|If anyone can explain why back in the day South fans had a |
chant for the English medley pianist and singer Mrs Mills,
I'd really appreciate it, because it's got me baffled.
The TAB outlet closed, and most of the bums moved on. Our conversations over the years became harder, now that I was at the centre of them, with no or fewer distractions from other people. As I became estranged from watching local soccer except for Hellas (when I could), then as my support for Liverpool evaporated, my fleeting interest in Greek soccer succumbed to apathy, and as he moved towards watching the A-League and I moved away from it and fully back into the local scene, all that was left was a ritual repeated for the sake of obliterating the silence. Yarraville would have high hopes but do nothing, while Altona East would plod along a division higher, and we would discuss the reasons why they wouldn't merge. Even if I had an interest in Liverpool or Greek soccer or the A-League, the lack of pay television would have made all these things redundant. And thus while he gives me my $10 haircut ('only for you Paul, because I've known you for nearly 30 years'), we stumble through a haphazard conversation, where if I spoke in English he would answer in Greek, and if I spoke in Greek he would answer in English.
When he asked me on Friday if I was going to the soccer that night - meaning the Victory-Heart game, for which he allegedly had a ticket - I said yes, I'm going to watch Hellas. He asked who we were playing and I said Avondale Heights, a team Yarraville would have once been accustomed to playing against in the middle tiers of Victorian soccer. But then he said something weird to me, and I assume it was based on my saying that I was going to Lakeside instead of Docklands: 'The reason I like you Paul, is because you don't have any friends'. He then went on some bizarre spiel about friends betraying you, an eye for an eye and all sorts of guff, but that line really got me thinking. Is that the reason I go to South?
If that's a long-winded way of eventually getting to the bit where I discuss the game, I think it still fits neatly enough into how the night was passed. At the pub, which had reputedly only bought a few weeks worth of sponsorship, and thus we were not obliged to drink there from now on, much of the time was spent in lament in terms of where we were, and where we had been. This in and of itself was not a first, and most of it was still centred on humour, but the wistfulness of remembering some of the long lost faces and voices, who had either given up the ghost, or would now prefer to go watch the game up the road, along with some of the players who had disappeared into thin air had a certain fatalism attached to it.
At the ground the self-declared Ultras group Enosi 59 were nowhere to be seen, and thus chanting took a while to get going, what with being relatively miserable as we collectively stared into the face of Australian soccer oblivion. Andy Brennan's cross to Milos Lujic for the game's only goal livened things up a bit, and even as the standard of play deteriorated, there was a sort of joy restored to the situation even if it was mostly a celebration of mediocrity. Thus chants on being aspirational, about Frank Piccione wearing a sports bra (originally intended for Griffo), 'we're gonna breakaway/fuck the FFA', 'we only chant for promotion (but also relegation)', and a whole series of handbag related chants that had nothing to do with the Ladies Night theme but were there nonetheless.
|VPL legend and current South goalkeeper coach Bojo Jevdevic, in action|
during the halftime penalty shootout match day experience gimmick.
Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Next gameI'd rather be watching @SMFC! Myself at St James' Park today. #HellasInTheUK #Hellas #Australia #Football pic.twitter.com/X1Yt6FEj8P— Andrew McTernan (@AndrewMcTernan) May 9, 2015
Tuesday night at home against Dandenong Thunder, at the spiffing time of 8:30PM even though there won't be an under 20s curtain raiser.
They may be a curtain raiser held after all.
Vale Fotis Antipas
The following is taken from the South site's article.
South Melbourne FC is in mourning after learning of the recent passing of founding member and club volunteer Fotios Antipas.
Mr. Antipas played for Hellenic in the 1950s, with history showing that Hellenic merged with Yarra Park and South Melbourne United to form South Melbourne Hellas in 1959.
When his playing days were complete, Mr Antipas volunteered at South Melbourne FC and was a very proud supporter and life member.
SMFC President Leo Athanasakis added that “on behalf of everyone at SMFC, we extend our condolences to the Antipas family on the recent passing of Mr Fotios Antipas, a man who has been involved at our great Club ever since it was formed over 55 years ago. We have also lost a link to our history as well, with Mr Antipas being involved with one of the three pre-merger clubs in Hellenic. We mourn his loss.”
Our thoughts are with his family at this very tough time.Antipas is in the team photo of Hellenic in this post. Former general manager Peter Kokotis, whose family was involved with Yarra Park back in the day, informs me that Antipas was originally from Panachaiki, and that Yarra Park had tried to sign him, but that Hellenic via Antonis Karagiannis (also spelled Carayiannis) managed to get him first.
Around the grounds
Only the lonely (Dum-dum-dummy doo-wah)
While not a Western Suburbs fan, I'd still been to Ralph Reserve on several previous occasions, but yesterday was my first match there as a West Sunshine local; conveniently, it was against my pseudo-genetic-geographically allocated state league side Altona East. The souvs in the social club are still only $7, and they also had a wide range of pastelia on sale. Being probably the only person left in Victoria who gets a craving for a pasteli at the soccer, I was appreciative of the gesture, even if it's likely that most of them have been sitting there for a decade. In amid the motley mix of Greek music and classic hits being played over the PA system to the crowd of 50 people or so (I blame Mothers Day for the diminished crowd), they also played Kurtis Blow's 'The Breaks', thereby almost completely redeeming the concept of playing loud music at a sporting venue.
@PaulMavroudis NCIP worse than before! That's the breaks, that's the breaks! Can't call yourselves PAOK anymore!— Ante Jukić (@a_jukic) May 10, 2015
|The view from between the benches at Ralph Reserve, as Western Suburbs|
and Altona East prepare to kick off . Photo: Paul Mavroudis
The home team's jerseys had player names on the back. The away team had strips where some of the jerseys had thick stripes, while others had thin ones. Suburbs had three or four African players, a smattering of Brazilians, former South player Andy Bourakis, and Terry Antoniadis as coach, who avoided getting Altona East relegated when he coached there in 2013 and 2014 mostly because of the NPL sucking up teams to a higher division. Altona East had a Japanese forward, a Turkish captain, a Welsh midfielder who sometimes barked like a dog at his opponents, and a Neighbours tour bus worth of British players of varying degrees of mouthiness.
|Panellinios: Honoured the Greek name.|
Everyone to Middle Park on Sunday!
Hellas - Brisbane City.
East eventually worked out how to a score a goal following some comical finishing before that, as the little Japanese bloke Honda (one of the blokes nearby made the reassuring comment that Honda was fast) squeezed the ball home. Just before half time, as the referee was busy talking to a Suburbs player, a loud thwack was heard, and the linesman in front of the social clubs started waving his flag. A few metres away, an East player was down on the ground, and the inference was clear - he'd been decked by an opponent, who got his marching orders. Antoniadis was filthy, thinking that that player had just cost him the game.
|The view from Ralph Reserve's stand. Photo: Paul Mavroudis|
The combination of long grass, flat balls, the sun poking through, the fine mist of rain swirling around like Jamie Oliver scattering herbs from a great height (most of which are destined to miss the plate), made the game hard to watch - and that's not even taking into account the relatively poor standard of play. But the one on one duals, the physicality, the ebbs and flows of the match, the small crowd made up of old men, reserves and assorted dateless wonders, and of course the struggle against the elements all gave the game a sort of backhanded sense of nobility. It wasn't pretty, but there was endeavour. The game had minimal meaning, but it still meant something. Suburbs fought back and took control, but could not manage an equaliser. As I was leaving I saw a likeable but opinionated South fan I knew stuffing his face full of hot chips, and maybe that's what the game meant - a chance for the lonely to go outside of their homes, and find something to eat in the alleged company of familiar faces. Maybe my barber was right, but it's maybe not just me who doesn't have any friends, and the question then becomes 'where would senior men's soccer in Victoria be without us?'
Final thought (courtesy of FS)