Sunday, 1 March 2015

Air Force One - North Geelong 0 South Melbourne 3

After complaining on Twitter about the fact that there were no taxi ranks at either Lara or Corio stations, I received this offer of a lift, which blew me away,
The option being either to go hardcore and take the public transport, or sell out to the man and take up the president's offer, so of course I did the latter. Ghastly Top 40 station music aside, it was a pleasant enough experience, going along for the ride not just with Leo, but also Leo's son, Leo's father, and Gains squished up in the middle seat.  The warning of Avalon Air Show traffic leading up to the game proved to be ill founded, both on the way there and especially on the way back. Indeed like a few others I assume, we got a little bit of a free show on the way there, with planes flying low across the freeway in front of us.

Upon entering the ground, it feels so much like what a country soccer venue should: clearly rural, but also clearly loved. There's a strong soccer culture here, and on the whole the locals were very hospitable. I spent a good part of the under 20s match indoors in the North Geelong SOCIAL CLUB (did you see what I did there, real subtle) having lunch (glorified rissole cevapi roll and a Snickers, tasty sure, but let's be honest hardly the equal of well made souvlaki) and watching Australia get smashed in the cricket on the TV, but avoidinh the temptation to have a go on the jumping castle.

Steve from Broady showing everyone he's a man of many talents, as he
goes about filming the under 20s game from way up high on the scaffolding.
Photo: Skip Fulton.
Outside the heat and the humidity conspired to make things less than pleasant, and it was a credit to the under 20s players, who had to deal with the worst of it, that they put on as good a show as they did, while the rest of us marvelled at Steve from Broady making it to the top of media tower scaffolding. The conditions were scarcely better for the two teams in the senior match, who still had to deal with pretty adverse weather conditions. In particular I was a little concerned that due to our obvious lack of fitness last week, whether we would be able run out the game strongly. As it was, it looked like we did enough to control the game for the most part without completely busting a gut, chasing and closing down when necessary, but not going out like greyhounds in the way that Avondale Heights did last week against the Knights.

The first half was spent hiding from the sun underneath the social club's terracing, as well as performing the usual feat at these kinds of grounds of trying to find the best spot to see both goal mouths, while avoiding the support pillars and players race. Apart from the two goals we scored, the moment I'm most keen to see on the replay was the header which seemed to be pulled in by the North Geelong goalkeeper with Inspector Gadget arms. Plenty at the ground thought the header had gone in - indeed, even the Dodgy Asian Betting guy had it registered as a goal - but somehow it stayed out. No doubt that on the replay it will look like it was n where near to being in. In the second half, it was more of the same, though I dare say we played it a bit more cautiously. The rain that began in the second half would have made it more comfortable I hope for the players, as it did for the fans behind the goal, who were less interested in chanting than in engaging in good natured banter with the North Geelong keeper, who took it in his stride.

More photographers than fans. First there was Cindy Nitsos, then Skip Fulton, and now Kevin Juggins, very capable with a lens. 
I can't say it was pretty, because it wasn't really, but I don't think it was as ugly as the players singing the song implied. North Geelong battled hard, but apart from set pieces couldn't really muster up too much of a threat on our goal, and I reckon they'll probably struggle to avoid the drop. Still, we also weren't at our sharpest. David Stirton was copping (rightfully) the brunt of the frustration from the actually pretty decent travelling South contingent, especially from one notable yapper, but Stirton then scored a nice header and laid one off for Milos Lujic to more or less ice the game before half time, and his laziness was for the time being at least excused.

Still, we had been and would continue to be wasteful in front of goal, with the lack of decisiveness being my main gripe. If you're near enough and there's space in front of you, why not have a ping? I don't know, maybe we have a team full of perfectionists, maybe the turf wasn't playing as true as its verdancy would indicate, but substitute Andy Brennan showed what might be achieved if you just hit the damn thing; even if it ends up going at straight at the keeper, it may end up going through his legs, and the game becomes a little more comfortable.

One last observation from this game, and the possible arrival of a new trend. In the difficult years prior to our most recent championship, we South fans would often bemoan two things - first, that we were not as physical as other sides in the competition, and second, that referees were loath to punish the more violent teams such as Green Gully. The bit we can control, the physicality aspect, seemed to have been sorted out last year, if not even earlier upon the arrival of Chris Taylor and his cohort of Dandenong Thunder players. Certainly an intrinsic part of that physicality, the ability to grind out results, went a huge way to securing us the championship. The referee leniency issue is something largely out of our control; however in the first two games this season it appears we're gpoing into tackles with a bit more fervour than I've seen from a South team for a long time. My concern is not just for the yellow and red cards that we're likely to pick up along the way, but also for the reputation of the club. Some of the tackles that have been put in by our players in the early part of this season have been getting close to cringe worthy.

Next week
Not round three as you might expect, but round four. Round three is spread over several weeks, and our game in that round isn't on until April. Instead, we'll be jumping straight into round four, and an away fixture against Werribee City, whose round round three game is to be played midweek this week. Here's hoping we don't have to put up the scaffolding ourselves again.

Meet me in St Louis
After the mysterious exit of defender James Musa had failed to elicit anything resembling a concrete explanation - apart from the fact that he was quite clearly no longer with us - it appears that we finally have an answer as to his next career move. Musa has joined Saint Louis FC, an expansion team in the third tier USL competition in the USA, after the MLS and NASL. Saint Louis FC are, according to Wikipedia, affiliated with Chicago Fire of the MLS.

The stranger case of Peter Gavalas
All sorts of strange rumours were circulating from all sorts of different sources yesterday, about the exact status of Peter Gavalas' injury. The consensus seems to be that yes, it's a back injury, but worse than that, that it's far more serious than previously given credit for. Rather than the half dozen weeks initially mentioned, it's likely to be twice as long. Much more speculative was whether Gavalas had actually carried this injury into pre-season, whether he was struggling with it before the season had started, and now whether he's been let go, pending the approval of a goalkeeping signing exemption from FFV.

Media pass
As per usual, earlier this year I was waiting with anticipation for the release of the application form for FFV media accreditation. But before I could even get to fill out anything, and pray to Morgoth that I would fail so I could have a good old fashioned whinge, I received a phone call telling me not to apply, How come I asked? Well, my mystery caller said that'd he'd arrange to get me one.

Now whether it is true or not that the relevant person in FFV communications agreed to this request because it was 'easier to just to give it to him', I can't say for sure. Anyway, despite the fact that I'd rather have been accepted or denied for accreditation on my own terms, one doesn't simply knock back this kind of unsolicited thoughtfulness put in on one's behalf. To that end, I will try my best to do either of the following:
  • Prove that there is actually no harm done in rewarding someone who actually puts in the effort to cover the competition, and not just by providing menial match reports
  • Make sure they regret the decision.
Only time will tell which one will happen. As a closing note, I've gone a little ways I hope to repaying that kind deed, when my youngest brother - who happened to be with me when I picked up my media pass from the South office - managed to decipher the handwriting on one of the membership applications that the club got during the Antipodes Festival.

Listen, George, I got some bad news. I'm not gonna be able to give you that parking space.
Interesting letter sent out to State League 1 clubs this week by FFV. Here's the most interesting section.
Throughout 2016 and prior to expiration of the current term we will conduct a review of our NPL competitions with a view to determining the best competition structure and appropriate licence tenure commencing in 2017. That process will include consultation with existing stakeholders (including NPL Clubs) and will involve consideration of an automatic promotion and relegation system between NPL and Victorian State Leagues. 
Given the review process to take place in 2016 and the fact that following the 2015 season only 1 year will remain of the current licence period, FFV has decided not to offer new NPL licences for the 2016 season. The result of that decision is that the two State League 1 champions in 2015 (NW and SE) will not have the right to apply for an NPL licence in 2016. 
We reiterate that the opportunity to enter NPL in Victoria will exist in 2017 and that the terms on which that may occur will be the focus of our review and consultation process.
This will, I think, annoy some State League 1 clubs that have decided to loosen the purse strings this year in the hope of making it up to NPL. I'll let others discuss the relative justice of this move, but I suppose those clubs with NPL ambitions can always take this as an opportunity to further strengthen their structures in readiness for the 2017 season.

Speaking of the social club
Apparently at this year's family day, the Member for Albert Park, and our number one ticket holder, Martin Foley, made a promise that the social club situation would be sorted within 100 days, a promise that ge claimed we could hold him to. Now whather that was 100 days from the election of the Andrews government - in which case I have been told it would fall on March 15th - or 100 days from the family day, I'm not sure, but there's something for people to use as measuring stick. Frankly, just for the moment I'm much more annoyed that something interesting actually happened at South Melbourne family day, and I wasn't there to witness it.

Around the grounds
When something happens twice, it's a coincidence. When something happens three times, it's a trend.
Me, being well known as a social butterfly, decided it was a good idea to not stay home and feel sorry for myself, and instead head down to Port Melbourne, where the home side would be taking on Pascoe Vale. Now of course the expectation of me among certain parts of my readership would be that I would have gone to Knights instead, but even I have my limits as to how much Croatia i can handle in a week, and besides - I was going to be seeing North Geelong in action anyway.

The beauty of the FFV providing cameras to every club means that you can see at least the key action from the previous week. In the case of Pascoe Vale, because Heidelberg have started filming their games for television now, it was good to see how decisive Pascoe Vale's 3-0 round one loss actually was. And to be honest, not that decisive, only capitulating once they'd conceded the opening goal. Now, Pascoe Vale utterly dominated the first half against Port Melbourne, The home side couldn't even get out of their own half. Still, Port survived unscathed until point, and came out firing in the second half, where Kamal Ibrahim scored a very nice goal to give Port the lead and see Pascoe Vale deteriorate into a rabble. A cheap goal closer to the end killed this game off, though it was a good game to watch overall.

Aside from the game, there was also mingling to be had. As usual I chatted with George (Jesus of Port Melbourne fame), but I also met Elio and Elizabeth, the parents of former Richmond and now Port defender Andrew Viola, and chatted with them about the old days at Richmond before the recent turmoil, and of course the mandatory reminiscence of the food there and Mark Boric chasing balls onto the freeway.
It also turned out that the Violas knew roving reporter Skip Fulton, once briefly of this blog before I banished him to more suitable places. Of course by sheer coincidence Skip Fulton was also there, along with Mark Gojszyk of all sorts of things including Shoot Farken. This is a small world indeed. My entry with media pass to Port was also unproblematic, but two problems persist - the lack of access to the outer side, which has the best viewing spots in the ground; and the fact that Port Melbourne still insists on canteen pricing that resembles a hotel mini-bar. $4 for a bottle of iced tea? $2 for a Killer Python? I know you're in a heavily yuppified area, but you're not running a 7-Eleven outlet.

Final thought
They've got chocolate milk now?!


  1. 100 days.... should be just enough time to see a couple of Political Leadership spills, collapse and quick rehabilitation of the NPL once again and a vague indication of future promotion/relegation from Gallop - but a solution to the social club problem!? Let's be realistic here.


    1. Yeah, but it's always nice when someone puts a time frame on it.

  2. Accepting lifts from the president? You've sold old out son. What happened to sticking it to the man? Now you are listening to the man's selection of top 40 hits ffs.

    1. Not the first South or Knights board member I've had a lift with. Being a RRR and PBS listener though, I was horrified with the music selection.


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