Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Black rice and a beer - Kiss of Death, round 2, 2015

Friday 27th February, Port Melbourne vs Pascoe Vale @ 8:30, SS Anderson Reserve
Port Melbourne walloped Hume City 1-3 and Pascoe Vale copped three against the Bergers. Now, let’s not look too much into Port's win. They’re a bunch of men who played a very raw bunch of boys. Yeah three goals is good, but really, look at the quality of your opposition. Pascoe at least can say, we played a decent team and yeah, OK, we copped three. Will be a very interesting match, and from my view a very difficult one to call. Port are usually good starters 'til around round four, then they fade out. Pascoe take a while to start playing OK football. Based purely on that fact and nothing else, Port should win this one. Port Melbourne 2 – Pascoe Vale 1.

Friday 27th February, Melbourne Knights vs Northcote City @ 8:30, Knights StadiumThe Knights had a woeful first half last week against Avondale, but found their feet in the second half to win 3-1. Northcote City had a tough first outing at Green Gully and got hammered 4-1. The Knights need to realise that football is a game of 90 minutes, not 45. They had a brain fade in the second half vs South in the Community Shield, and a brain fade against Avondale in the first half last week. Northcote played more than half the match at Gully with 10 men, in what my sources tell me was a yellow card at worst. Yeah, you could say unlucky, but then again, they were at an unforgiving Gully. If the Knights are able to concentrate for 90 minutes, then they should have no issue disposing of Northcote. Melbourne Knights 2 – Northcote City 0.

Saturday 28th February, Green Gully vs Oakleigh Cannons @ 3:00, Green Gully Reserve
Gully hammered Northcote 4-1, and Oakleigh as expected lost to South Melbourne 1-0. Gully were clinical against Northcote. Haven’t heard any rave reviews about them yet, and I’m not going to kick that off. Oakleigh though, well, are they better than last year? No. I think they have too many egos this year. They were OK against South, but weren’t threatening. They will be looking to bounce back against Green Gully, but Gully is on a high. They will be too good. Green Gully 2 – Oakleigh Cannons 1.

Saturday 28th February, North Geelong vs South Melbourne @ 5:00, Elcho Park
Match of the round! North Geelong had a bit of a trip down to Bentleigh last week and left empty handed. South was at home in their plush surroundings by the lake and had an OK win against Oakleigh. Although unconvincing last week, South still is the team of the century and we don’t lose to teams like North Geelong. South needs to improve. We weren’t the best and were playing with fire towards the end. Nikola Roganovic was brilliant. Kept us in it with three magical saves in the last ten minutes. News has it that Peter Gavalas will be out for another five weeks. If Nikola has a ripper next 5 weeks, then Petey will be warming the bench. Regardless, we are human too, and we wish Peter Gavalas a speedy recovery. My only concern with South is Dane Milovanovic who looks like a goose, and gets lost in the midfield, and Stirton who is underdone like my mate's chicken sticks. I will be touching down at Avalon some time in the mid morning, heading to Cunningham Pier for an autograph session, then chauffeur driven to Elcho Park. There I will expect VIP treatment, pivo on tap and crni rižot, Riba na gradele i blitva and Janjetina s ražnja. I also expect a better South performance this week by a literal country mile. We rode all our luck last week, and have none left. Now, it’s time to play football! North Geelong 0 – South Melbourne 3.

Saturday 28th February, Dandenong Thunder vs Bentleigh Greens @ 7:00, George Andrews Reserve
Dandy beat Werribee 1-2 last week and Bentleigh beat the newcomers North Geelong 2-0. Was expected to be a tough game for Dandy last weekend, and it was. Scrappy affair that copped the rain halfway through it. But they dug in, and left with three points. Bentleigh had a somewhat more comfortable result against North Geelong. But bang for buck Bentleigh didn't show much last week, where you could say, 'WOW! What a team!'. Will be a difficult visit to Dandy. Dandy have things to prove and they won’t just sit back and let Bentleigh come. Expect plenty of goals at this one. Dandenong Thunder 2 – Bentleigh Greens 3.

Sunday 1st March, Hume City vs Avondale FC @ 3:00, Broadmeadows Valley Park
Hume went down to Port and Avondale had a tough welcome to the NPL at the Knights. Won’t say too much about this match because I really don’t have much to say, surprise, surprise. But, I will say that this will be Avondale FC’s first win. If they can do to Hume what they did to the knights in the first half, then hume should be worried. Hume City 1 – Avondale FC 2.

Sunday 1st March, Werribee City vs Heidelberg Utd @ 3:00, Galvin Park
This match has Heidelberg win written all over it. If they can beat a stubborn Pascoe Vale 3-0, then imagine what they can do to a shithouse Werribee! Werribee City 0 –Heidelberg United 4.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

More than a little shaky - South Melbourne 1 Oakleigh Cannons 0

First half
Drinks held at new club sponsor The Water Rat - and with no social club, you may as well - and it went well, except for the burger that was too damn dry. Fancy capsicum paste is all well and good, but it's no substitute for a good tomato sauce. Apart from that it was quite enjoyable, cheap pints and a good vibe, though the start of the season always seems to attract pretty much everyone that still cares about the club to turn up. A woman who I assume is associated with the pub asks us how do we refer to our club and we answer, 'South' or 'Hellas', and I add but never 'Souths', which while a smattering of people do use, it has never sounded true to these ears.

(and if ever you're having a discussion about 'Against Modern Football' and ask the AMF proponent what is 'modern football exactly?', and they begin their answer with 'well, for me it's..,', just know you've already won).

Of course a huge part of round one - or more correctly, our first home game - is getting all the membership goodies, including personally being welcomed to the new season by El Presidente. The card is a solid piece of work this season, unlike the flaccid effort from last year, the championship review DVD is a nice little collectors item, but where was the other stuff? Where were the bumper sticker to help my car get smashed in at Somers Street? Where's the little championship pennant? It looks like we'll have to wait a bit longer for those, like, the next home game, whenever that is.

The Valkanis family were also back, outside cooking several large spits of meat. Having already eaten, I was happy to pass this time, but perhaps if they;re back again in several weeks time, I might be keen to relive some old memories. Seeing radio people set up on the balcony, my instinct was that it was the FFV group doing their thing for another year, only to cotton on that it was actually 3XY Radio Hellas. Apart from the weird hybrid Greek-English Singapore Cup match from a few years ago, can anyone remember the last time they bothered to cover one of our games live? And is this going to be a regular occurrence, or a one off? Will they be sharing the love with the other Greek clubs?

I said 'Step pause turn pause pivot step step,' not "Step pause turn pause
 pivot step pause!' Oh, shudder. Photo: Peter Psarros.
The pre-game news circled around the fact that Peter Gavalas had gotten injured at training, and was going to miss six weeks. Now, was this a new injury, or the recurrence of a pre-existing injury he's brought into this year? We'll probably never know, but the immediate consequence was that Nikola Roganovic, out of the game for years, got the call up to the starting eleven. In the end, he did more than most to get us the three points, in what was at best a pretty disjointed performance. Despite Oakleigh's dominance, including a shot off the crossbar, it was us who went into the break 1-0 up after an own goal of all things, which seemed to surprise a lot of people in the ground in the way that it happened, but that's OK. They all count the same, and don't you ever forget that. Mind you, I almost missed because of the mistimed efforts of someone trying to get some choreography started.

The bit in the middle
Sometimes a conversation just follows its own muse. We discussed the Iliad and the Odyssey, and the relative merits of teaching either of those to children, even in children's editions. Having never read the Iliad, it's difficult for me to make educated comment on that, but the Odyssey of course does lend it itself to a certain 'fantastic' means of entertainment (see the movies etc). But you have to wonder about the blinding of Polyphemus after Odysseus and his men got him drunk (and yes I know they had to do something to escape otherwise certain death, but it is a pretty gruesome scene). But at what age do you introduce the kids to the scene where Ares and Aphrodite have an affair, and Hephaestus traps them in a fine net and gets the rest of the gods to see them trapped. Then we ended up at Philip K. Dick, and how as good as Blade Runner was, it failed to capture the full complexity of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep; I also recommended my friend read Dick's Ubik, not because it's a great novel, but it because it's a real head fuck. After then moving on to discussing the vastly underrated oeuvre of the late Japanese anime filmmaker Satoshi Kon, the discussion finally ended up on Manowar, and how awesome it would be if they toured Australia (both for those who love them  and those who hate them), and how cool it would be if we could somehow get them to play at Lakeside. Also, the fact that they released their own branded condoms, called Warriors Shield.

Oakleigh coach Miron Bleiberg has already won the hearts of Oz Soccer's
Twitterati (follow him @MironBleiberg). Photo: Peter Psarros.
Second half
If we struggled in the first half, the second half was worse, and the most startling thing was the disparity in fitness between the two sides. Yes it was a warm night, but considering how well we ran out the game last week against the Knights, it was disappointing to see us outrun and outlasted throughout most of the match. With very little midfield presence, the defence probably did as well as they could to keep Oakleigh out, but it was Roganovic who saved our bacon on several occasions, including what looked like a ridiculous double save at the end. But it was the bread and butter stuff - coming off his line, his distribution and the sense that he wouldn't screw up (especially as the game wore on) that was most pleasing about his performance. Of course, it's only the first game, and the first out of perhaps 30 odd matches we'll be playing this season, if not more, Considering they got next to no help from the midfield, the defence stood up well enough, though Kristian Konstantinidis' penchant for sliding in for the tackle promises to be both a thrilling and nervewracking phenomenon. Milos Lujic battled hard up front, and I thought Leigh Minopoulos did OK, but we otherwise pretty ordinary going forward. Usually we're on the other end of the kind of game where one team dominates but can't get the points, so there's both concern that we found ourselves in that position, but joy and/or relief that we managed to get the points.

The refereeing was a bit all over the shop, though of course the footage may make the fans (and Miron Bleiberg, for that matter) look like fools again. Then again, considering the very minor fooforah in the comments section of Kiss of Death's most recent post, even that may not be enough. On a related note, every NPL club has reportedly been given a video camera this year to film games, I assume for collation into a weekly highlights package - though at our AGM (I think) it was also noted that FFV would be using the footage to improve the standard of officiating. Oakleigh were very upset that they didn't get given a penalty late on - a free kick just outside the box instead, while South fans seemed upset that it was given a foul at all. There were many other erratic decisions and cards gicen - mostly to us - but the ones that I would really like a second look at are the offside awarded against us which seemed to be still in our own half, and the moment when Oakleigh keeper John Honos seemed to handle the ball outside his own 18 yard box.

Overall, we looked far less in synch than we did the previous week against the Knights, with our midfield in particular struggling to get the ball, let alone shut down their opponents. Nick Epifano is a talented player, and did some nice things, but he needs to sort out his attitude, at the very least regarding second efforts. He did not look like a happy chappy going down the players' race after the game. I was a

The crowd was listed at a touch over 3500, which the usual scamps found especially ludicrous, and why not? We have a well earned reputation of fudging numbers (in both directions), but the club claims that it was legit because we have the scanning technology, and the FFV was happy to also put up that number. Me, I felt (and I emphasise that this is purely a horrendous guesstimate) that it was closer to 2500, which is still a very good turnout for a Thursday night, and a school night no less, but for the next AGM it may be time to ask for a more detailed breakdown of our attendances, which shouldn't be too hard to accomplish if it's all on computers now. Regardless, the marketing team went to a big effort for this game, and should feel proud of what they achieved.

Next week
North Geelong, in the first of a long series of away matches. Gotta figure out the best way of getting there and back, too.

Joe Simunic rocking it modified Austro-Hungarian style, going with sandals
but no socksPhoto: I don't know, I got this off the Football Anarchy site,
 but if someone knows the original source, let 
me know
Around the grounds
Za Dom Sandals!
No media pass in my grubby little hands just yet, and Gains couldn't make it either, but I decided to head to Knights Stadium anyway to see the home side take on Avondale Heights in what me and Athas Zafiris tried to dub as the #quarryderby. Everyone's favourite exponent of the bear hug was also there, one Aussie Joe Simunic, and he got a remarkably mild and largely disinterested reception from the crowd before the game. Probably a lot more love afterwards, if you know what I mean. Avondale surprised me and a lot of people by dominating the opening half of this game - and not just dominating, but doing it with style. Their style was based around quick passing, keeping it on the ground and lots of runs forward. For their part the Knights looked confused as to how to take on this feisty minnow, and especially the impressive attacking player Chris Irwin. It was Irwin who gave Avondale the lead, helped by chaotic bit of defending by the Knights resulting in a 30 metre lob into an empty net, and thus the second surprise of the night, the relatively large support of the visitors going relatively wild in the grandstand. Going much wilder on the other side of the ground were MCF, who seemed to be involved in some kind of brawl among themselves, about who knows what, but it's not like it hasn't been seen before, Knights came out in the second half looking more like their usual Andrew Marth inspired selves, imposing themselves on the game with more physicality and frontal pressure on the visiting team. The early equaliser was just reward, and the go ahead goal - which came straight after Avondale's second shot off the woodwork for the night - just about wrapped this up, as the visitors simply ran out of gas. Knights picked up a junk time goal at the end to make the win look more impressive than it was.

Final thought
Ren and Stimpy. It's a little tragic that I'm still laughing about this over a week after it happened.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Soccer's back - Kiss of Death, Round 1, 2015

I did promise Paul a season preview this week. But to be honest, I cant be fucked reviewing something that’s been previewed countless times by other websites. Waste of my time. I have however studied round one, and I can give you my tips for the start of the season.

Thursday 19 February, South Melbourne vs Oakleigh Cannons @8:15, Lakeside Stadium
I’d call this one the clash of the titans, but it’s more Titan vs Minnow. South has had an excellent recruitment drive in the off-season. Signing no less than ten players, and releasing nine. Now before everyone points the finger, Dimi Tsiaras has retired, Jamie Reed has moved to Wales, and the other seven were if anything, bench players. The ten we have signed are pretty much all first eleven players. There will be a lot of competition and headaches for Taylor this season, which is a good thing. We lacked depth last season, and I mean quality depth. These signing have made depth a non-issue. South the side to watch this season. Oakleigh as usual are being overrated by everyone. They sign one or two fancy names and everyone starts pulling themselves. Calm the fuck down. South signs a few and it's “South's stealing our players”. The double standards, eh? They have an, 'eh', not bad team at Oakleigh, but not championship winners. Mentally it will always sit in the back of their heads. They are not a big enough character to deserve anything, and their trophy cabinet will be sitting bare for a while to come. South Melbourne 3 – Oakleigh Cannons 1.

Friday 20th February, Bentleigh Greens vs North Geelong @ 8:30, Kingston Heath
Bentleigh are still on their high from their FFA Cup run, where they played no team of note. Big fucken deal really. Have as usual splashed the cash and made signings, which I think are useless and unnecessary. North Geelong have an issue with leaking goals. Only had two clean sheets last season. However, they should still offer good value to this league in their maiden appearance [Let's not forget they did win the predecessor VPL competition in 1992. Ed.]. If they don’t have any coaching issues midway through the season, I can see them trying to force themselves into the finals series. Bentleigh Greens 2 – North Geelong Warriors 1.

Friday 20 February, Melbourne Knights vs Avondale FC @ 8:30, Knights Stadium
Watched the Knights last Friday night against South Melbourne for the Community Shield. They were woeful. It pains me to say it, but they will struggle. Their transfers in the off season have been poor. If they get the injuries they got last year, they’re fucked. Avondale FC have their turn in the NPL after being promoted again (three out of four seasons). They too have signed no one of note. You know, when you come to play with the big boys, you need to have some depth and players who can turn it on. Avondale have come into NPL with pretty much the same team. It will be a tough lesson for them. Melbourne Knights 3 – Avondale FC 1.

Sunday 22 February, Heidelberg United vs Pascoe Vale @ 3:00, Epping Stadium
Haven’t seen the Bergers yet, but by all accounts they have recruited well. Katsakis always seems to pluck these players out of nowhere and this season is no exception I suppose. I have no idea where or how he finds them, but they always seem to surprise. Pascoe Vale have a new ground this season, thank fuck for that. Their old ground is more of an antique now. They have signed three new players of not much calibre. Last year they were stubborn fucks, but this year everyone else's patience has worn thin. Expect Pascoe to finish in the bottom half of the table. Heidelberg United 2 – Pascoe Vale. 1.

Sunday 22 February, Hume City vs Port Melbourne @ 3:00, Broadmeadows Valley Park
Hume has gone on a spree, snapping up a bunch of NPL youth players. Are these players ready for the step up into senior football? No. Are Hume wasting their time? Yes. Will they have a strong campaign? No. Will they make the finals? No. Are they they a team to watch? Fucken LOL no! Port Melbourne have signed Trent Rixon, Alan Kearney and Shaun Kelly, just to name a few. Should other clubs be worried? No. We will see our first coaching change by round six. Eric Vass will be gone and Gus Tsolakis will be moved into his seat. You can see it already. Eric is being set up to fail. The clique has formed at Port and Eric will not be able to control it. Hume City 1 – Port Melbourne 1.

Sunday 22 February, Werribee City vs Dandenong Thunder @ 3:00, Galvin Park
Werribee City are already in relegation trouble and the season hasn't even started yet. Poor signings, poor friendly performances, poor youth team. They are doomed. Don’t bother tipping this team all season. Dead wood. Wasting everybody's time. Dandy Thunder, if they didn't have Stuart Munro, I’d have them down for relegation as well. All sorts of issues off the park, which has left a minimal budget on the park. Won’t get relegated, but will finish 3rd last, opa opa rok der! Werribee City 2 – Dandenong Thunder 2.

Monday 23 February, Green Gully vs Northcote City @ 8:30, Green Gully Reserve
Why would a team like Green Gully sign three players from Bendigo City? People have lost the plot. Overall poor recruitment drive. Disappointing. They've also signed Rani Dawisha from South Springvale Aris. Big jump for the young boy, will be under a shitload of pressure. Northcote has been raped and pillaged in the off-season. I dunno, really, I dunno. They’re one of those teams that always ends up being a pain in your arse somewhere through the season. Just wish they would go away. Green Gully 2 – Northcote City 2.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Stupid Branding Requirement - Melbourne Knights 1 South Melbourne 2

Well, that was a pleasant experience in all sorts of strange ways. Watching the rain start to come down and the lightning strike in the vicinity of Knights Stadium as I drove east along Ballarat Road, it felt good to be heading back to something resembling serious soccer. No need to pay for parking also added that little bit of extra value, though I probably should ducked into the NPL Victoria season launch being held inside the Melbourne Croatia social club adjacent to the ground - if only to add a bi more colour.

I had my umbrella with me, but the rain was that heavy and persistent, and it was only a pre-season affair after all, that I ended up staying in the stand for the whole game, copping cigarette smoke wherever I sat, Bad eye sight and increasingly decrepit short term memory meant that I spent a good bit of the game trying to figure out who some of the players were, especially that skinny looking number seven with the dyed blonde hair - oh, wait, it's Nick Epifano.

No difficulty picking out the goalkeeper at our end, since despite being the better side throughout the first half, and spurning several chances, we went into half time 1-0 down after Knights scored from a corner which Gavalas failed to get to despite it being in the six yard box.
But immaculately taken photos don't tell the whole story of course - it was an excellent corner from the Knights, but the knee jerk reaction from me and some others around me was to blame Gavalas and pine for the days of [insert last decent keeper you think we had and/or Chris Maynard]. I admit that I'm not a Gavalas fan, and that I was probably too strident last night, but when later that night Chris May came out confidently and punched a ball well clear, 'give Pete a chance' ran a clear second to instinctive malevolence - and that's taking into account Gavalas very good diving save from a long range free kick in the second half.

The game wore on, and while one doesn't ever knowingly or willingly discount the chance of an equaliser, time was running out, though we were getting closer. There are certainly games I've seen where we've looked a lot less likely to score a goal. Considering Gains had written us off - for shame, Gains, for saying that we wouldn't score - it was especially pleasing that Andy Brennan of all people popped up with the equaliser, taking advantage of a corner ending up at the back post for him to score with his first touch.
Leigh Minopoulos' winner in injury time, averting the skipping of extra time and straight to penalty shoot out scenario that was set to settle the game, was both an encouraging moment for the team itself in running out the game in the way that we did, but also a sign of the depth we have on hand, This depth may cause its own problems down the line - injuries and suspensions aside, Taylor tends to like putting out the same starting eleven if things are going well - some players are going to be spending a bit of time on the pine this season.

While it'd be stupid to extrapolate a whole season's eventualities based on one game - and a game played in atrocious weather, before the real stuff has started, and before anyone's settle down at that - there were signs of why I think we'll both win the championship again, as well as reasons why we'll fail to do so.

Going forward, aside from the poor finishing, we looked damn good, perhaps better than at any moment I care to think of during 2014. Some of the one-twos, the turns, and the way the forwards seemed to be in synch with each other was very encouraging. We also moved the ball forward quickly, without resorting to long balls; though Chris Taylor seemed to have a different opinion, remarking to the media after the game that he thought we were too direct - and who would have thought Taylor would ever say something like that?

The reasons we could fail to win the title? Complacency, for sure, but the keeping situation is undoubtedly the one everyone is focusing on whether you despise Pete Gavalas or want to him to do well for the simple fact that he's our keeper and that there's no point in trying to destroy our own, when there's already so many others willing to help us along in that regard. More than his failure to get to that corner yesterday - and I think the old adage 'karate yes, or karate no, but never karate guess so' applies for that situation - it was the fact that his defenders clearly weren't on the same page with him on several occasions that is most immediate concern, in this ear when you goalkeeper is meant to be a de facto sweeper.

Whether that was down to a newly re-jigged defence still finding its bearings - it was interesting for example to see Michael Eagar in a defensive midfield role, where the New Zealand soccer fans are more accustomed to seeing him - or due to the weather, you hope that it will be gone soon, because we've already been through this. The opposition, too, was not at full strength, and they too showed signs that they'll need to settle - and while I wish it was league match we'd just won, rather than a pre-season ceremonial shield, I'm still happy to have won said shield as opposed to meaningless scratch match.

Is that a 'happy to be back' face, or 'I am
 going to fuck you guys so hard' face? 
Welcome aboard more new faces
We've copped a little bit of stick for going all gung-ho with our recruiting so soon after a championship. Never mind that we've lost a few players, and that our best kids have been taken by the A-League NPL teams (not that we would have probably used them anyway, but it did happen), it's also part of our well established culture to snare talent from wherever we can, and damn the consequences.

To that end aside from the signing of Peter Gavalas, we've also signed midfielder Cody Martindale (who? exactly) from State League 1 outfit Noble Park; and Kristian 'Gonzo the Great' Konstantinidis (need more Greeks!) from Northcote City, another player who's had a run in with our supporters, I think that feud stemming from some idiocy during our ill-fated 2013 preliminary finals attempt.

Steven, I like your hustle. [Steven smiles]. That's why it was so hard to cut you.
It's farewell to the other of our two championship year goalkeepers, Chris Maynard, who has been let go. There had been consistent chatter about his tendency to miss training, but once he won the number one spot, it seems the fact that he turned up to pre-season training 10 kilos heavier - and remember how it was mentioned at the AGM that we're keeping track of all these things now - didn't help his cause any which way The talk is that Nikola Roganovic will be the number two to Peter Gavalas. Both have spent a bit of time out of the game, and Gavalas of course has all sorts of baggage brings with them (already LOLing it up on Facebook), so it'll be very, very interesting to see how this plays out.

Maynard has since ended up signing for Heidelberg. Let's hope this gamble pays off for us. Rightly or not, many of us have doubts, perhaps magnified further by the fact that even last year the keeping situation was always seen as a weak point. [cliché alert] Only time will tell.

Next week
The official start of our title defence, against perennial bridesmaids Oakleigh Cannons. It's our only home league fixture until April. It sucks that it will be on a Thursday night, which sucks, but welcome to the concept of the marquee opening fixture, which because it went so well last year, will be tried again in 2015. I suppose we should be glad that we're handpicked for these occasions.

Memberships/Negative Nancy persona ditched for one paragraph at least
For those of you who have pre-purchased memberships - good on ya, and if you haven't, head here - then they will be available for collection as per usual outside the gate before our first home game.

Seriously - buy a membership, come to games, be part of the solution, not part of the problem. It's been ten years - get over the fact that we're still in the second tier, and remember that it's still the same club. Don't listen to the naysayers and the excuse makers - it's still South Melbourne, it's still Hellas, in blue and white. Come watch a team that looks like it will have a decent chance to defend its title. Never mind the running track - it's still among the best stadiums in the state, and it's not like you haven't watched sport from distances further away and in lesser comfort than what you get at Lakeside.

Final thought

Monday, 9 February 2015

This week, last week, whatever

Halfway to the real thing
We get an early chance to add to the silverware collection this Friday, with the inaugural Community Shield game to be played against Melbourne Knights this Friday at Knights Stadium. Of course if we win the game, who knows where the trophy will end up, but that's a better problem to have than its opposite.

I did consider asking the people that went over to Adelaide last week to bring back a social club if there was a spare one hanging about, but that would have been a stupid thing to do. The penalty for the extra baggage would have been murder.

Pie floaters, Farmers' Union Iced Coffee, and lazing by the hotel pool.
Praise be to Tiamat the Destroyer that I didn't end up in Adelaide after all. That whole Adelaide thing seemed to just pass by without much fanfare, didn't it? Yes, it's 'only' pre-season, but compared to the usually more thorough media service we've all become accustomed to, not much seemed to make it to those who didn't cross the border. For the record, we lost the first game against West Adelaide 2-1, with the last kick of the game, and lost the second game against Adelaide Blue Eagles 1-0, after being down to 10 men for a large portion of the game due to Brad Norton being sent off.

Ian Syson offered the rather biased (self-admission) observation that new attacking acquisition Andy Brennan didn't look at all out of place; another fan mentioned that Nikola Roganovic played 90 minutes against Blue Eagles; and that in he first game, we spurned quite a few chances. You can read the club's report of the trip here.

Comings and goings
Speaking of Roganovic, the word on the street is that Peter Gavalas has been confirmed as first choice keeper. As unpalatable as that may to some people out there (and in here), the point is now ti remember the following things:

  • That we've shown a lot of faith in Chris Taylor to make the right calls, and so far the results suggest he's usually on the money.
  • That Taylor is willing to make the change if he feels his keeper is not playing up to scratch (though opinions on whether the likely backup, Chris Maynard, is better are open to debate)
  • Gavalas did win the 2013 goalkeeper if the award, and regardless of the mistakes he made, was a lot better in that year than in 2012. 

It's also my understanding that James Musa is gone, though the club has yet to make any official announcement on that matter. Does that leave us a bit thin depth wise in defence? Probably, but we'll see how the club responds to that situation as the year goes on, I think it's fair to say that we had a pretty blessed run with injuries last year, especially when team needed to be rotated through the crowded mid-season schedule.

Another signing is midfielder Jake Barker-Daish, a former Gold Coast United anbd Adelaide United player, as well as an Olyroo. Apart from still being young, I know next to nothing about this player other than what's been put out in the official press. A couple of people seemed quite enthusiastic about this signing, so I'm interested to see how he goes.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

South and Syson off to Adelaide. I'm not going. Not sure about Musa.

Tomorrow, as part of its somewhat peripatetic pre-season, South Melbourne Hellas will travel to Adelaide for the first time in 11 years. While over there, the team will play a game on Friday night against West Adelaide Hellas as a curtain raiser to what seems to be the SA version of the Super Cup, and will follow that up with a game against Adelaide Blue Eagles on Sunday.

As noted earlier, it's unfortunate that I won't be in Adelaide this week, but Ian Syson of the Neos Osmos blog will be there, and he may live blog one or both matches depending on his mood and other vagaries of the universe. If any body else ends up over there, or is even by random chance a local who just wants to do a quick (or lengthy) report, send us a note.

But what about James Musa?
Someone else apart from myself that may not be in Adelaide is James Musa. There are reports that the defender has left (or will leave) to pursue an offer in the United States, I'm guessing in the second tier. As Musa seems to rarely update his Facebook status, and nor has there been any news that I've been able to find on the rest of the relevant parts of the net (ie, Yellow Fever forums), so there's very little to go on, apart from:

  • an Smfcboard post from a source close to the team.
  • the fact that Musa didn't play at all during the friendly against Bulleen Lions last week, though our scout says there was nothing preventing him from doing so,
  • and one fan letting me know beforehand that 'we lost a key player to america - don't know who'.
 No news from the official South channels either, so I'm assuming this was not a planned move from anyone within the club.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Me interviewed on Behind the Game podcast

A week or two ago I did an interview with Brogan Renshaw, founder and host of a podcast called Behind the Game. I had no real idea what it was going to cover (and afterwards we both relaised we hadn't ta;lked about my research into soccer and literature), and after doing the interview I was afraid there were going to be too many pauses, but it actually turned out OK. The interview goes for almost 50 minutes, or if you really can't be bothered just read the gist of what we talked about below.

It's early days yet for this podcast, so there's perhaps a few too many Western Sydney Wanderers people attached (and I even recommended one to Brogan to interview) but the more recent interviews tend to drift away from that, and I think it'll be a series worth keeping an eye (or ear) on.
  • Woe is me for being an outsider (no credibility as a soccer person).
  • How I got into South.
  • Feeling part of the community.
  • Attempt to marginalise myself as much as possible (Eurosnobs, pay TV).
  • A-League inclinations (or the lack thereof), and double standards in expectations.
  • Bitterness (parlance, emotion and being outside the conversation).
  • More marginalisation (backing myself in a corner).
  • Brogan tries hard to find the right words.
  • How the hell does a club like South get back to the top under the current regimes (political and cultural)?
  • Fondest soccer memory.
  • Least fondest memory (OK, maybe more than one, and the dangers of 'what ifs')
  • Betraying my father, betraying Heidelberg, dodging a bullet.
  • Why do I still go to South games? (regrets, you'll only go in for your mates)
  • Old Soccer/New Football (throwaway line my arse).
  • Who's paying for the current marginalisation of the old soccer?
  • The healing process. (hint: it's bullshit)
  • National Club Identity Policy (as if I wasn't going to talk about that)
  • Blogging! (Why?)
  • Success and pitfalls, style vs service.
  • The damn audience.
  • Friends and enemies.
  • Information control and the Whole of Football meeting (you can also hear me opening and closing a bottle of water at some point here).
  • The Greek national team (meh), the Socceroos (I don't want to be meh) and the Asian Cup.
  • Eddie McGuire.
  • What does the future hold for South?
  • The end.

Sunday, 1 February 2015