Monday, 11 April 2016

Horror start to the season continues - South Melbourne 2 Bentleigh Greens 1

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, we won again.

Eternal optimists, merchants of doom, Johnny A: everyone came out of this match with something to hold on to, which when you think about it, is just good business by South Melbourne - I mean, why limit yourself to pleasing just one demographic? It's all about metrics and leverage these days, and leaving out people just won't do. Best of all, we left everyone wanting more - repeat customers!

But Johnny A though. Devastated by the loss, and claiming in his post-match interview that 'we are so far ahead of South Melbourne as a football team, it's not funny' - this from the coach of a team that spent most of the game just bombing it long. Where was the patented Bentleigh Greens sexy-time football? Man, if I want to get played off the park by the best in the business I don't want it to be by a team passing the ball around the back, then hoofing it long to the forwards.

Still, one had to admit that we didn't always handle the aforementioned long bombs with, er, aplomb. The goal we conceded in particular, I mean, come on! Loose men everywhere in front of goal in that most dangerous of situations? That's state league one reserves stuff. And the lack of pressure on those defenders hoofing it long, we clearly gave them too much respect and time on the ball. Nikola Roganovic certainly thought so in his post-match interview, making the case that after we went ahead, we again fell back to the habit of falling back as it were.

And it was then, and really only then, that Bentleigh started actually playing the way they purportedly play every week. And while, yes, we had the man advantage for the second week running, and often looked like we were the man down for the second week running, it is also important to remember that we also had the lead going into the final twenty minutes for the second week running. Maybe it's a fitness thing? Maybe we're behind the eight ball on that front, still, two months into the season proper? If so, that's a big concern, but we were somehow good enough to get into the right position to win the game.

And as important as it is to focus on the negatives and what needs to be improved - and there is so much that needs to be improved, but remember the majority of these players are  at this level for good reasons - how about enjoying the win? Yes, we shouldn't have been in a position where we had to rely on Roganovic making two penalty saves, but what about those saves! Huge! So we only got one shot on target in the first half? So did Bentleigh, with their other attempt hitting the post. Was our first goal offside? I thought so at the time, but the video footage is less clear on the matter, and none of the Bentleigh players called for it. Was our second goal lucky to be bundled in? Sure, you can see it that way - but what about Bentleigh's failure to clear the ball from their own area?

But back to the concerns for just a moment. The wing backs are out of form, and out of touch. Crappy crosses aside, calling for the offside and letting opposition players glide by? Criminal. Being nowhere near being in the game for the first 25 minutes? Awful. Bombing it long to Milos Lujic while he was being marked by three players, without anyone being at the fall of the ball? Really? The fact that we managed to get into the game despite our deficiencies, the usual appalling refereeing performance by Bruno, and get on top even before the dismissal of Dion Kirk? Encouraging.

And aside from his clumsy effort with regards to the second penalty, Kristian Konstantinidis has been huge in his two appearances this season, and he's making it very hard for Michael Eagar to get back in the squad. Of course there'll be a door opening with a busier schedule coming up and Luke Adams going off on national duty, but how great is it that we can bring in someone like Konstantinidis for the struggling Eagar and have him be near man of the match across two games? Pretty good. OK, I suppose.

Even the People's Champ put in a killer slide tackle near the end of the game. Somewhere out there, there's a scientist working furiously on solving the riddle of how we can both suck so hard, and be top of the table. The secret of cold fusion will probably be in there somewhere, too, like Homer Simpson accidentally proving that there is no God while working on his flat tax proposal.

Next week
At home against Oakleigh Cannons. The return of Gus Tsolakis. Going to be batter flying all over the place.

Over and over, we flatten the clover (with apologies to XTC)
One thing that Johnny A decided was worth complaining about was the state of the Lakeside pitch. His complaint? That it had too much grass. That the grass was too long. Now, to be fair - and when have I ever not been fair? Don't answer that question - he did also say that it was a pity for Chris Taylor and his team that they also had to play on that surface, but one can still damn well appreciate the irony of the coach of Bentleigh Greens complaining about a field that was too lush - after all, this was the team that actually painted the dirt on its field to make it look as if it was grass! Still. there is a part of me that actually hopes that it was a deliberate ploy on our behalf to get the State Sports Centres Trust to leave the grass a bit longer, in homage to that episode of King of the Hill where Hank cuts the turf on the high school football field to combat the opposition's strengths, i,e, longer grass on the edges for teams with good wide receivers. Please don't interpret this quasi-random pop-culture recollection as an endorsement of King of the Hill, it really was a very dull show.

Not quite the fourth official
Let's be honest - the implementation of a fourth official at NPL matches in 2016 is like being eight years old and getting a pair of grown up slacks with a 'smart' woollen pullover, after you specifically asked Father Christmas for an XBox. But just as everyone was somewhat getting used to the fourth officials being there, we had the bloke yesterday who almost flat out refused to turn his electronic board around so the paying public could see who was being subbed and how much added time was going to be played. The most horrific outcome of his failure to point the board towards anyone but the one person sitting in the opposite grandstand, was an attempt by some in Clarendon Corner to chant 'turn the board around' to the tune of this disco classic.

Lists for the sake of lists
Since Bentleigh have returned to the VPL/NPL, the following players have been sent off in games hosted by South Melbourne against Bentleigh Greens:
  • George Goutzioulis (2010)
  • Kliment Taseski (2011, at John Cain Memorial Park)
  • Dimi Tsiaras (2012)
  • Peter Gavalas and Iqi Jawadi (2013)
  • Iqi Jawadi (2015, grand final)
  • Dion Kirk (2016)
Probably just a coincidence that the two Bentleigh players listed above - Goutzioulis and Kirk - were also former South players, and that Gavalas was a former Bentleigh player.

Apologies for the lack of a video montage. 
It's now six years since we left the old Lakeside, and for all intents and purposes left the social club behind. Anyone else notice the clock on this blog going wayward by a few hours? I think it might be due to the cumulative effects of daylight savings over the years. That, or they're not linked to the atomic clocks like they should be.

Apparel sponsorship turning into a nightmare
So the deal with apparel supplier BLK, which was going to cost us a lot less money and cause us to have fewer problems than what we had with Adidas, has turned pear shaped. Problems with the online store, problems with the supply and quality of the merchandise, and problems with the women's team even getting a kit. It's not been a good start to this relationship, which is due to run for three years. I suppose that at least they have time to sort out the problems.

On the plus side
The hooped socks were back, baby! Did they help us win the match? Let's not get too excited, but they did look good out there.

Further FFA Cup news
Our next match in Shaun Mooney's patented crap-shoot tournament, against Altona Magic, has been scheduled for Wednesday April 20th, kickoff at 7:30, at Paisley Park Soccer Complex in Altona North.

Jersey presentation night 2016
A mostly dull and underwhelming night. One could handle the increased price ($50 to $70), but the $5 booking fee per ticket seems like someone's (at this point unidentified) just trying to gouge someone (me, and others as well I suppose). The food, which arrived very, very late - in fact the whole evening seemed to start about an hour late - was serviceable (Greek mezze and Italian antipasti combination), mediocre (steak so overcooked and dry that even I cringed), and OK I suppose (desserts fished out from the storeroom and cut into bite size pieces, though a better selection than last year, in that half the items weren't rock-hard and over-sweet cherry ripe slices).

At least this time, either due to more judicious use of space or due to a reduced number of attendees, we - that is the povo fans that weren't going to sponsor anyone, and therefore needed to be kept out of sight - managed to get seated indoors, and on the couches no less. That I was seated with Internet Celebrity SMFCMike is not as horrible as it sounds, because this seems to be the usual arrangement at South Melbourne jersey nights, and besides which, he and the others on the table were good company.

After last year having Tara Rushton perform the hosting duties, this year we had Stephanie Brantz, who really didn't do very much and wasn't very interesting when she was up there, though El Presidente did note that she was the first host in years to pronounce his name right, which I suppose is money well spent. More interesting was who was there and who wasn't. Yes, it's true. the People's Champ was actually there! Philzgerald Mbaka was not! Is Mbaka putting in his own bid to be the new People's Champ? He's got a long way to go to be honest. Mbaka, despite his non appearance, managed to rank up one of the highest auction bids, as Andrew Mesourouni ended up performing an elaborate gimmick with president Leo Athanasakis to raise the bidding. On the other hand, it was good to see that each player started off with a minimum guaranteed bid, avoiding the embarrassing moments of previous jersey nights where the auctioneer would have to beg the audience to bid for less popular players. This tactic also helped speed up the whole auction process somewhat.

Perhaps most tragicomic of all, standing in for Mbaka and consequently being more involved as part of the senior team than he has been on the field in recent times, was captain Michael Eagar. He also managed to pull in a good bid in his own right, as did everyone's new favourite 'need more Greeks' player, Kristian Konstantinidis. Mbaka, Eagar and Konstantinidis all hit the $5,000 mark. Unfortunately, the women's team were auctioned off as a collective, dashing my slim hopes of buying a woman. They were bought for about $10,000.

The highlight of the evening was on the tram on the way up to Beachcomber, overhearing a conversation between some kid and his dad about the classic arcade shooter Time Pilot. What a relief to know that there are kids out there who still search for, and appreciate, quality video games.

For the record, SMFCMike won the raffle's major prize, a thousand dollar voucher for tyres, which he passed on to his dad. People are harder to hate when they're not being dickheads.

International Year of the Fence
Owing to the segment going walkabout last week, here's something from the archives where you can sort of see a fence.
This is part of a collection belonging to Mrs Weinstein, lent to me by Ted Smith. More photos from this collection will be uploaded eventually, but the uni scanner hates black and white photos for some reason.

Final thought
On February 26th, 2006, as Gianni De Nittis celebrated scoring what would be winning the goal against Preston, I high fived some random kid sitting next to me in the grandstand. The kid belonged to one Ian Syson, and over the course of that season Ian and I became friends. Eventually he convinced me to go back to university, after eight months of persistent nagging and a comment on smfcboard (since long gone) taunting me with 'and you say you can't write' after I had posted something or other. I got a degree, I worked on books, he rescued my honours thesis, I've been published as a bona fide academic, I've presented at conferences, and I've taught and tried to pass on the lessons in self-belief that I've learned in my time as a student, to the next generation of a demographic that hasn't been taught that it belongs at a university. At the very least, without Ian, I likely never would have ever thought about starting a blog, which has now run for over eight years. Sure, my grammar is still stuffed, but nevertheless here's to the next ten years of a quality friendship.


  1. seriously Paul, 4 cartoon pictures? ffs! How old do you think your readership is? Cmon man thats ridiculous.

    the other thing I want to say is we are the most ass-iest team in the league and this cant go on for long. I think this lucky start is what will keep us in the top 6 at the end of the season.

    1. Never thought of King of the Hill or Drawn Together's audience as being made up of children, quite the opposite actually. And boy, are you gonna hate the posts around the time of the Melbourne International Animation Festival in June...

      But more seriously, yes, this sequence of dodgy wins does have to end somewhere - either we start dropping points, or we start lifting our game. I am beginning however to somewhat enjoy the farce of the situation though, and the confusion it's causing some supporters.

    2. Last year I watched every highlights package available for all NPL games, and collated all the points each team should have or could have lost or won. We were clearly the luckiest team! The Knights were second. No coincidence that we had the best two performed goalkeepers. As for this year, we are again at the head of the pack. :)

    3. ah yeah, starting to be able to differentiate between the anonymous split personalities, this is the salty one

  2. I like the cartoons.... and the Seinfeld references.

  3. For the Marmaras photo, Mark Boric reckons the person I have not identified was probably Tommy Burns, a stalwart Victorian soccer referee, official and life member of the Victorian Soccer Federation.

  4. Say YES to Time Pilot references. That, Shinobi, Bad Dudes and 1942 took all my money at the Fun Factory back before I became old and embittered.

    1. Computer Games ended for me around 1983 when they replaced Red Terra, Car Racing, etc with some sword and sorcerer stuff.

    2. Ghosts 'n Goblins was the sh!t.

  5. Is it lucky that Bentleigh were awarded a dodgy free kick, taken in the wrong place and then scored from an offside position?

    Is it lucky that they were awarded two penalties (luckier if not awarded in my opinion) but they were saved by our goalkeeper whose job it is to do exactly that ?

    1. Correct, luck runs both ways. Some of Bentleigh's attempts at tackling were vile, and they were lucky to have Bruno reffing otherwise they may have ended up with a lot fewer than ten players out there.

  6. Sox and saves. Even better was watching the diff colours Johnny A`s head turned during the match, it was almost purple after the second save.

    Sod Timepilot, bring back Q*bert and Mr Do versus Unicorns!


  7. One doesn't necessarily won't to go by the camera angle alone, but the video footage seems to suggest there was a Bentleigh player keeping KK onside. Still shocked how loose he managed to get.

    The free kick against Schroen which lead to the opening goal looks even worse on replay.

    1. won't should = want, bah

      Good call by Bruno on Holmes' dive too, I reckon.

    2. Ibrahim milks the contact for the penalty, bigger problem was Mala being out of position leading to that situation in the first place.

  8. when I scroll the article as I read I do it in a way where the cartoons pics are barely on the screen to avoid someone behind me at work seeing it.

  9. Cheers Paul. That's very kind of you.

  10. Is it rue SMFCMike wears that helmet everywhere?

  11. Actually this is the third game in a row the opposition have had a player sent off against South Melb. You forgot about the Richmond one, albeit it was late in the game so many may not have seen it.
    Interesting stat - South game this season 7. Games with opposition red cards - 4.

    1. Fair point, even if Niagoran's dismissal made no material difference in that particular game, we have had numerical supremacy for a very large part of our recent matches. Discussion on the forum has also focused on the fact that we haven't necessarily looked very good in those situations, failing to take advantage as much as we perhaps should.

  12. An extraordinary match with an exciting finish to it. They will be talking about Roganovic's efforts for many years to come.

    The thing that puzzles me is - where do we truly sit amongst the pack of teams? Granted we are first and 3 points clear, but we have not been convincing. More than happy to keep winning like this, but there will come a point where we need to step up and put teams to the sword.

    Would a fit Hatzikostas have a more pronounced impact in the middle of the park? Does Mala need some time in the U20s team to regain form? Will Eagar regain his form given Adams is off for international New Zealand duties? Has the People's Champ been effective enough this season? Will we ever see Minopoulos receive more game time?

    1. Our best form last year was when Minopoulos got his run of starts after the FFA Cup debacle. Now seems to be back on the outer again ?? He is the perfect 3rd direct player on the pitch to assist Milos & the peoples champ = solves the balance issues. 2 is not enough

      Surely Taylor will have some player requesting transfers in the window (Hatzikostas, Irwin, Minopoulos)

  13. Hi Paul and fellow South tragics.

    Congrats on the blog, I'm a "first time, long time" and had to throw my 5 cents into the ring.

    Loving the success of the last couple of years however it seems to me that the passion seems to be gone. Our fellow NPLians seem to really put the boot in against South - could be the reason for the aggression shown against us thus explaining all the red cards - Our lads however dont seem to be playing with the same pride in the "fanela" Watching 6 against the Bergers gave me goosebumps but poor Milos seems to be "lonely" and would have thought a more attacking structure could get him better service....

    1. Welcome aboard KT. I don't passion is an issue, just for and tactics to be honest.

    2. Much better game last night... tighter passing, more organized across the back-line.
      Minopoulos and Theodore provided a great pivot for forward movement.... unlucky not to score a couple more, Peoples Champs effort would have been spectacular if he didnt hit the crossbar.... Overall was a great afternoon down by the lake :o)


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