Sunday, 28 February 2016

It's only round 2, no need to get excited - Northcote City 0 South Melbourne 4

A beautiful afternoon for soccer, the field in near perfect condition, and the souvs in unusually good form, too. Despite this the hype from this match up is well and truly a thing of the past. Northcote had a mediocre 2015 season, and the early signs for 2016 are not good either. So where in previous years there would have been some angst as a South fan about coming to John Cain and getting away with all three points, yesterday there would have been a lot more confidence - avoid doing anything stupid, and we should be all right.

And so it proved to be. For all the complaints that we only have one striker - and let's be clear, that this is still a valid complaint despite us scoring ten goals in our opening two games - having only one striker is still better than having none. That wasn't the only difference between the two sides yesterday, but it was an important one, even if Milos Lujic only got one goal and the other three were shared between Nick Epifano and Marcus Schroen.

Aside from our opening goal from the spot, which was fortunate from start to finish - fortunate to have the ball rebound to Miller who was still on the ground after having taken the shot, allowed immeasurable time to get up and play the ball again, find a stray hand of a Northcote defender, and then Epifano's penalty shot somehow ending up over the line - all our goals had the sense of being bundled in via the most messy ping pong fashion. Our goals weren't pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but at least there were plenty of players on hand to keep the attacks going until there was a satisfactory result.

More of a concern was the tendency to give the ball to Northcote too cheaply in the first half - in particular in the period after we scored the first goal where we found ourselves if not on the back foot, then at least having to deal with an opponent that was finally coming out of its shell once they needed to. Northcote had chances to score which had they fallen to us we would have likely buried one way or another. A penalty to match our own, saved by Roganovic when our own shot squeezed underneath their keeper; a header onto the crossbar; a goal cleared off the line by a desperate Brad Norton; and several other botched counter attacks foiled by offside calls.

Still, you can't keep sides chance-less game after game, and the fact that we can recall Northcote's chances in such detail indicates they didn't trouble us too often. Matthew Millar and Schroen look like promising attacking acquisitions so far, with Miller especially looking to fill in the space left behind by Andy Brennan, by getting behind defences and sending in crosses usually at first opportunity. Matthew Foschini also looks to be the kind of big bodied defensive midfielder we've been waiting a while for - someone who will be able to counteract similar players, an area in which our smallish mids have been vulnerable in recent years.

Still, it would be nice have a back up striker for Milos... it would also be nice if our players stopped collecting daft yellow cards. There are signs also that at least some of our players are a bit underdone in terms of fitness, with Lujic being top of that list. This will work itself out over the course of the season, but considering the mantra of previous seasons and he investment in fitness and recovery teams, it's a little bit of a concern.

Next week
Away to Port Melbourne on Friday night. One wit asked yesterday how much smaller they'll make their field even from last year, in order to counteract our wing play. I guess we'll have to wait and see. Pretty sure they'll close the outer side to the general public though, which sucks.

I'm a pretend literary scholar, not a...
The 2015 South Melbourne FC and South Melbourne Hellas AGMs are coming, on Wednesday 23rd March, or so they say - they have to get the letters out to the members by Wednesday 2nd March to make the notice valid - unless just telling everyone via email qualifies as due notice. Don't ask me if that's true though, what am I some sort of lawyer or something?

Along with the notice of the AGM, as per the motion carried two AGMs ago, the financial statements need to be released alongside the announcement of the AGM. At the moment you have to contact the club directly, which seems a less than proper arrangement considering the last AGM saw these financial statements made available online with a password. Again, I'm no accountant, so it's not like they're much good to me, but those of our members who do understand those documents or at least like to pretend that they understand them should have easier access to the financial statements.

There are also significant resolutions to change the club's constitution, which are part of the process of reuniting the men's and women's clubs - the women have already voted for these changes to be adopted via SMWFC last year. At some point, hopefully this week (but realistically, probably next week), I will be posting a list of questions that I would like to have asked, as well as general concerns - it would also be good if you guys could contribute to that list when it comes out (or in the comments section in this article), and help make it as comprehensive as possible.

Cheerfully withdrawn! (George Donikian vs South Melbourne)
In the midst of a Con Stamacostas article on FourFourTwo about South Melbourne calling for a national second tier (blerrgggggghhhhh), newsreader, media personality, former South Melbourne president and one time number one ticket holder at Heidelberg United, George Donikian made a very serious allegation (since removed from the article) against both the club and the media team.
"What fills me with frustration is, one of our stories for the Fields To Dream was the South Melbourne story. We did that on our initiative and we paid for that. So you know what South Melbourne’s management at the time did? They went and told the Herald Sun that they commissioned the documentary. I should send them an invoice." 
This appeared to be news to people in South's inner sanctum, who quickly responded to Donikian by asserting that:
While fight fans out there may have been hoping for a long running brawl to emerge out of this, it appears that Donikian has since withdrawn the comments, claiming that they were based on a misunderstanding. How very anti-climactic. Still, one had to wonder how another run of the mill story on South's ambition ended up asking for Donikian's opinion on what South is doing these days at all.

To be fair, for all the flak that Donikian has copped from South fans over the years for his 'traitorous' behaviour of promoting all sorts of disreputable organisations since his South Melbourne presidency (including on this blog), it should be remembered that he did step up to the plate in 2004 and 2005, in the most difficult period in our history, with no small risk to his livelihood caused by the carelessness of others.

So, yes Donikian was president of our club, but it was for about a 12 month period all the way back in 2004 and 2005; it has been over a decade since he has had any involvement with the club. In the intervening years, in his public guise as a 'generic quasi-celebrity football fan', he has spruiked for all manner of other 'soccer' teams, such as here and here. I like Con Stamacostas, but he may as well have asked Nick Giannopoulos for his opinion on what South's doing with itself these days.

Apostolos Giannou
The one time South junior and Greek international (one cap in a friendly) has apparently been convinced by Ange Postecoglou to switch his allegiances to the Socceroos. Another name to put onto alongside all the other non-existent names on our Socceroos list in the Lakeside players race?

Match programmes and such
A little bit of a slow down on this, not for lack of materials - which we have - but more so because I've been focusing a little bit more on my thesis work. Not a ton of South stuff this week, but there have been some odds and ends on that front, including one from the 1985 West Adelaide away fixture. More joy in the 'library', with a few editions of Simply Soccer, as well as Newcastle KB programmes, Oceania Confederation and even a Carlton SC fanzine.

Around the grounds
The other side of the quarry...
Avondale Heights hosting Hume City at Knights Stadium. First the new fence, now ground rationalisation. Will the Knights ever pull back from this relentless pursuit of modernity? Arbitrary and incomprehensible parking 'rules' aside - I symbolically drove over the yellow Rubicon security tape in a manner of which Caesar would have approved - this was unmistakeably an Avondale home match: Blue Thunder Security, ridiculously long and mediocre canteen menu, Italians wearing Victory merchandise. The only Croatian aesthetic apart from the sponsor boards was the music filtering through from their social club. Avondale ran around manically - how could they not with Mass Murdocca in their team? - but could only find one goal to Hume's two. Not a happy homecoming for Chris May in the Avondale goal, but he'll likely get another 13 chances at least to sort that out.

Final thought


  1. The penalty against Roganovic was a shocker. The ball hit the deck and he fell on it. The ref said he "jumped into the tackle" ??? He didn`t see a damn thing as he was on the other side of the wall. Even the linesman was shaking her head. Millsy looked good.


    1. Thanks for that, Stormy. I was standing in the shade at the other of the ground at the time, all I could see was the ball pinging around for a while, and then the ref giving the penalty.

  2. Loved the comical penalty Northcote copped. How they failed to close down Millar, who was lying on the deck was hilarious.
    And the spot-kick was great. Keeper has it well covered but fails to stop it dribbling over the line.

  3. Its still early days and South is not playing the best of football. The important outcome is how clinical we are in front of goals.

    Northcote may trouble teams for about 10-20 mins in a game, but lack quality. Good chance to head down to NPL2

    Paul - would a second striker be required in the current playing structure? I would not say no to a second decent striker being added to the squad.

    1. Reportedly one was going to be signed in the week leading up to round 1, but that fell through for whatever reason. There's still the injured Leigh Minopoulos to come back, though he is more of a forward/winger than an out and out striker. Not sure how a second striker would fit into the current set up, but without even one in the squad, we're always going to be wondering 'what if' if Lujic ends up missing a few games.

    2. Minopoulos has played as striker for most of his adult playing career

    3. True, but it's not been the way he has been used (maybe because it hasn't been necessary) at South. His old SL1 form for Werribee suggests he can play closer to goal, but would it also mean the the shape/formation/style of the team would have to change?

    4. No you're wrong. Straight swap for Milos if he was not available. No change in formation required


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