Monday, 9 March 2015

Just made it - Werribee City 1 South Melbourne 2

Waiting in the car park for 20 minutes for the delayed Steve from Broady at Newport station meant getting to the outskirts of Galvin Park with only about five minutes until kickoff in the senior game. Parking a good half kilometre down the road was made worse when one South bloke known to us here at South of the Border managed to rock up and nab a space near the old front gate. At Galvin Park itself, once we walked past the various cricket finals being played, it looked like space had been cleared and fenced off for the construction of something new, but I'm not sure we needed to be forced to go around an extra 50 metres to get in to a makeshift entrance. One bloke looking to pay to get in almost handed me ten bucks by accident.

Even if there was no sign of the stand they're planning to build on the outer side - and who are we to judge, we who've been missing a social club for nearly five years now - at least the scaffolding was already set up by the home club this time. A couple of blokes recommend the chicken schnitzel burger, which while not containing any mayo, is apparently a nice thick piece of bird, with a flavourful crumb - and best of all, no need to wait, as they have them ready and waiting. Ten minutes later Gains and I are still waiting for them to make the schnitzel rolls, so at least they're fresh, but watching the game through the canteen's window, covered by a protective metal grill, is hardly ideal, but useful as training run for when my one remaining working retina decides to give up the ghost.

It was nearly impossible to tell what the hell was going on for those first five or ten minutes, but at least the roll once made was good, even if it wasn't as herbed and spiced as I'd been lead to believe, which could have been another in the long list of life's disappointments, except for the fact that it only costs $6 and chicken schnitzels rolls are usually terrible, having sat in a bain marie for five hours with the crumbing going soggy and the processed chicken tasting like a discarded piece of rubber.

Getting to a game late throws me right off its rhythm, and it took me a little while to realise that Tim Mala had gone off injured in the first five minutes, replaced by Andy Kecojevic who went into midfield while Bonel 'Bones' Obradovic slotted into Mala's right back spot. Apparently we'd been on the back foot early on, but we seemed to have wrested control of this game from that point on.

Now short corners, Yes, we scored off of one, and I tell you one of the reasons this happened - because unlike our usual routines of making it completely obvious that we were going to take a short corner - usually playing to just in front of the corner flag - it was played quickly to the edge of the 18 yard box, where Iqi Jawadi's shot managed to somehow elude everyone and go into the back of the net for hist first goal in an official South game.

Fantastic, great result for both Iqi and short corners. Of course, as Homer Simpson once noted, a short corner is more like a beer. They smell good, they look good, you'd step over your own mother just to get one! But you can't stop at one. You wanna drink another short corner! So of course we tried another of these later in the game, same routine and all - unfortunately we coughed the ball up, and because we had over committed players forward, had only ten fit players on the park anyway, Werribee shot the ball down the other end when it would have been better for us to play more conservatively.

But all that happened much later. Nick Epifano who was working hard got fair fair reward for effort when he was fed through on goal and chipped the ball over the keeper with a first time shot. A goal from a short corner and someone scoring for us without needing to take fifteen million touches. What a day this was turning out to be. 2-0 up at the break and all sorts of miraculous things happening. Unfortunately Kristian 'Gonzo' Konstantinidis had to go off with an in jury he picked up late in the first half, and thus Michael Eagar had to go back from defensive mid into centreback.

While we managed to keep creating breaks going forward, we started tiring - a persistent problem which we all hope will be gradually overcome as the season wears on, with us needing to peak later this year rather than right at the start - and Werribee starting winning the midfield battle. Leigh Minopoulos was brought as fresh legs but struggled, Obradovic started to lose his way a bit in his unfamiliar role, and Kecojevic started cramping up with no subs left and 20 odd minutes to play.

The home team scored to make things worse, and if not for Michael Eagar's heroics in defense, clearing time and time again, we wouldn't have been able to hold on for all three points. Even with with Eagar's desperate efforts though, we had to rely on the crossbar to save us in the 94th minute of the game, with the relevant Werribee player first exultant and then devastated that his effort failed to hit the mark.
Considering the injuries we copped, the re-shuffling required, and effectively playing with only ten men for the last 20 minutes or so, I'm stoked we got the three points. Fitness is still an issue for the tine being, but there was more evidence that the team is beginning to gel. I was especially pleased to see how Kecojevic scarcely looked out of place in a senior game.

Next week
We enter the Dockerty Cup - or FFA Cup qualifiers to those of you who are part of the FFV (and lizard people, natch) conspiracy to deflate the importance of the Dockerty Cup. We'll be playing State League 3 team Whittlesea United, who pulled off a 3-2 upset against State League 1's Clifton Hill. The date and time are yet to be confirmed, but this will be an interesting affair not only to see which depth players get more of a go, but also because former South NSL and VPL championship winner, the much loved Tansel Baser, is the Whittlesea United captain.

Teach a man to fish...
There's been a little bit of discussion recently over the FFV's decision to provide video cameras to every NPL club in order for them to film their games and provide the footage for a weekly online compilation. Those on the negative side seem to be of the opinion that as the footage from most of those games comes across as unprofessional, that rather than enhancing the product for luring potential sponsors, it actually damages the game.

I can certainly see the validity in such thinking. The footage provided so far in the NPL1 highlights packages in particular varies from the very good to the abjectly dire. A lot of this is clearly down to who's operating the camera on any given day, and I would have hoped (though I don't know for sure) that merely giving the cameras to the clubs was not the end point, but that FFV may also supplement that with some sort of training. But some of the problems with the quality of the footage fall outside individual camera operators. How many times have even those clubs who have funded their own video productions (South, Knights, Hume, etc) been hampered by the lack of suitable media facilities, such as basic scaffolding creating an elevated vantage point? Or being unable to get clear footage - and this goes for photographers as well - because the lighting isn't up to scratch?
While some have called for the hiring of professional videographers to undertake this task, I am of the opposite opinion. By giving the clubs the basic tools - and that would ideally include some training - it provides the opportunity for the clubs and some of their members themselves to learn new skills. This is not merely about outsourcing the problem to someone else, but getting the clubs to take responsibility for their own promotion. The clubs that take the time to make the most of the opportunity will hopefully get the most out of it, while those who don't will mostly be hurting themselves.

Finally, the call for a return of a weekly live video streamed game, while well intentioned, seems to me to miss the point. Regardless of how much you publicise a live stream, the audience will be minuscule unless it's for a very high profile contest, something like last year's FFA Cup games. And whether or not live streaming actually manages to get an audience, the focus at this level of competition should be on getting people to games, paying money at the gate and spending at the canteen. More people at games also creates its own better atmosphere, encouraging people to come back the next time. Few people want to spend a couple of hours at a game with only a bunch of old men and the odd relative of a player; but if more people go to games, it by itself creates a more homely and exciting experience.

Around the grounds
They tried to make me the new Steve from Broady and failed.
The plan was to go with Cuddles to the Pascoe Vale – Northcote game at the revamped CB Smith Reserve with its infamous light tower in front of the grandstand, but when we heard that that Richmond was hosting Nunawading, we decided to head to Kevin Bartlett Reserve instead. The reasoning behind this decision was that we wanted to see whether all the stories about Nunawading – playing out from the back at all times, and not taking any shots – were true, and whether former South player Anthony Giannopoulos – a player who loves to shoot at first sight – would stick out like a sore thumb.

Well when we got to the parking area at Richmond, it started raining, and not wishing to risk having to stand in the rain all game, or hide on the social club, we decided to hoof it to Fawkner instead, and if we missed the first ten minutes, well, we probably wouldn't miss much would we?

Wrong. After slogging through Sydney Road with its pervasive smell of gyros and kebabs, getting through a Friday night booze and drug bus operation that was still setting up, but which had taken out two out of three lanes, and circling around for ten minutes trying to find a parking spot, updates on Twitter, Futbol24 and via a friend already at the ground, we found out that we'd missed not only the first four goals of the game – two each to Pascoe Vale and Northcote, both times the latter equalising – but also Giannopoulos giving Nunawading an early lead.

At least we got to see the fifth goal of the game which gave Northcote the lead for the first time that night. I'm not sure what's going on down there, with Hercules not even managing to get a front of shirt sponsor, but first and foremost it's about scoring goals, and Northcote did that better than Pascoe Vale in a thrilling game which completely died in the arse once Cuddles and I got there. I spent much time next to Kristian Konstantinidis in line at the canteen, and considering the rather good crowd decided to get a cevapi roll instead of wait forever for a pizza. Having finished said cevapi roll however, Andrew Mesorouni's kid and Leo Athanasakis' kid rock up with several boxes of the famous woodfired pizza, and I somehow ended up scoffing down most of one, and being saddled with another. But a man has to know his limits!

It was also to good to finally meet Pascoe Vale president Lou Tona in the flesh, who was surprised that I wasn't fatter. Yes, South of the Border, the Australian soccer blog most dedicated to the cause of the wallflower, can also occasionally find itself among the movers and shakers. But never fear, we are still of the people! For the people! By me, and whoever else wants to write for us! The key to selling out of course is to sell when your price is high. Only time will tell whether a ride to and from Lara and a few boxes of pizza - and a can Pepsi, we can't forget that - was worth the price, or whether I'm just a really cheap date.

Final thought
Those shotput people at Lakeside can heave those balls a fucken long way.


  1. Hoping for improved quality of footage in time otherwise, great thinking by the media department at the FFV, they've really stepped up this year with the graphics, games coverage and video content.

    As for that lightpost..... what were they thinking!??!?! WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!?

    Didn't realise South had it so tough this week, sounds like a great three points.


    1. The lightpost isn't quite as bad you'd think, but still, mind boggling decision. The stand is quite, plain wooden benches, but well spaced. Great surface for the time being as well.

  2. I really don't see how the FFV handing out cameras to clubs fits in line with the new, modern, FFA alligned state federations that are supposed to bring the game forward to the bright lights of modern football. Don't get me wrong, I like common sense, but when it comes from a mob that has failed to even spell common sense for the better part of 30 years I've observed it, well it just comes across as amatuerish... when they're desperately trying not to be.


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