Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Lakeside Stadium Artefact Wednesday - Catacombs

Deep beneath the South Melbourne Hellas grandstand at Lakeside Stadium, through a gap in the gear steward Frankie's room, there is a whole other world. A world of wires and steel, with a sign telling un-authorised people to go no further. There's also some graffiti there for some reason. The only clue to its provenance is that it would be a post-NSL artwork, seeing as it's 'SMFC' and not 'SMSC'. If it was 'SMH', good luck trying to narrow it down. (it was probably Frank himself).

Photo: Paul Mavroudis circa early 2014.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Last goal wins/Six in a row - Melbourne Knights 0 South Melbourne 1

Last time these two sides met, there was a sense of hype that hadn't been felt for a decade, and the game lived up to all those expectations - a good crowd, a lot on the line, plenty of action, and a South win. So what about this game? The crowd predictably didn't reach those heights, and was perhaps a little below par at 1500. Then again, that's not too far away from the norm anyway.

And where on that occasion Knights were only in semi-free fall - having lost their their previous two home games - and we were the scrappers coming into that game on the back of a late run to the finals, today was all about whether we could keep up our magnificent start to the season. We were the form team, Knights had lost three on the trot all at home, so there was no use us trying to claim the underdog status.

We were greeted by a perfect day, with that typical Somers Street sun that gets in your eyes if you're standing on Quarry Hill no matter how you try to avoid it, and as usual, the unknown. What kind of performance would we put in? Would Knights lift for the #melbderby? How come Knights can stuff six cevapi in a roll for $6, while other clubs can barely get to four on a good day and charge you a dollar more? And why was there a chicken running loose at the game (see below)?

One thing that was predictable was the refereeing which was below par. The surprising part was just how poor it was. Certainly the South fans were at first incensed and then in hysterics with the referee's decision making, even when we were getting free kicks. The Knights applied an overly physical approach to their tackling, and while punished with free kicks, it took until something like the ten minute mark of the second half for them to receive a yellow card. But all that could be bias, and in the end probably didn't effect the result.

The Knights' defence diffuses an early South chance.
Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Of far more consequence was the poor finishing from both sides, give or take some good keeping from both goalkeepers, especially Knights' Chris May. For South, Lujic blew the best chance of the game just a few minutes in, when instead of shooting he decided to slide the ball across to Nick Epifano, with the Knights defence scrambling well enough to clear. The pick of the Knights' chances fell to Shayan Alinejad, who after finding himself unmarked at the back post during the second half for the millionth time, and with the score still at 0-0, completely missed the ball while waiting just a metre from the goal line.

Both sides also had goals disallowed for offside - Knights in the first half, South in the second. Since they were at the other end of the ground, there's no way I can say whether they were fair calls or not. Ours, coming after what could have been classed as a penalty to Reed (I think), perhaps stung a little more.

The soccer boring you? At Somers Street you can watch the
planes perform banking maneuvers. Photo: Cindy Nitsos 
The first half was a pretty even contest. I felt we started the better - see above - but our poor crossing from the Ballarat game followed us into this week. Clattering into our players aside, Knights took a little while to warm up, but eventually started to look threatening, requiring Saldaris to make a couple of good saves. Knights also hurried up Saldaris, whose wonky kicking is now becoming apparent to everyone. The rest of the half both teams mostly got stuck in the mire.

The second half was better from us, as we upped our effort levels - except for a bizarre ten minute or so period midway through the half where we retreated into our shells - as we tried all sorts of different ways of trying to win the midfield battle. There were long balls, dinky dribbling, good wing play and reckless backline passing. At least we're mixing it up, and getting further away from the idea that we are only capable of playing a Chris Taylor style long ball game.

Lujic's winner on about 85 minutes was reportedly a cracker, but for those South fans at the other end of the ground on Quarry Hill, it looked like to us as if it was another missed opportunity, as the ball hit the post and went across the face of goal - luckily having already crossed the line and hitting the inside of the net on the other side.

Credit must also go to substitute Leigh Minpooulos, who set up the goal with a fantastic run down the left wing from inside his own half. Minopoulos is proving himself quite the quandary - he's done quite well coming off the bench in several games, so the temptation must be there to start him - but at who's expense? And will he be as effective as a starting eleven player? It's a good problem to have.

James Musa had his best game in a South shirt so far.
Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
That moment may also overshadow the fine games played by both Michael Eagar and James Musa. Eagar has done well in most games since joining us, but Musa was a bit more an unknown quantity, but today put in his best game of his short South stint. Tyson Holmes, too, lifted in the second half, and put in a battling midfield performance, which forced the Knights to go wide, as well proving to be an asset going forward as well.

So, still with a perfect record, four points ahead of Oakleigh, and five ahead of Bentleigh who have their perpetual (until much later in the season) game in hand against Ballarat.

Elias Donoudis
The Chicken of Quarry Hill (RIP CroDuck, lest we forget)

Next game - includes details of the club's bus offering to Ballarat
Ballarat Red Devils away. Wait, didn't we just play them a week or two back? Yes, we did. Don't ask me how the FFV went about about working it this way, because I once thought I had the answer, and then realised that I didn't. This event will mark the official opening of Ballarat's new Morshead Park venue.

Our club is offering a bus service to Ballarat and back, from Lakeside, travelling with either the senior team or the under 20s. The cost is $50, which includes entry to the game. See this for more details, but note that close of business on Tuesday is your deadline.

If $50 seems steep, here's the comparison with the public transport alternative. The cost of an off-peak adult daily ticket to Ballarat on the train will set you back about $25, (plus $6 if you don't have a myki card). Then there's the likely cab fare to the ground from the station, and then you have to buy your ticket into the ground. If you take the club bus, you may also be filmed as part of an SMFCTV feature, as well for a future advertisement.

While I may come across as being a hypocrite for asking for a club provided bus service and then rejecting it in favour of public transport,
  • I prefer trains, even if the total cost of that option will be higher.
  • I don't want to be on the TV.
  • I'm planning on having dinner in Ballarat after the game and then catching a later train back.
But seeing as the costs are comparable - with the club option being cheaper - it's really up to you. The good thing is that the club has provided the option of a bus for those that want to take it. If you do choose to take the train, you will probably have to catch a cab to the game, unless you can figure out the Ballarat bus system.

The relevant trains leaving Southern Cross for Ballarat on Saturday are:
  • 10:28AM, arriving at Ballarat at 11:55AM.
  • 12:08PM, arriving at Ballarat at 1:34PM.
  • 1:38PM. arriving at Ballarat at 2:50PM, which will be cutting it very fine.
My recommendation - catch the club bus. Or, if you're feeling game, join me and whoever happens to become attached to me for the 10:28 train.

Or you could just drive to the game. How lame.

Dockerty Cup news
You probably already know that our next opponent in the cup will be Berwick City. Well, now we have a time, date and location. Wednesday May 7th, 7:30PM, at Jack Thomas Reserve in Narre Warren North. Mark it down in your diaries.

Digging my own muddy trench
As a 'bloody university trendy', I have most of the necessary hangups of the self-hating Australian pseudo-intellectual, and when it comes to Anzac Day, well, who knows how far I could go on that matter if pushed. But you're not going to be very interested in that, and it's also not the point of the following (and 264th) attempt to land myself into the gulags of SMFC 'mover and shaker' opinion.

Am I so out of touch? No, it's the children who are wrong.
But it would be remiss of me not to make, at least in passing, some note on the South visit to the Shrine of Remembrance the other day. Now the combination of sport and politics makes me uncomfortable, even if there are times when the two combine in simply unavoidable fashion - anything from being discriminated against for being a wog club by a semi-clandestine movement of anti-pluralist faux-multicultural Anglo-Australians with a smattering (and then tidal wave) of self-hating sell-out wogs (was I one of them at the time? I change sides so frequently it's hard to keep track), to having to deal with a belligerent government in the way of trying to get a damn lease sorted.

And if that combination makes me uncomfortable, then the combination of sport and war makes me downright queasy. It may be a glib thing to say, but war isn't sport, and sport isn't war. Despite obviously going there with the best of intentions, I'm at a loss as to what South has to do with anything to do with Anzac Day, and the subsequent social media attached to the visit comes across as tacky, and not that far removed from the antics of groups like the Fanatics - and I'm not the only one who has interpreted it that way. At best, it lacked tact; at worst, it came across as opportunistic.

And if you think that's being insensitive and completely taking the visit in the wrong spirit, then take a look at this post I've selected absolutely randomly:
I don't think that's quite the reaction that the club was hoping would be attached to their visit. And if my source is correct, and our players were compelled by 'higher powers' to attend then that, too, surely defeats the purpose and spirit of the occasion. I guess I should be thankful that we're no longer part of the 'how great was Ataturk?' day from a few years back.

Every now and again on Twitter a little volcano erupts (just a little, tiny one), centred around former board member/general manager (1991-1999) Peter Filopoulos. On occasion Filopoulos likes to, via the medium of Twitter, and depending on your point of view:
  1. Make genuine attempts at constructive criticism of the current South board.
  2. Make remarks which are critical of the board without having anything constructive to say about anything.
  3. Stir the pot for the sake of hilarity and chaos, or
  4. All of the above.
Usually such antics end up revolving around Filopoulos and other run of the mill South fans, and I try to stay well clear of it. Indeed, being a relatively picky Twitter follower, I follow neither Filopoulos (@peterfilopoulos), nor the 'crash through anything and damn the consequences' SMFCMike (@smfcmike), or anyone likely to become involved in debates which can't be resolved even in multiple 140 character messages.

Still, when your name gets attached to the discussions - and honestly, sometimes I have no idea how it happens - you may as well end up having a look through the notifications page. So what kicked it off this time? Well, the website of the Puskas Suzuki Cup, some sort of youth tournament for clubs which Ferenc Puskas coached or played at, lists (at time of print) this unusual detail:
The family of Peter Filopoulos, director of one of the world's largest event venues, Melbourne's ETIHAD Stadium, were the owners of South Melbourne during Öcsi bácsi's coaching successes.
Which was brought to the attention of Filopoulos, who swore he had no idea how that had come to pass, which I have no reason to doubt. That seemed to kick off the discussion onto why aren't South ever invited to this tournament, and who's to blame - which is a perfectly legitimate question, albeit with answers that could possibly or rather probably launch a decent libel suit, so we won't go into them at this time.

Anyway, from that launching pad the discussion veered off into who was the more meritorious South fan - the bloke who was there a long time ago or the blokes that are there now - which dragged in current board members Tom Kalas (@tom_kalas) and Tony Margaritis (@sthmel), and even the Kiss of Death, ending up at the obvious debate highlight, which I am now providing the gist of rather than quoting:
'I don't remember seeing you at Save Our South', 
'Oh yeah? Well, I don't remember seeing YOU at Save Our South!',
which considering there were fuck all people there (and as stated in a recent blog article, I wasn't there, so don't count on me to sort out the roll call for that day) seemed to force the discussion towards the apex of a highly undignified cul- de-sac, before everyone backed out carefully and decided to sort it out like grown-ups - whatever the hell that means.

Apart from Jim Barres' valuable (if clichéd) comment that if they all worked together they would be unstoppable, the best post went to our old mate Pavlaki, who got to the guts of the matter:
And in the end, aren't pointless dick measuring contests the most important thing about being a South fan?

John Verikakis and the mysterious Mike Verikakis
Our fellow blogger Mark Boric is doing some research trying to collect and verify as many results of the Victorian state team as possible, including lineups. As part of that project, he's trying to get information on the following match:
Sunday September 20, 1992, at Middle Park 
South Melbourne Hellas 1 (Verikakis 44') Victoria 1 (Patterson 69')
Curtain raiser to the VPL Grand Final later that afternoon. 
My interest in this - apart from it being a Hellas match - is that the name Verikakis seemed unfamiliar to me. A search through OzFootball creates some illumination, but also a problem. OzFootball has a 'Mike' Verikakis playing several NSL games for us from 1992-1993. These are the games I can find with 'Mike' Verikakis:

Yet there is also a 'John' Verikakis listed as playing for South. OzFootball has John Verikakis playing two Dockerty Cup matches for us in 1993, including the final.

The confusion increases when you find that Ozfootball lists no other matches with 'Mike' Verikakis in any competition. By comparison, 'John' Verikakis' post-South existence is much better attested, being listed as playing for Port Melbourne, Clarinda (now Kingston City), Altona East and Brunswick City. My suspicion, complimented by recollections from other South fans on smfcboard, seems to suggest that there's an error in the OzFootball records, and that 'Mike' Verikakis is actually the same person as John Verikakis.

Any help in clarifying the situation, recollections of the game against the Victorian state team mentioned above, as well as recollections of the career of John Verikakis would be greatly appreciated.

Around the grounds
How can I be pleased, when I'm handed the keys, to a town they call Misery
Altona East lost 1-0 at home to Sunbury United. The home side had the better of the first half, but managed to get over the halfway line in any meaningful way just once in the second half, after they'd fallen behind to a late goal. And another thing - why do I feel cheated when I lose the raffle, and the winning ticket happens to be a different colour to the ones they were selling near me? Many recriminations were had a with a fellow traveller about this and many other issues. The conclusion reached was that if I was miserable now, imagine how much more miserable I'd be in 20 years. Which is a comforting thought in anyone's language.

Final thought
Not so the Australians, unamused, unimpressed,
they went over the top like men clocking on

John Forbes, 'Anzac Day'

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Kiss of Death, Round 6, 2014

Bentleigh Greens SC vs Dandenong Thunder SC - Friday 25 April 14 @ 8:30PM
Bentleigh had a 3-1 win over Gully last week, while Dandenong drew 0-0. Not really much to talk about this one, 'cos I frankly don't give a shit about these two teams. However Dandenong will be too good for Bentleigh. Bentleigh Greens 1 - Dandenong Thunder 2.

Port Melbourne Sharks SC vs Heidelberg United SC - Friday 25 April 14 @ 8:30PM  
The somewhat 'Greek' derby. Port is on the ropes and so are the Bergers. Heidelberg had a convincing win against a two games in three days Ballarat which doesn't really say much and before that a 2-1 loss to ten man Pascoe Vale. Port on the other hand lost to a poor Northcote 1-0. If the Bergers are to have any chance in this league then they must win this one, and they will. Port Melbourne Sharks 0 - Heidelberg 2.

Green Gully SC vs Goulburn Valley Suns FC - Saturday 26 April 14 @ 3:00PM
Pretty much a dead rubber of a match. Gully to get the win easily and convincingly against the laughing stock of Victorian football. Green Gully 6 - GV Suns 0.

Northcote City FC vs Werribee City FC - Saturday 26 April 14 @ 3:00PM
Northcote City is poor, very poor. Loza is due to face the tribunal on Wednesday 30th and my info tells me he's in for a two game suspension from the sidelines and Northcote will face a hefty $5,000 fine for his actions. Werribee had a 3-4 win up at GV Suns, but that really doesn't tell anyone shit. Northcote will be too good for the Bees. Northcote City 3 - Werribee 1.

Pascoe Vale SC vs Ballarat Red Devils SC - Saturday 26 April 14 @ 6:00PM
Pascoe Vale will be too good for the Devils. Ballarat is woeful. Saw them against South and just wow. Couldn't string a ball together to save their lives. Absolutely shocking, and to think I have these muppets telling me they can play. Er, no, hell no! Pascoe Vale 2 - Ballarat Red Devils 1.

Hume City FC vs Oakleigh Cannons FC - Sunday 27 April 14 @ 3:00PM
Hume City is very hot and cold at the moment, but aren't too bad. Oakleigh is just Oakleigh. Bah. Hume will play well, and beat Oakleigh convincingly. Hume City 2 - Oakleigh Cannons 1.

Melbourne Knights FC vs South Melbourne FC - Sunday 27 April 14 @ 3:00PM
The one we've all been waiting for. The clash of the titans. The #melbderby. Twitter, ey? Loving it. The Knights are costing me money. Not fucking happy about that. Have been poor last few weeks. Couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery at home. The dreaded penalty curse has hit Somers Street. Still, that's no excuse really. South on the other hand has been magnificent. Five wins from five starts. What else could you ask for in a league that's decided by first past the post? No finals, so if you aren't in the top fove by the half way mark, you might as well start planning for next season. This is my fear for the Knights. Would be a shame if they weren't pushing for top spot by then. Like I say, 'the fish rots from the head', so do something Mr. Jusup. You always harass me on Twitter, but never take my advice. Hellas will be too good. No injuries, no suspensions, getting the points, what else could you ask for leading up to the #melbderby? The three points will be ours and we will continue our unbeaten run to the championship. My only concern at South is Epifano. He can do wonders, yet at times, switches off. I'm sure CT has it under wraps and is working on it. End of the day, South will go to Somers Street, get the three points and move on. Melbourne Knights 1 - South Melbourne 4. No penalties this week, sorry.

Side Note
I have many followers on Twitter @KODfootball, including South president Leo Athanasakis. Some call him 'Leo the Liability', others the 'Baron of Brunswick'. To me, he's just 'Brother', and I refer to him as the 'Sir Les Patterson of South'. Spitting image of the bloke at the best of times. I enjoy it when people in power and clubs follow me. It just adds to my cult following.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Keep on trucking! artefact Wednesday - Global Gypsum

One of our readers, Arthur (a different one to the one you may be thinking of), sent us this photo that his brother took of a truck driving down Pascoe Vale Road in Broadmeadows the other week. Global Gypsum's CEO is one Andrew Mesourouni, who also happens to be a board member of our very own South Melbourne Hellas. Thanks to Arthur for sending us this very cool photo! (and his brother for taking it, of course)

Friday, 18 April 2014

Five league wins on the trot - South Melbourne 2 Ballarat Red Devils 0

Despite the shorter turnaround between games, and the rumour that Nick Epifano may have received a knock during training in the lead up, South's lineup was unchanged. For their part, Ballarat had had two of their league games postponed already, including their game against Heidelberg which had been scheduled for last Sunday, so they would have been fresher, if not as match hardened as South.

For whatever reason - either because of last week's lackluster first half, or anticipating that Ballarat would sit back for large periods of the game - it looked like we came out to kill this game off in the first 15 minutes. It reminded me a bit of the old Ange Postecoglou era, where knowing that many of the teams we played at Lakeside would sit back with numbers behind the ball and try to frustrate us, we would try and have the game played on our terms.

But where those sides would almost inevitably score an early goal or two, despite the bluster of the opening flurry on Thursday night we couldn't manage to get the breakthrough goal. Milos Lujic had the best chance, as he ran on clear through on goal, but he blasted his short range shot onto the crossbar. The big striker looked across to the linesman, pleading for the goal which he seemed to believe had crossed the line, but there was nothing doing.

The game then settled down, becoming a classic battle of possession vs counter attack. South tried to be patient with the ball, knocking it around until space was created - Matthew Theodore looked especially dangerous - but our crosses and finishing weren't up to standard. Meanwhile, the visitors were busy trying to bust open our offside trap, and they weren't too far away on a few occasions. Twice it seemed to me that they were denied a run through on goal by unjust offside calls.

Gradually Ballarat started coming out of their shell and moving up the field, as our desire to pass the ball around the back and to Jason Saldaris looked shaky and laden with risk. We also seemed to put the ball into possible turnover situations, combined with Saldaris' tendency to keep possession for too long instead of clearing the ball upfield creating unnecessary tension. Still, most of Ballarat's attacks were restricted to set pieces and shots from outside the box.

The under 20s lost 3-1 to Ballarat. I'm not sure what the
go is with the sign having the text split up in that way.
Photo: Gains.
The visitors were helped by some pedantic if mostly consistent refereeing, as the main official decided to punish what appeared to be otherwise fair physical challenges. Getting towards halftime, it appeared that 0-0 would be the score at the break, and the halftime talk planned around getting our formation back into shape. But then Jamie Reed opened the scoring, after finding himself with plenty of room to unleash a powerful shot across goal, which gave the Ballarat goalkeeper little chance.

The visitors were more attacking in the second half, but I think it's fair to say we still looked the more likely to score, despite periods of miscommunication especially on yhe left hand side. Lujic put the ball into the back of the net, but it was ruled out for an offside, fairly I thought. Eventually Reed made it two for the night, as he managed to somehow beat the offside trap and score a relatively easy goal. I felt that he was miles offside, and didn't even bother getting up in excitement when he found himself clear on goal, but the video will probably make me a look like a goose again.

At 2-0 up, the game wasn't quite dead, but it would require something special for the game to be a contest again. Ballarat substitute Dane Milovanovic almost made that happen, with a long range speculative shot that sailed over Saldaris and hit the bottom of the far post. But in the end, we got the win, kept another clean sheet, and dispatched the only other team apart from ourselves to have a perfect start to the season. All in all, a pretty good night, in front of a decent crowd considering the scheduling and opponent.

'Come on Hellas steal their fucking gold'


'Hungry Jack's, Hungry Jack's, Hungry Jack's'

Image courtesy of the Michael Eagar Fan Club. 
Here's something you don't see everyday
I can't remember which of our players was responsible for this bit of stupidity. During the second half Ballarat had been awarded a free kick near the sideline (or was it a throw in?), with the ball from that bit of action rolling away out of play. The South player let that ball go on its merry way without giving it back - fair enough - but then proceeded to kick one of the spare balls on the halfway line away from the Ballarat player who wanted to get it in order to quickly restart the game. Our man copped a yellow card for his trouble.

Next game
Melbourne Knights at Somers Street. Despite their calamitous finish to last season, big things were expected of the Knights in 2014, especially after they beat reigning champs Northcote in the opening round. But despite a flurry of home games to start the season, some dodgy refereeing and poor finishing have conspired to see them lose three home games on the trot. I'm sure they'll fire up for this game though, relishing the underdog tag which we couldn't possibly claim for ourselves seeing as we're five from five.

Membership goodies and merchandise
The scarf is stretchy, and a lighter shade of blue than we're accustomed to, but otherwise quite nice. The membership 'hard card' is actually flaccid, which seemed to annoy some people. You also get a hat (same as last year) and a sticker. As for merch, no beanies yet - they may get some later in the year - but really, I wouldn't need to buy another one if I didn't keep losing the ones I already have. All round, the membership is pretty good value, not least because all the money goes to the club. Shame the stress balls idea never got up.

If those are not good enough reasons to sign up, here's Jimmy Armstrong to tug at your South Melbourne Hellas heartstrings.

Around the grounds
No venturing out anywhere this week. Thought about Port vs Northcote, but I'd already done that once this season, in their earlier cup meeting. Anyway, the results fell our way a little bit this round, and we find ourselves four points clear at the top of the table - albeit Bentleigh have a game in hand against Ballarat, which won't be played for months yet.

An Easter message from Elias Donoudis
Final thought
Aren't you glad we get to play these guys in the league again in two weeks? Brilliant scheduling that.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Derby Week! Kiss of Death, Round 5, 2014

Bentleigh Greens vs Green Gully – Wednesday 16th April @ 8.30pm @ Kingston Heath Soccer Complex
The Green Derby. Bentleigh had a good result down at Werribee on the weekend winning 0-1. Green Gully on the other hand had an absolute shocker going down 6-1 to Oakleigh. What is happening at Gully? Is the clique falling apart? Is Dobbo going to come back and rescue them? I can answer all three questions.
  1. Their recruiting has been poor which is a shame, as Gully have one of the best youth setups in the country.
  2. The clique IS falling apart.
  3. Dobbo will not be coming back as there are no finals in the NPL and any hope of Gully winning the thing has faded away very quickly.
Will they be good enough to beat Bentleigh? I really doubt it. Gully is mentally fucked at the moment, and will take a while to recover. Bentleigh on the other hand have had a not too bad start to the season, but they’re a bit impotent in front of goal. However, their impotency will be enough to beat a shithouse gully.Bentleigh Greens 2 – Green Gully 0.

Melbourne Knights vs Hume City – Wednesday 16th April @ 8.30pm @ Knights Stadium
The quarry/deep hole derby. According to the owner of this blog, I have a love affair with the Knights and it’s costing me tips. Yeah, I kinda get a hardon for the Knights, however my tips are calculated and not just willy nilly. Complex mathematical algorithms are used to make you people money. The Knights were good but not good enough to beat Dandenong, losing 1-2. Hume had a very good first half against South Melbourne, but football is a game of 90 minutes, not just 45, and South proved this once again in Hume's 0-3 demolition. This will be an interesting contest, and I may just jet in for this game. The Knights will be too good for Hume, and will be the victors. They need this win, I need this win, we all need this win for the good of Victorian football. Melbourne Knights 3 – Hume City 1.

Port Melbourne Sharks vs Northcote City – Wednesday 16th April @ 8.30pm @ JL Murphy Reserve
The douchebag derby. I have no time for these two clubs. Port's facility is one of the shittest in the state, and Northcote has this obsession with South Melbourne that reeks of jealousy. This makes me angry. However, I’m here to comment on the game at hand. Port struggled at Goulburn Valley with a late winner, while Northcote had an OK match at Pascoe Vale winning 0-1. There have been rumours floating around that Eric Vassiliadis, coach of Port will be gone after this week's loss to Northcote. Port Melbourne 0 – Northcote City 3.

Dandenong Thunder vs Oakleigh Cannons – Thursday 17th April @ 8.30pm @ George Andrews Reserve
The South Eastern Derby. Dandenong shocked the footballing fraternity with their 1-2 win at Knights last week, while the Cannons took advantage of South's good work last week with a 6-1 win over Gully. Let’s not get carried away here. South was 2-4 up at Gully before they had the keeper sent off and a key defender. Oakleigh reaped the benefits by playing a keeperless Gully for 90 minutes. Wank wank. Dandy is starting to come good. Even though they have a new logo which was drawn by some five year old, the FFV pages still show the old one. Get your shit together FFV. Dandenong Thunder 3 – Oakleigh Cannons 0. Oakleigh to be finally shown up as to how shit they really are.

Pascoe Vale vs Heidelberg Utd – Thursday 17th April @ 8.30pm @ Hosken Reserve
The Northern Suburbs Derby. Pascoe Vale lost to Northcote last week, while the Bergers match against Ballarat was postponed due to the ground condition. Now, that game was scheduled for Sunday twilight. The match was postponed on Friday! How the fuck does that happen? Saturday and Sunday were pearler days and the ground would’ve been fine. Instead they cancel it 72 hours before kickoff. Fucken joke if you ask me. If the ground ain't up to a bit of rain, then why are they in the NPL? Pascoe Vale will struggle in a somewhat exciting encounter. Pascoe Vale 0 – Heidelberg 1.

South Melbourne FC vs Ballarat Red Devils – Thursday 17th April @ 8.30pm @ Lakeside Stadium
The City vs Country Derby. Contrary to public opinion, THIS will be South's toughest game of the season so far. South had an excellent win at Hume 0-3, while the Devils stayed at home and lumbered a few gum trees due to their game being postponed at Bergerville. South's first half at Hume was ordinary, and somewhat looked very much like pre-Taylorish football. We weren’t the best, but we weren’t bad either, just very, very flat. The second half was a completely different mindset. From the 45th to the 90th, we dominated and couldve have more than three if we were a bit more clinical. Reed's run down the pitch was very classy. Such a big lad running at full stride and finishing it off with a ball on a plate for South's second was fantastic. Taylor really has them going at the moment. Ballarat, well I’ve been keeping tabs on the Devils for over four years. They are not bad, but not that crash hot. However, this is the danger game for South. Complacency and we will be punished. They will attempt to park the bus and counter at any opportunity. But on saying that, we are South Melbourne playing our first home match at Lakeside, we are the team of the century and we don’t lose to a bunch of lumberjacks from the bush. South Melbourne 6 – Ballarat Red Devils 0.

Gouldburn Valley Suns FC vs Werribee City FC – Saturday 19th April @ 7.30pm @ McEwen Reserve
The who gives two shits derby. I really really hate doing reviews for a match of such poor calibre. No Leigh Minopoulos, no Werribee. Goulburn Valley Suns 2 – Werribee City 0.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Perfect start to 2014 maintained - Hume City 0 South Melbourne 3

Was there a player in the under 20s match who was wearing a headband? Iqi Jawadi, sitting behind me in the stand during that game, seemed to think so, and what's more he was jealous of that player being allowed to do it when he himself wasn't allowed for reasons unknown to me.

As for the seniors, that first half from us wasn't crash hot. Going forward we were disorganised and slightly careless, sending through balls forward that were almost always over hit. We also resorted to too many long balls, which were easily dealt with by the Hume defence for the most part. Even though I guess we were going to the end favoured by the breeze, it's not like it was last week's four goal wind. Besides, it was as much as a crosswind as anything. Jamie Reed got angry at Milos Lujic, Milos Lujic got angry at the linesman with the oil slick hairdo, and I was wondering how the hell we were going to score aside from the possibility of a Hume defensive clusterfuck, which almost happened anyway.

Defensively, things weren't looking much brighter. Hume hit the post with a well taken free kick which went out of Jason Saldaris' reach, and were particularly penetrating on our right hand side. It's a wonder we managed to limit them to probably just one real clear cut chance, which ended up being fluffed with a weak attempt on goal. So, 0-0 at halftime, and I was wondering what we were going to do to turn the game in our favour.

The second half was altogether a very different story. Ladies and gentlemen, we dominated. We controlled the midfield, played well out of the back, and were starting to get forward in a much more organised manner. Still, you gotta get the goal to make it all count, and my was it worth wait for when the deadlock was broken.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Either way, Referee Perry Mur
 doesn't seem to give a toss. Photo: Cindy Nitsos
A lovely bit of work from several players on the left saw centreback James Musa make a run forward, cutting the ball to the top of the 18 yard box from where Nick Epifano - who ran himself into the ground today - put the ball out of the reach of Chris Oldfield in the Hume goal for 1-0. It was the best bit of play we've put together all season. Hume finally managed to get it up to their end in a meaningful manner, but couldn't make their big opportunity of the second half count. Who knows what would have happened if the game had gone level?

Instead a few minutes later, Epifano was the beneficiary of more good work up the field, this time by Jamie Reed I think, making it 2-0. The most pleasing thing about these first two goals, is that they weren't dependent on opposition mistakes, the kinds of goals of we've had the fortune of scoring from a few times this season. Of course they all count the same, but it shows that it's not just our pressure and the frailties of the opposition that can get us goals - we can create them from scratch, too.

We got one of those fortuitous ones in the end, as Milos Lujic made the most of Hume's poor and confused attempt at clearing a cross. At 3-0, this game was done, and the important thing was to not get some yellow cards or injuries. Both seemed under threat when on the grandstand side, a tangle of players decided to try their at some wrestling maneuvers. I think we managed somehow to get away with both from that incident, though I'm not quite sure how. The second half was the best football we've played this season. It may not have been as exhilarating as some of the other games this season, but for effectiveness, it was very good.

Getting home was a bit of a slog, as it usually is from there if you're doing the public transport thing. Didn't hang around to clap the players off this time, instead trying to get out as quickly as possible to cross the no good option Barry Road. Then power walking (by my standard) up the hill, then down the road to the station, where at least this time the lift was working. Made it in time, but boy the legs were sore after it. Had some random on the Werribee train claim to remember me, even though I was in year 10 at the time and she was in year 7. 15 years on and she still remembers my face. I had no idea who she was though.

Anyway, four from four and top of the table. Things could be worse.

Can someone tell me where the line for too ethnic is exactly?
We've spoken about Hume's new grandstand and facilities before, and they were augmented today by a nice, sunny day, a surface in excellent condition, and a decent PA system, even though I'm not sure how they get away with their theme song with its prominent chorus of 'Anadolu'. I'm kinda disappointed that they use the slick version of the song, when they could be using this version instead.

Also, what's the deal with getting the red and white seats when you've changed the strip to a black and white deal?

Next game
The undefeated (only played two matches) Ballarat Red Devils at home on Thursday night. Why this got moved to Thursday from Wednesday, I'm not sure. I suppose it's a good thing that we're not a religious club, what with it being Μεγάλη Εβδομάδα and all that, when 98% of Melbourne's Greek community remembers that they're Orthodox.

Oh yeah, get there early to pick up and/or buy your memberships.

Jersey night rundown
Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry. - John Lennon
Some interesting things happened in between the times I was checking Twitter etc for footy and NPL scores. Interesting lay out for starters. This year both the 'indoor' and 'slightly less indoor' areas were used. The latter was used as a sort of poor person's purgatory, which doesn't bother anti-social me, but might have made it harder for people to socialise if that's what they wanted to do.

It actually reminded me a bit of the way the tutorial I was in for 'Freedom and Constraint' at Melbourne University was set up back in 2002 (taught by this bloke), with the good looking and popular students on the main table getting all the attention, with whoever was left over ending up on the other table in the back corner of some really poorly designed and selected room. Now I'm not putting all the blame in my failing that subject on that arrangement - after all, I did fail eight subjects during my year and a half stint there - but it didn't help.

Look, women! Here come some now!
As mentioned last week, South Melbourne Women's FC have a new president, albeit with much of the same people still on their committee. Last night some of these people were at the jersey night, and the implication seemed to be from the presentation that we were - at the very least - on the way to reconciling the two factions. Unfortunately, not very much detail was provided on that front, so it's hard to know exactly what's going on. Cause for optimism?

Tweets will set you free, check the tweets
While I hope my cynicism is misplaced, I'm less optimistic about the social club situation being resolved in our favour. Local member of parliament Martin Foley was there, and he gave a little bit of a speech after being made no. 1 ticket holder for 2014. As part of that speech he asked for the current state government to honour the deal made by the previous state government with South to give us our 40 years and let us complete the Lakeside facility.

A commendable sentiment, which was taken up quite quickly by a couple of serving committee members on Twitter. For example:
which is a little different from this one:
comments which were followed by a tweet from Foley himself:
Which seemed an unusual comment to make, since the current state government has actually come out with some detail about what the issue is, as they see it. The question I wanted to (and then did) ask Foley was:
The answer to that is not yet known definitively. Short of hoping that Labor win the upcoming election - and as yet I've seen no ironclad guarantee yet that they will deviate from the Liberals' policy position - what is the plan for resolving the situation, either by taking the government on or acquiescing to their preferred 21 year model? Maybe time to crank out another letter to John Eren or something, and maybe this time I'll get a response.

Overall, it was an enjoyable evening. The food was a step up from the previous year's offerings at this venue. Soup as a starter(!) instead of the usual antipasto and dips, garlic bread, good mains, and dessert that wasn't fruit or a cheese platter. Stay tuned to SMFC TV and South Radio for related things that happened. How the hell did I live my life before Twitter and before having a phone that could easily and cheaply access Twitter? Sometimes it feels good to be part of the present instead of my usual existence in the past.

Around the grounds
Part 1 - Golden rays of sunshine light a Coburg afternoon
Moreland City were at home to Sydenham Park, on a field that was surprisingly not bogged down after recent rain, but rather had. After an even start, Sydenham took control of this match and eventually ran out deserved 3-0 winners. The first goal was quite nice, as it involved a nutmeg on the byline. Tommi 'Gomer Pyle' Tommich in the Sydenham goal had very little to do until the last 15 minutes, when the visitors went down to 10 men but were already 3-0 up. The inevitability of the result seemed to calm down the Sydenham coach, with his massive chin and fan-like yelling of instructions every two seconds.

The downside? There was no HP sauce this year. Even worse, I didn't win the raffle. Massive props though to the Sydenham player who copped a yellow card for letting loose at the ref with a 'пичка ти матер', after an admittedly pretty crappy no advantage call.

Part 2 - Ξεκάρφωτες μαλακίες 
For the first time in many years - probably since 2003 - the Paisley Park derby between Altona Magic and Altona East was on. The NPL shuffling of the decks  has seen the Magic demoted to East's division, and the home side marginally had the better of it in the first half, though East had the half's best opportunity - any shot on target would have done the trick, but it went over the bar instead. The second saw Magic step up their game and begin to take more control. They opened the scoring with some neat play around the box, a pass inside to an unmarked striker, who popped it into the back of the net while East were waiting for an offside to be called, which is pretty stupid, because it wasn't offside.

East were never out of the game though, and eventually snared a late equaliser from a goalmouth scramble, and were able to avoid defeat with the last play of the game, when some Magic player headed his effort from the six yard box wide when it seemed harder to miss than score. I think 1-1 was one of the two fair outcomes for this game. There was also a bit of ETHNIC VIOLENCE when one old man slapped another old man, after the latter dared him to do it during what initially appeared to be a half joking conversation.

Magic's raffle prices are a bit of joke by the way. $2 for one ticket? Moreland was selling them for $1 each or three for $2.

Frenemies department
Listening to 3XY Radio Hellas the other week, I was surprised to hear one George Triantos being interviewed on the phone about the South game against Gully. What happened to our being blacklisted? When did we drop the mutual animosity? Why didn't I get a memo about this? I'm feeling all disoriented.

Speaking of which, when I went to listen to the show today, all I got instead was the Oakleigh Cannons show, by which I mean some Orthodox Palm Sunday church service.

At least we still have Elias Donoudis to hate without fear or favour.
Final thought
Victorian soccer hasn't been the same since the nut sellers stopped stocking παστέλια.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Kiss of Death, Round 4, 2014

Pascoe Vale vs Northcote City – Friday 11th April @ 8.30pm @ Hosken Reserve
Pascoe Vale had a good 1-1 draw at Bentleigh last week, while Northcote succumbed to a very good Ballarat side 1-3 as predicted. As much as my heart is saying Pascoe Vale, my brain and algorithms are saying Northcote. This will be Northcote's first win of the season. Pascoe Vale 1 – Northcote City 2.

Oakleigh Cannons vs Green Gully – Friday 11th April @ 8.30pm @ Jack Edwards
Oakleigh drew 2-2 at Port last week, while Gully put in a laughable performance in a 3-5 loss to South Melbourne. They had Gonzalez (GK) and some other douche sent off. I think their youth keeper did well when required. Oakleigh on the other hand have yet to show me anything on or off the park. No food, no write up. Simple. Oakleigh Cannons 2 – Green Gully 0.

Goulburn Valley Suns vs Port Melbourne Sharks – Saturday 12th April @ 6.30pm @ McEwen Reserve
This is a hard one to pick. But I don’t pick matches will-nilly. A lot of thought goes into them. The Suns got hammered last week by the Bergers. See, that right there just doesn’t make sense. How can a team as poor as the Bergers hammer a team like the Suns who are poor anyway. Port will be triumphant and drop into SPC on the way back. Goulburn Valley Suns 1 – Port Melbourne Sharks 7.

Hume City vs South Melbourne – Sunday 13th April @ 3pm @ Broadmeadows Valley
Finally get to suss out this new grandstand down at Broadmeadows Valley Park. A few people reckon it’s pretty good. I’ll see for myself I suppose. South is coming off a rampant 3-5 win at Gully. We were 0-4 up very very quickly last week, and it should’ve been at least six by half time, no exaggeration there. What happened in the second half was a wee bit disappointing. To cop two goals in the first five minutes was pretty woeful. People were losing their shit at that hunk of man meat Saldaris, but on closer inspection, I don’t fault him with any of the goals. Gully were just cunts. The tackles were thick, and the red cards were warranted. The rest is history. The team of the century was just too good. They will also be too good against Hume. Hume City 0 – South Melbourne 3.

Werribee City vs Bentleigh Greens – Sunday 13th April @ 3pm @ Galvin Park
Werribee robbed the Knights last week. Dodgiest penalty I've ever seen. Well actually, no, Olympiakos is awarded the worst non-penalties known to man. Bentleigh struggled against Pascoe Vale but will be too good against the Bees. I really can’t see Werribee beating the Greens. The scouts will once again be at a Bentleigh game, and word on the grapevine is they like what they see. Werribee City 1 – Bentleigh Greens 3.

Melbourne Knights vs Dandenong Thunder – Sunday 13th April @ 3pm @Knights Stadium
What a shit penalty to cop, ey? Maybe next time you can put away your chances! The Knights will not let that happen again. A source close to the club is confident the Knights will bounce back after last week's speedhump. Dandy on the other hand are looking OK I suppose. Haven't really seen them other than on youtube. Note to DandyTV guys. Maybe do a voice over before you publish. The language is bloody ridiculous. Melbourne Knights 2 – Dandy Thunder 0.

Heidelberg United vs Ballarat Red Devils – Sunday 13th April @ 6pm @ Olympic Village
The two big winners from last week. Note to the Bergers. Ballarat will not be a pushover. Me has a feeling they will beat yous. Heidelberg United 1 – Ballarat Red Devils 2. *92nd minute controversial penalty to the Devils. Bergers to lose their shit.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Social Club Artefact Wednesday - a post-social club reminiscence

Oh lord, another in a series of sooky 'wasn't the past better than what exists now' posts. Tomorrow marks four years since we left what was Bob Jane Stadium, before it became Lakeside Stadium again. It also marks four years of having no social club (no, Beachcomber doesn't count), which our helpful timer has been illustrating for some time now, much to the dual amusement and annoyance of everyone at the club, including myself.

Ah, it was a poker night, not a casino night.
 Image courtesy of George Kouroumalis.
But even though that's the 'official' duration of having no social club, the fact is that the social club was used after that for at least one club function. Later that year, probably around August or September (or was it even the next year? surely not) there was some sort of casino night hosted by the club. I didn't attend that night (and by all reports it was a fun night out), but I did help set up the tables and such the night before.

Although works had started earlier that year on bulldozing the terraces, work on the social club hadn't really got far. The casino night therefor was meant to be the pre-redeveloped social club's final official usage. I think I got roped into helping out by virtue of the fact that I was at Port Melbourne watching a game, and one of my companions got a phonecall from one of the movers and shakers, and all of a sudden we were off to Lakeside.

Anyway, the job done we chucked the TV above the bar on to watch the footy, some pedestrian affair that I think Hawthorn was winning in a canter, so I said to one of the blokes 'change it to SBS'. Now Friday nights of course at the time being SBS' soft-porn night, and after giving me a quizzical look he changed the channel, and there was Diary of a Nymphomaniac, with its inventive use of a glass coke bottle on a lithe female body.

See, the last the four years without a social club haven't been completely terrible! As for the timer, if we never end up getting a social club, let it stay there like the Mark of Cain.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Like something out of that twilighty show about that zone - Green Gully 3 South Melbourne 5

It might be a strange thing to say - after all, just about every legitimate football match has two teams in it - but this game was as much about Green Gully as it was about South Melbourne. It was a game based on momentum, complacency, and a slight breeze going to the northern, downhill end, which maybe played more of a role than it should have, with seven of the eight goals being scored at that end.

It was also hands down, one of the most bizarre games I've ever seen. Bizarre for the ease with which we kept scoring during the first half. Bizarre for its seismic momentum shifts. Bizarre for it not being us with the most calamitous and costly goalkeeping performance at this ground, so often a grave for our keepers. Bizarre for a stunt attempted by Green Gully after their goalkeeper Kieran Gonzales was sent off, which I can't recall ever being attempted before.

It's fair to say that the game was just nuts. Gonzales was in part responsible for the first goal we scored, after he parried a low ball in front of Milos Lujic for 1-0. He was clearly responsible for the second goal, when in attempting to be smart - and even early on he'd be performing his goalkeeping duties with a sort of recklessness that would wouldn't even make sense if his side were 3-0 up - when he kicked his attempted clearance straight into Lujic, whence it deflected back into the net for 2-0.

Even the Dodgy Asian Betting
guy at the game thought Epifano
couldn't muck up that chance
from point blank range.
A deflected low cross or shot from Tyson Holmes ended up at the back post for Lujic to tap in for 3-0. Just 26 minutes had passed for Lujic to achieve his hattrick. But still more was to come. Nick Epifano released Jamie Reed into a ton of space, whereby the grey-haired striker easily lofted it over the oncoming but stranded Gonzales for 4-0.

After the retirement of Peter Gavalas at the end of last season, Gonzales had been targeted by South, and had reputedly actually been very close to signing. Yesterday's performance made a few of us think that we perhaps dodged a bullet on that front, as he put in a combination Peter Gavalas-Abdelhadi Deroune Green Gully Reserve 'Vortex of Goalkeeping death'

We went into halftime 4-0 up, but it should have been six or seven, without any exaggeration. The most glaring of the missed opportunities came a minute after Reed's goal, with Epifano hitting the right post from very close range - we all assumed it was in, even the Dodgy Asian Betting guy had already marked it down as a goal. Some South fans were half joking that it'd be a costly miss, not believing for a second that Gully could mount any sort of meaningful comeback. As we watched the planes fly behind us on the outer side, the talk even turned towards where flight MH370 was.

It's hard for me to recall ever seeing a Gully side so inept and so uncompetitive. Except for one late chance that hit the post in the first half, they offered almost no threat at all. Their defending was abysmal, their midfield little better. Their passing was a mess, with even simple passes mucked up. The guy in charge of the scoreboard, either because he couldn't be bothered climbing up and down to keep changing the score, or out of shame, stood in front of our scoreboard number.

Yet within minutes of the second half beginning, it was 4-2, and the old Gully we all love to hate was back; physical, aggressive, and very dirty. Matthew Sanders managed to find himself on the end of two easy opportunities, and he buried both of them, our defence all of a sudden becoming a sieve. Panic set in among the South faithful, and quite obviously among the players themselves, as their complacency became rank ineptitude.

Unfortunately for Gully, Gonzales took the home team's re-discovered aggression too far. As Lujic was called for offside while making a forward run, his momentum seeing him run past the Gully keeper, Gonzales kicked out at him, copping a straight red for his troubles. It was bizarre (there's that word again) and entirely unnecessary, and yet he saw fit to complain to the ref who had no intention of changing his mind.

Yet that wasn't the end of that incident. After Gonzales left the ground, a new keeper came on, but without any substitution actually being made. Chris Taylor was going crazy on the sidelines trying to make it clear to the officials that Gully still had eleven players on the field. Eventually they sorted it out, and South settled down a smidge. But even when Gully went down to nine men after Steven Stephen Downes was sent off for swearing at the ref - after which the officials seemed to perform a headcount - the home side still looked more likely to score.

And score another they did during the first minute of what would be a long injury time, via our old enemy Roddy Vargas - who popped up in the six yard box unmarked and headed home truly from a corner, as the South defence and Jason Saldaris went MIA. Even worse, we gifted Gully the ball from the ensuing kickoff, as panic mode well and truly took hold. Luckily substitute Leigh Minopoulos made it 5-3 from close range to end what was a pretty bizarre game.

So, three points is good especially at that ground, as is three wins from three starts all on the road, but it will be interesting to see how the team comes out on the other side of this match. Will their confidence take a knock, after playing so poorly in the second half, especially defensively? Or will they see this as a massive and necessary kick up the arse, showing that complacency and lack of concentration will see you get into trouble very quickly in this league?

Next Week
Hume City away on Sunday.

Around the grounds
Screw this, I'll make my own friends - on the internet!
I headed out to watch Port Melbourne host Oakleigh on Friday night. Since none of the Friends, Romans and Countrymen I alluded to on Twitter managed to make it out there, it was just me and my earphones listening to the FFV's radio broadcast which I'm really digging, especially for its interactivity. I had a go at them on Twitter for the abysmal pronunciation of several Greek names by Adem Barolli, their 'around the grounds' person, and I even got my name read out (poorly) with apologies. All in good fun. Too bad next week I'll be stuck at some function, otherwise I'd tune in again. Give it a go if you haven't yet, because questionable pronunciations of Greek names aside (and even the 'j' in Dusan Bosnjak's name went missing at one point on that front), they do a great job.

Anyway the match itself was kinda weird. The crowd was pretty much what you'd expect it to be, with the 'NPL, new ear hoorah' vibe already gone, and even most of the goals weren't greeted by much of a cheer. Port went ahead early after some very poor defending from a free kick out wide. Oaks gradually got on top, and equalised with a cross from the left to an unmarked player in the six yard box. The game swung back to a more even keel in the second half, and Port scored a cracker of a long range goal which went low through traffic and curled into the bottom corner. Then gradually Oaks got on top, and equalised with a cross from the left to an unmarked player in the six yard box.

Lastly, $4 for a chocolate bar? You're having a laugh Port Melbourne. Your ground ain't Docklands or the MCG.

Changing of the guard, change of attitudes?
I've been made aware that South Melbourne Women's FC have a new president, one Gabrielle Giuliano, the daughter of legendary of South Melbourne Hellas coach John Margaritis. Will this see a change of fortunes with regards to the re-uniting of the men's and women's teams? Who knows, but one can only hope so. I'm still of the opinion that together we would be stronger than what either of is right now, though SMWFC may disagree, seeing as they've had their most successful period off-field since breaking their ties with us.

Mountain of a molehill
It's probably not fair for this blog to be laying into Oakleigh two weeks in a row, but I would say two things on that:
  1. Last week's Dockerty Cup shenanigans were an own goal as much as anything, thanks to Miron Bleiberg coming out and admitting their cock up on SEN.
  2. Honestly, it's not just me who's noticed this week's apparent farce.
To elaborate on that second point. Last week it was pointed out to me by a South fan, as well as being noticed by several different people across the net, that Oakleigh's 2014 jersey seemed, well, a bit overwhelmed with sponsorship, somewhat akin to the infamous jersey South attempted to take to the World Club Championships in 2000.

Now while I'm sure the Oakleigh people are very happy that they have such great financial support - something which has been evident at Jack Edwards Reserve for several years now, judging by the plethora and variety of sponsor boards at that ground - but the question some people are asking is, have Oakleigh broken part of the NPL Victoria rules by having so many sponsors on the front of their shirt and on the front and back of their shorts?

2014 NPL front of kit guidelines. Click to enlarge the picture.
You see, in the licence agreement that NPL clubs have been obliged to sign to enter the competition - an agreement which, it must be remembered, was at the heart of last year's discontent - there are guidelines pertaining to a team's on field kit design, as can be seen on the image on the right hand side.

It gives you room for just one sponsor on the front of the jersey that's not related to the apparel sponsor and/or manufacturer. It also limits the amount of sleeve and short sponsorships you can sport. There has also been some talk that the rules may even become stricter next year. But by any reasonable estimation, Oakleigh's 2014 jersey
has clearly crossed the limitations every club is expected to adhere to for this season.

This is probably just making a mountain of a molehill, but if these rules are meant to establish a certain level of conformity, why should one club be able to flaunt those rules, or indeed any others it considers inconvenient? Already we have several NPL and NPL1 clubs with non-compliant venues. To some extent, that's understandable, if the ideology behind letting those sides in from the start is that they'll eventually get there within a well-established time frame (with hopefully severe consequences if the outcome is that they don't). Of course there is also the counter argument that they shouldn't be in the NPL in the first place if their facilities aren't up to scratch.

Oakleigh's sponsor filled jersey clearly stands out among
 the 2014 NPL pack. Image: MFootball/Don Sutherland.

But a jersey isn't a venue. While venues largely stay the same year in, year out, each year the jersey becomes reborn. Or so it would seem, because the Oakleigh kit in question seems to be the same one that Oakleigh sported last year, only this time with the NPL badge squeezed in there. So from that a number of questions arise: did anyone actually notice the aesthetic abomination that was this kit last year, or has the new season, new league and its supposed rules heightened awareness of all these compliance issues? Is Oakleigh planning to actually introduce a new jersey this year? If they don't, will the FFV pull them up on their breach of the guidelines? If they do, what will that cost Oakleigh both in terms of kit costs and sponsorship costs if the various sponsors were promised a place on the match day kit?

Back in 2000, when South's brains trust either arrogantly or ignorantly tried to flout the rules with their sponsor laden jersey, they were forced to change it. It was embarrassing and costly. This is a competition of much lesser importance in the grand scheme of things, but all cynicism aside for a moment, one of the key things the NPL was meant to usher in was a certain level of professionalism, conformity and standardisation.

Speaking of jerseys
South's 'Jersey night' is on this Friday night, at Beachcomber, $50. I'll be there. Other people will be there. Maybe you should be there, too?

Final thought
"You lost your NSL, huh?"
"Uh huh."
"It's not coming back, is it?"
"It might..."
"No, it's not."

Ten years with no NSL - where did the time go?

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Kiss of Death, Round 3, 2014

Port Melbourne Sharks vs Oakleigh Cannons – Friday 4th April, 8.30pm, SS Anderson Reserve
Port Melbourne showed how pathetic they were last week against South. Again they found themselves leading, yet succumbed to late winners. The Cannons struggled at Goulburn Valley and struggled again against the Bergers last week before getting a last minute winner. This will be an OK encounter I suppose. Crowd will be poor, because quite frankly both teams are skint in that department. On field Port will finally get their first win of the season. Port Melbourne 2 – Oakleigh Cannons 1.

Bentleigh Greens vs Pascoe Vale – Friday 4th April, 8.30pm, Kingston Heath Soccer Complex
Bentleigh had a good win last week at Northcote even though they were 0-2 up on the half hour. Pascoe Vale lost to a dominant Knights outfit 0-2 as expected. Bentleigh will dominate Pascoe from the get-go and this will be a high scoring match. I can’t see them dropping any points to bottom of the table Pascoe Vale. Bentleigh Greens 4 – Pascoe Vale 1.

Northcote City vs Ballarat Red Devils – Saturday 5th April, 3pm, John Cain
Probably the hardest match of the week to pick. Northcote is a rabble with 0 from 2, and Ballarat are playing not bad, but have a lot of improvement. Will this be the shock result of the round? Possibly. To be honest, I think Northcote's small and shitty ground will suit Ballarat's play. Ballarat love small compact grounds. Northcote City 1 – Ballarat Red Devils 3.

Dandenong Thunder vs Hume City – Saturday 5th April, 7pm, George Andrews Reserve
Hume. What a disaster losing away last week to Werribee! Joke of a result which absolutely necked everyone's multis. What the hell is going on down there? Wheels fallen off already, or you guys only play against decent teams? Dandenong had a good win against Green Gully last week and should continue that trend this week against Hume. Dandenong Thunder 3 – Hume City 0.

Goulburn Valley Suns vs Heidelberg United – Saturday 5th April, 7pm, John McEwen Reserve
You know you’re shit when you’re sitting second last and your opponent is fourth last and the only thing separating you is goal difference. HAHAHAHA. Ah fucking hell, you Berger boys make me laugh. You know what, this will also be the upset of the round. The Suns will beat the Bergers and all of Victoria will laugh their tits off. Goulburn Valley Suns 2 – Heidelberg United 1.

Melbourne Knights vs Werribee City – Sunday 6th April, 3pm, Somers Street
The Knights will right a wrong from last week. They will do what Hume should’ve done. They will absolutely bukkake Werribee City and destroy their soul. I am expecting goals and plenty of them. I want the Knights to finish them. Kaman Kroatsia, you can do it fucken! The Knights are hot hot hot, and so are their cevapi. The Knights will be all over Werribee like a rash. From go to woe, it will be all Knights with the occasional counter-attack from Werribee. No Leigh Minopoulos, no Werribee, simple really. Melbourne Knights 4 – Werribee City 0.

Green Gully vs South Melbourne – Saturday 5th April, 3pm, Green Gully Reserve
Booyah bitches! nom nom nom. Last season South won convincingly at Gully. This week South will do the same. Who is Green Gully? Fucked if I know, fucked if I care. South will stretch its legs and show muscle. We shall eat their hearts and pillage their village. There is no escaping the Team of The Century. We are South Melbourne, Team of the Century, no one gets in our way. Last week we visited the shithole that is Port Melbourne. We went, we saw, we conquered as expected. Were we lucky? No. Did we play well? Fuck yeah, bitches, we are South Melbourne, Team of the Century. How good were we, eh? Fucking magic. Jealous much? Ole! Minute with Mala absolutely sick! FML where did I leave my meds? Green Gully 0 – South Melbourne 3.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Social Club Artefact Wednesday - Save Our South T-Shirt

This Friday marks one of the most significant moments in the club's history - as well as perhaps its lowest point - the 10th anniversary of the 'Save Our South' campaign.

A month after being eliminated in the finals of the last NSL season in heartbreaking fashion by Adelaide United, South wasn't just on the ropes, it was down for the count. Despite the windfall of the infamous World Club Championship money just four years previously, we had huge debts and no income stream on the horizon. South was placed in administration. Our players, their contracts declared null and void, all left.

We weren't involved in any competitions,  being blocked along with Melbourne Knights from joining the VPL in 2004 by certain insecure clubs, most infamously Whittlesea Stallions and Ernie Tapai's bloody fridge magnets. I guess the assumption was also at the time that, with the Melbourne licences for the new competition reduced from two to one, that we were a goner anyway.

A rally was organised to save the club, much like many VFL clubs had had to do over the preceding decades. Where thousands were expected to turn up, only a few hundred bothered to do so. I'm ashamed to say that I was one of those many thousands of South fans that did not turn up to that day. Whatever personal issues I may have had at the time, I suppose like many South fans I just assumed that someone else would rock up to save the club. In the end, that's what happened, but only just.

In several ways both tangible and intangible, the legacy of that period still follows us to this day. Tangibly in the sense of having to pay back the Toumbourou/Christopher money, with the attendant hysteria that came with it, or the Lakeside issue still not being resolved. Intangible in the sense that the club's sense of invincibility and self-importance was dealt an incredible blow, both to those who followed our club and those outside of it who reveled in our fall from grace.

But I'm not looking to dwell on that. What I want to emphasise is that we still have a club ten years on, when many thought it was doomed. And I would like to thank all those people, whether they are still with the club or not, who fought for the club on that day, and after that day, to keep it alive. You showed that we can't just take the club for granted, that it has to be fought for, and that duty belongs to all of us.