Wednesday, 29 March 2017

We won! How awful! Monbulk Rangers 0 South Melbourne 4

Mongol General: What is best in life? 
Conan: To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.
Conan the Barbarian (1982) 
Fun fact! That movie stole that dialogue from something purportedly said by Genghis Khan! No matter, we came, we saw, we conquered, and we stole another famous phrase coined by another famous general. Though the scoreline suggests otherwise, this game was not quite the slaughter one would have hoped for; neither was it seemingly effective in playing anyone into any sort of form, on a synthetic pitch described by coach Chris Taylor before the match as 'a lot like Buleen's'.

From Monbulk Rangers' Facebook page: And at the end of a
 tough night, we've gone down 4-0 to South Melbourne FC. The team
 had read the scouting report, but it seemed that they didn't
 take account for Unknown, who just wreaked havoc on the
 Monbulk defenders. What a great experience for our boys
 in the Westfield FFA Cup  though, and now it's time to
focus on the important stuff! All the best to South
 Melbourne for the rest of the Cup, and their NPL season.
This game was hard to watch, but before that, it was hard to get to. Not for me so much - my trip was long, rather than difficult - but others had to contend with peak hour traffic and going to Monbulk Rangers' old ground instead of the new one. But like I said, this game was hard to watch. This new football development is quite nice for soccer participants up in those mountains, with two synthetic pitches, a new social club/pavilion, and apparently more grounds yet to come. But for spectators, it is a less than stellar experience. Granted, most of Monbulk's matches will be played in the daylight of a Saturday afternoon, but so far as the lighting was concerned, it was one of the more poorly lit night matches I've ever been to. When play was on the outer side in particular, it became hard to keep track of play. That fact wasn't helped by the decision to use green balls which blended in to the background and the surface.

The design of the main field insofar as spectator amenity goes is also bizarre. Granted, this game would have been an unusual case for Monbulk, as they probably don't get crowds of this size (and it wasn't a huge crowd, although it was inflated by training night attendance) for most games. The fencing situation, understandably created to prevent stray balls flying off into neighbouring houses, adjacent grounds, and down ravines, means a very poor view for anyone not fortunate enough to be on the sideline along the pavilion side of the ground, There was an elevated area on the other side of the field, with a massive and all encompassing fence blocking anything resembling a decent view of the ground. I and a few others tried out that section early in the second half, before getting fed and resolving to stand behind the goal we were attacking (southern end?), which also had a massive fence but which was at least less oppressive when it came to providing a view of the whole ground.

Finally, the game was also hard to watch because, in spite of the several divisions worth of difference between the two sides, we just weren't very good. If the aim, apart from getting through to the next round, was to find a bit of form, things didn't go quite to plan. To be sure, we dominated proceedings from almost beginning to end, being camped in the Monbulk half of the ground. But our attacks were plagued by the kind of crap that happens when nothing is going right for you. The odd poorly hit shot, whether a grubber or skied into the fence above the goal is acceptable, as is an unknown keeper having a quasi-blinder. But you could actually see the gears clicking over in some of our players' heads. I'm not averse to players thinking their way through situations - indeed, we'd like to see more of it - but when it came to the final third, where there was a need for decisiveness, there was an unfortunate sense of equivocation.

As expected, Zaim Zeneli replaced Nikola Roganovic in goal. Michael Eagar returned to the starting lineup for the first time since round 1, in for Carl Piergianni. Brad Norton slotted back into the side for the suspended Luke Pavlou. Leigh Minopoulos also came back into the starting lineup, replacing Marcus Schroen, while Andy Kecojevic also got a rare start in place of Liam McCormick. Josh Hodes came on as a substitute, as did Gavin De Niese. Zeneli was subbed off late on for youth keeper Amir Jashari. Of everyone who was out there yesterday, Jesse Daley was best by quite a ways.

The way we're going, you take the win, hope no one got injured or pulls up too sore, and hope that we get a kind draw for the next round, while in the meantime trying to find some sort of form in the league.

Next game
Green Gully away on Saturday evening. This winning streak was fun while it lasted.

Banter, Monbulk style. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
The locals were very welcoming. A bit of friendly banter directed Jesse Daley. A banner directed at our mothers. And loud cheers for everything their team did, whether that was winning a corner, forcing Zeneli into a rare save, or just stopping us from scoring another goal. The biggest cheer was saved for the final whistle, as their side was congratulated heartily for their efforts. They assumed they were going to lose - and they did - but it didn't seem to be the end of the world for them. They even seemed to be having fun. How I pity them and their naiveté. Thank goodness we support a team where enjoyment is, at best, only a secondary concern.

The home side went all out on the catering front. For those that drink beer, the prices were apparently quite reasonable, and included commercial craft beer for those into that kind of thing. Not me, mind you - I was happy with a Pasito. Along with the standard burgers and chips, there was also the 'gyro for the visit of the Greeks' phenomenon which we have spoken of before, served here in either a roll or wrap (which was definitely not a pita), and which in the latter case was served almost like an open sandwich. It looked like they were a bit stingy with the meat though.

But there were also several left-field options. These included dumplings, a number of sweet offerings, and what the specials board called 'Dutch croquettes'. Being adventurous or difficult, I asked what the Dutch croquettes actually were, which no one working in the canteen quite seemed to be able to answer. One of the workers in the canteen even said 'they're croquettes, and they're Dutch', which was no help whatsoever. Anyway, of course I ordered them (they were allegedly to come in a roll), and it took forever to get them, as I watched several people who ordered food after me get their burgers and gyros before. Anyway, it all worked itself out in the end, even if I had to ask for salad (actually the best, freshest, tastiest salad I've had in a roll - no rock hard tomatoes here) with my Dutch croquette roll.

Their TV reception was not so good, as the Socceroos match being played on the TV inside had some serious signal problems. I'd say that's what you get for living so far out from civilisation, but glass houses and stones and all that.

It's almost here...
I booked my ticket for the jersey night this morning, during a phone call in which you could construction going on in the background. I had considered giving it a miss this year, but the lure of the event being hosted in the social club was too much to resist.

Final thought
Thanks to Dave for giving me a lift to and from the ground.


  1. Ok, now lets get into the serious stuff by derailing this post with what we weren't allowed to comment on last post.

  2. I see North Sunshine Eagles v Preston Lions at a 'neutral' venue at Dandenong Thunder's ground. :)

  3. A few things....

    I hope Daley does not get dropped for Epa this week. Daley is a live spark and the combination of Epa and Daley on the pitch could terrorise defenders in the coming rounds.

    We really need a result at Gully. Not only for our ladder position and coming into a mass of home games, but also to get the boys confidence. I still have a lot of faith in this team... we weren't champions last year for nothing and I don't believe this squad is a relegation squad.

    It's fantastic that the womens team is doing so well and I look forward to seeing them in action this year.

    I think getting into the FFA Cup will be determined by the right draw TBH. I don't see us beating any NPLV heavy hitters. Even the Knights will Elvis will tear us apart.

    And finally, it's fantastic to finally have the social club back. I know there's a bit of controversy about pricing and who's allowed in etc. But I'd suggest once patronage numbers are figured out this year through this new electronic system then they can tweak the 'rules' and other aspects of the social club during game days. Even when we had the social club back in the VPL days, a lot of space was wasted so it's nice that the futsal court will hopefully provide a bit of cash and therefore make use of the dead space that existed before.


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