Matthew Foschini for winning the Theo Marmaras Medal for our best and fairest this season. Best and fairest? Maybe just best. Or maybe the guy the who TOLD IT LIKE IT IS AND/OR WAS in post-game interviews more than anyone else. I don't know what the criteria is. But that's small fry news because, drumroll...
Social club news
Well, actually, yes, there is actually some news on this!
First there was this photo from October 13th by board member Tony Margaritis' (who is also working on the redevelopment in his guise as someone who does electrical work, which I suppose is more useful than getting in someone to write a poem or provide an undergrad level cultural studies critique) Twitter feed, showing something maybe happening, albeit two guys just standing around looking busy doesn't automatically mean they are busy being busy. I have a whole bunch of photos of Steve from Broady from when he was on work placement for school at the club when we cleaning out the social club, and I can tell you now still shots of people holding boxes aren't evidence of any work actually being done, especially if they don't include photos of people playing foosball.
Funny story about that foosball table actually, which I can't remember if I've told here before, but ti's the off season and we've got to pad out the time until the new season starts. In cleaning out the absolute junk heap that was the back part of the multimedia room, Steve and I found an old 'assemble it yourself' foosball table. In between actually doing work, we found that there enough pieces available so that we managed to put it together, and I killed Steve in every single game we played - that's what happens when you outlaw spinning and play properly. Anyways the table eventually ended up in the senior change rooms, which may or may not have contributed to the alleged party atmosphere in the change rooms under Gus Tsolakis, and the eventual decline of the on field performance and off field discipline.
Anyway, the talk that there was something to be released from the club on the social club matter got the cynical juices flowing. But then a few days later there was the photo below posted on the club's Facebook page, accompanied by a very low-key media release which included pretty much only the following statement. That's right, I said low-key. No more grandiose verbosities for this matter, just for the time being.
As part of the extensive development, we will be completing our new offices, social club, restaurant / bar, shop and futsal court.
We anticipate completion by early 2017.
My understanding is that rather than start with the offices first as was originally envisaged, the whole thing will just be done in one big go. There is also of course the matter of the club borrowing money to supplement the government grant allocated for this process.
No one's really talking about what role, if any, dank will play in the design, which is a concern. But early 2017! Who can't help but excited about that? For Twitter folk, Tony's Twitter account might be the best place to get spontaneous updates. That means you'll get little tidbits like the hoped for completion date
It's all very exciting.@wests_glory @smfcmike @smfc Thanks Graeme, the museum will be special, helped along with an interactive high tech feel thanks to @BenQ_AU— Tony Margaritis (@sthmel) October 31, 2016
AGM date news
Arrivals and departures
While player movements around the rest of the league have been taking place at a brisk pace, there has been little news on the South front. Three departures are the main bit of news - confirmation that midfielder Iqi Jawadi has officially departed the club, as well as the departures of Amadu Koroma and Chris Irwin. All three departures are sad, in their own way: Jawadi had given good service in midfield, and even added a goalscoring string to his bow, but injury and apparent disaffection took their toll; Koroma filled in for a struggling Tim Mala on several occasions, and added an attacking option, but injury it seems saw him left out of consideration towards the end of the season. Irwin, whether you thought he was worth the punt of signing in the first place or not, never got much chance, his 'as late as possible substitutions' becoming maddeningly predictable.
As per last time, the following players are known to be contracted for next season.
- Stephen Hatzikostas (signed until end of 2017)
- Brad Norton (signed until end of 2017)
- Matthew Millar (signed until end of 2017)
- Milos Lujic (signed until end of 2018)
Some weren't fond of the BLK merch anyway - I wasn't too amazed with the home or away strips - but I did like the hooped socks (which you can buy online anyway, being just regular footy socks), and the modernised heritage strip they provided for our FFA Cup appearance in 2015 was rather excellent I thought.
On the face of it people are happy to be back with Puma. There's nostalgic reasons for that of course - they were out kit supplier in the club's on field peak. Compared to BLK, it's also a name brand and a soccer brand. Here's hoping that customisable kits are part of the arrangement, and that a trip to Brazil doesn't undo everything like it allegedly did last time we were together.
In recent times Twitter has relaxed the criteria for which accounts it chooses to award its 'blue tick of verification'. And thus the long battle for South Melbourne FC to have that blue tick next to its name is over.
Not a major thing in the scheme of things, but it does make the account look a smidgen more professional and therefore reliable in the minds of those who take things like blue ticks and verification seriously - I'm thinking potential sponsors and everyone who will subliminally hold South Melbourne FC twitter in higher esteem because of this badge.We are finally @verified. You will now see a blue tick next to our name!— South Melbourne FC (@smfc) October 3, 2016
Offseason digressions - Vicbowl XXXII
Here are the reasons I went to Lakeside during a Sunday evening some time in mid-October to watch the Victorian gridiron championship game.
- It was at Lakeside, and I was interested in how the field dimensions would work.
- I don't actually mind American football.
- I was bored.
The field dimensions were interesting. Plenty of space on the sidelines for both teams, thanks to the narrowness of the gridiron. The length of the field was more problematic, because the end zones took up almost all the length of the field. The goal posts were portable (and short) rugby posts rather than the fork goals of American football, but this is understandable given most of these teams probably use rugby goals during the regular season - not that they got much use, as you'll see. To that end, I was also interested in how the thing would be organised. For a small organisation probably not awash with funds, they did a pretty reasonable job. Both stands were open, and there was plenty of security on hand. Not that the crowd warranted the opening of both stands, but on a showpiece day, why not?
One really cool thing was the production of a simple eight page match programme.
Running over time by a long way. Marching band started interrupting division 2 and assorted other presentations, lol. #vicbowl pic.twitter.com/tPl1Q71LoS— Paul Mavroudis (@PaulMavroudis) October 16, 2016
The match arrangements for the game were pretty professional though. Live video screen, with replays. Commentary over the PA that somehow didn't feel intrusive. No match clock as far as I could tell, but there were play clocks at either end of the field. The referees were miked up, so we got the thrill of NFL referee style explanations.
The crowd was probably split 50/50 between the two sides, with the Footscray (and by association western suburbs based) Western Crusaders having a number of Maori and/or Pacific Islander players and thus also family members and/or friends and relatives in the crowd. The Monash Warriors had their own crew doing some sort of soccer style chanting at times, and there was a decent atmosphere all things considered. Not very much NFL gear in the crowd - if anything, people tended to prefer wearing their team colours.
- It's wonderful to watch when played by two high calibre, evenly matched teams.
- First you love the passing game, then the running game, then you love defence.
The game itself was close. The underdog Crusaders opened the scoring with a touchdown, but completely botched the snap for the extra point. The Warriors scored two touchdowns after that, converting one of two attempts at the two point conversion. Another Crusaders touchdown, this time with a failed two point conversion saw them trail 14-12 at halftime. The third quarter was tighter, thanks in part to some desperate goal line defensive stands from the Crusaders, but their ill discipline (chop blocks, especially) and poor decision making cost them in the end. I mean, on 4th and long on your own goal line, just punt it! Instead they went for it and conceded the safety. They got the ball back for one more go, but couldn't do anything with it, losing 16-12. All in all, an interesting and eye opening day,
MCFC 100 Years doco - some thoughts
Moreland City, via production company 3 Nerds - the same people who did the Fields to Dream series for the FFA Cup last year - put out a film on the 100 years of their club. While that 100 year time frame is contestable if you think it about for more than a few seconds, it's more useful to focus on what the film actually talks about and how it goes about trying to tell Moreland City's story.
And that story is complicated by a number of factors. First is the fact that we are talking not just about one club, Moreland City, nor even about the three clubs that merged to form Moreland City, but also about the other digressions - the split from Brunswick that lead to the formation of Moreland; the war time merger between Moreland and Hakoah; the intermediary merger between Moreland and Park Rangers. There are so many dead ends and diversions in this story, some of which by necessity get covered in more detail than others - and as you'd expect, the more recent something is, the more detailed the story that can be told.
Thus the foundations of Coburg are sketchy at best; Moreland's split from Brunswick, and Brunswick's fate even more so; and the transition from what kind of clubs Moreland and Coburg in particular were before 1945 and after never get satisfactory answers. What we do get though in the post-war analyses is a look at the British migrant soccer experience from an angle not often covered or taken into consideration. While for better or worse, the British player and coaching influence on Australian soccer is reasonably self-evident, the kinds of clubs and people involved with more or less explicitly British (as opposed to Anglo or 'native' Australian) soccer clubs is hidden behind the focus on the exploits of Contintental Europeans.
And in a lot of ways, this angle is the film's greatest strength, even as it avoids being as upfront about that as it could have been. The interviewees are almost all British. Moreland and Coburg apparently had a clear Irish and British influence (visible now in its iconography of the rose, thistle, leek and clover); even Park Rangers, which began as a split of sorts from South Melbourne United/South Melbourne juniors, eventually came to have a strong Scottish/Celtic influence by the time Hugh Murney came along.
It's that sense of Britishness which ties the different strands and different histories together. Post-war, it's quite clear that many of the players for Moreland and Coburg aren't locals; they were Moreland and Coburg in name only, almost in the abstract, much as clubs like South Melbourne eventually came to represent almost nothing of South Melbourne the suburb once all the Greeks moved out of the local area. The same seems to be the case for Coburg and Moreland.
That Britishness is also a hindrance on the short term and long term successes of the various clubs involved in this story. In the short term, despite the pluck shown by Moreland into the late 1950s, the crowds and the cash just do not arrive as they do for other migrant clubs. That great, often unspoken question of why the British migrants - whose numbers exceeded those of every other ethnic group combined - didn't take up soccer as did their Continental equivalents doesn't get teased out more than just the merest hint. But even that small interrogation of the question makes it clear that the absence of broad British migrant interest in Australian soccer held Australian soccer back for decades; more broadly, because their absence made the game look more exotic than it should have done to mainstream Australia, and more narrowly, it prevented clubs like Moreland from becoming anything more than small time community clubs.
That interpretation, much as I think it needs to be made, downplays the importance of clubs like Moreland to their supporters and the communities that converged around them. The Moreland and Coburg rivalry gets a spell, as does the difficulty in coming to terms in merging in order to survive. The success the club gained from the merger - surviving and thriving where before there was seemingly terminal decline - while both opening up the club to the community and attempting to preserve what made the clubs tick is an example to many other clubs going through the same processes of renewal. In Moreland City, meaning has been created which incorporates both the old and the new.
[Naturally this is easier for clubs from ethnic groups which are already more closely culturally aligned to the mainstream. For the old 'wog' clubs, full of old men much further away from the mainstream, the ability to transfer control of their clubs to younger generations - many of which will be made up of junior parents with a more solipsist perspective, or with little concern for the history of the club they will soon take over; but that's another story]
The film is professionally produced, and comes up with clever solutions to certain problems, chief of which is the lack of archival footage and even artefacts, a common problem across the game in general. What Moreland does have compared to other clubs is high quality photos, and some old jerseys, which act as useful additions to the interviews and transition overlays. But there are also drawbacks. The film is clearly too long, with some of its digressions - especially the 1956 Olympics portion of the film - destroying the momentum of the film. Not that that material is unimportant, but it and the tribute to Frank Loughran could have been integrated into the film better.
There is clearly an attempt to squeeze as much as possible into this film, and thus what some people would consider as peripheral matters - pitch alignments, council relationships and aborted 1980s merger talks with Pascoe Vale and Sandringham - get into the discussion. That's OK with me, as I love that kind of information, but it doesn't necessarily make for the most chronologically or thematically coherent film. Nevertheless, there are moments in these matters which could have been tied more closely to the British migrant experience - I'm thinking specifically of a former migrant hostel building in Preston being transported to Campbell Reserve in the guise of club rooms.
But even if you have no interest in any of these historical and sociological questions, the film can still be enjoyed for what it does well - letting the subjects speak freely, and allowing them to get across what Moreland City means to them, and on that front succeeds handsomely. The filmmakers make the various interviewees come across as eloquent, dignified and relateable - the club has its own special qualities (in part because of its theoretical longevity), but it's also 'every club', fighting the same battles that Victorian soccer clubs have had to fight over decades.
I just wish there was more on Park Rangers to be honest, especially before they moved out to Kew.
Around the grounds
Stuck in a rut
Headed to the Socceroos-Japan fixture. Prior to this match your correspondent caught up with a child psychologist and a guy in a suit. That was OK. The game itself was an event spent with a party of four; then one bloke dropped out; another came in, then also dropped out; and then the spare ticket was taken up by of all things, a woman. How modern. The match itself was wearisome - an introverted Japan which after scoring the opening goal, preferred to sit back and wait to be gifted the ball back; and an Australian team that moved from side to side so much that it was like watching a game of Space Invaders, but with much less forward progress. The second half was better, although the penalty was a fortunate one - a player running towards the byline and away from goal on a tight angle probably doesn't need to be fouled. Plan A was eventually enacted, but that didn't work well either. A certain journo friend of mine is right - everyone's gotten too complacent. We just expect Australia to make it through to the World Cup now, and thus there is no tension, no sense of impending doom. Might it be better for Australian soccer to fail at some point to qualify, just to shake things up a bit?
Just remember that...
The ancient Greek oracle was probably high on fumes.