We did however get a shiny plate for our troubles, the Victorian slot for the NPL playoffs for the second successive year, as well as the right to claim some sort of moral premiership tag, having ground our way through injuries, suspensions, player departures and some would say a catastrophic FFA Cup appearance, to finish the season scoring bucketloads of goals and thus finishing on top of the table.
And while minor premiers have bombed out or been sunk by the near enough lottery of finals in soccer, in more recent seasons there's at least been the habit of teams finishing on top managing to go all the way and win the grand final as well, so for those who like omens, that's something for you to hold on to in the weeks to come. Me, being an allegedly staunch rationalist, I take no truck with such things.
We were a bit sketchy to start with - whether that was to do with nerves, or three games in eight days, or Northcote actually taking the game seriously, I don't know - but apart from one clear cut chance (a free header in the six yard box), and the odd mistimed run called back for offside, we were the better team. Soon Milos Lujic gave us the lead, and his second goal, a well aimed shot from a deep David Stirton cross saw us more or less seal the game. The biggest concern at that time was whether Tim Mala's yellow card would see him rubbed out for the next game.
If there was any doubt about the final result, Brad Norton put that to bed with his amazing goal from what looked like a mishit cross. Me, I choose to be positive about it and reckon that Norton meant to hit it that way, in line with his recent mostly excellent placement of the ball. A few weeks ago I likened his crossing form to snooker, and yesterday's goal was very much a case of eight ball in the corner pocket.
But then possible disaster struck. The game and the minor premiership wrapped up, Milos Lujic hurt his knee badly with about ten minutes of game time left. He spent most of the rest of the game getting treated behind the byline, and while the punters were duly stoked with the win, there was also concern about Milos, our finals chances, as well as our NPL playoff chances. South Melbourne Hellas may not be a one man band in 2015, but it's not easy to find, let alone replace strikers who score 20 goals a year.
That he limped off the ground rather than being carried off with a stretcher, well, that's the kind of thing we'd all love to think of as being a 'good sign', but almost none of us in the stands are doctors, and for the purposes of this example of speculative ignorance, those with doctorates in economics or knowing how to mix industrial chemicals, or literature (some day, maybe) don't count as doctors.
On the other hand, should Lujic miss some or the rest of the season, it will provide an opportunity to someone else to stand up, in the way that Leigh Minopoulos has stood up since being given a belated starting berth in order to solve the problem of what to do after Andy Brennan's departure. The man who will be tasked with filling that gap will probably be David Stirton, whose year has been affected by injuries and being played in positions which I don't think suit him - namely out wide - instead of up front.
The issue then becomes one of having to adjust to having a forward (whether that's Stirton or Minopoulos) who do not share the physical attributes of Lujic, including perhaps a change of formation. Would you play both Leigh and Stirts up front, and play Chris Irwin on the right wing? Or would you keep the crux of what we've been doing intact, and just tinker on the edges? Would the set piece arrangements need to change should Lujic, one of our three tall timber players along with Michael Eagar and Luke Adams, not play?
Update on Milos Lujic's knee, at this moment the most important ligament in Australia
Here's the latest goss on the state of Milos' knee from one of the more reputable people on smfcboard.
Initial prognoses (without a scan) on Milos was a strained MCL. He's getting scans on Tuesday to clarify.Next game
Highly doubt he'll play again this season if he's done a grade 1 or 2 medial. Fingers crossed its just jarred and when the swelling goes down he'll be ok!
In two weeks time, at home against one of Melbourne Knights, Hume City or Pascoe Vale.
How good was it having a game at 3:00PM on a Sunday afternoon? The sun was out, more families were in attendance, and there were even more young people in Clarendon Corner, as well as a good turnout by the usual assortment of people in that area.
Mind you, there was disagreement in the ranks about how many people actually did attend. My regular supplier of the realist crowd count said 600, while another reputable source said about 700. That seemed about right to me, though others said something closer to 1,200 would be more accurate. That's a hell of a discrepancy, but since they never release the numbers, let alone complex breakdowns of the demographics attending (that's a trade secret I suppose) it's really up to you, the reader, to decide which number you feel more comfortable with.
Nick Epifano to Perth Glory?
No confirmation on whether this is true or not, but current Glory CEO Peter Filopoulos (you may remember him from such posts as 'just who is the biggest South fan around?') was pretty coy when asked directly. No indication either on when exactly Epifano would leave South for Glory in the even that Glory did sign him up. After the finals? After the NPL national finals?Word is Epifano is close to a deal with Glory. Should go through this week— Adam Howard (@adamOsaussies) August 23, 2015
Good luck to...
South junior Andrew Mesorouni (wait, does he have the same name as his dad?), who has signed up with Getafe in La Liga. Interestingly this was done with the cooperation or assistance of Genova International Soccer School and Morris Pagniello - is this a hint towards whatever that 'partnership' or 'relationship' with Real Madrid is meant to be? And where's the player training compo?
Olympia Warriors on securing their first senior league title since 1996. The team includes former South defender Jake Vandermey, and future South player Luke Eyles (who won the Tassie league's rising star award). We'll be playing them in the week after the grand final in Melbourne.
The nanny state strikes again
Lakeside security keeping us safe from. Umm drums. pic.twitter.com/BgREuIuxpO— Ian Syson (@IanSyson) August 23, 2015
Things could be worse!
Win, lose or draw, we get to see South most weeks of the year. What about those people who want to see Manowar tour Australia?
After all that angst, we didn't need to worry about the Bentleigh vs Oakleigh result at all. Thought processes need to change need to change when your team becomes competent.