Monday, 14 August 2017

Suffer for your crimes! - South Melbourne 2 Bentleigh Greens 0

SMFC TV boss and self-styled active support maestro 'Doc' attempts to corral
the monkeys of Clarendon Corner into producing a coherent performance.
There are some weeks where going to Lakeside feels like you're visiting a terminally ill relative in hospital. You spend the week or day or hours leading up to the visit feeling like crap, knowing that the patient feels worse, and feeling worse because you've made it all about you. Then during the visit you make an extra special effort to be cheerful for the sake of the invalid, and it sometimes kinda works if the sun is shining and the team manages to pull its finger out and pull off an unlikely or not entirely expected win. And after having spent your time putting on a brave face and consoling the poor unfortunate soul, you then leave and return to the coldness of the real world. But enough with the cheerful opening.

One way to get by in times like this is to do other things, usually burying oneself work. I do my studies as a matter of course, and I try to find things that aren't soccer related; last week I went to a session at the Melbourne International Film Festival, and I've got three more sessions planned for this week; I read my books; I cultivate my cult on Twitter. And sometimes you need a reminder that the things which seem to happen by themselves every week at South actually require work. After the implied (or is that inferred?) turmoil of the past week or so, it seems that a good deal of the more transient (uni intern) volunteer base disappeared, and things reverted to requiring a bit of old fashioned doing things ourselves.

Thus after having a beer and a so-so burger in the social club, I found myself being called upon to help with the utterly manual task of putting up the advertising boards. This wasn't new to me per se, but it had been a while since I'd done it, and it brought back memories of taking down the signage after a Clarendon Corner vs Original Melbourne 21 game back in the day; of moving rugby posts with George Kouroumalis and a surprisingly athletic George Koukoulas; and moving those toblerone-style ad bags back into the deteriorating though still yet to be gutted social club during our early days of our return to Lakeside.

Tiff Eliadis competes for the header, while Chelsea Blisset, promoted
 from the 18 waits for the spill. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
At least we had the use of several pairs of hands, and the golf cart with the wagon at the back. And when we weren't focused on the job at hand, which was most of the time, we got a pretty good close up view of the South women in action against Alamein, they of the choo choo song. Despite having a penalty saved - which is what regular women's team watcher Pavlaki said would happen when we got the penalty - we won the game 4-2, putting us five points clear on top with three games to play, and second placed Calder having a game in hand.

Eventually the time came around for the senior men. No Milos Lujic, suspended. No Jesse Daley, gone, maybe, to a better a place. No Michael Eagar, on the bench for reasons unknown. In their place, Leigh Minopoulos, Luke Adams, Tim Mala, and a reshuffle seeing Matt Foschini back in midfield. Would it work? Well the answer is 'sort of'. We got the win, generally looked the more dangerous, could have had another goal or two, and looked by Johnny A's own admission the hungrier and more lively of the two teams. And beating Bentleigh is its own reward, certainly from the players' perspective, what with having struggled against them so much in recent years.

Having said that, as one of our more astute observers of the team has noted, it wasn't just that Bentleigh looked fatigued, but that we also won the ball further up the field. In his post match comments Johnny A noted much the same - errors at the back giving us the chance to punish his team. But that's the risk that a team that likes to knock it around the back always takes - if it's not working on any given day, turnovers will happen much closer to your own goal.

Leigh Minopoulos wheels around to celebreate his second goal.
Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Of course turnovers close to goal are easier to punish when you have a more mobile forward line, and Leigh Minopoulos - who doesn't always have the best track record when starting games as the principle striker in this set up - had a great game. It wasn't just his opportunistic goal poacher's double, but the way he was able to harass and corral the Bentleigh defense, running himself to a standstill. I've argued before that there is the possibility, if not always the actuality of us being more mobile and unpredictable as an attacking unit when we don't have Milos in the side. This was one of those times when it worked, but it's never a sure thing, and of course no matter how much I love Leigh (my favourite player in this squad) you'd always rather have the bloke who has the incredible amount of runs on the board.

It was free flowing even if it wasn't always pretty; it was energetic where one didn't know for sure how the team would come out to play; and no one really played a bad game for us, including Zaim Zeneli, who came off the bench after Nikola Roganovic seemed to injure his arm during the late stages of the first half. It was impressive even if we were playing against a tired opponent, who were also experimenting a little bit - they played the underdone Nick Ward, who had trialled with us during the pre-season, and brought on Andy Brennan only for the last half hour despite him only playing 60 minutes during the middle of the week.

Other than that, the biggest issue was the seagulls deciding to deploy missiles in the uncovered parts of the grandstand, forcing people in those areas to retreat further back. If getting crapped on by a bird is the worst thing that happened on Sunday, then the day mus not have been too bad. But not being of those people that received the seagulls' lucky prize, I would say that wouldn't I?s

Next game + and calculations
Kingston City at home, in the final round of the home and away season -- keep in mind that the kickoff time is 3:00PM thanks to the simultaneous start for the final round.

Barring some incredible disaster, we'll finish the home and away season in at least second position. To finish first and secure the national playoff position however, we need all of the following to happen:
  • We need to win our game against Kingston.
  • We need Bulleen to beat Heidelberg.
  • And we need the goal difference tally to work its way into our favour.
The Bergers are playing at Bulleen and the synthetic pitch, but I don't think that will cause them too many problems, and besides which, they only need a draw. The goal difference tally - their +25 to our +22 - is also an issue, but I figure that if the Bergers do lose, than we should be able to make up the difference and more, if things go as we'd like them to.

I can't see it happening, but you can always hope.

FFA Cup news
We have been drawn at home once more, this time against Western Australian side Sorrento. Apart from someone saying that they play a hoofball oriented style of soccer, I know nothing about them.

Goodbye, Jesse Daley?
Apparently been picked up by Perth Glory or their youth team, or maybe not, but who knows for sure? Anyway, so much for Kenny Lowe feigning disinterest in our man.
Or maybe I inadvertently made Kenny aware of Jesse? Heaven help Glory if they're making recruiting decisions based off my tweets. Anyway, I noticed that one of my retweets of a South tweet was retweeted in turn by Daley,
which is odd because I don't remember Daley pretty much ever tweeting anything (it turns out he has a measly 14 tweets). Let's just put it down to being supportive of fellow Queenslander and Brisbane Roar youth team-mate Luke Pavlou.

Good grief
As noted in a rather oblique post (with a link to funny poem by a dead junkie) earlier during the week, there was some chatter doing the rounds about the club being in crisis. I didn't post much more about it then, because I didn't know enough then to go off even half-cocked. Well after a few sessions of speaking to various intermediaries but no one of Capital I 'Importance', what did I learn? Probably not much more than you guys.

The problem, or perhaps more accurately the majority of the problem, stems from the State Sports Centres Trust. The SSCT, which is apparently once again under new management, had decided that rather than stick to the agreement of dishing out our allowance on a monthly basis, decided instead to give us our money as a lump sum... and later in the year. Now that's obviously going to cause cash flow problems, though it's probably a debate for another time as to whether we should be dependent on this cash or whether it should be seen as a bonus.

That saw the Trust withhold our monthly stipend for three months. Anyway, that situation has been sorted out, and the money due paid to us in full. Not that this was done without some damage to confidence in our management, from a public relations point of view at least. And not without the club going through either a forced, half-forced, or totally planned all along restructure of its front office staffing. Two people were let go, and then one of them brought back in a reduced capacity. It doesn't seem from an outsider's point of view to have been done particularly smoothly.

As for the more serious allegations, including players leaving and players not being paid, I'm little the wiser. For the former, as usual one has to wait until the end of the season to see what manifests itself as true. On the latter, I can't say with any certainty how long our players went unpaid for, but the Bentleigh supporting peanut man told me at Paisley Park that it was six weeks, so that seems to be the story which exists outside of the club. Whatever the amount, the fact that the story made it out of the confines of the inner sanctum - when the club has been much better at plugging leaks in recent years - is also of concern.

Anyway, for the time being at least it seems as if the ship has been righted, but there seems to have been a jolt put through the club. And the more serious issues with the Trust, the profitability of the social club, and the bigger issue of volunteer and staff continuity - that is, expertise being spread throughout the club as opposed to being contained solely within individuals - remain problems to be dealt with.

Of course, some people have different interpretations of all these things. It's not that I'm going out of my way seeking a middle path, only that there seem to be very adamant people on both sides of the ledger about how things actually played out and how things should be interpreted.

Trivia Night!
There's a trivia night being hosted at the social club on Friday 25th August. It's been so many years since the club hosted one of these, so I'm looking forward to it. My table (Secret Seven, if I recall our name correctly) did not do well at the last one, and the one before that I hosted in lieu of a sick board member. Oh, and there was the famous women's team trivia night in 2007 (pre-blog days) which my table (Team Cindy) did win, but at which I had to stay behind after everyone left the pub because the West Coast-Collingwood final went into extra time. My other appearances at trivia nights were a Melbourne Uni political interest club night (Shane Warne Appreciation Society; I was the only one in the very large room who knew the answer to who the only English pope was) and another Melbourne Uni one, this time a fundraiser for left-wing student politics. My team (PPPC, don't ask) would have won if they had more than two sport questions.

Anyway, it's not about winning or losing, it's about spending time in the social club among fellow South fans, putting more money into the club, and having a good time. Though if I don't win, I will probably have a big sook.

Around the grounds
Penance
15 years ago - or thereabouts - Altona East (coached by Chris Taylor!) and Preston played off in the Victorian Premier League finals. Fast forward to 2017, and Altona East is just about to drop out of the Victorian third tier into the fourth after several dodgy escapes; meanwhile Preston is pissing money up against the wall for goodness knows what reason considering they let Altona Magic get a five or six game head start. But Preston are still in better shape than they were about three years ago when they only brought about 20 odd fans to this same fixture; this time they brought a lot more, and a couple of banners and a drum. As for myself: I dithered about going to the Altona East vs Western Suburbs game the week before, and decided to skip it and go to the supermarket and the 'Pies game in the evening instead. Not exactly sterling behaviour in a crisis. I inadvertently made up for it during this game by ending up helping out at the gate for about an hour and a half. Not that I deserve an award for this example of accidental atonement of sin, and besides, it helped impair my view of a pretty ordinary game. An early goal in each half settled this otherwise mediocre contest in Preston's favour. Next week I'll be at Melbourne International Film Festival watching anime instead.

Final thought

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Les Murray on Laszlo Urge, and non-linear academic discovery

This is something I started last year but never got around to finishing. Seeing as how Les Murray the soccer pundit passed away this week, and seeing as how South has a week off, it's about time I fished it from the depths of my drafts folder, finished it off, and got it out of the way. I liked what was going on in this a lot more back then than I do now. A more useful version will hopefully end up buried in my thesis' literature review in due time.

This is the story of both the sometimes tedious and arcane nature of academic research, but it's also a story about the meeting of two parts of Australian culture that have little do with one another. If, as the popular notion seems to suggest, that sport and the arts in Australia are inherently irreconcilable pursuits, whose meetings are at best rare and awkward, then perhaps nothing quite encapsulates that cultural schism quite like the existence of Australia's two Les Murrays.

For perhaps most of Australia, even that which is not particularly enamoured with soccer, Les Murray remains the better known of the two Les Murrays. As the face and voice of Australian soccer, and by extension also the face and voice of SBS and a certain strain of the Australian multicultural experience, Murray's fame exists outside of the narrow trench of Australian soccer; this is best typified by the Australian public's familiarity with that strange, untraceable accent, which famously prompted TISM to ask 'What Nationality is Les Murray?' - a song which would not have worked quite so well had people had no idea who Les Murray the soccer pundit was.

Then there is the 'other' Les Murray, often lauded as Australia's greatest living poet and among the finest living poets writing in the English language, but whose work most Australian have probably only come into contact with by accident and most recently twenty years ago (unless they teach poetry in schools; do they still do that?) as the co-author of John Howard's preamble to the Australian Constitution which was attached to the republic referendum. For a minority of Australians, those who might be classed as too educated for their own good to care too much about sport and popular culture, as the poetry editor for the right wing literary and cultural magazine Quadrant, Les Murray the poet is a figurehead of one of the two sides waging perpetual cultural wars against each other.

So how is it that these two Les Murrays would have anything to do with each other? Many years ago while I was still an undergraduate, I seem to recall - though this could just be me inventing a myth of my own - that some now indistinguishable person told me, probably somewhere in the imaginatively named Building 8 at Victoria University's St Albans campus, that Les Murray the poet had written a poem about Les Murray the soccer pundit. Not knowing where to start looking for it, and not having much help from either the person who must (or may?) have mentioned it, the notion of trying to find the poem died quickly. This was before I had even decided that my honours thesis let alone doctoral thesis work would focus on soccer and its relationship to Australian literature; before, too, my ending up teaching some of Les Murray the poet's works in the Australian Literature unit that we teach to second and third year students at Victoria University.

After laying dormant for so many years, the re-ermergence of this apocryphal poem owes as much to the accidental happenings one experiences when travels Melbourne in the style of a flâneur, as it does to the inner suburbs of Melbourne still having enough bricks and mortar bookshops so that the act of finding one is less a freak accident than a statistical probability.

After meeting with my mate Chris Egan in the city, and conducting another piece of historical detective work at ACMI, we decided to head towards Lygon Street for lunch. Taking the tram up there from Federation Square, we - probably mostly me - had stopped paying attention to where we should have gotten off, went several stops further up Lygon Street than we had intended, and then kept walking in the opposite direction to where we were supposed to be going. By a happy meeting of statistical probabilities, we ended up outside Red Wheelbarrow Books, a small independent bookshop. While we could have turned around and just caught the next tram back, there in the front window were an assortment of books by the anarchist poet Pi O, so of course I decided to enter the store.

After discussing Pi O with the store's proprietor and being offered a returned/secondhand copy of one of Pi O's Selected Works for $15 (as opposed to $35 for a new copy), we somehow moved on to discussing my current doctoral work on Australian soccer and literature; the chance to discuss one's thesis work with interested parties who happen to be people other than one's supervisors being an opportunity few PhD students can afford to miss. The catalyst for this was I suppose my making a remark on Pi O's lack of interest in sport, especially soccer, despite his extensive work covering (whether incidentally or not) the lives and language of migrant Europeans during the 1970s and 80s.

Indeed, one couldn't help but note the sole poem where Pi O does discuss soccer, a piece called 'Soccor', which still barely manages to discuss the topic of soccer at all. From there the proprietor of the bookshop managed to make a couple of suggestions about other literary Australian soccer texts, including Peter Goldsworthy's Keep it Simple, Stupid, which I was already well aware of, but he then recalled that Les Murray the poet had written a poem about Les Murray the soccer pundit.That he could recall no further details of its content, title, year etc was now far less of an issue than it would have been in the past. For nearly a decade on, I was now armed with the resources of the AustLit database and duly went off to search for the database entry on Les Murray the soccer pundit, and works which were about him.

Alas, there were no poems listed as being about Les Murray the soccer pundit. What to do? After noting my disappointment on Twitter that the existence of this poem may have merely been an urban myth - a poem by one Les Murray on the other Les Murray, surely it was too good to be true - someone working diligently and anonymously behind the scenes at AustLit came to the rescue.
As it turned out, according to people at AustLit the poem had never been published either in a literary journal nor in a collection of work by Murray, but rather in one of the supplements of the Weekend Australian in October 1991. So, after a detour to a university bake sale, it was off to the State Library of Victoria to search through the microfilm, sifting through generic right-wing commentary and classified jobs for professionals, until there it was - in all of its if not quite unfortunate mediocrity, then its being something quite different to what I'd expected.

One didn't expect one of Murray the poet's more stunning efforts, but even so, I could not help but be underwhelmed by the poem's style as well as its content. To begin with, even a quick overview reveals that the poem is not about Les Murray the soccer pundit at all, but merely dedicated to him - and even then, not to Les Murray the soccer pundit, but to Laszlo Ürge, the identity the soccer pundit had left behind at the start of his television career.

Without knowing of the existence of any possible prior interactions between the two Murrays, the motivation for Murray the poet writing this poem and dedicating it to Murray the soccer pundit is hard to fathom. At the end of the poem, Murray the poet affirms that 'I'm Les Murray', but it is hard to read between the lines of whether this signing off is meant to be playful and linked to the opening gambit in the dedication itself, or whether it is instead some sort of pointed attempt at reclaiming the rights to the Les Murray name - and if so, what would be the nature of that resentment?

The poem then seeks to describe, in the semi-abstract, various sports played by Australians - among them rugby union and league, Australian Rules, soccer and basketball - but with a kind of dismissive attitude. These sports seem to Murray to be fueled by an anger and relentless trudging and sense of aimless, furious activity; worse still are those who aren't participants, but who live vicariously through the athletes making those exertions. In that sense the poem's tone is entirely consistent with Murray's oeuvre so far as I'm familiar with it - an innate distrust of modernity, and also of the speed and lack of space for thought and contemplation that is attached to that notion of modernity.

It is strange then that as an Australian bush nationalist of sorts, that one of Murray's preferred sports at the specific time of this poem's publication is not cricket, especially as it may manifest itself in those idyllic John Harms-ian forms played in the Australian bush, but instead what he calls American cricket - in other words, baseball. This is strange in the context of Murray's politics because as Michael Manley has noted, whatever elements of idleness, rest, anticipation and craft are shared by cricket and baseball, cricket in its purest essence is an agrarian and time-less game, while baseball was moulded very early on into becoming an essential part of the ordered and regimented cycle of life in the modern industrial north of the USA.

Strange also are Murray's interpretations of those sports, especially the various football codes enjoyed by Australians. Here Murray plays the accidental historian, placing the rugby codes first in order of genealogy but re-interpreting in a sense the origin myths of union and league, and therefore rugby as a whole itself; while one can perhaps sense Murray vaguely alluding to the class split which saw league split off from union, at no point does Murray place rugby union's origins in the English public school system, nor allude to the inherent link between industrialisation and the professionalism of rugby league. Instead we have 'poachers in blue', who one supposes may be members of the upper classes or the military, playing for a time at least either with or alongside - it's not clear to me which Murray deigns to mean - 'farmers in brown'.

The depiction of Australian Rules in this poem is typical of the generic response someone from the northern states may make of the game - the comical appearance of the players in their sleeveless shirts and tight shorts jumping on top of each other, and the near incomprehensibility of the large crowds who are there to watch them. Murray's familiar dislike of crowds and fear of their encroachment on his personal space gets doubled down in the depiction of soccer - the implied barbarity of the kicking of heads among caged foreigners, with little definition of who is being separated from whom. Aside from this however, Murray the poet offers little more on soccer than this scene of stylised allegorical violence and the crowds of foreigners who watch the game - an unusual step to take when dedicating a poem to a soccer man.

For the rest, basketball gets short shrift, as does tennis and the grunting efforts of its players. But the point seems to be that those watching either in person or drowsily watching on a TV screen, combined with the furious exertions of the players, are suffering form a kind of madness. For Murray, for whom crowds are a form of madness in their own right, the sporting machine is not a benign illness. It's almost as if Murray sees modern professional sport - such as it was in 1991, and goodness knows it's only gotten worse - as a corruption of both work and play. the idea being that play should be left alone, untainted by commercial interests, for when play is turned into work, work too loses its own nobility. Modern sport and professional athletes begin to less resemble people participating in a vocation or ritual attuned to the rhythms of nature, becoming instead automatons.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Lambchop delay nightmare - South Melbourne 0 Avondale 2

Forgive me if there are any mistakes in this posts or if it seems to lack my usual sterling effort but I busted one of my index fingers in a door and it hurts to type and worst of all it hurts to tweet but this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it 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yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because this is the game that never ends yes it goes on and on my friends some people started playing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue playing it forever just because

But seriously, it just seemed to take forever to start and forever to end. Having finished my dinner before the game - how good is the social club when you're allowed in there? - the lights went out in the social club, and then it turned out the lights outside were off as well and even the surrounding area. It got sorted out quickly enough, but the end of the 20s game took longer to finish and though it finished early enough to get the seniors out there for an 8:30 kickoff, we ended waiting until well after that for the start. A strong starting eleven saw us carve out some good chances early, but having not taken them we were soon on the back foot. A well taken Avondale corner to the near post at the edge of the six yard box was met an Avondale player unchallenged by any South defenders, and soon we were down 1-0. Everything kind of deteriorated after that, but worse was to come in the second half.

At 1-0 down in the second half, a possible turning point arrived. Our team having done enough from a slightly chaotic penalty box entry to get the ball on the verge of crossing the goal line, an Avondale player on the goal decided or was driven by instict to use his hands to prevent the ball from crossing the goal line.
Despite certain interpretation changes to 'denial of goal scoring opportunity' decisions, handball was not one of those, so it was baffling to see the Avondale player responsible for scooping the ball off the line given only a yellow card instead of being dismissed.

Baffled as we all were by the ref's decision not to red card the Avondale player, up stepped Milos Lujic to draw us level and he went on to do this:
Which brings me to another point. Putting aside this miss which, under the current arrangement is not even the first time this has happened to us in recent times, it once again brings to mind one of the worst problems with the laws of the game. Most notoriously, it is the Luis Suarez vs Ghana World Cup variation of this phenomenon. Currently a certainly goal bound shot can be deliberately denied by a handball, and the worst that can happen is a dismissal of the relevant player and a goal conceded. Yet penalty attempts are hardly sure things, and the risk reward balance seems completely out of whack, we being in the ridiculous situation that we still have this loophole where defenders can take the risk of preventing a certain goal in favour of conceding an uncertain attempt. For mine, the obvious solution seems to be introducing the concept of a 'penalty goal' ala rugby league's penalty try. The situation would be rare and limited to situations where the referee deemed that a player had handled the ball in a situation where a goal was otherwise inevitable. Indeed, it is a suggestion being considered by the rule-making bodies.

Back to our situation. Having not scored from the penalty we proceeded to run around like headless chooks, and suffered the ignominy of conceding a second goal. Taken from some distance, it appeared as if Nikola Roganovic should have had not trouble getting his hands on to the shot, only for the ball to seemingly go straight through him or something. But still the game would just not end. Extended injuries to Avondale players meant that there was a long bout of injury time. All the more time to watch our increasingly erratic efforts going forward.

The team has not only run out of gas, it has also run out of ideas. A compact schedule, the high of the FFA Cup win, the drop in form of some key players - all of it has seen us seemingly throw away our chance at snaring what used to be called the minor premiership and qualification for the national playoffs. Yes the first seven games away from home have hurt us, as have results like Green Gully away, and even probably the postponement of this fixture from early in the year to now. Maybe we just weren't good enough in the long run. Still, the season is not a complete wash. We have the finals series coming up, and at least one more FFA Cup game. Maybe this nine day break will refresh the side for one more push for this season.

Next game
With the end of this compressed part of our schedule, we now have a week and a half off before taking Bentleigh at home on Sunday week at Lakeside. No Milos Lujic for this one apparently, having collected his fifth yellow card.

Final thought