Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Class bit of glass artefact Wednesday

Anyone that knows me well enough knows that I have a certain - admittedly mostly ironic - fondness for Greek-Australian kitsch. And this glass is pure Greek-Australian kitsch.

Strangely though, I'm enjoying this artefact on a completely non-ironic level. Aside from the tacky (and mandatory) gold-plating around the rim, I really think this is a rather tasteful and high quality piece of South Melbourne Hellas memorabilia.

I had this image sent to me from South of the Border reader Evan, who got them from a friend. Are these glasses 'official'? What year are they from? I haven't the foggiest idea. If I were to hazard some guesses I would say, 'maybe' and 'late 1970s to 1980s'. I wish I had my own.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Is anyone here not a doctor? - South Melbourne 1 Oakleigh Cannons 0

Before that incident midway through the second half with Oakleigh goalkeeper John Honos and Perry Mur and Gus Tsolakis and Aki Ionnas and Lakeside's security and seemingly whoever else happened to be within a ten kilometre radius, this was just another action-packed and fiercely fought contest between these two sides who are apparently rivals.

Now for South fans, our ego will not allow us to think of a club such as Oakleigh as being a rival in any form, let alone being close to the magnitude of our genuine long-term rivalries, but it's no secret that for many that stoic front is just that. As for Oakleigh, we all know exactly how much stock their players and top brass put in beating us, and it must kill them that they haven't beaten us at Lakeside since 2006. Indeed, I think I can still hear their whinging about the 2015 Dockerty Cup final and the 2016 grand final being played at Lakeside echoing off the hills.

That's not to say the game was of some startling quality either before or after this match's key flashpoint. South had recalled Milos Lujic and Nick Epifano from injury, while David Barca Moreno and Leigh Minopoulos were dropped to the bench. It was a mistake riddled affair from start to finish, which is not to say that it was not entertaining. But from the moment Matthew Millar found himself with just Honos to beat but pushing his shot into the post (and boy did those inflatable apples cop a beating for that miss), the game was about trying to find the worst ways to botch play in the final third.

Oakleigh relied on long range shots, and the occasional floated ball into the box which the South defense had more trouble than usual clearing. Oakleigh's best chance in the first half also came early on, when Giuseppe Marafioti found himself with just Nikola Roganovic to beat, but slammed the ball into the oncoming keeper. For South's part, it looked we were too willing to give Oakleigh time on the ball and the freedom to play through the middle. Meanwhile, we were still able to create counter attack opportunities, but were rarely clean enough or quick enough to make them count - one three-on two-opportunity in particular

Marcus Schroen, who has failed to consistently reach the heights of his barnstorming 2016 finals series so far this season and struggled particularly in this match, was subbed off at half time for Stefan Zinni. It was a good move, with Zinni's pace causing Oakleigh's defense all sorts of problems; though yes, one has to admit that the end product in the final third overall remained less than satisfactory.

At least we were more willing and/or able to prevent Oakleigh from roaming free in the midfield. We had better control of the ball, and pressed higher up the field. This led to the slightly odd tactic employed by Oakleigh of having Honos bomb the ball long to his forward line, hoping to find a mismatch or a mistake of some sort; but for the most part the South defense handled this strange tactic with ease. It was a strange tactic to employ in the frequency that the chose to use it, because Oakleigh have some good ball playing mids and forwards, and abandoning their ability to play out from the back seemed to run counter to that.

The most annoying thing by some margin for most of the match was the refereeing of Perry Mur. Usually one of my favourite officials, he had a bit of a stinker. The worst decision of the lot was early during the second half, when Lujic was released through on goal and was wrestled down by Steve Pantelidis. With Milos having won the battle of strength to get the inside lane on goal, there was no reason for him to suddenly stop when he did. It looked about as clear a foul as you could get, with the only question being whether Pantelidis would get away with only a yellow card. But Mur waved play on to the incredulity of the South crowd and match commentator Teo Pellizzeri.

The game's key incident however occurred midway through the second half. Zinni found himself streaming in on goal with only Honos to beat, but instead of shooting decided to go around the keeper. Honos managed to prevent Zinni going around, in the process collecting a stray boot in the face for his troubles. This led to Honos receiving treatment at first on the ground and eventually off the ground on the sideline. One could understand and forgive some more time than usual allowed for this, given that Honos is a goalkeeper, but the situation rapidly got out of the hand as the delay increased to about eight minutes because of some of the most midrange farcical antics I've seen at a South game in these here state leagues.

Oakleigh substitute goalkeeper Billy Akritidis waits to come on, as John Honos receives treatment on the sideline.
Photo: Peter Psarros.

It seemed pretty clear that from the length of time it was taking to see to Honos that he wasn't right and should've been subbed off. Indeed the substitute Oakleigh goalkeeper had not only warmed up but was waiting at the halfway line ready to come on. Then for goodness knows what reason and under goodness knows what authority, Oakleigh's general manager and South Melbourne fan favourite Aki Ionnas came on to the field to sort the situation out. I don't understand under what authority he was there, nor how he was allowed to stay there for as long as he was - among his I'm sure many other glorious attributes, I've never heard of Ionnas having any medical credentials. Did he have a media pass which would give him access to that part of the field? If that's what he used to make it as far onto the field as he did and into the middle of the situation, it would still be highly irregular, because he was not listed as part of the official Oakleigh match day personnel, as you can see below:

This is an extract from Oakleigh's team sheet yesterday - sourced from the full length original posted on Oakleigh's
 Facebook page -which lists all the officials for the day. Notice that Aki Ionnas' name is conspicuously absent. 

His unnecessary interference caused quite a scene. The eight minute delay led at first to annoyance and then anger in the stands. As the South players variously stood around and sat on the ground waiting for the situation to be resolved, some sort of argle-bargle took place in the middle of the grandstand between supporters of the two clubs. From a distance, that situation - apparently mostly between old men - was resolved without it getting completely out of hand, though the Clarendon Corner chant - 'for once it's not us, for once it's not us, Clarendon Corner, for once it's not us' - failed to take off as it should have.

Ionnas' interference has also been described by some people as being negligent with regards to player welfare. Surely it's the doctor's or physio's call first about whether an injured player is healthy enough to safely continue playing; and that the only people with whom that should be discussed are the relevant player, the player's coach, the referee and, at a pinch, the serving team manager - and certainly not some random onlooker with no obvious authority to interfere with the situation and no obvious medical background which would only apply in an emergency situation anyway.

While Honos managed to play on and keep reasonably well for the rest of the game - apart from some fumbles - he later went to hospital for what I assume would've been some emergency plastic surgery in order to fix his busted lip. The whole situation was beyond the ken. Here was a guy who just been accidentally kicked in the face - and who knows if he could've even had some sort of delayed concussion effects - who clearly needed immediate medical attention, and yet by some strange machinations he was compelled by even stranger individuals back out on to the field in order to help his team win a semi-professional game of football in front of a few hundred die-hards.

After all of that, South managed to settle down well enough. Nick Epifano was able to make his way into the box, and was probably unnecessarily knocked over by Oakleigh defender Janiel. I had a bad feeling about the penalty - not its justice, because it was clearly a foul, but rather whether it would be converted - but Lujic put it away nicely.

Milos Lujic sends his penalty right down the middle as a patched up John Honos dives out of the way. Photo: Peter Psarros.

At that point it was the 81st minute, but owing the to the extended Honos-related delay, there was still more than enough time for Oakleigh to get the goal back, especially against a side made up mostly of players who'd played on Thursday. The whole thing ended up going to about 98 minutes, which included the closest Oakleigh would come to a goal. A corner was played short - the marking and awareness of which was pretty by the South defense - the eventual cross deflected into the six yard box, over Roganovic, and comically into the Oakleigh player on the goal line hoping to knock the ball in, but who instead sent the ball away from goal.

Neither team was at its best, but I thought for the most part we had the better of things - especially when it mattered most, on either side of the Honos stoppage. The midfield structures improved in the second half, and considering the three games in eight days we'd had to play, we ran out the game about as well as one would have liked - though another midfield sub may have been useful to nullify Oakleigh's late surge, or to take advantage of their need to chase the game.

The win keeps us on top on close to the barest of goal difference margins from Heidelberg, who had a 2-0 win against Green Gully and look to have shaken off their momentary slump. The biggest result over the weekend was Bentleigh's 2-2 draw away to St Albans, but seeing as there are many final race teams with games in hand - often against each other - the jostling won't be clearer for some time I would think. Still, nice to keep top spot for at least one more week.

Irrelevant trivia section
The substitute goalkeeper for Oakleigh was Billy Akritidis, the son of former Channel 31 soccer commentator (and present day NPL security dude) Arthur Akritidis. Arthur Akritidis himself was a goalkeeper in South's youth team back in the 1980s.

Next game
Tiff Eliadis celebrates scoring against NTC yesterday. The SMFC Women
won 9-2 to maintain their lead at the top of the of the table. Next week the
NPL Women 
are away to Geelong Galaxy. Photo. Cindy Nitsos
Green Gully at Lakeside, the last in our long run of home matches. Michael Eagar is apparently is out for this one having collected five yellow cards. Kristian Konstantinidis 16 match suspension is over, and I'm led to believe he has played in the under 20s - whether he would be a straight swap, or whether Taylor would prefer to switch Foschini in there and return Mala to right back will be an interesting element of this fixture.

FFA Cup news
Draw is on Thursday. How excitement.

Around the grounds
I think we have enough data now, and it's time to move on
This was an absolute nothing game for an hour, about as pitiful advertisement as you could find not only for the NPL, but for soccer as a sport. There was no penetration, very few chances created, and no excitement. Then Port scored their weekly bomb - not from Andreas Govas, but some other bloke - and everything fell into place just as the scientific modelling said it should. Within four minutes Knights collapsed, again, and were 3-0 down, and the game was as good as done. Sure, Port coughed up a goal thanks to a careless back pass, but they made up for that error with another goal. Knights continue to get closer to the relegation playoff spot, and judging by the quality of their play on Friday, look certain to earn it. Probably best for all concerned that next week I find something else to do rather than go to Somers Street. I see there's a screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Astor on Friday. Might do that.

Final thought

Friday, 23 June 2017

The Dockerty Cup as unloved middle child - South Melbourne 0 Bentleigh Greens 2

It needn't have ended up like this, but the way things were set in motion, what happened last night was the most likely outcome. That no one seems too bothered by the result seems to me on one level to be problematic - after all, don't we at South Melbourne go in to win everything? - but at the same time, this being the year of unstoppable good feeling at Lakeside, most people seem happy to go with the flow.

That, and the Dockerty Cup doesn't seem to be the hill that anyone wants to die on. In that sense, the Dockerty Cup is the forlorn middle child grasping for attention against mature and serious big brother League Ambition, and spoiled and petulant little brother FFA Bandwagon Cup.

The match was against Bentleigh, the team that presently more than any other causes us unending grief. The match was at Jack Edwards Reserve, a venue at which we have only won once in the last few seasons, and even that was more due to a chaotic late flurry in a rubbish game than dare I say it, skill or planning. The match was also in the middle of June instead of at the pointy end of the season, the latter of which we are far more predisposed to doing well in, as long as you ignore our 14 or 15 match unbeaten streak, and a potted history of disastrous results during several recent pointy ends

There was also once again no Milos Lujic, and also no Nick Epifano, so I think you could quite clearly see where our priorities were set - namely, getting in and out of this affair primarily without injury or suspension. And if things should just happen to pan out a particular way, end up having Lakeside host the final as the neutral venue of choice, where we may make some decent coin at the bar and kitchen. All in all, a case of win-win being not so much different from lose-win.

David Barca Moreno was put up front, by himself, and it did not work. This was mostly due to the fact that, apart from the first twenty or so minutes, we played the ball to him as if he was Milos Lujic; that is, long balls that he was asked to chase and compete for against centre backs. Now Moreno may be a gifted player or he may be a plodder, but I don't think he is that particular kind of forward; rather, I think he is one of those types that prefers the ball to feet, and for the most part we didn't do that.

But that opening twenty minutes! My word, didn't we look almost-sorta-competent-but-not-really during that time! Well, yes; yes, we did. As much or opponents were taking the ball up one end with a certain amount of confidence, so were we. In what was an open game marred by petty officiating - which we copped the brunt of of, though on reflection most of that fairly - both sides sought to outdo each other for bad crosses and midfield turnovers.

They didn't make us force a save during the first half that I can remember, while we had some OK chances, but this game soon went where so many recent contests against the Greens have gone - we forfeited any pretense at controlling the midfield, and eventually let Bentleigh have the match played on their terms. Our wide play, or the narrower confines of Jack Edwards Reserve, was limp at best. Neither Leigh Minopoulos, the returning Jesse Daley, nor Marcus Schroen had any meaningful impact on the contest.

Matthew Millar trudged up and down the field, but ineffectually. Maybe the bright sparks in the crowd are on to something when they say that he struggles at this ground, but I want more evidence first; two times only being a coincidence and not a trend as is three times. Luke Pavlou was industrious (ugh, bad word for 'tried hard but didn't do good') but also got lost a lot of times.

Further back, Brad Norton slipped and fell and looked shakier than I've noticed for a while. Matthew Foschini tended to have the measure of his direct opponent at right back, and even made some promising runs forward, but was let down by his crossing - which to be fair, was pretty much the sa,e deal as any other South player that attempted a cross last night.

The best on ground for us was Michael Eagar, who continues to play like a man reborn in 2017. Stefan Zinni was brought on probably a bit late for my liking, but once on had negligible impact on the contest. I'd also like to note that, while it's not like we weren't competing, we did look perhaps a little reticent in going full-blooded into the contest, maybe even a bit tired.

Once we fell behind in the second half, as we deserved to do, I guess the writing was more on the wall than ever. Did we improve once we conceded? Not really. Did anyone get particularly upset when Tyson Holmes doubled Bentleigh's lead thanks in no small part to Tom Rogic (video blocked to due FIFA chucking a tanty)-esque outrageous piece of good fortune? Not that I could tell. The team lifted a little bit, played with a bit more urgency, but not much more skill, and thus we bowed out of the Dockerty Cup running.

I am the bag of sand that puts out the party flame
I really would have liked to have won this game, seeing as how I fought for the return of the Dockerty Cup name and trophy, and to a lesser extent because I like it when South wins things. But everyone else around me, and even those on the forum, seemed not so fussed.

On the terrace last night then, perhaps because of the fatigue of winning too much or because of a general apathy towards this tournament, the atmosphere in Clarendon was at its most convivial, witty and oddball. Chants started off strong, before withering off into nonsense noises; more deconstructionist sound art project than chant, like the time we did staccato renditions of the 'vamos a la playa' chant back in 2008.

After hoping that the whole Matthew 'Apples' Millar thing (Millar being close enough in pronunciation to the Greek for 'apples') would die a sad and lonely death, last night we reached peak 'Apples' season when two inflatable red apples made an appearance. Goodness knows what Millar himself makes of this; provided he pays any sort of attention to this nonsense. Suffice to say, I did not join in the 'apples' chant, nor did I playfully bounce the inflatable apples around.

For some reason - maybe because he had a particular moment of bad play early on, or perhaps because as a collective we've gone through hating every other Bentleigh player these past few seasons - Nick Glavan came in for some attention this time. Either way, the erratic booing and cheering of Glavan - referred to only as 'Number 19' because I don't think most people knew he was - became an essential feature of the first half as he trod up and down the wing in front of Clarendon Corner.

Had it been up to me, some mention would have been made of Glavan's traitorous move from Knights to Bentleigh being part of the reason the former are in the dire straits they are, but that would have killed the entire whimsical notion of him being some random that people had decided to focus their attention on. That, and it was kind of sad when it did look like Glavan's Greens teammates were deliberately not passing the ball to him. For his part Glavan took the unusual attention directed toward him in his stride.

The crowds at state league soccer, as they were for much of the NSL, are of a such nature that fans and players can find themselves building a rapport even over the course of just 45 minutes. Since in our case this often ends badly, I'm just glad that for once we managed to get out of both Jack Edwards Reserve and a match against Bentleigh without any unpleasant scenes.

I still rather we'd won though.

Next game
Oakleigh at home on Sunday. Very short turnaround. Mid-season slump time?

Fixture updates
We have a rescheduled date for our postponed round 16 home against Avondale. It's been scheduled for Wednesday August 2nd.

This is the last time I'll mention this, for the next few months at least 
Some or many of you may be aware of SBS having sold off their a good deal of their world cup rights to Optus, in exchange for one game a week of EPL rights. This has upset some people, me included, but I've not made a big deal about it under I lost my cool on Twitter the other day.

This decision means that rather than showing the whole tournament, SBS will only shows 25 matches live (others on delay), while Optus gets 39 exclusive matches. For SBS, that will be one live per day (their pick), four round of 16 matches, two quarter-finals, both semi-finals, and the final. For free-to-air views, everything else will probably be on delay.

Because SBS has decided it would rather have access to Bournemouth vs Palace, what was the best free-to-air coverage of the World Cup in the world is now gone. For folks of a younger vintage, who have grown up accustomed to watching sports on subscription television, this won't seem like bad a deal. For those of us who grew up with this service as a given, the compromise seems nonsensical.

While it was the best free-to-air coverage of the tournament in the world, Australians still had to work for it in order to watch. Along with the mainstream media's ignorance of the tournament's magnitude, the ridiculous late night and early morning sessions, always in the middle of winter, made the tournament accessibility an inherent issue.

But that's where SBS stepped in, the self-appointed broadcast media guardians of soccer in Australia. They brought us the tournament in its entirety, and gave it the respect it deserved - give or take Craig Foster's inability to comport himself professionally during Socceroo matches. But no more, because SBS prefers to live off the drip feed benefits of Anglophile and Eurosnob magic beans. SBS once boasted about its soccer coverage, of which the World Cup was the the undoubted jewel in the crown.

I have had one Twitterer say that I should just pay for the Optus package. After all, I must have a 'home phone, mobile phone or broadband'. Well, yes, I have all three of those products with one company or another, and I can easily afford whatever Optus would charge. But that's not the point. The point is we are being asked to pay for what we already had, all while getting in the form of a weekly EPL game, something that very few of us actually want.

Not everyone has the proper internet connection quality to watch legal or illegal streams. Not everyone has the budget to splurge on pay television. And considering that we as Australian taxpayers (even those who contribute mostly through  paying GST because you don't make enough money to pay income taxes) have already paid for this, it is the height of robber-baron capitalism that we are asked to pay again for what we have already paid for.

And no, I will not pay for access, and no, I will not use the services of people who have. That's my pledge of pettiness to you, the reader.

I get that unlike our other erstwhile public broadcaster, SBS has particular commercial imperatives that they must satisfy. But it also has public broadcaster imperatives that it also needs to serve. Seeing as how they've reduced all their prime time viewing into English language programming, banished most of the foreign films in favour of mainstream American alternative cinema, and only play Miyazaki anime - in English dub - instead of the cooler stuff they used to dabble in, this move should come as no surprise.

[The most telling evidence of SBS selling out? Playing This is Spinal Tap instead of Get Ready to be Boyzvoiced]

That doesn't mean I'm happy about it, and it doesn't even make sense to me from a commercial aspects. Why sell out your world cup rights now, at the height of soccer's popularity in Australia? Because of Qatar and then 48 teams, this will be the last World Cup many people will likely care about so much, and now we get to see less of it because of EPL magic beans.

And no, watching games on delay is not cool. This isn't 1993, when those of us a certain vintage were happy and dumb enough to 'look away now' if we didn't want to know the score in order to pretend we were 'in the moment'.

So that's my final word on this matter from now up until the tournament starts and everyone else catches on about how SBS has dudded Australian soccer fans.

As an addendum to this post, some of the few who read my 2014 World Cup Heavy Sleeper work have wondered what will this mean for that feature's possible return next year. The truth is, I don't know. Part of what made the Heavy Sleeper work (in my opinion) was its amazing access to every game, provided I could wake up, which is obviously lessened now. Another aspect was its spontaneity, and I'm not sure I can replicate that.

But most importantly, the Heavy Sleeper was able to succeed as an immense piece of Great Art (whatever that is) because the tournament was great, and I was able to tap into joy for once - and for close to a whole month no less - instead of the unceasing negativity and moroseness that is South of the Border. Do people really want to read an angry and ceaselessly negative World Cup variant of what I do here? Do I even want to write that?

The answer to those questions is 'I don't know'. I was happy enough to let that glorious experiment remain as is, and I may still do so. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Final thought

Monday, 19 June 2017

Showboat - South Melbourne 8 St Albans 1

Nearly impossible to understand in-joke placed here for my own amusement.
We'd left the Bubbledome behind, but our fine form and the seagulls followed us back to Lakeside.

Yes, when you approach games such as this you are expected to show at least some level of at least mock concern. You know, the kind of concern that goes along the lines of "sure we're unbeaten in three months and they've won one game all season, but stranger things can happen so let's not be complacent".  That went out the window pretty quickly in this game. We dominated from the start, and even though it took a little longer than one would've like to open the scoring - I did say to Gains at one point that 'it'd be nice to score soon, just in case' - the gulf in class was there for all to see.

A struggling team like St Albans might be able to hack and scrap out a result on its own ground - especially something like the small and bumpy Churchill Reserve - but on the wide, lush expanses of Lakeside, they will struggle to keep up. This is especially the case if their opponents, like South, employ a wide and expansive game. Without Milos Lujic - who was out injured - Leigh Minopoulos moved into the centre-forward position, and Stefan Zinni replaced the suspended Jesse Daley. Minopoulos provided a more mobile forward option, and Zinni a faster option out wide, neither of which St Albans could handle. And that's not even mentioning the marauding goal scoring midfield machine that is 2017's Matthew Millar.

Once the first goal was scored by Millar, the rest came tumbling after, and any sense of this being a danger game was quickly pushed away. Minopoulos, Brad Norton and Nick Epifano all had goals before the break. With Heidelberg falling behind at home to Oakleigh, the focus turned to goal difference and possibility of even snatching top spot. After our abysmal 'sack everyone' start to the season, it has been a remarkable turnaround. That doesn't mean that complacency hadn't slipped in - Calvin Mbarga's goal before half time seemed to come out of nowhere, as these things tend to do when you're on top by so much, so early.
The social club has upgraded its seating. It's now steel frames and padding.
They also had a spaghetti special, which I would've been more amenable
to trying had it been made with a short pasta variety. Spaghetti gets messy. 

And to their credit St Albans came out hard in the second half, while we were still poncing about. They should have added a second goal, and only the vagaries of the laws of physics kept them from doing so. Don't ask me how it works, I'm a lowly humanities human. Soon enough however South woke up and resumed the barrage - and the showboating. The heights of this insanity? Michael Eagar attempting some outrageous flick from a corner, and a Pavlou pile driver from a very long way out which crashed against the post.

Never mind. Two more goals to Minopoulos, another goal to Millar, and a goal on debut to Spanish forward David Marca Moreno completed the humiliation. If not for the efforts of the St Albans goalkeeper, without any sense of hyperbole the scoreline could've ended much worse for the visitors. They were also saved - if such a thing could be argued - by the referee, who refused to play any additional time. Maybe he'd seen enough. I understand. We'd got enough goals to do end the day on top of the table, and the crowd was mostly very appreciative of this fact - except for some indistinct goings on at the back of the stand.

I was pleased that Matthew Foschini was kept at right back and Luke Pavlou at defensive mid. Nick Epifano came off injured in the second half - it looked serious, but you never with these things. A late yellow card to Brad Norton was unnecessary. It was good to get a full game into Zinni, and some minutes into Moreno. Both looked good, but the calibre of opponent was not optimal in regards to testing either of them to the fullest. If this match demonstrated anything, it showed up the difference between the haves and have nots of the Victorian topflight. Once upon a time, the power centre was very much in the north and west, and even if St Albans were never the most successful part of the western element, they were a Victorian topflight mainstay for twenty years. The arrival of Melbourne Knights from the NSL hasn't helped Dinamo's cause, but neither has the power and money centre shifting in a south-easterly direction. They've also had their injuries, but they also can't attract the combination of quality aspirant youngters, A-League fringe-dwellers, and top-shelf VPL lifers as South and teams like South can.

For us, we have a much tougher run in the next couple of weeks - Dockerty Cup midweek, very short recovery time before playing Oakleigh, and then Green Gully the week after. The squad's depth will be tested, and while we want to win everything, there may need to be some rationing made, and some players nursed through. Oh, and Kristian Konstantinidis is due back soon.

Next game
Bentleigh Greens in a Dockerty Cup semi-final at Oakleigh on Thursday. My first wish is that we win the game. My second wish is that whoever is listed as the away side for this fixture - and it appears to be Bentleigh in this case - wears white or their nominated away colours. for the sake of improved visibility insofar as this is a night game and royal blue and dark green tend to blur into each other, especially on poorly lit grounds. I expect this game to be streamed live, but check your local guides closer to the event.

Slipping under the radar
Among the transfers last week - unannounced by the club - was Lionel Masudi from NPL 2 side Murray United. He played in the under 20s match last week.

Congratulations to...
Former South Melbourne junior Ajdin Hrsutic who made his national team debut last week in the Socceroos' loss to Brazil.

Match programmes
Added round 5, 1978 thanks to Mark Boric.

Around the grounds
In the interests of science
So by now you've all heard of the amazing nine minutes in which Bulleen put five goals past Knights at Somers Street. It sucked the right out of the stadium. The goals were flying in so quickly, my phone froze and Bulleen scored twice during the reboot. What you may not have heard is who is getting the blame for this - and it's not who you may think! Yes, rather than the coaches or the players, it's your correspondent who has been singled out for blame, all for doing nothing more than attending Knights matches in 2017. Well, there's only one way to test this theory out properly - I must keep going to Knights matches this season to see if it's really my presence that's cursed them.

No food in the fridge so let's repaint the house
So, Altona East finally get to a play a proper home game in 2017. The new grass is close enough to ready. The new fences are up. Now all they need is some points, because as it stands things are not looking good. They start off this game against the capable Banyule by hitting the crossbar, then falling behind. They win a penalty, and have it saved. Things fall apart in the second half as frustration turns teamwork toward ego, and they cop two more goals. None of these three goals are especially remarkable, but they are pleasing to watch for their simplicity, which is not the same thing as hoofball. Given the level they play at, and the bigger budgets of other clubs, Banyule at least provide a lesson in how to play the game from which anyone can learn from.

Final thought
The cheesecake was fine. I've had better. I've had worse. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't go so far as to absolutely rave about it. But at least I know how to savour these things, make the moment last.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Original Bingate artefact Wednesday

Apart from the main goal of (re)presenting) and presevring these materials, the words in this post is mostly me trying to fill out a page with text when the entries themselves - including the teacher's comment of 'nasty stuff Peter!' - speak for themselves.

Back in 2009, I put up this post which focused on how once upon a time (circa 2001), South Melbourne Hellas was still relevant enough that references to it in local Greek school course materials seemed entirely natural.

But of course, independent of any curriculum mandate, South Melbourne Hellas fans had been using South as part of their schoolwork for many years before that, and in my case also much later.

Some time ago a bloke posted these diary entries he'd written in primary school onto a Facebook group; I think it was the 'Bring Back the NSL' page. If true, this would be both ironic and hilarious because these images provide several strong arguments on why the NSL should not be brought back - unless you're into this kind of thing of course. Some people are.

I never got around to posting those here on South of the Border at the time, despite obtaining the permission of Peter Kougi to do so. So here they are, and a belated thanks to Peter for sharing them in the first place, and for allowing us to share them here as well. It's safe to say that these diary entries, especially the one with the bin, have already earned a significant amount of notoriety of their own volition.

We'll never know why I delayed putting these up, but the whole 'bingate' affair from this year's trip to Kingston reminded a lot of people of these images, so it seems fitting that we at South of the Border have eventually got around to uploading them, I am also reminded of Billy Natsioulas' story post from the blog's earliest days, which included reference to the 1993/94 Hellas-Croatia riot incident.

Monday, 12 June 2017

A rare treat - South Melbourne 3 Heidelberg United 0

The Setting
Every now and again, when a good crowd turns up for what might be considered by a neutral as a meaningful affair of a South match, I like to note in these pages that the occasion 'felt like a real game'. Of course, for South fans, every game is important and meaningful, no?
And let's not forget no social club either!

So, because Brazil wanted to use Lakeside exclusively for training preparations, we found ourselves at the Bubbledome. No complaints from me as a one off, and I think most South fans, whether regular Bubbledome visitors or first timers, enjoyed the novelty of the experience. Those first ten minutes especially felt surreal, some strange mishmash of past and future that shouldn't have been, but was. Then the game eventually did its bit to overcome the uncanniness of the setting, and attention was then mostly on the players.

I don't like to predict crowds or count them, but I was expecting no more than 1,200 or so. The public holiday long weekend, the relatively lake kickoff, the lack of media attention, and all the usual banes of this state league existence. Some of that would be offset by the novelty value, the odd neutral making the trip in, the fact that it was South vs Heidelberg in a near top of the table clash, but those expecting miracles of several thousand to turn up were to my mind misguided.

The fact that close to 2,500 (officially 2,365) turned up was a good result. It was not earth shattering, but neither was it embarrassing. The club had promoted the game through its social media channels, the FFV did their bit, and the Berger fans came out in good numbers. One fan noted afterwards that a crowd like that at Lakeside would have been electric - and I won't argue with that - but it was hardly a disaster. It helped that, so far as I could tell, South itself did not put a number out into the public sphere that would be considered as a pass mark. Sure, it's true that you miss all of the shots you don't take, but by avoiding setting a definitive target, the crowd number did not become the be all and end all of the day.

Catch her if you can: Melina Ayres celebrates as South's WNPL side
keep pace with the ladder leaders after beating Alamein 3-1.
Photo: Mark Avellino.
I was surprised that rather than just opening the entirety of the western stand and leaving the rest of the ground closed off to the general public, that the folks in charge went for a bit more of a customer focused approach, opening the lower deck on the western side, but also each of the goal ends. South of the Border and associates got to the ground well before kick-off for the men's game, and had little issue with quickly getting our tickets and getting in. I'm not sure if lines closer to start time were more problematic. Security outside the ground was a bit intense for an NPL match, being standard major events stadium practice of bag searches and empty pocket metal scans, but inside the ground everything seemed fairly casual.

(the food and drink prices I'm told were ridiculous; it makes you appreciate the relative pleasures of local grounds, and for me at least, what we have with our social club)

As you'd expect there was no segregation of fans, though there was a certain amount of natural selection; South fans tending to take up areas of the southern side of the available space, including the behind the goals, while the Bergers took up northern areas. Security inside the venue seemed non-intrusive, the only interference in our area being to tell people to not stand on seats, which seems like a reasonable enough request. I don't understand why people stand on seats anyway when they don't need to do so in order to see the game. Clarendon Corner's minimal banner and confetti display received no hassle. Clarendon Corner's numbers were fine, and the chanting more frequent and committed than usual. The most memorable chant? Off the top of my head, 'shit ground, no fans'. Oh, and anything primary school level in order to outdo some Berger juniors on the wing.

Then there were the seagulls. The seagulls are infamous, of course, and Lakeside is not immune to their appearance - we are not so far from the ocean, after all. But the seagull problem at Bubbledome is something else. The kookaburra noise intermittently played over the speakers to disperse them was also almost as irritating as the seagulls to some. I was later told that the same sound is also played at the MCG, but I can't say I've ever heard it, maybe because I was too busy abusing Travis Cloke at the time. Anyway, I can't say with any authority whether the sound affects worked,

The stadium music was too loud, and its musical selections - with the exception of a bit of Pulp's 'Commin People' - not much better than Lakeside's offerings. The benches from the 2015 Asian Cup didn't make an appearance, and thus we had the famous Bunnings chairs instead. The scoreboard was in full operation, simulcasting the live stream. Most importantly, the grass and line markings all seemed up to scratch, which was a relief after the Wallabies had played on the field the day before.

The Match Itself
As we were making our way to the ground from the pub on Swan Street, I noted to one of the fans along for the walk that I no longer felt confident about any South game. So different to the NSL days in that regard, and so out of synch with the fact that in the Chris Taylor era we've been able to amass several long undefeated streaks. And as much as I hate to say it, the novelty of having an open doors match at Bubbledome also left one wondering about the contrived social media reaction would be if we lost this game. But that's just me being unnecessarily sensitive, as per usual.

For all Heidelberg's complaints about having to field a sort of makeshift defense - which seemed to me to centre mostly around Steven Pace being out injured - it's not like we didn't have our own issue. Milos Lujic had injured a hamstring during the week, or so they said, so I wasn't expecting him to be out there yesterday, but there he was, metaphorically on one leg, Seeing him out there didn't fill me with confidence - it was certainly a gamble, but I guess the powers that be felt that the situation warranted the risk. I had felt, and still feel, that we've been very fortunate to not have Milos miss many games, and that while what do no doubt works most of the time, it would be interesting - from a strictly scientific point of view, of course - to see how the team would play without him. I'd expect that properly set up, it would be probably be less clinical, but it would also be much more flexible and unpredictable.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves a bit. Our defense also had a notable absence, in that Tim Mala was missing because of the red card he got in our game two weeks ago against Port. So what was the plan going to be for this time around without a known right back? Would Taylor play defensive mid Luke Pavlou there for a third time, having copped eight goals in the two games he was slotted in there? Thankfully not! Matthew Foschini was put there, and he played rather well. The big threat for Heidelberg around the final third is of course Kenny Athiu. It's not just his size, but also his mobility which causes opposition defenses problems. And in the first fifteen minutes or so, we were on the back foot, scrambling around a bit. But after that, we seemed to control the game. As one unfairly maligned supporter noted, apart from playing in his natural position, Foschini was also able to play those passes down the line better than Mala usually does.

Nick Epifano's shot on its way for 3-0. Photo: Mark Avellino 
Our wide play - our best feature when we play well under Taylor - was at its best last night. On the other hand, the Bergers would get to wide areas, or into the corners, and get stuck; snookered if you will. Our counter-attacks, so often a weak point of ours, have become a bit more a reliable outlet for us. Going two goals up before half-time - a slightly fortunate goal for Nick Epifano, and well taken one on one by Lujic - made things much easier to sort out for the second half. Lujic was subbed for Leigh Minopoulos, and while we played a bit more conservatively in the second half - we always controlled the nature of the game. As an aside, it will be interesting to see how Lujic's hamstring issue is managed over this next little bit - provided that he didn't aggravate the matter in his 45 minute stint yesterday.

We should have added to our lead well before the Peoples' Champ tapped in Jesse Daley's pass with about ten or so to play, but that's to nitpick unnecessarily. Our desperation for the contest across the board was excellent. Our organisation was usually pretty good. Even at our most vulnerable Nikola Roganovic only had to make sparing saves, the most spectacular of which was when the game was well over. If I was to pick out something which annoyed me, it was our continuing tendency this season to collect yellow cards from unnecessarily aggressive fouls or assorted inessential nonsense. Yellow cards get collected out of custom anyway, and the more games you play the more you'll get. Coming up to a crowded bit of the schedule though, it will be a problem when we have to shuffle things around more so than you would like. But that's where the much vaunted depth comes into play.

Unfamiliar venue, familiar routine: Nikola Roganovic, as he usually does
 after a game, celebrating with South Melbourne fans. Photo: Mark Avellino. 
The ladder as it stands is a complicated situation, what with the teams at the top, including ourselves, having various numbers of games in hand, sometimes against each other. The important thing is that we've kept in touch with the ladder leaders, especially Heidelberg, who could've skipped away with a win yesterday. We also extend what is an absurdly long unbeaten run. It's a long way from the dire start to the season.

In conclusion
A good win, and most people seemed to enjoy the event. It was also nice to be able to share the experience with everyone else, as opposed to what happened last year.

Next game
Sunday at Lakeside against St Albans.

Coming and goings
Liam McCormick has departed the club, joining Dandenong City. Meanwhile, we've signed young midfielder Bardhi Hysolli from Bulleen. I have no idea who he is, which doesn't mean he's no good. We've also gone for a Spanish forward, David Barca Moreno, from Getafe B. I feel like I've seen this move played before, but I can't put my finger on it. His international clearance reportedly came through this week, but not his local clearance, There is talk that Andy Kecojevic has gone overseas, but nothing official at the time of print.

Intergalactic Space Hussy department
For Victorian premier Daniel Andrews, caught two-timing us with the Dandenong A-League bid.
Around the grounds
Half arsed
Among even the most sartorially oblivious of men can be found a certain niche for fashion trends - the soccer jersey. And thus I spent part of a Friday night at Somers Street observing a conversation about colours, shades, cuts and fabric; about makers, years, taste, and at times an unapologetic preference for unpopular styles. As for the game itself, it was rubbish. Knights are barely keeping their head above water, being at the start of a very long rebuild. Bentleigh meanwhile went about their business completely half-arsed. While else would they play Andy Brennan when he is clearly battling with injury? The game seemed set to take its expected course, when Bentleigh took the lead in the first half via Lambros Honos. Knights were bound to get one chance which they would need to make the most of - and Tom Cahill blasted his penalty into the back of the net. Then Bentleigh had a player sent off, and you wondered how Knights would manage to stuff this one up. The answer? By conceding a woefully soft goal with the last kick of the game, And I never got to find out for sure if Knights ever had an Umbro kit in their history.

The proverbial, dare I say, quintessential six-point game
Westgate, the home team, were on three points. Altona East, the away side, were of four. South of the Border's correspondent, having not had lunch, was hungry. Westgate scored, early in the second half, and won the game. Altona East had their chance, saw it saved, and lost the game. I had a cevapi, was satisfied, and walked home for dinner after the match. Where everyone involved lost: when someone decided to have this game kickoff after 6:00PM. It was cold when the game began, and it was bloody cold when the game ended. Dead set, this bloke rocked up to watch the game early in the second half wearing shorts and thongs and I was *this close* to getting his mates to stage an intervention. As you can see, it was not the most thrilling of affairs.

Making hay while the sun shines
Approaching the gates, I pull out my media pass. One bloke at the gate is OK with it, another guy demands a more rigorous examination. That's no surprise - who from the media would bother to cover this game? So after I explain that I'm a freelancer, I eventually go through. The old blokes in front of the social club - some of whom I know from other grounds - are comparing their ages. I buy a souv - and you know it's a big game when they have a separate booth for buying tickets away from the food outlet - and wander through the social club. The picture frames tell the story. Of humble origins, in photo and in print. Of volunteers who built the social club building in the late 1980s. Of being proud of playing South, and beating us. Western Suburbs had a brief bit of limelight in 2007 and 2008, when they reached the lofty heights of the Victorian Premier League. They got a new grandstand and media box out of the stint, and good luck to them for that. Nowadays things are a bit more grim, down in State League 1. Myself, it's moment like these, sitting in the stand during the tail end of the reserves, wondering how I got here. Yarraville had the better of the first half, and should have capitalised on their chances. They didn't, and during the second half, five or so minutes of napping undid the visitors. The first goal was a chip over the keeper from angle; the second goal a lofted ball from a midfield free kick which sailed over the Yarraville keeper, and which almost no one expected let alone saw. Yarraville only managed to wake up late, and score in the dying seconds.

Final thought
The staff at the Richmond Club Hotel really should have given me a pen so I could get the out of date map on one of the walls up to speed.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Ticketing and entry info for tomorrow's match

Of course you should all know by now that tomorrow's WNPL and NPL double header is on at AAMI Park and not at Lakeside. Here are the rest of the details as per FFV sources and some other stuff I've added.

Public transport and parking
  • Short walk from Richmond Station (in the event that they open up the southern gate), a longer walk if they only have the northern gate open
  • Better yet, catch the No. 70 tram to Wattle Park from outside Flinders Street
  • I don't drive here, so I couldn't care less, but for those that must, there is no AFL match on the MCG on that day so for those that know the parking situation around the area, maybe take that into account.
Ticketing and entry
  • Tickets are available for purchase online.
  • Ticket sales on the day will be from 3:15PM onward, from the ticket booth in Section E.
  • As this is a South Melbourne home game, South members receive free entry to this match, but they will first need to go to the ticket booth to pick up a printed ticket. There will apparently be a designated booth for this purpose.
  • Gates will open at 3:30PM - entry will be via Gate 7, which is opposite what was Olympic Park on the western side of the Bubbledome. This makes me think that only the western side of the ground will be open to the public.
Women's game
  • The WNPL game between Alamein and South Melbourne will kickoff at 4:00PM.
Men's game
  • The NPL game between South Melbourne and Heidelberg will kickoff at 6:30PM
Live stream 
  • The women's game will be streamed live on
  • The men's game will be streamed live on Flip TV, which I assume will also be on Facebook but I don't know what the address will be for that, maybe check it yourselves by keeping track of FFV's sources.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A post-Roberto Carlos VIP Dinner Night cigarette with Savvas Tzionis

My attempt to get Roberto Carlos to attend South of the Border's
exclusive dinner event failed to achieve its goal.
Last week some of you may have noticed that South Melbourne Hellas were involved in all sorts of Roberto Carlos fluffery, including a gala ball event at the casino. Since I was not interested in paying whatever the bloated cost was of attending the gala event, and also because I was trying to ignore the whole Roberto Carlos thing as much as possible, it appeared unlikely that there would be anyone who would be able to relay some thoughts on the evening's affairs. Luckily for South of the Border and its audience, regular comment leaver and occasional contributor Savvas Tzionis not only found himself at this event, but he was also gracious enough to agree to my request for a rundown of affairs.

From a personal point of view, reading this piece reminded me of a few things. For example, the involvement of Mark Bosnich reminded me of this and also this, while the appearance of Paul Wade reminded me of this (see the comments section in particular), and made me regret once more my not having not gotten around to writing up a piece on Paul Wade's mid 1990s autobiography, which could have led to several interesting observations. That's what happens when you leave something on the backburner for seven or eight years though. So it goes. Over to Savvas.

A post-Roberto Carlos VIP Dinner cigarette with Savvas Tzionis
When you continue to advertise your renewed passion for South Melbourne, be prepared to be called on it. I probably wasn't, and x amount of dollars later, I was obligated to attend the Roberto Carlos inspired gala event at Crown Palladium, at the invitation of a friend of mine (let's call him LH) from the GOCMV (Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria). I was initially hesitant simply because I have some doubts about the push for an A League spot. But not being a complete naysayer, I was curious. Plus, I got a discounted ticket.

The attendance was very good, except for three or four empty tables near ours, but I struggled to spot any regular NPL attendees except a couple in the smokers room (and as I will explain, it's STILL the place to be, where you can find out interesting tidbits). The highlights of the previous week's amazing FFA Cup game against Dandenong City were shown and I dare say if the attendees included a few more actual supporters, there would have been more than polite applause at the climax with the Rocky music.

I happened to be adjacent to the table that had Michael Eager, Marcus Schroen, and Jesse Daley. Leigh Minopoulos was on another table for some reason (did he bring his family or something?). Schroen (mis)informed me that the Avondale game was bring played that Sunday. My table was full of LH's friends. Not one word was spoken about South, except about the redeveloped ground, which instantly morphed into a discussion about Eddie McGuire and AFL. And then My Big Fat Greek Wedding somehow popped up! Nearly all appeared to be private school alumni; is that a line of demarcation in relation to supporting South? What percentage of our supporters attended or send their kids to private schools?

Sponsor and menu details from the Roberto Carlos VIP dinner.
Click on the image to enlarge.
The food was very nice, but there was no alternative servings like at a wedding. And while the dessert was nice, it was heavy on the chocolate, which meant I had no urge to eat the additional chocolates that were served with tea and coffee. As for the night itself, it proceeded smoothly. Not that anything can really go wrong when it's generally a talk-fest, but hats off to the organisers. I particularly liked the obligatory Brazilian percussionists. It brought back memories of the 2002 World Cup (a forgotten lost opportunity for Australian Soccer where the Socceroos could have been playing prime time football).

The only lull was while they did a half hour Foxtel cross, but that allowed everyone to socialise and/or go for a second cigarette. Earlier, LH and I went to the smokers room for an initial cigarette, and I was introduced to the MC, Costas 'Tony the Yugoslav' Kilias. Just as we were finishing, in strode both a verbose Mark Bosnich and Robert Carlos himself, who for no particular reason smiled at me before he sat down for a ciggy! There you go!

Roberto Carlos, the man of the moment himself,
snapped during a quiet moment away from the festivities.
The interview with Roberto Carlos via his interpreter, the sponsor of the night, the presumably multilingual Morris Pagniello was interesting enough. Was Roberto speaking Spanish or Portuguese? I cannot remember. I felt some sort of vindication when Carlos stated that the most important thing that Australian soccer needed to achieve was to create great players. This was exactly what I had said to LH in an earlier conversation when I mentioned that the greatest failure of the current regime is their inability to have fostered any players that can match our Golden Generation (which was not just the 2006 team. In my opinion it encompasses the years from the mid 1990s).

Some of the other interviewees revealed some interesting information such as Bozza's request for LESS players in his defensive wall at free kicks! And even more interestingly was Goran Lozanovski telling us that he was in tears of joy at one point during the World Club Championship in 2000. Is this the apex of South's peak moment in its history? If so, there is an irony that someone called Goran Lozanovski was the person who would encapsulate it. Bozza also pushed the line about the women’s game growing in record numbers. I wondered if this was to counter the AFL push into the female ‘market’ or simply because he was interviewing Lisa De Vanna.

The last interviewee that piqued my interest was Paul Wade. Now I am led to believe that he has been less than effusive about South and the NSL in general. He certainly has little idea of what is going on at South now, as he asked if Lefteri was still there playing his trumpet! His less than effusive manner may have prompted his interviewer, Mark Bosnich (who is much taller in person than some of us imagined) to ask if South Melbourne should change their DNA. I cannot remember Wadey's response, but ultimately I didn't think he believed South Melbourne should be in the league primarily because of their 'DNA'. In some ways it was strange to have him as one of the key guests. But it was interesting nonetheless, especially when someone asked him if Australia could ever win the World Cup to which he said 'NO'. Personally, I do not particularly like his style of answering questions. It's not conducive to having an exchange of ideas.

But at least having Wadey there provided a counter to any pie in the sky thoughts about getting in the A-League. There is still a school of thought among some that the likes of South shouldn't be considered for inclusion. And if I can use the pub test (the Blackburn Hotel to be exact), among my suburbanite friends there are a couple who refuse to countenance South's inclusion. The majority however are not perturbed and are in fact keen on a South Melbourne bid insofar as it provides a point of difference to the existing arrangements. They certainly are not aware of any ‘falsehoods’ being put out there. It’s all about the Sell!

To finish off, a South Melbourne Hellas event wouldn't be complete without the obligatory infighting among the 'fans'. For a moment I thought I was attending a vital cup match between South Melbourne and a lower league club, and South was losing 4-1 in the 80th minute. But then I realised it was a (presumably?) drunk former 'player' (who went on to Hollywood 'stardom') who started throwing abuse towards a table near us. I am not sure if he was directing it at a particular person or a group of people because no one (thankfully!) at the table responded. Luckily Mr Thedoso .... oops I better not mention his real name (let’s call him Costas Mandylor) departed without further rancour.

And kudos to Bill Papastergiadis for no further unnecessary embellishments. Someone, maybe Bill himself, even made the statement about South Melbourne being one of two clubs to have featured in every season of the NSL. Let’s stick to the facts from now on.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

One (more) thing that was bothering me

Despite having largely overcome the seven year ordeal of not having a social club, South Melbourne Hellas continues to face many obstacles in its day to day existence. These obstacles include, but are not limited to:
  • The arcane machinations of state and national soccer bodies
  • A now seemingly permanent second tier status
  • Media obscurity except in the most unusual and desperate of situations
  • The assimilation/absorption oriented nature of Australia's Anglo-Celtic centric form of multiculturalism
  • The club's own intermittent or frequent (your call) bouts of incompetence
  • Modern difficulties of managing work/life balance
  • Neos Kosmos, Neos Kosmos English Weekly, Ta Nea
  • State Sport Centres Trust
  • Winter
  • A-League hooligans
  • Opposition sides
  • Negative bloggers
But there is one group above all others whose actions - or just as often, lack of action - has hurt the club more than anyone. What's more, compared to everyone and everything else, this group tends to slip under the radar.

I am talking of course about that broad collective which contains former and especially latent South Melbourne Hellas supporters. Now, most of us have dealt with the defiantly former South fan, and their myriad of mostly retrospectively contrived reasons for no longer supporting us. Frankly, I'm not in the mood to deal with those folks right now. But the latent as opposed to merely treacherous fan tends to fly under the radar. Oh, we talk about them a little bit - more so in the past - when we need them to perform one of two symbolic functions.

The first of these functions sees reference made to The Great Lost and Wandering Tribe of Hellas when we talk about all the fans that will come back to Lakeside once we re-enter the A-League. The second instance is when we talk about their absence as it affects us in our guise of misery inducing second tier status. 'If only a quarter (or similar number) of the 6,000 odd regulars of the NSL era who have left us would come back, we'd be better off in so many ways on and off the park' is the somewhat mangled mystery meat combination lament.

Unlike the deliberately and self-consciously trendy infidels who now support 'other' teams and who boast about their disloyalty towards South, the latent fan is harder to find. You may find an elder gentleman sitting at a barber shop, kafeneio, or perhaps in a cemetery. But there are also younger and more tech savvy variants who are easier to find by use of a simple device: the posting of South Melbourne Hellas pictures or videos of our glorious NSL teams and players. Do that on Facebook and to a much lesser extent Twitter, and watch them metaphorically scurry out from underneath the proverbial fridge, only to disappear once the business of South Melbourne Hellas as it exists now comes to hand.

Now I can empathise with these people. The NSL was undoubtedly awesome, especially if you were a South fan. You watched one of the league's most popular and successful teams, which played in one of the competition's better stadiums, and the club you supported carried about itself an air of invincibility and cockiness that likewise added a spring to your step.

But nowadays the club is - as this blog has talked about in far too much depth - something you no longer recognise or wish to recognise as the club you spent so much time, money, and emotion supporting. Your heart is broken by seeing South become re-associated with clubs that it had left behind. Watching the club play every second week in industrial zone paddocks, and every other week from behind the running track, is a torture the now latent fan cannot bare.

[Let's also not discount the problem of your mates or relatives no longer coming to games - it makes motivating oneself for the grind that much harder if you had a social group you were involved with and which is now no longer interested. People attract people, a crowd attracts a crowd, but once you slip underneath a certain critical mass, attendances, interest and relevance can dissolve very quickly.]

And let's not get started on the standard of play! So they stay away, and cloistering themselves at home, or at the footy, but especially in the soft, warm cloak of nostalgia. Meanwhile, those South fans still attending games rationalise the behaviour of latent fans as soft, or weak, or even as irresponsible. Me, I probably think all those things and more when I think about these latent Hellas fans, but at the heart of the matter, I understand the compulsion to stay away. I don't agree with it, but believe me, I do understand.

The same issues that keep those types away don't just magically disappear for those of us that still do attend. Every car trip into a suburban outpost, every long multi-modal and poorly serviced public transport trip to some ground that doesn't have an elevated view or even a concrete terrace, every loss to a team that five minutes ago was playing three or four divisions lower - all of it takes a toll on those still going to games. The flip-side to that is that there is also a camaraderie among the fans, especially those that do the business week in and week out; there is joy, there is comedy, and there is also victory, compromised as it may be by our circumstances.

So because I understand their reasoning, when I see these latent fans reminiscing about the 'good old days', I don't jump in and judge them. It doesn't do any good, and is certainly not likely to get them to come back. I'd rather set the example via my own attendance and this blog, where I contribute to the general South experience in order to do my small bit to keep the club as a going concern.

Recently however on Twitter, there was a passionate but also hilarious discussion on South's A-League bid shenanigans, especially some of the very loose handling of facts by certain members of the bid team. During that discussion, one of these self-confessed latent Hellas fans - one notable not only to myself but also to others for his tendency to only talk about South as a historical instead of ongoing concern - accused some South fans who were discussing and disagreeing with the conduct of South Melbourne's A-League bid team as exhibiting 'disreputable' behaviour.

One assumes this scalding (and for that writer, also quite uncharacteristic) epithet was directed to persons like myself, and possibly to folk like T. Arvanitis of Murrumbeena, who posted what was otherwise considered a very worthwhile bit of commentary on South's A-League bid media strategy on this blog. My normal response to such a provocation would be to remain in character, play a straight bat, and ask a question along the lines of 'disreputable how?'.

Instead of doing that - maybe because it was getting late and because tolerance to latent fans had worn thin - I responded with a hastily cobbled together response (including a choice typo) which played the man and not the issue. One could see it as giving back what I'd received, but it still felt a little unbecoming. The response to my riposte was to accuse me of having an agenda, whatever that meant to the particular person making that accusation (there was no follow up explaining what my agenda may be).

I don't know how he read something so sinister into my Twitter oeuvre, but if I were to admit to having an agenda, as a South fan it would be: to go to as many games as possible in order to support the team; to add a dry, curmudgeonly wit to the general atmosphere; and to lend my assistance to the club where I reasonably can. As a blogger, my aims are to do what I've always done: to provide a source of South news, opinion and assorted nonsense that is independent of South's official media channels; to increase the level of South fans' interests in the club's off-field operations; and to present a different public front to non-South fans about what this club is about. Sometimes this will compliment the club's efforts, and sometimes they will take an oppositional tone.

But to get back to the main point. Yes, it's sad that we have latent fans who for whatever reason can no longer bring themselves to attend South matches. That's their choice, and if they want to define themselves by reminiscence alone, there's not much we can do. Those of us who are still attending games appreciate what we have, not just what we had. So by all means if you're a latent fan, enjoy your fill of nostalgia - but don't go complaining about contemporary happenings at the club on or off-field, or the media's treatment of the club - because if you're not going to games yourself, you should probably reconsider the merits of your indignation.

Ultimately, the club exists for the living, not the dead. It's all in or not in at all. Lastly, it's never too late to come back - others who have drifted away have come back - even I've done it. It's not all bad.