Saturday, 15 July 2017

Making people happy - Melbourne Knights 0 South Melbourne 2

Kristian Konstantinidis goes over the top of his Knights opponent.
Photo: Melbourne Knights.
In the match report for the last time these teams we played each other, I noted that it fit almost perfectly into Knights fans' ideas of how they always lose to us - that is, after dominating and creating a ton of chances, they concede some arsey goal and lose the game. Yesterday wasn't quite like that, but the second half had enough to make what was a middling game that much more enjoyable. Because while the three points are pleasant and useful, especially as we didn't play that well, the manner in which we won while not objectively pleasing on aesthetic, it was pleasing on the 'sick burn' front.

In terms of the lineup, Stefan Zinni was in for Jesse Daley, and Michael Eagar came back into the team after a two week absence replacing not Kristian Konstantinidis, but rather Luke Adams. Zinni would eventually get subbed off in the second half, while Konstantinidis did some good and less good things - the good being offering a real aerial threat from attacking set pieces, his high leap being a feature - but also perhaps choosing to dive in too often for my taste.

Assorted concerned citizens check to see if Knights' player Nikola Jurkovic
is OK. Photo: Melbourne Knights.
We started the game quite well, dominated the first half, and should have gone in to half time further ahead than the 1-0 scoreline. Still, Marcus Schroen's goal from 25-30 yards out was magnificent, especially because it got a deflection which added to the luck factor. Other than that, we weren't good enough in the final third against what has been a flimsy defensive line. Apart from a late flurry by Knights where they failed to take advantage of a Nikola Roganovic spill, the most notable thing to happen in the first half was a melee from a behind the scenes incident involving Schroen. That melee at least followed on from the melee during the under 20s game earlier on.

Tensions being so high, it was a credit to the South fans who took the banter of the flag waving Knights children and their calls of 'Hellas, up your arse' with such good grace. Luckily for us those fearsome future hooligans had vacated the area behind the southern goal, so we could move there for the second half and create a good effect for SMFC video, which is what it's all about these days.

The second half by us was not so good. We gave Knights far too much possession and territory, a lot of corners, and survived mostly thanks to a goal line clearance, the crossbar, and Knights' woeful finishing. As the match wore on however, I was not so concerned. As some of you may have observed, I've watched quite a few Knights games this season, and I became confident that they wouldn't score. On that point, someone noted that Jason Hicks is probably the only ex-player of ours in recent times who hasn't come back to haunt us, that must of course come with an asterisk because Hicks didn't actually play a game for us.

Cheer up CT! You're the manager of the winning team!
Photo: Melbourne Knights.
Watching through the goal net and the large black net, I probably had no idea how close Knights were actually getting to scoring. But even after the game's most controversial incident, I didn't think there would be cosmic justice directed Knights way. The incident in question was farcical even by Oz soccer officiating standards. A ball to the back post saw Lujic handle the ball in a contest, and Knights captain-coach Ben Surey assume that handball had been called - or that the ball had gone out, I'm not sure which - and catch the ball and get ready for a goal kick. The referee, having not called the Lujic handball, called a penalty for Surey's handling of the ball - which was still in the field of play - and then all sorts of confusion laughter and pleading broke loose.

Eventually the officials made the right decision and overturned the penalty, but who knows what their thought process was to get to that conclusion. After one more Knights chance, we eventually got our sealing goal. Good work by Brad Norton to take a throw in on the wing quickly when he might have chosen to slow play down, equally good work by the People's Champ to provide the option on the win catching the Knights' defense half asleep, and one decent cross to the back post later, Milos Lujic finishing it off with a header that snuck across the line at the opposite post.

All in all, a top night out despite the cold and the pretty small crowd, a Knights portion of which apparently started tearing into each other after the game, which is none of our business when I think about it. With Heidelberg's loss today, we've reclaimed top spot on goal difference from the Bergers. We're also equal on points with Bentleigh, but they have played an extra game compared to the top two.

Next game
Hume away on Saturday.

Gods and clods, and a bee in my bonnet
For the upcoming FFA Cup game against Edgeworth, one area I would've expected there to be unavoidable issues would've been access to the social club. I mean, the joint fits what, 300 people sitting and standing, which is perfectly acceptable for our bread and butter state league needs. But I didn't expect the club to shoot itself in the foot quite like this.

For you see, rather than opening up the social club early so that members and other people can arrive there early for a meal, the social club space has been set aside - from 5PM until 7PM - for a corporate event hosted by the club. While ordinary members and punters will be able to attend that function, it will set them back either $70 or $90 to do so.

This is especially galling for those like myself who have purchased a social club membership in part for the benefit of preferential access to the social club on busy days. The club is entitled to leverage off big match days in all sorts of ways. It should not aim to do so at the expense of ordinary members. If the club was worried about capacity, they could've taken reservations, with priority for social club members - after all, wasn't that the point of the social club membership?

There must be a very good reason why the club cannot host this function in the upstairs reception space, or as others have noted, in the President's Room itself where all these corporate big-shots and assorted one game wonders will end up anyway. I have not heard a good reason for this. If this is being done in the best interests of the club, isn't the club the membership? Are we that hard up for cash that the club feels it needs to effectively lock out members until as late as possible, unless they pay a supplementary fee?

Arguments that there's only a half hour difference to the amount of pre-game social club access people would usually get, and that an hour for the pleb supporter is enough, are outright nonsense. This is a midweek game, and much as it irks me to say this of the FFA Cup, it is a special occasion. People were looking forward to getting to the social club early on to spend more time there than they usually would, to buy more food and drink than they usually would, to be in the company of their fellow South fans for longer than they usually would.

Remarkably, without any prompting from South of the Border, several fans have sent emails to the club about this decision, and as long they are civil in their approach, I applaud the initiative. It probably won't change anything, but at least it lets the club know that there are people who aren't happy. I must admit I was appalled at one of the responses a fan received from president Leo Athanasakis, who asked the relevant fan 'where he got his information from?'. Well, it was from the information the club put out itself.

The most incomprehensible comment from the president (on Twitter) was that the social club doors would've otherwise opened only an hour and half before the game at the earliest. Is he implying that there would somehow not be enough interest from fans to turn up early, yet simultaneously enough interest that the club could charge a minimum $70 entry fee for early access? And furthermore, as one fellow pointed out to me during a discussion about this today, if this was a business networking opportunity thingamabob, why not have a cocktail party in the President's Room where people can actually move and you know, network?

I'm not one for taking up extreme and knee-jerk pro or anti board positions, but sometimes they need to cop a serious bake when they pull stunts like this. The good thing is that having not had a social club for seven years before this season, I'm well aware of what's on offer from the many quality restaurants and pubs on Clarendon Street and its surrounds. Those of you who are happy to stump up the cash for the club's function, have fun. Those who resent what's happened here can join the rest of us up the road somewhere, or you can sulk on the front steps.

Anyway, that's all I have to say on the matter. I've had my grumble.

Around the grounds
It's official - I am a distraction
Let's get the prosaic stuff out of the way. Essendon Royals (coached by Michael Curcija) have even lower credibility than the rump state that was late Byzantium. Altona East (coached by Alan Davidson) at least have access to a proper ground, even if they're lower on the table and looking likely for relegation after losing this fairly dud game 1-0. East also have better souvs, which shouldn't need to be said, but so does every club who doesn't put tasty cheese on them which congeals while the pre-made souvs wait in the bain marie. Here's where it gets a bit weird. Me and a few other blokes decided to watch the game from the behind the goals East was attacking in each half. Ormond Park is an open ground, with various combination of string and portable metal barriers spread out to act as a marker for where spectators should stand behind. First half, stood behind one of those barriers. Second half, stood behind one of those barriers. No problem. Until about 70 minutes in that is, when referee Harry Milas decided that our small group was a distraction to him. We were behind the arbitrary fence line, we weren't talking loudly or to the Royals goalkeeper, but yet we were told to move about ten metres to the right. It ruined a perfectly adequate afternoon of boredom.

Final thought
Rumour has it that a certain rotund lovable larrikin, having decided to go up to Sydney for the Arsenal tour, and having made a 'Wenger out' banner at some expense, ended up having nowhere to put this expensive banner at the game.


  1. Paul - well done on a fair and well written assessment of the game.
    As for the Schroen incident in the first half, ill assume (like the officials) you would have missed it. I just happened to be following the play and can say he is a very very lucky player. The kick on Jurkovic was deplorable and he is very lucky that the officials and the cameras missed it. Coincidently Jurkovic had a similar off the ball incident earlier this year which was sighted on film and initially received an 8 week suspension reduced to 4, and would hate to know how South fans would feel for such an important player to be suspended for so long on the eve of finals. Ill just mark this incident down in the growing category of 'how South always have the luck against the Knights' lol rofl

    1. Had heard from others there was shirt pulling to which Schroen retaliated in a prett brutal manner, but I only saw I think it was Brad Norton in the aftermath either having a go at Jurkovic or (less likely) seeing if he was OK.

  2. Kimon Trimboli16 July 2017 at 03:13

    Just a thought but was the large, angry and very loud Knights fan calling us "dogs" or was he perhaps asking someone to call DOCS to come and take the hooligans away?

    P.S told you they have video reff in the NPL, next season we are all going to count down the clock until kickoff also he he he

    1. As long we don't ever get KissCam, I can probably cope with a video ref.

  3. I am furious that the club has chosen to effectively lock out its membership from its very own social club on one of the biggest days of the football calendar. What is the logic behind shutting down your social club where many members/supporters wanted to head early to the ground, grab a meal and have a few beers prior to the big match. We should be open and inclusive.

    Why not hold the corporate event in the President's Room WHICH IS FOR THE CORPORATES !!! How do you network when you are sitting down at a dinner ?? Which corporate is going to be at Lakeside when most people are still at work at 5pm????

    The most logical planning would have the corporates in the President's Room and the members in the social club CONCURRENTLY !!!! How's that for a crazy idea !

    I hate to say this, but like any business, consumers vote with their feet. In protest, I wont be spending any of my dollars in the social club that night. I'll be grabbing a meal down on Clarendon Street and the make my way to Lakeside shortly before kick off.

  4. It's as if board members stand in front of a white board in meetings and ask themselves "what's the craziest and most illogical thing we can do to inconvenience the majority of South fans".

  5. Our soon to be FFA CUp opponent Edgeworth lost to Hamilton over the weekend.

    Their coach was at our game on Friday. I wonder did he learn anything that couldn't be learned off SMFC TV videos?

  6. Moving forward, I think the social club should be used for just that - socialising, and not as a gate.

    Entry and exit to the stadium should be limited to the main gates except for well before and well after peak periods.

    Keep track of a venue capacity number and forget the priority entry which is tough to administer.

    How big is the President's room?


    1. Presidents Room is not nearly big enough so that you could have a fully seated dinner for the number of guests the club would hope would attend. For a cocktail kind of thing, yes, as I'm pretty sure they've held such events in there before.

      Agree with you in general on the social club entry/exit situation. I understand the reasons the club would do this - primarily to funnel people through the social club - but it has been a clumsily enacted business.

      Having said that, there are matters of cost and issues with the Trust outside of match day which also screw things up on that front, but that discussion's for another day.

  7. Club as usual has fucked this up.
    Its as if they do it on purpose.
    The food is shit in the social club anyway.


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