Monday, 18 April 2016

Run of the mill - South Melbourne 4 Oakleigh Cannons 1

Meanwhile, our women were away at Ballarat Eureka Strikers.
The most interesting thing about this game was how little enmity there was shown towards Oakleigh by the home crowd. Historical small-fry they may be in the greater context of Australian soccer history, but over the past decade there has been at least some (and often much) feeling, and a genuine sense of rivalry between us. Now, even with certain infamous characters like Steven Topalovic and especially former coach Gus Tsolakis making returns to Lakeside, there wasn't really anything resembling the antipathy that I'd expected. Yes, there was the odd comment, but not nearly the level of abuse one had become accustomed to in games between these two sides - hell, not even close to the level of abuse Gus copped when he was coaching us back in 2012 and 2013! The win felt like just another solid win against a midrange opponent, which in its own way is a relief - not every game needs last ditch heroics in order to be classed a success.

There were a couple of changes for this game, but we'll only know for sure at the end of this week if they were due to form, tactics or this week's crowded match schedule. Tim Mala was on the bench, Marcus Schroen was out of the squad altogether, while captain Michael Eagar made his first start for a few weeks and Leigh Minopoulos got a now rare starting role. It was great to see Minopoulos get an extended run, and score two goals for his troubles as well. The first, a looping header from a corner served to settle the nerves after Oakleigh had pulled it back to 2-1, while his second was classic goal poaching, cleaning up the crumbs to seal the deal. Overall, that right hand side of the field, with Kristian Konstantinidis slotting in at right back, looked to be at its most dangerous for a long time.

Meanwhile on the left hand side, far less endearing was the attitude of the People's Champ, who put in one of his more petulant performances for some time, after a period of what one could call 'lesser' petulance. One has come to expect his tendency for dropping his head at the slightest whiff of misfortune, even his unwillingness to feign interest in tracking back; but his refusal to pass the ball to players in much better positions than himself, instead opting for yet another attempt at replicating his famous goal in the cup against the Melbourne Knights from last year, reached new heights of absurdity yesterday - and that criticism is made because we all know that it doesn't have to be this way, and can't be this way if he wants to fulfil his dream of playing in a better league, in front of more people and making more money than he does now.

Before we move on, it is time to bust the myth of the magic of 'that' goal. This does not mean that the goal was not good. It does not mean that the goal was not important. It does not mean that the goal was not memorable, emotional, or whatever other epithet you want to attach to it. But the goal was not as good as people like to remember, and certainly not the way the People's Champ seems to remember it in his quest to make it happen again. Here is the angle that must be focused on, to be watched with the sound off, taking away the roar of the crowd. He thinks he is being skillful, but all he does is hit the ball straight, and fortunately for all concerned, has the ball hit the post and go in. There is no curve on the ball, no dip, no sign that this was the shot of a player whose skill sets him well apart from the rest of this league. The slightest breeze blowing towards the main grandstand that night and the ball would have gone out for a goal kick.

South's women managed to come away with another win, this time 4-2.
It was actually good that he didn't score from one of his myriad low percentage shots yesterday, because had he scored it would have justified his effort and intent. Meanwhile, in yesterday's game and nearly every other game the People's Champ is involved in, Brad Norton slogged his way up and down the wing, trying to bring other players into the game and then having to run back to make sure his left back position is covered because the People's Champ is above such concerns as tracking back and covering for a teammate. Despite his excellent run of form in the second half of 2015, next to no one is under any illusions about Brad Norton being a superstar meant for better things than the state comps, but no one can fault his attitude and desire to put the good of the team above his own individual glory.

For their part, Oakleigh have some capable players, but other than a couple of short bursts of attacking football, they performed poorly. Considering the fact that they have knocked off some of the better teams in the league this season, including reigning champs Bentleigh, one expected something a bit better than what they dished up yesterday. Going forward they were not so bad, but defensively they were very suspect. Some better decision making from our part, and even some better shooting in those dangerous positions we found ourselves in, could've seen the score blow out even more. Then again, scoring first and scoring early tends to make things easier for yourself. Philzgerald Mbaka even got a run, giving us a taste of the kind of player he is, albeit against defeated and demoralised opposition. Mbaka seems to have no gears, no sprinting power, gliding at a single pace across the field - but he looks calm on the ball, and his distribution was by and large first rate. With a bit of luck he may have even managed to snag a goal, too, late on in the piece.

Overall, South's performance was heartening and enjoyable, albeit soured by Chris Taylor's dismissal from the technical area. What appeared to all and sundry - except the referee, and the linesman who was right on the spot - to be a blatant handball in the box by an Oakleigh player, saw Taylor's complaints escalate to the point where he was sent to the stands. One can harp on about the severity of the punishment in comparison to how other referees and coaches behave (see this week's 'around the grounds' segment), but in these situations it's entirely up to each referee to make up their own minds on the matter, with coaches either having to play it by ear and take the risk of being sent away, or learning to just behave themselves at all times. The latter is perhaps easier said than done when your sporting livelihood depends mostly on the players on the field and the decisions of the officials.

Taylor's dismissal saw him go towards the food truck for a feed. The question that remains unanswered at this point, other than how many games he will miss, is did he ask his senior football adviser about whether to go for the kransky or the souv? That's maybe a question best left for the next AGM, at this stage provisionally scheduled for sometime during the year 3918.

Next game
Away to Altona Magic on Wednesday night for FFA Cup.

Social club news
Prior to the match I was shown a photo of a person or persons allegedly taking measurements inside the social club. The photo was on a camera phone, and it was difficult to make out the details because of sun glare, but it was good to see that something was perhaps maybe happening, sorta.

Fine, not fine
Meanwhile, the brains trust at South attempted to appeal the fine levied on the club following the flare lit by someone - as yet unidentified - in amid the area occupied by Clarendon Corner at the Veneto Club. It did not go well. The FFV's tribunal system, working as it does in these matters in the manner of the inquisitorial judicial system - that is, guilty until you prove yourself innocent - saw us pushing what was perhaps a legally and morally sound argument, but not one that was likely to work in these circumstances.

The arguments that a) how do you know it was a South fan who lit the flare? b) what good does it do and how can it possibly be fair to the club if an individual decides to go rogue by launching a flare? c) where is the responsibility of the venue manager and security in all this? and d) seeing as how South's management does not approve of flares and has form in notifying the FFV of people who have lit flares at Lakeside, what more could they be expected to do?, are all very good and sensible lines of argument, but doomed to fail nevertheless.

What is concerning about this is the possibility being put up that if it happens again with the culprit not being identified, we could be in line to be docked points. So let's look at a possible scenario which may occur this week. We rock up to Paisley Park for a night game. Entry to the ground is mostly done via driving into the ground, meaning that bags and persons can't be checked. South scores a goal, and in amid the chaos of a post-goal celebration and the gloom of a night game someone rips a flare - security doesn't see who ripped it, perhaps no one sees it, and all of a sudden we're in the situation where someone's random act of stupidity, an act not even tacitly condoned by the club, sees us in line for punishments beyond the $1,500 levied per flare lit.

This is not even just a South problem, because at least at Lakeside we have security cameras and such to act as a dissuading device against such behaviour, which takes care of the issue on the half of the season that we can kinda control. For the rest, the older heads in Clarendon Corner can and have repeated the message to the younger fans that stand in that area on a regular basis that for the sake of the club, flares are not on. But pity those clubs who don't have even security theatre levels of prevention at their disposal, and have a collection of new fans, randoms or whoever, who are determined to do something stupid.

Dredging up the past
A friend is working on an Australian soccer project of sorts, the results of which we'll hopefully see towards the end of 2016 or maybe early 2017. To that end, this friend asked me to go through my blog's unwieldy archives (I've even reinstalled the calendar gadget on the right hand side of the blog) and find posts relevant to that project. I have previously on occasion gone back and re-read some of the old material (over 1800 posts now, including guest contributions), but never on a scale quite as large as this. All I can say is, that while I still like some individual pieces, one has to give credit to those who visited and stuck with South of the Border in the first four or so years. I hope that the quality has improved enough to warrant the loyalty of those readers.

International Year of the Fence
Around the grounds
立って, 座って
Another Friday night, and another chance to get out of the house and watch some soccer. I had thought about going to Port Melbourne vs Northcote, but changed my mind when halfway to Flinders Street and decided to go to Richmond vs Green Gully instead. Richmond may not have the most luxurious spectator facilities, but what it does have is two benches and technical areas which are very close to each other, and also very close to the perimeter fence. For people like me, who like to watch neutral games from those kinds of spots, with a chance to observe coaches in action, there's no better place to a watch a game from - even if a scoreboard or marshal or fourth official can obscure views at times. This decision paid off even as early as the under 20s match, with a priceless reaction from the Gully coach to one of his players being violently fouled.
And that was after the linesman on that side had attempted to clam him down using his smooth English (South London?) accent. To that end, it was good also to catch up with Green Gully senior coach Arthur Papas, that half-forgotten wunderkind of Australian soccer coaching, for an all too brief chat before the game. The match itself was a high energy affair of at best middling quality, scrappy and hard fought. Richmond, despite having some capable players, lack any sense of structure and rely too much on winning 50/50 balls and one on one battles. That's great when you win those battles. but less good if you only break even, or indeed lose the overall count. Richmond had the lead, but a Green Gully side without main marksman Liam Boland, managed to somehow get in front, and stoutly defended Richmond's mostly feeble attempts to find an equaliser. George Katsakis (or one of his clones), would have learned much I think from this match when his side plays Richmond next week.

The fourth official and the linesman on the far side of the field were kept busy all night by a shortage of seating on Green Gully's side of the benches seeing far too many people standing up. Some of the excuses used to justify included not being given enough seats for everyone on that side compared to Richmond and Arthur Papar not being able to crouch because of his bad knees. Of course the Gully crew weren't afraid to point out that Richmond, too, also had too many people standing up. Admittedly, it was hard to hear them over the protestations of Richmond's technical director Micky Petersen, as he was haranguing the officials on that side and generally making a nuisance of himself.

Final thought
Which local football food critic was taken to task by a Bulleen official, for his giving of a low score to Bulleen earlier this year on his radio segment? If someone offers you an eclair that looks too good to be true, please don't eat it!


  1. Especially if that éclair is throbbing.

    1. "This éclair is over one million calories. Twenty-five pounds of butter per square inch. Covered with chocolate so dark that light cannot escape its surface."

    2. Even scarier is that this Bulleen official was listening to South radio. A bloke with a five minute online radio segment is somehow staking a claim to be Victorian soccer's public enemy no. 1.

  2. The select few of young ones who come on a regular basis and sit in Clarendon know the potential consequences of lighting flares at games. They do seem to have the club's best interest at heart as shown with some impressive banner displays and attending most games. It's more the people who only rock up at the big games who don't have a clue who also go looking for trouble. Hoping that nothing bad happens against victory this week.

    1. Agreed, and therein lies the problem. Very hard to control especially at away games.

  3. Taylor gets banished and suddenly there's no one signalling players to stay back excessively. Presto, 4-1 win. He probably gave them the hairdryer over the 1 leaked.

  4. At what point does the People's Champ's inability to track back, fight to win the ball back, and willingness to supply the ball to players in better positions have an impact upon the team's ability to win?

    At one stage, we saw the People's Champ just lying on the ground watching the game unfold. At what point does the coach say "do you actually care about this team?"

    Then you see a player like Minopoulos who runs all day working his guts out because he's a South boy.

    Such a contrast between players !

    1. "At one stage, we saw the People's Champ just lying on the ground watching the game unfold."

      Yes, well noted Anonymous - I'd somehow blotted that from my memory - the only reason I can come up with for not putting in the original post.

    2. It is just ridiculous Paul to see this kind of petulant behaviour. The People's Champ may have plenty of talent, but I believe it is there for all to see why he will never make the step up to the A League.

      On a side note, have there been any murmurs/rumours on what the social club may look like? Couldn't make it to the AGM, but were there any drawings/floorplan shown?

    3. At the most recent AGM, there was a basic layout image shown, which was probably similar in format to a basic layout shown to the members a few years back.

      The office space will be expanded/re-jigged, the kitchen and old social club space (the bit we used in the past in between the bar and kitchen) will be the main space once again. The space formerly occupied by the 'back room' will be the futsal court. If I remember correctly, the old front entrance to the Champions Bar will be taken up by the pro-shop/futsal admin.

      There were will be a new museum incorporated, but I'm not over the details on what it will look like or how it will fit in with the rest of the space.

      I will note that as part of developing ideas for how the museum will look and/or function, I did spend some time with some people at South traveling to various AFL club museums/displays (Hawthorn, Collingwood, Carlton, Footscray, of which Hawthorn was by and away the best), to look at different ways of displaying history in different floor plans and with different resources.

      I wrote up a short discussion document for the club summarising that trip, focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of the different museums, the way they chose to display their artefacts, the use of club colours/branding, integration with office and cafe spaces, use of natural light, accessibility, technology, etc. I don't know how widely that document was passed around within the club, but for the main part it was very general in nature regarding what we could/should do with our museum and affiliated spaces when it comes to displaying our history, and what the aims of a museum/display areas should be.

      At the very least one hopes that all the areas we control at Lakeside will have far more prominent and attractive branding than we have enjoyed since our return to Lakeside (which have been close to zero), and will be better presented and modern than the old social club.

    4. Cheers Paul

  5. What happened to all the cartoon / Seinfeld references?


    1. Never mind that. The article is about the blokes and the pics are the chicks? Clearly Paul has got a thing for Katie Tsalikidis, particularly her bottom half.

    2. Now that they're officially back with us, feels right to go back to taking an interest in our women's teams, as the blog did during its early years. I might give the NPL a miss on Friday night and head to Lakeside instead - girls are playing Yarra Jets.

    3. No denial I see? haha.
      You may as well give the npl a miss and go watch the U/15's boys play, same thing if we're gonna be honest.

    4. I'd rather watch mediocre senior soccer played by either men or women over even well drilled junior soccer. Junior soccer as a spectacle doesn't hold much interest to me.

  6. Right side was equally as dangerous as the left for a long time. Especially second half. That lineup has 4 or 5 goals in it on any given day.

    Good to see Mbaka get some minutes. Exciting depth to the squad this year.

  7. Couple of thoughts after Watching the video

    - Pantelidis' tackle should have been a red
    - The editing made the People's Champ look much better than he was. If only the makers of the Radioactive Man film had Paul Zaro to do their editing, they would've ended up with a watchable finished product.

  8. The fact that we even call him the people's champ (even if it is tongue in cheek) is part of the softy approach towards him that will go down as a sad and sorry chapter in our clubs history.

    1. We tried being hard on him. It didn't work.

      LOVE the "People's Champ" moniker.


A few notes on comments.

We've had a lot of fun over the years with my freewheeling comments policy, but all good things must come to an end. Therefore I will no longer be approving comments that contain personal abuse of any sort.

Still, if your post doesn't get approved straight away, it's probably because I haven't seen it yet.

As usual, publication of a comment does not mean endorsement of its content.