Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Nothing to write home about - South Melbourne 2 North Geelong 1

After the joys of experiencing the social club, and then watching the women's team steal a win (5-4 over Bulleen) right at the death thanks to Lisa De Vanna, the only thing which could have ruined Sunday would been the men's team finding a way not to pick up all three points. Credit to them though, they gave it a good shake.

No Nikola Roganovic, who missed through injury, replaced by Zaim Zeneli for a rare league start. Carl Piergianni maybe called out as a scapegoat for the defensive implosion last week, replaced by Michael Eagar. Jesse Daley was out also after a hard week trialling in Perth, and coming back with the flu. Thank you very much Kenny Lowe.

We started off pretty well, even took the lead, and then did what we do best and that's let the other team back into the contest. Now after being mauled 8-0 the week before against ten men no less, one guessed that North Geelong might come in with a bit more desire and discipline, and that's what they did, but they also moved the ball around better than you might expect a team on its knees to do so. I'm not saying it was great, but it did threaten to be effective, and some of our shenanigans around the back line wouldn't have discouraged them.

For our part, at times like these we are often our worst enemy. It was rainy and windy and all of that made things harder, but you'd think the way we played the conditions that it was the first time we'd eve seen conditions like that. Not one low hard shot at the keeper, or low hard skidding cross, which would have spilled loose or been bundled in for an own goal. Of course North Geelong scored in more or less that manner - a low hard shot parried back into play by Zeneli (even taking into account the conditions, a continuing weakness of his), and tapped in for the equaliser.

After that the team snapped out of their lethargy, but it took what looked like a controversial penalty at the time - not for the foul itself, but on the question of whether it was in the box - to get us over the line. Not many around where I was standing thought or realised it was in the box except for Gains, and he only thought it was in the box because he actually pays attention to the game. Certainly the North Geelong cohort towards that end of the ground were very disappointed in the decision, but the video proves the referee was right. as I noted yesterday in the aftermath.
Milos Lujic tucked away his fourth goal of the league campaign - all from penalties - and we managed to withstand North's attempts at getting an equaliser, even though it wasn't always pretty. Chris Taylor's refusal to make a sub also confounded many in the ground. The wittiest suggestion as to why that might be was made by Griff of all people, who suggested that perhaps Taylor was under the impression that substitutes were like annual leave, and that he was hoping to roll over unused subs to the next game. Whereas, as Griff pointed out, unused subs are actually more like sick days - if you don't use them, you lose them!

Overall, it was a pretty lousy performance, but we got the job done, and since avoiding relegation is our main this year, it was an important win in that context.

Next game
At home on Easter Monday against Melbourne Knights. When it comes to the fixturing of big events, the mainstream Christian churches give FFV and FFA a run for their money, but everyone's lucked out this year because everything seems to have lined up nicely, as it does every few years for (literally) God knows what reason. Though of course there's a blockbuster footy clash on the Monday, for people who are easily distracted. Speaking of which...

The most Melbourne thing ever happened
During I believe what was the second half, all of a sudden over the stadium's PA system there was a stream of the television commentary for the Carlton-Essendon slogfest at the MCG. Good friend of the blog, one Mr Cuddles, who works in the control room working the scoreboard and (ergh) music, often has the footy on another laptop if his beloved (ergh, again) Carlton are playing. Something went wrong at one stage and I believe the whole grandstand then heard Bryce Gibbs going for goal or something like that. As one wit noted, 'there goes our A-League bid', which is for the best anyway.

Let there be banter
North Geelong brought along a decent (and seemingly youngish) chanting group, even if they seemed to be singing a lot of their chants to tunes that Clarendon Corner use, and somewhat less tastefully, one of which used the tune from Mousse T's 'Horny'. They didn't limit themselves to supporting their team however, also throwing in banter our way. 'You're not singing any more' was replied to with 'We weren't singing anyway'; 'Your social club is shit' was replied to with 'Our social club, is better than yours'; their sarcastic calls of 'penalty' were responded to with our own sarcastic calls for penalties. It did get a bit less fun when members of that crew stormed down to the players tunnel/race in order to berate the officials with much wild finger pointing. At least it wasn't us for once.

First impressions of Earth/Social Club discussion in multiple parts
2017 Jersey Night
The 2017 Jersey Presentation Night was the first one to be held in our social club since its (still incomplete, but good enough to start using it) redevelopment. Was it held there also in 2010? I can't remember - I think that was the year I missed the event (and Faith No More at Soundwave) because I was having my wisdom teeth pulled out.

My first impression of the social club space was, like many of you would have found, that it was small. The futsal court utterly dominates the senses. But over the course of the night (and much more so on Sunday) I found that the space instead of being small, was instead intimate, social even.

It was a good night overall, and people there seemed pleased with the social club in general, even with the tight squeeze of the tables to accommodate the (I'm guessing) 200 or so guests. A couple of technical hitches with the audio aside, the presentation of the event was pretty good, and if anything when it went drastically wrong or over time, it was because the audience had to constantly be shushed during the player auctions.

On that front, the real bolters were the Queensland pair (and many of these lots were done in pairs) of Luke Pavlou and Jesse Daley. The women's team as a collective fetched a good price as well, but I've stopped being able to keep track of the amounts raised on the night let alone across the years. I'm not even sure if every player was auctioned off. I can't recall if Liam McCormack for instance was called up or even present. The People's Champ, as is the case every year with this event, was not there.

The food was a bit all over the shop. The delays in getting the main meal out were a bit crap, but I think like of lot of things with the new social club we're all happy to be tolerant while everything settles down. The salads were fine, calamari dull, the roasted pulled meats OK, and the desserts - baklava and galaktobouriko which I invited to scoff from another table - warm and rather good.

What's-his-name was at the jersey night on Friday.  Photo : FourFourTwo.
The panel session was Bill Papastergiadis going on about the A-League bid; Lisa De Vanna - new signing for the women's team - discussing her career and drive to succeed; and that bloke off that Nunawading mural (not him, not the other one either, yeah, that guy) talking about how he has very few friends and how most of those few friends he has were made at South. Hey, wait, that sounds like a lot of people left at South right now! Or maybe I'm just projecting.

Anyway, after complaining last week about never winning raffles, I still bought ten dollars worth of tickets, and when the draw was being re-done for the small label boutique handbag prize (because no one had claimed to have the original winning ticket) I pointed to a particular green ticket in my possession, told the rest of the table that I was on that I was going to win it, and lo and behold I won the damn handbag.

Now while many of those in the room who know me had a good chuckle, I was not ashamed to collect my prize (though I'd rather have won the tyre voucher), because it's just a handbag of indeterminate monetary value, and I would have found someone to gift it to later on. As it was, I didn't even get to leave with the prize, as I was made a very generous cash offer for the bag, which I accepted. The buyer's daughter is apparently quite happy with my her new handbag, I was happy with the price offered, and I sought to plough that money back into the club coffers as quickly as I could on Sunday, with three-quarters of it already donated to a better cause; namely a rather nice new home shirt - one in which the badges and sponsors are not ironed on or sewed on, but are like, actually part of the shirt.

Anyway, the highlight of the night for me - apart from watching the last two minutes of the Swans-Pies game on someone's tablet - was being seated near the players (who arrived after completing a training session), who at one point were watching themselves on one of the many screens on the 2016 montage being played on said screens, and partook in some playful taking the piss of themselves and each other. Overall, an enjoyable evening which I wouldn't have missed for the world, and yet that's not all that happened that night.

Farewell, old friend (He's bad - but he'll die - so I like it.)
I can't remember when I first put the clock up. It must have been some time around 2013 or 2014, but who can say for sure without trawling through the archives (actually October 2013, thank you very much to Twitter's searchable archive download service). It was not exactly the most accurate or honest of things. I had as its starting point the end of our last home game at the old Lakeside. That decision was at best only theoretically accurate; after all, people hung around the old social club on that day for a few hours, being either appalled or attempting to justify the carnage of the pitch invasion.

But that wasn't the end either. The social club still got some use from the average South Melbourne Hellas punter. There was a casino night, and there was an 80s themed birthday party for board member Tony Margaritis, which included music by 80s tribute band Powerstryde.

[I didn't wear any stereotypically 80s gear to that party. Collingwood had just won the flag in a replay, and so I was wearing a Pies guernsey, having decided to commit to a friend's celebration and instead of hanging out with the teeming boganity listening to Lionel Ritchie.]

I'd started the clock as a quiet lark, and as a silent protest. People who read the blog - whoever they were - would hopefully have a laugh at the grim situation. As for protest, really, who that was against was less well defined. Was it against the government and their bureaucracy? They probably didn't visit too often. Was it against the board? Probably a bit, but if they could have satisfactorily resolved the issue sooner I'm certain they would have done so. More likely, and typically, it was a protest against the cosmic injustice of the whole thing, and an acknowledgement of the absurdity of it as well.

It took a few attempts to find the right kind of extension, and then to figure out how to fit it in within the blog. Of course, in keeping with South of the Border's design aesthetic of looking like a dog's breakfast, it only added to that overall effect.

After the lark honeymoon period was over, the social club counter gained its own notoriety - first among readers of South of the Border, and later out in the digital realm. Opposition club fans were huge fans, but there was also interest from far flung quarters of what is called #sokkahtwitter, the loose gaggle that could barely be considered a collective that makes up the people who talk about Australian soccer on Twitter. Without going over the top and saying that it was some sort of transcendent Australian soccer phenomenon, among those people who care about such things people knew about it, and kept an eye on it. This is one of the last tweets on the subject of the clock before its demise, which summed up people's feelings on the matter
That notoriety was both fascinating and dispiriting. Yes, all of our fans wanted the issue of the social club resolved. For the pleb fan, this was because we just wanted our social club space back. For the board members, it was because so much of the future prosperity of the club that they were and are responsible for was still attached to it. But for me, there was the added condition of 'I just want to get rid of this damn albatross'. I hated it. When one day late last year I think it was, it mysteriously broke and showed the (all things considered) wrong time, I had to go back and manually fix it.

But then, as its demise came nearer, I also felt sort of strange about that pending end. It had become an essential part of the blog, the most obvious thing, and the only moving thing on here, its metronomic persistence - except in the one case noted above - was soothing. And the hatred I had for it was revealed, as it sometimes was wont to do, to be tempered with a strange appreciation for its toxic attempt at humour.
On the day of the jersey night, I had mostly overcome my ten day bout with illness. The plan on the day had been settled. I'd go to a free lunch in Fitzroy and the Jersey Night after that, with hopefully two hours in between to get to a computer at uni in the city in order to quietly remove the social club count-up clock. (Blogger's back-end management processes work very badly in my phone's browser). But I got waylaid for several hours in the late afternoon by drinks in Brunswick Street with an assortment of characters known and unknown. By the time I managed to extricate myself from the situation, I was overdue at Lakeside, and the clock was still running.

So, while getting playfully heckled online and at jersey night was fun for about two minutes, I really wanted to just get the damn thing off the blog. So after asking the evening's media operator whether I could borrow his computer to just dump it quietly, discreetly, the situation was engineered - admittedly with my agreement - that at a suitable point in the evening, we would film the process. And thus at some point late in evening, around 11:30 or so, the farce of an amateur blogger deleting a bit of html off a website was filmed and uploaded to the world.
Several years ago when people were discussing how we should inaugurate the opening of the social club, I'd mentioned this as a possibility, but there was no planning for it until the night itself. Usually South of the Border likes to steer clear of anything resembling an official connection to the club, but late in the evening, with the room half emptied, and with the wife of a South of the Border reader (you can hear her in the video's background) heckling her partner, everything seemed to fall into place. Thanks to MC David Henning for his kind words and nimble speech.

That wasn't the end of course, as the witty but topical banter kept rolling on.
But it was finally done - the social club was in, and the clock had to go. Your correspondent typically couldn't help however put forward what was at least a faintly mournful post.
On Saturday morning, looking at the blog, I decided to change the look for the first time in years. A bit neater, and a bit of distance between that bloody gadget and the blog. I thought it looked better, but one of our readers suggested something a bit more appropriate for those sneaking in a read of South of the Border during paid office hours. Not having ever had a proper job of any description, I just did what he suggested and changed the text box a bit. If I had the skills I'd convert the whole thing to look like a spreadsheet, but since I can't even manage even a crappy banner for the top, that might be a bit of a pipe dream.

I thought the museum was well done. The mix of the wall insets with trophies and photo montages, as well the video screens adjacent, looked very professional, but also appropriately reverential. It is a project that is, like many other elements of the social and office spaces, still incomplete, and I hope that it will improve on that front. There were several glass cabinets insets, with trophies, mementos and photo collages. I am glad that the coloured red vee heritage strip photo from the 1960s got prominent positioning, as well as a very good working of the women's cabinet. There are also still things which are in storage, including trophies, the club honour board, etc, which will be incorporated into the final design.

To give a bit of background on production of the museum, so far as my limited involvement was concerned. At some point during the development of the social club project, I had gone on a trip with two members of the South office/media inner circle out to various AFL club HQs to see what they had done with their museums. Some were very good (Hawthorn's - if you have any interest in these things, go see it, seriously), and some were not so good. I wrote up a sort of summary/discussion paper, wondered ever after if anyone had read it, and waited thereafter to see what those in the club tasked with that area would come up with.

Whoever they relied upon - whether their own gleanings from their own research, or from referencing my internal write-up, it's clear that those behind the museum learned the lessons from that sojourn across Melbourne. They've made good use of the limited space available (Hawthorn, for example, has an entire second floor for its museum), and everything looks fantastic. At the very least, it was good to see some of the old trophies in their proper form, having been given a nice clean and polish; they were almost unrecognisable from those I had packed away several years ago.

Those of you who remember the old social club museum may be disappointed with what's on offer, and asking why isn't everything on show. The truth of the matter is, while we had a lot of trophies, many were from one off matches and minor cups. It looked, in its own shabby way, viscerally impressive, but it told no story. That the club has run with the idea of a at least a basic narrative - state league, national league, women's, intercontinental - means that there is a focus on the biggest things we have achieved.

I would hope that what currently exists as a blank wall between the entrance from the futsal court and the museum can be turned into an extension of the museum idea, incorporating at least something about the three predecessor clubs, and perhaps also something about Middle Park as well. It may be a good chance to use even some cursory written history as part of that. We'll wait and see, but so far I am happy with what has been achieved on this front.

On Sunday
I missed the family day on the Saturday, having procrastinated too long at home playing video games, and so I didn't get to experience the social club under the full force of too many people with too many children. Apparently the wait for food was very long.

On Sunday this did not appear to be an issue. I was there pretty early, and while food was not served instantly, it was prepared in a timely fashion for those looking to eat inside. I was less than happy with the meal deal option - with either souvlaki (pork, chicken, or lamb), burger or kransky - because it seemed to be the only way you could order a main meal, in that you couldn't buy a souv, burger or kranksy just on its own. I'm lead to believe that this, and the very concise menu, were only temporary as bistro finds its feet.

The food - I had a pork souvlaki - was of a very good standard, and judging from what other people said about their meals, I did not hear a bad word about the quality of what was on offer. The pricing on the other hand was a bit steep, as it was for booze. And while a drink was included in the cost of the meal, it was for a soft drink. I hope that in future something can be arranged for alcoholic drinks to be included in meal deals, as is often done at pubs.

It is impossible to extrapolate anything from day one (or day three), but the venue seemed to be doing good trade. After the game came its first real big PR test, when the club's social club member priority scheme was put in place for the first time - or at least general member priority. Those without memberships - including one notably young and loud-voiced terrace character - had to wait until those with memberships got in first, and then whatever capacity was left over could accommodate them. Maybe some signage making that fact could be placed outside the social club, instead of having the president stand outside personally vetting people. (though if I recall correctly,

It would also be good in future to know in advance when the social club will be open from, and I have made that known to people at the club - even on their electronic flyers, it'd be a welcome addition. I'm not sure of the scope of the venue to attract people from the local community, but hopefully it is at least able to attract people who attend events held at Lakeside on non-South match days, especially people from outside those who will use the futsal court. Speaking of which, the futsal court itself is apparently already doing quite well during these school holidays in terms of exploiting leveraging our location in an upper middle class part of Melbourne which full of people with high levels of disposable income.

And in the end, that's what it comes down to. I can understand the concerns of those who wanted something bigger and more expansive, but it is not designed for the 13 odd days where we play at home - it is designed for the other 352 days when we are not playing games there. That most of us will be there on one of those 13 days however means our judgements will be based around that experience, even as the financial security and hopefully prosperity that the other 352 days will bring to the club will be the main focus of the social club. It will take some getting used to. Some may never get used to it. I understand that. I'm going to try and make the best of the situation.

In all seriousness
My warmest regards to any board member past or present who had to work on this project at any time. So far as I can remember, neither the clock nor any of my comments were ever intended as a personal attack on any of you - I get it though if you were annoyed or hurt by either of those however. At least now I can start hammering you for the social club as it is, and not about when we'd actually get it.

Hidden benefits of the social club
The game outside was streamed live into the social club's screens. Apart from being convenient in terms of not missing much of the action if you decide to stay indoors because of the weather or want to beat the half-time rush for food, if you happen to be one of our more combustible supporters, you can use it as a time-out space - as it may have appeared to occur during the game on Sunday.

Subscription feature
Succumbing to further audience requests, I've added a gadget which allows you to subscribe to alerts for new posts via email. It's a little thing on the right hand side of the site.
The owner of the forum finally had enough. Full obituary Thursday or Friday or something like that.

Around the grounds
Restricted view ticket
I had intended to to go Lakeside for 'family day', but procrastination caught up with me. Thus we (me and three other blokes) agreed to attend Moreland City vs Brunswick City. After an energetic first half there was no score, because neither team could shoot properly. Moreland took the lead through old mate Trent Rixon, but then Brunswick, who had done nothing in the second half, got level via a penalty and then took the lead with ten to play. Almost all the second half was watched from a a ridiculous vantage point (see right) because of the weather. Campbell Reserve's sight lines are bad enough on a good day; when it starts pouring down, there's nowhere to hide, and fewer vantage points to watch a game from. At least we got to see Moreland's equaliser for 2-2 because the player scoring the goal happened to be in that one part of the field where we could see him score a goal. In the 92nd minute, the home side pinched an equaliser. One felt bad for Brunswick, even though they had not really done enough to earn their lead despite scoring two goals. One felt uneasy about Moreland winning the game, even though on the balance of play they deserved it. But maybe that's the complimentary plastic cup of scotch talking - a complimentary plastic cup of scotch I suspect was earned because of only half playful hostile questioning of a member of the Victoria Patriots A-League bid team. And I don't even really like scotch.

Final thought


  1. Shocking Weather on Sunday, cold and miserable
    Feel for the ball boys out there and club marshalls in the freezing cold

  2. I've always dismissed the rumours about us having a few refs in our pocket, but I dunno, we've had a RIDICULOUS amount of penalties this season and last. It's way above average. If its true, we seriously need to tone it down a little, imagine the headlines, lol.

    1. We did have one season a little while back - I think one of the Gus seasons - where we didn't get any penalties. At least it tells you that the team gets in the box often enough these days, even if we're struggling.

    2. Based off SMFCTV footage though the pens look to have all been legit this year.

      Nice to hear the Futsal court is already being put to good use.

      Bog game against the Knights on Monday

    3. Both last weeks against Green Gully and this weeks looked dodgy to my naked eye to be dodgy, but the footage shows they were legitimate (especially the North Geelong one).

      And if I recall what was happening on Twotter, some people thought the St Albans penalty was dodgy, but again the footage shows it was clearly a penalty.

      The Bulleen one was the dodgiest one.

    4. Seriously Anonymous, are you nuts? You're a south fan and you raise the ref rumour in a public domain? How naive are you! zip it dude!

      good win by the lads

    5. Look I just think we're pushing it, its getting obvious and it will draw attention.

    6. Pushing what you imbecile? If we had officials in our pockets I'd like to think they might have awarded us one of the three opportunities we have had cleared off or just over the line this year. Maybe a few more red cards against opposition or offsides when they are about to score? like last year. These patterns just occur in soccer.

    7. On the weekend was the first I heard of such nonsense. Although admittedly, the pen/red card counts have been massively above avg since the start of last season. Its probably jealous clubs stirring crap cos we title winner. Didn't gully actually complain in the lead-up to our fixture last season or am I imagining things?

    8. Move along now, nothing to see here lol

  3. On the issue of prices, for me as a social club member - and thus someone who can get 10% off - price is not so much an issue as flexibility in ordering, which will I hope be brought in.

  4. Also good to meet regular blog commentator Kimon Trimboli after the game.

    1. Great to meet you also Paul.

      You keep writin em and Ill keep reading

  5. The North Geelong fans sitting near me were claiming that ground announcer got the scorer wrong for them. Either the wrong person or misprounced! LOL

  6. Thanks for tweaking the background.

  7. It was very pleasing to finally have our social club open for business!

    I must agree with you on the presentation of the club's museum. Many of those trophies were for minor competitions, and the truly important titles (NSL titles, Oceania Champions, Club of Century Award) were lost amongst the clutter. Love the video screens showing match highlights next to each cabinet. Perhaps an additional cabinet could have been added.

    I think you are right in regards to the size of the social club relative to the space devoted to the futsal centre. To be honest, I would have preferred the social club to be about 5 metres wider, but by the same token, the available space needs to maximised to what will generate the greatest amount of revenue to create a sound financial basis for the club.

    There were teething issues with the social club, but that is to be expected. Hopefully they can sort that out over the next few weeks.

    I think it was a massive weekend for the club with a very successful Jersey Night, a busy Family Day, and a win against North Geelong.

    Now that we have a social club, hosting midweek cup matches becomes much more financially attractive. If the club can attract 400-600 patrons at these types of matches, then many will head to the social club for a meal and a beer.

    The most promising outcome is that hopefully the futsal centre generates a level of activity around Lakeside away from match days. Hope it is the start of something great.


A few notes on comments.

We've had a lot of fun over the years with my freewheeling comments policy, but all good things must come to an end. Therefore I will no longer be approving comments that contain personal abuse of any sort.

Still, if your post doesn't get approved straight away, it's probably because I haven't seen it yet.

As usual, publication of a comment does not mean endorsement of its content.