Monday, 29 May 2017

Comeback (ahem) Kings - South Melbourne 2 Port Melbourne 1

Jesse Daley's shot flies past Port's keeper for the equaliser.
Photo: Rob Cruse.
If you're in the mood for jokes, copious Simpsons references, and the usual sorts of hilarity, this week's post will likely disappoint. Wednesday took a lot out of everyone, including myself, and it's going to take a little while to recuperate. That's why this week most of the good gags are stolen or woefully out of date.

But as for Sunday, what a pleasant late afternoon's work it was. There was a chill in the air even as the sun shone, there was a rainbow, there was a little bit of rain, and we worked our way to another win and third place on the ladder. It was great having to once again only half care about what was taking place on the field. No hype, and no glory even in victory, just like most other weeks.

If there was one lesson to be learned from our embarrassing 4-0 loss to Port earlier this season, it was 'don't let them shoot'. So of course we let them shoot, and got lucky - one shot rattled the crossbar if I remember correctly, though I could well be remembering another game - except for the one time where we weren't lucky. Did Andreas Govas' shot bounce over Nikola Roganovic's arm?

Either way, we fell behind, but did we even care? As one of the lads in the stand noted, after Wednesday, what was left for us to do? It was kind of like one of those thrill seeking adrenaline junkies that's pushed the envelope so far that it's impossible for them to get excited about anything. Nevertheless, the team worked its way into the game, working the wide positions well, which is when we're at our best under this current iteration. On a narrower ground, with an opponent more apt at closing down the passing lanes, we'd be a lot less convincing.

I'm not saying we were great, because we were not. Everyone expected that we'd be flat, and we were, except for the unsung hero of Wednesday, Jesse Daley, who was in manic form. He was everywhere, and it was through him that we got the equaliser, when he blasted his shot past the Port keeper. By this stage we had gained control of the match, and apart from some slack marking in the middle park, there should not have been to many issues with overcoming the visitors.

The second half saw Daley - who was in an especially mouthy mood - put in a number of good crosses, with one eventually being met by the head of Milos Lujic. There was a period of five or so minutes where we struggled to get the ball out of defensive third, but apart from that, Port posed little threat. Even with an assortment of Stellas coming onto the field, Port's biggest chance lay with us being stupid. Cue Tim Mala badly misreading a passage of play, and getting sent off for his troubles, as he committed a foul as the result of needing to furiously track back. At least the resulting free kick missed, and we got the chocolates..

The only downside was having to ponder the consequences of winning in this way, with yellow cards mounting up and real or imagined reinforcements still some time away.

*record scratch*
*freeze frame*
Yup, that's me. You're probably wondering how I ended up in this situation, etc
Next game
I don't know. It's supposed to be Avondale at home on Sunday afternoon, but there's all sorts of wild rumours going around about postponed matches, Brazil using Lakeside, and Dockerty Cup scheduling, that who knows what's going on. Check the official sources for any changes, but maybe wait just a bit for the Roberto Carlos circus to leave town first. If South of the Border hears anything, we'll let you know.

It can only end well
A bloke who can't coach, hired for a team that doesn't exist, for a competition that's not desperate for either. But of course if you talk like this, 'they' get upset and start murmuring things in the bowels of Lakeside, believing that you can't hear them. Guys, even if I don't type it, I'm thinking it. And even if I can't hear you say it, I can imagine it.

I mean, I've started joining in wrestling gags, and I don't even watch wrestling for crying out loud.

An unusually productive day yesterday, motivated mostly by the tenacious work of Jesse Daley and Luke 'The Luckiest Man in Show Business' Adams coming back from Bali without a tan,
  • 'Bill Paps is on fire, the truth is terrified'
  • 'I wish that I scored Jesse's goal / where can I score a goal like that?'
  • 'Jesse talk it up, talk it up, Jesse talk it up'
  • 'Where's your tan at?'
A big opportunity was missed when we failed to tie Adams' midweek absence to Schapelle Corby's return to Australia.

Comings and goings
Fahid Ben Khalfallah (still no idea who he is) ended up signing with Brisbane Roar. What a pity.

Letter to the editor (including how to contact South of the Border)
Following on from Wednesday's win against Dandenong City, South of the Border received some welcome feedback and commentary, including a timely and appreciated reminder about choosing certain words more carefully.

[Although I was a bit taken aback by one regular reader who saw only an attempt to be a curmudgeon - which was certainly the not the point]

One of the more interesting bits of correspondence came through the comments section (though I did not publish it for reasons which shall reveal themselves), which reads as follows:

Greetings Mr Paul, wow I've just discovered your blog and love it. I read in some very early posts you sometimes ask fans to contribute articles. I would like to contribute this below if you think it is appropriate regarding Hellas’s A-League bid. Sorry for posting in this wrong area – I just didn't know how to contribute this article.

Well, of course I'm always delighted when new readers discover South of the Border, especially when it's South fans doing the discovering. And I'm even happier when they want to contribute something a bit more substantial than a comment - not that there's anything wrong with contributing solely through the comments.

As for the best way to go about contacting me, email is my preferred option - is my address. If you want to more immediately get my attention, and you have a Twitter account, then you can find me @paulmavroudis.

Here is our new friend's submission, on the matter of the rhetorical conduct of South Melbourne's A-League bid. Keep in mind that this was sent before yesterday's shenanigans.

Bill Paps was off in the world of make believe again today.
SMFC A-League bid strategy – wrong approach
I write this piece with a heavy heart. I have been a South Melbourne Hellas supporter since I was a young child – probably like most South fans. I have experienced agony, frustration, sadness and plenty of lost sleep whenever I think about our omission from the top flight of football in Australia. I wouldn't say I am a great fan of the A-League or its structure – but I am mature enough to recognize the NSL needed to replaced. I just always thought that South would be at the forefront of soccer in Melbourne and indeed the highest competition available in Australia. I like most have waited patiently knowing that some day our time will come. Melbourne is a big city growing by 100,000 people per year and it’s inevitable that at some point a third Melbourne A-League club would be looked at. That is indisputable; at some point expansion will happen again in Melbourne. This has always provided me a glimmer of hope even in the dark times when I felt sick at the prospect we will be stuck in the wilderness forever.

I absolutely do want to acknowledge that the board of SMFC have done a terrific job re-building the club which let us never forget was on the brink of oblivion circa 2004. The stadium deal, the refurbishments, the social club are massive achievements. These are no small feats, they have secured our future. So why the heavy heart and frustration and countless nights lying awake in the middle of the night? It is because I unequivocally and firmly believe that we are squandering the best chance we will ever have to position ourselves to get back into the top flight. This shouldn't be the case but we actually are shooting ourselves in the foot and on various fronts becoming a laughing stock. Here is why:

We need to stop our arrogant approach, we need to stop the rhetoric that it is our ‘Alvaro Recoba’ divine right to be in the top flight. I would like to know from the board who thought it was a good idea to have Bill Papastergiadis head our bid and be a spokesman? Wrong choice. In all his public appearances and interviews the ridiculous comments regarding over inflated crowd figures, the whole Real Madrid ‘link’ which is misconstrued garbage and the let’s not get started on the ‘Roberto Carlos’ angle. This is all GUFF – this actually harms the credibility of our bid. I cannot overstate this.

Bill is obviously an intelligent person, great lawyer etc., but he should not be representing our hopes and aspirations. That he is the President of the Greek Community of Melbourne and the spokesman for our club does nothing whatsoever to demonstrate to the masses that we are looking for broad based appeal bid, it rather just reinforces prejudices that unfortunately the majority of people hold.

Other bids speak of how they will engage the community. Someone please, correct me if I am wrong but I have not heard from anyone associated with the bid team or the board how we will be a broad based bid – how we will attract new fans. Other bids talk about alliances with local communities, teams or football associations. But for us it’s been left to assume that the ‘thousands’ of poulimenoi will come back to follow us. Wrong, wrong, wrong! If this is our great hope – we are gone.

The other angle I wish to tackle is our relationship with the FFA and indeed what the A-League is and represents. Key people from our club and some supporters continually diss the FFA and the A-League. Geez! Where is our diplomacy? Does anyone think this approach will actually bring a groundswell of support to our bid? Do we actually think it is a great idea to have Tom Kalas being pivotal in forming and becoming a spokesman for the AAFC? Agitating change, sniping comments against the FFA but then at the same time asking to be considered for an A-League license? Again – no diplomacy at all. Where is our humility?

I will end here with a comparison to other A-League hopefuls. This quote from Robert Cavallucci of FC Brisbane City A-League aspirant is a pearler and sums up perfectly all that is wrong with our bid team strategy:
If you've got a commercial argument, if you've got a football argument for what you’re doing, stop doing it by antagonising and picking a fight with FFA. Through positive presentation of who you are, demonstrate to the football community, the A-League clubs, the governing body, why you deserve to be there.
Bang! Spot on! Let’s repeat this and shout it from the rooftops to our bid team, Mr President Leo Athanasakis, some board members and some of our social media fans. Please say after me: “stop doing it by antagonising and picking a fight with FFA”. And again: “stop doing it by antagonising and picking a fight with FFA”. Through positive presentation of who you are, demonstrate to the football community, the A-League clubs, the governing body, why you deserve to be there.

In concluding, I would please urge our board and the bid team to reconsider our approach. This might be our last shot for a very long time. Do what is right, be humble, focus on what we bring to the table and demonstrate how we can attract new fans. Make it a football bid – not just a selfish we deserve to be there SMFC centric bid.

Regards, T. Arvanitis, Murrumbeena, VIC

Around the grounds
$7 for a souv means $3 for the raffle
Standing in a particular position at McIvor Reserve on Saturday afternoon, it looked like there were twice as many people at Yarraville vs Altona East than there actually were. But enough about metrics. Both teams have had their difficulties in 2017, but there's struggling and then there's struggling, if you catch my drift. The team that was struggling less scored within the first few minutes, scored a penalty at the end, and were rarely troubled by Altona East in between those events. I don't remember Tommi Tommich, who was in goal for Yarraville, having to make much more than a solitary save.

Final thought
Very saddened to hear of the passing of former Heidelberg player and president Jim Mangopoulos. Back in the 1990s in his guise as a lawyer, he represented my folks in a civil case when so many others refused - and got them a result of sorts. It was an incredibly stressful time for us - his support was and remains appreciated by my family. Sincerest condolences to his friends and family, and to all at Heidelberg Alexander.


  1. Smfcmike should take note at the letter to the editor. Hypocrisies finest.


  2. Has anyone explained exactly why Pagniello was fronting the presser? The whole link with him absolutely stinks -
    I can't help but feel this could be relevant reading for those involved in linking South with GISS:

  3. Always thought SMFCMike was a 12 year old

  4. Jessie`s goal made me laugh.
    No loukoumades yet.


  5. Bill P is the worst person to be spearheading our campaign. Fair enough the guy got us the deal at lakeside but he's the epitome of a used car salesman. Has no idea about the NSL and it's history, keeps bagging the comp we are in which most supporters are content playing in and keeps throwing out bachanded remarks about the A League and has no fucking idea about crowd numbers. The club seriously needs a proper PR machine if they are serious about this, this whole bid is turning into a joke. Most south fans are pretty livid with the stunts this guy is pulling, stop fucking around and disrespecting everyone!

  6. T. Arvanitis, great piece.

    Correct me if I'm wrong. Tom Kalas is no longer associated with the club in an official sense, what he does in his personal capacity should be of no concern to the South Melbourne A-League bid. I'll add that the AAFC has around 100 members across the country, a few to my knowledge have submitted A-League bids or expressed an interest in doing so. The organisation of these members is diplomacy in action. It is a group of clubs working towards a solution that works for themselves and the FFA. Association with this group should be admired.

    "Bill is obviously an intelligent person."

    From the outside we don't understand the depth of this pockets, the power of his contacts or his talent as a lawyer. I believe Bill was instrumental in securing the 40 year lease of Lakeside and he is undoubtedly a passionate SMFC fan. He is not the right choice as spokesman, but I have faith in him as chairman, the board you praised has faith in him as chairman, and so should you.

    "...rather just reinforces prejudices that unfortunately the majority of people hold."

    Any player/volunteer/fan can contribute to the club regardless of background. If the "majority" you mention prejudice the club, then to put it bluntly maybe we're not the right choice for the A-League. I do not want to be part of a league that belittles my club for something we cannot change and something that does not impact the football. We cannot change the circumstances of our creation and we cannot change our fans. We ARE open and inclusive and football is our number one priority.

    Football is our number one priority. What the hell does community engagement even mean? What does Melbourne Victory do for the community? What does Melbourne City do for the community? South does more now than any A-League club. We run a full junior program for men and women. We have a social club open every day of the week. We make charitable donations and contributions to countless organizations every year. We make appearances at local and major community events. We run ticket programs with student bodies. We host futsal programs for other NPL teams. We bring top quality players to trains our members. We provide training grounds for the Socceroos and major teams travelling to Melbourne. We sacrificed our lease for the Victorian government and provided State Athletics a home! South don’t talk about community engagement because the community already exists and is engaged.

    Do you know why South Sydney, talk about it? Because they don’t exist. A community is a group of people who share something and so many people already share a passion for South and work together for the club! The community could not be more open! Our board begs people to come to games, our media team is the best in the country and produces countless hours of content to spread the word to others. For all their work, how can you ask the club to respond to a question regarding broad based fans? What do you want them to say? Honestly! I don’t know! The club shows so much in their actions I find it ironic that you ask for rhetoric in a piece that’s based on criticising the club for just that.

    1. Kimon Trimboli30 May 2017 at 18:15

      Fantastic comment.

      If I too can address Mr Arvanitis, in the words of the great Shakespeare, just before he died in the plane crash with Elvis "Those who refuse to learn from the mistakes of the past are destined to repeat them"

      I also went through a period of hoping that the club did everything in its power to promote the fact that we are now open and inclusive, but as stated above what does that actually mean and how much is it even worth?

      After 2004 I like thousands of others simply lost interest in soccer. I did wish that we where included in the A-League but really did take the initial rejection as mainstream OZtralia rejecting me as a Greek and there was nothing we could do about it. We have always been treated as wogs with all the negative connotations that Anglo Australia can throw into that little word.

      I was/am impressed with the commercialization of the game over the last decade, its great that soccer (or football as the try hard wankers now call it) is no longer seen as the poor cousin of sport in this country and I always believed that Hellas' only chance to get back into the limelight so to speak was to transform itself, sort of like what Brisbane Hollandia and East Sydney did. At least that way, I justified to myself, at least I can still go enjoy SM Nandos FC in the A league, even if the rest of them didnt realize it was really still Hellas in my heart.

      Over the last 3-4 years though I have come back as the proverbial black sheep to Lakeside and must say my opinions have changed - apologies to a certain Croatian gentleman who I clashed with a couple of years ago, I see his point now and agree - The team, in my conversations,is called SOUTH MELBOURNE HELLAS, we have a rich and proud historical connection to the Melbourne Greek Community and welcome all soccer fans far and wide... If people can't get over that then they can indeed fuck right off.

      We live in a society which is all about personal self determination. We are constantly reminded (forced?) to accept that every member of this country has the right to identify as black, muslim, gay, bi, tri or any other flavour of the rainbow. SInce when has being Greek been a bad thing?

      Why is Hellas' history even an issue? The fact that our board members have polysyllabic surnames and 80% of our supporters identify as being Greek is something that we should NOT have to justify to anyone!!!!!

      How do I explain to my 8 year old son that the team we love is not accepted by "AUSTRALIANS" because of the fact that it was founded by immigrants from the same country as his grandparents yet there is a team in the top flight with a map of New Zealand on its playing strip? How do I tell my children that a shitty little Jew decided in 2004 that Greeks arent good enough to join polite Australian society but its OK because now there is no more ethnic violence in the stands - just a bunch of pasty skips and self loathing wogs with their arms around each other facing the wrong way and dancing a ska-inspired little jig - they don't even watch the games the malakismena.

      Bill and Leo and the board are doing what they think is best for the club and as a member if I dont agree with them its my right to pull them to task. My family and I will always follow Hellas and if we do indeed get into the Aleague, it will be a happy day ..... a warning to the board though, only as HELLAS - do NOT sell our soul.

    2. Correct, Tom Kalas is no longer affiliated with South Melbourne. However, having been a former public face of ours, and now taking an active role with the AAFC group, it is inevitable that he will be linked to us whether rightly or not.

  7. T. Arvanitis picking out that Cavallucci quote is the pivotal thing for mine.

    What I think the club should be doing is spending all our A-League bid efforts into preparing the best bid possible - which is the business case, the marketing case, and the behind the scenes political case - not the circus.

  8. Good to get the win. Hopefully we play Avondale this week.

  9. Kimon Trimboli30 May 2017 at 19:51

    But Paul, how can they prepare a bid when the FFA hasn't released the criteria of what they are "looking for in a club" yet?

    Its ALL a circus, as are the other bids... noise .... Cavallucci wants to bring in a Team called the Gladiators for fucks sake, with Italian colours in the logo and his Fruit Supply business as the major sponsor!!!!! South Sydney wants Craig "the anus" Foster as a director and that other malaka was going to build a new stadium in Hobart as if his monstrosity in Toorak isnt bad enough.

    We could win the FFA cup, sign Drogba and get Carlos as couch, get a 5 million dollar shirt sponsor, sign up 20 thousand fans and do you think we will be invited to play in the A league??? C'mon seriously.

    1. The issue of whether South Melbourne is a realistic chance of being included in the A-League is separate to this one. I for one agree (though not necessarily for the same reasons as yours) that the chances of South being included are remote.

      However, the club does not think this - and neither has the FFA publicly ruled it out - so we're all in the situation that when we talk about it, we have to at least pretend that this is real and that it could happen.

      That being the case, let's look at what Brisbane City has done that we haven't - they've seemingly arranged and made public how their club will be funded and what their structure will be. They've released a logo which is a clever re-branding of past and future, and choosing maroon for Queensland.

      Do I think that there is demand for a second team in Queensland? Form this distance, not at all, but I can still commend their rhetoric and their willingness to be (relatively) upfront about what they want to do and how, and seeking to emphasise their bid book rather than ponce around like we and some other bids (thinking of Southern Sydney/Wollongong) have done.

  10. It looks like that rather than next week, our Dockerty Cup semi-final against Bentleigh has been scheduled for late next month.

  11. Paul, can you please offer your services to the bid team ? We are an embarrassment and yes has been gimmick after gimmick. Reading some of the comments in this thread some people need to get whatever chip they have off their shoulder and lose the old poor me 'horiati'syndromes. Playing the victim card. That Brisbane guys comments - was that directed at us ? Sounds like he meant us! Po Po Po - someone save us!! ps. something interesting too is that McVictory probably, actually do have more greeks as members than what we do - now that is scary!!

    Cheers from Ulysses Kokkinos love child.

  12. I actually felt sad reading that letter. Social media slamming us - and Bill Paps said we are trying to work social media ? goodness me. Funniest quote that I read was this: "Dear A-League, I find you plastic, bereft of community and incapable of authenticity. Please may I have a licence?" ROFL!

    Gate 1 Hellas Hooligan (RIP)

  13. Just a note to add (as per the coverage in Neos Kosmos after his passing) that Jim Mangopoulos was also, briefly, a Hellas player. I'd asked before whether this was the case, and I'd received contradictory recollections. Nice to have this confirmed.


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.