Sunday, 7 June 2015

One for the ages - South Melbourne 3 Melbourne Knights 1

The FFA Cup is a scam, little more than a tokenistic lottery based gesture to alleviate new dawn guilt. What's the long term worth of one good crowd for a game if the other 13 home games, for say a club like Bentleigh, get 50 people, and they bring no one to their 13 away games? Now the movers and shakers will point to the fact that over the past couple of seasons, that FFA Cup qualifying game last year was the one key time we failed to beat the Knights and that it cost us a ton in exposure and sponsorship, and that is the reason why they are movers and shakers and I am just a regular fan. My thoughts were more focused on the previous time we'd played, a come from behind win in the league, and before that where we snared the inaugural Community Shield with a come from behind win, and before that with a 4-3 win at home in the league last year, and prior to that cup loss, a 1-0 win at Somers Street with a super Lujic goal, and before all that of course a memorable finals smash and grab in enemy territory, and on and on it goes.

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.
West End   
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.
hellas7 
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, biscuit
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 Duff Gardens FFA Cup, I'd ride with Satan himself!
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.
  1. It was a cracking goal, and more importantly
  2. 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
Hey, you're that guy that writes that thing!
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.
It's not newsprint or even digital newsprint, but at least he's engaged.

Next week
Dandenong Thunder away on Saturday night.

Around the grounds
Canadian Graffiti 
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.
Getting there early also allowed for time make note of the town planning that went into creating this working class precinct - the ground is surrounded variously by a school, housing, industry and a bocce court - as well as have a look around at a particular aspect of the decline of ethnic soccer in Victoria.
Having had lunch in town - for the record, rather good pulled pork rolls - I wasn't in the mood for food from the Corio canteen, but knowing the Hungarian reputation for delicious cakes, I chanced my hand and asked if they had any, and ended up with a very nice piece of lemon slice.
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...
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.

Final thought
Fuck you Blogger for deleting my my post when I was three quarters done.

28 comments:

  1. Things you forgot to mention:

    - All in brawl at the end on the pitch.
    - uscock gesturing south fans.
    - Atmosphere
    - knights fans/players behaving like animals.
    - epa ignoring fans as per usual.

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    1. Yes, should have made more of the atmosphere, and should have also mentioned the ball boy. Losing my original draft screwed me up a little.

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  2. How were Knights fans acting like animals?

    Need to mention you guys having one of your ball boys sent off, that must be an Australian first

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    1. What was the issue with the Knights fans when you guys scored the goal? Other than that the Knights fans were well Knights fans. No issue with them.

      Also i have no issues with opposition players celebrating in front of us, just gives us a reason to give them shit too.

      Fantastic game all round!

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    2. Ask the South fans, who I assume it was the Enosi lads. They waltz in at half time (don't want to pay to get in losers?), some of them even looked drunk and they go right up to Knights fans mouthing off. Had one little muzza who in particular gave me a chuckle, takes his jacket off and gesturing people to fight him. I'm there along the fence at the entrance end and I have to put up with these losers right in my face. Of course things kicked off and they well and truly got taught a lesson. Deadest barely looked like they had even hit puberty and are acting like heroes.

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    3. So was there a fight?

      Kids these days, don't know anything about mutual respect.

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    4. I don't think they were enosi or south supporters. Never seen them before. Are you sure they weren't from a certain ethnic group who aimed their negative energy towards the knights. I could be wrong, but I've never seen them at our ground before.

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    5. They could be heard chanting outside before they walked in. And some of them even had South scarves.

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    6. It wasn't the ENOSI boys, they had been there from kick off. Those guys were randoms

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    7. Im mates with the Enosi boys and i can confirm 100% it wasn't them mouthing off or in the scrap. GGWP

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    8. MelbCro, youre spot on. I walked to my car at HT and walked in behind those guys (aged inbetween 18-21 or so). there were 3 of them, one who had a drum srapped to his waist, but they then met up with a few other mates around the toilet/canteen area. I walked to my seat, about 10 rows from the knights bay, and as i sat down i saw the young guys taunting the knights bay, to which the knights fans abviously didnt react to very well, as you would expect. The security were fairly slow in stopping all of it, and by the time they finally did push the guy with the drum away, they completely ignored the young knights fan dashing through stands to deck the guy with the drum. It all kicked off from there. I would exactly say knights fans are blameless for this, but i would say the 2 most to blame are the security and officials for not being quick enough to ease the trouble and then the idiot guys who walked in at HT, presumably because they were watching green street hooligans and thought theyd be 'absolute sick c**ts'. Should also add that these guys, from what i could see, had absolutely no souths gear on. What i did find funny though, was the knights fan in the chants, holding up, almost parading like a trophy, the destroyed drum during the chants. gave me a good laugh, even though i support South haha
      oh, and sorry for the essay

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    9. "Oooo noooo, some young South fans that haven't hit puberty said a few things to us so we must attack them." - That is exactly why the Knights Fans were acting like animals

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    10. Anonymous you sound like you were one of those guys that got their heads kicked in, so I don't blame you feeling that way. Its always a bitter feeling after getting an arse kicking. Chin up mate.

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    11. @ Spiteri, I saw at least one of them had a South scarf. That individual in question was being told to walk away from the older Knights fans and he proceeded to laugh in their faces. His smugness didn't last long after that.

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  3. Seems like Corio got a goal very late in their game.

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  4. epifano saga and softy approach, south's de-greeking policy, epi bagging the double for the victory. See the irony? I ask, has hellas really won?

    In today's modern times, compromise is a very positive word. It's the staple of the modern relationship between partners. In reality, compromise is more often bad than good because halfway between a right and wrong is still wrong. This applies to south too. There is only one right (and it applies to all ethnic clubs, but esp larger ones like south)... nobody has a right to alter the identity and culture of a club from what it was founded as and what it has stood for since then! No matter what the modern times bring. If such a path is to be taken, the correct thing to do is to close the club and form a new one.

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    1. That's a fairly narrow, conservative view, and one based on the assumption that culture is (or at least should be) static. It's not a view I agree with, but I'm not here to disparage it out of hand.

      For South's part, and this is my view only, people can make all sorts claims of South abandoning its 'Greekness', but it'd be a little specious to make those arguments without looking at 'Greekness' in Melbourne or Australia as a whole. In that sense South is not an isolate (to borrow a term from linguistics), but its evolution (for better or worse) is part of a wider tapestry.

      For clubs that choose to hold on steadfastly to what they believe their club was like in the beginning, these kinds of issues are almost irrelevant. For a club like South, treading a fine line between past and future, there will be as many people saying that the club has abandoned its heritage as those who say it still reeks of the past.

      Though I would also say this - a club isn't just the manifesto set out at its founding, it's also the people who belong to it and have to figure out how to interpret that manifesto. If its not the (living) members' club, then who's is it?

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  5. A little bit on the latest cup round by Michael Lynch

    http://t.co/fCWZVurBpJ

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  6. I suppose one thing I would say about the atmosphere (which was very good) is the following. A few people have noted that it felt like 'the old days'. Now allowing for the individual interpretations of what that means, almost always that 'old days' comment is meant to be taken as a good thing. Yet the implication is also that it is a rare thing nowadays.

    I'm not going to disagree with that. However, the inference also appears to be that every time there is a good game with a good crowd for a South game (home and/or away) is that it could be the beginning of something bigger, something to build on. Perhaps.

    But the problem here is that we forget that we have had intermittent cases of these 'big' games, or at least games with something on the line where the crowd even if not huge, has been noisy and engaged, and that they are not as isolated as people sometimes think.

    How one builds on it on this current environment, I don't know. Certainly it helps if there is an opposition not just on the field, but also in the stands, and again, if there is a sense that what is happening at a South game matters. Too often it may seem like it doesn't, It also helps when there is, at some relative level, a critical mass of interest, where people feel like they are both

    a) a part of something bigger than themselves
    b) in an environment where they feel they can attract others to join them

    winning also helps, mind you. As others have noted though, imagine if we had something more than social media to help promote these games.

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    1. Lastly, with regard's to West End's comments, the amount of times that similar things have been said over the years... it's frustrating, because we've been pegged as this 1960s/70s/80s style for so long, when it just hasn't been the case. I suppose it's easier to make these calls when people haven't been to a South game for a long time, and are perhaps able to to forget some of their prior prejudices.

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  7. There was barely even 2000 people there on Friday night, people getting way ahead of themselves. Having an atmosphere like the old days doesn't mean shit when you are playing in a really poor competition like the NPL that generates zero interest. When I see Knights travel to a shithole like Avondale Heights any sense of warm fuzzy nostalgia disappears very quickly.

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    1. Correct, big difference between the grind and 'novelty' fixtures.

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    2. These days any time you get something a bit special you just need to enjoy it as much as possible, don't get many of those moments every season...

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  8. Barely 2000 > 30. Y u so mad 4 @melbcro? k dot.

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    1. mad about what, I'm having a discussion with Paul. Problem?

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  9. http://lakesidelads.webs.com/

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  10. Was reading an article about the Nazi symbol displayed on the ground between Croatia and Italy the other day, and it jogged my memory about something that was chanted during this cup game between the South and the Knights.

    I am pretty sure I heard the 'Ustashe' chant a couple of times.

    Why is this done? I can't see the point.

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  11. Ustaše and Nazis aren't the same thing

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While I like people commenting on the blog, it would be useful if different posters could at least leave some sort of nickname to make it easier to sort through all the different 'anonymous' posters. If your post doesn't get approved straight away, it's probably because I haven't seen it yet. Lastly, just because I approve a comment for publication does not mean that I endorse its content.