Tuesday, 19 January 2016

All these things are baseless assertions (the cosmic ballet goes on)

So, another 'South has ambition' article has come out, and once again people have latched on to it with the usual blend of outrage and attention seeking. Mission accomplished, SMFC Social Media Team!
Now me, I'm at the stage where I see no point in getting excited one way or another about these kinds of articles unless there is something worth getting excited about. Having advanced to a higher plane of Australian soccer bitterness - somewhere above crass 'OMG Hellas is da best' Facebook banter, but below the level which would see me ignore all of this - right now I'm more interested in the 'South has ambition article' genre itself; how it came to be, why we get excited (mostly, but not always, in part because of over-exposure) and what we should perhaps focus on instead.

Over the past ten years or so, South Melbourne has attempted to court various writers and commentators in both the Greek press and the mainstream media. Of course we have always done this, as it is what any even half competent sporting organisation would do; but the difference now is that since the end of the NSL, South Melbourne is no longer as newsworthy as it once was, even as the coverage of soccer in Australia in the mainstream has generally improved (with the necessary caveat that while it has improved for some, it has deteriorated for many, and that the media landscape we live in now is of course not the same as that which existed 15 or 30 or 45 years ago).

So, if your bread and butter operation is no longer worth anyone's time or effort - in this case, winning soccer matches - how do you make yourself newsworthy? Well, you do it by playing what you consider is the best hand at your disposal - in this case threatening to join the national top-flight every few months, and getting someone sympathetic to that cause to do a write up on it. Now South has some natural advantages in this area, but also some disadvantages. The disadvantages are that, unlike some other clubs, it is harder for South to use its legacy of creating champion soccer players as opposed to buying them, because we don't have a development legacy of any note. More of a problem though is that as the most significant ethnic club in Australian soccer - or at least in the NSL - we have become the poster boys for everything the NSL stood for; and with the NSL not being the most attractive thing to be attached to, we struggle to avoid being blamed for everything that was wrong with soccer in the past, even if we were only responsible for approximately half of it.

The advantages of being South Melbourne are not without merit though. We can point to crowds that didn't taper off towards the end of the NSL, regardless of whatever fair and unfair rubbery figures allegations people like to make. We had and still tend to have a better reputation among the more open minded folks in the New Dawn, even those who are against bringing ethnic or former NSL teams into the top tier, and we've been putting in the hard yards on the public relations front for a lot longer and more effectively than most of our contemporaries. That doesn't necessarily mean that our effeorts have been very effective, but someone comparing the image we have projected of ourselves is probably going to be more sympathetic to the way we seem to want to do things than perhaps may be the case for other clubs. Those things being the case, we have the opportunity to exploit those advantageous circumstances; circumstances not necessarily open to other clubs in our situation.

Another aspect to the problem of how to make ourselves newsworthy is the issue of how to deal with two very different groups of media, in this case the mainstream English language media along with the local local Greek media. Over the past decade, the relationship with the local Greek press has largely been a bust, and not just because of the local Greek media's adherence to the old system of quid pro quo; rather, the problem is that the local Greek media industry is serving a demographic that is steadily losing numbers, as an increasing number of their readership ends up in the paper (in the death notices) rather than reading the paper.

More importantly, while the Greek-Australian demographic has been and will be an important part of who we are, in a sense most of those people have made up their minds about us. They either come to our games (actual supporters), refuse to come to our games (sell-outs and apostates), or are waiting for the 'right opportunity' to come to our games (the occasion needs to warrant the effort - so a grand final, or more realistically FFA Cup match). Still, as stagnant a market as it may outwardly appear to be, it is important to us from a historical point of view, and still a worthwhile source of sponsorships and connections - and there are elements of that demographic which themselves are transforming what it means to be a Greek in Melbourne.

On the other side of the equation, you have the attempts to work with and use the services of writers within the English language press. This is crucial for all sorts of reasons. Most of our supporters, regardless of their background, speak and read English as a first language, and associate with others who do the same. Getting our name and goals out there in the English language press is therefore not just a way of making a bit of noise to be noticed, but an acknowledgement of our present reality. Of course, anyone can look back at the match programmes and other attempts at engaging the mainstream and ask 'if it didn't work then, why should it work now?' - a fair point in an era where we are even more on the margins of Australian culture than we used to be. But for the time being, neither as a club nor as a spectator do you want articles and information about South Melbourne coming only from South Melbourne's media team; as a pleb South Melbourne supporter (unless you're one of those getting shouted coffees by board members), this is because you don't necessarily want the club being the sole source of information about the club; and as for the club itself, because they need to have evidence beyond the boundary of their own content creation machine to show to potential sponsors and other third parties that there is a broader interest in the club, even if it happens to include hostile interest.

So another important aspect of these articles is that while they clearly include our involvement, they are not written by us, but rather presented via the middleman of the journalist. South can, and has, written and published much of its own guff on the same issues, but that will only get the issue going so far in terms of being taken seriously. Going via a journo or esteemed media personality, while risky, is a necessary extra step towards convincing non-South Melbourne people that what you have to say is important. Like every other club at this level, South just doesn't have the cultural or commercial leverage to attract people consistently to its content - and that includes its matches, media and ideas - without outside help. So rather than work belligerently against the system, why not attempt to work if not with it, then at least within the parameters of the contemporary Australian soccer culture in a way that they can understand?

Of course once an article like this gets published, the club loses control of the message somewhat, as must happen in all cases on platforms where they can't simply press 'delete'. But it is this discussion which the club is looking for, despite the club's censorious tendencies on its own social media spaces. And these articles scarcely fail to bring in the contest of ideas that the club is looking for. Considering that for the vast majority of the past decade or so, we have been (along with every other ex-NSL club) considered worse than persona non grata when it comes to the topic of A-League expansion, any public discussion which includes something other than the total denial of our acceptability is seen by the club as something positive to latch onto.

This approach manages to upset people in a very predictable manner. Part of that I feel is because there is a perception from some South fans that the achievement of the articles being published is the goal in itself - and what else could it be, since by themselves these articles appear to achieve no tangible outcomes? What needs to be understood here is that the goal is to get people talking about South Melbourne in the comments section of a website or on social media. More comment equals more traffic; more attention means a better chance of attracting better and more diverse sponsorship, instead of having to dip back into the same old social connections, which rely more on the notions of goodwill, guilt and favours than on the idea that the club is worth sponsoring because the sponsor will be able to get a tangible increase in business from it. It's part of an overall media plan (yes, it does exist; this blog was even in that media strategy at least once a few years back, but I don't think that ever mattered in any material sense) which the club uses as part of its overall corporate strategy (vomits a little inside). There is also the hope that, whether after reading that article or by attrition over time, people previously hostile to South Melbourne will soften or change their stance. By itself that change in attitude may not make a great deal of difference, but it is part of a plan to reposition the club as something other than the bogeyman of Australian soccer.

Whatever the good intentions and long term planning involved in getting these articles out there though, it doesn't always turn out for the best. I've already noted the issue of over-exposure to these articles, but there are other bugbears that people have with them as well. First, these articles upset people from within the club, who would rather see more immediate and day to day concerns addressed as a matter of importance, like the lack of resolution to the lease and social club issue. Second, it upsets people from our club who see any attempt to curry favour with the mainstream as a betrayal of the club's values, however they may interpret those. Third, others become upset at the appearance of the club seemingly whoring itself out in desperation for any sort of mainstream attention.

And then there are those from outside the club. Knights fans have latched onto the not entirely implausible idea that South Melbourne is looking after South Melbourne first, and not the greater good - which then brings in the proponents of promotion/relegation and the second division, of which Knights fans are the loudest supporters. Some A-League fans have brought up the ethnic angle, while others have been more considerate and at least tried to consider the practicalities of South's A-League ambitions including, but not limited to, the club's ethnic background. And then you have the Hellas apostates, who are the most rabid when it comes to rubbishing the club, in their own desperation to prove their allegiance to the New Dawn.

My favourite trope though in this mess is an idea - one I've long considered in private, but which has only in recent times been expressed in public by others - that South Melbourne are preparing a sort of Trojan Horse attempt to get into the A-League. That idea by itself manages to upset people in two different ways (and has some form in more recent times in a different situation), and is inescapable when you're Greek and seen to be pulling a shifty. The first demographic that uses the Trojan Horse trope are those who think that if they let 'pleasant enough' South Melbourne into the A-League, that it will then only be a matter of time before all the really bad clubs come in as well - I leave it up to you to decide, dear reader, as to who they might mean. The second manner of making people upset in this area, is the idea - or rather perhaps the fear, so feel free to take your pick - that South will get into the top-flight, and rather than helping to break down barriers between old soccer and new football, that South will shut the door behind them, and bolt the door down for good measure. 3200 years on, and Odysseus still has a lot to answer for.

The thing here is that they pretty much all have valid points. The social club issue is important. It does often seem like the club is desperate for attention (I am particularly annoyed by this), Yes, it looks like the club is looking out for numero uno. Yes, this approach doesn't really help the idea of a second division or promotion and relegation. The sell-out Greeks are still concerned that their apostasy will come into sharper focus. There are also a billion good reasons why a club like South should not be let anywhere near the A-League, and just as many as to why they should, but all those things get lost in amid the competing agendas.

And for some of those not entirely in favour of this tactic - and I tend to count myself among those - there is the worry that apart from the perception of a lack of any tangible benefits or even progress for our ambitions, that rather than the discussion creating goodwill and positive momentum in the broader soccer community, that the tendency for these kinds of articles to attract the very worst of Australian soccer humanity en masse to these discussions actually does our cause a disservice. That goes for those folk on both sides of the 'South in the A-League' equation. For those opposed, their rabid hostility could be interpreted by casual onlookers as evidence of a market not just unready but unwilling to accept a club like ours. On the other hand, some of our supporters have little sense of shame, decorum or the ability to be anything other the worst kind of Hellas stereotype; the kind that thinks we not only deserve an A-League spot, but are owed one.

If we can change just one person's mind to be for us, is all
that effort worth it? Don't ask me, I'm just a girl.
Thus the discussions always end up at the level of the lowest common denominator, which is a feature of Internet discussions to be sure, but not necessarily something you want to be associated with. Still, before you can even envisage the return of South or any old club to a stage where they can be considered relevant on a consistent basis (as opposed to something you'd see on the Food Network), you have to get people to accept the idea as not only plausible, but something worth considering from an emotional standpoint. Sure, some people are more interested in the less abstract world of hypothetical spreadsheets and the intricacies of minimum stadium requirements, but the majority of people falling well short of the ideal of applying even rudimentary self-control to the random pulses of electricity occurring in their craniums, I guess you sometimes have to move the mountain to Mohammed, so to speak.

Right at this moment what I want to hear more about is not what Knights or other non-South fans think about us (because they'll tell us anyway if they feel like it), but more on the very possible and/or tangible attempts by South Melbourne to weasel its way into the NYL and/or the W-League. No one really seems interested in that at all, despite it coming up both in these latest batch of articles, and in a Mike Cockerill article from last November, which we discussed in our November 2015 digest. My humble opinion is that NYL participation seems a far more likely occurrence at this stage for South (and other clubs) as opposed to getting into the A-League, especially if FFA are planning on creating a split division format in order to cut down on costs.

But back to the topic at hand. Yes, what a world it would be if we could somehow marry these two approaches; an appeal to the heart and to the head, but that's not where we are. (perhaps with the exception of the promotion/relegation crowd's appeal to the somewhat specious idea of 'that's what everyone else in the world does'; specious, because it refers to an idea that in some cases may only be continuing because for the time being it is too hard for those who want to discard those systems to do so. Who's to say that if they were starting a competition from scratch that they would do it the same way?). As distasteful as these efforts are to all right thinking South Melbourne Hellas supporting humans, it may be the case that they are a necessary evil - and as I've mentioned before, neither the right way or wrong way to go about these things, especially if neither co-operation nor belligerence is successful in the long run.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't still complain about them, and hope for a day that they are no longer seen to be required, but the same could go for the more belligerent approaches, too. Acknowledging that these articles and the relationships which see them created are not the only thing the club is doing to improve itself - regardless again, of the actual effectiveness of the bigger plan - will at least remind people that the articles are part of a longer game which has no guarantees either way. The conclusion, for now, is yet another South of the Border 'neither endorsement nor denouncement' piece. And I hope that upsets everyone in equal measure.


  1. In other words, maybe everyone needs to chill the fuck out just a little bit (says the guy who just wrote 3,000 words on the topic).

    1. Let's also hope that this piece is sufficient unto itself that I never have to revisit the topic with any sort of depth ever again.

  2. I mean, these kinds of things could all be part of some board conspiracy to draw our attention away from something really important happening behind the scenes, but those kinds of things have a way of catching up with people anyway, don't they?

  3. Great post.

    It's almost a damned if we do damned if we don't kind of thing..... we're fucked either way.

    Assuming we ever get accepted into the A League or second division, one thing which I read on the south facebook page was about the potential of changing South from a members based club to a franchise. I am 100% dead against this, I don't care if it means we don't get accepted, the day SMFC turns into a franchise is the day I give up on the club and Aus football. There is no compromise on this. If this happened for the people who built this club from scratch for the community would be the ultimate insult and would effectively destroy the legacy of SMFC. If they want to separate NPL South from A League South the board can get fucked to. The club must remain as it has for the last 50 years. We get promoted as a club and demoted as a club, we're not a fucking McDonalds with stores in every league.

    As for the articles, I'm not for them but not against them either. It is good to keep the presence alive and to be honest there ahs been quite a positive shift in attitude towards SMFC from say 10 years ago. A lot of new dawns are actually for this. Look it's a pipe dream at them moment and I'm sure our domestic affairs are constantly being looked after but from what I heard the Herald Sun came to us and we gave an answer so nothing wrong with that.

    Who knows what the future holds for the club but the issues that need to be sorted right now are the lease and the social club. GET THIS SORTED!!!

    Finally I wish the club would stop quoting social media figures, it's a massive cringe. We all know half of them are fake. At least talk about the 2500 that rocked up to round 1 or the couple of hundred that travelled to Qld for the cup. Quote some real figures. I have no doubt that if we we're in a second division we'd attract a 3k average. The A League... who knows. 5k minimum you'd hope.

    Is it just me or is the next 10-20 years the period of our second coming? It feels a little like the club is being re-born, I'll give the board some credit. Debts have been paid off, sponsorship has increased, we haven't completely disappeared from Aus football discussion and we've been relatively successful in the past 3 seasons. I feel like our house is almost in order and once it is, it's about sustaining and growing that base and waiting for an opportunity to come our way, another chapter in our legacy.

    1. Thanks for the detailed post Anonymous.

      Yep, no to a franchise system, no to a split. South Melbourne as South Melbourne, playing in blue and white.

      The social media number stuff shits me to tears, because they are largely garbage - and yes, you're absolutely right, we don't need to rely on them when we can point to good crowds in the VPL/NPL made up mostly of our fans, whether that's round 1 or last year's grand final.

      I don't know about a second coming though - Australian soccer's just too damn unpredictable for me to consider it. Our ruin could be around the next corner as much as any possible good fortune.

    2. We've got to stay positive about the future. We were almost obliterated after the demise of the NSL
      No one knows the future but we need to be prepared for any eventuality.
      The club has been through it all, we survived 27 years of the NSL.
      Times are changing and we need to evolve with them

  4. Paul, do you know why the Knights fans are the biggest supporters of a Second Division / Promotion/Relegation to the Aleague?
    -They like to think it is because they are better football fans or fighting for Australia's football interests, but the truth is that their circumstances are different to ours and therefore it is their only chance of playing top flight football.

    It's not that South is not interested in promotion/relegation, (if the FFA announced tomorrow that promotion and relegation was happening in 3 years, I could guarantee you would stop hearing about South trying to "be accepted into the ALeague") but more to do with South believing they potentially have an alternative faster route to the top flight.


  5. Why you write so many words?

    1. Dunno. Could have been more if I digressed into the topic of the over the top statements that Leo makes in these articles (as noted by an smfcboard poster).

    2. I love the comment about less than 1% of the South fanbase are supporting Victory or City lol. You know the bloke, is he insane or just really bad at maths.

    3. His maths must be all right considering he's done well in his career as an accountant, but I wouldn't know where he pulled that 1% figure came from. Leo's a character, everyone knows it. What so many people who only get to read his quotes miss is the accent, a pure Brunswick lilt which adds even more to the effect. It's one of the perks of buying a South membership, the way that voice and his turn of phrase can turn a tense AGM into a mess of laughter.

  6. sorry, but you greeks are a bit schitzo. you want to be greek but you don't want to be greek. if south stayed greek in the same way that the knights stayed cro then you could've maintained the integrity required to pull a greek fanbase and sue for racism to get in the league. because if a team pulls 8000 greeks or 8000 mixed shouldnt matter if this country is fair and democratic (lol). you would shit it in by sheer number of greeks in melb.

    As it is and lets be realistic, the prospect of south being in the a-league is laughable. u guys seem to be oblivious to this.

    1. Your logic seems laughable, but since you are using the Knights as an example, please inform us on the progress of the NCIP court case, and tell us that the Knights are averaging crowds in the 000's given that they stayed "Cro"

    2. I don't think it's like that. We want to stay true to our legacy but I think we are grown up enough to realise that the club will evolve in the years and decades ahead and as the years will pass the club will naturally become 'less greek'. The older migrants will eventually die out and the newer generation of supporters that will be 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation Australian who basically see themselves as Australian anyway. The other thing is the days of the club being used as a greek social club are long gone, which was to be expected as again times change.
      For me personally we are a football club first and foremost and secondly we must protect our legacy, which means at all cost, remaining as South Melbourne FC, playing in the Albert Park/South Melbourne area, remaining as blue and white and retaining our history.
      We are proud of who we are but we relise thing's can't stay the same forever. I guess we are a bit more progressive.

  7. The NCIP case is still with the human rights commission. Problem?

    1. Is there a link somewhere or an article about the background about how all this came about?

      Do you know when to expect a result from this?

    2. What's the background of the NCIP case? I don't know man, I think it might be the NCIP lol

  8. And what about the 000's of fans the Knights get every week because "they stayed Croatian"?

    1. Given how much bigger your supporter base was compared to ours and given how much larger the Greek community is, you've done a considerably worse job retaining community interest and have lost significantly more supporters. So yeah the numbers say we are doing a better job.

  9. I disagree. At worst both clubs have decreased in the same proportion, at best South's has been proportionally less than Knights.

    1. Our crowds at the moment are about the same ffs. How on earth can you say that your loss is proportionally less. Last census results shows that the Croat pop in Aus is 126k while the Greek pop is 378k, that is triple mate. In Victoria specifically the Cro pop is about 45k while the Greek pop is in excess of 150k, that's more than triple. So what on earth are you talking about?

    2. If you are going to use statistics at least use relevant ones (ie crowd figures, not ethnic population figures) in the NSL your crowds on average were at worst half of South's. Now they seem to be a quarter of South's.

    3. And there we have the typical fudging of figures from South fans. Mate our crowds are the same now, saying ours are a quarter of the size is absurd. Last year going to lakeside there were well under a thousand people for the derby. Let me guess you think you guys average 2k a game? lol. But nice job saying population size is irrelevant when one of the key descriptions of what we are discussing is community engagement.

    4. Actually it is you that is fudging the numbers. Our average would have been about 600-700. For the derby there would have been about 800-900 (The blog's Realist Crowd count says 1,000, but lets round it down so we can have a conservative figure!) Finals time we had minimum of 1000 people at each game.

      Pics of your elimination final against Hume on facebook seem to show about 200-300 people there. I have also heard you had a few games during the season you would have 50 people show up.

      What I was debating here was Anonymous' claim above that we'd be getting crowds of 8000 people now and be able to sue and win a court case for discrimination if we "stayed Greek". You seem to have a habit of trying to change the debate and move the goal posts, so let me get this back on track:

      You said that the NCIP case is supposedly still with the Human Rights Commission. -This shows how time consuming (and probably costly) this is. (My bet is that it will be in the courts for a long time yet. - That nullifies the easily winning a court case argument.

      Secondly given you had at most 300 people at your elimination final, and as you claim the Greek population is 3 times the size of the Croatian population in Melbourne, then we would have had 900 people at the equivalent fixture had we kept our Greekness. (Or are the Knights not a good example of what happens when a club stays with it's Ethnic origins?) (Less than 12% of Anonymous' 8,000 claim)

      Also if you are a one-eyed Croatian, you only really have 1 other side at NPL level you can support, where as if you are a one-eyed Greek you potentially 5-6 other sides.

    5. First of all I don't 'claim' that the Greek population is 3 times the size. Those are the figures from the Australian census in 2011.

      Our crowds on average in 2015 were about 300-400 and yours are barely any better than that. I go to every Knights NPL home game and I think I would know if we had crowds as low as 50 ffs. And I've actually seen enough of your games in person (not 'heard') and watched your official vids to know what your crowds are. Lets not forget you guys close off the majority of the venue.

      Some of the derby crowds at Lakeside over the past few years would have been as low as 500-600. That is bad, and to me thats concerning from my clubs perspective as well. The derby should be a massive event, but it clearly has little impact now and thats a very sad thing. So lets be real here, there is very little difference between our crowds. The greater context of this is that poor crowds is a problem that all ethnic clubs face across this country and is something that is a problem for lower tier sport in general. So how about you realise that South is playing in the same shitty league as the rest of us, you aren't any better.

      How is it 'supposedly' with the HR Comission? You saying that the club is lieing? Nevermind the fact that the FFA has publicly confirmed in the media that a complaint was lodged or the statement the FFA made that it would ban Knights from all FFA approved comps if we don't tow the line. yeah mate, 'supposedly'.

      Actually the Croatian community has 4 clubs in the NPL. The NPL is made up of two divisions buddy.

      I really don't understand some of your remarks. "If we stayed Greek", so you aren't a Greek club? "Example of what happens when a club stays with ethnic origins", you aren't an ethnic club? Whats with the self hated?

  10. Considering there are more cros in sunshine,than Greeks in Albert park
    You'd think the Knights would have bigger crowds?

  11. The crowds are what they are, there's no point arguing about it. The argument should be what are we doing about it.

  12. Apologies if I find it hard to believe your average crowds were 300-400 when you could only muster up 300 for what was possibly the most important game of your season.

    Yes poor crowds are a problem, but is not limited to ethnic clubs. It affects all clubs that play at State level, (some argue it affects A League clubs too hehe)

    When it comes to NCIP, I used the word "supposedly" as things have been quiet about this for a while. One would think for such an issue, more noise would be created to try drum up public support, but instead for some reason, it strangely seems that is is fading into the background.

    I didn't count Dandenong and Geelong as they are out in the sticks, and hard to expect people to travel that far for home games, so you'd naturally expect them to have the lowest crowds.

    No self hate, it is Anonymous that seems to think we aren't Greek enough! You guys seem to change your mind whenever it suits your arguments about how Greek we are. To us it is simple, we are an Australian club founded by Greek migrants but we also don't need to prove our identity.

  13. There would have been about 700 at the Hume game, there was a decent Hume contingent at the game as well. But your viewing of Facebook rules supreme apparently. Regardless its still a shit crowd, but don't pretend yours aren't shit either.

    Pretty sure I said poor crowds were a general issue with lower tier sport. You aren't telling me anything new. We live in a football backwater, even so called football educated wogs are incredibly plastic.

    We were given an update at the AGM about the NCIP case, you aren't a member of our club so obviously you aren't going to hear anything. It may very well drag on for a lot longer before there is any outcome.

    You don't need to prove your identity? Well clearly you guys do feel the need to engage in identity politics, your board always stresses the point in its media engagements that they aren't an ethnic club. And many of your supporters do the same across social media. You guys are constantly trying to paint a picture of being Australian to the mainstream, talk about over compensating. Being both a Greek and an Australian isn't mutually exclusive. I know its crazy but you don't need to downplay one to prove the other

    Not sure how you can feel comfortable referring to someone as Anonymous yet also using the anonymous tag for yourself. Its incredibly confusing, pick a username ffs.

    1. O
      / \

      This is Zlatko

      Zlatko doesn't get on South Blogs claiming the Knights got a crowd of 700 to their elimination final when there is photographic evidence showing otherwise.

      Zlatko is smart

      Zlatko has credibility

      Be like Zlatko

  14. He is one step above a nom de plume? Like Hillary is better than Trump?

    Its like all those Wrestlers from that town known as "Parts Unknown", and by an amazing coincidence, they all wear mask's!

  15. Let me rephrase what I said...

    South Melbourne is the only ethnic club that COULD have been potentially a-league material. Why? Because the city of Melbourne is or was the 2nd largest greek city in the world. That's why. Had SthMelb maintained its integrity (the ideals of its founders) then the greeks of Melb could very much have had the numbers/crowds to sue for entry into the a-league using a racism card.
    I used the knights as an example of staying true to their identity, not as a competing example of a-league material.
    This is just hypothetical, in reality South has forged a different path and it is reflected in some of the above comments.

    1. The club was formed as a means for the new greek migrants to congregate as a community and help them adjust to life in a new country. Fast forward 50 years and there are no more greek migrants coming in requiring a place to congregate.any greek migrants coming in have family already here and an abundance of greek community to choose from.
      The goal posts have moved. There's no point just appealing to greeks, that's not to say we are not proud of who we are and our history and founders, but appealing to just greeks when the original migrants are dieing off and the next generations are being integrated as Australians is crazy. Somewhere along the timeline we went from a social club for migrant greeks to Australias most successful club and now we are club that demands success. We're a football club.
      We will forever be a greek formed club and we are all proud of it but times have changed, demographics have changed and the club has evolved with them which i think is the right direction.

  16. Your club did not just form for migrants to socialise, it also formed to help maintain a hellenic identity for the migrant's children. That's the whole idea, club to be an avenue for aussie greeks to stay greek and not ditch their preceding hundred generations and to not integrate in a way that is whitewashed of those generations.

    Your moving of the goalposts is for me, no different to jumping on the victory/heart bandwagon.

    1. We are not ditching anything. We still chant hellas and always will, we are still blue and white, we are still South Melbourne and we will always be a club greek aussies can be proud of. We didn't move the goal posts, 50 years did.
      Can you imagine a business running with a 1950s mentality, it would fail or at the very least only appeal to a small demographic for the rest of its existence.
      Moving with the times doesn't mean we are any less proud of who we are.

  17. What is it with all these obsessed Knights supporters on this South blog? Now we have some idiot essentially using logic such as "because Melbourne Croatia was formed to maintain a Croatian identity for it's founder's children, then South Melbourne, being an ethnic club, must have the same purpose!"

    If this was the case, South's founders wouldn't have started off by merging with an "Anglo" club. But 57 years on, South Melbourne as a club that is open and accepting to all, lives up to Hellenic ideals and Greek values more than you'll ever know.

    If you need to go to Melbourne Knights games to feel that you are Croatian, then I feel sorry for you and your future offspring!

    1. It was the same purpose which your club was built on. every ethnic club back then were founded on those ideals and principles. But nice job trying to re-write history so as to fit your made up narrative.

      Lets face it, individuals like you are sheep who only parrot what the board says. If your board changed tactics and started emphasising Hellenism you would be one of the first to fall into line.

    2. You are the one re-writing history and trying to push some nationalistic agenda making it sound as if these football clubs took the places of churches and foreign language schools in preserving our cultures.

      No, the football clubs were created purely for social reasons. A place where the men could go on the weekend and be with people they could communicate with enjoying something they enjoyed in their homelands, in a place where they didn't have to worry about coping racial abuse like they may have in other parts of their daily lives. Back in those days a Greek probably could have gone to an Italian or Croat ground and felt more comfortable than he would have at a VFL or Cricket game.

  18. I see South as a football club, first and foremost.
    The "Greek social club" aspect of the club is a distant second.

    Is a bit ar$e-about. An outsider would think Knights who have a proud history of producing juniors thru to seniors on to Socceroos would be the club who are "football first" and "social club" second.

    1. I actually agree with alot of what Melb Cro says. There are many Hellas supporters who do too. The difference is that Melbourne Knights don't have all these supporters who want to join the A-League irrespective of the cost to the club's identity who drown the rest of us out. At Melb Croatia, all their supporters and Board move in the same direction, but we are all over the place. And jeez some of these articles make us look desperate, it's just cringeworthy. Think back to the Pirates rubbish of a few years ago, it was an embarassment.

      I also don't understand this obsession about being scared to admit one of our objectives, amongst many, is to be a meeting ground for generations of Greek Australians. It doesn't mean we can't attract others, it doesn't mean we can't produce good players, it can actually be used as a very powerful tool to achieving alot of things. It gives us an identity. A-League franchises have zero identity. All LONG TERM established clubs all over the world have an identity, in most cases it is cultural/political/ethnic etc.

    2. I agree with your sconed paragraph. But I don't think we are scared to admit we are a meeting ground for Greek Australians. I think it's a generational issue as well. The older generation and I'm willing to suggest (and prove me if I'm wrong) that you have been around South for a while are more traditional in their views whilst newer generation supporters like myself see South more as a football club and wanting to strive for more. In saying that I am against anything that changes our club just to appease the A League. Would I like to see us playing top tier football, yes, but not if it means we sellout our values and our history and cause any disrespect to our founders, our identity.
      I also agree that Pirates/Southern Cross stuff was a joke.
      I am happy to admit that I'm part of a newer generation South fan and as a Greek Australian that wants to see South Melbourne strive for glory as a football club in any division it plays in. I've moved past the 'Greek club' mentality, I support a football club. This is probably where people like you and me will disagree, but it appears depending on when you came to support South you will get differing views.
      The only reason we hear the same stuff from the Knights is because they have 3 or 4 people sprouting the same rhetoric.

    3. Just to expand on that, my view point is we are Greek Australian club, big deal, lets get on with the more important stuff. Let's worry about getting the social club and lease sorted. Lets worry about marketing and promoting the club, and getting more bums on seats, more sponsers, more members, lets worry about the future direction of the club.
      Some people might be scared that we are losing our identity and being less Greek. The way I see it is as long as our colours, name and history remain we will always be Greek and it shouldn't be something any of us should worry about. The only club I will support is that that has just been mentioned, we should concentrate our efforts on the future of the club. Having contingency plans, one of which should be if a 2nd division or A League comes knocking. Creating conversations about the club in the mainstream about our ambitions shouldn't be discouraged, otherwise we may as well close shop and become the Knights.
      But as long as we maintain our identity, why can't we have those conversations?

  19. An interesting - and to this point very civil - discussion here, albeit one more interested in identity politics rather than the piece's interest in 'South has ambition' as a faux- literary genre. Oh well.

    What I will add to this is that on a personal view, I'd prefer the club be run by and for the living rather than for the dead.

    Second, while I may and do disagree with the opinions of some or many of my fellow South fans as the relevant issue may necessitate, my hope is that we as South fans can nevertheless have no fear of having these discussions in a public sphere. Those who think that the Knights, or any other ethnic club for that matter, don't have a plurality of opinions on how to head into the future, I think are mistaken. Just because the debate isn't as public as this (a feature of the 'South has ambition' articles themselves is the willingness to go public with an 'official' point of view on this matter, and thereafter soliciting numerous diverse responses), it doesn't mean that it isn't happening away from the internet.

    1. Having said all of that, I'm looking forward to putting up something more informational and/or newsy tomorrow after tonight's game.

  20. These ideals are just as bad as lowy's. There is a happy middle ground. Do you also oppose cross culture marriage. Please stop the bullshit. Both clubs are stuck in a shit sandwich at the moment between the npl and ffa's anti ethnic views. Both clubs have not adjusted favourable to the post nsl world. The biggest reason for this is being deserted by so many fans who were only interested in top flight soccer. Any other views don't add up given the thousands who have turned their backs on both clubs.

  21. Leo Athanasakis - you must be kidding right ? I can categorically tell you that there are THOUSANDS of Victory supporters who followed SMFC in the NSL. I mentioned this to an old mate of mine but on various occasions whether it was before A-League Grand Finals, away A-League matches or behind the Northern Terrace it felt at times like an old sorts SMFC re-union. The reasons are varied but most of all (apart from watching top flight football) is that the game had progressed and SMFC had not. Unfortunately even in this day and age South have an identity crisis. You cannot please everyone - and you must not try to please everyone. You need to do what is right to progress the Club into the 'mainstream'. The only way to 'protect' the history of the Club is to ensure it is a viable AND RELEVANT proposition moving forward. You cannot do this if you are still clinging to a notion that the club is "Greek". It's time for South to play catch up. Football has moved forward. South need the A-League, but the A-League do not need South. Beggars can't be choosers I am afraid. As for the Knights, well as Michael Lynch said in his article for their last game in the NSL, they started off life as a Croatian backed Club - and that is how they ended it too. Small minds have small ambitions. South can bridge the divide - but they most be clear where their future direction lies - and that is with a Club that reflects modern day Australian society. A Club which is inclusive of all. Your policy is what you do - not what you say. Best Wishes, an SMFC and Victory supporter.

    1. How the fuck can you support 2 clubs???? I support smfc and the Socceroos, that's it, no epl no serie a etc. it like having a wife and a mistress too.

    2. And there lies the problem with Australian footbal..... cunts like this guy. I actually feel sorry for him. I pity this guys mentality.
      The post contradicts himself. The only way we'd become so called mainstream and appease the racists is if we change everything about the club and in that case you might as well start a new franchise.
      The only reason Ex NSL clubs aren't getting crowds is because they aren't playing in the top division

  22. Paul. Who are you and what are your qualifications in relation to dictating to the club how to perform its media storytelling ? There are enough managers and volunteers at smfc and they dont need you telling them how it should be done. U need mentoring.
    Smfc is full of storytellers and charlatans.


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