If people have been wondering if I am still in shock, well, yes I am. I think many of us are. After the game I went out for a beer. Then I went home and fell asleep watching the Davis Cup. Yesterday I went to my first Williamstown footy match since they lost the grand final to Port Melbourne in 2011. Those three things I think are indicative of where my head is at the moment.
Congratulations to Olympia, in particular Jake Vandermey and family, Shae Hickey (even though he got himself sent off) and president George Mamacas. Olympia has come a very long way from the pre-season mauling we gave you back in 2011, and even last year. While we were far from our best on Saturday, the fact that Olympia played with no fear was a treat to witness, even if my appreciation of it is necessarily muted because of the fact that they played against my club, which put in a such a sub par performance.
No Roganovic (failed to recover from last week), no Iqi (suspension) and losing Eagar to some fucked up ankle injury in the pre-game warm up would by necessity make things harder, but surely not when it came to being switched on and hungry to win. OK, I get that it's been a long season, that the loss to Bentleigh in the grand final was a colossal drainer, but at some point you've got to shake yourself out of it, or at least be shaken out of it once Olympia took the lead.
But no, with a couple of notable exceptions (Chris Irwin ran himself ragged), we decided to rock up only after half time and even then only really once Olympia were down to ten men. Our defending was comical (that second goal, oh my), our midfield (especially David Stirton) a mess, and the forwards apart from Milos Lujic (cracking header for our goal) so out of sorts one wondered why they'd bothered to show up at all.
Nevertheless, despite putting in an abysmal performance by our standards, we sill had bucket loads of chances. We must have had 15-20 corners, plenty of free kicks around the 18 yard box, a couple of shots off the woodwork and one cleared off the line; but it was those moments when all someone needed to do was to be at the right spot at the right and take a damn shot that was on target that were the most dispiriting. Panic set in, and somehow the numerous comeback wins we'd achieved in 2015 were all forgotten.
I'll leave it to the readers to decide if it was a wasted season. We won some trophies, played some great football at times, scored many memorable wins; but we also fell short when we thought we could, nay, should have done better. Grand final, FFA Cup, NPL playoffs. The one saving grace is that Saturday showed up a few players, and while we know that most of them are not as bad as their performance against Olympia, that it provides the board and coaching staff the justification needed to look for replacements or competition for those spots next year.
Andy Bevin's already gone, I can't see how Jake Barker-Daish will survive, and Stirton must be on the thinnest of ice. Then there's also the players who are perhaps likely to leave. Nick Epifano signed on for 2016, but there are rumours he will be trialling for Perth Glory this week. The board will be hoping like hell he'll get signed. One wonders whether Iqi Jawadi will finally be given a chance on an A-League roster, if not immediately than perhaps during the January transfer window when those teams need depth players. Will Fraser MacLaren stick around if he's only going to be no.2? There are also players to come back - Kristian Konstantinidis' return will necessitate the movement of someone out of the back four (Tim Mala?), while a fully fit Dane Milovanovic, should he stay (and I only say that because by his own admission he's had a very peripatetic career) will shove out someone from midfield. Andy Kecojevic will be given more game time next season. I like Matty Theodore, but has he done enough this season to cement a starting eleven spot? And will his work commitments continue to get in the way?
As for the off-field guff - we have a whole off-season to discuss that, and I look forward to doing so. As per usual with the end of a season, the blog will slow down a bit. There will be some artefacts for the history heads, there may be book reviews if I can bother reading a book worth reviewing for the site, and there will be news and updates collated into monthly digests. Within the next fortnight I'll put up my annual awards, and I'll probably end up going to the women's grand final this week just for the simple fact that SMWFC are in it, and it will be their last time there for at least a few years. At some point later in the year I could up end up boarding a Greyhound bus and ending up in Canberra, which will have drastic consequences for no one, but could be fun anyway.
And while I thank you all anyway at the end of the year, let me finish by saying thanks for sharing the season with me, and that I hope that you will continue reading through the off-season.