesiness of the affair. Suffice to say, this is not my cup of tea. But if anyone has anyone details about this song and how it came about, or even if you just want to say that you remember it, drop us a line in the comments section.

The photo of the chipped case was taken during an inventory of the social club (recognise the table?) a few years ago, when I was asked to help pack away our club's valuables so the club could get started on the social club redevelopment. I think that was sometime during the Bronze Age.

I believe that Heidelberg also had their own Greek language club song (they also had a Frozen Tears song of their own - or was that for Collingwood Warriors?), and from memory, it was actually OK.