Wednesday, 30 March 2016

An older social club artefact Wednesday - Middle Park redevelopment

My, isn't it good to finally have this issue resolved!*

Of course this saga (in its Lakeside format at least) started all the way back in 2005 with a George Donikian thought bubble; became 'official' in 2008; got the 'yes' vote from members in 2009 or thereabouts; saw South of the Border gain the briefest bout of infamy imaginable March 2014, and the had these wonderful moments in 2014 - hedging our bets with with separate photo ops with the then Liberal Party candidate for Albert Park (plus the top brass), and and reigning and still your Labor Party MP for Albert Park, Martin Foley kicking a ball.

Or of course you could just trawl through all the articles on here that have the label 'Lakeside redevelopment' attached. Far more detailed, messy and just plain fun than what the club has been able to produce over the years; then again, I'm not quite beholden to the same standards of truth, accuracy and a fair go that they are.

All of which seems as good as time as any to post this little artefact of sorts. Earlier this year, while searching through early 1990s copies of Neos Kosmos in the State Library's newspaper archives - I was looking for a poem my dad wrote about Heidelberg, which ended up getting him a double pass to a game; I haven't found the poem yet - I came across this article in the English language 'New Generation' supplement of 11th January 1993 edition of Neos Kosmos. 

New Generation was edited at the time by George Bisas, and one time South Melbourne club historian Petros Kosmopoulos. You can see for yourself that the club had lofty ambitions for its Middle Park redevelopment. Improved facilities for members which would also be accessible to parts of the local community, and the status of being an enduring legacy for the Greek community; ideals which have also been taken off the shelf and dusted off for 2016.

Of course the arrival of grand prix to Albert Park saw improvements come to our facilities in a similar but different way. One always wonders though, had this project gotten through rather than the eventual Lakeside move, whether things would have turned out better.

*Assuming ti is actually resolved. You know, building permits, grant money coming through, all necessary legislation getting throigh parliament, etc

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Top of the league! - Richmond 6 South Melbourne 3

As has been noted by several bright sparks, unlike our 2-2 draw on the Veneto Club's synthetic field in our last league outing, this time we couldn't even blame the state of the field, which was in pristine biological grass condition.

After this game I tweeted that I had no words for what had happened, and three days later I still don't really have much to add - though some of that may be down to emptying the word well with that AGM summary. Nevertheless, one moment I was discussing surrealist hardcore screamo (bulimic rainbows vomit what?) and the greatest forgotten animated series of all time, happy to have what looked to me like a comfortable lead; the next moment we've copped five and barely threatened the opposition goal.

There are many degrees of humiliation to be suffered in the NPL (and before that, VPL) for a South Melbourne Hellas fan. Just being here, for example, is horrible. Being mistaken for a North Melbourne fan when traveling on public transport, that's more at the minor end of the scale. Somewhere at the extreme of the humiliation scale though, is the moment when opposition supporters who have no history of chanting, start chanting. On Thursday night, that's how low we fell.

Maybe we didn't deserve to be 3-1 up at half time. Maybe we did. Nevertheless, that's where we found ourselves, and even if we hadn't quite deserved to be there, seeing as how we were there, shouldn't we at least have managed to come out of this with a point? Instead five second half goals later, we all walked out wondering what had happened, and trying to remember the last time we copped six goals - which of course was that nightmare loss to Sydney Olympic after we returned from Brazil.

But back to humiliation. There were so many ex-South players and personnel involved with the Richmond squad which slaughtered us on Thursday night. Most painful was Jake Barker-Daish scoring a double, after he had done stuff all for us last year, and Nick Niagoran who also bagged a double. Niagoran was a former junior for us, who I remember clinching the 2011 under 21s title for us with a belter of a goal in the last round. He and many from that squad departed for Malvern with then 21s coach Gus Caminos, and Niagoran joined Richmond during this off-season. Of course that doesn't mean Niagoran will do anything for the rest of the year, and he did get sent off, too. But if the classic and often correct assertion to young players or former players is to prove their former club wrong, well on Thursday night he at least did that.

In the wake of the loss, ascendancy has been given to those who doubt the team and the coach. That's to be expected, and goodness knows they shouldn't be immune to criticism after putting in a performance like that. Still, some of that material did come across at least as a little bit pre-prepared. While some of the arguments about the game style and tactics have merit - we probably do rely too much on a counter attacking style, and on Thursday especially we did gift Richmond far too much time on the ball because of our refusal to press - but some of the rhetoric almost seemed to take a kind of glee in being 'proven right'.

Some of the criticisms of the personnel involved will almost inevitably miss the point that for the past two and a half years - including the earliest parts of this league season - the players have actually done quite well. We're actually still top of the league (on goal difference), and while you can make all sorts of quite sensible points that we've played two of the three promoted sides and the already doomed Northcote in those five games, I'd still rather be where we are than every other team in this league.

Of course if we get tonked in the next game, I will join the bandwagon of negativity so I can be with all the cool kids.

An alternative theory as to why we lost
Next game
Hume City away on Saturday night.

Flares. in the plural sense
After one was lit by someone in the vicinity at Clarendon Corner against Bulleen, another was lit in the dark corners of Kevin Bartlett Reserve after we went 3-1 up. It was hard to tell if it was lit inside our outside the ground. Either way, the potential return of this trend is not something I want to see.

Just quietly, I've written a piece on flares which has been accepted by Thin White Line magazine for their next print edition, which will won't solve any of the problems.

International year of the fence
Not quite what is used to be though - apparently the gate that used to lead onto the freeway, in order that stray balls could be retrieved, has been removed. - See correction in the comments section.

Andy Brennan watch
Those hoping that there may be a chance of luring Andy Brennan back to South will be interested to note that he finally made his A-League debut yesterday for Newcastle Jets, coming off the bench in the second half.

Around the grounds
Headed out to Campbell Reserve for the Sydney Road derby between Moreland City and Brunswick City, and the game did not disappoint! The reserves game was very entertaining as well, so all round it was very worthwhile trip out to Coburg. Oh, and we managed to snare a spot in the premium seating section
Brunswick deserved their 1-0 wins in both the curtain raiser and the feature game, though they both had some drama. Brunswick's under 20s needed a second penalty late on (after having an earlier one saved) to win 1-0, and their seniors despite being the better side also needed a bit of luck; this time a horrible mix up between Moreland's keeper Brandon Galgano and one of his defenders, as well as a double penalty save from state league veteran Wes Coles. Ian Syson and I also toyed with the idea that we should be more forgiving of players at this and similar levels, reminding ourselves that when these players screwed that it was almost a statistical certainty that they would do so. After all, if they were more competent, they almost certainly wouldn't be here in the first place. Now, the next step is to somehow work 'find your level' into a marketable slogan for the NPL as a whole.

RIP Barry Hines
British writer Barry Hines - mostly associated with writing on working class lives in England - died the other week. I wrote so-so review of his debut novel The Blinder, a couple of years back; in short, the novel has the hallmarks of a debut, but is still definitely worth a read.

Final thought

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Notes from the 2015 AGM

Necessary preamble and summary
The following account of the 2015 South Melbourne Hellas and South Melbourne FC AGMs will not be presented in strictly linear fashion, because some points made later in the evening related to earlier presentations - also, I didn't keep a good record of what was said when. As usual, not every question that I would have liked to have seen asked managed to get through. At least some of those questions will be applicable to the next AGM though. Perhaps I should have taken the advice of the person who said I should have submitted them to the club, in order to compel them to deal with them. Food for thought. Apologies for there being no pictures or links to off-site hilarity.

Overall this was an orderly and worthwhile meeting, with good debate and questioning from the members, and what I felt was mostly clear and open information provided by the committee. However, it was in those moments where the board either did not answer queries related to governance or sought to push aside those concerns, that I believe the concerns of many members will remain for the foreseeable future - unless the board somehow drastically improves on that front.

Why the AGM was so late - and the myriad problems that caused
Before the AGM had even officially begun (approval of previous AGM's minutes, etc), committee member Bill Papastergiadis sought to speak to the members in attendance in order to inform them that the agreements related to the Lakeside lease had finally been resolved - making the point that terms had been agreed upon only as late as 2:00PM yesterday. From this fact one could imply - as many have suspected - that this was the primary reason why the AGM had been held so late.

Whether that was the case or not, it still does not excuse the committee for holding the AGM at such a late date, during the first quarter of the next season, on a weeknight, in the week after the grand prix, all of which made attendance of the broadest possible eligible audience far more difficult than it should have been. The question, too, of whether the board had sought permission from ASIC for an extension to the AGM date remained without a definitive answer. Nick Galatas, on behalf of the board, claimed that the club did not need to apply for an extension, while some on the floor contended that Galatas was wrong.

That lack of a definitive answer or explanation was perhaps the most troubling of the night, speaking as it did to the apparent problems of governance and compliance. The contemporary effectiveness of the members to act beyond an annual three hour meeting may be easy to deal with for the current board, seeing as how we have had no alternative tickets front up to add additional pressure on the current board since the end of the NSL - but compliance issues which fall under the jurisdiction of the state and similar third parties will be much harder to deal with.

Apart from the legal issues involved, the delay of an AGM means that much of the information presented was not only long out of date, but that so many more issues piled up (along with the resentment of the members) that more questions and queries than usual failed to get the attention they deserved.

Bill Papastergiadis resolves the Lakeside lease saga, to our apparent satisfaction
Regarding the apparent resolution of the Lakeside lease issue, Papastergiadis elaborated on the process needed to successfully negotiate an agreement as close as possible to the terms of the memorandum of understanding the club's members agreed to in 2009, the mechanisms by which those agreements will be enacted, and the strain of the effort required.

All three extant agreements needing to be signed - the funding agreement, the exclusive lease with regards to our areas (social club and affiliated areas), and non-exclusive areas (playing arena) - have been signed by South Melbourne, and are now simply awaiting for the government to execute their part of the contracts, which Papastergiadis expects to happen this week. We then wait for the funds to released for the reconstruction of the social club, which will be a 90 day build - with the construction of the office spaces to be the first order of business. Should things proceed well from here - and I put forward that hope cautiously, because we have been through such an ordeal already - then it is feasible that the social club will be ready by the end of this season.

Having sealed the deal, Papastergiadis seemed to feel freer to elaborate on the difficulties of attaining the deal to our satisfaction. He was now unafraid to point the finger directly at the State Sports Centres Trust, including their previous management group, who sought to delay us through lengthy legal battles, by providing self-serving and incorrect information to the relevant ministers, and finding any way possible to make our tenure at Lakeside as difficult as possible. This included incurring large legal expenses of their own. We will probably never know whether or not this ended up adding up to such an amount as to prevent the various tenants at Lakeside getting renumeration above their mandated minimum annual stipend.

Even the change in government from Liberal to Labor saw the SSCT attempt to go back and start from scratch, despite the then Liberal government having agreed to terms we would be satisfied with. Making the point that ministers are dependent on the advice of the public service, Papastergiadis noted that the way to tackle the problem was not in legal terms - though that would play a part - but rather through political connections. And thus Papastergiadis emphasised the weight that came to bear on both the Liberal and Labor governments via influential members of the Greek community, and the notion of the Greek community as a whole.

The manifestation of the agreements will both please and annoy our supporters. The pleasing aspect is in terms of the duration of the lease, in that the five years we have already spent at Lakeside since our return from John Cain Memorial Park, will not be counted - so we get 40 years from the signing of the lease starting this year, applicable to the social club and the playing arena. Crown law being what it is though, it will not be a single 40 year term - that while the social club is a single 40 year term, the playing arena will be 21 years, with an option of 19 after that, with Papastergiadis emphasising that the only possible way the 19 year option will not be honoured is if we are in serious breach of the conditions of the lease, a situation which he does not believe the club will find itself in (using words to the effect of burning the joint down to the ground).

Less pleasing, but perhaps inevitable news, is that in all likelihood the club will need to borrow money in order to finance the completion of the social club reconstruction. This is despite the fact that at previous AGMs the board had claimed that this would not be the case. Later in the evening, president Leo Athanasakis updated and/or clarified the plans for the social club, including the providing of a floor plan. As has been noted on previous occasions, the club plans to use the social club and futsal spaces both as a way of creating a sustainable revenue stream from its members and other users of Lakeside Stadium, but also as a means of attracting more people to our spaces from the local area.

Having seemingly completed the herculean task of securing the lease arrangement on terms that we were comfortable with, my mind turned to whether Papastergiadis would continue as a board member after this year. It was not a question that I was able to get to ask, but since this was the main reason he was brought on to the board, it will be interesting to see if he will continue.

Emphasis was made, as has been the case at many such meetings, that Papastergaidis has offered the services of his law firm at a comparatively low cost, as well as having a dedicated member of his staff working on this project. One hopes that with the end of this legal affair, that whatever legal costs we did incur will see at least some savings made in future budgets. Longer term, the financial and working tolls taken by our numerous legal battles over the past few years - against the FFV for the Heidelberg tribunal matter, the Toumbourou affair, the NPL, etc - has been a burden the club could have done without.

For the 2014/2015 financial year, the club made a small profit of about $7,000. Turnover was over a million - with the ambition to get up to two million - and sponsorship at a very healthy level. The club still has to pay off the loan it took out to pay the Toumbourou loan, but Athanasakis reported that this debt would be settled by October 2016. One expects then, with the onset of the operation of the social club, the lack of this bank loan (albeit the possible addition of another), and the increased efficiencies based on economies of scale from the unification with the women's side of things, that the bottom line will improve significantly.

There was an attempt by some members to ask if the club was running insolvent - based on the overdrafts being made during the course of the year - but that line of inquiry was shut down quickly by a Business 101 explanation of why overdrafts exist and how they work, an explanation that came not only from the board, but also from other businessmen within the membership.

There was, too, a question asked about the football budget, with some confusion based on the figures being provided being different for the members and those being presented. The explanation that one was consolidated, and the other not, didn't wash with some people. Nevertheless, most seemed to be satisfied with the spend on the football department, which had not changed markedly over the past three seasons, and was necessarily elevated in the second half of 2014 due to the continuing success of the club on the field.

Of more concern for me - and judging by the questions submitted here, to others, too - was whether the level of sponsorship we had achieved was sustainable, and what we were doing to make it so. One part of that which got a good reception from the floor was the business and sponsor networking the club is setting up. My concern on whether much of this sponsorship success was dependent on qualification to the FFA Cup (and what would happen if we missed qualification, say, in consecutive years) was not quite answered to my satisfaction, despite the claims that we were not like other clubs who were playing what Shaun Mooney has dubbed the 'crap-shoot' of FFA Cup qualification. Again, time will tell.

The women (mostly) return to the fold; plus constitutional changes
There was a motion at this AGM to make changes to the constitution. Two of these changes were fairly straightforward, seeking to update rules and terms from a bygone era. One of these moves was to change the term 'committee' to 'board'. The second was to change the make up of the board from 11-21 members to a minimum of seven and a maximum of eleven.

The biggest change though, was to ratify the board's motion that there be a minimum of one female board member at all times. Apart from those resistant to quotas in principle (or perhaps using that as a front for being dismissive of women involved in football at all? I wouldn't want to rule that out entirely), there was concern among some that the club, by virtue of not having eleven board members for much of its recent history, had not been abiding by its own constitution, a claim brushed aside all too readily by the board. Then again, without anyone having a copy of the constitution at hand, how were we going to resolve the matter then and there?

Of greater validity though was the complaint that all three motions were bundled up in a single vote. Now this may have been a ploy to head off the expected resistance to the quota motion - sometimes even my thought processes can go off on strange, conspiracy laden tangents - but if that was the case, then I don't think it was worth the ploy, and that the members should have had more trust put in them to pass each motion individually. As it was, the motion passed with overwhelming support.

Recently added board member, and former(?) president of South Melbourne Womens FC, Gabrielle Giuliano, was introduced to the overwhelmingly male audience, and made what I felt was a passionate and non-condescending presentation to the members. Giuliano made the point that the women were not here to take over the club, but that they mostly wanted to maintain the level of facilities and access that had prior to the reunification, which was a part of the agreement they'd signed last year. Giuliano thus made the subtle point that it wasn't only the men who had something to fear from reunification, but that the hard work of the women to develop their own club, on far fewer resources, was something they valued dearly, and were thus protective of.

Solid arguments were made about the inherent improvements in the economies of scale, but also to what the inclusion of the women - as players, as a network of people, and also as a hitherto untapped demographic for South Melbourne - would do for the club. The term 'super-club' was thrown about, as were notions of trying to be ahead of the curve. It's often hard to tell whether the club is being genuine about modernising itself, or whether it thinks that the appearance of doing so is more important than the objective reality of making those changes - on this matter though, I think it was sincere. It will also be interesting to see how the overwhelmingly male dynamic of such things as AGMs changes when more women begin attending.

As to plans for the future, this is where it got interesting as far as I'm concerned. SMWFC was still seeking answers as to the reason its WNPL application (made separately from SMFC) was rejected. To that end, SMFC will be seeking to apply to enter the WNPL in 2017. Should the club be successful in achieving that aim, then those female teams will come under the auspices of SMFC. The community/participatory aspect of SMWFC will continue as a community club, maintaining those community connections developed by SMWFC over the past decade. Of course with any community club 'offshoot' of an NPL club (mens or womens) is how do you control them, considering the fact that you cannot have the same board? SMFC's answer seemed to be via control of the facilities, a solution which will be interesting to see applied in practice.

Chairman Nick Galatas did note that in time the constitution would need to be given a more rigorous overhaul, and while this was not quite the time for that, these changes were as good a place as any to start.

Lots of success, but also disappointment - football report
As noted earlier, the wage bill of the club in terms of player payments has remained steady. Nicholas Maikoussis (representing the board on the senior aspect of the club) outlined the successes of the past season or so, while noting with clear exasperation the club's failure to win the grand final, progress further in the FFA Cup, and especially the devastating loss to Hobart Olympia. Maikoussis made the point that more resources had been deployed to football (fitness, conditioning - even for juniors -, and opposition analysis), and that overall the change room culture was good. When I made the point about my (and perhaps others') being uneasy about player agents being in the change rooms after games, I was rebuffed with a response of obvious irritation. So it goes.

Andrew Mesourouni (representing the board on the junior aspect of the club) made note that the club will seek to have 80% of the under 20 team made up of South juniors, and that three members of the senior squad every year should come from that under 20 side. I raised the question of the affiliation of Genova International School of Soccer, and whether we had any formal arrangements (apart from sponsorship) with them, to which the answer was 'no'. Unfortunately I was not able to dig further into my list of questions on the matter, and while I appreciated the candour of Mesourouni's answer - including the fact that GISS is just one of a network of organisations South Melbourne liaise with - I feel that there is still much to discuss on that front.

On the matter of whether we are interested in joining a cut down/split division National Youth League, the club seemed to indicate that there had been no confirmation that the NYL would take that path just yet, but that the club has been approached to gauge its interest, and that should the opportunity present itself, then the club would certainly be interested in taking up that opportunity. With regards to renewing its NPL licence, the club believes it is well on track to do so.

The Epifano affair finally got its time in the AGM spotlight. The board explained and defended its position, mostly reiterating things that they have already said, but also admitting that they had unintentionally mislead when making one response to a particular member during a conversation. Those members who have been the most obviously critical of Epifano and the board's handling of the affair got to have their say, even making some good points about the double standards with regards to spectator and player codes of conduct, but it was almost inevitable that this was going to end up in a stalemate, and that in that eventuality, the board's way would prevail.

Now that players are mostly(?) on professional contracts instead of 'amateur' ones, several codes of conduct have been introduced or updated, including for social media and sports betting. Next AGM of course will see womens reports also be tabled, for the first time in a very long time. Hopefully they will be treated in a more kindly fashion than they were way back in the early VPL days.

Protecting the brand (security and related matters)
Interspersed somewhere during the two meetings was a discussion on security. It began, I believe, by discussing the problems that with more people coming to games, that the possibility of a return to an older flare lighting culture - which costs the club money, and possible further sanctions - is of concern. This is less of a problem at Lakeside, what with the plethora of security cameras available making it easier to identify culprits, but that the behaviour of some alleged South fans at away games where the lighting and security situation is less than ideal means that the fans themselves will have to be vigilant.

Of course this is not to everyone's cup of tea, due to a wide range of factors and ideologies, but president Athanasakis made what I felt was the valid point that now that we had secured Lakeside as our home, we had an obligation as members to protect it (and by extension the club) from those who choose to damage us via their antics. Equally though, a good point was made from the floor that the services provided by Blue Thunder security could sometimes leave a lot to be desired, and that relying only or mostly on supporters to do the policing was not the way to go about things.

Farewell to Tom Kalas
The last presentation of the night fell to Tom Kalas, doubling up as his farewell from the board. So that meant one last legendary Powerpoint presentation, complete with technical hiccups, but also a useful reminder that while we can get lost in the imperceptible nature of incremental progress - and I say this as a card carrying incrementalist - taking the time to step back and see the bigger picture is a necessary step in reminding us of how far we've come. In South Melbourne's case there were the practical issues of survival - lease, finances, on field competitiveness; the issues of consolidation - reuniting with the women, reforming the juniors; - but also the less tangible issue of resurrecting our reputation.

In that sense, Kalas was right - we have come a long way - but that's all the more reason for the members to continue to apply whatever pressure they can on the board to live up to its own hype as a progressive and professional outfit. For the sake of the future prosperity of the club, it can't just be words - it needs to be backed up by action the whole way through, and not only when it suits this or any other board which may one day represent us. In a near future that will see us operating not just a much larger soccer club, but also a restaurant/bistro and futsal centre, one hopes that such disregard for proper procedure will get us into trouble very quickly. Still, it was nice to leave off on Kalas' unadulterated and unaffected sense of optimism.

Other notes
It was good that some refreshments, in the form of soft drinks, were provided to the attendees.

After suffering from some sort of parasite and being in poor condition for round one, the Lakeside surface is looking both lush and verdant.

There was a mini-infestation of some sort of insect in the President's Room. Very irritating at times.

Any AGM that has a Bouboulina reference can't be a complete waste of time. Equally so when you hear a board member utter such an archaic phrase as 'γαμώ το στανιό σου' (fuck your compulsion). I thought it was just me and my mum that still said things like that.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Deep Fried Anonymous Goo - South Melbourne 10 Keysborough 0

The crowd for our match, the first of a Saturday afternoon doubled header, was somewhere between 126 and 152 persons. Our starting line-up included eight changes from the team that started against Bulleen. Michael Eagar, Luke Adams and Milos Lujic started, with many other fringe players getting an extended run. Still, as one person noted, one could make the assertion that Lujic started as an insurance policy, while also asking where Kristian Konstatinidis was.

Nevertheless, we won this game easily as was expected of us, though we also butchered several opportunities going forward. All things considered, few of those fringe players really impressed, although some folk were pleased with Philzgerald Mbaka's ball skills, and Leigh Minopoulos was hungry, although also wayward and rusty. Still, Minopoulos' thieving of a Marcus Schroen shot that was already heading for goal was an indication of a certain keenness for the battle in a match in which we never had to exert ourselves.

Despite the odd lusty tackle from Keysborough, I assume none of the players that we used got anything other than the usual knocks you receive after playing a game of soccer. Iqi Jawadi was not even listed on the bench, and neither Brad Norton, Tim Mala nor the Peoples' Champ were used if they were at all listed. After the match Chris Taylor and his Senior Football Adviser ended up at the canteen almost as quickly as I did. Did the Cardinals' get close to scoring? There was some sort of action at the opposite end of the field early in the second half, but it wasn't really clear what was happening. They had a go, and their goalkeeper was able to have a laugh with Clarendon Corner behind the goals.

Other highlights included: a penalty shout which included a lot of animated pointing to the spot on the ground where one of our players believed the foul had taken place; several Zaim Zeneli chants; an inane discussion on politics which stopped short of discussing whether the BDS movement is justified in its actions; the assistant referee giving us a smile, but no wave; and the compulsory appearance during the second half of Heidelberg United coach George Katsakis or one of his Saddam Hussein-esque body doubles - either way, credit must go to George for coming to more of our games than many of our so called fans, especially those who prefer living it up on the internet.

The draw for the next round, which will be a midweek affair played some time in late April I think, will probably take place on Monday. Only one NPL team was eliminated, which was Northcote (see the 'around the grounds' segment), but some of the low hanging fruit of NPL2 also got eliminated or otherwise failed to impress even winning their fixtures.

Still, we'll probably get drawn against Melbourne Knights again. To which all one can say to the corrupt FFV and FFA lackies who will be responsible for that farce is 'make it so'.

Next game
Richmond away on Thursday night, the same night at the Socceroos play Tajikistan in Adelaide. So you can either go to Adelaide and see a horrible match alongside horrible people, or come to Kevin Bartlett Reserve instead.

AGM this Wednesday night at 7:00PM
To attend, you must have been a financial member of the club in 2015. Last time around I think I spent a lot of time making silly tweets. Maybe I'll take more notes this time.

South Melbourne online merchandise store now available
Head to this link. If items appear to be missing (for me, it was the replica jerseys for some reason, maybe because a non-conformist browser), just do a search for South Melbourne on the site and they will should come up in the results. I have been told that items such as hoodies, jackets, tracksuits, heritage tops will also be available at some point, even if you can't quite see them now...

Thanks to Geordie Hellas to alerting us to the fact that if you click on the 'pre-order- tab, you can see the various replica kit options.

Dim sim disappointment during the intermission
With the spreading popularity and availability of the South Melbourne dim sim, we have seen certain imitators try to carve out a niche of their own in the large dim sim market. I had been told that these were tasty, and the packaging too was very promising - if the probably highly racist caricature on the paper bag was any indicator. However the product itself was incredibly disappointing. Apart from the people working in the Northcote canteen not cooking them through properly, which required me to throw out the two dimmies I had purchased, the meaty filling was mostly a bland sludge.

International Year of the Fence
As with Port Melbourne's fence the other week, I would like to know how exactly a metal fence gets a hole in it like that. Any thoughts on what it would take for that kind of damage to occur is more than welcome.

The ox is slow, but the earth is patient
As it was when we visited Northcote a few weeks ago. Someone at Public Transport Victoria's getting the sack (or at least a demotion) when this tweet goes viral.

Scurrilous gossip department
Which South Melbourne committee member has allegedly told his wife that he's quit smoking, only to be seen smoking like a chimney at John Cain Memorial Reserve yesterday?

Need more umlauts
I think it's time that Marcus Schroen became Märcüs Schröen. More metal.

Tibbzy FC
Make of this whatever you will. A warning however for those of you who get set sick easily when watching dizzy camera work - this has a truckload of that.

Around the grounds
I had a photo for this segment, but something went wrong
Of those few South fans who had turned up to the South Melbourne-Keysborough match, few stayed behind to watch was expected to be one of the more closely contested cup ties of this round, that being the match between NPL struggler Northcote and NPL2 West mid ranking side St Albans. Now these teams had previously had a level of rivalry, even animosity, which I considered more or less confined to Northcote's Trent Rixon era, but the 'we hate Northcote' chant from the Dinamo fans on the hill suggested the resentment continued, at least from their side. Put very simply, everyone knew that Northcote would lose this game, and that it was only a matter of how and when St Albans would break the deadlock. That it took until well into the second half, and only after several crosses narrowly missed by both sides, made the game more interesting as a spectacle. The winning goal, when it did come, was actually atypical of the kind of play that had taken place up to that point - an ambitious long range strike hit the crossbar, rebounding to a bloke who used to struggle to score goals when he was at Altona East, who had an easy tap in. Since Northcote can't buy a goal in 2016 - just one so far from five matches, and that was from a penalty - that was the game there and then.

Final thought
'Where were the hooped socks?', lamented one of the members of Clarendon Corner yesterday. Where indeed.

Friday, 18 March 2016

List of questions for the 2015 AGM

This coming Wednesday evening the South Melbourne Hellas and South Melbourne FC AGMs will be held at Lakeside. These meetings are important because apart from the implied duty of members of a member owned club to attend and hold the board that represents them to at least some account - as well as take advantage of the one mandatory information session that we are all eligible for - there are a number of issues to be voted on.

As outlined in the letter that financial members should have received as part of their notification of the AGM, these include changes to the club's constitution with regards the make up of the committee, a vote to amalgamate with South Melbourne Women's FC (which has been approved at SMWFC's end), and the tabling of documents regarding the Lakeside lease.

Below are some of the questions that I would like to see asked at the upcoming AGM. They are intended to be a reference point or guide for any eligible member to refer to during the meeting, which anyone present may choose to ask. Doubtless there will also be people who do or do not read this blog who will have their own questions to ask, and for that reason this list should not be viewed as exclusive, exhaustive or pointed towards or against the interests of any particular faction of the club.

I have deliberately left off questions regarding Nick Epifano, because:
  • While I acknowledge the importance of the matter to a section of our membership, I am concerned that too much attention paid to that issue will make us lose track of other very serious issues of compliance and governance.
  • I expect those interested in that topic in particular to be armed and ready as a matter of due course regardless of what I may say or think, and as members they can go for their lives on the matter.
Clearly I will have forgotten other important questions that need asking, so please leave your questions and comments in the comments section, and as long as they're not defamatory, I will add them to the overall list.

Financial statements, legal compliance and NPL compliance
I'd ask more things about the financial statements except that I'm more or less functionally innumerate in these matters.
  • Why has the AGM date been set so late? And why is the AGM repeatedly held late?
  • Did the committee apply to ASIC for an extension to holding an AGM?
  • If they did not, who would be liable for the financial penalties potentially imposed by ASIC - the club or the directors?
  • Is it true that the AGM was not due to be called until the committee was alerted to the drawing up of the petition of the EGM by South members during round 1 against Heidelberg?
  • If this is not true, why were the financial statements of the club not ready for viewing by the members upon the announcement of an AGM, as required by the motion passed by the members in 2013?
  • What steps is the club required to take in order to have its NPL licence renewed? What criteria is the club lagging behind in terms of the future of the NPL?
  • How much debt is the club carrying, and to whom is it owed?
  • Does the listed item regarding expenditure on wages include only the players, the footballing department, or the entire wage bill of the club?
  • What processes does the Club put in place to restrain costs?
  • What is the proportion of cash vis a vis contra sponsorship? 
  • What processes are being put into place to service and maintain the current level of sponsorship? 
  • How much has the deal with BLK saved us compared to our previous deal with Adidas?
  • Does the club still receive financial compensation for the grand prix disruption, as was the case in the past?
  • What, if anything, did the club get out of the teams that used Lakeside Stadium during the 2015 Asian Cup and 2015 International Champions Cup?
  • Why does the club continue to push the social media numbers line, when the day to day concerns of the membership are based on the failure to deal with the practical elements of the lease and social club?
  • Does the club have benchmarks regarding its social media enterprises? For example, what are the targets for overall hits and unique hits to the website? Likewise for views of the videos and TV show?
  • Has the club ever purchased Facebook likes and/or Twitter followers?
  • What is the current relationship between ourselves and the broader media? Are there specific media groups or persons in the media that we are looking to work closely with?
  • Since the FFV's forced constitutional changes to club membership criteria - which included making seniors players, and the parents of junior members members automatically - what has been the breakdown of paying memberships and memberships allocated to parents of junior players?
  • Can you please provide at least some membership data documenting our numbers since the return to Lakeside?
Players and coaches
  • Who is primarily responsible for recruitment, Chris Taylor or members of the committee? And what is the usual process for recruiting players?
  • Who was responsible for recruiting Philzgerald Mbaka, sight unseen to any of the coaches?
  • Who was responsible for the re-signing of Peter Gavalas?
  • Did the recruitment of Mbaka have anything to do with Genova International School of Soccer?
  • Does the Club have a policy in place to attract a 'marquee player' through its connection to the Genova International Soccer School?
  • Who was responsible for the signing of Andy Bevin and other mid-season signings last year?
  • Why were player agents allowed into our change rooms after matches last year?
  • Who is responsible for the management of our PPS tally?
  • Has the club received compensation for the signing of Andy Brennan to Newcastle Jets?
  • Did the club receive any compensation or fee for James Musa? If not, what was the nature of the two year contract the club (through its media channels) claimed he had signed?
  • What was the rationale behind the unusually lengthy contract given to Chris Taylor?
  • In what way does a 'senior football advisor' differ from an assistant coach?
Social club and lease
  • Why has the club repeatedly refused to provide even cursory updates to the members about the status of this matter?
Real Madrid 'relationship'
  • Last year the club made a big deal about establishing a relationship with Real Madrid, yet since then has provided no details to the members or anyone about what that entails. What is the actual story here?
  • What is the connection between South Melbourne and Genova International Soccer School?
  • What is the connection between South Melbourne and Morris Pagniello? 
  • Who paid for the Spain trip of January 2016? Did Genova or Morris Pagniello have any involvement with that trip? If so, what was the nature of that involvement?
Women and juniors
  • If the women officially reunite with the men, will the club seek to join the WNPL?
  • Should the women join the WNPL, will there be an establishment of a community club in order to maintain the female social players and juniors?
  • If so, how would the club go about making sure that such a community club remain linked to South Melbourne FC, considering that the two entities can not share a committee?
  • Four of our juniors - Andrew and Costa Mesorouni, Spiros Stamoulis and Josh Meaker, have reportedly signed contracts with overseas clubs. Why has the club made little effort to publicise these signings?
  • Why did the club remove the article discussing Andrew Mesourouni's move to Spain from its website?
  • Why did Strati Xynas, the new Technical Director, join the trip to Spain leaving behind a shortage of coaches for the rest of the junior teams not fortunate enough to attend? 
  • Is Strati also a GISS appointment?
  • Does the club have plans to join the W-League?
  • What are the club's plans in regards to joining the cut down version of the National Youth League?
Relationships and the future
  • What is the status of the club's relationship with a) FFV b) FFA c) Victorian government d) State Sport Centres Trust e) other clubs both in the NPL and those outside of it?
  • What is the relationship between Yarraville SC and South Melbourne? Are they affiliated to South? 
  • Is South Melbourne looking at entering into affiliations with other junior/lower level clubs around Melbourne/regional centres? 
  • Does the Genova International Soccer School have an exclusive arrangement with the club for future commercial junior player tours? Does this organisation have an exclusive arrangement with South Melbourne youth player transfers? If yes, what financial benefit is being paid to Genova International Soccer Schools?
  • Since the club's ambition to takeover an A-League licence has failed, and considering that David Gallop and FFA have ruled out promotion and relegation for at least 20 years, what is the club's plan for getting back into the top flight? Does the club now think that any sort of accession to the top-flight is unrealistic? 
  • If it is not realistic, where does the club see itself in five years, ten years and 20 years time? 
  • If the club does believe that accession to the A-League is possible, what is the plan for achieving that goal?
  • If it is based on promotion/relegation and/or a second division, why has the club only recently come out and made their position known on this?
  • How hard is the club willing to push for a national second division and/or promotion and relegation? Is it willing to go above the FFA to the AFC?

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The latest Windows 10 update screws up my taskbar - Bulleen Lions 2 South Melbourne 2

Sometimes after games like this you think that was two points lost. Well, this time it was a point salvaged. Turning up to play an hour into the game, and not having a shot on target until probably about seventy minutes in is not the best way to go about the business of securing top spot in your own right.

But we should first acknowledge the elephant in the room - that whatever preparation the club did on synthetic pitches in the week leading up to this game, it was all for nothing. No player wearing a blue shirt had any idea what they were doing out there, with the possible exception of Milos Lujic who was provided such dire service that I am happy for him to have shown the ample frustration he did last night.

Our players who had destroyed their opponents in the first few weeks with good overlapping, hard pressing and decisive movement, could barely control the ball at their feet. Some onlookers mentioned how fast the ball moved along the ground, but there was also the way ball would just stall when it hit the ground from a lobbed or chipped pass. This meant that Bulleen's long balls along the wings, instead of running out of play, ended up sitting perfectly for players like Sami Nour and Shayan Alinejad to run on to.

Tactically, too, we were all over the shop. Lujic by himself surrounded by opponents, while our wingers simultaneously failed to get forward and got caught out on the counter by the speedy Bulleen forwards. And while one may lament getting beaten on one wing, shouldn't someone be marking the opponent on the opposite wing?

The midfield was a shambles, positions becoming meaningless not in a good, Total Football way but instead in a 'we are lost' kind of way. Now maybe the Peoples' Champ had been given free reign by Chris Taylor to drift into the middle, but all it did was add to the confusion of everyone around him. The Peoples' Champ was also in one of his 'bad' moods, sulking and refusing to track back.

Our best player by a long way was Nikola Roganovic, who pulled off several good saves. But even he was prone to making errors, giving away the ball cheaply from a kick up the field which lead to Bulleen's first goal, and then making an avoidable mistake in the second half which should have led to another Bulleen goal - if not for his own efforts to make up for the aforementioned error.

Switching to what seemed like a three man back line during the second half, with Matthew Foschini at right back, seemed to change things up a bit, though Bulleen also paid the price for going into their shell too much trying to protect their lead instead of going for a third goal. Mathew Theodore came on for Iqi Jawadi at half time, and managed to score, but as much as I like Theodore, is it time perhaps to be blooding Andy Kecojevic into that attacking mid role, even if as a sub? I suppose you can give Taylor the benefit of the doubt in that in the moment of need, he would turn to the experienced player rather than the still young Kecojevic, but at some point Andy's going to have get a run in his preferred position in a situation with more responsibility than an early round Dockerty Cup game.

But credit to the team last night that they were able to snatch a result from such a poor showing. With our entry into the cup coming up this week, we will see some different and hitherto underused players - including Chris Irwin, Leigh Minopoulos (who played a full match in the under 20s last night), or even visa player Philzgerald Mbaka who also played in the 20s?

Next game - updated
As noted above somewhat obliquely, for our first FFA Cup tie for 2016 we've been drawn against Keysborough. We will be playing as the first part of a double-header out at John Cain Memorial Reserve, this Saturday. Our game will kick off at 12:15PM, while the Northcote vs St Albans game will kick off at 3:00PM.

Entry for South members is free prior to 1:00PM. I'm glad that we've avoided some awful trip to the south-east, as well as get the bonus of seeing what is likely to be one of the better games of this round of the cup, if one chooses to do so. (I will in all likelihood be choosing to do so).

AGM news
Those of you who were financial members of the club last year will be pleased to know that the club's financial statements for the 2014/2015 financial year are now available upon request from the club.

I gripe, therefore I am
Yes, yes, it was an excellent crowd of about 2000, maybe more, but I maintain that Monday night football is awful, especially when it means I get home at midnight.

Australian Pedestrianism in the 21st Century (aka whinge, whinge, whinge your bus, 'gently' down the stream badly kept roads)
So, after having my one plausible avenue of getting a lift to the Veneto Club fall through - not that I'm blaming anybody, except for whoever was daft enough to schedule a game for 8:30 on a Monday night - it was decided that since we must go to the Veneto Club come hell or high water, that we would risk taking public transport.

Now when I mentioned the atrocious public transport access to the Veneto Club to a sort of university associate during the week leading up to this fixture, he said that I was mistaken about the poverty of public transport options to 191 Bulleen Road, and that I could travel on a bus that would lead me to the Veneto Club's front door.

See those red lines? Those are public transport routes. See that white blob inside the large green space? That's the Veneto Club. Now remember that my 'friend' had said that there was public transport which stopped right outside the ground. Rubbish. The bus (on whichever of the routes on the southern part of the map you may choose) stops a good kilometre away from the Veneto Club as the crow flies.

Oh, and what a bus trip up there. Deciding to catch the 200 mostly out of noble ignorance - it said Bulleen on the front of the bus, and I had an idea it would end up as close as we could possibly hope for to the Veneto Club entrance - we made the meandering journey through some suburbs I suppose you'd call them, but good luck noticing any of that on some of the most appalling roads I've had the pleasure of travelling on which threatened to smash apart what was left of my teeth.

This being the Middle (North-) East however, where the locals despise not only public transport, but seemingly also footpaths and anybody who may choose or simply not be able to use a motor vehicle, the one kilometre trek should have come with a pair of complimentary hiking boots and a trekking pole. Wandering through what locals apparently call 'The Manno', some sort of garishly decorated hotel and reception centre, we trudged over a lawn that had more potholes than Lakeside after an athletics meet.

Then it was time to make a decision - cross to the western side of Bulleen Road where there appeared to be no footpath, or continue up the eastern side past Marcellin College, where there was at least a gravel path, but probably no pedestrian friendly way of crossing over to the Veneto Club, what with there being a massive grass trench in the middle of the road. Deciding on the gravel path, we eventually crossed over relatively safely, all while I spent the time cursing the whole experience and those responsible for it.

The return trip was mostly worse. Standing at the gate waiting for some I'm sure obvious to everyone gap in the traffic in order to stand on a tiny island of concrete not intended for pedestrians only to repeat that again to get across the other two lanes while hoping that the delays wouldn't lead to missing the bus out of this pleb-hating middle class cesspool of bilious class war hate, was a wonderful experience.

Deciding to jaywalk across the Eastern Freeway was a good idea, because my taxes* paid for that road, and why should I have to give in to the tyranny of the automobile and wait forever for the little green man to tell me when to cross - across three different sets of pedestrian lights - when there was ample opportunity to do so. And this is from someone who shows incredible patience for the little green man to show himself when crossing Ballarat Road at Victoria University.

Anyway, this time we took the first bus on offer, which was the 905 back to the city, which was faster and more comfortable than the 200. Having said that, overall it was a rotten experience which not even the availability of chinotto at the ground could save.

*or somebody's taxes

'Clubs like South Melbourne'
Always nice to be at the forefront of David Gallop's mind.
“FFA Cup, the creation of NPL... all of these things are part of closing the gap between the A-League and the semi-professional tier and we’re well aware that the leading NPL clubs – indeed clubs like South Melbourne in Viectoria – are keen to keep promotion and relegation on the agenda,” he said.
Even better, in another article about promotion and relegation, the photo used was one of South Melbourne. OK, it was from our magnificent (wait, that's not the right word...) FFA Cup appearance, but just be glad that once again we have managed to usurp the role of being the public face of a movement that we had generally tried to avoid being the public face of. Like the NPL Victoria protestations, we weren't particularly interested in promotion and relegation while we thought we had other ways of getting out of this pee pee soaked heck-hole. It's almost like we're the Hilary Clinton of Australian soccer to Melbourne Knights' Bernie Sanders, a comparison those fascists will love.

Will it be as successful? Only time will tell.
Let freedom's cry ring, again
Remember the so called 'gimmick' forum that was set up as a rival to smfcboard? Well that site being long moribund - you can't successfully register on there, nor have your password reset - it's interesting to see another alternative to smfcboard start up. I don't know who's started it or why, how long it will last, or even if it will fall prey to the same gimmickry which sunk the older gimmick forum, but at least someone's taking a stab at trying to get something new going.

Match programmes
Uploaded a few things, but mostly issues 11-20 of Studs Up. A problem which is developing is that I may very well have to start another website to host all the non-South stuff I'm being loaned, meaning a true Australian soccer library and not just one that's an adjunct to a blog about a club that 200 people care about.

Around the grounds
Tetanus for breakfast
One mediocre side (Port) hosting a sub mediocre one (Knights). Despite giving them that epithet, the Knights go about confounding the expectations of the teeming multitudes usual small crowd by being completely and irretrievably awful. The fortunate thing for them was that Port had no interest in scoring, refusing to pull the trigger during even one of their many favourable moments in the first half. Even having Melbourne Knights player of the century Milan Batur sent off and the awarding of a penalty didn't help, with Alan Kearney having his penalty saved. Knights got a penalty of their own and took the lead late in the first half, and . Knights were actually good watchable in the second half, and maybe should have taken all three points - but another penalty to Port, this time converted by Stirts, Stirts, Stirts, saw this game finish 1-1. During the International Year of the Fence it was fitting that the highlight of the evening was a certain notable former Melbourne Knights committeeman almost impaling himself on Port Melbourne's fence during an exciting moment.

Still, as funny as it was witnessing the aforementioned injury because it wasn't me, one had to agree that clearly Port's fence situation is not up to scratch.

Principles of graphic design
Dockerty FFA Cup action out at Paisley Park, with Altona East hosting Beaumaris. After not giving two rats about knock-out soccer over the past few seasons, Altona East were hoping for a deep run this time around, Instead they found themselves in a deep hole (geddit?), down 2-0 and while they managed to get it back to 2-2 by half time, Beaumaris won a a see-sawing end to end affair 3-2. A exciting match but one that will be forNow there are two things that we can all agree upon:
  1. I don't know that much about soccer.
  2. Custard that has set firm and is eaten plain, is a pudding.
Leaving aside the second point for a moment, because I don't know that much about soccer the easy option would be to defer to expert opinion, which would mean learning about coaching, tactics, statistics etc. But the more difficult, perhaps even more noble option would be to go entirely in the opposite direction and force my unedumacated opinions on those playing the game. Watching Altona East pass, pass, pass the ball around, watching Port do the same, all for so little reward and even nearness to glory, made me think of who could possibly be employed from outside of football to teach pl;ayers how to recognise value and actuality of the spaces allocated to them to play on. Soccer coaches have clearly failed to teach players how to make proper decisions - have a think about this every time a player attempts a pass across the space-time continuum that is clearly doomed to fail.

The argument that even the modest elevation afforded to spectators at most state league grounds is superior to the atomic hurly burly of being on the field itself is a weak one. Myself and others like me, maybe even people like you, have stood on the fence line at the same level as players, and have seen them make the same errors of perception again and again. I admit that having seconds to make these decisions instead of hours, and having to contend with a moving object at your feet that makes you the focus makes things more difficult, but it's not like those of us watching on the sidelines don't have our distractions - it's not easy to pay attention to the goings on of a game while eating a souv or trying to check the footy scores.

So I think we need to bring in people from outside the game to teach players about the principles of the two and half (or is it four) dimensions the players participate in. Your first instinct would be to hire a physicist, but they would make things too complicated, what with the calculating for wind resistance and all. So I'm thinking what we need is graphic designers. Not artists, because graphic designers clearly aren't that, but someone with a basic degree who can teach players about concepts such perspective, the horizons, isometric views etc. We have tried getting people 'who know about the game' to fix these problems, and it hasn't worked. It's time to get people who know stuff about the illusions of space and sight to have a go.

A valuable and succinct contribution to Ange Postecoglou's and FFA's trip to Oakleigh to announce the Socceroos squad.
Final thought
Now even native bird life are taking part in the Poznan. Good grief.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Can't complain - Port Melbourne 0 South Melbourne 2

Puts pretend tactical hat on
Pretty good first half, pretty meh second half, but who could tell what was happening all the way on the other side of the ground with poor depth perception and a black net in the way. First half tactics seemed interesting to me. Press them high up the field, because with no Kamal Ibrahim this season, who was going to be able to take it through the midfield for them? No one, and we could even afford to let them give off the first pass because all it did was hit a brick wall of South midfielders.

Even better was when the Port defence just coughed up the ball under little to no pressure from us. Even Gal's goal kicks were slicing off his boot with unerring regularity. The main instigator of harassing tactic was Iqi Jawadi, who was having a blinder. His goal from absurdly long range was hit as much in anger at being fouled as intention to score, but they all count the same.

A pity then that he had to come off after getting injured before the half was even out. Still, by that stage we were 2-0 up thanks to Luke Adams finding himself unmarked at the back post from a set piece at this ground for the second year running. Eric Vasiliadis apparently tore shreds off his players at half time, and sure they came out looking better, but did they look dangerous? Probably not.

Were we able to be more clinical with some of our chances on the counter, we could have won this more comfortably, but all in all that part of our game looked out of synch. The runs forward from the forwards were usually all over the shop, and Lujic looked a little out of sorts too, as well as frustrated. It's not a new frustration for him to be the sole target man, nor to have that much close attention paid to him, but there were moments where he clearly seemed to be expecting a pass played through or a cross sent in, and it didn't work out the way he wanted it to.

And as much as we could all say that Andy Brennan would have provided the required delivery, he's gone and he's not coming back*, so we all need to move on, and appreciate those who are still with us now†. Besides which, we're three from three, 12 goals for and zero against. There'll be plenty of time for complaining as the season drags on.

* He may well come back one day, but it doesn't look like that will be any time soon.
† The decision to appreciate or despise the 'People's Champ' is at entirely your own discretion.

More importantly (takes ridiculous pretend tactical hat off)
What are we going to do with Port Melbourne's ground? Already accustomed to having the outer side blocked off - you know, the side with the best view of the game - yesterday saw even more of the ground blocked off, this time including the end behind the Plummer Streets fenced off. Pretty soon (recycles joke from yesterday), they'll be putting everyone that doesn't want to sit under their social club roof into a Polish style hooligan cage.

Now far be it for a South fan to talk about restricted areas of a venue, but at least at Lakeside you have the option of being in any one of the 2900 odd seats of 'our' grandstand, standing at the back of the stand or along the fence, or if you have money to throw around sit with the corporates. Shoving everyone at Port into increasingly smaller spaces for goodness knows what reason just makes the whole thing more and more frustrating for those who choose to go to that ground.

Next match
Bulleen Lions away on Labour Day, with at this stage the customary 8:30PM kick off still in place. Could they somehow find it in their hearts to move the game to an earlier timeslot? Oh, I know some people love Mondays at the Veneto Club, but I... no, let's save that for the next match report.

Speaking of which...
I've finally come around to the issue of night game kick off times. For Friday night and Monday night games, surely it's time to banish the reserves to a Saturday or Sunday afternoon slot alongside the other junior sides. 8:30PM kickoffs are absurd. Moving the reserves to the weekend means you can start a senior match at the more reasonable time of 7:30PM, seeing a 9:30 finish and an earlier arrival home. Readers of this blog will already know I think Monday games are daft enough as it is. But even on Friday nights, for those clubs that have social clubs attached, wouldn't it be better to have a game finish at 9:30, and have people stick around for an hour or so afterwards, rather than just go home straight away? And there's the issue of those who want to bring their children with them to games.

Specious thinking (on the live streaming of NPL games)
MFootball were conducting a live video stream of this game. I don't know where I stand in this to be honest. When the FFV did much the same operation a few years ago, I was one of the few people that regularly watched their one live game a week. I don't think it greatly lessened my overall attendance at matches, and was especially useful when the matches being covered were a long way from my former abode in Altona North.

Regardless of whether it's being done by a federation or private media organisation though, live video streaming has to answer the questions of who's watching and why. Leaving aside the gambling demographic for a moment, is there that much of an audience for this competition? Why are neutrals, especially those from interstate, watching this game when there is A-League, and soon to be rugby league, union and AFL matches on at the same time?

The concern that live video streaming will hurt attendance at games seems to stretch credulity. Being realistic, for most games I don't think there'd be much of a negative impact. The NPL is the kind of competition where either you go to games, or you don't - it's not really the kind of league for people that want to hedge their bets on attending. And on any of the regulation match days - Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays - there are already so many competing fixtures across a plethora of sports, that your potential audience already seems to exist very much on the margins.

This must go for the radio productions as well, though to a far lesser extent. At least for traditional broadcast radio (restricted to the Greek language 3XY Radio Hellas these days),e there is a very specific target market. For the internet radio broadcasts, while theoretically aiming for anyone within the FFV/NPL social media sphere (the only way potential audiences will find out about it) seems so broad and aimless that again, you wonder who's tuning in? The online radio broadcasts also have the dilemma of if you're listening to the commentary of a match you're actually at, the commentary may be so delayed that it's a pointless exercise.

The trickiest aspect to deal with though may be the issue of important matches. Matches between two leading sides or an FFA Cup qualifier between traditional rivals, or hypothetically a match between Melbourne Victory's NPL side and South or the Knights. The temptation would clearly be there to believe that the setting would be right to take advantage (whatever the hell that means) of the atmosphere or feeling in a match.

But in these cases, could it be that the appeal of those kinds of games played at our level (and probably of the FFA Cup scam as well) is the act of being there in person, looking cool, being a bandwagoner, while knowing full well you won't be seen at "insert venue of relevant peasant club" until the next 'event' game? In other words, shouldn't most of the effort be put into getting people through the gates?

I suppose as long as the host clubs get a say on whether or not people can live stream their games, each club can choose it's own course of action, they can do whatever they like. It's not like anyone's paying us broadcasting money for the rights to do so.

I joined NUGAS, again
The National Union of Greek Australian Students - aka, NUGAS - have been around for a very long time. Not usually giving a damn about 'tavern nights', I have taken very little interest in their affairs during my career as a tertiary student, and lord knows I've had enough opportunities to do so over a uni stint spanning two different institutions, three or so degrees and I don't know something like eleven years or so hanging around.

That, and there was a stupid incident involving right wing front ticket student union election bollocks involving NUGAS back at Melbourne Uni in 2003. Someone made a documentary about it, go watch that if you can some somehow find it. Mind you, the documentary maker probably left out the bit where someone piffed an ashtray from the balcony of the UBar down at some arsehole Young Liberals. Not that I'm endorsing that kind of behaviour mind you, and luckily no one got hurt, but it was a very tense moment in the lives of some mostly over privileged people (from both sides of that political divide) in their early 20s who mostly ended up who knows where. (I think one ended up co-authoring a book on why Australia's cities are broken, but the writing style was too much of an ordeal to persist in reading it).

All of which is a very long winded way of saying that whoever at South was responsible for lining up the deal with NUGAS to get them to offer three game passes, would be moderately pleased that they did in fact mention that deal to me as part of their membership pitch. It did help that I was wearing one of my South hats though. Less successful was the attempt to get one of the adjacent non-Greeks to join up with the offer of a South Melbourne three game pass.

Me, I'll be surprised if they even manage to send me an email this year, considering they didn't manage to do it last year.

Match programmes
Starting to clear the little bit of a backlog that's accumulated here. Most updates from this week are of away games from 1993-1994, but there have also been some items from other seasons scattered around. More to come from these batches next week.

Final thought