Sunday, 5 July 2015

Disappointed, embarrassed - South Melbourne 1 Heidelberg United 2

Normally I'd spend the day after a game like that just getting on with the job of writing this blog, but fuck it if I just could not be bothered with soccer at all yesterday. So I went and watched the Collingwood magoos take on Sandringham yesterday instead.

Throwing away the game like that in the way that we did was a travesty. Not just because it was against Heidelberg, but because undermanned as we were, we managed to look far better than we had in several weeks. Lujic looked like a threat again, Hatzikostas and Jawadi looked good in the middle, even if our back line was a mess. And even though some of our players had absolute nightmares of games - Lakic will surely never play that badly again - there was enough improvement in attack to say that we may just have turned a corner. Oh, Leigh Minopoulos, how did you miss that sitter when you came on? Oh Andy Kecojevic, why couldn't either of your two wonderful freekicks have snuck into the inside of the post instead of ricocheting off it and out? Where was the game sense in the last five minutes? I mean sure, go for the win, but don't throw away the point you've worked so hard to earn!

Then again, considering the shenanigans that happened off the field, I don't know how much I would have enjoyed the win anyway. The behaviour of some of our fans was nothing short of disgraceful. The flares were just the start of it. Despite the pleas from older heads in the week leading up to this contest not to light them in the ground, the calls went unheeded from at least one person.

I should be clear on my position on flares. Firstly, I don't like them from an aesthetic point of view - they smell, they sting my eyes and throat, and I think they look childish and pathetic in comparison to excellent chanting and the colour brought by many and diverse flags and banners. Secondly, the legality of releasing flares is less of an issue to me than the fact because they're banned at soccer games in Australia, each one lit by one of our fans costs the club money. Now whether you like the board or not is immaterial to this discussion - I'm thinking here of the efforts of the volunteers and staff who bust a gut trying to get a team on the park each week and putting on a professional and well organised show. Thirdly, if you're gonna be a dick and light a flare, at least have the balls to hold it up instead of scurrying away. As for the tosser who threw the flare over the fence, thank goodness you didn't hit the running track. Frankly, if you're so into flares that they take precedence over the enjoyment of the match itself and the efforts of the people working hard to keep the club going, you'd be better off going to watch the gas flares at the casino.

'Lisa, maybe if I'm part of that mob, I can help steer it in wise directions.'
Of course there was also the typical sarcastic dropkick reaction of 'oh no, flares, how scary and wrong' - but it's not about the flares, it's about what they represent - a disregard for the club and your fellow supporters. But if only flares were the main problem from Friday night, we could all possibly put it down to some sort of immaturity, and that over time the kids would learn as the older Clarendon Corner heads had to learn.

Unfortunately the flares had to play second fiddle to some younger supporters stealing a banner from the Heidelberg active contingent. On a certain level, I can tolerate accidental stupidity, but planned stupidity - and the banner stealing certainly did seem like a planned affair - that's much less forgivable. This of course kicked off a sequence of events which saw Berger fans rush rush over to get the banner back and/or remonstrate, and then saw push and shove after the match. Whatever anyone thinks of the South - Bergers rivalry, it is not a violent or angry one. Being both Greek founded and supported clubs, many of us know and have known friends an relatives from both sides of the ledger. In the days when people went to more than one game a weekend, South fans would go with their Berger mates to their games, and they would reciprocate.

As for the Berger fans who apparently tried to storm the corporate areas after the ground announcer's 'eggs on toast' jibe, get over yourselves. It's not like he called you Bulgarians or something equally stupid.

Without wishing to absolve the guilty parties in any way, nor appearing to join the 'boys will be boys' crowd, security's efforts on the night were poor. The separation of the two sets of fans at the end of the game, the lack of an obvious presence around Clarendon Corner after some members of Enosi 59 had already lit flares before the match on Clarendon Street - surely Blue Thunder have been around these leagues and clubs long enough to have got even the basics right, but alas that was not the case.

Lest this tirade be taken as a slur against every person in Enosi 59 or their hangers on or supporters, it's not. There are good guys in the group, who've added to the atmosphere at games, and I've been more than happy to have a chat with those guys. Someone who should know better made the allegation recently that I am anti-active and pro picnic support. My response then, as it is now, is that I'm not against active support - I'm against dickheads whether they're chanting types or sitting down and enjoying the game on their own terms types. I'm still of the opinion that being a dickhead is not a genetic condition, and if that is the case, being a dickhead must therefore be a personal decision - and I've yet to meet someone who likes a dickhead.

The problems that pale in comparison to the other issues but which are still worth a mention
There's been an older guy turning up recently to the bay that Clarendon Corner uses who's been using a tabla drum. Some a re for it, some are against it, but I don't mind, it adds to the atmosphere and the guy can actually play. On Friday night though for some reason upon entering the ground, I noticed that he was singing along to a karaoke version of 'Livin La Vida Loca'. He also had Lefteri's trumpet tune hooked up to his sound system on wheels. to which many of the longer standing Clarendon Corner people objected, on the grounds (justifiably I think) of artificiality. Whether or not current trumpet player Bruno is at a game and/or willing to play the trumpet (and on this occasion he was), putting the sound effect on like that while well intentioned is just one step closer to taking away the fan made aspect of supporter groups, and that as such Stathi's vocalised version of the trumpet tune has more heart and character than a pre-recorded tune ever could. The situation seemed to resolve itself.

Crowd
700-800

Crisis at the canteen
Our crowd counter was disappointed that the canteen was no longer willing to serve the Fantastic brand cup noodle, because 'it would take too long to boil the water'.

Celebrity watch
George Calombaris was in attendance.

Next game
Tuesday night at home against a Green Gully side fresh from thumping Bentleigh Greens 4-0 - Bentleigh's first league defeat of the season.

FFA Cup news
We've been drawn against Queensland side Palm Beach, with the match to be played on the Gold Coast. The game will be at Robina Stadium, to be played on Wednesday 29th July at 7:30PM.

Being South Melbourne, the most important club in Australia, our game will be one of those broadcast by Fox Sports. I assume this means that we won't be having our own highlights up on youtube or on the SMFC TV show on Aurora. For those unable to be there in person, I assume some fans will gather at a pub somewhere to watch the game, and I'll let you all know where that will be should that happen. That's what happens when you don't have a social club.

There's also this:
South are marking their return to the big time by wearing their heritage strip of white with a red V, the colours of South Melbourne United, one of the three teams that merged more than 50 years ago to form the current club
Juniper Hill's home uniform.. Julius
Stoker is the club's games record
holder with 314 league and cup
appearances. The design was created
to my spec by 'paquebot', owner of
AS Uijeongbu 07, five time Korean
champions/
which as always has proved divisive on historical, cultural and aesthetic grounds. My stance on the matter is pretty clear, and dare I say it, progressive, rather than conservative (which I've nothing against) or reactionary (you know who you are). I'm not in favour of dislodging the blue and white of the home strip, but I reckon that the heritage strip should be made the permanent away strip. But then again, I am one of those people who likes the aesthetics of the heritage jersey, shorts and hooped socks combo, as well having what I see as a historical wrong being rectified.

The concerns however that it's being used a gimmick have some validity. Here's hoping that it's not just a one off event, and further more that the red vee is tasteful (as per the image adjacent) and not like some of the really huge South Melbourne United ones or heaven forbid, St George-Illawarra Dragons.

Actually, on reflection I may just be a rampant ideologue on this matter myself - after all, I did get a more a talented person than myself to customise my Hatriick team's home uniform to resemble the South Melbourne Hellas heritage strip. On that front, if it were at all possible, I'd also love to see the use of the 1966 Bristol Rovers style jersey, which is also a pearler. Then again, I once argued for QPR style hoops, if the right kind of sponsor could be found to augment the jersey.

Nick Epifano cuts Dundee United trial short
Also apparently done his hamstring, not sure of the severity. He was apparently in attendance at the game on Friday.

Speaking of South Melbourne United
While using Trove's newspaper database while doing some research on a project I'm working on, I came across an article from 1936 which talked about that club's very early days, and their application to use the Port Melbourne Football Ground - by which I assume they mean the venue commonly known as the North Port Oval. This is intriguing to me not just for its South Melbourne connections - and why did South Melbourne United form separately from the South Melbourne club that was already in existence? - , but also because of the fact that Port Melbourne as a district was, to my knowledge at least, virtually unknown as a soccer playing area. South Melbourne, Albert Park, Middle Park, St Kilda, South Yarra and Prahran all had lasting and consistent representation either as clubs or venue locations, but Port Melbourne is conspicuous by its absence in the records.

Upon further investigation, it appears that Royal Caledonians had a made an attempt two years earlier to get access to North Port, so it wasn't a new phenomenon. At a meeting to discuss South Melbourne United's application, one councillor said if it went ahead it would be 'the end of the Port Melbourne Football Club', an extraordinary claim to make considering that South Melbourne United had not even fielded a senior team yet. The councillor who stood against South Melbourne United's application was one JP Crichton, a long serving members of the municipality, many times mayor, and on at least on one occasion president of the Port Melbourne Football Club. Self-interest and self-preservation perhaps? Port Melbourne had finished two games clear at the bottom of the VFA ladder in 1936, but surely they couldn't have been that scared of soccer, being part of an Australian Rules club that already had such a storied history? I haven't yet been able ti find any further details of what happened to United's application, but it is an interesting story for both ground usage buffs and South Melbourne soccer history buffs - had United settled down in Port Melbourne, the events which lead to our club's founding some 24 years later would have been quite different.

Final thought
Don't go too hard on them on the blog he said. I gave him my best attempt at an affected death stare, but maybe he had a point.

12 comments:

  1. I had a chat to some of the Enosi boys after the game. I could see on their faces how upset they were about those flares being lit. I believe that it wasn't them, these boys seem to know the rules and would never want to hurt the club in anyway. It must of been someone who isn't a regular at South who obviously doesn't understand the codes of conduct. Feel sorry for these boys, everyone is turning against them.

    Keep your heads high lads.

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  2. To be honest Paul from what you wrote it comes across as a very tame night to me.

    On George Calombaris, did he show up because he genuine interest or because lately he has been coping a lot of grief on twitter for he traitorous ways? Would happily put money on the latter, bloke trying to save face.

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  3. Was actually in the box when the announcer made the 'eggs on toast' joke. personally, i thought it was good banter. not racist, sexist, offensive etc in any way at all. one of the bergers fans tried smashing the window, the other one was filming us telling us we were fucked. Really didnt see the fuss

    On a side note, Heidelbergs facebook page really 'beat the dead horse' the next day. I saw maybe 4 or 5 posts which were blatanly referring to the eggs on toast joke. They cant put up live scores for their matches, and struggle to put up the results in a timely manner, but they can put up 4 posts containing almost the exact same joke. jeez

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  4. If those kids want to be hooligans they can fuck off somewhere else. I would love to see them start something at Knights Stadium, we'll see how far they get with the Cros.

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  5. So apparently they nicked one of the main culprits for the flare and banner antics? I certainly hope so.

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  6. The heritage jersey on our return to the national stage is obviously an attempt to yell out how not greek we are. I find it truly putrid and it's the straw that's broken this camels back.

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    Replies
    1. I'd be more sympathetic to that line of thinking if they tried to stop us chanting Hellas, or take the Greek flags off the Enosi boys, or stop 3XY from broadcasting games, none of which they've done.

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  7. I think it's more of an attempt to show we have a history. Something foxtel will have to refer to as well when they describe the tops. Everyone knows we play in blue. Plus we are playing away so we wouldn't be in blue anyway.

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  8. We need to look deeper into the Friday fracas.

    Has anyone considered the "Eggs on toast" comment was orchestrated with Alexanders Army (sic) and Enosi59? The ground announcer in cahoots with the kids generates some mock outrage, which cues the choreographed banner stealing, which cues the play-acting “fight”, in a fiendish plot to eliminate the meal of dinner.

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  9. What would happen when the smoke from a flare crosses paths with the smoke from the souvlaki stand? Got to be some sort of gag there. Maybe Simon Hill will think of something if we manage to get a home game in the later stages of the FFA cup?

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  10. You forgot to mention the brave 30 something year old south Melbourne fan who pushed a 80 year old Heidelberg fan to the ground. How very Courageous of this South fan. He should be proud of his strength. Also thanks to all the South fans for making us feel welcome by telling us to leave the ground and shouting at us after the game. Real gentlemen.

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  11. Thanks yo the south fan who pushed a 80 year old Heidelberg fan to the ground. If it wasn't for a Heidelberg heavy stepping in it looked like he wanted to keep going. Coward. Also thanks to the South fans for making us feel welcome by shouting and swearing at us at the games conclusion. Great sportsmanship there. No wonder 80 per cent of Heidelberg fans boycott Bib jane stadium. I now am starting to agree with one man's comments from the terraces at the village in round one 2006 "you guys are worse than Preston".

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