Sunday, 25 May 2014

IKEA Galvin Park - Werribee City 0 South Melbourne 1

First, let's get the game out of the way. Leigh Minopoulos started the match ahead of Nick Epifano, who replaced him late in the match, and as with last week Michael Eagar also didn't start, although he was apparently on the bench.

In a slog of a match we cleared one off the line in the first half - apparently it was Brad Norton - had Milos Lujic score a one on one in first half injury time after a great offside breaking pass by Iqi Jawadi, stuffed up a second to seal the game, and the side overall produced another gritty defensive performance to keep up the perfect start to 2014, now out to ten consecutive league wins.

The officiating was... well, it wasn't great, but what can you do? For their part, the home side's defenders are probably still complaining about the goal they conceded, but it looked onside to me from the worst possible place to make that call from. And the three minutes wasted in the first half while a Werribee player tried to put his shoe back on was a particular highlight.

What this all means is that after Oakleigh lost its first game of the season on Friday night against Pascoe Vale, we now lead by nine points from both Oakleigh and the in form Heidelberg.

But the real story was, as is so often the case, to do with scaffolding. Five years ago I got stuck on a scissor lift at the old Bob Jane Stadium, but I never thought that we'd rock up to a ground and be asked to put up scaffolding.
What that photo shows is the mid-point of a quite farcical situation. With Galvin Park being basically flat all the way around the outer, the South Melbourne media team arrived expecting some sort of scaffolding to be available. And that was true enough, except for the fact the visiting side had to put it up themselves, from the apparent odds and ends available on the other side of the fence outside the ground, without any apparent instructions about how to put it together (let alone an Allen key), or whether we should even bother to do so.

Well, the decision was made to at least try, and we (by which I mean mostly other people) ended up getting off to a false start, as we proceeded to try and put it together without any real idea of what we were doing - and then we found the instructions, which were on the part of the base, and that the colour coded poles actually had specific place they were mean to go, and then he real breakthrough when we started thinking in three dimensions. Two dimensions are hard enough. Anyway, eventually we figured out what the hell we had to do, and it was done, and SMFCTV cameraman Tim Dovas got up there to do his thing.
The home side's photographer partly explained the situation, that they had a grandstand (costing $6.8 million, and funded by the social club pokie joint next door that funds Werribee City) planned for the outer side, and I'm sure it'll be a nice feature once it's actually built. But for the time being Galvin Park is one of the crappier NPL grounds.

Also, quite why the game was played on the field adjacent to the field which was located next to the clubrooms, canteen and toilets, I'm not sure. The fields looked more or less identical to me, and it's not like the condition of the field that was used was much good.

Still, they had an electronic scoreboard with a count-up clock, which was a nice feature. It wasn't as nice as the colour scoreboard being used by footy club Werribee Centrals next door - and which was visible from the soccer field - but it's better than what most clubs have on offer.

Next week
Double dose of Dandenong Thunder. First up, a Dockerty Cup match at George Andrews Reserve on Wednesday, followed by a home match against the same side on Sunday. Some interesting decisions to be made on the squads and approach to both games - I think if people were forced to make a decision, the Dockerty Cup match, with its reward of taking us to within one game of FFA Cup qualification - will take priority.

James Musa called up to All Whites squad
We've speculated about how our depth would cope with injuries and suspensions, but national team call-ups? It looks as if central defender James Musa has been called up to the All Whites squad to face South Africa on Friday after some of the better known players dropped out.

Apparently we have signed some bloke called Dion Kirk, a midfielder from Adelaide United's youth squad. But who'll make way from the 20 man squad once the transfer window opens? Probably assistant coach Graham Hockless.

...and goodbye
Well, it looks like under 20s coach Matthew Maslak has been shown the door, to be replaced by Sasa Kolman. Results are one thing I suppose, but the word around Lakeside for a good while now was that he wasn't exactly the most liked person either. Messy to say the least.

Hay and Murray finally release their book!
Last Tuesday at the MCC Library, historians Roy Hay and Bill Murray finally launched their long awaited book on the history of Australian soccer, A History Of Football In Australia. Something like ten years in the making (probably more), it was officially launched by Les Murray in front of one of the most bizarre seating arrangements I've even seen.

Book launches are a strange old business, and I say that as someone who's been on both the audience and publishing sides. The audience is made up of several often very different groups - friends and family are often there, but often for reasons other than interest in the book itself - and then you have those industry types who are there not just to buy the book, or because they have an interest in the book, but because there will be an expectation that in future the people publishing today's book will turn up to their own book launch.

This was different though, for the warmth and affection in the room for the two scholars. In addition to the various sports historians, academics and FFV functionaries, and even members of the footy press - but quite notably few, if any, soccer journos from Melbourne's mainstream press - several South Melbourne personalities were also in attendance: Jimmy Armstrong, Ted Smith, Kimon Taliadoros, David Clarkson, Oscar Crino and even current South manager Chris Taylor.
The library itself is rather small, and so the seating arrangement was less than ideal. The two writers and Les Murray were at the front, but in front of them the audience was cleaved in two by a book shelf.

As noted earlier, Les Murray provided the main speech for the launch. He went through his personal history with Bill Murray and Roy Hay which dates back to the mid 1980s, including their shared collaborations - although Les was on much weaker ground when he spoke on the origins of football/soccer and the names of the organising bodies and games.

Bill Murray then provided a rambling, digression filled speech on the history of the book itself, the different ideas of which methodology to use, and a million references to the Scots. The main ideological differences were in their approaches as historians with regards to how to tell the story - Murray is more interested in themes, Hay apparently more interested in narrative (I probably cocked that analysis up), and also about how to view Australian soccer history. Hay thinks that the game is much more than migrants, and that it has had a longer and more nuanced existence within Australia than is often given credit for - which leads to his idea that the most recent soccer boom is the first which is not dependent on migration for its success. Murray on the other hand thinks migration is still the primary lens by which the game should be understood in the Australian context.

Roy Hay thanked those involved with assisting in the book's production, including FFA and SBS, as well as discussing the Hay-Desira collection that was also being launched. Hay also took a shot at Penguin and the general idea that soccer supporters in Australia don't buy books. Hay also subtly passed the baton on to the next generation of Australian soccer historians. While this book will not be the last work on the game that Hay or Bill Murray will contribute to, it is in many ways the grand opus, a defining even if not quite definitive statement which future generations will have to rely on, contend with and hopefully also challenge.

Questions and comments were then raised from the floor - the ones I can remember off the top of my head were Frances Hay's (Roy's wife and editor of the book), asking about why no mention had been made about the women's section of the book, which ended up in an elaboration about the process of including it - whether to integrate it into the main narrative or give it its own chapter.

The other notable comment came from FFV president Nick Monteleone, who seemed keen to latch on to next year's Anzac centenary and finding a way of asserting soccer's place within that. The problem with that approach - aside from my already stated discomfort with Anzac, and combining militarism with sport - is how to create a link without coming across as being opportunistic, jingoistic or prone to me-too ism. The code was there, the code contributed in its way (perhaps disproportionately), but the commemoration of those events must focus first and foremost on the experiences and sacrifices of the service people involved.

While this was the official launch - there are also plans for a Sydney based event - the book has already been out since the beginning of May. The book is retailing for about $45 for a hardback, though it also seems to be available online for a lot less that, perhaps as low as $35, which is outstanding value for a book of this kind. There's also an e-book version available for apparently a third of the price. The book looks terrific, with plenty of photos. I'll try and get a review up here sometime late next month.

The book launch was held at the MCC Library in order to coincide with the opening of the the Roy Hay and Peter Desira Research Collection. These additions - books, magazines, newspapers and other archival materials - have significantly boosted soccer's presence at the library. While the library is not open to the public in the same way that the State Library is, any serious researcher whether professional or amateur, is able to use the library as well as access those materials - all they need to do is contact the library and let them know ahead of time that they'll be coming.

Finally, in addition to this book, Hay and Murray have expanded their bibliography of Australian soccer materials, covering academic articles and theses, newspapers and magazines, coaching manuals, books, novels, plays and films.

Player points cap - what has FFV got to hide?
Fellow Victorian soccer blogger Mark Boric has recently thrown out this piece on the lack of transparency at FFV. I'm linking to it not only because I've thrown my two cents in the comments section, or because South of the Border got a mention, but because he's right. The player points cap is a core element of the NCR reforms - to have them shrouded in mystery seems entirely pointless, even counter-productive.

It also got me thinking about the facilities audit which the FFV has just started - will the results of that be made public? I wouldn't hold my breath, but I'd love to know what the state of Victorian soccer infrastructure is, at least at the 28 odd NPL licensees.

I'll outlast them all at this rate
Well, the tenure of FFV CEO Mitchell Murphy has ended (or rather, will end at the end of June), apparently due to family reasons. Murphy was in the job for about eleven months, following the interim term of Peter Gome, and the five and a half year stint of Mark 'Lawn Bowls' Rendell. Twitter and the forums are rife with speculation as to the 'real' reasons behind Murphy's resignation, which have been followed by the resignations of FFV board members Kimon Taliadoros and Aldrin De Zilva.

According to the forums De Zilva, who had recently been charged with abusing a young referee at a junior game, had apparently been dissatisfied with the financial reporting at FFV and initiated proceedings with ASIC. There's surely more to come out of this.

Around the Grounds
with new contributor Skip Fulton (@Football_Vic)
Bentleigh Greens vs Heidelberg United
NPL Seniors, Friday 23rd May at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex

They say the Burgers are better at Hungry Jacks. Well the Bergers we certainly better at Kingston Heath on Friday night. Heidelberg made the drive south sitting in third position and having won their last four games. They were the favourites against Bentleigh Greens who are out of form with only four wins from nine matches this season. The Greens have had recent losses to Green Gully and South Melbourne and last week delivered Goulburn Valley their first draw in the NPL with a 1-1 result in Shepparton.

Bentleigh started the match the stronger of the two teams and controlled the ball for most of the first twenty minutes. They had a number of chances but it was Brent McGrath with a low strike from the top of the box that sailed past the keepers stretched right hand and into the net to opening the scoring.

If you happened to be at Green Gully in early April you may recall the South Melbourne match when a Kieran Gonzales clearance hit Milos Lujic straight in the back and rebounded into the net. Well around the thirty minute mark in this game you would have been having flash backs because the exact same thing happened to Bentleigh Greens keeper Stuart Webster and suddenly against the momentum of the game Heidelberg were back in it at 1-1 thanks to a rebound off Heffernan’s butt!

The second half saw some tough action often going from end to end with wide play down both flanks. Bentleigh was solid in the mid-field however a tight Heidelberg defence combined with a number of missed opportunities meant the Greens couldn’t add to their earlier goal. On the counter attack it was Kaine Sheppard who put Heidelberg in front in the sixty fifth minute. The remainder of the game proved uneventful with Bentleigh showing desperation at times pushing forward but then easily giving the ball away. Extra time and a marvellous strike from James Goulopoulos sealed the deal and once again triggered the chants from the travelling Heidelberg supporters.

Overall it could be said Bentleigh had the stronger game but individual mistakes and their inability to capitalise on opportunities in front of goal meant they hit the rooms without a result. The Greens with just one point from their last four matches and they sit in fifth on the ladder with five teams within two points of them. Heidelberg continue to be one of the surprise packages this season. They are now seven wins from ten and thanks to an upset win by Pascoe Vale over Oakleigh in the other game on Friday night, the Bergers are only three goals off second place on the ladder.

Next week Heidelberg return home to Olympic Village on Sunday for their fourth home game in five weeks to take on Northcote City. The Greens hit the road and travel to JL Murphy Reserve on Friday night to take on Port Melbourne.

Final thought
If you're not going to put out Kraš napolitanke, don't bother serving wafers.


  1. Unrelated article but interested to hear what you will say. Do you think the NPLV is in better health than the VFL?

    1. How would you begin measuring such a thing? What are your criteria?

  2. It's an excellent book added to my collection. As for pricing $45 seems reasonable, so I was over the moon I picked up a copy from Kmart last week for $29.

  3. Does every club provide video highlights? I notice the Knights have a good highlights package on youtube.

    Savvas Tzionis

    1. Knights have hired the services of some of the boys from MFootball to do their media work across the board. Pascoe Vale I think have also hired MFootball to do video stuff. Hume have been doing some games off their own bat as well.

      Heidelberg have been uploading full home matches with commentary by Greg Blake and others, and were trying to do a gimmick thing with Joffa - I haven't followed up with that stuff lately to know if they're still doing it.

      For the rest of the NPL, you have to rely on FFV covering the relevant game - which will usually happen if it's a Friday night game.

      In NPL1, I know that Box Hill has been doing some highlights, and FFV does a game or twos worth of highlights.


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