Sunday, 17 September 2017

WNPL - South Melbourne 4 Calder United 2

The view of Lakeside Stadium yesterday from the media control room, during
yesterday's girls under 15 NPL match between South and Geelong. 
I rocked up to Lakeside early enough yesterday that I got sit in the media box and watch about three quarters of the under 15 girls elimination final between South and Geelong Galaxy. I can't I was particularly impressed by the standard, but that's partly a depth issue - it'll get there eventually, and one can't be too harsh, yet. I was most impressed with the general composure of South's two centre-backs, which went a long way to securing a 5-1 win for us.

After a burger in the social club, it was time for the main business at hand, the WNPL qualifying final between South and Calder United. It sounds stupid to even have to ask, but is there no requirement in the WNPL franchise/licence system that the teams have to have an away strip? It seems utterly mad that I rocked up to Lakeside yesterday and had to watch the home team (us) in its (more or less) traditional deep royal blue kit play against the away team (them) in a hue of navy blue (except for white socks) that became very problematic (to me at least) at certain points in the game, especially when the sun was directly overhead (or near enough to it) and the players were masked by shadow.

Call it an issue of no great significance to anyone but people like me, but surely it is one of the fundamental tenets of the game, essential to every level, that the two teams should wear easily distinguishable playing strips? I've made this point before regarding Bentleigh's propensity to wear green at Lakeside against us, when they do have a suitably garish orange thing they could wear to make things more distinct. I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle on this one, but I'm going to keep chipping away.

For South there was no Lisa De Vanna (national duty), and golden boot winner Melina Ayers was on the bench (apparently unwell). And then 67 seconds in, while I had my back turned while climbing the stairs, we already 1-0 down. Soon afterwards we should have been 2-0 down,  but Calder muffed a near enough to unmissable chance, hitting the crossbar and post in one go. That didn't quite serve as enough of a wake up call, but we seemed to to at least get the game onto an even keel, though we never really looked like scoring. All we had was Caitlin Greiser up front, who worked very hard but had little support, and certainly no number following her into the box. Tiff Eliadis was a bit of a one woman show in midfield, but the whole thing uncoordinated. We looked flat, and worst of all were making elementary ball control mistakes across the park.

The second half didn't start off much better, and even the inclusion of Ayers off the bench didn't seem to be making a difference - she seemed to be moving around listlessly for the first ten or so minutes of her stint. But then the game plan or a part of it, at least from the left hand side (I think it was Alex Gummer) started to kick in and things changed quite quickly. All of a sudden we had a deserved 2-1 lead, but just as it seems that the momentum of the second half was going our way, we coughed up another very soft goal, and were then fortunate to hang on for extra time.

Calder should have finished it off in the ninety minutes, but in extra time we found another gear and overran our opponents, not without some fortune. Three of our goals crawled over the line, two having had got a touch off the Calder keeper but not enough to steer them wide, and the last goal by Ayers one which was comical in the ball's slow motion effort to cross the line, where I would have expected the Calder defence to clear it off the line.

Not out side's best effort for the season from what I've seen, but enough to get them into the grand final a week off.

Next game
The WNPL side now has a week off as they wait to see who they'll play in the grand final out of Calder and Geelong Galaxy. The grand final will be played at Hume City's ground.

Of course before then our senior men take on Gold Coast City on Wednesday. If you're not heading up to the Gold Coast, come to the social club and watch the game. Or stay home. Up to you really.

What (some of) they don't want you to know, for reasons I can only speculate on (but won't)
The men's team played a closed door friendly against Melbourne Victory's senior squad last Wednesday at Lakeside. We lost 1-0. Apparently we weren't too bad.

Gold Medal night musings
What's there to muse on... apart from Melina Ayers winning the golden boot  - a non-partisan decision if there was one, because they wouldn't give it to the woman who scored the second most goals, would they? - we didn't win anything in either the men's an women's categories. I'm not too bothered by that, though some people closer to the coalface were upset that WNPL senior coach Socrates Nicolaides didn't win the WNP coach of the year, ostensibly because his team finished top of the table in its first year of being in the competition.

I myself have no such issues with the awarding of the prize to someone else, because it's not every team in the Victorian WNPL that has the squad that we have at our disposal, including Lisa De Vanna from halfway through the season. More justifiable is the wonderment that Melina Ayers, who scored 38 goals this season, didn't even manage to crack the top ten rankings for player of the year.

On a personal front, I was disappointed that there were no Hall of Fame inductions, but I was relieved that Shona Bass got her induction from last year awarded this year, after personal circumstances prevented her from receiving the prize in 2016.

I was also disappointed that there was no article of the year prize awarded alongside the other media prizes. A sign that the written word is losing its relevance in Victorian soccer? I certainly hope not, because there are still good people doing good work in this area.

The Continuing Adventures of 'Bill Paps is on fire, the truth is terrified'
Cometh the South Melbourne Hellas FFA Cup match, cometh the Bill Paps' whopper. This time in an article on The World Game our man gets quoted saying:
If we make it to the semi-finals, we will be only the second non-A-League team to have done that.
Which is so, so wrong it unsettles even my rock-solid jaded cynicism.

Of course, as many non-delusional South fans have pointed out, because of the corrupted draw for the FFA Cup national rounds, a non-A-League team is guaranteed to make the semi-finals every year. This is how in turn Bentleigh Greens, Hume City, and Canberra Olympic were able to make it to the FFA Cup semi-finals. Thus the achievement of a state league team making the FFA Cup semi-finals is just as much a sign of having received the most favourable draw as it is actually winning the games put in front of you, and why you - by which I mean this year, South - will look incredibly inept if we don't get to the semi-finals.

This is why some people - including some South Melbourne directors - don't really care about progressing in the tournament, because they would rather get a big payday from a Melbourne based A-League team in the first round and who cares if we get bundled out as long we make the $$$.

But it's not all Bill's fault. I also blame Dave Lewis, the article's author, who let Papastergiadis get away with making such an obviously wrong claim.

But it's also not all Dave's fault. I also blame every soccer journalist in this country who has become so enamoured with South Melbourne's ability to drive click-bait that they're happy to let us waffle on like idiots at the drop of a hat and refuse to challenge even our most obviously wrong claims.

But I also blame our fans, at least those who unflinchingly support such idiocy out of some apparent sense of necessary gamesmanship. It's a rubbish attitude which leads to unjustifiable behaviour and makes us all look like an even stupider club than we actually are. It justifies the attitude that lies and nonsense and bombastic statements are more valuable than actually putting together a coherent plan.

Not that any of that matters, of course.

Kicking It!
In all the goings on of the past few weeks, we completely forgot to note that James Stefanou, a member of our 2006 Victorian Premier League winning squad, is now playing as an American football place kicker for Colorado Boulder. There's a good piece here about how that came about. Of course he's not the first ex-South person to make the move to college football, with Nick Jacobs playing as a punter for the Memphis Tigers. But it is unusual to see an Australian taking on place kicking duties.

Well, we'll always have (the cafe a few doors down from) the laundromat
PAVE JUSUP: Now, you realise if I become Melbourne Knights president,
we can no longer be friends, unless you become a Knights fan.
ME: Hmm. That's probably never gonna happen.

That time when things got odd, even by my standards (woe was sort of me, but now it's much more complicated than that)
As the noted philosopher Ben Folds once opined, 'I was never cool in school / I'm sure you don't remember me'. We'll return to this point later.

This week my Twitter avatar - me looking at the camera with a well-developed self-disciplined non-committal scowl - ended up being plastered over parts of Windsor station by a bunch of kids mostly from St Michael's Grammar, several of whom seem to have the name Josh which makes things harder to keep a track of.

For me this was both cause for concern but also bemusement. The concern was a reflex. Of course anyone in a similar situation would be stunned to see their image used like that in a public space out of the blue. My bemusement came from a different place, because this was an apparent homage by the boys responsible, for the work that I do here.

This is still something I'm going to have to get my head around. Back in primary school, I was never one of the cool kids, but I was definitely included in the main male social group, not bullied for having glasses or above average (for that school) intellect. Within about a week or so of starting high school, that changed. And while one can repeat Vonnegut's fatalist maxim 'so it goes', it does take a toll and it does cloud my perspective on things decades down the line. I'm precious like that.

So for this to happen, I suppose I was flattered but also uneasy at the same time. But attached to this was also the sentiment expressed by the boys responsible that they love to read the work that I do here on South of the Border, to the point that it apparently makes reading fun:
Which at least means I'm helping preserve a key lesson of the Sonic the Hedgehog animated series. There's also the slightly brain-melting revelation that my regular audience extends to people beyond the core demographic of 35-49yo males employed in middle management jobs, and people who like the heady mix of occasional Simpsons gags and quasi-esoteric references.

And what kind of writer would I be if I got upset at that? At least it wasn't the screen-cap of me in a coffin I suppose.

Final thought
Close enough.


  1. DeVanna called her shot!!!!

    Where's the Homer Simpson/Wonderbat reference?

  2. Sad to see no new Hall of Fame inductions at the Gold Medal Night, as well as the loss of the Weinstein Medal and Best Written/Media Article Award. Most especially the latter, it appears the FFV cares not for any coverage outside the official social media propaganda platforms.


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