Thursday, 27 February 2014

Fixtures and memberships released for 2014

Fixtures for the 2014 NPL Victoria season were released late on Wednesday. Among the many, many highlights:
  • An opening round match against the Bergers. On a Thursday. It's a good thing that no one who follows the VPL NPL works for a living, or has anything else to do, you know, like attending training or something.
  • Six of our first seven home games away. I can understand the first few - grand prix curse - but how they figured out the rest of that I'm not sure.
  • Our first home game on a Wednesday, which is brilliant for memberships.
  • Six consecutive home games in the middle of the season. 
  • A Wednesday game away to Bentleigh (public transport nightmare at the best of times), followed by a game 48 hours later away to Pascoe Vale.
  • Playing Ballarat Red Devils in rounds 5 and 7.
  • Not playing Northcote until round 19.
  • Having to wait until the final round for the Shepparton trip.

The fixture list as it relates to South is now updated under the 2014 Fixtures/Results tab on the blog. I can't wait until games start getting washed out, and pitches get torn up.

A stripped down affair this time around. The basic package is $120 ($90 concession), which is decent value for 13 home game at one of the premier soccer venues in the league. A pity about no social club yet, of course, but it's about the team on the park first and foremost - and how good was it when we started getting some decent crowds towards the end of last year, especially the Gully final?

Head to the club's membership portal site at to buy your membership for 2014. Nice to see they've decided to stick with last year's slogan, something to build upon in years to come.

More than ever it's important to support the club by becoming a member. It's a pity that the fixturing has done us no favours at all with regards to selling our product.

If you're in the corporate membership frame of mind, you'll have to wait a little longer.

Next friendly
This Saturday we're away to Springvale White Eagles. Seniors kick off at 6:00PM, under 20s at 4:00PM. Being the public transport black hole that it is, your correspondent may not be there for this one, but we'll see.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Friendly against Richmond tonight

At Lakeside tonight, 7PM.

Twitter Artefact Wednesday - MMM Rocks Everything

One of our Twitter followers, one 'Bill M', posted this sticker on his Twitter feed a month or two back. Now the question some of our younger readers may be pondering - did Triple M really 'rock' South Melbourne Hellas? Were we some sort of special recipient of their macho love? Well, the answer to that is, not quite.

You see kids, when it came to putting out bumper stickers about what it 'rocked' - mostly during the late 1980s and I think early 1990s before they were more or less phased out - Triple M was the kind of radio station that gave its love out a bit too freely. You name it, they probably claim to have 'rocked' it, and put out a sticker making that clear to whoever happened to read it.

Triple M's 'rocking' love wasn't restricted to Melbourne, nor even Victoria. They even gave out their 'rock' love to Sydney suburbs, TV shows, refreshing beverages and even to whole eras of time (see image on right).

Hell, even high schools weren't immune to their fairly lame presentation of straightforward 'rock' music. I once had an old stereo (now sadly departed) with one of these stickers, which claimed to 'rock' the now long merged and/or departed Altona North High School, back in the days when graffitying "Guns 'n' Roses '88" on the side of a milk bar was the height of political commentary in the western suburbs.

Nevertheless, we'd like to thank 'Bill M' for sharing this piece of sticker/commercial radio/suburban identity marker/South Melbourne Hellas piece of history, and encourage others to do the same, by sending photos of such things our way. If it's left field or interesting enough, we'll even put it up on the blog for everyone to enjoy.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Notes from the weekend of February 22nd-23rd

On Saturday I made my way out to the newly refurbished Broadmeadows Valley Park, in order to watch us have our first match (correction - 2nd NPL friendly, we have already had a 0-0 result against Thunder, as noted by one of our readers) against NPL opposition during this pre-season. The match finished 1-1, with Lujic I believe scoring from a goalmouth scramble in the first half, while Hume equalised in the second half from one of those mishit crosses that ends up going in at the back post. Both sides had some OK chances. I felt we we were the better team in the first half, while the game was more even in the second, as both teams shuffled around their lineups.

During the second half, Lujic had a penalty saved, the second time this pre-season he has failed to score from the penalty spot. After the farce that was last year's penalty taking situation against Gully, where no one wanted to take the penalty against in the finals, it might be nice to sort out once and for all who's the designated penalty taker. Also, at some point have to figure out who's taking our free kicks, since it looks like Nicky Soolsma ain't coming back.

The new facility at Broadmeadows Valley Park is quite nice, with a few caveats. The grandstand, while a nice addition, has very limited seating, which wouldn't ordinarily be a problem with Hume's crowds except for the fact that sight-lines from most other parts of the ground are very poor. Still, a small grandstand is better than no grandstand.

The field, too, looks in good condition, and after chatting with one of the locals it appears as if there are plans to put some new lights in at the main ground as well, with the possibility that they may consider playing night matches.

Buggered if I can remember where I stole this team sheet from.
Shepparton Shenanigans
So, Shepparton South had a big day planned for this event. How did it all turn out? Well, to cut to the chase, we lost 4-3. I'm really regretting not having made the trip out there now, even with the appalling public transport situation; nor for having done my due diligence on this, by reading this article from back in very early January. Check out the name of that trophy for starters..

Shaun Kelly out for 2-3 months
It looks like central defender Shaun Kelly will be missing a good chunk of the 2014 season, if not all of it, after having surgery on a foot ligament injury last week. So combined with Bryan Bran leaving for the Netherlands, and the uncertainty of the left back position, it appears as if only Tim Mala at right back will be a certainty of last year's back four to be playing in his position. Nominally at least, Dimi Tsiaras can play in a defensive role, and Brad Norton might get to hold on to the left back position he held for most of last season, but there may be a surprise or two as we near the start of the season.

And in other news
You may recall that George Malamas joined the board at the most recent AGM. He has since left the board. His departure appears to have been acrimonious, at least from his part.

Sometimes, words fail me
Joffa Corfe, of Collingwood cheersquad fame, is apparently now on the Heidelberg bandwagon, as host of their TV show. Nothing I can say will make that sound any more absurd than it already is.

Fixtures come out on Wednesday. Expect two or three away games to start the season courtesy of the grand prix.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Friendly against Hume City tomorrow (and other stuff)

Out at the newly refurbished Broadmeadows Valley Park, kickoff at 3:00. It'll be our first hit out against NPL opposition this year, so it will interesting to see how we go, I guess.

Catching up to where every competent blogger was in 2011
If you scroll down, you may have noticed that I've installed another gimmick onto the site, a Twitter feed doohickey with #NPLVIC as the guide. I promise that eventually I will try to provide at best only 49% of the posts on there. You can help me reach that goal, by filling it up with your own posts.

Melbourne Knights raise the media bar
Watch out SMFC Digital Media Team! A new competitor has entered the fray, with the Melbourne Knights announcing that they've hired the services of a couple of MFootball's staff to take their media presence to the next level. It'll be very interesting to see where this goes.

Also, have you noticed that their Twitter account is verified? Why isn't ours verified? I demand answers! Lift your game SMFC Digital Media Team.

(In my haphazard way of typing coupled with a lax attitude towards proofreading, I typed 'Mead' instead of 'Media'. How cool would that be though? Mead seems like the perfect drink for away days in the various frozen tundras of the NPL. It'd be easier to get a mead movement started at South if we had some hipsters around. The problem would then be that we had hipsters, since we're probably too late in trying to get Ethiopians to come in numbers bringing their tej. And while I'm all for a broad church at South - I mean, we even let women come to games for Christ's sake - I think we have to draw the line somewhere. Still, maybe if we rationalise it as part of some sort of Wonderboy in Monsterland faction, we can get way with it...)

They're talking to us again! (for now...)
After a very long period of not responding to straight bat and totally sincere questions from me on their Facebook and Twitter accountswhich only a very cynical and insecure kind of person would construe as containing any sort of malicious intent - the FFV managed to respond to a query I posted on their Twitter feed yesterday. 

They then added this curious and quite open ended tweet.

What they mean exactly by 'appropriate' I'm not sure. I can't imagine there'd be a rubric or algorithm they've developed beforehand for this scenario, at least not without conducting an exhaustive research project for finding out what's worlds best practise for responding to cranks on the internet.

But I prefer to look at it this way. First the Dockerty Cup name gets re-instated, then one of my questions gets answered. Surely after last year's heartbreak of not getting a media pass, I'm a shoe-in for one this season. Right?

Public transport guide updated
  • Heidelberg United (lame)
  • Werribee City (west side!)
  • Ballarat Red Devils (something, something Sovereign Hill raspberry drops; something, something Kryal Castle; something, something 200k mercenary), 
  • Goulburn Valley Suns (they make fruit there, right?)

  • Richmond (food sucks now, so good riddance)
  • Southern Stars (still have to do one trip to Kingston Heath, bah)

Also, an updated Melbourne Knights guide, because they took the time to whinge to me. If you're unhappy with my guide and know a better route to particular venue, you can follow their example and also whinge to me, in which case I will weigh up your case.

Or you can just use this one. It's out of date and on a site that doesn't have the same homely feel as this place, but it also does its business with a lot more clarity and efficiency.

After dinner mint department
Here's a good one. South Melbourne are set to play Shepparton South for the Shepparton Cup on Sunday, out at Shepparton. More details here.

But did one of the brains trust at South Melbourne arrange this day out without consulting with senior coach Chris Taylor, or indeed pretty much anyone else before doing so?

We'll probably never know, but our sources seem to suggest that is the case. Stay classy South Melbourne.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Social Club Artefact Wednesday - 3AW ads on cassette

Another shoddy photo. I found a whole bunch of these audio cassettes in what was ostensibly the social club's 'multimedia room', which also doubled up as a bit of random storage space, where several things were dumped and then pretty much forgotten about.

For the uninitiated, this room was reached through the door that was to the side of the projector screen, next to the 'stage'.

Digression - there's always one
On a side note, one of the things I find in that room was some kind of IKEA-esque foosball table, in that one had to assemble it with one of those dinky Allen keys. Of course during our 'downtime' while packing away the social club stuff, me and Steve from Broady did assemble it - I was seriously surprised that it actually had most of its parts, because the box it came in was completely fucked - and we ended up playing several games.  Now I'm no crack foosball player, but I kicked Steve from Broady's arse every single time, principally because of my decree that we play by 'foosball gentleman's rules' that is, not allowing seven year old style spinning maneuvers.

I think the table ended up in our players' locker room during the late stages of the Gus Tsolakis era. I have been told that the players quickly lost the balls that came with it, and when Chris Taylor came in, his hardline approach to fun meant that the table ended up getting thrown out of the change rooms. In the end, it was probably for the best that it ended that way, but I'm kinda annoyed at myself now that I didn't take any photos of the little table that love built.

Back to the main show
Curious to find out what content these cassettes had on them - there were no dates to denote what era they were from - I managed to find a battered radio with a cassette player, plug it into one of the available wall sockets hoping not to fry myself and burn the whole joint down, put one of the cassettes in and pressed 'play'.

As best as I can remember, rather than anything revolutionary, they were simply ads promoting our next home game, backed by Frozen Tears' South Melbourne theme song. If memory serves me correct, they were from around the 1998/99 season. Functional kind of work, but an interesting one for historians of the game, especially those people interested in the marketing used by clubs during the NSL era.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Friendly vs Box Hill United on this Wednesday

We're playing NPL 1 side Box Hill United for the Co-Sig Cup this Wednesday at Lakeside, kickoff nominally at 7:00PM. You may as well get down for a game at Lakeside while you can. as the grand prix works coinciding with the start of our season may very well mean we won't get to see a home league match

Also, former junior Leigh Minopoulos has been signed from Werribee, after apparently scoring 30 odd goals there over the past couple of years. Me, I wasn't a big fan of him in his first stint with us, but isn't this what's supposed to happen? Young player who can't break into the firsts in the big league, goes down a level or two, gets some experience and proves himself. Wheat from the chaff and all that.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Just in case you missed the news

The official Twitter hashtag for NPL Victoria is #NPLVIC and not #NPLV. That goes for both NPL and NPL1. Glad we got that sorted out.

Also, I think we signed Jason Saldaris. Remember him? Tall, sexy motherfucker of a goalkeeper from Perth? Played in a cup game against Malvern during that season where Gavalas wasn't getting dropped due to (snip - legal department
)? Took one of the couches from the office home with him last time he was here, when we were cleaning out that space? Yeah him. He can kick the ball far. I like that.

Fuck, current no. 2 keeper Chris Maynard played in the same game for Malvern. If that's our recruiting strategy for 2014, we should sign Juan Nilo. We do need striking support for Lujic. Could do worse.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Latest NPL news - We're going to Bonnie Doon

Well, not quite.

Last week FFV released the list of successful NPL licence applicants. Now they've now released their proposed league structure. Having trouble keeping track of what's going on? Can't wait my upcoming long-winded article in Goal Weekly? Then here's the gist, from a South perspective.

  • We're in the NPL, which is the top tier of this thing.
  • So are the other eleven teams who would have been in the VPL in 2014, had it run.
  • Add to that two regional teams, Ballarat Red Devils and Goulburn Valley Suns.
  • The league starts in mid-March, ends in mid-September.
  • Everyone plays each other twice.
  • No finals, winner decided by first past the post.

Understood? See you all next time, when EVERYTHING WILL HAVE CHANGED. Well, maybe not.

Social Club Artefact Wednesdays - Paul Wade statuette (updated)

Genuine Paul Wade Socceroo statuette, as previously on display in the old
South Melbourne Hellas museum. I don't know who broke his arm,
 all I know is that wasn't me. Photo: Paul Mavroudis, on a budget digital camera,
 with clearly no idea about proper lighting.
I believe this item was in one of the glass display cabinets in our old museum. If you pay close attention, you can see that Paul Wade's left arm is broken - by what circumstance I do not know - and that someone has tried to patch it up using some sticky tape.

Quite what's going on here I'm not exactly sure. OK, so it's easy to tell that it's Paul Wade, one time South Melbourne Hellas and Socceroo captain (at the same time! Have a think about that fact kids!), and it's a reasonable likeness. Though it might just be me, but does his head look really elongated? Also, loved that jersey as well. Also, how about them white socks? Good to see they're bringing those back for the Socceroos world cup strip next year. It looks like they may also be signed as well, if you look next to the Mitre ball.

Genuine Paul Wade Socceroo statuette, belonging to beloved South fan
and friend of South of the Border Pavlaki, in much better condition
than the one the club owned. Also a much a better photo. 
If you want to see what one of these looks like in a far better condition - and with proper lighting - on the left hand side is one that our friend Pavlaki uploaded to Twitter a few months back to celebrate Paul Wade's arrival on Twitter (you can find him at @wadey06).

But who made these? How many were made? Where could you buy one? Were they made for other players as well or just for Wadey? Were these made in conjunction with his autobiography? Do any of our readers have their own Wadey statuette, or can fill in any details about this item?

Update! (16/8/2017)
Look, this is slightly embarrassing from my point of view, because it turns out I had the answer at my fingertips all along; or rather, the answer was located in a box in my house. For you see, some time ago (I think it was last year) through a complicated and rather dull arrangement I had borrowed a selection of Mark Boric's soccer magazine and match programme collection. The purpose of this was to scan and upload stuff for everyone, what with my access to half decent scanning at technology at uni... well wouldn't you know it I let everyone down. I got a little bored, but also pretty busy, and also the dam scanner started getting erratic with what it thought was a proper scan, and things just didn't get done. All up, mostly my fault, but also the fault of technology. Still, I got a few things uploaded, but missed some great stuff.

Anyway, last week I arranged for Mark to collect his stuff, and to borrow some copies of Soccer Action (from another friend of the blog, Con) that weren't in Mark's uploaded collection yet. Mark has already gone nuts in making up for all the lost time, uploading a stack of materials. And then in a Twitter discussion Mark was having with fellow match programme fiend Miles McClagan mention is made of a Paul Wade statue on page of 24 in the February-March 1993 edition of Soccer Australia magazine. It could only be one thing

Well, while the advertisement and order form pictured right doesn't say who made these, it still lets us know how you could get one and how much they cost, which was a staggering $189 plus $10 for postage, which is apparently $357.48 in today's money according to some maybe dodgy inflation calculator I used. Which seems very expensive, especially for a piece of Australian soccer memorabilia.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Friendly against Thunder on Wednesday

At Lakeside, 7:00 PM. Let's celebrate being offered a place in NPL Victoria by watching some soccer or ignoring the soccer by talking crap.

Friday, 7 February 2014

And God said... I'll get back to you on Monday

Considering how fractured and unwieldy this post has become over the course of the day, it's worthwhile I think to begin with the clarity provided by CP Cavafy:

Our efforts are those of men prone to disaster;
our efforts are like those of the Trojans.
We just begin to get somewhere,
gain a little confidence,
grow almost bold and hopeful,

when something always comes up to stop us:
Achilles leaps out of the trench in front of us
and terrifies us with his violent shouting.

Our efforts are like those of the Trojans.
We think we’ll change our luck
by being resolute and daring,
so we move outside ready to fight.

But when the great crisis comes,
our boldness and resolution vanish;
our spirit falters, paralyzed,
and we scurry around the walls
trying to save ourselves by running away.

Yet we’re sure to fail. Up there,
high on the walls, the dirge has already begun.
They’re mourning the memory, the aura of our days.
Priam and Hecuba mourn for us bitterly.

CP Cavafy, Trojans, translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

Relax - can't you see how eerily calm it is?
So, it appears as if the lull in proceedings following last year's FFA intervention, and the subsequent dropping of the court proceedings by the Coalition of the Non-Willing, was truly just the eye of the storm.

As the silence surrounding the NPL extended into February - with the exception of a few recalcitrants who were either warning of the doom yet to come or calling the coalition figureheads and their clubs sell outs - the only certain thing was uncertainty.

Then, backed by a smattering of facts, the rumours started flowing in. The facts were that 37 entities had applied. Though not everyone showed their hand, they ranged from the usual VPL and previously already committed suspects to smaller and, on the face of it at least, more dubious entities.

Me, I'm not ashamed to admit that I scoffed when I saw Avondale Heights (among others) noting their intention to apply. That's not a slur on that club, because doubtless they've done good things there in recent times. But all the usual questions of grounds and money and everything else made it hard for me to take their fast-forwarded ambitions seriously.

And besides, even though the criteria is not as stringent as it was under the FFV's original plan, surely it would still be too high for most of the entities putting their name forward? And isn't that what the independent selection panel is there for? And surely the FFV would want to limit the amount of teams to make it a truly 'elite' competition? We'll come back to those points later.

There is nothing more to buy and no monthly fees of any kind. Call now, seats are limited!
And then yesterday, as the FFV starting informing teams of the success (or otherwise - there was no word from the latter) of their application ahead of today's major announcement, it seemed like nearly everyone who applied managed to get in.

Rather than the 'elite' league this was supposed to become - whatever 'elite' means to you, and whether you take that concept as it exists here even half seriously - the kinds and numbers of teams claiming that they are in is sending this process to even greater depths of incompetence.

Rather than a select group of fully funded, venue compliant organisations making the grade, the FFV has shown its process to be akin to a property investment seminar or, even worse, some sort of timeshare company peddling an exaggerated offer of a lifetime, and I'm starting to wonder, did most of the applicants only rock up because they thought they were getting a free lunch?

The FFV website earlier today. Picture stolen from the Football Chaos twitter feed.

During the silence, speculation grew and mutated accordingly, ramping up in the last couple of days to fever pitch. These guys are in. These guys are out. These guys didn't bid. This is how it's going to be. Thirty clubs in one division where everyone plays each other once, like an apertura with no clausura. Two divisions split into south/east and north/west. No Melbourne Knights, but every other Croatian club worth its salt, in. Clubs turning on each other. Furious text messages coming through, including one where the FFV are portrayed as the limbless Black Knight from Monty Python's Quest For the Holy Grail, incapacitated but fighting on regardless.

And like the infamous Garcin, Inès and Estelle of No Exit, we followers of Victorian soccer surrendered to the panic of this Second Empire furniture filled hell, by torturing each other with manipulative remarks, while assuming that the real torture is yet to come. L'enfer c'est les autres and all that, and while I'm not saying Sartre doesn't make a good point, but his vision of hell is limited compared to the Tartarus we live in.

Anyway, as for me today, I talked about lunch (Lebanese pizza with shanklish and tomato), and pleaded with the FFV that if they hurried up, I wouldn't post something so hysterical (then reminds himself that lying makes baby Jesus cry). I also picked up a smattering of new Twitter follows, which is nice. Welcome aboard fellow travellers. Even the Federation Starship USS Voyager had more of an idea of where it was and where it was going.

What we've actually ended up with - for now
Well, after waiting all day, the FFV managed to sneak in their NPL announcement a minute earlier than their usual time. So, let's be grateful they got it in at 4:58 instead of 4:59. I think they can cancel that efficiency review now.

However because of internal and behind the scenes wrangling - which we can't go into too much detail about, seeing a lot of it is very speculative, but it apparently involves even more FFA headkicking - today's announcement is at best, half an announcement of what's happening this season.

So what's the actual deal? Well, as mentioned earlier, we did have several clubs yesterday trumpeting the fact that they were in, and a huge amount of rumour and innuendo.

The FFV has, at the close of business today, announced those teams who will be granted NPL licences if they wish to take up that offer, without announcing a league strcuture.

How they quite go about creating a league structure - to be announced next week - when they still won't know for sure whether everyone who has been offered a licence will take it up until a fortnight's time, nor whether the constituents of most of these clubs have approved their clubs ambitions, is anyone's guess. We won't even see the fixtures for three more weeks,a dn the actual NPL rules for more four weeks.

The FFV"s media release is below. We're in, if that's all that matters to you.


Media Release

Friday 7 February 2014


Football Federation Victoria (FFV) today announces that 30 National Premier Leagues (NPL) licences will be offered to the following clubs/entities commencing this season:

  • Avondale Heights
  • Ballarat Red Devils
  • Bendigo Amateur Soccer League
  • Bentleigh Greens
  • Box Hill United
  • Brunswick City
  • Dandenong City
  • Dandenong Thunder
  • Eastern Lions
  • FC Bulleen Lions
  • Goulburn Valley Suns
  • Green Gully Cavaliers
  • Heidelberg United
  • Hume City
  • Kingston City
  • Melbourne Knights
  • Moreland Zebras
  • North Geelong Warriors
  • Northcote City
  • Oakleigh Cannons
  • Pascoe Vale
  • Port Melbourne Sharks
  • Richmond
  • South Melbourne
  • Springvale White Eagles
  • St Albans Saints
  • Sunshine George Cross
  • Surf Coast
  • Werribee City
  • Whittlesea Ranges

All of these clubs/entities will be required to confirm their participation by returning a signed licence agreement to FFV by 5pm on Wednesday 19 February.

In addition to the licences listed above that will be offered, FFV will offer a licence to Eastern Jets and Border FC to start in the 2015 season.

“FFV recognises the tremendous level of effort and resources required to produce an NPL submission,” FFV President Nick Monteleone said.

“All applicants should be congratulated for their dedication in submitting an application. I would like to also thank the Assessment Panel for its hard work reviewing all 37 applications.

“The NPL will have a positive impact on players, coaches and club development across all of Victoria.”

The competition structure of the NPL will be announced next week, with fixtures to be released on Wednesday 26 February and NPL Rules of Competition on Tuesday 4 March.

FFV has appointed Liam Bentley, its former Competitions Manager, as the Head of NPL Victoria.


So where to now?
Well, we're still waiting. How an organisation like this keeps surviving, I'm not sure. Every time they make it to the end of a week they must be doing cartwheels. They're the best argument for legalising euthanasia Kevorkian could have asked for.

This isn't only an issue for prospective NPL teams. Every club in the FFV system has no idea - in early February - about what league they will be in, and who they'll be playing. How are teams supposed to recruit? How are they supposed to conduct proper trials for juniors? How can they set up a proper budget for the coming year?

And how will the FFV, an organisation which has enough issues managing the leagues in an ordinary year, manage to get all its fixturing and registrations done by the time the leagues would nominally start in late March? Or when the Dockerty Cup is supposed to start perhaps in mid-March, which is now just five weeks away.

Then there is the other issue - compliance. While I have perhaps unfairly singled out one club from those above, each of my readers, by themselves, without even being aware of the NPLV criteria in any meaningful depth, would be able to point to several of them and make strong cases as to why they wouldn't, shouldn't even get close to making the grade.

But the FFV has said that if they can catch up to wherever the criteria says they need to be next year, they can stay. How about, no. How about they actually get there first, and then apply? Will the FFV actually have the guts to throw clubs out that have promised to get up the necessary standards, but then failed to do so? Especially if they were clubs who have supporting the FFV no matter what crazy scheme they put forward?

And what happened to the concept of an elite system? Instead of restricting it to 24 teams - remember that the NSW NPL limits it to that, and their player catchment easily outstrips ours, let alone taking into account finances and venues - 30 teams, with the prospect of even more teams joining up next year - remembering that new metro entities (such as Eastern Jets) can only join from 2015 - and soon there'll be more elite teams than community clubs.

History lesson
Whether they split the divisions into north/west and south/east divisions, or pile 30 odd teams into the one competition, either way it will be an on field disaster. The people nominally in charge of this competition should look to the 1947 Victorian Division One season to see the kind of disaster that awaits them and all of us - unless we take into consideration two possibilities.

Firstly, that the FFV and the people it has hired to make these decisions have bought into the trendy 'results don't matter' (except when we win) mantra so completely that they honestly couldn't conceive of this as a problem.

Or secondly, that having become filled with an overdose of poisonous rage due to their humiliating backdown at the end of 2013, they've decided to hijack the whole process before driving it into the nearest chasm, taking us all with them.

Third to last thought
So, to paraphrase Tony Martin's depressing BBC correspondent guy, as the constituents of soccer in Victoria awaken to the devastation caused by this disaster, they begin the slow process of rebuilding under a nightmarish regime of terror.

Second to last thought
Well, at least they're calling the cup competition the Dockerty Cup again. I'll happily take most of the credit for that, but thanks to everyone who chipped in at some point. As Mark Boric noted however, time to get the Armstrong Cup up and going now.

Final thought
If you pitched this whole NPL saga to Oliver Stone, even he'd tell you that it was too far-fetched and implausible. Through the looking glass? We crossed that threshold years ago.

Langwarrin on Sunday

Seniors (5pm) and under 21s (3pm). See you all there, once I figure out how I'm going to get there of course.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Social Club Artefact Wednesdays - Hobart Olympia Mug from 1986

Well, last week we did a West Adelaide themed episode for this segment's official launch - because it was all topical, like - so now we're doing the other half of the recent interstate visitor double.

I'm also quickly disregarding my pledge to use half decent photos, because frankly this is a terrible photo of an otherwise very nice commemorative object. We could have used the much better photo of the wooden plaque of Tasmania from our 1993 tour, but we'll save that for some other time.

This silver (the colour, not the metal - I wouldn't have a clue if it was legit silver) mug was presented to us during our 1986 visit to Tasmania, which you can read about on Walter Pless' site. The match was played on March 1st 1986, at KGV Park, with South winning the game 3-0. I was under the impression (honestly not sure why now), that we also played against the Tasmanian state team on that tour as well, but I must be confusing it with the 1993 tour. One question Walter's article throws up though, is what are the whereabouts of the decent sized trophy that's in several of those 1986 photos?

I also wonder what similar objects we may have gotten off previous such tours (to anywhere really, not just Tasmania), as well as our most recent trip to the Apple Isle in 2011. Hopefully we reciprocated in our own way when Hobart Olympia visited us last week.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Steve From Broady reviews Sir Alex Ferguson's "My Autobiography"

Firstly, this is no joke I actually read a book. FREAKY, I know.

Anyway as an Arsenal fan I have despised Mr Ferguson for the past 10 years, but when he announced his shock retirement at the end of last season you did have to stand there and applaud the great man's achievements tracking all the way back to his days at Aberdeen where he won three Scottish leagues, four cups and a league cup. He also lead them to some European glory winning the UEFA Cup in the 1982-83 season.

It was with all that Mr Ferguson got a chance to manage Manchester United. It was a tough start to his time at United not winning silverware in his first few years. In the book Sir Alex goes into depth about how hard his first few years at the club were. But when the old first division was re-branded, this was when Sir Alex struck, winning the league in the first season in the Premier League.

It was at this time Sir Alex brought in heaps of big names to the club. In his book he had a crack at Roy Keane which was a bit of a surprise, and Keane hit back later saying the book is full of lies and that Ferguson was just trying to sell books. My favourite part of the rest of the book was when Ferguson ripped into our own Mark Bosnich, calling him the most unprofessional player he has ever seen.

At my young age it's hard to watch Bosnich now on Fox Sports and see the guy he was described as back then. There was a classic story of when the Man United team was on the bus home after a disappointing result, and Mark was ordering the whole shop over the phone at a Chinese Restaurant to be delivered to the bus stop.

In 1999 Man United played in the first ever club World Cup. Unlike South Melbourne, Sir Alex thought this tournament was a waste of time and that being forced to participate cost them an FA Cup. Overall this was a good book and since I don't plan on reading another book for a few years I will give it five stars.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Gung Hay Fat Choy and all that - South Melbourne 5 Hobart Olympia 1

Firstly, a happy Lunar New Year to all our readers who observe that custom.

Well, after so far in 2014 putting out teams mostly made up of triallists and youth players, a good part of South's actual legit senior squad got a bit of a run yesterday, in a typically scratchy debut for pre-season 2014.

It was bloody hot yesterday. Both teams did their warm-ups in the limited shade in the back corners of SS Anderson Reserve. For the spectators, it was actually quite pleasant under the social club roof, though the lack of food was kind of a bummer.

Olympia came out a bit all guns blazing in the first 10 minutes, which seemed a bit foolhardy considering the conditions. They probably should have had a goal though during that early period, as the somewhat makeshift South defense was basically all over the shop.

Eventually though the tide turned, and South went into the break up 2-0 courtesy of Tyson Holmes and triallist striker Rodrigo Covarrubias. Milos Lujic hit the woodwork about 3-4 times in the first half and also had a penalty saved. There was another moment as well where a perfect cross should have been converted into an almost empty net but was headed straight at the keeper.

The second half was more of the same. As the game wore on South chucked on a few more triallists and youth players, several of whom have probably already played at least one game this week. Olympia's defensive line started getting out of shape quite badly, leading to some very poor defending and a cracker of an own goal (think Ljubo's from last season).

From what I can understand Olympia, a mid ranking team in Tasmania's NPL who had some cup successes in 2013, have lost a few key players. There were some occasional nice moves and counter attacks, and Olympia's late goal, when it came, was well deserved. Indeed they probably should have had a 2-3 more by the end of the day, but when they got into dangerous positions they more often than not looked a little bit clueless as to what to do next.

If this sounds like Olympia/Tasmanian soccer bashing, well it's not meant to be. Olympia haven't been one of the best Tasmanian soccer teams for some years now, but they put up a much better fight than when we visited them in 2011. It's just that the gulf in class was still evident. Tasmania's 2014 season should be interesting though, as a couple of their teams look to splash the cash a little bit in order to see if they can finally knock South Hobart off their perch. Judging by this performance (and should we even be doing that?), Olympia won't be one of those teams.

For South, Lujic looked good while still being obviously in cruise control. I'm not convinced yet by Covarrubias as a potential striking partner for Lujic, and was also surprised to see former South player Jason Ricciuti being out there, who got credited with one of the second half goals.

I still think we probably need a keeper (potential recruit Gonzalez from Gully ended up re-signing there), and a better striking partner for Lujic, but other than that, I think we're OK. The problem is, that if there's 14 teams in the league in 2014 (assuming we're in it, of course), that's already four extra games to take into account, plus maybe finals, Dockerty Cup, FFA Cup (?!) and NPL Champions League (are they still doing that?).

More games is good for us punters, and good for the players who I'm sure want to play as much as possible. But it obviously leads then to the fact that you then need more cover for injuries and suspensions, while also taking into account that under NPL rules, your match day squad has to come from the 20 players you've registered, or one of your youth team squads. And at the same time, you've got to plan for the future, for when the NPL player points cap get reduced from 275 to 200 in two or three years time.

In an interesting aside, it appears as if former 21s and 18s coach Gus Caminos has departed to take up the senior coaching position at Malvern - and he's taken some of the 21s players with him. Wish them all the best and all that, and wouldn't mind making a rare trip or two out to the south-eastern leagues to have a look at them this coming season.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Just a heads up

That there was word going around last night that today's scheduled match against Hobart Olympia may be moved from Port Melbourne to Olympic Village, and that the kickoff time may also be changed. So if you were intending to head out to this game, keep an eye out on the official South media channels (Twitter/Facebook) just in case something does change.

Looks like it will still be on at Port at 5:00PM. See you there. Unless something changes.