Once again, an unchanged starting eleven, though it looks like we can call off the search party for Jake Barker-Daish, as he was back on the bench after mysteriously disappearing for a couple of weeks there. Milos Lujic's pass to Nick Epifano for the opening goal was very good, though it's a distant second for the sheer comedic theatrics of Michael Eagar's goal - his first for the club - which may or may not have involved a backheel which somehow crept over the line following a shambles of a goalmouth scramble.
The goal that Hume pulled back was not undeserved, though the fact that we once again hit back pretty quickly (via Lujic) was quite reassuring. Less reassuring was Nikola Roganovic's kicking which was quite wonky, though it was still better than the moment where he left a shot go seemingly out for a goal kick only to have it clatter onto the post. It was those moments of good fortune that while not guaranteeing us the win, made us look more dominant than we perhaps were.
Epifano's second for the night finished the game off for good, and it was an absolute pearler, the equal of his go ahead goal against the Knights in the Dockerty Cup earlier this year. Iqi Jawadi's goal for 5-1 was another case of 'what were they actually trying to achieve there' for the Hume defense, as Jawadi's relatively tame shot was seemingly saved only for it to end up crossing the line somehow, or at least enough to convince the officials to award the goal.The last portion of the game saw Hume dominate possession as we backed off, and Marcus Schroen scored with an excellent long range shot to beat Roganovic in goal.
While not wishing to piss on anyone's parade - it was a good win, and it was a lot of fun to watch, like many of our recent matches - much of the general play from our end could be tightened up, and I expect that Hume will improve on that performance come finals time. Still, it was mainly good signs, but as far as the minor premiership race goes, a job only half done.
Next game/Copperoos/doing the sums
Northcote City Hercules at home on Sunday afternoon in the final round of the season. Rather than the under 20s being the usual curtain raiser, as per last year the Victorian Police Soccer Club's Copperoos will be taking on a team of former Socceroos (including several former South players) for the Tony Clarke Memorial Shield.
As for the sums for the main game, it's pretty straightforward. The win over Hume has seen us take top spot from Bentleigh on goal difference - in fact we have a ten goal advantage over Bentleigh, who play Oakleigh this week. Unless Oakleigh completely capitulate, all we'll need to do to finish first and clinch the Victorian NPL national playoffs spot is match Bentleigh's result, though winning our game will almost certainly do the trick.
We can't finish lower than second on the ladder, so we will be having a week off in the first week of the finals regardless of the result on Sunday - but of course you'd rather finish first to get that national NPL playoff spot, and succeed in winning it so you can book your automatic FFA Cup spot. You know, for those who care about that sort of thing.
Epifano silliness (let's pick on someone completely at random)
Now the task of winning the minor premiership has been made a little more difficult because Nick Epifano did a very silly thing and retaliated with a sort of stamping/kicking out motion when provoked(?) by an opponent after a foul during the first half. While he was very fortunate not to get more than the yellow card that he received from the referee, the yellow card he did collect has apparently seen him rack up five yellow tickets, and thus he will miss the round 26 game against Northcote.
But lest that be the end of that stupidity, we also read this pearler of a post on smfcboard.
Now South of the Border is hardly Nick Epifano's biggest fan, nor admittedly his most forthright enemy, but I'd like to think that if nothing else this site has acknowledged that whatever the divergent opinions are among the supporter base on this matter, his actions have cast a pall of sorts over the season. However in their haste to make political mileage of the situation, some people, like our friend above, have committed such rank overreach when there's absolutely no need to do so. Whether anyone likes it or not, despite his cuntery Epifano has actually been in the best form of his South stint. He's scoring regularly, he has scored important goals, and he's working harder than ever on the defensive side of his game. None of which excuses any of his prior behaviour, but let's not start inventing shit for the sake of it. There's also the following things to consider.
- We haven't actually won the minor premiership yet.
- Even if we do, it's not a fully fledged title, unless you've started using A-League classifications.
- Whether we win or lose the title in the long run, his fingerprints (good and bad) will be all over this season anyway.
Anyway, quite how Chris Taylor will set up the team in Epifano's absence will be interesting to see - will Chris Irwin get an unlikely start, or will David Stirton get a much needed run? Will they swap Leigh Minopoulos onto Epifano's side in order to make room for either of Irwin or Stirton?
Heritage for sale
Replicas of the modernised red vee heritage jerseys designed by BLK which were used for our regrettably brief FFA Cup run were on sale last night at the merchandise stall, sans the FFA Cup badge. I bought one, which set me back $90, and I assume that those that weren't snapped up last night will still be available for purchase on Sunday - though you may want to contact the club just to be sure. Next step, to get replica versions of our 1960s Bristol Rovers style kit done up, with long sleeves of course.
I don't know what exactly we're paying Blue Thunder Security to do at Lakeside. I went to the game more or less straight after work, so I had my bag with me, but did they actually bother checking it at the gate? Nope. If they had, they would have come across some incendiary materials far more dangerous than your run of the mill firecracker or nautical flare. Emile Zola's Germinal (one of the greatest novels of all time) may seem to be on the face of it a very long and detailed novel about a miners' strike in northern France during the Second Empire period, but within its pages lie the seeds of revolution, even if some theorists will claim that Zola's depictions of the various competing socialist ideologies in the novel are beholden to hostile contemporary bourgeois attitudes. One wonders how many of the other 329 patrons at the ground on Wednesday night managed to smuggle in contraband materials? Also, I'd like to think that if Souvarine was involved in Australian soccer, he would see that just because you've blown the present to pieces, it doesn't necessarily follow that what comes after will be better than what exists now - it might force him to reconsider his political theorising.
Let's solve two problems at once (hey kid, you want some candy?)
Yesterday there were many futile attempts to convince a couple of the youngest members of Clarendon Corner to start a chant. At the same time, there were several people throwing around lollies at each other, which is an incredible waste of sugar and food colouring. Why not instead use those lollies to convince the children to start a chant?
The toumbeleki man is better off sticking to the toumbeleki, which is he quite proficient at, rather than struggling to play his bugle.
I was fortunate enough to be offered two free tickets to a big night of boxing last Friday - big in the sense that this is an attempt by the sport to get back into the mainstream, with consistent and continuing free to air coverage for the first time in 30 years. In that sense, I could only feel that, as a boxing novice, that it was if not quite a disaster, then it was at least a familiar reminder of why boxing has fallen away as a mainstream television sport in Australia.
Homer: I miss my couch.
Joe Frasier: I know how you feel. You lost the couch. I lost the heavyweight championship.
Homer: Heavyweight championship.There's three of those. That couch was one of a kind.
- The Simpsons, "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?"Everyone knows boxing's problems, and what's more, that they will never be solved. The fact that in the time since Homer Simpson noted that there were three heavyweight champion belts - 23 years ago, if you can believe it - that even more have been added is just the tip of a very large iceberg.
It was an unusual set up for a fight night. The venue was the Melbourne Pavilion, a tarted up reception centre in Kensington. Outside the crowd waited to be let in from across the street, almost all men, most of them wearing black suits, neat casual or t-shirts sporting the logos of various gyms, many of them with tattoos, and more than enough with shaved heads. My instinct was to try to avoid direct eye contact, and even the appearance that I was trying to eavesdrop.
Once inside, I noticed the ring near the entrance and table seating being the norm, or perhaps even only option on offer - I didn't notice anything resembling general admission, unless there was standing room near the bar. It's an interesting slant, trying to go upmarket the way the promoters did, providing three course meals (all very good quality), and a steady supply of booze. The problem with that approach though is that it may work for those who are ringside - and who have paid the highest ticket prices - but those at the back of the room don't get quite the same value for money. Not that I was complaining, I mean how can you when your ticket is free, but the impeded views due to the room's pylons made it a less than stellar viewing experience. And while there were plenty of television screens to view the action on when the fighters moved into the unsighted areas of the ring, it felt like being at a rugby league game - more attention paid to screens as opposed to the real action being performed by real people in front of you. The never-ending flurry of service staff also diminished the viewing experience.
That second ticket I had been given? It was supposed to be used by an actual boxing fan, but he couldn't make it. Offers to take up the ticket on Twitter and Facebook were either ignored, or used as a source of mirth, and the ticket went unclaimed. I'd like to think that it was purely boxing's loss of cultural cachet that was at fault, but I can't rule out the daunting task of being seated next to me for five or six hours. It was hard to tell which was the greater dissuading factor.
On my table at the back of the room are the most obvious examples of boxing's working class. The Smith family from Newcastle, mum, dad and sister, were there to support Richard. Later, from the Central Coast, Jai Opetaia's girlfriend, along with his sister, arrived on to our table. Also on my table was a fighter from Port Macquarie named Will, along with his trainer whose name escapes me. Will was meant to fight on the night, but two days previously his opponent had apparently broken his hand doing pad work - one wonders how hard his opponent was hitting those pads. Though a professional boxer, Will's main line of work is in building highways, while his trainer is a butcher. They train around their work schedules, in the great Australian working class boxing tradition of tin sheds, back yards and training around punishing six day a week work schedules. Will was enjoying being in Melbourne, but you could tell he was restless, that he wanted to be in among the action. During the fights, his trainer positioned himself so that he could talk through each bout with Will. They'd both taken time off work and not getting appearance money because of the cancelled fight, so they try to make the most of the hospitality on offer and the chance to learn from those on display. I didn't ask, but I suspect that Will is Indigenous, and throughout the evening I wished that Joe Gorman was here instead of me, because he could write this story better than me, and some of the others, too, because there was a rural and regional New South Wales state of mind at my table that he'd better understand than me.
The outcome of the first fight, between heavyweights Haysem Abdallah and Ace Tarau - allegedly both debutants, though I could have sworn I'd heard that Abdallah had a 16-0 record; maybe as an amateur? - was predictable. Tarau came out and looked lively early on, but it was clear he didn't have the tank to last the four rounds, and he didn't last two. The second fight between light heavyweights Trent Broadhurst and Affif Belghecham from New Caledonia, was I think, meant to be something that Broadhurst would win and win well, but after a wonky start his opponent held his own and lasted until the end of the six round fight. I couldn't help but feel that Broadhurst would be disappointed with not being able to look more effective against his journeyman opponent.
The third fight was interrupted by the dinner service and it was too hard to concentrate on both eating and trying to watch the fight. The fourth fight was between Richard Smith and local boy Joel Camilleri. This was a good, even battle though Camilleri, who sported a large Maltese/George Cross tattoo on his back, gave Smith too many of the early rounds, and Smith held out well enough in the second half of the bout to win the fight. He's now apparently looking at a title fight, hopefully in Newcastle. His parents were chanting and cheering throughout the bout - it's the most atmosphere that there will be in the venue all night. Smith's father will thank me repeatedly, but when I tried to congratulate him, he waves it away, saying it was all Richard, who'd given up an electrician's apprenticeship in order to give boxing a proper go, to see how far he could take it, to make sure years down the track that he had no regrets about wondering 'what if?'. The thing about clichés is that it's easy to scoff at them until they're right there in front of you.
The first of the televised bouts was Jai Opetaia vs Rob Manual, a 39 year old former rugby league player who has lost all his previous bouts. This one, too, went the same way. I thought to myself that this is not a good look for the televised product, but worse is yet to come. More heavyweights follow them, Lucas Browne who had 21 wins and no losses to his name, taking on Julius Long who was 16-17-0. Long is a tall man - over seven foot tall - but from the outset his main goal is to try to frustrate his opponent, who performance perhaps betrays his record, as the fight looks sloppy and uncoordinated. The derision comes not only from the crowd in the room, but from the internet as well. Though Long has a brief moment in the third or fourth round where he rattles Browne, he's soon back to retreating, and Browne finally knocks him out in the dying stages of the ninth round.
In trying to get a bit of background on Will Tomlinson, it appears that earlier this year he was found to be found out of his depth when taking on a Mexican fighter, being mauled on the way to a bad loss. This then was an attempt to bounce back against an opponent I assume was brought in to provide a challenge for him, someone which would make Tomlinson earn his win and look good doing it, but otherwise not expected to beat him.
In the first round, Filipino Adones Aguelo played cautious, and neither fighter makes inroads. But frm then on, it's Aguelo who surprises everyone, cutting Tomlinson repeatedly, and chasing him around the ering, being the more aggressive boxer. Tomlinson looks out of sorts, and though he manages to get back into the bout later on, Ageulo is still holding his own and putting together the better moves. Even though I thought Ageulo had clearly been the better fighter throughout almost the entire fight, I had a feeling that he'd get dudded on the decision. I know that my opinion certainly comes from a novice position, but there were more than enough Australian boxing fans across the internet both dismayed at the result, but also for the fact that it reinforced boxing's bad reputation for dodgy results. The crowd at the venue, too, seemingly knew the result which was going to be handed down. There was little celebration or acknowledgement of the judges' decision, and most beat a hasty exit. If this was meant to be boxing's plea to the Australian sporting public to once more be seen as a credible sport
Things could be worse!
You could be John Frusciante during the mid 1990s.
Did you know the NPL1 trophy is bigger than then NPL trophy?