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.


  1. I apologise also for not mentioning Altona East PAOK at any time during this interview, especially as they were also responsible for a lot of my formative experiences in the game, and provide much entertainment during Saturday afternoons not spent at South.

  2. Interesting interview.

    I must admit I am surprised that you consider yourself a Bitter. I always equate Bitters with the likes of the people on the FootballAnarchy Forum. That is, people with some, ahem, extreme views. In fact, my own 'bitterness' has mellowed as a result of reading this blog!

    Other than that, most of the interview covered stuff I have read here before. However, some other thoughts of mine materialised as a result of listening to the interview. Is it because of the different format of communication? Probably to some extent.

    For instance, the existence of the Knights supporters on this bog. My instant reaction was "Why doesn't one of YOUR supporters get a blog, and stop hassling us?!" :)

    The other thing you have mentioned in the past is your father being a Heidelberg supporter. Now, although you mentioned in the interview that you were never taken to a Heidelberg game, it still smacks of the same thing that many have done in relation to abandoning South for Victory! :) Yes, another smiley face.

    The other thing that is never mentioned (and has nothing really to do with your interview) is that many Greeks who support the likes of Victory may never have in fact really supported South. They either never went to the games, or just a handful of games. I would love to know the stats on this. But if its substantial, it provides ammunition to the New Dawn argument. Of course, I STILL think that these formally non Hellas supporting Greeks should NOT be supporting the Victory because of the racist/prejudice/anti-democratic nature of the whole post 2004 set up.

    I was interested in your father comment about the Iran game. My friend's father said a similar thing just moments before Samaranch announced the winning bid for the 1996 Olympics. That is, he his son (my friend) that Atlanta would win. Are these pronouncements based on anything? Who knows.

    My final observation was, as I was listening to you berate various people in the game, I could not help but think of the new Finance Minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis!

    Savvas Tzionis

    1. Always good to read your thoughts, Savvas,

      Being interviewed is indeed different from writing on here, but you're right that in a lot of ways, the most dedicated readers of this blog would probably not have received a lot of new information from the interview. But writing this blog is in many ways a solitary pursuit - aside from those like yourself who decide to post back, or the occasional person who contributes an article.

      It's also an incremental pursuit, in that ideas and ideologies have been developed over a long period of time, whereas in an interview you have to spill it out then and there into some sort of coherent framework, not always a strength of mine but I think it worked out OK here. Writing this requires a lot of pauses and breaks for consideration (even when things don't come across as considered) and it's mostly mediated through my own head. When talking to someone else, there's a different relationship between content provider and potential audience.

      In other words, sometimes tone is as important as content, and the speaking persona can be different from the writing persona. In that sense, I've enjoyed the recent opportunities to branch out of the writing game and do some interviews (with Tom Pollock, Anthony Colangelo and now Brogan Renshaw).

      Regarding the bitterness, it's a broad church. Having been in and around the World Game Forum/Football Anarchy scene for a while, I like to think that I provide a sympathetic and moderate voice to 'bitterness', that's not just based on being reactionary. The fact that you've come on here and said reading this blog has reduced your bitterness, I think that's actually pretty cool.

      As for the Knights fans, they did start their own blog of sorts, but one has to admit that South Melbourne Hellas is a lot more interesting.

      A clarification on the Heidelberg thing - I did go to Bergers games as well, including seeing a pre-Glory Bobby Despotovski, but South got into my heart via
      the TV first - what's more difficult to take is the way people who already fans of South have ditched us as if they were never fans. As for those non-South supporting Greeks who have jumped onto the Victory bandwagon, I don't want to judge, but I would like to know their reasons. I have my suspicions about certain motives, but it needs more thorough and appropriate research. I think the answers gleaned would be very interesting, The following article has always been very interesting to me

      though keep in mind the problems of extrapolating generalised answers from one person's experiences.

      In a lot ways, we're all living in a Paul Wade fantasy world. Read his autobiography (written with help from Kyle Patterson), and he talks very much about a non-ethnic/mainstream soccer future not entirely dissimilar to what's eventuated.

      As for the final, comment, ha! I will only say that I am also against the tie as both a clothing item and signifier of professionalism and trust. The tie is at best a noose or a trap, and it can get stuffed.

  3. In regards to my 'bitterness', it came from a very different direction than the usual suspects. I was a constant critic of the old NSL and its ethno-centric persona.

    But over a 10 year period, my thoughts changed. Its something I have been meaning to put pen to paper about. Its a Robert Manne like journey.Perhaps what I hated then, is similar to what I hated now? The mafia like domination of the levers of power?

    Another thought occurred to me, as I was watching the NFL Super Bowl, about an aspect of the American game which gives hope to clubs like South Melbourne. Where am I going with this, you may ask?!! The Billionaires of the NFL and Australias very own Struggle Street (to quote Alan Jones)?!

    The majority of people in Australia would be shocked to know that College football (Gridiron) in the USA gets huge crowds. It took me a while to work out why. Well, nowadays its easy with the internet! But one key reason is the fact that a College cannot re-locate! And it is not privately owned and therefore, at the whim of one owner.

    Up to now, we have had clubs folding (Gold Coast, North Queensland), clubs being sold to overseas interests to act as a god knows what type of club! (Melbourne Heartless to Manchester City). But, thus far, we have not had the most American of things happen yet .... RELOCATION!

    It may not ever happen, but the A league is still a haemorrhaging competition money wise. The A League was willing to sell its soul in relation to Heartless, they may go that next step further.

    But even if this never happens, the plight of Newcastle and Central Coast may jolt the whole current established order of things. And then, perhaps, some of these fans who departed their old clubs, will realise that their new club is not the bright shining toy they thought it was.

    Savvas Tzionis

    1. You're right about the lack of relocation in college sports being a huge factor (though college sports has a ,ot of other issues), but it's also important to note the relatively slow development of professionalism in US sports outside of baseball.

      Unlike Europe, where one governing body took control of a sport early on, the US had many competing leagues in ice hockey, gridiron and basketball - and one of the important things about that also is that they were often tied to the industrialised north-east of the country, with little to no presence in the west and the South - just look at the crowds non-NFL states like Alabama and Arkansas can pull. Up until the 1920s/30s, there was even the idea that college football was superior to the NFL.

      Being a little bit of an NFL enthusiast, I'm fascinated (and appalled) by the history of relocation, and its prospects in the immediate future. At the moment for example you have the absolute desperation of the NFL to get a team back into Los Angeles. So you have the Chargers, Raiders and the Rams all looking at potentially moving there.

      Of course how this ties in to our present dilemma is what kind of deal Fox Sports has with the FFA, about where teams are situated. It could quite possibly be that a Newcastle presence is almost non-negotiable on that front, but that a Central Coast team might be disposable. It's also something that doesn't come up a lot among those who are promoting promotion and relegation.

  4. Another thought of mine has been the effect of the Global Financial Crisis.

    As we know, its effect on Australia was minimal.

    On a personal level, it had an effect on my outlook on Economic issues. As a bit of a Lefty, I had to accept 30 years of relentless Neo-liberal economic 'advances'. Because I had to surrender ground to the Right on economic issues, I (and I daresay many others on the left) were relentlessly liberal in our cultural outlook. At the time, I was looking into buying a nice new European car, when it dawned on me that a Ford Falcon was just as good, if not better, and more suitable, and cheaper than the European imports. Consider this an example of my change in outlook at that time. Although, like many people in Australia, the GFC didn't effect me on an economic level.

    But it was strong enough to help ruin a couple of new clubs in Gold Coast and North Queensland.

    I think what influenced me, was that I didn't see anyone else in this country stopping for a moment to see what the liberalisation of society (economically right and culturally left) had wrought (superficially things like tattoos, more importantly things like divorce, industrial relations, mass migration).

    I suppose one way of getting off that bus, was to go back to my roots at a spectator level and be amongst the 'people' who never left the club.

    Savvas Tzionis


A few notes on comments.

We've had a lot of fun over the years with my freewheeling comments policy, but all good things must come to an end. Therefore I will no longer be approving comments that contain personal abuse of any sort.

Still, if your post doesn't get approved straight away, it's probably because I haven't seen it yet.

As usual, publication of a comment does not mean endorsement of its content.