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'


  1. Can't believe I Read all thst, all I can say is, great assist Minopoulos!

  2. Re: the Chicken, Niges from the Football Anarchy forum has said:

    Some blokes found it on the street on the way to the ground and were gonna let it on the pitch when South scored

  3. John Verikakis was seen to be the next big thing amongst the Hellas elite. It was only a matter of time before he made it big. I don't know what happened there. He was small. So the step up may have been too much.But there were other factor's in my opinion. One was the fact that the Hellas juniors were generally seen (by me) as the children of benefactors or just the 'Pick a Greek' syndrome. The other factor was that whislt our juniors would invariable come first or second, their opponents were what I would consider the second string juniors of those other clubs. The best juniors at the those other clubs were already in the senior team!

    Savvas Tzionis

  4. Can't say anything about the first 'penalty' but the second one that led to the offside goal I would have booked Reed for the dive.

  5. Good to see the under 20s pick up a win as well.

  6. I'm verifying records for an update to the OzFootball player section of the website and while the NSL reports credit Mike, in actual fact, they should be John. My registration records from the old VSF database verify that only a 'John' ever existed and he was registered with South for the period mentioned - born July 3 1975 to be exact. Hope this helps. TP


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