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.
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?
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
- 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.
- Honestly, it's not just me who's noticed this week's apparent farce.
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.|
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.
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?
|"You lost your NSL, huh?"|
"It's not coming back, is it?"
"No, it's not."
Ten years with no NSL - where did the time go?