On the other hand, the Dockerty Cup is a 100 year plus competition, with the trophy being the end in and of itself, and not just some gimmick; devalued and thrust aside, for mine this is still where this fixture was historically situated, in the middle of a complex and evolving rivalry. There's a legacy here of epic encounters even in the years of our mutual exile and decline, as our clubs have tried different modes of trying to stabilise and rebuild. It's something that has not gone unnoticed even by those who have tossed us onto the hard rubbish heap on Australian soccer's nature strip.
Fantastic atmosphere at Lakeside last night. Hadn't been back at BJS for a considerable time. The first thing that struck me is that the South crowd was quite youthful. I was sitting in the main grandstand and next to me were a local (anglo) family from Albert Park who came to their first South game!! - AND all decked out in SM gear. Quite a few familiar faces from the NT as well - I'd say quite of few South\Victory fans and also quite a few neutrals. I have been critical in the past - however these are encouraging signs for the Club. The chants from the Clarendon Corner were quite witty - and didn't really feel (if I can say) "Greek". As for the Knights....still mostly stuck in the past. It really is chalk and cheese when comparing these two clubs. Given SM have a great chance to qualify for the FFA Cup next stage they should really capitalise on continuing to promote the Club to the Bayside community. When pitted against A-League opposition - this is a golden opportunity to show the FFA and public that they *can* be a broad-based Club and that their focus is purely on football and building great football culture. Build on their rich history. Well done SMFC for a great evening.In more naive times for this blog, back in 2009, I posted thoughts on the different trajectories each club appeared to be taking, while being very careful (while also meaning it) to say each club had the right to choose its own way of doing things. In that sense, regardless of the somewhat odd commentary of South 'selling out' from all sorts of different angles, that idea of different trajectories is something which has cut through to the general observer, both within and outside of our clubs.
Whilst some will tell you south has sold out its own heritage, the reality is the greek community turned on the club first, at first it annoyed me but now I say good riddance, it's nice that we have a more diverse mix of fans now (by npl standards), walking along the grandstand and even seeing Asians with south scarves is awesome. The new young crew that have jumped on board this year have added plenty to the atmosphere of games and a much needed numbers boost...as far as I know they're all victory fans as well from your NT.
In saying that I have no real issue with the knights being more "ethnic", if they wanna chant in Croatian and feel that's the type of support that works for them then good luck to them I say, being one of the few Cro clubs in Melbourne I guess that aspect of it is important, where as at south we no longer represent the greek community as a whole anymore and haven't for a very long time, knights are basically the equivalent of someone arriving from Croatia post world war 2, they're more "authentic" and fiercely proud, even the kids,they haven't changed and that gives them a community edge, where as south seems to have followed a natural generational shift as the years have passed, the reality is it's not about being greek and shoving that in everyone's face, it's about respecting the heritage and the people who started it all 50+ Years ago but also realising it's 2015 and that the club simply can't be what it was decades ago, not to please the FFA or chase some deluded A league dream, but simply because that era has passed, and the new generation trying to return to that era would be fake.
Last night was a win for south melbourne, not for greeks or the greek community.A fixture like this then, even if doesn't guarantee national exposure like last year's equivalent game because there's still one more round to go on that front, is a chance for each club to put forward its public face for the general public's consideration. And as much as South can be said to be persistently desperate for national attention, as part of its fading hopes for inclusion into the A-League - which now probably hinge mostly on former South goalkeeper Jack Reilly making a successful run for the soon to be vacant FFA chairman's position - the Knights also see the chance to unapologetically remind everyone of who they are and what exists underneath the gloss and the glam of the top tier. I'm not about to begin a lecture on the right way or wrong way of doing things. As I once said to a fellow bitter traveller.
There may not even be a right approach under this regime. Maybe all approaches are doomed from the outset,But maybe in the end, it all boils down to this - some people love to be loved, and others love to be hated. The crowd of approximately 1500-2000 people saw a game both on and off the park which attested to at least that much.
As an aside
They tell me that Mark Viduka was in attendance, and while he was happy to have his photo taken with the kids in attendance, he also unfortunately missed out on a souv, probably because FFV media man Alen Delic had got there first.
You've got to, ahem, risk it for the, er, biscuitIn true @footballvic media team style.. eating an @smfc souvlaki whilst filming at the @FFACup Great work @AlenDelic pic.twitter.com/QemFNY6801— NPL Vic Football (@NPLVic_Football) June 5, 2015
The beginning of the game resembled bad rugby union, and since even good rugby union is more or less unwatchable, this was not a pleasing thing to see. Lots of balls hoofed long and out of play, and lots and lots of fouls. When the game settled down, Knights were the better side, playing a mid 1980s VFL style of soccer, running in numbers and hunting the ball in packs. That's not to say that we didn't have our own chances, but generally Knights had the better of it.
That they took the lead early in the second half was hardly unjust, even if it came from a corner, which we can no longer defend in 2015 for various reasons. What happened after that was a little odd. Having justly taken the lead, Knights then proceeded to more or less shut up shop with more than half an hour left. With 15 minutes to go, I can understand, but the game was there for the taking, and instead they retreated into time wastingAs the second half wore on, unlike several terrace pundits, I felt we had a goal in us somewhere, but that last ten minutes came out of nowhere. Giving up the initiative the way they did, when the game was being played on their terms, cost the Knights the game as much as anything.
Still, when Leigh Minopoulos passed to the offside Lujic instead of taking a shot himself, it would take something unusual to get us back on level terms. Thankfully that something unusual happened, as a Knights defender's clumsy attempt at a clearance struck his arm, and the referee callously blew his whistle for a penalty. It was the second dodgy penalty we'd received against Knights at Lakeside in 2015. Lujic made no mistake, and the ledger was squared. Still, I was nervous about the ending because even if we made it to extra time, our lack of defenders, benched in a sacrifice to make up the one goal deficit, would leave us vulnerable. But then 40 seconds later...
To get to
It just had to be Nick Epifano who would score the go ahead goal. What's more, his brilliant effort was a variation on something that Milos Lujic has been trying to pull off during his entire South stint.
Warning! The next bit contains silly theorising by someone who has never played the game. If that kind of thing offends you, please skip the following paragraph
In Lujic's case, it's seen the ball at his feet with his back to goal, cutting left (and therefore onto his right), and trying to curl the ball, now half to three quarters of a stride ahead of himself and three quarters to a stride ahead of his defender, into the far side of the goal, preferably off the inside of the post. Epifano's was of course much more of a midfielder's effort, and with little in the way of any sort of guile - as he was running towards goal, it was quite clear what he was going to try and do. The only obstacle in his way was his own poor finishing this season, something he has admitted himself he needs to work on.
Focusing on my finishing is one thing that I have been lacking recently so I’ve been trying to improve that as much as I can.OK, it's safe to read stuff from here on
I celebrated the goal, because no matter what I think of Epifano and this whole messy saga two things tend to override everything else.
- It was a cracking goal, and more importantly
- The guy playing for the team in blue scored against the team playing in red and at that moment instinct takes over, and rational judgement gets thrown out the window.
Neither of those two things is anything to apologise for, so I won't. But it did highlight the ethical rift that exists among South fans on the matter. One bloke came up to me and asked 'so, do you still hate him?' to which the obvious answer is that a shit bloke can still be a good player who can score a great goal. And if Nick Epifano is going to be out there then he may as well make himself useful. As satisfying as the goal was, what was even better were the defensive efforts he pulled off on occasion during this match, which is the minimum anyone at this level wants to see, and that had he done more of that earlier in the season we wouldn't have ended up in this preposterous mess in the first place.
The game, now turned upside down, saw the now tired Knights desperately try to reverse the momentum they'd willingly conceded after taking the lead. It was all in vain, as Andy Brennan stormed forward on the counter and laid it off for Epifano to make it 3-1. That wasn't quite the end of the action, as Knights captain Tommy Uskok and South keeper Nikola Roganovic managed to get themselves sent off. Fraser Maclaren was subbed on for his debut at the expense of Brennan (we'll miss you, Andy!), making Maclaren the third father-son playing connection in South history, following Tsolakis and Salapasidis. Maclaren took the free kick, and the referee, having seen enough, blew time on the game a little earlier than he might have otherwise done.
Everything worked out / What a happy end! / Americans and Canadians are friends again
@TUskok chefe, sorry bout last night! Nothing personal! ur Tackle wasn't cool but I should controlled my temper! My bad! All the best ❤️NR— Nikola Roganovic (@NRoganovic1) June 6, 2015
Hey, you're that guy that writes that thing!@NRoganovic1 no stress it all stays on the field anyways thats what a derby is. All the best for the rest of the cup campaign!— Tomislav Uskok (@TUskok) June 6, 2015
It was good to meet Nick Vertsonis before the game, even if it's slightly disconcerting that this blog has reached such relative critical mass that I am being recognised in public because of it. In this case, it was a good thing.
Oh mainstream (and other) media coverage, how I've missed you
There was also MFootball's coverage, and this thing by Ari Harilaou, and even Michael Lynch was tweeting positive things vuia his personal as opposed to work based Twitter feed.Bravo, @MattyHeraldSun. Good to see detailed FFA Cup coverage. Shame Brekalo's name spelt incorrectly tho. pic.twitter.com/fTVb5HDZz7— Ante Jukić (@a_jukic) June 6, 2015
It's not newsprint or even digital newsprint, but at least he's engaged.Knights lead 1 0 with 20 minutes to go cracking game at South Melbourne good atmosphere lots of chances. #FFACup— Michael Lynch (@micklynch57) June 5, 2015
Dandenong Thunder away on Saturday night.
Around the grounds
Apparently, when a frequent visitor to Melbourne has seen everything of value that our fair town has to offer, they go to Geelong; and once you've seen everything Geelong has to offer - so basically Moorabool Street and the wool museum - you go to a local soccer match, in order to be surrounded by people wearing Geelong footy merch. Since the train ride into Geelong is one of the dullest you can get, my main thrill was finally getting to see some graffiti in Geelong.
What kind of town is full of skate punks but has no graffiti? Anyway, we ended up at Hume Reserve in Bell Park, a large field with spartan spectator amenities, in time for the reserves fixture. Roy Hay, who was there during the first half of the seniors mostly to catch up with Perthite Chris Egan, noted that the field was in much better condition than during the years it suffered with a fungal infestation.Finally found some graffiti in Geelong: fence backing onto Hume Reserve, home of Corio Soccer Club. pic.twitter.com/xfGLukWA17— Paul Mavroudis (@PaulMavroudis) June 6, 2015
Getting set for a corner, Corio vs Western Suburbs reserves game. pic.twitter.com/0EGTytfhDs— Paul Mavroudis (@PaulMavroudis) June 6, 2015
The remnants of Hungarian soccer in Victoria: inside Corio Soccer Club clubrooms. pic.twitter.com/dZeq3fMJ1U— Paul Mavroudis (@PaulMavroudis) June 6, 2015
I noted last week that Corio are struggling this season, and so it was in this game. Corio had enough of the ball, but looked clueless once they got it into their front thread. Suburbs for their part were more dangerous and efficient, and scored one in each half; well, at least that's my assumption, because...Corio Soccer Club also hosts games for the Geelong Eight Ball Association. pic.twitter.com/BE44vSkk7Q— Paul Mavroudis (@PaulMavroudis) June 6, 2015
The highlight of the match for Corio was when one of their players nutmegged his opponent right in front of the most boisterous section of the home support, who seemed to abide by the mantra that more booze equals more banter. As their slab of VB was whittled down to empty cans during the game, one could not help but agree with their manifesto, nor also help but agree with their collectively derived assertion that going to the gym is pointless if you're going to follow it up by eating ten Big Macs.Fulltime, Corio 0 Western Suburbs 2, at least I assume; had to leave early in order to catch the bus. pic.twitter.com/4PEz4bfXX8— Paul Mavroudis (@PaulMavroudis) June 6, 2015
Fuck you Blogger for deleting my my post when I was three quarters done.