Thursday, 29 August 2013

Fire Up, Farken - Knights vs South preview

This 'derby' is a bizarre one. When did it become a derby game? How much of it is retrospective? Because let's be honest, while there have been many classic encounters between the two sides, and a healthy sort of respect for each other built up over many years, when did it become the match of the season?

Pre-NSL, Croatia's flame burned too briefly at the top - and they got banned in 1972 anyway - to say there was a derby at that time. Besides, they were probably gunning more for Footscray JUST during that era. I'm guessing we were more interested in games against Alexander, Juventus, George Cross? At a pinch, against our Middle Park co-tenant Hakoah?

Then we barely played each other for seven years. So I guess 1984, Croatia's first NSL season, where we eliminated on them on the way to our first NSL title, is the start of it? Perhaps. 1991 creates something far more tangible. Then the Mark Viduka show that was the 1995 preliminary final. A few more finals along the way - but still, for a lot of the NSL, as with a lot of our history, it's been Heidelberg that's been our focus.

On a quick and lazy search, there's mention of it being a 'derby' game by 1996. But that's in the context of Sydney derbies, Adelaide derbies etc. And it's still not the Melbourne derby yet. But then every other Victorian team dies or goes away by 2001/02, and we're the only two Victorian sides left in the NSL - so it becomes The Melbourne Derby by default. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's interesting to see how what was a healthy rivalry has been dubbed a derby game partly in retrospect.

Although, as one forum person noted today, the FFV's preview for this doesn't even bother to mention that NSL history.

It hasn't helped that neither side has set their post-NSL eras on fire. Hell, it doesn't help that being in the VPL has doused much of the passion that once fueled these sides. Even the numbering is probably off as well. 87th derby? More like 98th, according to whomever compiled the relevant stats for the Melbourne Knights wikipedia page. It appears that the Knights person who wrote their recent press release and made up that stylish flyer has left out the finals matches, which would actually give them a slightly better record. How generous of them.

But trivia aside, this game is huge for both teams, and both sets of fans still take this fixture very seriously. The Knights are still within sight of a top place finish, something they haven't achieved since 1995. Even a single win will almost certainly guarantee them their first finals appearance since 2008, the year they lost the grand final to Altona Magic courtesy of Carl Recchia's, late, late, late goal in extra time, when the Knights were being coached by one Chris Taylor.

I've seen Knights play three times this season - their away win at Richmond, away loss to Oakleigh, and draw with us at Lakeside. It's fair to say that the first two results, both early in the season, don't matter at all now. Even their draw against us, meh. There's no Ljubo this time to settle them, but also no Ljubo to give us a hand with an own goal.

It's also the second best defence against the second best attack in the league. Immovable object against irresistible force and all that. Do these things actually play out in that manner though? I don't know, I expect us to cop goals every week now, but scoring them is not so easy, even with our recent good form in that department, and the 2013 Knights have a habit of getting last gasp, never give in, Stabba Marth™ wins.

I'd like a win, but I'll reluctantly take a draw on the road.

But Before All That
Me and/or other writers from this blog may well be seen at Port Melbourne tonight the game between the Sharks and the Greens. Here's hoping for a dour, violent 0-0 draw. Tomorrow, life permitting, we may be taking a trip out to Brunswick City for their clash against Altona East. Souvs are only part of the attraction here - ex-South winger/forward Kyle Joryeff is apparently playing at Leonidas these days, and it'd be nice to see him in action again.

A Boring, Petty Old Man (And The People Who Allegedly Talk To Him)
We don't usually like giving Elias Donoudis and his column in Neos Kosmos that much oxygen on here. We've covered our grievances briefly here in 2012 during the Wellington Investments farce. And the Kiss of Death (remember them?) went in harder earlier this season, here.

So, yes, Elias is back on his old hobbyhorse of South not being the real South, and that it's all the fault of the current board and not the people - pleb and committee man alike - who left the club in the lurch, and wasn't it better when Elias' mates were running the club etc.

(It's funny though how the teams we play most weeks these days lift their performances when they face us. Funny also how the Melbourne Knights, leading into this game, have produced promotional material which leaves no doubt that they think we are the real South Melbourne - we get more respect from our opponents than our supposed 'fans' these days).

But this time there's a twist! Elias says he can't reveal more, but he says there are plans for former sponsors or committee people or something to come back and turn the club from poor old unrecognisable and irrelevant South Melbourne back into Mighty Hellas! PHWOAR!

While his details are scant - of course - I welcome any and all South members who want to have a tilt at running the club the opportunity of doing so. Look at me, saying that as if it was up to me, ha.

Of course, one has to consider several things here. Is this even real? At both previous elections, there were rumours of people willing to make a move, create a ticket, and fight for control of the club. It didn't happen.

But assuming this is real, are these people even members? If they are, why haven't they made their move earlier? Unless of course it includes disgruntled recently evicted board people.

If they aren't members, why not? Is the club only worth rescuing now because people - the people who've done the hard yards over the past nine years - have actually made it salvageable?

Ah, the questions that keep you up at night, to quote someone or other.

FFA Cup, Here It Comes (Seriously!)
I've scoffed at this many time before, but here's something a bit more concrete, apparently.
The plan for the FFA Cup includes amateur and semi-professional clubs, including National Premier Leagues, and Hyundai A-League clubs entering the draw on a progressive basis.

The options allow for existing State and Territory based cup competitions to remain in place as feeder competitions to the national cup.

The nine State and Territory Member Federations and 10 Hyundai A-League clubs have unanimously endorsed the proposal to stage the inaugural FFA Cup within the calendar year with a Cup Final in December 2014.
But will it actually happen? And the final in Decemeber? Two or three months after the state leagues have finished their seasons? Rubbish. Then again, I've never been a fan of this idea anyway.

Semi-Mandatory NPLV Update
Now heading for mediation in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Too Much Entertainment - South Melbourne 3 Pascoe Vale 2

This article is late partly because I went out drinking, in my own very limited way.

I have even less idea than usual of what happened at this game. I mean, you tell me what was going on out there on Sunday evening?

For some reason we played at 5:00 instead of 3:00. Rather than being a cold, windy evening, the weather was unusually pleasant. We came into this game with some sort of form. Several results went our way. And I swear the canteen people also keep changing their kransky supplier, and despite being overpriced at $7.50 (and I swear they used to be $8), they actually have some flavour to them now.

As for the game itself, we got the good start, courtesy of a Nicky Soolsma header, and we must have been thinking to ourselves, OK, good, now to really take these guys to the cleaners. Except Pascoe Vale didn't stack the defence after that shaky start, and decided that they would instead try and win this game.

The first goal we conceded was bad enough, but what happened with the second? Why did Holmes have his arms out so far? Was he calling for offside? Was he playing for a foul? Either way, hands shouldn't be out there, right call was made, and we're 2-1 down. Gavalas isn't the best penalty saver in the world, but he made the right choice this time - but Ferrante's spot kick was well placed.

But at least we went into half time level. After several close calls - including one that hit the back post from long range from Holmes, who just can't take a trick - Luke Hopper continued his rich vein of form, by opening up the angle, shooting, and getting what looked like a deflection past Sardelic in goal.

Speaking of Sardelic, I thought he did quite well for the most part, but my goodness his kicking is still dire, especially his drop punts.

But back to Hopper again, isn't it amazing what happens when you have two up front, so you don't have the situation where a lone forward is swamped by defenders, and they are able to find space to shoot? When was the last time we did that on a consistent basis?

I know I complain about Soolsma not using his left foot, but maybe it doesn't matter if he's going to put in good cross after good cross with his right foot. For our third and decisive goal, he destroyed the Pascoe Vale defender with his fancy footwork, even though surely everyone knew where Soolsma wanted go, before putting the cross right on top of Rixon's head, the latter guiding it home for his sixth of the season.

But again, credit to the visitors who kept coming, who unfortunately just couldn't beat the offside trap. Except for that time where they did, courtesy of a howler of a non-call from the assistant referee on the far side, when it seemed completely obvious that the Pascoe Vale player was at least five metres offside RIGHT IN FRONT OF SAID LINESPERSON.

Apart from some desperate, clumsy, awkward defending from our end - which for the most part looked less desperate, clumsy and awkward than the last few weeks, though that's not necessarily saying much - I felt Pascoe Vale's best chance would come from a free kick near goal, with Michael Ferrante alway a dangerous proposition from that range. He got one shot at it, but sent the shot just wide, and I think we all breathed a little easier after that.

Chris Taylor seems to really hate making substitutions, Only one was made yesterday, Kearney on for Holmes, and that was very late on in proceedings. Usually a coach will make at least a couple, and with enough time for them to make an impact. Gus Tsolakis often his subs way too late for my lining, while Johnny A's were so predictable that they showed no initiative. Taylor either doesn't trust his bench, or doesn't see the need to change what he sees as his preferred starting eleven unless absolutely necessary.

The refereeing started off poor and went downhill from there. We probably copped the rough end of the stick for the most part, but Brian Bran may be counting himself lucky after an incident in the six yard box towards the end of the game. Our (and Trent's) old friend Milardovic got sent off late, not quite sure what for.

So another week where we made life very hard for ourselves. But also another week where we managed to get three points despite that. It did make me wonder if there could be such a thing as a season with too much entertainment, where you would wish that we could just have a dour 1-0 or 2-0 win.

So, without wanting to look too far ahead into the future, here's where we are at. We're still nine points behind first placed Northcote, so I guess we can rule out reaching their mark. We're six points (and two goals) behind second placed Melbourne Knights, who we play this week. We're two points behind third placed Port Melbourne (level on goal difference), so the double chance is still well in play. We're level on points with fourth placed Bentleigh Greens, (but five goals behind).

We're three points ahead of sixth placed Green Gully, who still have a game in hand. And we're also three points ahead of Hume City, who have an atrocious goal difference. Even with their game in hand each, you can probably discount Oakleigh and Dandenong from the finals race, even though they are still a mathematical possibility of making it - but they're both seven points outside the five at the moment.

So, how many points do we need to make the finals? Double chance? All that will become much clearer after this week, as apart from our game, Port hosts Bentleigh on Friday night. Three wins I reckon will get us the double chance. Two wins and a draw should get us into finals. Two wins and a loss and you're dealing with goal difference. Anything less than that and you're seriously playing with fire.

Lastly, it was also good to meet several and new old faces again. Met Lefteri the security guard from Greece. Met another old bloke at the tram stop, who was also wondering why Elias Donoudis won't call us Hellas any more. Also caught up with Bill Vandermey, and finally met Jake as well, who missed the game through injury.

Steve From Broady's Under 21s Report
South Melbourne's under 21s took on Pascoe Vale at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday afternoon, at the later kick off time of 2.45PM. South kicked off and the first half was extremely uneventful with both teams making no real chances (what about when Pascoe Vale hit the crossbar? Ed.). The teams went into the half time break locked at 0-0. The second half kicked off and it took 20 minutes for the game to kick into gear when Pascoe Vale played a long ball into the area, it giving them the first real chance of the game. There was a massive scramble outside the six yard box and the Pascoe Vale number 11 managed to put the ball past three defenders on the line and the keeper to give the visitors a 1-0 lead 65 minutes in. South struggled to get into gear for the rest of the game. and three minutes from time Pascoe Vale's number 11 popped up again to score a standard goal firing past the keeper from close range to put South out of there misery. 2-0 to Pascoe Vale it finished. South Melbourne's under 21s miserable season rolls on, away to Melbourne Knights next week, hopefully we can snatch a win against our old rivals.

Steve From Broady's Canteen Report
I was at the South food van for the second last time on Sunday. It was quite an excellent souv I indulged in, and I had an epic bottle of h2o. I give South's food van a 9 out of 10 for this week. Can they crack the perfect 10 on the last home game of the season? Until then, get around it!!!!!

1.Pascoe Vale 10/10
2.Oakleigh Cannons 9.5/10
3.Hume City 8/10
4.Bentleigh Greens 7/10
5.Richmond 6.5/10
6.Northcote City 3.5/10
7.Southern Stars 2/10
8.Green Gully 1/10
9.Dandenong DQ

South food truck
•Week 1 - 4.5/10
•Week 2 - 7/10
•Week 3 - 8.5/10
•Week 4 - 5/10
•Week 5 - 5.5/10
•Week 6 - 9/10
•Week 7 - 6/10
•Week 8 - 7.5/10
•Week 9 - 8/10
•Week 10 - 9/10

Around the Grounds
Altona East vs Moreland City was our non-South soccer outlet this week. Moreland dominated the opening half, should have been two or three up at halftime, even with the disallowed goal. Second half much more even contest. Moreland had another goal disallowed, squandered several chances, but credit to East who overcame their first half malaise and scored the only goal of this contest.

Panoramic shot of Paisley Park taken during half time. Click to enlarge. Photo: Ian Syson. 
For the record, the souv was freaken awesome. That'll teach Steve from Broady to stay home to watch the Wallabies lose, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT I'D TOLD HIM WOULD HAPPEN. Some kind of seer I am predicting that result, eh?

I Re-Tweet, Therefore I Am
Congratulations to Steve from Broady who finally learned how to retweet on Twitter. You can follow him at @stevorch.

NPLV Latest
Would have loved to be in the courtroom to see this part of the action kick off, but alas, a different kind of duty called. We tried to line up a guest court reporter appearance from one of our readers, but sadly we couldn't make it work. According to 'Mahony' on the 442 forums, next court date is September 23, a week before the successful NPLV bids are announced.

Next Week
Knights away.

Final Thought

Friday, 23 August 2013

A Missed Opportunity In More Ways Than One - Green Gully 1 South Melbourne 0

Without the vast majority of our recent signings, this Dockerty Cup semi final was always going to be a bit of an uphill battle. But at the same time, this was an opportunity not just to continue our recent good form, but also an opportunity for some of those players who have fallen out of favour, or those who are on the margins of first team selection, to put their hand up and say 'Chris Taylor, look at me, I can do a job for you'.

So while there was perhaps an air of inevitability about the result - especially when we went into half time level, as I had the feeling that the longer the game went on, the more likely it was Gully who would score - it was extremely disappointing to see the performances of some of these players on the outer, for various reasons.

Chris Maynard aside, who had a good game and kept us in the tie with some good saves, the rest underperformed. Rhys Meredith got plenty of the ball, but often found himself snookered into the left hand corner, without much support it must be noted. Tyson Holmes hustles and bustles, but continues to struggle for touch at the moment.

Youngster Andrew Cartanos was poor, not only when he had the ball, but also for his efforts off the ball. While he certainly impressed against Preston, there's a difference in taking on a 10 man State League 2 side, and a well drilled VPL team like Green Gully - and hopefully he sees this game as a massive learning opportunity, as well as a guide to what it takes to be a VPL starter.

Fernando got on for the last 25 minutes, but tightly marked, he was largely ineffective. The decision to go for a short corner late in the game was extraordinary. It's a pity, because this may well be the last time we see him in a South shirt. Here's hoping I'm wrong, and there's still another opportunity for this champion to show us his mettle.

But these fringe players weren't alone. We were weak on the left hand side again, though Osagie Ederaro also made himself a real pest on our right hand side as well. When Nicky Soolsma decides to attempt the occasional left foot shot or cross, defenders will be stumped. Gains and I are certain that his left footed shot in the first half of this contest was the first time he's used that side since he started his South stint. He didn't attempt any others.

Of course, it could have just been a bad day at the office - and we may well see these players again soon enough, if or when injuries or suspensions take their toll. And it was good to see Trent Rixon get another 90 minutes under his belt, though disappointing to see him required to collect balls in the middle of the park and even on the right hand side, miles away from where he should be.

So on to focusing solely on the league, where it's become clear there are no easy game any more, as if any team decides to rock up with the right mentality, they are in with a shot regardless of how far gone their season is.

After the failure to snare all three points against Pascoe Vale last time, playing with a man advantage for eighty minutes, the hope is that this week it'll be different is strong. The team has been bolstered, the mentality around the place seems different, and we'll be playing them on our turf, a lush, green and wide open spaces, instead of the cramped, bumpy pitch we played that 0-0 draw so long ago.

Three points here are a must, of course, because apart from not wanting to drop more points against a bottom three, out of finals side - and we've already dropped six points to such teams - we need to keep up momentum, keep up our home form, and give ourselves as much of a boost or buffer as possible heading into the final three matches, all against finals aspirants, two of which are away, and apart from the cup heroics against Northcote, none of which we have beaten this season.

So all the best to the team as they begin the first leg of this massive month of football. Please also note the 5PM kickoff time.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Luck (and good goalkeeping)'s a Fortune - Oakleigh Cannons 1 South Melbourne 2

Usually this fixture is played on a Friday night, but due to Oakleigh's lights being in an apparent state of disrepair, we had the unusual situation of playing this game on a Sunday afternoon. Playing at Jack Edwards in the daytime is weird, especially if you get there early enough to see juniors and their parents leaving the carpark having finished their games. Why didn't they stay for the main game? Too long too wait through the reserves? Probably just didn't care. Take note FFV.

The ground was its usual crappy self. That's not to blame the Oakleigh people for anything, it's just been a fact of life for years now, and you almost feel sorry for the home team's players and coaches who have to play a style of football that's not as easy on the eye as they would like it to be,

For those unaware of the typical state of Jack Edwards Reserve, one word sums it up: sand. You knew it was bad when Gavalas, when taking an early goal kick, kicked up a massive slab of sand like he'd just come out of a bunker from nearby Huntingdale.

This game was also messed up by a strong wind going towards the railway end, to which Oakleigh were going towards in the first half. Still, as is usually the case when these two sides play, the contest was very entertaining, and provided enough heart attack moments to keep everyone on edge for most of the game.

Goran Zoric provided one of those moments early on, when he had a one on one opportunity to open the scoring. In typical Zoric fashion though, he hit it straight at Gavalas who made the first of several good saves.

Pressure up the pitch lead directly to Trent Rixon opening up the scoring. A poor Oakleigh backpass - and any backpass is a risky enterprise on a ground in such poor condition - was intercepted by Rixon, who slotted the ball home to continue his late season revival and take up his season's tally to five goals.

Nick Epifano almost made it 2-0 - nay, should have made it 2-0 - when another errant pass in Oakleigh's defensive area saw him with the opportunity to score, but his shot went wide.

South lucked out at the other end though, when an Oakleigh shot across goal, which looked like it was going out, took a leg break off the pitch and ended up hitting the base of the post and going out.

Despite South having the wind advantage in the second half, it was Oakleigh who dominated proceedings going into the wind. They had several good chances to score, but could not make them count - some desperate defending and great goalkeeping from South keeping them at bay.

Not that South was without chances - Rixon should have done better on several occasions - but a soft penalty to Luke Hopper, which he converted himself gave us a little bit of breathing room. It was most un-VPL penalty if you like, or at least, according to my memory, it was the of penalty we never get called in our favour.

Brad Norton wasn't at his best yesterday - I felt he was playing far too narrowly on an already narrow pitch and so far away from the Oakleigh right winger - but he did manage to put in a great cross to Rixon, who should have done much better with the header to make it 3-0 and ice the game.

Nicky Soolsma needs to learn to use his left foot. If continues to favour his right foot so much, he'll become predictable, and less effective. It was fair to say that after several good games, his second half in this match was less than stellar.

Oakleigh, with their already faint finals aspirations on the line, deservedly got a goal back from a goalmouth scramble following a failure to deal with a corner. No clean sheet again! Chris Taylor won't be pleased with that, and I wouldn't blame him. Conceding goals from set pieces has been a persistent problem, and one that needs to be sorted out soon. As an aside, even by Oakleigh standards there was little celebration of their goal.

Oakleigh's goalkeeper Lewis Italiano managed to cripple himself on the shoddy turf, but we couldn't take full advantage of that. The last ten minutes of this match from us was better, even as it went into a five minute spell of injury time. There was more no nonsense play, and getting and keeping the ball at the end of the ground that we needed to, grinding out the result in the manner that we should have when we went 2-0 up.

Up and over! Trent Rixon evades an opponent. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Apart from the set piece issue, there are other defensive issues to be concerned about, with Shaun Kelly seemingly the main target of the fans' frustration at the moment. He especially needs to get the ball away from danger more quickly. Brad Norton's defensive form has slipped as well, making him a prime target for the opposition.

On the plus side, Iqi Jawadi had a good game, as did Brian Bran at the back. Most pleasingly, Trent Rixon is not only looking like he's re-found his form, but he also looks like he's enjoying being out there, which is great to see. He could have had a hat-trick today, but at least he's still scoring- and the partnership with Hopper up front looks promising. Peter Gavalas was man of the match though, without a doubt, making several clutch saves.

What this all means is that we're now in fifth place, with four games to play.That means nine points behind faltering ladder leader Northcote, and while you'd like to think we could overhaul them, we've left our run for that far too late. It means we're six points behind second place Melbourne Knights, three points behind third place Bentleigh and two points behind fourth place Port Melbourne. The beauty (and the terror) of that situation is that we play three of those teams - Northcote, Knights and Port - in the last three rounds.

But we also have to keep ahead of the teams behind us. Hume, who look like they're falling apart somewhat, are still level on points with us, albeit with a decimated goal difference. Gully are only a point further back, with a game in hand against an Oakleigh side who might not have much incentive by the time the catch up game comes around. And four points behind us are Dandenong Thunder, still in with a shot courtesy of their game in hand, though they would be closer if they didn't have that three point deduction.

Steve From Broady's under 21s report
South Melbourne's under 21s were away to Oakleigh Cannons on Sunday afternoon, looking to avoid a fourth loss in a row and entering the bottom four. South kicked off and it was a very scrappy start to the game on a poor pitch - the first 15 minutes were very even, and it took until the 19th minute for the first clear cut chance of the game, when Oakleigh Cannons caught the goal keeper out of position and fired home to give them a 1-0 lead. The rest of the first half was fought out in the midfield and both teams struggled to make any more real chances at goal. 1-0 Oakleigh lead at the half time break.

Oakleigh kicked off the second half and only 10 minutes into the second half Baggio Yousif found his way through the defence and he fired home to level the scores. Only three minutes later Baggio found himself in another goal scoring position and he converted with ease to give South a 2-1 lead 60 minutes in. Oakleigh dominated the rest of the half and 15 minutes from time Oakleigh equalised and 2-2 it finished, another disappointing result for South. Pascoe Vale at home next week, let's see if they can improve, until then, get around it

Steve From Broady's Canteen Report
I was at the Oakleigh Cannons canteen on Sunday afternoon. Not expecting much, I went and had a souv and I must say I was surprised the Valkanises now running the Oakleigh canteen, remembering that they used to run the old South canteen, and it was a trip down memory lane with stringy lamb, heaps of tzatziki and a crunchy roll. It was a piece of food that shit all over most of the shit food that had been dished up this year at canteens. There was also heaps of other great food at the canteen, such as calamari, saganaki etc. I didn't get to try it all, but I must say the Oaks' canteen is the best for variety. I give Oaks' canteen a 9.5 just falling short of Pascoe Vale's canteen.
  1. Pascoe Vale 10/10
  2. Oakleigh Cannons 9.5/10
  3. Hume City 8/10
  4. Bentleigh Greens 7/10
  5. Richmond 6.5/10
  6. Northcote City 3.5/10
  7. Southern Stars 2/10
  8. Green Gully 1/10
  9. Dandenong DQ 
South food truck
  • Week 1 - 4.5/10
  • Week 2 - 7/10
  • Week 3 - 8.5/10
  • Week 4 - 5/10
  • Week 5 - 5.5/10
  • Week 6 - 9/10
  • Week 7 - 6/10
  • Week 8 - 7.5/10
  • Week 9 - 8/10
Next Game
Dockerty Cup semi-final against Gully on Wednesday, at Port Melbourne. Won't have many of the team that lined up against Oakleigh, as they're cup tied, so much of the side will be made up of the gang that's been here since the start of the season. A chance for Fernando and Meredith to shine? Here's hoping. Not super confident about this, but in a one off game, anything can happen, right?

Burst of sunshine breaks through late at Moreland. Photo: Ian Syson
Around the Grounds
Went out on Saturday to Campbell Reserve to watch Moreland City take another step towards the State League 2 North West championship. Preston, fighting for second place and a playoff spot, were their opponents. Preston had the better of the first half, except for the 15 minutes leading into halftime. Moreland opened the scoring during that period. Preston again the better team during the second half, but a dreadful defensive error gifted Moreland their second goal. It ended 2-0 to the home side.

Rather than the feeling that anything was accomplished or lost, there was a feeling of doubt among the crowd. Moreland still not quite there, eight points clear on top with five games to go. Preston on the back foot now, five points adrift of second place Keilor Park. Situation compounded by the uncertainty created by the impending implementation of the NPL in Victoria. A championship is still something to cherish, but what if a playoff spot doesn't actually exist, because everyone will just get sorted into a State League 1 North-West and State League 1 South-East?

NPL Victoria Latest
Richmond pull out, after their members voted against applying. All of this after Anti-NPL Victoria peoples claimed they were out before they'd even had that vote, let alone made a public statement. FFV claims 15 groups have put in bids for licences. Anti-NPL Victoria people make fools of themselves, and alienate others, by making up a nonsense list of applicants. As for the court proceedings, someone on smfcboard has said to mark August 26th in our diaries. If true, here's hoping for a morning session, so it doesn't clash with the class I teach.

Well Thought Out Analogies Department
The Stamoulis run/owned Ta Nea newspaper made a jibe about our crowds, by taking an out of context and narrow crowd photo during our game against Hume City last week, and basically calling us irrelevant, and asking how we could possibly take on the FFV and NPL Victoria with such little support.

As part of their 'mirth' making, they claimed that even Leonidas (of the Battle of Thermopylae fame, natch) had more followers. Never mind that the 300 Spartans also picked up a few thousand soldiers from other Greek city-states to fight for a united cause, when so often these same city-states were more interested in warring against each other.

Having said all that, the comparison to Thermopylae is of course an interesting one, in that while the outnumbered defenders failed in their initial objective, the greater battle was won soon afterwards, making possible the Golden Age of Classical Greece! So thanks, Ta Nea, for offering a timely dose of inspiration to the Anti-NPL Victoria forces, with your welcome analogy.

And I wonder who's playing the role of Ephialtes?

Final Thought
There was something thrilling about having four games on the same time, and enduring the nerve wracking game that we were at while also keeping an eye on the scores from around the grounds.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Tired Of Writing This Week - Oaks vs South preview

So Here's The Match Preview As Stolen From The FFV's Official Preview Service

Oakleigh Cannons (9th) vs South Melbourne (7th)
Sun 3:15pm, Jack Edwards Reserve

Round 17
Dandenong Thunder 3-1 Oakleigh Cannons
South Melbourne 6-1 Hume City

VPL History
Oakleigh Cannons win: 6
South Melbourne win: 9
Draw: 3
Last time they met: South Melbourne 2-1 Oakleigh Cannons

Form
Oakleigh Cannons: DWWWL
South Melbourne: DLWDW

Could this be the most highly anticipated ninth versus seventh match ever?

Both teams looked down and out a month ago but are now preparing for a mini elimination final.

The winner will find itself roaring into finals calculations, while it could be season over for the loser.

South Melbourne has become a goalscoring machine at home, scoring 12 goals in its past two matches at Lakeside Stadium.

The situation in away matches is a lot different though, where it has not won on the road since Round 3 against Bentleigh.

Oakleigh was firing on all cylinders before it again bowed to fellow 2012 grand finalist Dandenong Thunder at the weekend.

The Cannons are running out of lifelines and could either flourish or implode against South Melbourne, such is the latter’s Jekyll and Hyde season.


An Idiot's Guide To The NPL Victoria Argle Bargle
Here's a massive, probably over long, yet not long enough piece on what's going on with NPL Victoria, from hopefully a more objective perspective. Thanks to Costa from Goal Weekly for commissioning the piece.


Τιτιβίσµατα
To end this slack edition, we'll head over to Twitter, where our friend Pavlaki noticed that the twitterer known as SMFC Mike managed to get the attention of Elias Donoudis. It's in Greek, unfortunately for the non-Greek readers.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

What's not to like? South Melbourne 6 Hume City 1

Finally here - post took a little longer to put up than usual because I was waiting for Steve from Broady's reports. The delay however means that this is a fairly bumper edition.

The scoreline perhaps flatters us a little. At least from the point of view of the first half, while we were the better team, Hume missed some outrageous chances. OK, three of those came within the space of about five seconds, as we somehow managed to keep out three consecutive point blank efforts, and a later one on one opportunity against Gavalas - who was in goals yesterday instead of Maynard - should also have been put away. Instead, with the opportunity to shoot left or right or even round the keeper, the Hume player hit the shot straight at Gavalas.

Still, those complaints aside, thanks to Rixon's Resurrection, we managed to go into halftime 2-0 up, and we were not without chances apart from those two goals. Hume started the second half in a sprightly manner, but didn't necessarily do anything spectacular. We scored our third, Hopper with his first of the day, and we looked more or less home. Hume pulled one back, and our propensity for being defensively rickety made me get the jitters, but the team soon put that to rest.

The final three goals came towards the end of the match as Hume threw everyone forward with unusually reckless abandon, not only getting themselves humiliated but damaging their goal difference, while we got a well needed boost in that area. Hopper managed to get a hat-trick, while Soolsma opened his South account with a fine free kick into the top corner, temporarily silencing those in the stands who were asking for Fernando to be brought on. Admittedly, there was also a festive atmosphere as the rout reached its apex, when the old Mighty Ducks quacking was brought out of the woodwork.

I reckon Rixon should have been taken off earlier. Old mate Perry was reffing, so that means a lot gets let go (though unlike that other old mate Bruno, Perry will actually punish the heinous stuff), and that means with the game wrapped up, all that was left for Rixon to do was get hacked within acceptable VPL standards. He got subbed off eventually for Kearney. Cartanos even got a few small minutes at the end of the game, pulled out one party trick on the sideline, though I think fewer people would have been amused with his attempt to dance around three defenders. In comparison, Rhys Meredith seems to have joined Fernando in South's version Guantanamo Bay.

Speaking of Perry, even though I reckon he leans towards the more physical side of the reffing ledger for my tastes, he usually puts in a good effort, lets players compete physically, and doesn't give players who flop over too obviously after losing a battle of strength what they think they deserve. Still, we probably should have got penalty at one point in the second half, but with Perry reffing it's pointless asking for it and even more pointless getting angry when he doesn't give it.

Anyway, word is that Chris Taylor isn't satisfied. No clean sheet, too much showboating, maybe even too much entertainment. Is this why the Knights and Taylor parted all those years ago? Can his no-nonsense grind it out style fit into the culture of a club that demands excitement and results? Will anything less than a championship satisfy anyone? Or is this plain speaking exactly what we need? Does this discord between wish and reality make things even more exciting?

Steve From Broady's Under 21s Report
South Melbourne's under 21s were coming off a 3-1 midweek loss to Pascoe Vale on Sunday afternoon, when they took on Hume City at Lakeside Stadium. With the title now looking out of reach, South was still looking to finish as high as possible on the table.

Hume kicked the game off and it was obvious early on that it was going to be a tight game. Chances were few and far between and both teams shared a decent amount of possession. In the 25th minute South made a fast breaking attack and had the first serious shot of the game. The ball was not cleared and got caught in a massive goal mouth scramble and Baggio Yousif poked it home for his 11th goal in five weeks to give South the lead.

Not long after the goal South were forced into an early substitution due to injury. Sebit Muon was the man to come on after 30 minutes. And not long after that substitution a Hume City striker who looked offside was on the end of a beautiful long ball from the centre back and he strolled in and fired past the South keeper to level the scores, and level it stayed until the half time break.

South kicked off the second half, but it was all Hume City early trying to get into the lead and in the 60th minute they did just that when a failed South clearance went so wrong and the Hume City striker put the ball past an already off balance keeper to give Hume City a 2-1 lead. South could not get into the game and had few chances to get an equaliser. Hume City rode the game out comfortably, the game finishing 2-1 to the visitors, as well as being South's second loss in a week. South's next game has been rescheduled for Sunday 1:00PM, until then, see ya next week.

Steve From Broady's Canteen Report
It was back to the South food van on Sunday afternoon. I had a souv - it was pretty decent, and it's getting better each week. I'm getting my hopes up for South to crack the perfect 10 before season's end. I give this week's souv an 8 out of 10. We are at Oakleigh next Sunday - I don't know what to expect from that canteen. From previous experience their souvs are shit, the only ever good one I had there was when Oaks played Victory, and Oaks were trying to impress everyone that evening.

  1. Pascoe Vale 10/10
  2. Hume City 8/10
  3. Bentleigh Greens 7/10
  4. Richmond 6.5/10
  5. Northcote City 3.5/10
  6. Southern Stars 2/10
  7. Green Gully 1/10
  8. Dandenong DQ 
South food truck
  • Week 1 - 4.5/10
  • Week 2 - 7/10
  • Week 3 - 8.5/10
  • Week 4 - 5/10
  • Week 5 - 5.5/10
  • Week 6 - 9/10
  • Week 7 - 6/10
  • Week 8 - 7.5/10
  • Week 9 - 8/10

Next Week
Oakleigh away in another crunch game. Win, we keep ourselves in the finals race, and knock out Oaks from contention if they aren't out of it already.

Please note - this game will not be played at Oakleigh's usual Friday night timeslot. Instead, it will be on Sunday, at 3:15PM.

Tom Kalas on Soccer Stoppage Time
Soccer Stoppage Time is some sort of Sydney radio program. First time listener, and I was impressed. If they were a Melbourne based show and I was a fan of an A-League team, I'd listen in again. But neither of those things are true, so it ain't going to happen. More's the pity.

Anyway, the magic of the internet alerted us to the impending appearance of one Tom Kalas on this show. But first we had to wade through some Joe Didulica stuff and how the Heart have signed three 35 year olds or something. "Yoof!" as Victory fans would say. Interestingly, Didulica claimed that Heart aren't for sale. Also talk about Heart making a profit, which seems to be news to some of the presenters, even though I figured that everyone knew about that news. Next to no mention that I can recall of how they made that profit - selling a truckload of players for some decent coin.

Then Ray Gatt.

Then news or rumours or something. Patrick Kisnorbo asking for too much money apparently. Ah, here we are.

Tom Kalas 'the' director of South Melbourne? First up he starts by disagreeing with Didulica's assertion that Heart aren't for sale, pointing out how Scott Munn had been talking about Heart's meeting with overseas investors. Maybe investing means not for sale? Buy in, not buy out?

Then the questions about South's A-League ambitions. Where's the money coming from for a South A-League bid? Kalas replies that we have guarantees from a 'Big 4' bank, but it's all down to firstly doing your due diligence and such. What a relief.

Are we ready? Kalas replies with talk about our now four year old transformation program. Third largest broadcaster of football in Australia (pretty easy when no one else outside Fox and SBS does it), mention of our youtube stats, with no mention of it being it watched by Russian gamblers. But Youtube stats have always been a rubbery concept to me.

Sustainability seems to be the main selling point. We can do the job of being Melbourne's second team better, and more efficiently. Mention of Heart's alleged $75k cost per home match at AAMI Park. But what about South's facilities? Surely they're not up to scratch? Kalas and one of the hosts make the point that the lighting and corporate facilities are what need improving, and those can be done fairly quickly, with government support.

The questioning moves on to what form a South team would take in the national league. Kalas makes the very interesting assertion that 'The South Melbourne Football Club brand will always be a state league based club'. It's the FFA who will have the final say on what would happen in that situation, what we could call ourselves etc. The follow up questions are obvious - if all of that is the case, could a South Melbourne takeover bid take over the entire Heart licence and remain as Melbourne Heart? Well yes, that's an option.

Now, a brief break from me. Kalas is seriously having a laugh here, and more or less repeating the same routine that our erstwhile friend Jim Mellas performed so many years ago - a whole five of them, my how time flies - during the Southern Cross bid era. Remember this stuff? Will it, won't it be South Melbourne? Is it a Trojan horse bid? Broadbased and compelling? Kalas tried to make the point that 'a broadbased club in the A-League' is what we hope to get, as well as a member run (owned?) club in the top flight (who's members?) and that we are football club, not an ethnic club.

So, under the model that Kalas was discussing, South as South would stay in the Victorian system, and whatever this new thing is would be 'our' national league representative. Who would support such a thing? And without my trying to second guess what our fans would do this in situation, Kalas seemed hopeful that enough Heart fans would come over to make it a genuine combination of efforts. You must be kidding. Regardless of how pitiful and inconsequential I think Heart's raison d'etre is, and by extension the feelings that their season ticket holders have for that organisation, in their fantasy world that feeling of belonging to something important is very real.

And before anyone jumps on that sentence, let it be clear that I consider that fantastical sense of attachment as scarcely more ludicrous than the fantasy we South fans have about our club being the biggest, best, demanding of excellence etc. Because that fantasy is real, the idea that they could easily switch allegiances to this supposed mulatto entity is just absurd. Maybe some could, but most wouldn't. And to do so would require a certain amount of magnanimity and humility from our end, traits which South has seldom if ever possessed.

Kalas tried to talk about the soccer demographics that only go to Melbourne A-League derby games. What makes him think that those people could be relied upon to commit to a full length season? The next question is why aren't South attracting more people if we have so many people on our database, and watching our TV show? A truly daft question, but it gave Kalas a free hit. It's because we play in winter, in a state league competition, with no marketing from the FFV and no mainstream media attention. Could the Heart or Victory do any better? Kalas reckons it's apples and oranges, and he's surely right on this point. It's why even Collingwood can only get a couple of hundred to VFL games at Victoria Park.

So how did Kalas go about talking about our history? By deliberately goading me with references to 1884. Now I'll preface this part of the discussion by not claiming divine authority for the accuracy of this history, only for where my understanding currently lies of the limited details we have at present. Any corrections, new info, send it our way.

For those not up to speed on 1884, here's the deal. The original South Melbourne soccer club began playing way back then. That club went through a number of changes and periods where they (and soccer in Melbourne in general) didn't exist. At some point in the 1930s - 1936 according to this article - they amalgamated with South Melbourne Juniors (a separate club previously called Middle Park Schoolboys).

South Melbourne United would of course become one of three clubs to merge to form the South Melbourne Hellas we know and mostly love. It is my strong opinion however that when Kalas makes these claims about claiming that history - and I've warned him about this - he makes serious factual and cultural errors. Factual, because we aren't even sure what and who the original South Melbourne were for large periods of time. Factual, because even the article mentioned above which claims South Melbourne United involved a merger of South Melbourne with another entity in 1936, is clearly missing some important detail, as both the South Melbourne and South Melbourne United clubs are listed as being in existence after that year.

In 1937, South Melbourne was in Division 1, South Melbourne United in Division 2. The same goes for 1938 as you can see here and here. In 1939 they finished first and second in Division 2. In 1940 both teams played in Division 1. South Melbourne ceases to exist after this season. South Melbourne United struggle during the war years, but re-emerge after them.

When looking at the 1959 foundation date for South Melbourne Hellas, this is a bit of misnomer. 1959 is when Hellenic and Yarra Park merged. The merger of that new entity with South Melbourne United happened in early 1960. The Greeks needed a ground, and United took a chance that the Greeks would respect their identity and history. That lasted just a few years, and the most visible part of United's contribution to the new club - outside of the venue itself - the red 'V', was ditched, and little to no pretense seems to have been made that this was in any way a local club. Callous perhaps, but at least eventually honest. I reckon it was an awful thing to do, but it was done and most people never gave it a second thought.

On rare occasions the official wing of the club has dug out the 'heritage' shirt, but not often. Again, if that's the way the majority of the club's support feels about South Melbourne United, that's OK. But having overwhelmingly rejected the history of the clubs that preceded South Melbourne Hellas (and this includes the complicated Greek club history), and focusing only on what was created in 1959, I find claiming that 1884 date is unconscionable, and a ruse designed to get away from the real problem.

At best, we can claim that we are a living representative of the soccer tradition that has existed in the South Melbourne/Albert Park/Middle Park area - perhaps the original heartland of soccer in Melbourne - since 1884. That also includes teams like Hakoah, Park Rangers, Middle Park, Albert Park, St Kilda, and both defunct and new teams with those names.

Some more temperate minds may try to claim the 'custodian' tag, but I consider that an illegitimate attempt to monopolise a history and local tradition that is not completely ours to claim, especially considering the over 50 year rejection of that tradition and history mentioned earlier. To even begin to be able to start claiming that history as our own, we have to show a humility that is not in keeping with the traditions of this club, and for better and worse I have seldom seen here.

Which leads us to the real problem. Who are we? When we talk among ourselves, we are pretty sure of who we are. While some still hang on to an older style Greek nationalist or patriotic identity - as is their right - most younger supporters I think are able to easily claim the identity of being a club with a mostly Greek past and heritage, with an Australian future. These two ideas do not have to be mutually exclusive. We can be both, and I would argue that we actually exist in that manner right now.

So why can't we take that to the outside world? Why do we have to lie about who we were and who we are? In some deranged way, I can understand why we tried to do it back in the Southern Cross days - because we knew (even those who argued otherwise) the FFA and general public was utterly against us. But these days we go out there with the claim that the FFA is encouraging us to make a push for the A-League, a claim which was reinforced by one of the radio show hosts.

To finish up this discussion, let's just say that one of the hosts made the point about being ourselves and owning our history - the parts we actually had a part in creating - and his response to one of his co-hosts, who brought up the spectre of the old NSL was just as good.

'You use the term old NSL like it's contaminated'. 

Hit the nail on the head right there. It's time to get out of the trap of the cringe and the cringe inverted, and take up instead AA Phillips' notion of the 'relaxed erectness of carriage'; the state of being unconsciously ourselves, not inherently better or worse than other clubs, just different, yet with something worthwhile to bring to the table.

Finally, there were no questions about the more pressing matter of NPL Victoria, which was disappointing.

Film Festival Follies
Saturday was the first time I'd been to the cinemas in over a year. I can't even remember the last thing that I saw. I didn't even make my usual trip to the animation festival in June. So, when you get the chance to see a North Korean football film, let alone one which has been described as 'the best North Korean football-themed movie of all time', the decision is more or less made for you.

So it was off to the Melbourne Film Festival to see Centre Forward, a black and white soccer flick from 1978, a bit of a Rocky via Pyongyang production, replete with your typical sports montages. The story is pretty basic. In Son, a young forward, after sitting on the bench for three (?!) years finally gets his chance in the starting line up. Needless to say, he completely blows it.

He gets dragged, the team loses its first match, and somehow after this one loss they go into crisis mode. I'd call it an overreaction, but this is a South blog after all, and thus we can relate to that. The rest of the film follows the well worn path of athletic redemption. What's interesting here are the necessarily different values used to get to that redemption point. The triumph of the individual for his own sake is not enough. The triumph of the individual is done for the whole of the North Korean people.

So yes, there are the requisite musical propaganda numbers, references to the Juche system, the Fatherly Leader, the Motherland. It's an uncomfortable aspect of watching this film, knowing that these same values are what keep the North Korean people under a brutal autocratic regime. Would this film have been played had it been promoting fascist values?

The players are hardly pampered. They sweep the yard, mark the lines, live in relatively spartan quarters at the club, and take part in a new and frankly brutal training programme, where hard work and loyalty are valued more than skill.

Still, some things remain familiar. The difference in generations; youngsters doubting their abilities; older players realising that fame doesn't last. The chairman of the club and his henchmen becoming involved in team selections and even tactics! Family angst played out via a grandmother and mother watching the game at home on TV (strangely, despite having a TV set, they don't seem to have a washing machine).

Oh, and the absolutely best part? Apart from the team bonding session montage, which included a scene on what looked like the world's most boring roller-coaster, the best moments were the comic relief provided by two fans in the stands. They're there every week, but when the team struggles they love to complain - one even sends weekly letters to the coach with suggestions on how to improve the team. When In Son and the team have their big success at the end of the film, the main complainer somehow manages to get into the locker rooms (which for some reason reminded me more of a hotel foyer or lounge) and more or less gets back on board the bandwagon. It was unnervingly like looking into a (North Korean) mirror. Just goes to show that the peculiarities of football fandom cross all borders.

Not being much of a film buff, from doing a bit of reading elsewhere it appears this film takes after Soviet minimalist/realist film making. So the acting is a bit stiff, and the dialogue mostly plain and sincere. Irony doesn't seem to have entered North Korean film vocabulary at this stage - though humourous moments are found throughout the film, including one of the players being a bit of a boozer. In fact, that naiveté in style and content is what eventually carries the day. The football scenes themselves aren't completely awful, even getting a little bit creative at the end of the film, though it's interesting to see the same shot of the ball going into the back of the net at least twice. Films from North Korea with a soccer theme aside, this ain't a classic of any genre, but it runs at a brisk pace and doesn't overstay its welcome. Worth a look if you can find a copy somewhere.

You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?
Back to Sunday for a moment. It was a largely enjoyable afternoon. However, it was made less pleasant by some disgusting sexist banter from a very, very small portion of the crowd, directed at the lineswoman on the far side of the field. Now whether you think this kind of behaviour is or isn't acceptable - and it isn't - one should at least have a sense of self-preservation, if only to prevent the club getting punished due to your own easily preventable stupidity. This isn't some attempt at implementing some kind of PC mandate by stealth. Indeed, the kinds of comments being bandied about were so daft that they don't warrant being repeated here. Just leave that kind of garbage outside the ground.

Final Thought

Friday, 9 August 2013

Another week, another game

Are we going to beat Hume this week? I don't know. Gut feel says no.

Also welcome back Manny, who's back from an overseas sojourn. Bit weird saying welcome back to a person you've never met, but what the hell.

Who owes who?
There's been a continuation of the age old discussion about who owes who anything when it comes to South. Does the club owe the fans? Do the fans owe the club? Are such sentiments entirely pointless? Are people just looking for more scapegoats and/or more reasons to jump off? Can anyone be blamed if they decide not to turn up anymore? Is it appropriate to make a big scene as you exit or threaten to exit? Is it OK to just sit there and take it, whatever 'it' is?

I don't know. I'm sure there's a limit for me, but I haven't found it yet. I even mentioned in a research paper for one my classes (trying to justify my line of study) that I probably owe the club and the game something for it being the major player in turning my life around. But I get too sentimental about such things, perhaps because I'm a sentimental bloke.

NPLV : Day 384267
So, we're off to court apparently. The media release even boasts about our the legal team's record against the FFV.

Cup semi-final fixture set


Our cup semi-final against Green Gully has been scheduled for Wednesday 21st August, 7:30 PM, at Port Melbourne. Will be tougher now that Vlahos and Dimi Harz have walked. Fernando still there though. Someone mentioned to me a couple of days ago that if we make the final all the cup tied players will be allowed to play? Hilarious if true, but let's worry about making it out of the semi first.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

What You Missed Last Night At Beachcomber

Miss the members info sesh last night at Beachcomber? Here's the gist.

NPL
Pretty much sticking to the line that we're all united and that we shall overcome. But this issue is so volatile, it's hard to know what will happen.

Social Club and the Lease
Apparently, hopefully ,'1-2 months' away from finalising the deals so we can get on with this. Government and the Trust tried to make the deal better for themselves; we had to 'peel back the layers' of the additional stuff they had added, in order to try and get it back to what we want. One of the issues is the requirement of signing all four agreements simultaneously before anything gets done.

We think the Memorandum Of Understanding we signed and agreed to is a foundational/binding document of sorts, and that it has legal weight. Our counterparts on the other side of that ledger don't seem to think that. Court action seems unlikely. Pavilion issue out at Middle Park seems to have been sorted out. Football exclusivity apparently maintained.

My thoughts went back to January when we were told that we were close to signing off on everything back then. The ox is slow but the earth is patient and all that.

A-League
Offered $7 million for the Heart licence. Heart rejected that offer. Offer now withdrawn by South. Assertion made that we had been asked by the FFA to discuss bid takeovers with the Mariners and Heart. No comment made on who or where the money would come from.

Football
More or less club sticking to its story with regards to Tsolakis, Matthews and Byles. Confirmation that Andy Vlahos and Dimi Hatzimouratis have walked out. The rumour that Fernando had also left was categorically denied.

From me
Much rolling of eyes, raised eyebrows, cynical expressions, snide remarks. Some occasional laughter. Bemusement at prices. The odd question asked.

Ephemera
Very civil meeting, until there was some passionate 'debate' at the end. I expected a lot worse. This club continues to confound me.

I'm entranced by the fascinating collision course of the melding of oldskool members and new junior parent types. Like two galaxies running into each other, it's unknown whether we'll end up tearing each other apart or if we'll create a new super galaxy. Please be super galaxy!

That S.M. Hellas constitution probably needs some updating. Who's up for making some amendments?

Never did find out if that curtain was soundproof.

Further to this


Leo informed me that it was done over a year ago.

Under 21s
Lost to 3-1 Pascoe Vale last night in a catch up game.

Final Thought
A child is a mass of cells and tissues and muscle that will grow up and will become Jack the Ripper or the president of the world. Maybe. More likely it will grow up and become a dole statistic. Worse, it will grow up and become an accountant.

from Loaded, by Christos Tsiolkas.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Casual Friday - Richmond 1 South Melbourne 1

Bloody cold on Friday night, with a bitter wind. A win would have made it worthwhile, but we didn't get it, did we? What hurt the most - apart from the missed opportunities - is what looked like a casual attitude of playing out from the back and of clearing the ball out of that area. It eventually came back to bite us on the arse, and saw us drop two points again against a competition struggler, after we'd already dropped two points each against Southern Stars and Pascoe Vale.

It's just a little bit dispiriting. In the end, I thought Richmond probably deserved a goal, but we deserved two. We didn't get it, and now we're back in our little hole. Hopper's goal was great, but his missed opportunity in the second half - damn it! - one of those occasions where either side of the keeper would have done the trick, but unfortunately it went straight at the keeper. Holmes' shooting is still reliably unreliable, though I thought he had a good game otherwise. Rixon coming off the ground injured changed the game a bit. His presence suited the style of play we've adopted (I think), and we were a bit lost when he went off. Meredith got a go, where usually Vlahos has been subbed on in such situations. Somebody on smfcboard has suggested that Vlahos may have quit the club. Hope that's not true, as surely we'll need someone of that calibre for our cup run at the very least.

It was interesting to see Maynard in goals again considering Gavalas could have returned after serving his suspension. But having done nothing wrong, and possibly because he is our wave of the future, Maynard started and did well again. I don't think he made any significant errors - though late in the game I would have preferred he kick it long rather than throw the ball short.

It's always crap when we play a thug/physical team and we get a ref like Bruno. He and the assistants copped their fair bit of grief from our supporters, but in the end it wasn't a deciding factor in the result. It's not been the most descriptive of match reports, but I paid even less attention than usual to what was going on.

Steve From Broady's Under 21s Report
South Melbourne's under 21s were away at Richmond on Friday night. South were aiming to make it a perfect month with four wins from four games. South kicked off the match and in the fourth minute they lost the ball on halfway and the Richmond front man ran the ball down half the pitch, dummied a shot, rounded the South keeper and slid the ball home to give Richmond a 1-0 lead.

South kicked off again trying to get back on level terms but the South lads just didn't look right with several South players slipping over and calling for a change of boots. The boys were made to pay for their poor start again with Richmond running down the wing with the ball, cutting into the area and firing in a shot which beat the young South keeper on his near post in the 12th minute. 2-0 Richmond and South would have to perform a miracle to come back from their poor start.

And not even 10 minutes later South had conceded again, Richmond's number 28 picking up his second as he put the ball through the South keeper's legs and into the back of the net to give Richmond a 3-0 lead. Richmond continued to control possession for the rest of the first half and once again were rewarded before half time with Richmond's number 28 completing his hat-trick putting the ball through the South keeper's legs once again to send Richmond into the sheds with a 4-0 lead and unfortunately for South conceding their third soft goal of the night.

Baggio Yousif who had scored 8 goals in three weeks was non-existent in the first half. As Richmond kicked off the second half four goals to the good South quickly regained possession and dominated it for the whole second half, creating heaps of opportunities but failing to score them.

They were condemned to their first loss in a month, but there was some good news for South in the last minute, as Baggio Yousif got the ball inside the area and fired home to give South a consolation goal. 4-1 to Richmond it finished, a disappointing result for South, the worst game they have played all season and unfortunately the championship looks gone with Northcote running away with the title 15+ points clear with six games left. South are at home against Hume city next week see ya then.

Steve From Broady's Canteen Report
I was at Richmond's canteen on Friday night. With all the news coming out of there I was not expecting much. I had a burger witch was in general OK to solid, but it was not filling and the tomato was rubbish. I give the Richmond canteen a 6.5 - the glory days of Richmond's canteen are over and with them likely to get relegated it looks like we will never eat there again. Sad, but life goes on. Back at the South food van next week, can they get their average score up? All will be answered next week, see ya then.
  1. Pascoe Vale 10/10
  2. Hume City 8/10
  3. Bentleigh Greens 7/10
  4. Richmond 6.5/10
  5. Northcote City 3.5/10
  6. Southern Stars 2/10
  7. Green Gully 1/10
  8. Dandenong DQ 
South food truck
  • Week 1 - 4.5/10
  • Week 2 - 7/10
  • Week 3 - 8.5/10
  • Week 4 - 5/10
  • Week 5 - 5.5/10
  • Week 6 - 9/10
  • Week 7 - 6/10
  • Week 8 - 7.5/10

Next Game
Hume at home. Do or die and all that.

A scene from the reserves game, before the weather turned.
Photo: Paul Mavroudis (taken on my shitty phone)
Around The Grounds
For the first time in a few months I was able to make it out to an Altona East game. They were playing Whittlesea Ranges, a team I don't give a toss about, especially since they've never really played soccer that has caught my attention.

I caught the second half of the ressies match, where East managed to score an equaliser against the run of play, and probably should have snatched it. 1-1 it finished there, a pretty sloppy game even by state 2 reserves standards.

East's senior haven't been having a good time of it this season, but I must have caught them on a good day, because they were all over Ranges in the first half. Winger Peter Meletis should have opened the scoring but put his header onto the crossbar unmarked and about metre out. Never mind though, as East took a 2-0 lead through Colin Hopgood and Teddy Yabio.

The wind that East had in the first half dropped off, and the rain started, slowly at first, but then increasing in intensity as the match wore on. Ranges were the better team in the early parts of the second half, and their persistence saw them pull back a goal and make a game of it. Too bad for them, they conceded a goal at the near post from a corner, Paul Galea the scorer. Teddy Yabio nabbed another goal at the end for East, and that was that.

So all in all, a cold, wet, but happy day at Paisley Park. And the souvs are just as good as they ever were.

Neos Kosmos
Kings of comedy these people. So, after reading about our whinging somewhere about how they've called us Σαουθ Μελμπουρν in their Greek language section, and not doing similar things to other clubs, they've relented and have started mixing it up a bit with all the teams getting a bit of a treatment.

Still, they couldn't avoid having a dig in their own pathetic way. When Mr Donoudis was talking about the NPL issues - I thought he wasn't really interested in writing about state league issues, but there he was anyway - and he writes about how none of us thought we could have a national league with Marconi, Olympic etc, he mentions us in that list as 'South (then)', once again making his insipid point about us not being the 'real' South.

It's an attitude so childish even a blogger would blush.

NPLV
Off to court it seems. It's become an annual tradition.

Final Thought(s)
Considering he has his own Ferrari, yacht and Hawaiian island (one of the good ones, not one of those with the lepers) the Cypriot nut-man could at least crack a smile as he pushes his trolly around, especially after Hopper's quite lovely goal. And what happened to peanuts anyway? It's all seeds and cashews these days. And he could at least have put a warm towel over them to keep the cashews warm.

Anyway, while I don't want to go all Michael Lynch and judge our soccer primarily by its food, but in the event that the NPL doesn't go ahead or that we're in situation where we don't play them because we're in separate comps, good riddance to Richmond and whoever's running the joint there these days, for ripping out the heart and soul of that club. Got rid of the cakes, got rid of the good burgers and kranskies, and it looks like they've messed up the bar as well. And speaking of the cakes, your little prepackaged muffins aren't fooling anyone. Go to hell.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Hope it doesn't rain - Richmond vs South tonight

Well, here we are again, on the other end - hopefully - of our annual mid-season slump, and with the familiar slog of trying to storm home into the finals.

Knocked over Thunder last week. Now on to Richmond who are a better unit than they were when we - I suppose we can still use the word 'we', even though so much has happened since then - hauled ourselves off the 0-2 canvas and beat them 3-2.

The weather forecast says rain of some sort. Already been two fixtures there messed up due to the elements. If the game does go ahead, bring a brolly, because there ain't much shelter. Failing that, leave the car at home and bring some cash to splash at the bar while the weather does its thing.

Apart from the game, another highly anticipated part of this fixture is the food. My experience of their canteen this season is that it's gone downhill in a big way, but we'll see tomorrow I suppose.

I was going to talk about Neos Kosmos naming shenanigans, but we'll save that for another post. NPL stuff will likely take the form of a massive article for Goal Weekly.