Sunday, 8 May 2016

Another week, another win - Melbourne Knights 2 South Melbourne 5

When both common sense and statistics tell you that, because you've been playing mediocre football yet still harvesting points at an alarming rate, you're therefore due for a loss, copping a goal in the opening minutes of a match actually has a reassuring effect. You get yourself into the head space of 'here we go, this is the loss we had (or will have) to have', and we will all be the better for it - either because the team will make the necessary corrections to bounce back the following or flail into a downward spiral of genuine mediocrity, which at least erases hope and provides a safe and familiar feeling of turgid self-loathing.

Instead we managed to score two quick goals to take the lead, were reminded that the game was in the balance and - worst of all - that from this position we would expect to win. And so when Knights equalised, it threw all assumptions into the air, because here we had two wonky defenses and about 70 minutes or whatever it was to go in the match. Though one suspected that eventually the scoring would stop, one also felt that it wouldn't be down to any improvement in either side's defensive efforts, but rather profligate finishing from the forwards.

As it was, both sides frittered away opportunities, but we got on top as the first half wore on, and probably should have gone into half time further ahead than merely 3-2. The turning point of the match, such as one could be plucked out of such a messy affair, was Knights having a man sent off for a foul denying the People's Champ a clear goalscoring opportunity. The red card itself seems not to be in question, and having awarded the foul anyway the referee could do nothing other than send off the relevant Knights player.

The main point of contention then was whether the People's Champ was offside in the immediate moment before he received the pass which lead to the red card. Such concern is understandable because the amount of open space in front of him was huge, but the photographic evidence suggests that he'd done well to remain in his own half before Marcus Schroen passed the ball to him.

Marcus Schroen passes the ball to Nick Epifano, still in his own half and miles in the clear. Note also the 'Hate Hellas' banner located in front of MCF. Cute. Photo: SMFC TV screen shot that I got off smfcboard.

There was some mention of those sitting in the grandstand that one Knights fan in the vicinity was particularly irate with the decision, accusing MFootball (who were doing the internet radio broadcast) of being Greek radio, while the broadcast was infected by expletive laden rants from the crowd. Ah, the perils of sitting among the hoi polloi.

Still, while it was good to get the man advantage, I would have preferred the People's Champ to score the goal - in the end his poor touch after getting the ball tangled in his feet probably gave the Knights defender a sort of false hope that he could get to the ball, or at least put the People's Champ off his shot.

After that Knights of course tried their best to get back on level terms, and even had a goal ruled out for offside, a call which some Knights fans weren't particularly happy with, especially when paired up with the perceived Epifano offside in the lead up to the red card.
Cue relief from our end, but also the return of the weekly paranoia that we can't finish off teams, even (and perhaps especially) those who are down to ten men. But we managed to withstand the Knights' forays forward and EVEN MANAGED TO SCORE FROM A CORNER, eventually running over the top of a tiring Knights side as substitute Chris Irwin's pace was used to exploit the situation.

As the lead was extended to three goals, and the tension among the South fans on Quarry Hill lifted, one could laugh at the 'Ma-ke-do-ni-a' chant which came from the direction of MCF. It was that kind of night - too many goals if we're being honest with ourselves, but at least most of them were from us. That, and by the time this post got published, we were five points clear at the top of the table thanks to the Bergers managing to snare a late equaliser against Bentleigh.

There was no Kristian Konstantinidis, and yet also no Tim Mala to replace him at right back. The former's absence will be put down to injury no doubt, but the latter's? One suspects doubts over his form, or perhaps an attempt at horses for courses? Amadu Koroma played at right back, and to be blunt, was all at sea for much of the first half defensively. Having said that, Koroma did improve on that front as the game wore on, and also provided the kind of overlapping attacking option that Mala struggles to offer. With such a deep squad, and the transfer window opening up at the end of the month, some tough decisions are going to need to be made.

Next game
Back at home on Friday night, against the sputtering Pascoe Vale. I'll be relieved that I won't be at Somers Street for the fourth week in a row, even though I so wanted to see the co-tenant derby there.

FFA Cup news
We have been drawn away to North Geelong, with no date or venue finalised yet. Now, Elcho Park's lights are not up to scratch for night games of this calibre, though it seems like North Geelong will try their best to find a solution. We could end up at Somers Street, though Knights and St Albans likely to be hosting games there will make that difficult unless the fixtures are staggered. Longest shot is that somehow we end up hosting the game at Lakeside.

Lovely, just lovely
Partly because one wanted to wait for the car park to empty a bit first, one ended up in fine conversation after the game with several Knights fans, a Glory fan, and whatever other onlookers were in the vicinity at the time. It was very civilised and pleasant.

Magic's greatest secrets revealed
What one sees from the audience...
... isn't the same as what you see from behind the stage!
Frustrations of incrementalism
FFV has released a statement on the progress of the investigation into the incident at Lakeside during the South vs Victory Youth match.
FFV has received a number of enquiries from the football community regarding alleged incidents at the above fixture. 
FFV can confirm that it is investigating reports of misconduct at this fixture. Due to the nature and volume of material to review the investigation of this fixture is taking longer than usual.  
We appreciate and understand that the football community has considerable interest in this matter and is keen to see it resolved. However what is of primary importance is that all relevant information is investigated and assessed, and that the matter is dealt with in accordance with our documented GDT processes. 
FFV treats all allegations of misconduct of this nature seriously. However it is important that our investigation and GDT processes are not compromised in the interests of expediency.  FFV will not be making any further comment on this matter until it is resolved.
All reasonable, even if it's not quite what people want to hear. Measure twice, cut once and all that. Some people however did make note of the timing of the release of this memo, as it had a bit of a whiff of the old Friday dump about it.

Around the grounds
I decided (as a Collingwood supporter, foolishly, of course) to go to the footy yesterday instead of finding a soccer match to attend. Thankfully 'Agent 189' sent us this report from the Melbourne Victory Youth vs Melbourne Knights game from last week to fill up this segment. 

Police and security keep an eye on the Melbourne Victory supporters,
who were watching this game as a group from outside the
venue after some of their number were denied entry to Epping Stadium.
Unprecedented Security
An unprecedented level of security greeted football fans at Epping Stadium on the weekend for the round 10 NPL Victoria fixture between Melbourne Victory and the Melbourne Knights.

Similar to events a week prior at Lakeside Stadium, special security protocols were again put in place, which delivered the highest presence of security and police at any match in the history of the National Premier Leagues Victoria.

Separate entrances and the segregation of supporters were in place at Epping Stadium, with the Knights to occupy the western end of the venue, while Melbourne Victory supporters were to the east. The security presence was significant and noticeably more visible than previous Melbourne Victory home games at Epping Stadium. It comprised approximately 15 security guards and the same number of representatives from Victoria Police.

A Victoria Police 'brawler van' deployed at Epping Stadium.
The police contingent was supported by multiple vehicles, including the ‘brawler van’, which is deployed to major sporting events and is specifically designed to detain and transport up to 16 persons.

Prior to the match commencing, Melbourne Victory Supporter marshals denied entry to a number of Victory supporters. This led to all of their active supporters not entering the ground and positioning themselves on the southern side of the ground, remaining outside the venue in a public access area. A contingent of at least 10 security guards and Victoria Police were in close proximity to monitor things from inside and outside the perimeter fence.

Victoria Police also monitored the behaviour of the Melbourne Knights MCF active supporter group, however by the 20 minute mark of the match, they had been redeployed elsewhere around the stadium.

A Victory supporter makes the offensive 'three finger' gesture
from outside the fence at Epping Stadium
Both the Knights and Victory fans were in full voice supporting their teams on the pitch. It didn't take long however for the vocals to deteroiate with Victory fans commencing chants of an ethnic nature specifically targeting the Croatian heritage of the Melbourne Knights club. This was combined with multiple instances of Victory fans displaying the 'Serb Salute' or three-finger salute - a hand-gesture many Croatians find particularly offensive.

Melbourne Victory supporter giving the three-finger salute at the match against Melbourne Knights
The greatest roar from the MCF and the remainder of the crowd came in the final minute of regulation play when Knights striker Jason Hicks found space inside the six yard box to edge his shot past Victory keeper Lucas Spinella and into the net. The 1-2 win would lift the Knights to seventh on the ladder, whilst the Victory suffered their sixth straight loss leaving them in 12th.

After the match, events took an unsavoury turn as multiple reports indicate rocks and or other objects, including lit flares, were being thrown at Knights supporters in vehicles as they made their way from the car park and along Harvest Home Road.

Victoria Police have confirmed there was a conflict outside the venue after the match, though there have been no reports to police of individuals being assaulted. Whilst a number of individuals were spoken to, no arrests were made.

It’s been a tumultuous two weeks for Victorian football and Melbourne Victory FC. A pitch invasion at Lakeside Stadium last week prompted a significant security response for the Knights match at Epping which protected the integrity of the match inside the stadium and the safety of fans in attendance.

However the actions of a small group of supporters, particularly outside the venue after the match, has once again turned the spotlight back on the club. The events of this weekend certainly bring in to focus the extent to which Melbourne Victory and poses the challenge more broadly for all clubs around how they can control events that occur after the match and outside the venue. It’s an important consideration given the significant security and police presence and the clubs refusal to allow these supporters into the stadium.

While for the most part the incidents are kept to a minimum, as seen in the A-League Grand Final – where flares and destroyed seats were alleged to have been by “fringe supporters” and not a “co-ordinated” action that left the club at risk of a three-point deduction – the risk of a rogue element within the game exists at any level.

Final thought
I was going to focus on responding to a petty comment made by an individual on Twitter regarding the South vs Victory affair, but instead I'll make note of the good laughs had all round during FFV's broadcast of the Heidelberg vs Bentleigh game - which involved friendly banter and a couple of plugs for South of the Border (I had been tweeting in answers to certain questions raised by the commentary team), as well as Mark Boric's blog being referred to, but definitely not being named. Looks like I'm going to have to work on my notoriety a bit.


  1. I finally figured what the New Dawn attacking the Bitters reminded me of.

    '"Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

    Yet even this doesn't go far enough. The Men should now look like the Pigs!

  2. Where is the Lemon Lime and Bitters story? Disappointing...

    1. Couldn't think of a way to include it that would feel relevant.

  3. Thanks for the report and scuttlebutt. Missing my dose of local football, let alone a Knights v South derby, whist on European holiday with the better half.

    1. Here's a guide to Europe which may come in handy.

  4. Stevie what a legend

    1. Menace to society. He should be hanging out with the MV hools.

  5. Where are these "multiple reports" of incidents at the victory v knights match? I was looking around and found nothing. Anybody got any links?

    I thought send off was offside as well. Great pic disproving it and showing it was nothing other than a woefully overcomitted defence.

  6. Watching the video, our first goal was well worked, a joy to watch even, the rest relied more on Knights' poor defense, especially playing it out of the back - but they all count the same.

    The Norton-Epifano combination on the left looked very good actually. Interesting also to note Taylor's post-match comments on the side sitting too deep defensively, which has been a criticism made by several people this season.

  7. Did any South fans sit around the campfire and share stories of the MV monster with Knights fans?

    1. I don't remember there being a campfire.

    2. Couldn't get it going, apparently bleach is not flammable.

  8. If you are planning on being more notorious, you may as well burn that media pass.

  9. Excellent synopsis Paul

    Are we at the point where some South fans are waiting for the team to finally lose so they can say "I told you so!".

    Just heard the MFootball commentary, and the comments from that irate Knights fan is hilarious. The joys of live broadcasting !

    Five points clear at the top, and with a healthy goal difference as well. The added benefit is the superior goal difference from second placed Bentleigh.

    PS - the FFA Cup qualifier fixture against North Geelong is an interesting one. The draw could have been worse but also better. Has North Geelong played many matches under lights? Its definitely a tricky match.

    1. When (if?) we lose, I think we should all jump on the 'I told you so' bandwagon.

      North Geelong played night games before they were in NPL (ie, state leagues) I think, but not this year or last as far as I can recall.


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