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.


  1. I am intrigued by the notion of the smoking section being the Greek-Australian equivalent of the golf course, insofar as it seems to be the place where the real business gets done.

  2. I just realised that in the foreground of the photo that was taken of Roberto Carlos there is a, somewhat, dirty ashtray!

    1. I thought that was half the point of that photo!

    2. No. Just a happy coincidence.

  3. Something else that amused both LH and myself was Bosnich informing the audience that, although he played against Robert Carlos in 3 matches, he only managed to play against him in a Champions League first leg match in 2000. He was unavailable for the 2nd leg because he injured some part of his anatomy. seeing as he very soon after went off the rails so to speak, our response was 'Hmmmm .....'

  4. I lost respect for Paul Wade a long time ago. He was my hero when I was growing up being Captain Socceroo and Captain South. His anti NSL, anti South stance and infact anti nearly everything stance completely put me off. As you say Savvas he is a terrible person to interview, his comments are completely ill-informed and the only time he is wheeled out is when someone like Channel 7 (Sunrise etc.) need a rent a comment - which usually is delivered will little gusto or negativity. I do question his IQ.

    1. Agree. I thought on the night that he was a poor choice to be part of a football panel discussion given his conversational style.

    2. I thought it was a fun night in general. The purpose of the night from what I could tell was to highlight the Club's ability to back up its rhetoric with its ability to engage in high profile football individuals. It was a pretty good effort to sell out the Crown Palladium on a Tuesday night at $300 per head, with over 500 guests in attendance.

      The objective now is to back up the A League bid with football success, such as winning another championship, deep run in the FFA Cup, and reinforcing our football pedigree.

  5. Also, thankfully there was no fake irreverence and standing ovations.

  6. Replies
    1. Roberto Carlos: Are you sure this is the Casino? I think I should call my manager...
      Nelson: Your manager says for you to shut up!
      Robert Goulet: Morris said that?


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