Monday, 30 June 2014

Just enjoy the fact that we're still on top - South Melbourne 2 Port Melbourne 1

It was cold. It was wet. The ground was muddy. The crowd was small. And then we copped the opening goal.

Ten minutes in Zois Galanopoulos - was he on our books at one stage? Maybe just a youth player or prospective recruit - took advantage of a counter attack opportunity from yet another defensive cock up and scored past the hesitant Jason Saldaris. Perhaps out of embarrassment (OK, more likely a technical malfunction), we did not put his name up on the scoreboard.

Speaking of the scoreboard, it looked like it had some dead pixels. Either that, or some water had managed to seep in through part of the protective layering. I don't know, I'm not au fait with these things.

Anyway,  it looked like it was going to be another one of those days, but we managed to get the equaliser within a couple of minutes, with excellent lead up play leading to a Milos Lujic goal. Then the game descended into a slow and methodical slog, with Port sitting back trying hit us on the counter and us trying to not get done on the counter. Late on in the first half Iqi Jawadi got fouled, apparently inside the box but there's at least one Hellas person who says that it wasn't, and we got the penalty and then came the jitters as Jamie Reed stepped up to take it, with memories of his squandered spot kick from a couple of weeks ago against Goulburn Valley Suns still fresh in the mind.

Thankfully he actually scored the goal, and we went into halftime leading the game. The most remarkable thing of the match then happened, and we started turning it on a little bit, and truly, we should have absolutely buried them. The fact that we didn't, and instead being forced into having to endure a seemingly never ending half hour of not being able to get the ball, but also Port not being able to do anything with all that possession (but maybe all it would take would be one stupid moment) will really stump the armchair football psychologists out there. Is this win reflective of a hard fought, grinding back to business kind of mentality, which would either set us in good stead for a tough game against Green Gully, or was it just more evidence of a team which has lost its way, forgetting how to move in for the kill? Had we won by 4-1 instead, would that have seen as us getting our mojo back with the Knights game being an unfortunate albeit costly statistical outlier, or would it see us get cocky and get likely to be smashed to pieces by a mentally tougher Gully side?

I suppose that's for the retrospective analysts out there to figure out, once any one of those things actually happens. In the meantime new signing Shaun Timmins made his South debut - he had been due to play against the Knights in the midweek cup clash, but his transfer was reputedly held up for purportedly stupid reasons - replacing Brad Norton. I didn't think Timmins put in a better show than what Norton would have, but it's only been one game. Stephen Hatzikostas also started, in place of Tyson Holmes. For some reason I now expect this to be a regular occurrence, as Norton and Holmes were the two remaining players who were with South at the start of the 2013 season, and Chris Taylor is probably keen to move on from the horror of that era, even though there were some good times oif people care to remember them.

While of course the response of the fans to any change in our style of play will cross into the absurd - even if it's only because we care so much, while mostly understanding so little - there is serious confusion as to what's going on out there at the moment. It looks like we're halfway through the process of transforming ourselves into something new - not necessarily better or worse, but different nonetheless, as we begin to play a short passing game, spreading it around the back, including noticeably giving Saldaris plenty of touches of the ball, instead of doing what we did on Friday and keeping it away from him as if he had girl germs, eeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwww - and looking for gaps in the opposition defence rather than trying to take them on and get them on the back foot.

The fact that very likely the same people who were bemoaning the more direct and supposed long ball game are now criticising this new fangled trend of shorter passes is probably not lost on too many people, even those right in the thick of this apparent double standard. Maybe it's a vaguely direct game plan filled with mid-range distance passing that will make peace reign in the stands? Me, I just think it's a bit late to jump on the tiki-taka bandwagon now, especially since we've just seen it apparently roll out of the world cup station with 'NOT IN SERVICE' blaring back at us in neon lettering. Let's be honest - the only thing that will get close to making South fans happy at this point in 2014 will be taking out the NPL title, and even then we'll be complaining about how we should've won it earlier, how we should have made the FFA Cup, and where's the damn social club already?

It was the first time in three attempts that we had beaten Port at Lakeside, following the 2012 and 2013 disasters. It was also the first time - last year's Dockerty Cup quarter final against Preston excepted - that we had come back to win a game after conceding the first goal since we beat Richmond 3-2 at Lakeside last year. In addition to that, Heidelberg managed to hold Oakleigh to a 1-1 draw despite being down to ten men for 65 minutes. So now we're back out to a six point lead at the top of the table. Don't ask me how long that will last, but right at this moment I'd sure as hell rather be where we are rather than where Oakleigh is.

Next week
Green Gully at home, who are in an oldschool Green Gully frame of mind at the moment.

Maybe you can explain it to me, part 1
So, we have Jamie Reed, James Musa, and now Shaun Timmins as potential visa players. Which one isn't and what excuse have we used to work our way around this problem?

Maybe you can explain it to me, part 2
Each NPL squad is meant to have a maximum of twenty players in its senior squad. So far we've signed Steven Hatzikostas, Shaun Timmins and Dion Kirk. We've let go Graham Hockless and Slaven Vramesevic. That doesn't add up. Unless weve got Kirk solely in the under 20s squad, and planning to play him only the allowed a maximum of five times in the league, without the n ebing forced to add him to the senior list.

Back in stock. I bought one.

Cool story, bro! department
While I was getting a haircut the other day, 1984 NSL championship winner, South Melbourne Hellas legend and current Doxa Yarraville coach Charlie Egan stopped in for chat. My barber (and also the current/former first aid dude at Yarravile), who I've been seeing for over 25 yeas and knows I'm a Hellas fan had the nerve to ask me if I knew who Egan was. True story.

What's going on back there?
The function centre was booked out for a Jewish wedding(?), and a smattering of that event's patrons wandered out onto the balcony to watch our game. Too bad there wasn't a bigger crowd on our part - we could have had a better chance of getting some more noise into their wedding video.

More Shoot Farken write ups
Continuing off where we left last week, here are some more of these
Around the grounds
Welcome to the future
The day was windy and cold, the teams mid-table and mediocre, the reserves match borderline unwatchable. But at least there was this:
It's been a long time since I've seen so many people in that social club. Suburbs won the seniors match 3-2.

Final thought
What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

            The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?

            Because the barbarians are coming today.
            What laws can the senators make now?
            Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city’s main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?

            Because the barbarians are coming today
            and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
            He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
            replete with titles, with imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

            Because the barbarians are coming today
            and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

Why don’t our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

            Because the barbarians are coming today
            and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?

            Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
            And some who have just returned from the border say
            there are no barbarians any longer.

And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.

Waiting for the Barbarians, by CP Cavafy

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Yes! Cris-atunity! - South Melbourne 0 Melbourne Knights 2

The following post is dedicated to Football Anarchy forumite and Melbourne Croatia fan 'Fates Warning', because he cares.

Short and sweet
That sucked.

The never kicked ball in my life analysis
The first half was pretty even. We probably looked shakier in defence by comparison, but we still had our chances - good chances - and had we taken the lead, things may very well have happened differently. The goal when it came was a bit of sucker punch, and set the up the game to head a certain way.

The problem may very well be that we don't know how to chase a game under Chris Taylor - fall behind, and we're more or less doomed not to get a winning result. It was pointed out to me yesterday that the only time we've managed to come from behind under his reign in games where we've conceded the first goal was against Preston in last year's Dockerty Cup quarter final - which of course was against a state league 2 side, playing with 10 men for an hour.

Having said that, since most of the time we've been scoring first - and we won fourteen in a row to start this season, let's not forget - how much of a valid statistic is this? Is it time to shake up the lineup, which aside from minor tinkering has largely remained the same throughout the course of the season? Maynard for Saldaris? Hatzikostas for one of Iqi or Tyson? Reed or Minopoulos up front?

The second half was a mess, there's no getting around that. The structures seemed all over the shop, our passing and crossing were fucked, and we seldom troubled Chris May in the Knights goal. We rang the changes with the subs, but that didn't seem to make much of a difference either.

Let's not forget that there was another team out there, a team that has recovered somewhat from its injury crisis, brought in reinforcements and whose game plan happened to win out on the night. That, and they seemed to wear the proper boots for the conditions, preventing them from slipping over in crucial situations.

Sometimes the little things make all the difference.

Oh we're from Albert Park
A fighting fury we're from Albert Park
Good to see our supporters turning on the players, the coach, the board and each other, throwing scarves in the bin, and generally having a good old fashioned Hellas sook. At least most of that points to the fact that they still care.

To the players
Sure you disappointed the fans, me included, but I don't believe you went out there to lose. For whatever reason, it just didn't work out. Back on the horse again for this week's game and the rest of the season, we've still got a title we - board, fans, coach, volunteers, supporters - can definitely win. Learn from the mistakes, adjust, player better.

If only...
We had more spots and several second chances like New South Wales, but as the other bloke said on Twitter, we don't, so we have to stomach that.

The recommended daily dose of reality
It was a one off game. These things happen. We did it to Dandenong Thunder. Don't make me quote Seneca again.

The people I feel most sorry for
The folks behind the scenes who were looking to use this as a launching pad for getting us back some sort of national profile after ten years in the wilderness. I know the effort you guys put in behind the scenes to make the club tick over, the hope that you had in possibly playing in this tournament, the fact that this blog's cynicism does not make things any easier, even if it's only read by a very small amount of people (and how egotistical for me to even mention it). Chin up and back to work, because there's still work to be done.

But I don't buy the line that it's ten years worth of effort down the drain. So much has happened over the past ten years, and so many different things have been tried, and we're still here somehow. Or are we still afraid that if we don't get our 'relevance' back soon, we never will? Do we have a time limit on when this has to happen by?

Next game
Port Melbourne at home. A relegation threatened, annoyingly inconsistent opponent who will treat this like a grand final. Yet, also an opportunity not only to maintain our lead at the top, but also to extend it, should the Bergers get a result against Oakleigh on the same night. I expect to see the usual faces in the stand for this one.

Sayonara Slaven
Slaven Vranesevic has left for Springvale White Eagles, in order to get more game time. Good luck to him, and maybe our paths will cross again.

Exit stage left
Managed to find another, quicker way of exiting Lakeside. Maybe I can make it home earlier after another HORROR LOSS WHICH WILL RIP APART THE VERY SOUL OF THE CLUB.

No Kiss of Death this week
Too distraught. I get that.

Mandatory Simpsons reference
Final thought

Monday, 23 June 2014

Hellas eases past Alexander - South Melbourne 3 Heidelberg United 0

Well, Sunday got off to a completely amazing start when I forgot that the trams were fucked and that I had to walk from Collins Street down to the casino to catch a tram.

That was the day's first surprise. The second was to do with the food van - see below. The third was Jamie Reed being dropped from the starting eleven and being replaced by Leigh Minopoulos. Was it due to Reed's drop off in form or the desire to keep him fresh for Wednesday night's crucial Dockerty Cup quarter final/FFA Cup qualifier against the Knights? The latter seems less likely, as this match against Heidelberg was hardly short of importance - a derby fixture, first vs third, and an opponent with a long unbeaten run, I think stretching back ten games.

We didn't start off too crash hot, and were a little lucky to clear our lines from the first minute. Not long after though, Steven Pace bundled a cross into his own net and we were away. Then Matthew Theodore score from shot from outside the box, uncannily resembling his goal against the same mob all the way back in round 1. Milos Lujic more or less iced the game just before the half hour mark, when he tucked away a sizzling Brad Norton cross. An easy chance just before half time to make it four though was struck against the post.

The second half was mostly a mess to be honest. Heidelberg soldiered on, but couldn't do much with the few clear cut opportunities they had. They had one moment though that may have altered the game, had the referee awarded the goal - Jason Saldaris was caught off his line, and a long bomb over him saw him scrambling to stop the goal with a pretty clumsy effort. The Bergers fans thought it was over the line, but it wasn't given, with the linesman understandably nowhere near the speculative shot to make a judgment call. Does anyone have a spare $400,000k to install goal line technology at Lakeside?

It wasn't Saldaris' first nervy moment in the game either. In the first half he had delayed taking a clearing kick and ended up being forced to dribble around a Heidelberg player; later, the ball was either dislodged from his arms as he went to kick or throw the ball. The defence, too, is increasingly appearing to not want to risk passing the ball back to him. It's a tricky situation, as the team is top of the table, and none of the goals that we conceded in the Oakleigh or Goulburn Valley games were down to Saldaris mistakes. Does Chris Taylor wait for Saldaris to sharpen up? Does he make the call early? Or does he wait for the first critical mistake before something happens?

Matthew Theodore shoots and scores from the edge of
 the box. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Late on we got back on top and had a few more chances, after making a FIFA video game style triple substitution - off came Holmes, Musa and Lujic, on came on Dimi Tsiaras, Jamie Reed and new signing Stephen Hatzikostas from Bentleigh for his South debut, wearing the garish number 77. With the game as good as locked up, I would have liked to have seen the subs made maybe ten minutes earlier, as opposed to the 79th minute - get the subbed off players coming off before they get more exhausted, and give the subbed on players some more time to strethc their legs.

Reed in particular could have done with a bit of a longer run, because he seemed keen to get on the scoresheet and may well have done so had he had a little more time. As it was, he still had some good opportunities to get his name in lights, but he squandered those chances - it's not quite working out for him at the moment, but he looked dangerous running directly at the Heidelberg defence.

So, our four point lead at the top is maintained, and we put eleven points between ourselves and the third placed Bergers. Not quite back on track yet - one game does not equal a trend - but there were good signs out there yesterday that we're heading in the right direction again. Can you believe that's our fifth win in a row against the Bergers? Things going back to normal on that front after the horror that was 2007-2011.

Next week
The struggling Port Melbourne at home. But before that, apparently our biggest game in ten years, a Dockerty Cup quarter final on Wednesday night at home against the recovering Melbourne Knights, with the winner going through not only to the Dockerty Cup semi-finals, but also qualifying for the FFA Cup.

My assumption is that as per usual, your South membership will not get you entry into this game, but check with the club.

Chant of the day
Let's go, to the social club!

Necessary steps in the initiation of a newly found South fan
No. 34: Explaining the colourful history of the relationship between South Melbourne and John Markovski.

Lakeside Food Truck 2: Son of Lakeside Food Truck
I must have been that dazed and disoriented by watching the world cup that I didn't even realise that a food truck had returned to Lakeside until someone mentioned it to me halfway through the under 20s game. It looks like basically the same people and set up, with the same edible but overpriced food, which to mind is still better than the Chiko rolls available at the canteen opposite, even if they're only $2,80 each.

Me on Shoot Farken, talking about the World Cup
I've been tinkering with some World Cup match reviews which I was originally going to publish on here, but which have graciously been taken up by the good people at Shoot Farken, It's kinda in the style of this blog, albeit a little bit more stream of consciousness and pop-culture influenced, hopefully landing somewhere between Robert Christgau and Anthony Carew, which will mean nothing to the vast majority of you, but for those that do I think it's an interesting kind of comparison even if and when I fail.

Click on the links below for the stuff that's been released so far, and keep an eye on my Twitter feed for when new editions come out.
There's also interesting stuff by Athas Zafiris and a pretty funny story from Ben Munday who ended up watching one of the Australia games in Bolivia.

Around the grounds
You're frozen, when your heart's not open
Headed out to Paisley Park for the first time in a few weeks to see Altona East take on the much improved Preston. Preston were the better side by far in the first half, even if they needed one of the dodgiest penalties I've ever seen to take the lead. East's keeper reached a disputed ball on the edge of penalty area first, knocked it out for a throw in, before the Preston player collided with him. Nevertheless East were ordinary, unable to get a shot on goal until about 75 minutes in. After that, they had the bulk of the play, but seldom troubled the Preston keeper, and the game finished 1-0 to the visitors. It got bloody cold as well - Altona Magic side of Paisley Park cold. Feet different thaw out for about an hour after the game, which probably serves me right for wearing canvas shoes.

Final thought
Now I can finally watch SMFC TV again

Friday, 20 June 2014

Hellas vs Alexander this week

Judging by the non-existent torrent of abusive emails asking where the Kiss of Death's previews are for this week, either you've all stopped caring, or you're all too fatigued by the world cup to have noticed that they haven't arrived. Hell, I'm using the latter as part of my excuse for not doing a fill in, but only because I've been doing a lot of write ups for another site on world cup matches.

But, Hellas. Alexander. Sunday. 5:00PM. Lakeside. Be there.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

'What could possibly go wrong?' Artefact Wednesday - South vs Preston 2005 security plans

Earlier this year, fellow blogger Supermercado tweeted this image. It's the crowd management plan for the 2005 South Melbourne vs Preston Lions match at Lakeside.

Now I don't want to judge, as I wasn't involved with the security arrangements (can you imagine such a thing!), and I wasn't even at the game. But my mail suggests that not all those who were involved with planning for that day were in agreement with the final plan. Apparently some people in the planning committee were even of the belief that Preston fans didn't care about this match, and wouldn't come in numbers.

Anyway, the net result of the game was another episode of SOCCER SHAME, as well as Network Ten Adelaide newsreader and then South president (now apostate) George Donikian getting hammered by Media Watch. Oh, and massive fines, good behaviour bonds, locked out games for several years and the shedding of thousands of fans almost overnight. At least the folks on smfcboard got the 'what else we can do' meme out of it.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Hello midseason slump - South Melbourne 1 Goulburn Valley Suns 1

Our annual mid-season slump was probably overdue.

Despite an energetic start by the Suns, we opened the scoring early on thanks to a cracking turn and shot by Tyson Holmes. Just five minutes later horrid defending led to a Suns chance which was finished delightfully.

How would our team respond? By taking a bloody long time to find any sort of rhythm, and spending so much energy bypassing the midfield with hopeful long balls. Yes, Goulburn Valley stacked the defence, but we've got to be smarter than that.

Eventually we did wise up a bit, and towards the end of the half we were getting behind the defence, putting in some dangerous crosses and getting closer to retaking the lead. The out of form Jamie Reed probably should have scored, but was denied twice by the Suns' keeper from close range. We did manage to get the ball into the back of the net for a second time, but Perry Mur called it back for a foul on the keeper.

The second half started OK - Milos Lujic got pulled down inside the box, and we got a penalty. Unfortunately Reed's shot was well saved, and the irony of ironies was upon us - that we had managed to get a penalty against the team which had been getting them almost on a weekly basis, and we couldn't make them pay for it.

Indeed we got the rub of the green on the refereeing front. How Lujic didn't get sent off for that vicious tackle which took out the Suns defender with what looked like a possible broken I have no idea - the sound was sickening, even if it was only the sound of a shinguard.

Unlike the first half bombing effort, we managed to get plenty of balls into the box and started to make better decisions, but the final pass was off, and when it wasn't, the finishing didn't do the job. Injuries also started to appear, with Tim Mala appearing to come off with some sort of injury. Andrew Mullett started in left back in place of the suspended Brad Norton, but was swapped at halftime for James Musa, who did a much better job in that position. Quite how we bungled up that last ditch chance, when the goal seemed to be beckoning will remain a mystery.

'One of those days' has now become two of them, and now the mental resolve of the players will be seriously tested. At the end of the game, one of our fans asked the question 'what did they get out of this game playing the way they did?' and the answer to that is simple - they got a point, a point they perhaps weren't expecting to get, and which in the long run may not be enough to get them out of relegation, but you've got to start somewhere.

Within the space of two matches our lead at the top has gone from nine points down to four, after Oakleigh beat Ballarat away 1-0. Still, halway through the season, I'd rather be four point ahead than four points behind.

Next week
The much improved Heidelberg at home. A derby match with huge stakes - us trying to right the ship before a coincidence becomes a trend, while the Bergers will be trying to keep their at present slim championship hopes alive. Should be a cracker. Hopefully more South fans show up than yesterday - where was everyone?

Under 20s report with Skip Fulton @NPLVic_Football
South Melbourne 3 Goulburn Valley Suns 0

The U20 team continued with their form turnaround this weekend against Goulburn Valley (GV) Suns at Lakeside Stadium. Since a change in management with U15s coach Sasa Kolman coming on board back in May the team has won three of their last four matches. Oakleigh was going to be a big ask last week as they are leading the ladder and are undefeated. A winning return to the field this week was a clear demonstration of team work and individual skill.

Josh Markovski celebrates after scoring the opening goal.
Photo: Skip Fulton
I was diving for the camera and missed the details of Josh Markovski’s effort to open the scoring in the fifteenth minute to put SMFC on the board. I was however able to capture his attention-grabbing salute to the rest of the team in celebration of his goal.

Coach Sasa Kolman was keen to get into the action around the thirty minute mark and rushed on to the pitch to contribute to a robust discussion Ryan Babare was having with the opposition about tackling strategy. Sasa was quick off the mark and showed exceptional pace easily arriving a few metres ahead of the GV Suns coach and about ten seconds before the referee. Disappointingly Sasa didn’t really add much to the conversation but clearly the GV Suns coach agreed with Babare, launching a verbal attack on his own player.

SMFC U20s Coach Sasa Kolman gets into the action on field. Photo: Skip Fulton
Babare was soon again in the action with his free kick near the right corner curling into the goal area narrowly missing a leaping Andy Kecojevic. Passing through the area across the face of goal, it was #42 on the end of it who rifled the return cross (let’s call it a cross and not a shot). Kecojevic with a perfectly timed right foot tagged it into the net for the home team’s second goal. An impressive result considering the pair only had to beat five defenders and the keeper.

Andy Kecojevic taps in a cross to score for SMFC U20s. Photo: Skip Fulton.
After the half-time break, the GV Suns launched themselves into attack applying constant pressure forward and controlling possession of the ball. This dominating display lasted for about twelve minutes before the boys in blue reminded them they were playing the Oceania Team of the Century. Some poor defending allowed a free kick to make it all the way to the keeper and Kecojevic was on the spot to tap it into the top of the net. The referee must have been temporarily blinded by the sun or something as the flag was incorrectly raised for offside robbing Kecojevic of the double.

Shortly after the nameless #42 laid a shot on target that was blocked right on the line. A fast moving Babare was quickly on hand to tap it in taking the score to 3-0 in the sixty first minute. These rest of the match set the scene for the upcoming seniors battle. Controlled possession and attacks into the final third, scoring opportunities but unable to add to the scoreboard.

Overall a good team performance with man of the match going to the nameless #42 with speed down the left flank easily getting in behind the defence. It was the fifth win of the season for the team and the move up the ladder continues. The 20s have leapfrogged Goulburn Valley and are now in eighth.

Next week the team takes on bottom-of-the-ladder Heidelberg United who this weekend got pumped by Dandenong Thunder 7-0. The match at Lakeside Stadium kicks off at 2.45pm and the biggest challenge during the week will be figuring out who #42 is!

Ryan Babare’s action pack game sealed with a goal. Photo: Skip Fulton.
Strange rumour department
Someone on smfcboard has posted the following:
Watch this space...

Oakeligh to potentially lose points for playing an illegally registered player since the start of the season. Player has been sent back to his country by customs. South lobbying ffv to impose a sanction. It's getting dirty...
Στα χαρτιά, as the Greeks are fond of saying.

All right, all right, what's all this then?
Remember when I covered the 2014 jersey night from behind the safety of the protective glass at Beachcomber? Remember how I mentioned that representatives of the South Melbourne Women's FC were in attendance, and wondered if there was a whiff of reconciliation in the air? Well, my interest has been piqued this week by noticing something that's probably been there for a very long time - that the 'women' tab on the official site links to this site.

Match reporter needed for game against Hume next month
There's a very good chance that I'll be heading to Sydney next month for a conference, which will almost certainly mean that I'll miss our home league match against Hume.

In that spirit I'm looking for someone to do the match report on that game for the blog. You can do it in your own way - no need to copy whatever it is that I try to do. You can choose to use your real name or a pen name. All I ask from you is that it is in my email inbox by Monday morning, and that it's on the right side of defamation law.

Your reward? My gratitude, your work read by some famous people, and your name on the blog's hall of fame.

My preference is for a Hellas fan to do it, but if a neutral or even some Croatia fan wants to take a stab at it, I'm not totally against that. Send me an email at and we'll sort the details out.

Tram works next week for route 112
Unfortunately the PTV site has gotten rid of tis disruptions page, so I can't recall the exact details, but there's something going on upon that route next week judging by the some of the unclear posters they had at one of the tram stops.

Around the grounds
Spotty character reference
His interest piqued by recent events, and not put off by Mark Boric's less than glowing character reference, Ian Syson wanted to go see a Melbourne City game, so I tagged along for the ride.

The venue is based in an open park, but the playing area has a fence of sorts around it, and is of a decent size. It was also in great nick for a lower league ground.

Hoppers Crossing keeper Shaun Page punches the ball
away. Photo: Ian Syson
In terms of spectator facilities, it's actually a decent little set up they've got going out there - the social club is spacious, clean and full of natural light. It only stretches to about halfway down the field, but there's plenty of shelter for the kind of crowds they're likely to get. The food is limited, but their burger with the lot for $6 isn't too bad, especially when you can even get HP on it (though why the woman behind the canteen then hid the bottle from sight is anyone's guess). $1.50 Chomps also good value.

As for the match itself, Hoppers Crossing were in first place, having won all nine matches, while Melbourne City were nine points behind in third.Standard wise, you probably wouldn't expect much from a State League 4 West clash, but if FootballChaos has taught us anything, it's that there's some good games and players to see even down there. After an even start, Hoppers eventually got on top and ran out 3-0 winners - though they also have their keeper to thank for making three or four clutch saves in about three minutes. Unfortunately, a pall was cast over the game at the end, with the match being called off early after a Hoppers player got seriously injured on the far side.

The clouds looked distant at first, but eventually encircled the ground and laid siege, lightly at first, and then heavily. The Herald and Weekly Times photographer with wearing his cap Lleyton Hewitt style stuck it out for a little bit, but then chickened off undercover. We stuck it until halftime, and then sought shelter. When the rain stopped, we went out once more.

Final thought
It could have been worse - we could have got zero points.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Kiss of Death, round 13, 2014

Friday 13 June @ 8:30PM Bentleigh Greens vs Melbourne Knights
Bentleigh had a good away win 0-3 at Hume last week and the Knights beat the Ballarat Red Devils 4-2 at home. This is a danger game for the Knights. Lose this and you're gone for the season. Bentleigh will also need to win in order to have some hopes of doing something this season. Bentleigh will be the winner and convincingly at that with a 3-0 win.

Friday 13 June @ 8:30PM Pascoe Vale vs Green Gully
Gully had a massive 6-2 at home to Northcote while Pascoe Vale had a 0-2 win at Port Melbourne on Friday night. Gully's resurgence is somewhat what we are accustomed to. Their mid-season rise usually hits about now, and they are on schedule to finish in the top three. Pascoe Vale 0 – Green Gully 4.

Saturday 14 June @ 3:00PM Ballarat Red Devils vs Oakleigh Cannons 
Oakleigh celebrated last week's 3-0 win over South like they had won a final or some shit. Fucken morons. Ballarat had a 4-2 away loss at Somers Street. No biggy. They will beat those fucks from Oakleigh, and put them back under their rock. Fuck Oakleigh. Ballarat Red Devils 2 – Oakleigh Cannons 1.

Saturday 14 June @ 7:00PM Dandenong Thunder vs Heidelberg United 
Dandy is a shambles. However they had a good win at Shepparton 0-4. Heidelberg suffered a 2-2 draw at home to Werribee City. Danger game for the Bergers, however they will be three goals too good for Dandenong. Dandenong thunder 0 – Heidelberg 3.

Sunday 15 June @ 3:00PM Northcote City vs Hume City
Northcote, pfft. 6-2 losers to Gully last week and Hume 0-3 losers to Bentleigh at home. They also got knocked off by Springvale Aris midweek in the cup 0-3. Northcote will bounce back and beat Hume. Acevski bye bye after this one. Northcote City 3 – Hume City 0

Sunday 15 June @ 3:00PM Werribee City vs Port Melbourne Sharks
Werribee had a respectable 2-2 draw at the Olympic Village last week, while Port lost to Pascoe vale 0-2 at home. Werribee is under pressure internally and the players know this. Coach has threatened to bring in a whole new team at the transfer window. Werribee City 2 – Port Melbourne 0.

Sunday 15 June @ 5:00PM South Melbourne vs Goulburn Valley Suns
South had a 3-0 loss at Oakleigh and the Suns were trounced 0-4 by Dandenong. South last week started off well, however after the break we ran out of legs. Expected after three games in 9 days. Oakleigh wasn’t that good, but did enough. This week South will bounce back with a 9-0 win over the Suns.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Social club artefact Wednesday - Phillips NSL flag

Like its Soccer Australia counterpart which we presented a few weeks (months?) ago, this would have been flown during NSL match days. Unlike that flag though, this one assuredly dates back to the late 1970s, which makes it all the more remarkable that it has actually managed to survive our various 'dissolution of the monasteries' phases. I can't emphasise enough how thrilled I was when I found this in some back room box or other.

The Dutch electronic giant Philips was of course the NSL's inaugural major sponsor, and the highlights show which was on Channel 10 at the time was suitably called Philips Top Soccer. In his mostly excellent autobiography By The Balls, Les Murray, who was both a commentator and host for the show, details the show's brief history (including how he went from László Ürge to Les Murray because of it). It's well worth picking up a copy of that book.

Of course, once Philips Top Soccer got canned and the NSL disappeared off the airways until SBS picked it up (fun fact - SBS' first game was the infamous 1980 NSL 'grand final' which Heidelberg tries to claim counts as a national title - it wasn't), Philips weren't getting the brand promotion they were paying for, and decided to end their association with the NSL.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Winning run comes to an end - Oakleigh Cannons 3 South Melbourne 0

The winning run had to end somewhere, and it ended here.

A pretty good crowd - don't ask me for a number, because I'm no good with those things - turned up to see the match of the season, with the stakes being South running away with the title, or being brought back towards the chasing pack. Sadly, the latter happened.

South captain Michael Eagar copped a knock at training during the week - probably on the same ankle that saw him miss recent matches against Pascoe Vale and Werribee - so James Musa partnered Andrew Mullett in central defence - other than that, it was the usual South lineup that has done so well up to this point.

We started well enough, in that the game was a bit of a scrap, but we had our fair share of the ball. Andreas Govas hit the post from a long range free kick, and Nate Foster and Goran Zoric were lurking around the box, but we were doing enough to keep them out, while winning enough ball in midfield to keep things interesting at the other end.

The second half, when it mattered, was all Oakleigh. Sure, they may have opened the scoring thanks in part to a deflection, but they had been hovering on the edge of the 18 yard box several times during the match, and eventually they got enough space to make that possession count.

Where Oakleigh's passing was neat, sharp and effective, our midfield presence was often non-existent, and our passing poor. Jamie Reed and Milos Lujic were well blanketed by the Oakleigh defence, but they weren't helped by the appalling delivery - time and again instead of balls to feet or into space, they were fed looping, hit and hope passes which any striker would struggle to make something worthwhile of.

Even our wide play was below par. Excuses about a small, tight and bumpy ground can only go so far because the home side seemed to handle those conditions well enough. The few times we made it behind the Oakleigh defence, we were called back for offside, including when we appeared to have opened the scoring in the first half. It was at the other end of the ground from me, and no one seemed to make too much of a fuss about the decision at the time.

Sliding Doors moment
It was a disgraceful decision. Quite how the relevant official made that call is anyone's guess, because all I can see is Lujic in perfect position, and being held by his opponent for good measure. The pass coming to Lujic isn't even from twenty metres away - it's within the reasonable bounds of the official's line of sight or field of vision.

Now of course these things happen, close calls favour one side over another, but this one seems just so wrong, so unjust, that it really just shatters all your faith in humankind.

The point of all this, is that although we had not been playing particularly well, we had been playing well enough in the first half, and going up a goal to the good could well have changed the game completely, forcing Oakleigh to come out and chase the game or alter their approach.

Back in the actualised world
The second and third goals we conceded were almost carbon copies of each other, as first Foster, and then Zoric, waltzed through our defence. There was little that Jason Saldaris could do for any of the goals.

Leigh Minopoulos added a little bit of spark when he came on, but few of our players could say they beat their direct opponents on the night. Still, I liked the fact that the team fought it out. Sure, we padded out the stats a bit when Oakleigh had taken their foot off the pedal in the last 15 minutes or so, but at least we didn't sulk our way to the finish.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the night was acting captain Brad Norton getting sent off in the fifth minute of injury time, after receiving a second yellow card for a reckless challenge.

One of the resident jokers (and he knows who he is) wanted me to write that we had been out-coached. That may or may not be so, but the reality was that our skill level wasn't up to the task, and we were so often second to the ball - crucial when your opponent uses speed as one of its main tools, and when the refereeing leans towards the more pedantic end of the scale - that coaching, good or bad, had very little do with it.

In a night of few highlights for South supporters, there was at least genuine appreciation for the efforts of the team this far into the season. Throughout the match there was a good vibe among the South fans, even as the winning run came to such a sudden stop.

Clarendon Corner, which often saves up its best performance for this trip, went through much of its chanting canon - the pro-South chants, anti-Oakleigh chants, anti-Aki Ionnas chants, the 'sack the board' chant, the gimmick in joke chants. The performance on the field may have been sub-par, but we've had so little to  complaint on field this year that now wasn't the time to start.

Because at the end of all that, we're still six points ahead of Oakleigh on the table, heading into the last game of the first half of the season - and the first of a stretch of six consecutive home games. One perhaps can't expect a similar stretch of wins to continue into the second half of the season, but I'd rather be where we are at the moment than where the chasing pack is.

Next week
Bottom of the table Goulburn Valley Suns at home to round out the first half of the season - without having played reigning champs Northcote yet mind you. Strange league this NPL. It'll be the first of six consecutive home matches,

Dockerty Cup news
The first part was easy - who would we play, Green Gully or Melbourne Knights? Melbourne Knights won that game 4-1, so then came the bit that was apparently far too difficult to sort out from the get go.

The game was scheduled for this coming Tuesday, which was great for us, but obviously absurd for the Knights, who had to play today, and then on Friday - three games in five odd days? Pretty stupid in anyone's language.

It was also absurd from a 'let's get some people through the gate' angle, because it's on a training night for many, many people.

It kicked off a whole stupid discussion on smfcboard (and soccer forum), about FIFA rules, South running scared of the second last placed team, and which awesome players would Knights bring in after the transfer window opened who weren't cup tied (probably Andrew Barisic).

In the end, somehow, sanity prevailed on all sides, and the game has been moved to take place in a few weeks time.

So, Wednesday June 25th, 7:30PM at Lakeside, it is then. Mark it down in your diaries.

More minor ponderings on the 'rules'
There was a Serbian flag in front of a batch of Oakleigh fans behind the goals. Also a post-match pitch invasion. Makes you think.

Light blue, navy blue, sky blue.
But not royal blue; never royal blue.

Then again
At least they haven't taken our name, yet.

And what happens to...
Heart's identity? You know, the one that was all about the south-eastern suburbs (via Bundoora), bitter NSL fan, Kevin Muscat and colour blue hating, real traditional club, no gimmick, pretty football, YOOF! (arf) demographic? That person is surely going to be annoyed by all this.

The less talked about division in Australian soccer
That between Australian soccer fans that have pay television, and those that don't. It usually manifests itself during the year when the former try to talk to the latter about overseas leagues, but is felt most deeply when it comes to the Socceroos.

And while the situation has improved marginally with SBS showing some games on a one hour delay, for those matches not covered under that agreement - and that still is most of them - they exist on a different plane.

Twice yesterday at Avondale Heights, one chap fell into the trap of asking first myself, and then later another bloke, whether we had watched that morning's Australia vs Croatia friendly, as he had done. Neither of us had, and the reason was the same: no Foxtel.

Leaving aside my indifference to the A-League and overseas football in general, even those with an interest in those things are almost obliged to get pay television to make the most of that experience.

Otherwise, they'll end up in a modified version of the situation that I'm in - knowing of the existence of certain players, of being able to recognise most of the names, but knowing actually very little about what kind of players our national team representatives are, and how they're going week to week - unless you get lucky enough to see a cherry picked snippet on a news broadcast

As long as Fox is paying the bills (not South's bills, obviously, but you get my drift) then situations like this will keep popping up - but at least we're not at the stage of having segregated facilities at Australian soccer venues for Foxtel people and non-Foxtel people. Not yet, anyway.

Blog redesign
Shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic and all that. If you know some decent html and and want to make it look pretty, be my guest. Hell, even a nicer background image would be good.

Teenagers and telephones
Roy Hay's phone going off while being interviewed about his new book on ABC News Breakfast the other day was classic comedy.

Social club news
Anyone heard anything?

Around the grounds
Facilities Audit Fun Time Spectacular!
Got the call some time on Saturday morning, after not having planned to go anywhere or see anyone. So off to Avondale Heights it was, knowing only that they were on top of NPL1 by two games or so - I didn't even know who their opponents were.

Avondale Heights' ground has been much maligned by several people in NPL circles, including me, and I'd never even seen the place. The one time I actually saw Avondale Heights play a game, it was actually at Port Melbourne in one of those playoffs from state 2 to state 1.

Isn't it only right then, that I see for myself what all the fuss is about, and just how much worse it was then say, Brunswick City? They started off well, as they had some bloke manning the car park and collecting entrance money. Now admittedly I didn't pay, because I have an FFV season pass, but as it turned out, what could have been a win for Avondale Heights devolved into a draw when I entered and realised, hey, it's an open park, and there are a billion ways to get into the ground and not even see the bloke in the car park.

What about shelter? Well, Brunswick City has very limited shelter, and so does Avondale Heights. The problem for Avondale Heights is that the shelter that does exist is all behind the goals, in the worst possible viewing position, because you have not one, but two fences blocking your view. You have the perimeter fence of the field, and behind that you also have another, taller fence to stop the ball from getting into the crowd.

The combined effect of these two fences is to block the view of the goal at the other side of the field - which is not a problem if it's not raining, because you can just move to another part of the venue, maybe along the sidelines - but it was raining yesterday, for a good portion of the day, so you then have to bring a brolly or hide under the trees Moreland City's Campbell Reserve style.

At least moving along the wing next to the benches allows you to see the concrete and metal drainage lane which exists probably just over a metre from the sideline, with nice gravelly kind of thing right next to that. You can then move around and see the odd framing device on the goals.

No club, if it's at all possible, would choose to have to play under such conditions, and maybe Avondale Heights have plans and agreements with their local council to get the upgrades necessary to bring the venue up to NPL standard, but it's going to take some serious work.

The game itself, played a on a pretty heavy field, was a bit of a snore fest. Heights deserved their 1-0 win, and the standard was better than the state league 1 (both north/west and south/east) I've seen this year, but there was something missing. Not on the field, because the players from both sides were putting in the requisite effort, but mostly from the small crowd - some sort of edge, of interest. Maybe I'm looking for too many holes to poke at. One last thing on this match - the Heights goalkeeper was punished late in the match for taking longer than the designated six seconds to get rid of the ball, and had an indirect free kick awarded against him - but no yellow card, which I thought was unusual.

Final thought
Can we not have this be the start of our annual mid-season slump? Thanks.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Kiss of Death, Round 12, 2014

Port Melbourne Sharks vs Pascoe Vale - Friday 06 June @ 8:30PM @ SS Anderson Reserve
Port Melbourne lost at home 2-4 to Bentleigh, and Pascoe Vale had a good 0-2 win at Goulburn Valley. Port is a rabble. All over the shop. Possibly the most inconsistent team in this year's competition. In saying that, Pascoe Vale aren’t much chop either - but they’re enough chop to beat the Sharks. Port Melbourne Sharks 2 – Pascoe Vale 3.

Green Gully vs Northcote City - Saturday 07 June @ 3:00PM @ Green Gully Reserve
Green Gully was somewhat on the up since their 1-0 win over the Knights last week, but suffered an embarrassing 1-4 loss on Wednesday in the Cup. Northcote drew 1-1 at the Bergers in a somewhat exciting encounter. Gully will bounce back from the midweek embarrassment and beat Northcote City quite convincingly. Green Gully 3 – Northcote City 0.

Goulburn Valley Suns vs Dandenong Thunder - Saturday 07 June @ 6:30PM @ Shepparton
The relegation bound Goulburn Valley Suns might as well start planning for next year's NPL1. There is no way back for them now, considering after Dandy they have South at Lakeside. Dandy was taught a footballing lesson last week in their 5-0 hammering at South Melbourne. They were a different team to the one that lost 0-1 to South in the Cup. They must’ve played all their cards wrong! They will bounce back and beat the Suns no problemo. Goulburn Valley Suns 1 – Dandy Thunder 3.

Hume City vs Bentleigh Greens - Sunday 08 June 14 @ 3:00PM @ Broadmeadows Valley
Hume had a good 1-3 win at Ballarat, while Bentleigh beat the Sharks 2-4 in a thriller. This should be a good game to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Both teams usually play at full pace and always like going for the kill. Hume City 2 – Bentleigh Greens 1.

Melbourne Knights vs Ballarat Red Devils - Sunday 08 June @ 3:00PM @ Somers Street
A depleted Knights recovered from their weekend loss at Gully, and bounced back with a 1-4 midweek Cup win. The Devils lost at home to Hume and seem to have lost their way. The Knights will also need to rock up to Lakeside 48 hours later for a Cup tie against the high-flying South. Melbourne Knights 2 – Ballarat Red Devils 1.

Heidelberg United vs Werribee City - Sunday 08 June @ 5:00PM @ Olympic Village
Heidelberg hit a stumbling block in their 1-1 draw with Northcote. A late equaliser gave them some hope of catching South. Hahaha, yeah right. Werribee were unlucky in their 2-0 loss at Oakleigh, with a saved penalty which would’ve brought them back to 1-1. I cant see the Bergers losing to those hacks from Werribee. In saying that, both teams like to hack a little, so expect plenty of cards. Heidelberg United 2 – Werribee City 1.

Oakleigh Cannons vs South Melbourne - Friday 06 June @ 8:30PM @ Jack Edwards Reserve
The game of the season. Second place, -9 points Oakleigh host first place +9 points South Melbourne. I’ve seen Oakleigh a few times this year and they ain't too impressive. South are having their moments but are quite frankly unbeatable. South is at full strength, while Oakleigh who cares. They could play with 12 and still lose. South inflicted major carnage on Dandenong last week. A 0-1 extra time win for the Cup and a 5-0 drilling on Sunday. South was very good on Sunday. Every team seems to give their all against us early on, then die in the arse once they cop the first. Every team seems more nervous against conceding rather than scoring. It’s not a matter of how many, but when. Because like our previous coach used to say, “one day we’re gonna absolutely batter a team”. Well, that happened, but not under his tenure. Chris Taylor my friends is the ‘Gamia’ like they say in Greek. Loosely translated to “The Fucker”. I wouldn’t be surprised if the players wear condoms during the game for when the time comes to open up the opposition. The opposition starts off well lubed for when it happens. Oakleigh is no different. They will all be well lubed up for the gangbang we are going to see on Friday night. There should be a bumper crowd at Jack Edwards and as usual these muppets get to play us at home first. How does this work every year? We are yet to play these clowns at our ground first up [we played them at home first in 2009, 2010 (at Kingston Heath) and 2013 - Ed.]. Either way, I couldn’t care if we played them on the moon. We would still beat them.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Supporter artefact Wednesday - signed Paul Trimboli frame

One of our readers, Arthur - who sent us this great photo - sent us another photo a few weeks ago, which we haven't been able to show off until now because of both more topical entries, as well as our continuing cup run which we are all happy with I'm sure.

Arthur's brother Nick apparently bought signed, framed and still mulleted Paul Trimboli photo many years ago from a store called 'Superstars and Legends' in Highpoint (which apparently still exists, just not there). Now, that takes me back, not for the existence of that particular store, but just to that pre-eBay era of when sports memorabilia and novelty bloke stuff stores like What's New seemed to have a presence in every suburban shopping centre (and which also apparently still exists, albeit in places I'm unlikely to ever come into contact with).

Trimmers haircut aside, it's also always confuzzled me as to why 'South' becomes 'Sth', in situations when there's obviously room to fit the entire word in. Anyway, thanks to Arthur again for sending us material to share - if you'd like to do the same, please, don't hesitate to contact me. More cup action next week, so the artefacts take another break, which is irritating because I have some really good stuff to show.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

South's winning streak continues - South Melbourne 5 Dandenong Thunder 0

After a month of mostly flat, grinding performances, including a draining 120 minute skin of our teeth win against Thunder midweek, it was going to be interesting to see how we would front up in this game - let alone which version of Thunder would turn up tonight.

Slaven Vranesevic made way for Matthew Theodore, who came back into the side after missing the midweek cup match - apparently due to attending his university graduation ceremony - while Michael Eagar was once again partnered in central defence by Andrew Mullet, with James Musa on the bench following his stint at international duty.

To my relief, it was a more assertive South in this game, so even as Thunder pressed forward and moved the ball well out wide, we weren't without our chances at the other end. We had to withstand some dangerous balls into the area, and even conceded some headers from set pieces, but more often than not we kept doing enough to make the Thunder play the extra pass which saw them come undone, extinguishing the space that they momentarily had but could not make the most of.

Without warning, a flock of seagulls decided to take
 flight early during the first half. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
At the other end, Jamie Reed had the best of our early chances, but he could only send his shot across the face of goal - he also hit a freekick on to the top of the crossbar. Nevertheless, up front we kept the ball well, and moved it quickly, more often than not making the right decisions even if the execution sometimes left a little to be desired.

The one-two combo which knocked Thunder onto the ropes came late in the first half. Milos Lujic opened the scoring, running on to a through ball and then quickly making space and shooting out of Zaim Zeneli's reach. Then just three minutes later a cross to the back post saw Nick Epifano's header saved by Zeneli, only for Theodore to finish it off.

The referee keeps a close eye on the push and shove.
Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Thus South went into the break 2-0 up, a score which we deserved for being clinical rather than dominating a match which had been quite even, as well as very entertaining. The only concern was the lack of discipline which saw a push and shove fest erupt on the halfway line between the benches.

The second half started with a chance to each side, but soon devolved into a 15 minute mess of slow and mistake riddled football. Thunder had one shot hit straight at Jason Saldaris, but thereafter could muster little of note, as tiredness took over and the enormity of the task ahead of them kept getting bigger.

James Musa salutes the crowd after scoring his goal.
Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Jamie Reed's free kick was saved by Zeneli, but Tyson Holmes was on hand to mop up the scraps, netting his first goal of 2014. The game was as good as over - everything else after that was a bonus as James Musa, who came off the bench late in the game, netted his first goal in a South shirt for 4-0. Reed, too, managed to get on the score sheet for the first time since scrambling a goal over the line at Ballarat a month ago, after being fouled in the penalty area and taking the resulting penalty, which he smashed into the back of the net.

As happens with big scores at Lakeside, the scoreboard ran out of room for the names, and the chant went up noting this fact. It seems almost trite to say this of a team that's won 14 games from 14 starts, but it's been a lot of fun watching this team so far this year. The gallows humour of so many barren and inconsistent seasons has taken a backseat to joy and enthusiasm - and it's not in the context of a frenzied run to sneak into the finals either.

But there's still a long way to go, of course. Today's win keeps us nine points ahead of Oakleigh, who beat Werribee 2-0 on Saturday. Heidelberg, who had been level with Oakleigh, fell to eleven points behind us after drawing 1-1 with Northcote.

Next week
Oakleigh away on Friday night, in what is probably the most anticipated match of the season so far. A win is most desirable, but even a draw would be do us little harm in the greater context.

If you can't make it to the game, Teo Pellizzeri has popped up on various social media sites to post this, so have a gander and listen in:
I normally don't promote the broadcast game on here but given its importance to the season no harm in hyping it up.
8.25pm Friday Night - Oakleigh Cannons v South Melbourne & Live Cast channel on TuneIn Radio app
Dockerty Cup news
We've been drawn to play against the winner of Tuesday's match between Melbourne Knights and Green Gully. For the first time in this year's competition, we'll be hosting a tie - which apart from progression to the semi-finals, also counts as the final stage of FFA Cup qualification.

James Musa makes All Whites debut
James Musa made his debut for the All Whites the other day against South Africa. He came on as a substitute, and ended up both saving a goal bound shot with his arse, and getting an elbow in the face.

SMFCMike on SoundCloud
I think I probably should have mentioned this earlier. SMFCMike, who some Twitter folk will know from his rather, how should I put this... 'partisan' persona on there, has been doing his own thing on SoundCloud. Frankly, I'm too afraid to listen in to any of Mike's antics, but in the interests of 'promoting independent South Melbourne Hellas perspectives', a link to his channel has been added to the links on the right hand side.

Chris Taylor interviewed by Craig MacKenzie
Quite an interesting little interview with the current South manager. He says some outrageous things about South, mostly about our bigness, that cynics like me are always wary of when they come from people who have arrived here recently and might soon be gone again - taking all the players they brought with them, naturally.

But who knows, maybe he actually means it? Just as interesting though is the discussion of his approach to coaching, and for someone who's been around the block a few times, who his biggest influence is - though one of the people on smfcboard wasn't particularly happy that Taylor has modeled his managerial approach on John Gardiner - if I was to guess, probably something to do with a dour British style footballer, as opposed to the traditional Hellas 'score lots of goals' approach. On the the other hand, it's refreshing to see someone taking aim at buzzword coaching.

Where's the food truck?
Though it had zero hipster credibility - no tacos, Thai food, bánh mì, or burgers on a brioche bun - the disappearance of the food truck/caravan at Lakeside was not pleasant news, as it still had better food than the kiosk opposite it. The main function of said food truck - to provide expensive but usually edible souvs, and sausages of varying and random degrees of spiciness - has been absorbed into the kiosk's menu. What this means is no more 'gourmet' sausages, and a very ordinary, yet still expensive souvlaki.

Still, the kiosk had chicken flavoured Twisties and instant cup noodles(!) which is a point of difference to most places - though unfortunately the noodle brand is Fantastic. Not that goalkeeping coach Bojo Jevdevic seemed to mind.

Hay and Murray's 'A History of Australian Football'
We mentioned this book last week, including its recommended retail price of $45 - but one of our readers has spotted it for $29 at Kmart, which is outstanding value for a hardback. Here's proof if you need it (photo taken at Kmart Altona Gate):
St Albans return serve to departing FFV CEO Mitchell Murphy
Remember the bit we did about St Albans being docked three points for not fielding an under 13s team in some fixture or other? Well, they're not letting go of it, and what's more they're even digging themselves in for a bit of internet trench warfare with this frankly, amazing article on their website. For mine, there are two interesting aspects to this article:
  1. The refrain that people working in soccer and for soccer people, should themselves be soccer people.
  2. That since Murphy is going soon anyway, what's the end game of this approach?
The first point gets us back into the debate about who are the most ideal candidates to run an organisation like the FFV - those who have been born and bred within the game, or those from outside of it. For the former, the advantage is an understanding of the culture and operating environments clubs exist in. But that too, has its drawbacks, which have we have seen pop up repeatedly.

Victoria's soccer culture is not of a piece - it is made up of several still fragmented groups, such as those from strong men's teams, those from women's soccer, and especially those from junior soccer, each of whose involvement takes on a different shape, and does not necessarily lend itself to understanding the needs of the other groups.

We've also had soccer people running the game before before, and yet that always eventually seemed to end up at the point of self-interested cabals running the sport - and limiting the talent pool available to those who have spent their whole lives in the sport only makes these sorts of cabals easier to form.

So, let's get people from outside the game to run the sport, without fear of favour, for the best interests of everyone. But the problem then becomes that not only does the relevant FFV employee not understand or perhaps even care about the local soccer culture, but that they may well put the needs of the FFV - their employer - above those of its constituents when competing interests clash.

It's a problem compounded by the modern corporate trend of white collar workers frequently changing employers. And while that may not be as much of an issue for a lot of these companies, for an organisation like FFV, which has so many different constituencies, many of which have people with a lifetime attachment to the game and their particular roles within it, it causes massive disruption every time someone leaves FFV and a new start has to be created almost from scratch.

It's not a problem that will ever be solved, because one way or another, anyone who works for an organisation like FFV will be compromised in some way - which makes the second point I mentioned earlier all the more interesting. The previous CEOs, long termer Mark Rendell and interim replacement Peter Gome, were both castigated by elements of the local soccer community for not being football people - and to be fair, that perception was probably a fair one.

For his part, Mitchell Murphy has tried to cultivate the perception that he is in his own way, a part of the soccer scene, even if he wasn't a local to begin with. But that attempt hasn't quite washed with some of the more conservative elements of the Victorian soccer public, who are wary of those whose interest seems mainly focused on junior soccer (though to be fair to St Albans, their approach to soccer has been much more holistic over the journey, in the way that leading Australian-Croatian clubs so often are.)

But the dig at Murphy's rugby league background only serves to highlight the difficulty of a non-soccer person coming in to run the game, and especially the struggle for credibility they have to face - and one could take that problem even further. As anyone who has attended a South Melbourne (or Westfield) AGM can tell you, even when you have what you think are the best interests of the game or club at heart, combined with reason, logic and facts, there's always going to be some grumpier, older and usually male person who will always tell you that you are too young, too new, too experienced to know what you're talking about.

Though just where we'll find soccer people with a lifelong enmeshment in the game across all sectors, yet with no enemies, with the business nous to run a fiscally responsible enterprise, all while keeping the game moving forward, is anyone's guess.

Final thought(s)
Ghost trams are awesome.

RIP dodgy carpark across the road from Spotswood Station.