Sunday, 30 March 2014

It's not how, but how many, right? Port Melbourne 2 South Melbourne 3

That first 20 odd minutes, it looked like we would rip them apart. And that last 15 minutes, kinda the same. The in between part though is where we almost came unstuck, and that's something we're going to have work on, because there will be opponents this season who will not be as defensively suspect as Port have been so far this season, who will manage to contain us and who we can't allow to make the most of limited opportunities when we decide to step off the gas for 20 minutes in the middle of the game, thinking we have control.

There were, I think, some surprises with regards to selection, with Norton and Tsiaras picked ahead of Mullett and Musa. Minopoulos was back on the bench with Lujic starting. Anyway, those first 20 odd minutes, we looked shit hot, shots coming in, blocked, hit the post etc. We eventually scored when Brad Norton's low cross from the left was bundled in for an own goal. And then we kinda lost our way a little, as Port started working their way into the game.

Chris Taylor's serious face. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
And then we copped the goal we probably, maybe, kinda deserved to cop. Now, from my angle (a lousy one), eyesight (usual lousiness), and attention span (always lousy, not helped this time by having my mate Chris Egan over from Perth, as we were talking about all sorts of things that had little to do with the game), it looked like a pretty cheap goal to conceded. Those who did see it more clearly than me put the blame on Nick Epifano for a piss poor effort in trying to get the ball clear after a Port corner.

Chris Taylor's angry face. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Anyway, 1-1 at halftime sucked, but worse was to come. All of a sudden Port were controlling the midfield, and their defence were all over what had become quite pitiful South attempts at going forward. Soon enough they had the lead, with former South winger Kamal Ibrahim - who has a looked a lot better in these first few weeks than anything he managed to produce at South, which says something perhaps for a player maturing, though of course there's also another 20 odd games to go, so who knows how he'll end up - finishing a dazzling team move, full of speed and quick movement of the ball.

Chirs Taylor's happy face. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.

It was at around about that moment (or perhaps the half arsed attempts at wresting back the initiative immediately after that) that
I thought we were fucked, 'scuse my French.
Thankfully, the entrance of Leigh Minopoulos managed to change the momentum of the game again, as we started pressuring Port again and getting into dangerous positions. Minopoulos took a shot which took a massive deflection and sailed over the keeper's outstretched arm and underneath the crossbar into the back of the net. If nothing else, it was a just reward for having a go.

Chris Taylor's 'soup or salad?' face. Photo: Cindy Nitsos
All of a sudden we were all over Port, as they seemed to tire and become dare I say it a bit nervous as well. We blew a few more chances because we just wouldn't take that damn first time shot, but Minopoulos eventually completed his super-sub routine when he cut in well and placed the shot out of the Port keeper's reach. We managed to hold on, and the rest as they say, is history. Of course there's only so many fightbacks a team can make during the last 15 minutes in a season, but three points is three points is three points.  Having said all of that though, credit to both teams for putting on a good show, lots of attacking flair, worlds away from the Bergers-South long ball fest.

Next week
Gully away. Surely we couldn't win two in a row at that ground?

Nick Jacobs retires
I was very disappointed to hear confirmation of the retirement of young forward/winger Nick Jacobs, due to ongoing issues with injury. A week after scoring the winner in this memorable match against Southern Stars, a broken leg while playing for his school has seemingly never quite healed. All the best to the young man for whatever his future holds.

Footy! Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Footy, footy, footy, footy, footy, footy, footy, footy, footy, footy etc
Back in the day at the local soccer, it used to be common for a couple of blokes standing on the fence with their radios, maybe an earphone, but just as likely a plain old transistor radio, to be relaying the footy scores to everyone else. These days of course everyone has phones with the requisite app (which crashes on my phone), so fewer people make the effort or have the need to listen to the game on the radio.

Still, some choose to do so, and I'm not going to criticise those who listen to a footy match while the soccer is being played in front of them, and maybe exhibit an over-exuberant celebration of a hard fought win - not least of all because I've done it plenty of times myself. Nor will I admonish FFV radio match commentator Teo Pellizzeri for making a tweet variant of that behaviour. But it just goes to show I think how people are able to blend their love of both sports into the one experience. Away from the sometimes boorish code war rhetoric, most people just get on with doing what's in their hearts. It's perhaps a very Melbourne soccer thing to do, having no idea if rugby league loving soccer fans do the same north of the border.

South Radio and TV
After a very patchy first episode, episode number two for 2014 of South Radio was actually quite good, and not just because South of the Border got a mention for its hard hitting investigative report into the crazy antics of George Cross goalkeeper Robert Santili. It looks like they're going to have weekly player interviews as well, starting off with Tyson Holmes last week. The TV show's new segment 'Minute with Mala' seems to be a promising new direction also.

Around the grounds
Part 1 - Sweet VFA
On Saturday arvo I somehow ended up at Coburg's City Oval ground for the clash between the newly standalone Coburg Lions and Port Melbourne. By somehow, I mean Chris Egan wanted to go there instead of Vic Park or the Morris Street Oval. First time for me seeing this ground outside of an ABC TV broadcast. I was aware of the concrete terracing, not so much of the odd grandstand (dating back to 1925 - should have taken a photo) with two thirds of its capacity closed off to the public.

The crowd was around 600 I reckon, and about 3/4 of them I guess would have been Port fans. Memberships were being sold at the astonishingly low rate of $55 for an adult (normal entry is $10 for an adult, so we're talking half price for the season).

Inside the clubs rooms there were separate trophy cabinets for the footy and cricket sides, as well as a lot of bluster about being standalone and being off for it, but whether it actually leads to a revival of the club's fortune's on and off the field remains to be seen. For the sake of history you'd like to be wrong, but I can't see Coburg surviving for long, even if all those sponsors stick around.

Funnily enough the electronic clock next to the footy scoreboard - there's a separate one for cricket I think - wasn't working, even though it was sponsored by the Electrical Trades Union. Anyway, the game itself was pretty ugly, but at least it was close until halftime, before Port realised they weren't completely awful and kicked away in the last quarter to win by 12 or so goals.

Part 2 - (State League One North-West) Struggle Street
Sunday arvo was spent at Ralph Reserve, home of Western Suburbs, as they played host to Altona East in the opening round of state league action. The league structure for this division looks a lot like last year's State League 2 North-west (which on the whole, was generally rubbish), but with the addition of the formerly state league 1 Western Suburbs and Altona Magic.

With the exception of ex-South, ex-George Cross and most recently, ex-Altona East midfielder Andy Bourakis, Suburbs had a very young team. East was better off in that department, but man did they make hard work of this game. There were few chances for either side, but eventually a calamitous error in their own box saw Suburbs gift East a goal in the first half.

The second half was more of the same really. East hit the crossbar from close range, and I feel weren't seriously tested going the other way. In the end, one goal was enough in what is expected to be an otherwise tough season for East. The souv was excellent, chips on it without asking, and a bit of fresh parsley in the salad as well, which was a nice touch.

Amount of times that I was mistaken for a North Melbourne fan on Friday because of my scarf.
1.5 (it's complicated). Season tally, 3.5.

The size of Steve from Broady's stats and video posse
At least three people. This is disturbing in the sense that what started off as a gimmick at the Altona East reserves in 2012 in exchange for a passing grade and free souvlakia, has now become a faction at the club in its own right. In a couple of years time he'll have a large enough group to actually run a rival ticket in the elections. Hey, if he manages to get us a social club...

The approximate moment I wrote off our 2014 league season.
Probably around 68 minutes into this game. Leigh Minopoulos managed to win me back for the time being. Fickle much?

Whoopsadoodle department
You may recall that last week we noted that Oakleigh was one of the more notable casualties of the Dockerty Cup fourth round, losing to fellow NPL side Werribee City. Well, it turns out that Oakleigh didn't realise until after the game that the Dockerty Cup doubled up as qualification for the FFA Cup.

Cannons coach Miron Bleiberg fronted up SEN 1116 to make the revelation, claiming he (and I assume by extension, the Oakleigh committee) thought they were two separate competitions with no relation to each other. I'd sympathise with their predicament, except that:
  • How could they not know? It's been all over the media. Oh, they probably only read Neos Kosmos.
  • Since it wasn't a midweek game, and they were playing an NPL opponent, why not put in a full strength team anyway? You know, because winning the Dockerty Cup might be a goal worth achieving in and of itself?
  • It's Oakleigh, so fuck 'em.
Final thought
Here is the crux of the matter, and I come back to the case of learned theology. For whose sake is it that the proof is sought? Faith does not need it; indeed, it must even regard the proof as its enemy. But when faith begins to feel embarrassed and ashamed like a young woman for whom her love is no longer sufficient, but secretly feels ashamed of her lover and must therefore have it established that there is something remarkable about him - when faith thus begins to lose its passion, when faith begins to cease to be faith, then a proof becomes necessary so as to command respect from the side of unbelief...

Soren Kierkegaard, Faith and Subjectivity

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Judge, jury, executioner - Kiss of Death, Round 2, 2014

Pascoe Vale vs Melbourne Knights – Friday 28th March, 8.30pm, Hosken Reserve
The Knights had an excellent result at home to Northcote City last round. Northcote played the suspended Trent Rixon, and as expected nothing has been done (more below). Covarrubias was the star of the show and missed a penalty which would’ve been his hattrick. Should he have taken the penalty? Some say yes, others say no because it put the Knights into a bit of a shit. I for one would say yes. He was on a high, and who better to take a penalty that a player whose adrenaline is going through the roof at that moment. I have been privately mocked via email about my prediction that the Knights will do well this year and probably end up winning it. But to those emails I say a big FUCK YOU. I’m the KOD and you’re fucking not. Pascoe Vale surprised me as to how poor they were last round at Hume. This unfortunately will continue this week. Pascoe Vale 1 – Melbourne Knights 3.

Oakleigh Cannons vs Heidelberg United – Friday 28th March, 8.30pm, Jack Edwards Reserve
Oakleigh struggled up at Goulburn Valley last round. The home side had their chances but never took them. Un-fucking-lucky I say to that. Oakleigh got the all important early goal and came away with the three points in the bag. The Bergers were woeful against South. Actually, worse than woeful, pretty shit, the Bergers we all know pretty shit. They were a rabble. Unorganised at the back, slow in the midfield and poor up front. Their squad is about four years old. What I mean by this is, Katsakis has built a squad of has-beens who played their best football about 4-5 years ago. The Greek derby somewhat, with a crowd of about 300 people expected. Oakleigh Cannons 2 – Heidelberg United 1.

Goulburn Valley vs Ballarat Red Devils – Saturday 29th March, 6.30pm,  McEwen Reserve
The Willy Wonka derby. The golden ticket winners. This match is of no interest to me whatsoever. Who can really be necked giving a preview of this shit. Fingers crossed the game gets postponed and the Devils have to make it back to Ballarat in that ‘Gold Bus’ that takes them everywhere, two weeks in a row! Goulburn Valley 2 – Ballarat Red Devils 4.

Dandenong Thunder vs Green Gully – Saturday 29th March, 7pm, George Andrews
The game to be at on Saturday night. Did Dandy struggle against Port, or did Port struggle against Dandy? That is the question here. Can I answer it? Yes I can. Will I answer it? No I won’t. CBF majorly. Anyhoo, Dandy is looking OK I suppose. Much improvement needed if they are going to be any real threat this year. Gully had an easy match at home to Werribee City. Two goals each side of the break was enough to discard of the Bees. Good result as Werribee are an unknown quantity at the moment. But Gully as always are looking good. Dandenong Thunder 1 – Green Gully 1.

Werribee City vs Hume City – Sunday 30th Match, 3pm, Galvin Park
Is Werribee out of their depth this season? Yes, after one match I can confirm that Werribee is in fact out of their depth. They will drown very quickly. Green Gully attached the anchor, and Hume will drop them off the NPL ship. This will all end in tears for Werribee on Sunday. Hume will absolutely hammer them. I will be at this match. Hume is looking good. I sacked the intel guy who told me before round 1 that they are a rabble. I’ve employed a new guy and he has given me the heads up that Hume will be strong. After running some complex algorithms I have come to the conclusion that the score will be Werribee City 0 – Hume City 5.

Northcote City vs Bentleigh Greens – Sunday 30th March, 3pm, John Cain Memorial Park
Northcote played a suspended Rixon last round, and no I will not let it rest until some integrity is brought back into this competition. What a shambles. Good to see they still lost at Somers Street. Absolute rabble of a team so far. My sources tell me that they are a shadow of last season's team and it will take them some time to gel. Bentleigh on the other hand is yet to play after their match against the Devils was postponed due to bad weather. My sources tell me that there will be two A-League scouts at this match. I know who they will be looking at, but I cannot say it yet. I will release this info once I’m given the green light. *hint, not the blue one* Northcote City 1 – Bentleigh Greens 1.

Port Melbourne Sharks vs South Melbourne HELLAS – Friday 28th March, 8.30pm, JL Murphy Reserve
What a match this will be. Expect a sellout. Get to the game early as parking is very limited. Have your FFV passes to piss off the ticket guys. FFS if I get harassed one more fucking time by the old guys at the gate about my FFV pass, I will be lodging an official complaint with the FFV. What don’t you people get? An FFV pass gets you entry for FREE. Just because you have no fans and your wage bill is excessive, does not mean we need to pay. The pass holders are guests of the FFV and shall be treated as such. End rant. Port Melbourne let a two goal lead slip against Dandy last round. HAHAHA, jokes of the highest order! South on the other hand is a team to be envious of. We held our 0-3 lead at the Bergers and should’ve had more. South is a team oozing talent. South is a team everyone wants to be a part of. South has the best playing surface, best facilities, best coach, best board, best fans, best scoreboard, best forum, best kit, best backoffice staff, best phone number, best location, best president, best merchandise guy, best running track, best grandstand, best barcode scanner, best ex-board members, best TV show, best radio show, Oceania team of the Century and fucking excellent porn knowledge amongst its fans! We know a porno when we see one! Port Melbourne 0 – South Melbourne 5.

FFV and their suspensions list.
I received an email last week, and after confirming the details, issued a stop press to all media outlets in regards to Trent Rixon of Northcote being suspended yet playing against the Knights. If the carry over suspensions list is looked at here (bottom of pg 15), one will see that Trent Rixon was in fact supposed to be serving a carry over suspension from a match between Northcote City and South Melbourne at the end of last year. Now all the sooks on soccer-forum came up with the wildest excuses:
  • It’s the NPL not FFV, that means it doesn’t count.
  • Get over yourself and you obsession with Northcote.
  • We rang the federation and they said he’s good to play.
Blah, blah, blah. Well to all you I say, let’s look at the FFV’s GDT. Let’s look specifically at Section 8.2 (b) & (c).
  • (b) In the case of all Suspensions until the Suspension is served a Club Associate must not participate in any other fixture at any level in FFV competitions. This shall be inclusive of suspensions that are not totally served in any given competition season which will need to be carried over and served in future and/or subsequent seasons respectively.
  • (c) A Suspension arising out of a Finals Series which is not served in full in that Finals Series shall be carried over to the following competition season in which the Club Associate participates. 
Both the above clauses relate to this case. So after all the twittering and re-twittering last week of this incident, has the FFV done anything about it? Unfortunately, no. This just throws the integrity of the competition into disarray. Some dicks were saying “it’s up to the Knights to lodge a protest”. Yes, you’re right, however, what is the whole point of having discipline in a competition when it’s not implemented by the federation which wrote the rules? Why is it the responsibility of the other team? That is just bat shit crazy. Hypothetically speaking, and by God, I hope this happens, teams can get together, make a gentleman's agreement that both will play suspended players, and neither will lodge a protest regardless of result, and the FFV does nothing about it. Pretty fucking sweet competition if you ask me. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Lakeside Stadium artefact Wednesday - Middle Park plaque

Like its Lakeside counterpart, which we looked at last week, this is located on the front of our grandstand, though on the right hand side of the players race as you face the stand.

It's a reminder that while it was typically associated as being the South Melbourne Hellas ground, Middle Park was in fact a venue that we shared with Hakoah, and later several other clubs, and that both Hakoah and Hellas contributed to the building of the grandstand.

Prior to the building of the stand, South Melbourne Hellas had barely existed. Of course it was the merger of 'Hellas' - itself a merger of Yarra Park and Hellenic - with South Melbourne United, the longer term tenant of the ground, which saw South Melbourne Hellas play out of Middle Park (it was of course a massive part of the reason for the merger occurring). In contrast, Hakoah had a history dating back to 1927, with a history of playing out of several venues before eventually settling down at Middle Park by about 1957.

While Middle Park and neighbouring suburbs such as South Yarra, St Kilda and Prahran (but not, curiously, Port Melbourne) all had a longstanding soccer culture and presence, Middle Park appears to have been the original heart of that culture dating back to the 1880s. Why this is so is still to be fully teased out, but one of the core reasons was the Albert Park precinct itself.

If you can think of a sport or hobby that could be pursued outdoors, Albert Park probably hosted it. According to the Gillard Report, a government report from 1961 on the management and usage of Albert Park, the following activities were all taking place at the time:

...on the lake, there is rowing, yachting, boating, speed boating and canoeing. Fishing and sailing of model boats is allowed. On land, the park is regularly used for golf, cricket, lacrosse, hockey, baseball, soft ball, girls’ basketball, Australian Rules Football, Soccer, Rugby, Irish football, Hurling, Archery, Tennis, competitive walking, athletics and the flying of model aeroplanes. In addition, the Park has at times been used for cycling, and on several occasions in the past has been used for motor car racing. In renovated buildings, provision has been made for indoor sports of basket ball, badminton and table tennis. 

So rather than being a special case in and of itself, it appears as if soccer was part of the great many activities that were played there, perhaps chiefly because it was the largest and most easily accessible space to use for a fledgling sport, and because of its reputation as being the 'lungs of Melbourne'. This intense sporting usage was at the heart of the conflict between some locals, who wanted to use what was one of the few public parks available to them for walking and passive recreation, and those sporting persons who often came from outside the local area, who saw it as just the right spot for their sporting interests.

The Middle Park field (oval no. 18) used by South Melbourne United by the early 1950s (in the south-west corner of the boundary between the South Melbourne and St Kilda councils, on a reclaimed landfill site) also saw conflict between different sports. For example, the venue at the time also had a cycling track around it, built at the expense of the Albert Park Management Committee in the early 1950s (and hence the odd curve behind the goals at Middle Park). The cyclists never paid that money back, but were also incensed at the damage caused to the track by both footballers' boots as well as the spectators who were coming in increasing numbers to watch the games. They soon abandoned it.

Postcard with a photo of what is probably a Hakoah game (opponent unidentified) at Middle Park, circa early 1960s. This is just one of a series of postcards depicting sporting life in Albert Park during this era. The postcard series can be viewed on site at the State Library of Victoria, though you need to book this in advance (hence the white gloves I'm wearing).

The Middle Park ground just prior to the release of the Gillard Report was an unenclosed venue. This was at the heart of how and why Middle Park eventually became enclosed. There were only three enclosed venues in the precinct - these were the South Melbourne Cricket Ground (Lake Oval), the St Kilda Cricket Ground (Junction Oval) and a bowls club. These weren't officially enclosed - the public was supposed to be able to gain access to those fields outside of match days - but the reality of course was quite different. There was also the concern of accommodating spectators as opposed to participants. Oliver Gillard's preference was for the latter, but the existence of the Lake and Junction Ovals with their grandstands and brick walls complicated matters.

Gradually, and not exactly legally, a fence started going up around the ground, with the public only left with access from the northern side of Oval No. 18, followed by introduction of turnstiles. In the Gillard Report, the exact way this enclosure had happened was never quite explained, and there remained rather a lot of doubt and confusion on this matter, as politics and non-minuted details combined to see the area enclosed almost by default. Labor senator Pat Kennelly, also a member of the management committee, had almost had his endorsement for the senate blocked by the union movement for denying access to public land during the early 1950s.

Kennelly himself was a supporter of the need of newly arrived migrants for a proper soccer venue and the ability of clubs to collect gate money. This was a view that went against some on the management committee, who thought of soccer as just one of many passing fads that had been seen in Albert Park (ignoring soccer's long history in the area), and not one with any chance of longevity once all the migrants assimilated. The example of the cyclists, too, was also fresh in the memory.

The Middle Park grandstand plaque, photo uploaded to Twitter on December 12 2013. Contrary to some scaremongering on smfcboard, the plaque was still there during the 2013 pre-season, even while the concourse in front of it was being being re-concreted. Photo: Paul Mavroudis. 

However it came about, the fact that the Committee loaned money to Hellas and Hakoah to build the grandstand necessitated or at the very least encouraged the quiet enclosure of the ground, to allow for more money to be raised at the gate, and therefore allow the grandstand debt to be paid off; in addition, the enclosure saw soccer quickly become one of the management committee's biggest earners.

Later attempts to improve upon the venue were frustrated by both the management committee, but especially local residents, but that's a story for another time. For those interested in reading further on the history of the Albert Park from the 1850s up to about the mid 1990s, I highly recommend seeking out Jill Barnard's People's playground: a history of the Albert Park. It was exceedingly helpful in providing the background for much of this article, as well as for referring me onto the Gillard Report.

As for the plaque itself, while many items supposedly went missing during the shift from Middle Park to Lakeside, this was not one of them. It famously appeared in this video with Greg Blake and Kyle Patterson during the demolition of Middle Park. And while Middle Park may be gone, 53 years on a piece of it remains with us, and long may it do so.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Keeper's brain snap gets us over the line - Georgies 0 Hellas 1

Every time I go to Chaplin Reserve, I always wonder if it will be for the last time. I went there twice last year (I think) for cup matches as a neutral, and the entire outer side was off limits, along with most of the Anderson Road hill, due to the Regional Rail Link works. It was the same deal yesterday while walking over the grade separation on Anderson Road which the Ballarat line now travels underneath, instead of weaving my way through the old gates. I regret now not taking any pictures, because it was kinda cool. Can you believe a fellow South fan (who doesn't come to many games anymore), once accused me of being a gunzel?

Before it was Chaplin Reserve, it was the Railway Reserve.
Photo: Paul Mavroudis.
Like last year's visits, most of the smallish but still vocal crowd was squeezed into the northern side of one of Victoria's oldest soccer grounds, which will someday no longer exist. The media box was tarted up something nice as well - it no longer looked like a shabby portable, though the filming position wasn't ideal. But then again, unless you're game enough to get on the roof, Chaplin Reserve is a rubbish ground to film at anyway.

While the history of the preceding Sunshine soccer clubs prior to George Cross' arrival in the early 1980s has been pretty much obliterated (we're not the only wog club to have negated an anglo club's existence via a merger/amalgamation), I at least managed to get a photo of the old Railway Reserve Pavilion lettering. Hopefully once it's all gone, they take it with them to wherever they end up in Caroline Springs, in one form or another.

But most history gets lost into the aether anyway. Who today associates the suburb of Sunshine with the Sunshine Harvester, and one of the landmark legal judgments of Australian history, let alone the reminiscences of those who remember Sunshine City, a good local team who wore yellow and black and who were the custodians of the Railway Reserve prior to George Cross' arrival after the latter's peripatetic existence up to that point? How many Georgies fans are left to mourn Bobby Adams, centre half in George Cross' greatest achievement, the 1964 Australia Cup winning team? It was a long time ago, and it's not getting any closer.

After the minute's silence for Adams, the game was on. South had a very strong line up, even with a few changes from last week. Kiwi recruit James Musa made his South debut in place of Dimi Tsiaras at centreback, Brad Norton made way for Andrew Mullett, while Leigh Minopoulos got a start ahead of Milos Lujic up front. The field was in very poor condition, back to the usual Chaplin Reserve antics, and not conducive to pretty football by any stretch of the imagination. This meant that somehow this game was even uglier than last week's game against Heidelberg. Still, South tried to be patient and build out of defense, and I felt that we avoided the overuse of the long ball tactic.

Playing into the breeze during the first half, South should have probably been two up at half time, but all our best chances seemed to be hit straight at George Cross keeper Robert Santilli. At other times Nick Epifano, who otherwise had a decent game, was castigated by some South fans for not pulling the trigger earlier and taking a shot. For their part, it's not like the Georgies weren't showing any initiative in the first half, what with having a few free kicks and corners, but in general big striker Bobby Lojanica was too slow to get past our defence, and he wasn't able to bulldoze his way through with his strength either.

So 0-0 at half time, with the positive being that at least we weren't down, but who was thinking about the positives? Every minute that passed during the second half added to the tension, as George Cross wrested the early ascendancy and were finding ways through our right hand side in particular. Things weren't looking great for us when they managed to break through that side again, but their best chance of the game was placed wide with the goal beckoning.

The decisive momentum shift in the game came when a fired up Milos Lujic was subbed on for Minopoulos. Lujic seemed to be well fed up with not only our performance but also the time wasting tactics of the Georgies, who right from the start of the game were taking an eternity to take their throw ins, free kicks and corners. When the ball was kicked out of play for an injury, Lujic chased down the throw in, without quite managing to get close enough. When it happened again (and of course the ball was kicked out only after the Georgies realised their attacking play was going nowhere during that possession), Lujic almost made it to the ball before Santilli, who, after collecting the ball and clutching it to his chest, threw a shirtfront with a possible raised elbow, and Lujic went down.

To my surprise and delight, the referee awarded us the penalty. While it wasn't a carbon copy of the goal from that game in 2009, it may as well have been for its effect on the game and the opposition supporters. Santilli has form for being a bit of a nutter (others use much stronger language) and for more than the odd brain fade, as this clip from a few years ago (check from 3:00 to 4:00) suggests. Anyway, Jamie Reed stepped up to take the penalty. He put it away and we held on reasonably comfortably during the extended allotment of injury time.

South defender Tim Mala skydiving, last week maybe? Photo
 stolen from the South Melbourne FC official twitter feed @smfc.
What confused me and a few others (apart from why the hell would you even think about giving the ref an excuse to penalise you for pulling such a stunt) was that if Santilli had indeed committed such a heinously violent act, shouldn't he have also been sent off? Then again prior to all of that, Tim Mala was even luckier to stay on the field when, after having given the ball away with a poor pass, then put in a less than stellar effort in trying to get it back in anything resembling a legal manner. At the end of the day, because we won the game I can say without the merest hint of bias that it all evened out in the end.

Special mention to Vin Cottagio/Leo Sayer/Arnold Horschack, aka the linesman on the northern side, who had an absolute shocker. I reckon at least 3/4 of his decisions were the complete opposite of what should have been given, but everyone has bad days. He can probably thank Santilli for taking the attention off everything else that happened yesterday.

Next week
Away to Port Melbourne in the league. I've seen Port twice this year, and while they've shown signs that they could definitely beat anyone on their day, if we play at our best we should be able to come away with all three points. The surface there isn't looking as crash hot as it usually does either, though it still should be about 10 steps up from Chaplin Reserve.

It will also be interesting to see how they serve their souvlaki. Last week it was in a roll, and pretty bland. Yesterday it was in a pita, not wrapped in paper but placed in a box as an almost open sandwich, which meant any spillage of meat or salad ended up in a safe place and not on the ground. It also tasted OK (I think that may have been cucumber in their tzatziki, which is a step beyond what most clubs offer when go down that route).

Around the grounds
Last week after my match report, I managed to get out to Paisley Park for the North Sunshine Eagles vs Altona East game. Nice day for it (souv was great), pity that Altona East found themselves 3-0 down and not firing much of a shot until some dodgy keeping got them back into the game making it 3-1. Then a late penalty could have seen them make it 3-2, but they hit the shot straight at the keeper. Finished 4-1, but North Sunshine for all their limitations have a recent habit of derailing the cup hopes of higher ranked opposition, knocking out Altona Magic a few years ago, and even Box Hill United yesterday.

Since we won our match, it was safe to head over to Port Melbourne for their cup game against Northcote, on paper probably the pick of the fourth round fixtures (actually, I really had my eye on Pascoe Vale vs South Springvale, but it clashed with our game). I never get hassled as much about FFV passes as I do at Port Melbourne (yes, I managed to wrangle one on Thursday for my history committee work), but I reckon now that they realise that I'm Greek (a long story of red headed/auburn haired Thracians) it just might get easier.

Anyway, Northcote were the better team early on, with Marinos Gasparis looking in ominous form. Rixon looked a bit proppy, not moving very freely and which only seemed to get worse once he seemed to pull a groin muscle, but he stayed out there. It was interesting to see Kamal Ibrahim playing as almost a box to box midfielder for Port. Northcote went into the halftime break 2-0 up, the difference between the two sides being Northcote's finishing (even if one of those was from a penalty). Port had two or three killer chances of their own and took none of them.

Northcote shut the game down in the second half, turning the match into a fairly tedious experience, as was their right to do. Port couldn't muster up pretty much anything of note going forward, and that was that. If you're trying to figure out some of the 'notable' teams who made it through to the next round of the cup, they include Thunder, Gully, Knights, Hume City, Preston(!) and Werribee City. The losers included Heidelberg, Ballarat Red Devils, Pascoe Vale and Oakleigh. If we're going to qualify for the FFA Cup, let alone win the Dockerty Cup, there are still plenty of good teams to get through.

Elias Donoudis' bright side observation
After Oakleigh was bundled out of the cup by Werribee City:

Amount of times that I was mistaken for a North Melbourne fan yesterday because of my scarf.

Ratio (only slightly exaggerated) of Victory merch to Georgies merch at Chaplin Reserve

Vaughan Coveny's (current George Cross technical director/head of football or some such) response to my question on whether he would consider coming out of retirement to play for Altona East, because they really, really need a striker.
Polite 'no'.

Final thought
If we never play the Georgies again, the one thing I'll miss most is the Kinnie. The burgers and kransky rolls with the curried onions, not so much (if you have to choose, go for the burger).

Friday, 21 March 2014

South at Sunshine tomorrow for Dockerty Cup match

Tomorrow at 2:00PM, we have a tricky opening Dockerty Cup game at Sunshine George Cross. The wounds of falling to lower division sides in the cup are still raw - not just once, but twice to Port Melbourne of course, and let's not forget that only a Fernando inspired 'dig up, stupid' intervention got us out of that hole against Preston last year.

Of course we can't afford to be complacent anyway, not just because we haven't won anything that wasn't a pre-season tournament since 2006, but also because of the opportunity to play in the FFA Cup should we make the semi finals. I expect Sunshine, who came off a reportedly dour but comfortable win over Brunswick City last week, to be fairly fired up.

There'll likely be an old friend lining up against us well, in the form of defender Eddie Cetkin. For the Altona East watchers out there, there's also Bozidar 'Bobby' Lojanica, a proven striker at levels below the VPL.

The last time we played the Georgies was in Round 22, 2010. That was an away game, but was at Knights Stadium rather than Chaplin Reserve. The last time we played them at Chaplin was Round 11 2009, a pretty dull game, much like its Lakeside counterpart from Round 22, except for that Fernando goal. The last time we beat them at Chaplin was probably back in 2007, a great away trip. The blog didn't even exist then.

If you haven't been to Chaplin Reserve for a while, you may be in for a shock. The Regional Rail Link works have taken their toll. The entire outer terrace on the southern side is no more. Neither is there any access to the Anderson Road hill. I'm not sure what the parking situation is like there at the moment either, but at this stage the public transport options don't seem to have been affected for this weekend.

In case you were wondering, the best public transport option is to get the Sunbury/Watergardens train out to Sunshine, and walk to thr ground, I haven't had the chance to go there since the government undertook the Anderson Road grade separation, so who knows what labyrinthine maneuvers you'll have to make. Hopefully, absolutely none. Whatever the case may be, it just won't be the same without being able to see trains go by on both the Ballarat and Sunbury lines.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Lakeside Stadium Artefact Wednesday - Lakeside plaque

Looking towards the stand, this is on the left hand side of the player's race, with the Middle Park equivalent on the right hand side. Like the other plaque, it's presented in a strange off-centre arrangement, adjacent to the disabled seating at the bottom of the stand (sometimes hidden behind bins).

In my opinion, it's not as pretty as its Middle Park stand sister plaque (more on that next week), but it's just as important. Along with the Middle Park stand plaque, these are among the few remaining markers that the ground is inhabited not just by a soccer club, but by South Melbourne Hellas.

It's also a reminder that we once had very powerful friends (which we could sure use right now in our dispute with the government regarding the lease), but also that we took up Jeff Kennett's offer, of whatever we raised then that the State Liberal government would match dollar for dollar.

Therefore. this plaque is not just a milestone of a new era in the club's history, but also a sign of the investment that South Melbourne Hellas and its community put into the place.

Whichever point of view one takes on the way the board is handling the issue, one thing I hope that we can all agree on is that our presence at Lakeside is not just due to some divine fluke - it's something we've earned, and worked hard for - and that's what we're fighting for.

This photo was taken by Paul Mavroudis on February 26 2014.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Kiss of Death - Stop Press! Trent Rixon carry over suspension.

Remember this article? And then this one? Well the Kiss of Death, who unlike myself is in the habit of viewing the weekly suspension sheets, noticed something unusual.

I received an email today, very interesting to say the least.

After a browse of the carry over suspension list located here, I discovered that Northcotes Trent Rixon is currently suspended. He gained this suspension in last year's Northcote City v South Melbourne finals match at Port Melbourne.

13/10/2013 RIXON,Trent South Melbourne FC Men's Victorian Premier League

Y2 Automatic Game Accumulation of two (2) yellow cards in a Finals Series 
1 game Suspension

Therefore, Trent Rixon should not have played against the Knights.

Therefore, Northcote City fielded an ineligible player.

Therefore, Northcote City must face the penalty.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Could have done worse - Heidelberg United 0 South Melbourne 3

The first match of the season is always a strange one. For starters, you see a whole bunch of people you haven't seen in months, and wouldn't see outside of the club. It's like a high school reunion, until you have to do it all again the week after.

The second thing I noticed were the efforts Heidelberg had gone to in order to make Olympic Village look half presentable. New scoreboard, a ton of sponsor boards, much needed paint job on their grandstand and a beautiful surface. So, credit to Heidelberg and the effort they've put in, and credit to the punters for turning up in numbers - over 3000 apparently, which was ten times the crowd this fixture got back in late 2012. Imagine if it'd been held on a more suitable day.

But they may have considered at some point perhaps building a slightly better team, even with long term planning taken into consideration. Going forward they were OK without being spectacular, but defensively they were a mess. Griffin McMaster, so often a thorn in our side had a nightmare start to 2014, with his attempts at punching the ball clear failing to do anything other than create chaos in his own penalty box.

The start of a 'new' era drew a half decent crowd to
Olympic Village. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Eventually after one of these scrambled passages of play, which seemed to go on forever, Matthew Theodore latched onto the loose ball and put it in the back of the net. And remember that beautiful surface I mentioned earlier? Well, when a one on one contest saw a deflection take a wicked and yet entirely appropriate spin towards Milos Lujic, it left McMaster stranded off his line as he watched Lujic's chip sail over his head for 2-0. Had the surface been at its more regulation crap standard, that ball would have bounced any other way but the way that it did.

With big men Jamie Reed and Lujic up front, our game plan was largely based around getting the ball to them as quickly as possible, which meant long balls and plenty of them. But complaining about a Chris Taylor coached team playing too much long ball is like complaining about the sun rising in the east, Kiwis and their fascination with L&P, or FFV not giving me a media pass. These are mere facts of life.

Besides, we actually also defended fairly well, pressing Heidelberg in their own half, and forcing them to turn the ball over in dangerous positions. That meant we also often dived in with a touch too much eagerness, giving away a few too many fouls and collecting a few too many yellow cards - but again, it had echoes of Chris Taylor's treble winning Dandenong Thunder team. Let's not be mistaken - there were also moments of neat passing football - but the main point was to get into positions where we could cross the ball to our two talented forwards so they can do what they're paid to do. To that end, Nick Epifano seemed re-energised after his lacklustre finish to 2013 - here's hoping he can maintain that kind of intensity.

Lujic should have buried the game just before halftime, but at 2-0 and controlling the game, things were looking up, and it was a long way from my hands going numb with nervousness at the start of the game. Conceivably, only complacency or a Daniel Vasilevski free kick could pull it back for the Bergers. His one chance in dangerous free kick territory went wide, and while we eased off the gas in the second half - which was as dull as the first half was exciting - we were never threatened, with Jason Saldaris' positioning nullifying their efforts fairly easily.

A pleasing sight to open the season. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Towards the end of the game, Jamie Reed, who was third in line as a cross came in from the left, somehow ended up nodding a simple chance home. Three dire defending efforts from the home team gave us the goals, but on the balance of play we should have won comfortably anyway. How this performance will be viewed will only be seen in hindsight, because without any doubt there are many tougher opponents waiting around the corner.

But at this point in the season, and in a derby game no less, you take the three points, have a coke and a smile and shut the fuck up.

Celebrities of all kinds (highbrow, middlebrow, lowbrow)
Turns out the father of one of the hosts of SMFCTV grew up with Alan Duff, the writer of Once Were Warriors. That was just one of many talking points as we discussed teaching methods at tertiary institutions.

Also caught up with Philthy Phil (a rare soccer attendee, being much more of a footy fan), a friend and colleague of myself and Ian Syson (who was not there for some reason). Phil was also my first tutor at Vic Uni back in 2007 - it's fair to say that if it wasn't for him, I probably would have failed uni for a second time. Among other things, we discussed the forfeiture of working class identity via education as presented in Australian literature, with an emphasis on Tsiolkas' Barracuda and Ashton's The Danger Game.

But the most bizarre incident was something my buddy Gains overhead while waiting in line for a souv (and what an unnecessarily long wait that was), with two boys talking about how they listen to the SouthRadio podcast, and how that 'Griffin (aka Steve from Broady) guy was the funniest'. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a created a monster. A deal with Harry M. Miller can't be far away.

'He's George Katsakis, and he wears what he wants'
Thanks to the Heidelberg coach's fashion sense, that bloody chant about his cardigan has been stuck in my head.

Next week
League action takes a break after just one round, with a likely very tricky tie away to Sunshine George Cross in round four of the Dockerty Cup. Date, time, location to be confirmed.

Public transport
Well, we missed the 5:41 bus, so ended up taking the old 251 straight to Northland shopping centre. Pleasantly surprised with its drop off point, which is closer to the back of that complex, meaning you didn't have to negotiate your way through all the stores.

A pity that it doesn't run past 9:00 though, so we ended up going with our regular Smartbus option. Took all of two hours for me to get home.

NPL Victoria games on radio
FFV will be broadcasting one live NPL match per week via web radio, on Friday nights. I'd like Friday to Monday coverage (they could even drop down to NPL1 games). but it's a start. The address to go to is Apparently there's also an app you can download, as well as being able to tune via the TuneIn app.

Among others, Mark Boric reckons it's not a bad production. I had a listen to the Knights - Northcote game while I was at Port Melbourne, and my thoughts were it could probably could use one less special comments person. I like Teo Pellizzeri's style, but the around the grounds could be a little more interactive - something along the lines of the early 1990s AFL radio broadcasts, where they would call different people at each of the grounds.

Still on Channel 31, but now on Tuesdays at 7:00PM.

Steve From Broady's Canteen Review
Sad to say that Steve is not going to be providing his canteen reviews for the blog this season. They'll now be available exclusively on the South Radio podcast, which you can access via the official site.

New website
Looks like the official South site got a long overdue facelift. Same site address of course. Looks a bit bloggier (don't judge it by South of the Border's aesthetics, or lack thereof), but in a good, modern way.

Speaking of which...
Remember that letter from Hugh Delahunty I put up last week? The club has issued a media statement in response on the official site, which reads as follows.

Media Statement
March 13, 2014 
South Melbourne FC wishes to inform its members, supporters and sponsors of a letter from the Minister for Sport and Recreation published on the South of the Border website.
As the Minister maintains in his letter, all parties are working to finalise the lease. The letter sets out the government's position which it has also put to us. We advised as much at the AGM when we informed our members we had not signed the lease as it did not contain a term of 40 years on which the club continued to insist as it says this was an agreed term of the MoU. The club negotiated the MoU with the previous government and is looking to finalise the lease as soon as possible based on its agreement with the government when it signed the MoU.
The club obviously does not wish to enter into ongoing public discussions about a matter which is currently being addressed by the parties and their lawyers and will provide further information to all members shortly.
For all media enquiries, please contact SMFC Chairman Nick Galatas on 9645 9797.

She said she was young, and needed the money!
Pimping for Melbourne Heart is one thing; this is quite another. To be honest I could be angrier, but George Donikian wasn't even at the derby, preferring to be at some film premiere instead.

Around the grounds
Headed out to Port vs Dandy last night. Port weren't brilliant, but probably deserved to find themselves 2-0 up after half an hour. Then out of nowhere Thunder somehow pulled two goals back in the space of about five minutes. The second half was more meh. They tell me that ex-South player Anthony Giannopoulos cleared one off the line at the other end. Right in front of my group, he was felled in the penalty area late in the match - it looked like a pretty clear penalty, but the ref who wasn't far away from the action waved play on. It finished all square. Both teams looked better than I'd probably have given them credit for, but neither will be challenging for the title. Chicken souvlaki was bland.

Final Thought
Thank goodness there's some actual competitive soccer to watch again. After all the crap, people seem to keen to just get out to the games. Here's hoping that momentum can be maintained throughout 2014, even if it is just a coat of paint over the same structure.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Kiss of Death back for another season - Round 1, 2014

NPL: National Pathetic Leagues.

Am I a fan of them you ask? Well what sort of fucked up question is that? Can't you tell by the title? Joke of the highest order. If the FFA was a comedian, people would pay money to have a laugh. These people have lost the fucken plot. Who thinks up this shit. Like really, hello, there was nothing wrong with the original system, which has been working around the world since Jesus was a full back for the Jericho Jackhammers.

The Kiss of Death casts an eye over the competition.
Some douche has come along tax payer funded and all, and said this is how you will improve football in this country. Like fuck off already you Dutch cunts. You clowns have never been successful and have always flopped at international level. To give you an idea of how stupid this thing is, you will now read my season review of the Victorian NPL. Fuck my life. Like I don't have better things to do with my time than research clubs in the lower leagues who have bought themselves a golden ticket into the big time. Willy Wonka-ish and all.

NPL Victoria will consist of 14 teams this season, 12 who have earned their way through promotion, and two who have bought their way in. Those two being Goulburn Valley Suns and the other, Ballarat Red Devils. The Suns are located in Shepparton. Played as part of their local league. Weak as piss of a league. Good for the farmers up there to give their fruit pickers some entertainment. That's about all I know.

The Red Devils for the last four or so years have been stuck in State 2 North West. Used to be a great team, games shown on the local WIN 9 station up there, used to get big crowds. Slowly dwindled towards the end, and last year they were just absolutely shit. So shit in fact that they went from a top three State 2 team to State 3! Crowds dwindled to barely anything, they stopped the coffee van coming, and they even took chips and gravy off the menu. That is where I lost all respect for them. Ballarat is however, hillbilly central. The rest of the teams are last years standard VPL with the addition of Werribee City who got promotion into this league. Fair enough. But still shit.

Heidelberg United vs South Melbourne
Which dickhead launches the season at 7:15pm on a Thursday night? No jokes, I'm being legit. Either way, expect a pathetic crowd of Bergers, a decent crowd of South fans, and a South win. Have seen neither team this year so far. South has recruited well, and the Bergers somewhat. I don’t care about the Bergers. Heidelberg 0 – South Melbourne 3.

Port Melbourne vs Dandy Thunder
Too early to tell how Dandy will go, but Port will struggle this season. Have lost plenty of players due to the capping of the squads. Not much coming through. Dandy hasn’t done too bad in the recruitment stakes, and from their 3-3 draw with Hume last week, they are looking pretty good. Port Melbourne 1 – Dandy Thunder 2.

Melbourne Knights vs Northcote City
Northcote has got Trent Rixon back after his holiday at South. Northcote suit him as only 20 or so people watch them, and always clap regardless of result. South was too much for Trent. The Knights will have a good shot at winning the thing this year. Expect sueprising and consistent results. Melbourne Knights 2 – Northcote City 1.

Bentleigh Greens vs Ballarat Red Devils
Bentleigh is another team who will suffer due to the points system. The limits of visa players will severely limit their chances of a good hit out. It will back to the Bentleigh of old that we all know. The Red Devils, ah the Devils. Who gives a flying fuck. Bentleigh Greens 3 – Ballarat Red Devils 0.

Goulburn Valley vs Oakleigh Cannons
This game will be a good yardstick for the rest of the league. If the Cannons go to Shepparton and lose, then the others need to worry. If they come back with a win, then we can all have a giggle at the FFV. Goulburn Valley 0 – Oakleigh Cannons 8.

Hume City vs Pasoce Vale
Hume ain't looking too good. I doubt they will ever look good this season. Will finish in the bottom half. Pascoe Vale will continue being a thorn in everyone's side. The team you love to hate. Hume City 0 – Pascoe Vale 2

Green Gully vs Werribee City
Green Gully to run out convincing winners. Green Gully 6 – Werribee City 0

Social Club Artefact Wednesday - Droughts

This plaque (click the photo to enlarge), commemorating our first league and Dockerty Cup double, achieved in 1974, was located in one of the glass cabinets in the social club museum.

The achievement saw the breaking of what must have been a very annoying drought for Hellas. Since its inception, despite being a very strong league side, South was a comparatively rotten cup team. Despite having won five league titles from 1962-1972, Dockerty Cup success had proved elusive. In the 1960s, South had a bad habit of getting beaten by cup specialists Slavia, whether in the semi finals or the 1967 final; this was followed by finals losses to Croatia (1968) and Juventus (1970). Even our Ampol Cup pre-season record wasn't crash hot, taking us until 1969 to break our duck in that tournament (sometimes seen as a turning point in our history after the struggles following the 1964-65-66 league trifecta, though we would have to wait until 1972 for another league title). The less said about our Australia Cup record, the better.

On the way to the 1974 Dockerty Cup final, South had beaten Prahran City 3-1, old cup nemesis Prahran Slavia 3-0 and Footscray JUST 1-0, before taking on Ringwood City Wilhelmina in the final. Four first half goals ended the game as a contest, with Wilhelmina adding a goal late to make it 4-1. (Wilhelmina, the 1958 winners, would make one more Dockerty Cup final before slipping into near oblivion, losing 3-2 to George Cross in 1978).

The last time we won the Dockerty Cup (under any of its guises) was in 1995, when a young team beat the more highly fancied Melbourne Knights 3-1. It was the first step on the road to our back to back NSL titles. The last time we won a league title was in 2006. 2014 sees us therefore tie the record of 1976-1984, when we struggled with the step up to the national stage. It's surely a record that none of us want to see this South side surpass. Considering that this season it's first past the post - and we haven't finished on top of the table since the 2000/01 NSL season - I'm not super confident about us snaring the title this year.

Incidentally in 1974, Jimmy Armstrong topped the league goalscoring charts with 22 goals - one per game. He was the last South player to win the state league goalscoring title; the last South player to win the goalscoring in any league competition was Francis Awaritefe in NSL season 1992/93, so on that front, too, it's been a long time between drinks.

Nevertheless, as we embark on another league campaign, I absolutely wish the team all the best this season, and hope they can at least take one trophy home this year. If we could somehow replicate the deeds of the 1974 team, even better.

Fun fact about 1974. We started that season with a 1-0 loss against Fitzroy United Alexander, and beat them 4-0 in round thirteen. Ulysses Kokkinos actually played in both winning sides!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Hugh Delahunty responds to my letter regarding Lakeside lease issue

Well, how about that - two months after I sent my letters to the Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty and his shadow counterpart John Eren, I received a response from the Minister himself. Still waiting for John Eren's response though.

So, the system works, sorta. I'm not going to go all deeply analytical on this letter, because I think you can see for yourselves what the State Government believes to be the stumbling block, though of course I'm sure many of you out there are willing to put in your two cents in the comments section.

If any of my readers have written to either the Minister or anyone else and received correspondence from them, I'd be glad to upload it to the blog. Unless I was the only one to bother writing, which would be kinda lame.

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Contribute to South of the Border in 2014

Do you like what we do here? Or more likely, despise what we do here? Think you could do a better job? Worse job? About the same? However you feel, I'm putting the call out (as I like to sometimes do), for people to join up in either a one off or continuing role here at South of the Border, which is now in its seventh year of puttering along in near oblivion.

If you can:
  • write - including but not limited to, what grinds your gears; reminiscences of South days of yore (great games, road trips, characters, funny stories)
  • draw - comics, caricatures, flowcharts, etc
  • photoshop - comics, memes, clever graphic art
  • have classic and/or unusual artefacts from the olden times 
  • make videos
  • take or have photos that could be augmented with an article of some sort
  • create folk art (we need more South related macaroni pictures) 
I'd like to have you join this enterprise. The only real caveat? I have editorial control, which means you can't just go defaming people, and you'll have to try and avoid being racist, homophobic, sexist, etc. This blog is, by the standards of Victorian soccer and the internet itself, an unashamedly PC kind of enterprise, with occasional swearing. In other words, I'm looking for clever and entertaining as opposed to mean and gratuitous.

Last year we reached the peak of our contributor diversity, with four regulars at one point, and several one off pieces. In addition to the warm inner glow you get from contributing to this blog, your name (or pseudonym) will be added to some of the great names in our hall of contributors.

You'll also have your work read by dozens of people - or if you write something which somehow intersects with the Australian soccer zeitgeist, maybe even hundreds of them. You'll likely be ignored by the run of the mill South fan, but your work will be seen by the people who follow me on Twitter (maybe), the South Melbourne Hellas committee and club employees, Football Federation Victoria personnel, government officials and all sorts of important people (such as Melbourne Knights fans).

If you like making powerful enemies, or having people suck up to you and maybe even paying for dinner occasionally (sometimes the same people!). Think this is a waste of time? People who have contributed to this blog have been able to:

  • Use their work as proof of their excellent written communication skills in job applications.
  • Go on to 'careers' in radio.
  • Receive FFV media pass accreditation (depending on who's in charge of that stuff in any given year and how they're feeling)
  • Make friends with various randoms in Victorian soccer.
  • Apply for and receive scholarships for post-graduate studies.
  • Recycle material for use in high school and university assignments.
  • Receive free books.
  • Have their Australian soccer souvenirs linked to in a Joe Gorman article.

And amazingly, some of those benefits didn't even have anything to do with me at all. So if you're keen to do help out in some way, just contact me at and we'll sort something out. Or you could just start your own blog or fanzine. Either way is good.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Signings, Fixtures, Media, Departures

Opa Rok Der Choc Der department
Another ex-Dandenong Thunder player has joined up, one Andrew Mullet, a defender. Also in that article, you can see we have signed one James Musa as a centreback (whose name has since been removed from article - see comments section). Gee, the parents and kids in our youth development programme must be feeling good right about now. Also, sucks to be Brad Norton it seems. Bah, we're here to win a title, not make friends, right?

Looks like we've also signed young players Kobbie Boahene and Andy Kecojevic, as well as Bojo Jevdjevic (one of the funnier opposition goalkeepers we've had in recent times) as keeper coach.

Fixture changes
There have been a number of adjustments. Here they are as they relate to South.
  • Our round one clash against Heidelberg has been brought forward from an 8:30 to a 7:15 start.
  • Our first home against Ballarat has been moved to a Thursday rather than the Wednesday.
  • Our away match against Bentleigh has been moved back from the Wednesday to the Tuesday.
  • Our Sunday home games will kick off at 5:00, not 3:00 - with the apparent exception of the game against Green Gully - though that, too, may be subject to change.
Well done Griffo!
Congratulations are in order for Steve From Broady, who managed to score FFV media accreditation for season 2014. A fair reward for the effort he put in during 2013 across the board, including 21s reports, canteen reviews, stats work and SMFC Radio.

Another board member departs
We've received confirmation that long serving boardmember George Triantos has resigned from the board, due to increased work commitments. He will however still be involved as a volunteer in the sponsorship, events and media areas.

Another link on the side there
Ever get sick of Victorian soccer? Then it's worth taking a look at Tasmanian soccer, courtesy of Walter Pless' site. We've talked about Walter's work before, so it seems kind of negligent not to have linked his site on here before in a permanent way. So there's one injustice rectified - it's a great site with an interesting community of mostly anonymous posters, and it affords a much needed dose of perspective.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Social Club Artefact Wednesdays - Soccer Australia flag

This was going to be the first 'object of interest', before I reneged and went instead for the 1966 West Adelaide pennant. This flag, with the classic Soccer Australia logo, was possibly flown over the grandstand or on one of the flagpoles at the lake end of Bob Jane Stadium during NSL matches, or perhaps during the few representative matches Australian sides played at Lakeside.

True story. I once saw an old lurid green Soccer Australia tracksuit jacket at Laverton Market. I did not buy it. I regret that decision every time I think about this flag. Same deal with a black Melbourne Zebras t-shirt which I could have had for $2. What was I thinking?

On a side note, dear Hestia, goddess of the 'hearth, architecture, and the right ordering of domesticity', when we do build our new social club, please make it the first order of business that we get some better carpet.

Friendly against Victory youth team tonight

7pm at Lakeside. Might be closed doors, might not be. Honestly, I couldn't give a toss either way, so I'm giving this one a miss. Real die hard is I. Looking forward instead to attending a taping of an episode of 31 Questions on Thursday.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Springvale White Eagles 0 South Melbourne 2 (and much, much more)

A pretty comfortable win, even though it took until midway through the second half for us to score. I can't get a handle on this team. We've played against mostly mug NPL1 sides. We've looked half arsed doing it, so I'm not sure if we have 2-3 extra gears in reserve when we need them. Every now and again we've pulled together a nice move, but what we're going to produce in the 2014 season proper, no idea. I've liked Minopoulos though, he has some nice poacher's instincts.

Tough times at Springvale White Eagles
The grass looked like crap. The players were wearing shirts with no numbers on the back. One of the reserve substitutes didn't have shin guards. The canteen ran out of chili flakes halfway through the reserves game. Lucky there was a backup bottle of Tabasco sauce for the cevapi roll, which was very good.

Also, their grandstand is a funny old thing. Strange benches, odd positioning of poles. Friendly folks though.

Next game
Dunno. Maybe we won't see our boys again in the open until round one. Well, at least that means the possibility of heading to a Dockerty Cup match on the weekend.

The mystery striker mystery...
... is not so mysterious any more, which is tough luck for the SMFC media team when they eventually get around to announcing it. The mystery striker is apparently this bloke. Lot of people excited about this bloke. There goes one visa spot.

We're getting very close to having to name our roster of 20 - no more, no less - for the upcoming season. So far off the top of my head, I'm thinking we have the following as a likely squad.
  1. Jason Saldaris
  2. Chris Maynard
  3. Michael Eagar
  4. Brad Norton
  5. Tim Mala
  6. "mystery centre back replacement for Shaun Kelly"
  7. Tyson Holmes
  8. Nick Epifano
  9. Iqi Jawadi
  10. Matthew Theodore
  11. Leigh Minopoulos
  12. Jamie Reed
  13. Milos Lujic
  14. Dimi Tsiaras
  15. Seb Petrovich (well, he's still been playing trial matches even up to this point)
  16. Kobbie Boaheme - likely young signing
  17. Andrew Kecojevic - likely young signing
  18. Empty slot that will need to be filled (Any Dandy or Northcote players leftover?)
  19. Another empty slot that will need to be filled
  20. The last empty slot that will need to be filled
You know who's weird?
These new fangled junior parents. I mean, I'm sure they've existed for a while now, but the NPL is going to bring them closer in proximity to me and you. And to be blunt, they're not like me and you. Sure they want the team their kid is playing in to win, but that seems to be a secondary concern a lot of the time, in part because the team their kid is playing for could be a different one to the one they played for last year, or will play for next year. They cheer differently. They talk differently. Can we get along? I don't know. Does that me sound too distrustful? I don't mean to be. It's just kinda weird to always feel like we're only borrowing them.

The ins and outs of social media 
Not that I was there, but FFV had a bit of a get together with the NPL clubs for a workshop session on Saturday - for those that bothered to turn up, which is most of them. Apart from some reportedly very delicious muffins (which were apparently wolfed down by one notoriously rotund Victorian soccer mover and shaker), the main thing that filtered down to me was talk about how the FFV was trying to teach the clubs about social media. Isn't social media just a platform for nobodies with no power to make their ineffectual voices heard, while people with real jobs and qualifications get on with the business of pretending to know what they're doing?

Anyway, even if using social media does turn out to be a completely pointless exercise, it must be said that most clubs can improve the way they use their social media platforms. Here are my tips:
  • Update them very now and again - you know, scores, fixtures, news. This goes for your website as well. Yes, it's great that you won a game back in round 5, 2012, but we've all moved on from then.
  • Try and aboid having them become a default supporters forum, like Heidelberg's is wont to do on occasion.
  • Don't pretend they don't exist when things go tits up, like Surf Coast and their recent NPL induced implosion.
All those tips are of course very basic, and beholden to a more corporate notion of how these things should run. If you prefer a more anarchic system, you can disregard these suggestions, and let nature take its course. Also, FFV could also learn to be more effective with its social media platforms:
  • They could get their Facebook match reporters to do more frequent updates during matches. Even if it's a boring game, I appreciate some more frequent updates telling me its a boring game - and which sides might be playing less boring.
  • Set up a clear set of guidelines about what questions you will and won't answer on your social media platforms - if you won't answer them on there, provide clear directions as to who one should ask.
  • Try to avoid being beaten to following me on Twitter by the Melbourne Renegades.
Good to hear that FFV got around to telling the clubs to use #NPLVIC instead of #NPLV as their twitter hashtag. Big issue I know, but it matters to me. We all want to be on the same page, right? Should start promoting the #DockertyCup hashtag as well, get people to update scores on that really quickly and easily.

The vibe from that workshop
Actually. mostly positive. It's going to be a steep learning curve for all concerned, and the short and crazy amount of time to get prepared for 2014 makes it harder for everyone. And apparently, whatever the outward commentary that things will be refined down to the FFA's NPL ideal, it may not end up happening that way - we're specifically talking about the reductions of the points cap here. So good luck to all the clubs trying to make this work, and good luck to Liam Bentley, the head of NPL Victoria.

Did you know I once escorted Liam off the field at Paisley Park, in my role as a marshal for an Altona East reserves game, for which he was the referee? Nothing untoward happened or anything, it's just part of the standard half time and full time drill for marshals to do that. Seemed like a good bloke, and it's always good to see FFV staff mixing it with the plebs, or even becoming one of them on a weekend. More of it, I say.

Bad Paul, naughty Paul
It appears that FFV CEO Mitchell Murphy was not happy with my most recent article in Goal Weekly, on the latest developments on the NPL Victoria saga, judging by his letter to the editor in the most recent edition. Looks like I have some bridges to build, fences to mend and a game to lift.

This is how you develop players
Recently, my home grown forward prodigy Brad Payne made his debut for the Oceanian National Team. He started off in my youth team, he played in the reserves outfits and is now a core member of Juniper Hill's senior squad. There's a lesson there for the NPL dreamers of dreams, even if Hattrick, Brad Payne and Juniper Hill aren't exactly real.

Let's see, what else?
They tell me that not one, but two of John Markosvki's sons are in the South junior system. Yes, that John Markovski. If true, then as someone once said, 'the times, they are becoming quite different'.