Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Sunk by ghost of Hellas past - South Melbourne 1 North Eastern MetroStars 2

The club sandwich at the Limerick Arms is a joke. Scott Tunbridge scored the winner against us ten years down the line from his South stint. And the corneal scarring on my good as gone left eye got inflamed again. All in all, a top day at the soccer.

I'd like to think it wasn't hubris or over confidence on the part of those South fans discussing the costs of heading to Sydney to play Bonnyrigg White Eagles - whom North Eastern MetroStars will meet in the final - more so the need to be prepared in the event of South beating MetroStars and being required to make plans at very short notice, made more complicated and expensive by the fact of the NRL grand final this week. All this while a bee tried to get into the remnants of my gin and tonic, and while Steve From Broady poured himself a beer from the communal jug and made it frothier than an Eaton Mall frap.

For what it was worth, I thought we'd justly be favourites for this game, but victory was hardly an assured thing. Going into a gale force wind and copping an own goal in the first ten minutes or so, not a good start. Barely looking like we'd bothered to turn up, it looked like this was going to get nasty, as the visitors played a skillful and pacy sort of game, while our skill level deserted us. It didn't help that the wind changed direction at halftime, but that'd be short changing the visiting team with the name straight out of Lawn Bowls Rendell's and Old Man Dunkerley's Victorian Champions League Summer Soccer Football competition.

(By the way, how good was it sucking up to Martin Foley again? We'd ditched him for the Liberal Party candidate for his seat once we got the job done with the Lakeside lease arrangement, and then we had some sort of special ceremony for Foley to show that we still loved him, baby. That other woman meant nothing to us. Girl, I do not even remember her name. Pamela or something. It is irrelevant for our purposes.)

That we somehow held on long enough without conceding another goal, and actually managed to work our way into the game whereby our equaliser was unapologetically deserved, was a pleasing development. In typical retrospective sports report fashion though, Jamie Reed's missed penalty doomed the side to lose. Never mind James Musa's effort against the crossbar in the second half which still could have given us the lead - Reed's miss was the clincher.

And if that's being unfair to Reed, in singling him out for blame when there were 92 other minutes of stuff to be done, and considering he'd put in the great cross for Milos Lujic's equaliser, then that's the whole point isn't it, of the aforementioned typically lazy hindsight afflicted match report. Pick a scapegoat, and run with it for all it's worth. A good match reporter, even one that can't really see, would for professional reasons take the time to write a nuanced, relatively objective report.

But I'm not getting paid for this, and I suspect that like the players themselves, the long season - 32 league, cup and playoff games, not to mention the long pre-season - has caught up with all of us. We clapped the players off, disappointed as we all were to witness that kind of end to an otherwise successful season - but with no social club yet to hunker down in, sticking around on the concourse in front of our grandstand, even if there was the women's game to follow, seemed kind of pointless, especially since now my left eye was playing up again.

Four or so hours after I entered the Eye and Ear Hospital's emergency department - and I'm not complaining here about the wait, because there were clearly others with a higher level of priority than me needing care - and having been told that I probably wouldn't be given the anaesthetic drop into my eyeball, because 'we can't keep doing that', which probably had some sound, 'let's not get this guy addicted to steroids' medical reasoning behind it, I stood waiting while the doctors talked about having an absinthe party, and then sat down in the optometrist's chair as we went through what one nurse has previously called the 'fat file' of my left eye's history - retinal detachment, cataract, light sensitivity, ulcer, the herpes simplex virus causing blisters to explode on the surface of the eye with attendant corneal scarring.

The doctor and I agreed that while it was an option which would probably need to be undertaken at some point, removing the eye would be a fairly drastic step, especially as it could cause an auto-immune response in the other eye. So keep taking the ointment and these drops, and come back on Friday. In the end, I was glad to be able to get some sleep. Then I woke up on Monday, watched some NFL, played Grand Theft Auto IV, went and bought a power supply for my brother's computer, and did some reading. That no one seemed to miss me during this delay in getting this post out hurt my fragile ego somewhat. Worse is the horror of having the facade of my affected disaffection swept away so easily.

What now?
I don't know, you tell me. Some pre-season kick and chase, not much on the line kind of affair, some time next year, or very late this year. Who knows? Maybe we'll find a way to get the Lakeside ticketing system running properly. We'll start hearing rumours about players coming and going - it's already started, if you know where to look. There'll also be the gala ball on October 31st. Not sure if I'm going to that yet, though I suppose it would be nice if I went to Merrimu Receptions for something other than my funeral. That's a little inside joke there, by the way, understood by me, SMFC TV cameraman Tim Dovas, and maybe Cuddles.

As for the blog...
The usual deal. We'll (I'll) be slowing down. At some point in the next two weeks, I'll hand out some awards. I'll put out the odd book review, try and find some historical artefacts to put up, and thank everyone that needs to be thanked at the end of the year. There'll also be an AGM, and hopefully news of the social club beginning to take shape - and even though it may create the most hits for this site, I'm hoping for a minimal amount of controversy.

Something I thought about while reading a Stewart Lee book recently
Ever had a great idea for a written piece, but you were worried that no-one would publish it? No? How about a slightly above average idea, but had no where to even pitch it? Well, that's the situation I'm in at the moment, whereby I have this idea for a piece - and not just an idea in and of itself, but a means in which to potentially rescue a great but reputedly borderline mean and unpublishable piece, and add to the myriad discussion on all things Australian soccer identities in the post-Lowy, post-multicultural era. And I've found that epithets like 'best Australian soccer writer', 'most underrated', 'funniest', 'most obscure', hell even 'fifth or seventh best Australian soccer writer', or 'one of its worst' - some semi-real, some of which I may have made up about myself - mean close to nothing. What's the point of this hard earned imaginary and/or imagined street cred, when there's no one to turn to get this 'idea' into print (and it needs to be print for aesthetic reasons, if nothing else). So kids, the lessons are. Don't shoot from the hip. Neuter your sense of individuality. Don't upset old people. Play the game.

After much debate, we eventually decided that
the shade of blue of Upfield's playing kit was
most similar to 'Robin Egg Blue'.
Around the grounds
Robin Egg Blue
Ian Syson made the offer of giving me a lift out to neutral Truganina to watch the champions of State League 4 West, Hoppers Crossing, and their North division counterpart Upfield, play off in a post-season finals series. After finding myself in a state of confusion on the importance of this game, I was eventually convinced that both sides had already won promotion regardless of this result, and that this was just part of the process of determining who was the best of the State League 4 sides - so, in short, the stakes were pride. The first half saw Hoppers start off with a bit more polish and vigour, but once Upfield settled down they looked good, putting together some quick passing play. One of those plays, along with a bit of patented individual brilliance saw them open the scoring. Too bad for them they kept giving away fouls, and thus they copped a goal from a set piece. The second half was all Hoppers, as they stormed to a 4-1 win, which could have been more if not for the intervention of the woodwork. Arndell Park, the current home ground of the Truganina Hornets, is not a bad ground, though the addition of an extra lighting pole in between the benches on the outer side would not have gone astray. It wasn't too windy last night, but I can imagine there'd be days where it'd be horrible to watch games there,

Final thought
Things could have gone worse this year.

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