Monday, 30 May 2016

Laughable - Heidelberg United 5 South Melbourne 0

I went to four games this week, and somehow the South game was the most hideous and lopsided game of them all. Because of that, people are probably expecting some sort of fire and brimstone report, but the truth is, I'm still laughing from last night's antics. I mean, what else can you do when watch your team capitulate so badly, in a season where we've scored a six, a five, two fours and copped a six and a five - and only fourteen games into the 26 game home and away season? And somehow still find ourselves on top of the table, thanks to Bentleigh managing only a draw on the synthetic turf at Bulleen?

Besides which, pretty much every South supporter - whether they lean towards trying to find the positives at all costs or whether they're more the type that wants to drive the bus off the cliff at the first setback - knows our deficiencies this season. They include, among other things, an isolated and increasingly frustrated forward who like the rest of the team is currently struggling to score from open play. The delivery into the box was once again poor, and when the ball did fall loose in and around the box, more often than not there weren't enough South players in the vicinity to make the most of those chances.

For about half an hour or so, the game was evenly matched, with both sides attacking and looking somewhat dangerous. Even the Bergers' opening goal didn't immediately suggest that an avalanche was headed our way. But one could have perhaps looked at it another way - even as the early part of the game ebbed and flowed, we rarely if ever tested the Heidelberg keeper, whereas the home side had forced Roganovic into making some saves. Still, that doesn't quite excuse copping the second goal from another set piece, and coughing up the third goal soon afterwards. Kenny Athiu in particular was a nightmare for our defense, too big and too mobile, in stark contrast to what was happening at the other end.

That the difference between our best and our worst can be so far apart means that one has no idea which South side is going to turn up on any given day. For a side that has built a reputation these past few seasons on its resolute consistency - even as it has bored some of our fans to death - this is an interesting development which I don't think Chris Taylor will be too pleased with.

Quite a few people are calling for reinforcements during the transfer window, and that's understandable. My worry is however that another striker or better mids aren't going to be of much use if the formation and tactical approach largely stays the same. Not every problem can be solved with a cheque-book, even in this league. What I want to see is a Plan B, or a Plan C - maybe even just a plan where we perhaps play two up front and take some of the focus off Milos, and make the side less predictable. What was most disappointing last night is that it was unclear what the plan was once we came out of the sheds. Somehow we came out looking even more disheveled after the break than we had before it.

One thing I noticed recently was that in an interview (which damned if I can find the link to now), Chris Taylor claimed he didn't much focus on what the opposition did, as long his team did what it was told to do. George Katsakis on the other hand, after this match, noted the homework they'd done on us and the efforts put in on shutting down our mains strengths. How much one can take out of those kinds of comments in isolation I don't know - and there may be a certain degree of misdirection in there - but a personal annoyance of mine for some years now has been the apparent lack of interest in what other teams are doing.

And while we have addressed this issue apparently for this season with an 'opposition scout', it still falls short of the kind of legwork people like George Katsakis put in not just in scouting opponents, as well as players and teams from other comps, but also networking - the art of seeing and being seen. Anyway, that's a topic for another day, and besides which there was apparently a South crew at the Bergers' spit roast night last Thursday, so maybe we're getting better at these things anyway.

There was much stupidity and silliness at this game. Apparently a young South supporter had tried to use bolt cutters to try and enter the ground. Pretty stupid if true. There was also what appeared to be a flare lit on the grandstand side of the ground, along with some sort of commotion.  As the game degenerated into farce, Clarendon Corner at least tried to make light of the situation - which would have at least pleased those who get annoyed when South fans start abusing the team. There were dust storms created by stamping on the ground underneath the shed, which filtered up into the air. There was an attempt by a few people at running behind Heidelberg Harismidis and waving their arms along with him - a means of amusing oneself which ended after people realised pretty quickly that it was hard work keeping up with him.

There was also much jocular chanting, including '6-5 on aggregate', which could have so easily backfired if the Bergers had scored another one - and they could have easily done so. Small mercies and all that. Most hilarious of all was perhaps the penalty miss from the People's Champ - at 5-0 down it wouldn't have made much difference except for the record books, but having failed to score from two out of his last three penalty attempts, this is hardly another problem we need, when we have had such a good run with penalties and opposition red cards so far this season, a run which will surely have to end soon.

Next game / FFA Cup updates
Not much time to dwell on what happened yesterday though, as we play North Geelong in the FFA Cup on Wednesday night. This game has been moved from Elcho Park to Port Melbourne, as North Geelong couldn't meet the lighting requirements in order to host this game. Good news for public transport using folk and people who live nowhere near Lara. Bad news for people who like peripatetic adventures when it comes to Victorian soccer.

The winner of this game has been drawn to play away against Bentleigh in the next round. A poisoned chalice if ever I saw one.

Victory supporters banned by FFV - charges for Victory itself yet to be announced
Last week FFV held tribunal sessions for those charged with offenses related to the incidents at the South vs Victory match earlier this year. They have also published the results of those tribunal sessions on their website. For the six people who appeared at the tribunal, all plead guilty and all were given bans of various time frames. The other eleven did not appear at the tribunal, and received automatic five year bans - though if they choose to make an appearance within.

Several 'anomalies', for want of a better word, have already been noticed by several online commentators. First, in their tribunal sessions as individuals, the first six Victory supporters to visit the tribunal did not have their club associations attached to their tribunal notice. Perhaps due to some online criticisms made, this was later rectified when the entire list of 17 offenders was put up.

Several punters also noted the anomaly of some of those who were banned by the tribunal being given multiple but concurrent bans of differing length. This is because some of those involved were current players from other clubs, including two from Frankston Pines and one from a Northcote underage NPL team, as reported by MFootball's initial article on the matter. One of those found guilty also seems to be a qualified or at least aspiring referee, if the ban on their officiating games is anything to go by.

The online reaction to the initial tribunal sessions seemed to suggest that a lot of people were unaware that the FFV was going to also deal with Melbourne Victory's role as one of the participating clubs at a later date. Eventually this anger perhaps lead to FFV putting out a statement noting that charges would soon be laid against Melbourne Victory. On the face of things, this was good news for South, as the statement does not include any mention of South being charged with any breaches. Less encouraging was that FFV has mentioned they are still looking for more participants in the fight from both sides.

Until then, a Victorian soccer public hungry for justice, waits.

Around the grounds
In search of the right result
Trundled out to Somers Street for some FFA Cup action on Tuesday night and parked at the furthest extremes of the car park, where there's still some actual grass. Despite the extra metres I'd have to walk both to and from the ground, the decision may have helped save my vehicle from being struck by a REDACTED launched after the conclusion of the game. Still, even as REDACTED hung in the air as REDACTED are designed to do, it wasn't as pretty as the moon that night. Knights were the home team, taking on Croatian brothers or sisters (let's just say siblings) Dandenong City Chelsea Hajduk, but despite the visitors making a show of it, their defense was rubbish; they copped two goals in a minute midway through the half, and never looked like getting back in the game after that. It was 3-0 at halftime, and 3-1 at full time - an injury time goal scored by City which probably had some Singapore based gambler crying into his char kway teow for ruining his clean sheet spot bet. Almost nothing of note happened in the second half, apart from me riffing on Twitter about said boredom, and beginning the campaign to get South to make beanies with pompoms on them. Seeing as how my campaign to get hooped socks onto the uniform only took six years to come to fruition, one should be patient.

I remember nothing
Port vs Oaks at Port. Even this far from the finish line - smack bang on halfway - Port needed to win this in order to keep touch with the top six. In that sense, losing this match 4-1, with their one goal coming very, very late, was not a good outcome for the Sharks. Oh, but it all could have turned out so differently. The whole goal face to aim at, and yesterday's hero Adrian Zahra hit his early shot right at John Honos. Later, Oakleigh make hay out of Port's defensive lapse sunshine, and things just got worse from there, though Oakleigh's finishing was tidy. Not that Port's season is over by any means, but it looks like their focus might be on the FFA and/or Dockerty Cups now. Or maybe like 90% of the clubs in this competition, that's where it always was.

Things are grim for Altona East. One win, one draw and being knocked out by a lower league opponent was all they had to show so far in 2016. One of the locals noted to me that since they don't win at home, today was likely to be another bad day; I noted that East doesn't seem to be winning anything, it probably didn't matter where they played. Things got even worse when East found themselves 3-0 down at home within 20 minutes or so to a mediocre Westgate side. Somehow East managed to get themselves into the sheds only 3-2 down, which lead to the necessary tantrum from the Westgate brains trust at halftime. A side footed volley from probably 20 metres out just after the break, that swerved out of the reach of the Altona East goalkeeper and into the side of the net was wonderful to watch, and just about sealed the game. A junk time goal to each side late on proved the point that more goals ≠ more quality, no matter how much deluded soccer haters may think otherwise. 

Final thought
Only copped half as many as Nunawading did on the weekend, yet even they managed to score - from a free kick no less.


  1. we've been the luckiest team ever. every game had something go our way, it was bound to come to an end. teams are figuring us out and taylor has no plan B. I think this is going to be a bad 2nd half of the season. taylor is starting to annoy me.

  2. You're spot on about the chequebook not being the fix.
    I'd expect any value from buying players while persevering with the same formation and gameplan to be negligible.

  3. It was a shocking performance Paul. Were there any positives to take out of the match? The glass half full crew would have struggled to glean anything from that match.

    We really struggled with the pace and desire shown by the Heidelberg players. Even when we conceded the first goal, it did not look like the flood gates would open.

    Thankfully, Bentleigh dropped points away to Bulleen and allowed us to remain on top of the ladder. Need maximum points against Northcote this week.

    As for the quaterfinal draw against Bentleigh, let's get past North Geelong first, and then we can focus on that game.

  4. Keep up the good work Paul.

    Listened to the game (Kudos Mfootball) and am assuming it was much easier than watching it unfold.

    Hopefully can turn it around against North Geelong.

    Forza Hellas

    1. easy there, you guys aren't sure whether you want to be greek or not and now your throwing in an italian 'forza'. that's a cat amongst the pigeons, it'll send people to a psychiatrist.

      auf gehts hellas

    2. I must admit I am a bit bemused by this 'Forza' business. Lets throw in a Dinamo or even a ∆ύναμη!

  5. Pretty crazy season for us so far. Considering we are first it just shows how inconsistent the whole league has been.
    If we get past North Geelong it's pretty shattering to have drawn Bentleigh away. Guess we'll have to wait another year for FFA cup action

    1. While we can all admit that we haven't set the world on fire this season (or at least been both very good and very bad), I think that we perhaps tend to overestimate the opposition a bit. Not that they are bad, but if some of these teams were as good as we may make them out to be, they should themselves should be doing better as well.

  6. Aside from the performance itself, I neglected to mention one of the stranger non-calls I've ever seen by a referee, when I think it was Miller (maybe?) in the second half who was in clear possession of the ball and he was just hip and shouldered off the ball footy style. Thought they got rid of that stuff in the 1960s.

  7. You probably won't publish this but I know you'll see it. Stop having a go at younger fans, that bolt cutters thing is complete nonsense, unless you physically saw it of course? Your persistent jabs at younger supporters make them look like louts and attract negative attention to them. Worst of all, in doing so, you're giving people a false perception of what they really are. Enough is enough. If you had your way the club there'd be an empty social club and a ban on fans under 25 attending matches...

    1. To keep ethnic clubs truly culturally intact, I'd raise that age restriction to 65.

    2. 1. There have been almost 3,300 comments approved for publication on this blog over its eight and a half year lifespan, so I'm not sure why you would think I wouldn't publish your comment. I think I've maybe not approved about ten comments during that same time. I've probably copped more flak for the comments I have approved for publication than the ones I haven't.

      2. I was reporting on what the word among the forums after the game was, and since I didn't see the incident itself, I used the caveats 'apparently' and 'pretty stupid if true'. If it didn't happen, then I'm glad, and it'll be just some Berger fans talking guff.

      3. What social club?

  8. Interesting to see a recent South Melbourne and ex Newcastle player is currently training @ Melb Knights and openly discussing his dislike of the South dressing room culture. If Knights do end up securing his contract, might be a lot of angry south fans.

    1. Without question, Ljubes was in one of the worst South dressing rooms we've ever had. Full of c0ckheads. Not surprised that Ljubes doesn't accept that he was also a part of that toxic dressing room.
      Fingers crossed if he signs with Knights, he nods home another OG to gift South a win.

    2. wrong player.
      Andy Brennan is currently training with the Knights.

    3. Since when is Brennan "ex Newcastle? I thought he was still on the books there.


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.