Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Kitchen sink drama - Bulleen Lions 2 South Melbourne 2

Seeing as the end result was the same as our 2016 trip to the Veneto Club, I could just do a rinse repeat of last year's summary, except for the fact that it was quite different.

I mean, right from the beginning you could tell that the synthetic pitch was less of an obstacle than it was last year - not because it was any better, but because we just seemed to adapt to it much faster than we did in 2016, when it took us 80 minutes to get anything resembling confidence on it.

And thus in part because of that, we dominated the first half. We should have had several goals during the opening 45 minutes, but only slightly poor finishing - and some good goalkeeping from the bloke that apparently kept against us in that Palm Beach FFA Cup game - kept the goal tally down to just the one goal for us.

I can't even fault the corner taking, because it was better than usual, and we even managed to get a free kick on target, which is miles ahead of where we were last year and the (counts on fingers, runs out of fingers) however many years it is since we had a reliably good free kick taker.

Though, to heap scorn on them again for no good reason, watching one of our lads in the under 20s plonking free kicks into the back of the net during the curtain raiser with consummate ease was bloody irritating.

Anyway, Leigh's goal was very nice, though I only caught brief sight of it from my angle (I'll explain later), and while Bulleen had the odd moment of counter attacking potential through their right hand side, there were no alarm bells ringing. I wasn't going all over the top like Colonel Mustard standing next to me claiming that it would finish three or four-nil to us, but I felt, dare I say it, almost pleased.

Then the second half began, and everything good about the second half disappeared into a puff of laboured metaphor smoke. Bulleen looked better, and before you knew it had swung in two excellent crosses from the right hand side for two headers. Of course you could say where was the marking, but looking at the videos afterwards, it was not as straightforward as that.

For the first goal, Marcus Schroen found himself out-muscled and outmaneuvered. For the second, no-one, least of all Tim Mala who would eventually get in screen shot, was even close. But there was only so much either of them could do - the delivery was perfect, and for the second goal, the clumsy turnover (one of a number of appalling, panicky turnovers) which lead to the cross being sent in saw the entire defense all at sea.

We worked our way back into the game with sheer effort rather than class, and it was that as much as luck and/or skill that got us a point from this game. Bulleen had a goal disallowed for offside (good call, he was right in front of the Nicola Roganovic for crying out loud), and in a neat reversal of what happened at the Community Shield the other week we went right up the other end and scored.

A puff of black powdery rubbery stuff comes up as Milos Lujic is brought
down in the box; the resulting penalty saw South level scores.
Photo: Mark Avellino.
Looking at it live, I didn't think it was a good call, but others thought differently; looking at the video the first time, my resolute opinion that it wasn't a penalty was weakened, but then when watching the SMFCTV footage I swung back to no penalty.

On the other hand, as I noted on Twitter after the game, when you watch the game from behind the goals (as I did in the second half) you'll see Milos gets scragged from pillar to post. If he gets a soft penalty every now and then, it's at the very least the justice of probabilities coming into play.

Someone may have been looking for an omen because of who the keeper was and his past history, but Milos did the job, and we got out of jail to a certain extent.

During the pre-season, it was intimated by some that it would take the team about seven weeks to get into our stride, and perhaps we all underestimated Bulleen following the turnover in personnel they had over the summer, so it's not panic stations yet. Still, some onlookers were quick to go the jugular for the 'kick it to Milos' game plan, but if you see the 'around the grounds' segment for this week, you'll see that's not just a South Melbourne thing.

The worst news - apart from the dropped points - was that Michael Eagar's injury (a knee?) looked serious, and while we have cover at the centre back position nowadays, one still hopes it's not too serious. Luke McCormack also seemed to hobble off a bit when he subbed off.

Mandatory Simpsons reference for my mate Dave
Ah, the promise of exhilaration at the start of a new season,

And then, well, the reality of the situation kicks in.

Non-mandatory literary reference
Some of you may recall that last year I burst a spleen when writing about the poor public transport and pedestrian access to the Veneto Club. It hasn't improved (duh) over the last 12 months but at the same time, one can change one's attitude to such things. That influence was effected in a practical sense by taking a more logical route (avoiding the Manningham Hotel car park) and doubling back towards the traffic lights on Bulleen Road. But the change in attitude was also influenced by having recently re-read James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

A digression taken in order to cut and paste something from a blog about books none of you knew existed and which none of you will ever see
Many years ago, I bought this book from the library stall at Bayside's Paisley campus. I felt, even back then, that it was sad that these books were being discarded. I would've also bought Ulysses at the same time, total cost surely not much more than a dollar? That I can't remember. Why did I buy it? I think it was the cover, but certainly the title. There was something irretrievably classicist, or rather, canonical about it. Of course back then I didn't know about these things, even in the abstract, let alone that for something like Portrait to become canonical would have been unthinkable in its own time, because of its outright modernism. I just thought it sounded sophisticated, and like so many people who read 'serious' books, I thought reading this would give me a level of intellectual prestige.

As an aside, as an example of how erratic and eclectic my reading sensibilities were at the time - and even now, to be fair - around the same time I read Loaded. Hardly in the same genre, or was it? Well, perhaps one of them was more accomplished. I can remember one Christmas barbecue argument directed at me by cousin Aggie, chastising me for reading contemporary writers when I should have been reading the classics. Years later of course, she was as contemporary in her tastes as anyone.

So I bought the book and read it out of teenage intellectual vanity. I admit it. I saw the title, and had delusions of grandeur that it was not about the artist, it was about an artist, any artist. Maybe even in its grand scheme, even me. And yes, that is true to an extent, because Joyce has Stephen expand upon all sorts of aesthetic and ethical questions as they relate to how an artist should function in the world. It was only upon re-reading that I came to understand that, in a very important and central way, as much as this book was about any artist, it was very much about the artist; that is, Joyce himself.

But I didn't think of the book in that way at the time. I thought, here is a novel, it is obviously a serious novel, it is out of sync not only with the world as a whole but especially with the world around me as I knew it. Who did I know who read? Mike, then a friend, eventually to become a sort of traitor, though who knows how much reluctance there was in the act when it came, and how much of it was sheer necessity to get rid of someone who could just not get the hint?

Anyway. what did I remember of the book after actually having read it? The very first scenes, but not much of them - I couldn't even remember the argument about Parnell. The scene that struck most were the long discussion of Catholic hell. Very vivid and frightening, but did it change me and make me more religious? No, just sympathetic to Stephen who is affected by the imagery, but then abandons his fear anyway because he can't keep up what becomes the pretence of his efforts at penitence.

What did I miss or forget? The Irish nationalist arguments, the political and cultural tensions. The way every other character that isn't Stephen drifts and blurs into the background. Often little introduction to who the other characters are - Stephen knows who they are and that's what matters. I forgot the endless amount of siblings who kept emerging whenever Stephen would return home. And I especially forgot about Emma, and the way she existed at the edge of novel. For some reason I had it in my head that she left with Stephen at the end, but that's all wrong. She goes with someone else, and Stephen only makes the decision to leave Ireland, but hasn't yet left.

I still failed to understand the long treatises interwoven into the novel, and of course the Latin phrases. They are of their time, more now than even then. Because of these stretches of the narrative, many of which I could not understand because of my limited intellectual capabilities, I found myself getting bored. But it always seemed to come around. There are lines and moments which just leap off the page, such as,
I have amended my life, have I not? he asked himself.
And yet he felt that, however he might revile and mock her image, his anger was also a form of homage.
The latter of which is surely talking about Ireland as much as a woman.

I remember reading this book at Greek School, Omiros to be exact, in the darkness. I did it to stand out, sure, but I did it because what else could I do? The kids there took pity on me, tried to include me in whatever it was they were doing, but I could not make the leap across to understanding. Neither could they, but bless them they tried.

But my most abiding memory is of a classmate and sort of acquaintance, Rachel (why did I think it was Rebecca?), who was then a photography student, taking some photos of various members of our group, or at least those willing to be photographed. I don't think I was very comfortable with the way I looked at the time (an understatement), but I got her to take a photo of me with the book, my eyes visible just above the cover, reading the book. Despite some soft pressing, I never did get to see the photo, if indeed it was ever even developed. It was vain of me, but was it not also at least human?

Now at least I can say that I don't mind my appearance so much, and am happy to have my photo taken by anyone - though I'll still try and pull a pose. Is not the ultimate goal of the artist, even a mediocre one, to become the embodiment of their own creativity?

Returning to the point I was trying to make several minutes ago
I love to perambulate!
where, apart from every other theme taking up by that remarkable novel, one is struck by how much walking is done by the characters. They walk through Dublin in rain or shine, and they walk through miles of countryside. This is understandable within the novel's historical context - it is the late 1800s, so of course people were accustomed to walking everywhere - but it also didn't seem to a burden to them. I was also reminded of a conversation I had with a friend of the South of the Border (let's call him Tony), recently returned from a European holiday, where he remarked on the strong pedestrian culture still extant in Europe.

Besides which, there was this old bloke who easily outpaced us up the hill on the return journey. Puts things in perspective.

Aping Robert Christgau, badly (another new segment which will soon tank)
'Leigh Minopoulos' goal' Choice Cuts

Next game
A short turnaround, with a trip to Port Melbourne on Friday.

The quasi-celebrity status of being a blogger in this dead-end league
I used to relish and protect my utter irrelevance. Now that it's gone,. one has to deal with all sorts of well-wishers, suck-holes and distractions at a game. In the first half alone and before the game, I found myself in discussion with famous journos, FFV employees, FFV board members, Twitter celebrities. It's entertaining, but also distracting when all you want to do is watch a game and act like a pork chop.

2017 Memberships
They are now available, with a notable caveat - that being that the online membership portal is not yet functioning, and will not do so until mid-March. I have been informed that this is because the membership portal is being updated, so that membership cards and details will be synced with the social club and new computer systems being installed by the club - for example, in order to quickly calculate member discounts in the social club, as well as track social club capacity.

Until that point, you can download the brochure and form directly, and email the completed form to the club.

The imminent return of the social club has seen the return of the social club membership category. At $220, I think it is good value, but then again, I even bought a social club membership that one year it was available when the new social club didn't materialise.

The social club membership gives one priority access to the social club during major match days, not guaranteed access. This had led to a reiteration of the grievance that the social club should not have included the futsal court, so that the capacity could go above the estimated 230-260 person limit. Of course the counter-argument to that is that the futsal court will provide an income on all the days that South is not playing at home, and that there exists the possibility that

Something to note here is the return of the social club membership has seen voting rights revert back to the situation to when we last had a social club - that being that only social club members will receive voting rights.

The other membership options therefore fall into the season ticket pass category. The options there are pretty straightforward. A $140 season pass, or a $35 three game pass. There are family and concession options available for the social club and season ticket options, but obviously not the three game pass.

In the end, I just hope the bumper sticker is actually half decent this time.

Oh, and if that if happen to have emailed the club my completed form last week, that they might send me a note acknowledging receipt of said email before George Cross leave Chaplin Reserve for good, or the social club is complete - whichever happens first.

Please try harder
Melbourne Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro popped up after having made some speech or whatever, which one assumes included words and thoughts which other people will care about more than I do. The one comment which did catch South of the Border's attention, if only because everyone else who pretends not to care but actually does care because they lack the discipline that I do, started talking about it. Apparently the aforementioned comment went as follows:
At the core of any expansion, we must be confident that any new licenses don’t compromise the mainstream integrity and the marketability of the competition. 
They must embrace all of us who enjoy sport. We’ve got to learn from lessons past, both good and bad.
The phrase 'mainstream integrity' in particular seemed to scratch the itch of anyone looking for offense. Even I've got to admit that as far as 'barely concealing your contempt and/or fear' comments go - especially comments where you don't name anyone specifically, but everyone still knows who you're talking about - it was pretty good.

On the other hand, while some South fans were happy to get upset - and more power to them for continuing that great tradition - I had to mark Di Pietro's comment down for being rather old hat, so 2007, and just completely out of step with the alleged reality that the A-League purports to have manifested for itself.

For example, seeing as how South is more or less no chance of getting an A-League licence, and seeing as how the A-League has done such a marvellous job of obliterating what little relevance old soccer had left, all while squatting on its portion of the rapidly diminishing unclaimed pastures of mainstream sporting attention, why would one even bother making that kind of comment at all?

It's sad enough when some chump on the 442 forums or The Roar comments section feels the need to ark up about how even the idea of a South bid could undo the relentless march of history which has led us to this point.

But those chumps are, for want of a better word, chumps, But you, Anthony, you're the leader of the most popular soccer club in the country. Do you really need to stoop to that level, of dare I say it, quaintness? Has the A-League stagnated that much that even its hoary insults for old soccer - and even the fact that they feel they need to make them - have become stale?

And then our club said, well, something not entirely stupid
They could have just let Di Pietro's comment go through to the keeper, but instead the club - or at least the bid team portion or affiliate of the club - decided to add its two cents.
"We're absolutely no threat to Victory. We're an asset to Victory, to the A-League and football in general," he told AAP. 
"We're not about cannibalising their membership, their supporters or the interest they've developed. 
"We think we can value add and that's the beauty of the South Melbourne bid. It's about the past coming to the future."
While South of the Border is on record here and here that we believe the notion that South in the A-League would not cannibalise Victory's support is ludicrous, the response is magnificent in its taking of the supreme moral high ground.

Not responding with hostility? Check.

Staying on message about what South would add to the A-League? Check.

Offer to meet with Di Pietro to discuss the issues? Check.

It's almost enough to make a jaded blogger shed a tear, watching the maturity - and proper taking advantage of a cynical PR situation - unfold before us. I mean, yes, we all know that they'll do something within the next few days to cock it up, but for now, let's just enjoy the moment.

Speaking of which
The latest roll out of #smfc4aleague propaganda is #smfc4wleague, as seen in this article. And it's not just mealy mouthed statements - serious recruiting for WNPL, eight women's/men's double headers, joint men's and women's training sessions - it's like this very traditional, conservative club has instead of trying out baby steps, has rather dived straight into the deep end. This could be fun,

Joint men's and women's teams training session. Photo: Kevin Juggins.

Amble! Saunter!
Around the grounds
In a choice between the afternoon Sunshine George Cross and Moreland City match, and the later Avondale and St Albans fixture, I decided on the earlier, closer, more public transport friendly affair. Also, it's useful to kid oneself that the kilometre or so round trip from the bus stop on Durham Road to Chaplin Reserve counts as meaningful exercise. Still, walking past the traffic lights outside Chaplin Reserve, past a guy sitting in an old bomb blasting Master of Puppets made all the effort worthwhile - which is more than can be said for the match itself. Moreland City is, allegedly, a title contender, and they dominated play insofar as they had more of the ball and territorial advantage - not that they looked likely to do anything with it. Sunshine George Cross is, allegedly, a relegation fancy, and perhaps lucky that Bendigo 'insert latest name of incarnation here' are also in their side of NPL 2. George Cross came closest to scoring for both sides - in the first half, a header from a corner almost ended up scoring an own goal - only a save from the Sunshine keeper kept it out. In the second half, a goal mouth scramble should have seen George Cross open the scoring, but to no avail. So it ended scoreless.

Just on that point: I am getting sick and tired of every team in the NPL and NPL 2 playing one up front. If either side here had the daring to give their front man some support, they probably would have won this game. Look, if we're being honest, I'm turning up to Chaplin Reserve these days just to see it die. I don't want to see it die, and I will miss the sight of metro and country trains rolling by, but die it will, even if it is taking its sweet time in doing so. Yes, I do plan to be there again next week for what will hopefully be the actual final senior game there ever. Surely this John Farnham style farce can't go on for much longer (June I'm now told, which means the social club will be finished before then). Not every game can be livened up by conversations with Trent Rixon on the sidelines, asking where my little Asian buddy was - hey Gains, you're famous!

Final thought
I hear that the negotiations for that south-eastern suburbs/Dandenong corridor A-League bid got a bit heated on Saturday afternoon (not that any of that matters).


  1. People surprised at the return to prominence of Pauline Hanson probably haven't read the comments under articles in The Roar for a while.

    1. Someone at at a One Nation press-conference really needs to ask about pro-rel and second division.

  2. Eager out
    Too slow don't like
    Same as Mala
    Would play a back four of

    Foschini KK. Carl. Norton

    Fish played right back in training during the last few weeks

    1. Hmm, how about KK at right back, with Adams at CB next to Pidge?

    2. Would like to see Eags at DM assuming he is OK. Any news on his injury?

      I can see Minopoulos causing a lot of headaches for opposing sides this year.

  3. Sorry to hear you dont enjoy your celebrity status Paul .... and just when I had finally gathered up the courage to come over and say hello ... :o)

    Don't know if it was just the excitement of being back at a competitive fixture but the boys seem to be playing at a higher tempo this year.

    Early days yet but Minops looks like he is going to have a blinder ... seemed really fired up after his goal and made himself a nuisance to Bulleen's backline.

    I was also pleased to see Epifanos efforts on Monday. Silky little touches seem a little more refined although perhaps he is still a little petulant when things don't work out. He is a player that I hope is poised to make a big impact on our ability to link up Def-Mid-Forwards. (Maybe all the social media praise is having a positive effect?)

    Parmigiana looks like he could become a bit of Hellas legend (if he sticks around long enough) I would go "old school" and have him play CB in front of Adams playing as Sweeper - he can tag opponents number 9 and Adams still has freedom to start play out from the back.

    BTW, you made me laugh reading James Joyce while at Greek School... It was more likely Hustler or Penthouse for me back then :o)

    1. Don't mind my faux-modesty complaints, come over and say hi.

  4. One thing I keep forgetting every time I go to the Veneto Club is how bad the lighting is, especially at the southern end of the ground. Coupled with Bulleen wearing maroon, it was hard at times to make out what was happening at the other end of the ground.

    At these kinds of poorly lit grounds, I'd rather South wear its white kit to be honest.

    1. Was actually dark on the livestream too. Especially on the near (grandstand) side.

      The FFV need to stop allowing so many teams to host night matches. Nights should be the exception rather than the rule for State Leagues.

    2. Even in the state leagues, the trend is moving towards night games.

    3. Except for South Melbourne this year! All 4pm home games, which are twilight games. And isn't that so apt for SOuth Melbourne? In a Twilight Zone? Not really belonging to either the A league nor the State League? :)

  5. Considering how abysmal the coverage for this league is (I can't even find a site that relays scores from the weekend), how about some crowd estimates for the two games you went to? Particularly curious about what sort of crowds george cross are pulling these days?

    1. Yes, the official result services are poor. I tend to use the Futbol24 app for NPL, but being on twitter and following @ffv365 also helps - though the latter method has been sub-par so far this season.

      For general and lower grade results, a pretty good service is the British soccer pools site Socceraust

      I'm not good at estimating crowds, but for the Bulleen-South game, other's estimates seemed to be around the 1500 mark, which is a good crowd, but way down on what some claimed was about 3,000 at the same fixture last year.

      For the George Cross-Moreland City game, I would say 150, certainly not much more than that. George Cross have had very poor crowds for a number of years now, and about a third to half the crowd last week seemed to be Moreland City people.

    2. I can't fathom why this years crowd was down on last years. Last year was warmer. But its summer. Were people that afraid of the 'cold'?

      Did the fact Victory were playing at same time (albeit away) suck the oxygen away from the Veneto Club match?

  6. Great win for the 20s... cant say the same for the seniors... change the coach or stop the 20s coach sitting on the bench... its 5 losses from 5 from what i can see..


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