Monday, 30 March 2015

Need more gas in the tank - Heidelberg United 1 South Melbourne 1

Took one of our reader's suggestions and used the route 250 to get to the ground, and though the walk to the ground was all downhill, it did take longer than I'd anticipated, and of course the ancient turnstiles at the front of the ground weren't working. At least the bus ride allowed me to meet Tim McGlone, one of the newer faces in the ever expanding South Melbourne media team. There was a minute''s silence for a Heidelberg member who had passed away, and then the Greek national anthem for Greek national day (NCIP!) and the Aussie one (crackling badly through the PA system), all combined with the smell of the rankest cigarettes I've smelled for some time, and then we were off. Also, 3XY and Michael Lynch were there.

We started off a bit slow, but eventually got on top and started bossing the game, pulling together some wonderful passing play. The lineup was the same as the one that started the second half against Bentleigh the week before, including no substitute keeper again. This arrangement didn't last very long, as Cody Martindale had to come off early with an injury, and on came Andy Kecojevic. Soon enough we took the lead, Milos Lujic hitting a wonderful shot after some excellent lead up work.

Later on in the half Brad Norton was viciously cut down, and soon after half time Tim Mala had to go off with injury as well. Unlike last year, where we managed to keep most of our starting eleven players on the field for the entire season, this season, while not being quite the disaster on that front that it could be, has been a challenge. Dan Heffernan didn't play for the Bergers which helped our cause, as his replacement Kenny Athiu kept finding himself offside. Still, our defensive stocks at the moment are thin, and it will be interesting to see how we cope once we hit the more crowded part of the schedule where we have to play three games in a week.

The second half saw the arrival of a persistent problem this season - not enough gas in the tank. Last season we were able to win games in part because we were better able to run out matches, including often making substitutions quite late in the piece. This season, even with early subs, we look unable to run out games convincingly. I hope this is all part of the plan to help us peak later in the year, and that once we hit our stretch of Friday night home matches, that our recovery and fitness plan kicks into action and gives us some kind of edge. Until that moment arrives however, we are looking particularly vulnerable.

While last season we started off well and became tired towards the end, it's still not a good look to be struggling the way we have been. Having said that, had we scored the goal that we should have in the second half to make it 2-0, this probably would have been game, set and match. As it was the Bergers took it up the other end and scored immediately, and then proceeded to dominate proceedings. Andreas Govas hit one of the hardest shots I've seen for some time from long range - thank goodness that we have Nikola Roganovic in goals this season - he's been doing an outstanding job, and looks safe as houses in the air as well.

Injuries and lack of fitness aside, what made matters worse is that we lost all composure on the ball. Nick Epifano got himself into good position on a couple of occasions, but failed to make the most of his opportunities. Several players were guilty of making horrible, rushed passes, as well as bombing the ball long to the increasingly isolated Lujic. Leigh Minopoulos came on and added a bit of spark and pace, as well as level headedness - the problem there is that we appear to be heading into a problem we had several seasons ago, that we have a lot of players that look good coming off the bench, but not as many who can start and finish a game off well.

Milos Lujic still looks ominous, but he needs a reliable friend up front. David Stirton didn't start this game, nor was he used off the bench. Andy Brennan, the player Ian Syson and I had come to see most of all, worked hard but was visibly tired even in the first half. He also learned that the space he was accustomed to in Tasmania, as well as the tricks he could use to beat an opponent one on one, are not as reliable in Victoria; still, I think there's huge upside, and that it's all part of the learning process for him. I also love Leigh Minopoulos, but I have my doubts about whether he could be as effective as a starting player. The midfield for the most part battles hard, but they're undersized, and where we should be using Michael Eagar or Dane Milovanovic in defensive midfield as an enforcer, defensive necessities and lack of fitness respectively are leaving us scrambling for makeshift options.

In the end, while the officiating didn't help us - and I say that as someone who usually enjoys Lucien's relative finickiness, as long as he's being even handed and accurate - we were a little lucky to get away with the point, Still, we also had our chances, and if we can get our fitness right, and figure out the exact starting eleven that we want to settle on (injuries notwithstanding), we have a lot of upside to come, which I'm not sure can be said for a lot of the other teams around us at this point in time. To only be playing 25-30 minutes of good football, against mostly the teams likely to be in the finals race, and still be picking up points - that's the positive that I'm going to take out of this opening part of the season.

This sucks
This also happened to Preston late last season at Keilor Park. Someone on Twitter said that there are actually FFV rules that the change rooms must be locked, but even with that, surely it would be common sense to lock the rooms anyway? I don't know, this just seems like something that's so easily preventable.

No substitute goalkeeper again comedy commentary piece
Our officials saw there was a problem and they fixed it, didn't they?

Next week
Of course our charmed run of results - if not quite personnel issues - could all come crashing down this week, when we play Green Gully away on Saturday afternoon. Another difficult game to be sure, but at least it's our last away game for this stretch before we get back home to Lakeside.

Jersey night
Having just missed the 96 tram to St Kilda, I waited patiently for the next one, only for the driver to let off passengers, pick up almost no one and then bolt off. At least I handled the situation slightly better than the bloke who swore out loud and thumped the side of the tram, scaring some children inside of it - his own admission, made somewhat shamefully. I eventually made it to the venue, where I tried to psych myself up for some classic cynicism.
Seriously, how churlish can you get before the event even starts? Anyway, many famous people were there. Kimon Taliadoros, always on an insatiable quest for power; Mal Impiombato, the latest FFA bureaucratic heavy hitter we're desperately trying to woo; Tara Rushton, something, something, hot chick, something, something, where's Mel?; Martin Foley, the local member of parliament, who's stuck his neck out for a bunch of Greeks who mostly don't live in his electorate; and Santo Cilauro, of various projects including one where they let Sam Pang boast about the fact he knowns nothing about the game - mind you, that's someone else's interpretation, because I don't watch the relevant show.

There were also the usual sponsors, board members and sprinkling of ordinary fans, thrust into the back corner, and the firm establishment of an SMFC media team cartel, minus one very important member - and no, it wasn't me! Thus, mingling was made very difficult, and created a sort of sullen mood in certain areas of the venue. Nevertheless, it was nice of Chris Taylor to pop around, while the movers and shakers were busy trying to schmooze people with money and influence.
If this was a Greek wedding though - and I use Greek weddings as the example only because they're the only ones I've ever been to - there'd be much complaining that no member of the committee came around to thank us for attending and ask us how we were faring, apart from collecting our money. Speaking of money, the player auction was of course a central feature of the night's proceedings. It was a more muted, but evenly spread affair this season, no ridiculous over the top amounts, but none of the lesser players went for the measly sum of $500. Kosta from Blue Thunder Security of course bought Matthew Theodore, while Nick Epifano - despite his absence on the night - managed to get the equal top amount alongside Michael Eagar. A pity that us ordinary fans were too disorganised and/or poor to be able to buy someone. Maybe next year.

Anyway, as was the case last year, local MP Martin Foley got a chance to have his say, opining on the frustrations that the Lakeside lease still hasn't been sorted out yet - especially given that he had promised March 15th of this year as a deadline.
One of the people inside the tent had a more detailed version of Foley's commentary, as posted on smfcboard.
Foley essentially said that it will all be done and dusted in the next few weeks by the latest with the deadline set by government April 29th. George Lekakis (Multicultural commission) has been appointed to oversee the process to ensure we get what we have been promised, while the senior ALP members have sent a formal directive to the department to also ensure the above happens. 
He also went on about how South has acted in good faith in the past 5 years and how badly they have been let down by government. While he couldn't control what Liberal did, he did apologise on behalf of the ALP.
But what's another arbitrary deadline between friends? Then it was time for the football panel discussion chaired by Tom Kalas, which touched on prospective FFV president Kimon Talidoros' desire to align the states with what FFA was doing, something to do with promotion/relegation, and pointing out how awesome South was or is. I think SMFCMike enjoyed this segment a lot more than I did.
The meals were a step down from last year's efforts.
This sparked some Twitter discussion at least about the merits or otherwise, of Greek lentil soup, The chicken for the main was quite good, even with the creamy pasta side dish shenanigans. On the other hand, dessert was a disaster.
And that's even leaving out the pathetically small pieces of cut up cherry ripe slice and lemon slice. What happened to the pannacotta from last year? It was good to meet FFV media dude Alan Delic at the end of the night, where I commended the recent work FFV has been doing in the media area. I also mentioned how I'm a big fan of FFV giving the NPL clubs cameras to film their own games, which I know is not necessarily popular with some people because of the low quality of some of the filming, and 'more urgent priorities'. Overall, it wasn't the most enjoyable night, and I'd had more fun in other years at this event. Swings and roundabouts and all that.

Πολύ γκρινιάρης δεν είσαι?
Nick Epifano fan abuse issue borrowed comedy commentary piece

I am very interested in seeing how this will be dealt with - on a purely intellectual level of course.
Final thought
I might be a cunt, but...


  1. Didn't manage to catch up with Ted Smith, which was disappointing. Bergers facebook page notes that Andy Paschalidis was there as well.

  2. Lynchy getting in on the act

  3. The game was quite tepid for a while. The only saving grace it had was that South was only leading One Nil rather than Two Nil (like recent one sided encounters).

    Then, for the first time in recent memory, we were completely dominated from about the 55th to the 85th minute.

    Even a few spontaneous A! A! Alexandros! chants were made (I wonder if they ever chant it at any other games?). But one strange fellow tried to start one, and didn't get a response. He proceeded to abuse the whole crowd in a somewhat jocular manner, which made everyone laugh.

    But then he proclaimed that Heidelberg was supported Real Greeks, not like the Kalamata Goat Herders! That was considered below the belt.

    Later on he decided to talk to MY group of friends. For some reason, both him and my friends concluded that we were all from Italy (although I suspect it all started from his abuse of the 'Spag Linesman')!

    Savvas Tzionis

  4. Kalamata goat herders! lmao

    What was the fallout from the thievery? Heard about that as i was leaving the ground, pretty low act. Why wouldn`t you collect all the wallets and phones and put them in a bag and lock them away?


    1. Not sure what the protocols are for these situations to be honest

  5. Congrats also to Jimmy Armstrong who was awarded FFV life membership yesterday.

  6. I see also that Kimon Taliadoros is now president of FFV, at the expense of the more openly pro-FFA/top down candidates. Here's hoping the club's open support of him is validated.

  7. The other aspect of the game that was a negative was the fact that you could not hear the opposition supporter's. In the dim dark past of the NSL days, when crowds were bigger, the noise did filter over.

    Savvas Tzionis

  8. The crowd was pretty poor to be honest. Weather and kick off time were perfect. Do you recall one of the finals games at the village where arthur tsirtsakis missed a penalty. Weather was crap and the ground was packed. I really miss having the atmosphere of a packed ground, even post nsl.

  9. So Martindale is gone for a month
    Apparently Jake Barker Daish will be back for the Gully Match
    But Pete Gavals has reinjured himself and will be out until August.

  10. A more sombre view of the game, via Engel Schmidl and Shoot Farken


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