Saturday, 28 October 2017

An important message for users of smfcfans.com

This is just a quick post to note that at some indeterminate point in the next two weeks, the smfcfans.com forum will be migrated to a new server.

When this occurs, the forum will be offline for a short period of time.

It is possible there will be issues which will arise from the changeover.

Therefore the forum's administrator will use South of the Border to post updates about the migration of the forum to the new server.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

South Melbourne Soccer Club Stadium permit artefact Wednesday

This post is more to keep up radio contact than anything, a sort of New Horizons green light to let everyone know we're still alive during this mostly dormant stage.

This is a planning permit (click the image to enlarge) for improvements to the South Melbourne Soccer Club Stadium, by which I assume was meant Middle Park, as signed in December 1993.

There'd been plans of sorts around the early 1990s about improving Middle Park, and it looked like finally, after decades of fighting against councils, planners and especially the locals, South would finally get on to the task of improving what was a dilapidated ground.

Of course Jeff Kennett brought the Formula 1 Grand Prix to Melbourne from Adelaide soon after this, and things were never quite the same again. So it goes.

Monday, 16 October 2017

South of the Border Awards 2017

Player of the year: Nick Epifano. The People's Champ missed the first five games, but was one of the two catalysts - along with Michael Eagar - for our turnaround in form after the poor start to the season. His performances were more even across the season than they have been in the past, and his effort on the defensive side of the game also improved a lot. Here's hoping that this season is a launching pad to an even better season next year.

Under 21 player of the year: The Cliff Hussey Memorial Trophy goes to Matthew Millar. Two years in a row, thank goodness he turned 21 in August so he can't win it again next season.

Goal of the year: Milos Lujic vs Knights at home. Yes it was a great goal, an atypical one for six yard box specialist like Milos, but its timing - after a half where we'd been pretty well outplayed and should've been down 2-0 at least - adds to the magic.

Best performance: against Heidelberg at the Bubbledome. Played them off the park from beginning to end.

Best away game of the year: I didn't go, but apparently the trip to the Gold Coast was pretty wild.

Call of the year: 'Come on Laura, miss it for South!' - me, at former South player Laura Spiranovic as she was taking a penalty in the shoot-out for Geelong Galaxy in the grand final against South. Laura missed.

Chant of the year: A-League or NPL / It doesn't matter to us/ The only thing that really matters / Is South Melbourne Hellas. Honourable mentions to 'Bill Paps is on fire the truth is terrified', and,'Sing us a song you're a Hellas fan', even if only like three of us actually

Best pre-match/after match dinner location: The social club wins by default. It'll have to lift its game next year though.

Friends we lost along the way: The social club count up clock. Smfcboard.com. Paul Henning. :(

Barely related to anything stupidity highlight of the year: I mean, where do you start? Misplaced fingers? Alleged spitting? Players going on holidays during the season? The visa player who spent most of his time in the 20s? Me beating Big Griff on FIFA 15 in the social club by having some random PAOK player's shot dribble underneath Mat Ryan? My image being plastered all over Windsor station by a bunch of kids?

I could go on. But I think the award should go to the West of the Quarry Twitter account, which a few rounds into the season was having a right old laugh at our very poor start to the season, only to see the tables turned pretty quickly.
At least they admitted their mea culpa. Going to so many of their games this season was almost as enjoyable as going to our games. Too bad that it seems they've got their act together for 2018.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

An impossible situation - South Melbourne 1 Sydney FC 5

As usual, forgive the unnecessarily elegiac tone.

Yesterday there were people trying to convince me - or perhaps more so themselves - that I looked happy. Some of those people were at the ground, others merely catching a glimpse of me smiling on the Fox Sports broadcast just before the start of the game. Whatever floats their boat I guess. I was with my mates, and it was almost certainly going to be our last game of the season. A long, long season.

My happiness or at the very least not miserableness was the natural response to being at a game of no consequence, no matter how anyone tried to dress it up. The lead up to the game from many of our people was understandable. A chance to capitalise on a rare and imperfect opportunity. Ticket prices set, food organised, and the club even putting out notices about public transport options. The fans made their banners and flags, invited as many people as they thought would come, and kept tabs on the weather in an obsessive manner. I hated the commercial television networks' use of eight day forecasts before this game, and I hate them even more now.

The final crowd of 5,747 was neither disastrous, nor earth shatteringly brilliant. You can blame the midweek slot and the interstate opponent, or the Socceroos and Ange Postecoglou sucking up all the limelight in the lead up. You can blame the impending bad weather, or the $25 entry charge. But maybe after being out in the cold for 13 years in the manner that we have been, this is all that we have left. It's not exactly been like starting from scratch, but at times it hasn't been too far from it. Sometimes it has been worse.

As much as I would love to go to town on Bill Paps and his talk of selling out the ground, the harsh reality of the situation remains. No crowd would've been big enough, no scoreline good enough, no atmosphere electric enough to make the game mean anything more than what it was; we, suffering but still afflicted by pride, having to face them, not Sydney FC specifically, but an entire soccer and mainstream Australian culture that has no place for us except in such rare and strange circumstances.

Take out the financial viability questions because only a few people will ever know for sure whether we could cut it in this state or any at all. Take out even the ethnic equation of things for just a second, because as a club we've largely moved beyond that, with last night being the best example of it so far. From my point of view at least, there was no cringe factor. Yet the experience as a whole was antithetical to the way top flight sport is done in Australia, by which I mean that despite the general professionalism of the way the event was handled as a whole last night, at no point was it slick. It was, to use those words now tainted by hipsters, artisanal, organic, handmade, at times even rustic.

General admission seating and a lack of oppressive security all round helps a lot in that regard, but at no point did the atmosphere at the ground, both before the game and during, feel forced or predetermined or pre-approved. It was, for want of a better term, a boutique experience in the best possible way, different from just about anything you get in top flight sport in this country. That in itself though, much as I would love to see it sold as a highlight and as a strength, as a beautiful point of difference, can only be seen in our era as encapsulating the shortcomings of being small, of not being exactly like everyone else. So it goes.

On the field, pretty soon the gulf in capability was made apparent. This wasn't simply a case of the best team in the country taking on a second division side; they were taking on a second division side from one of eight second divisions, and a side that had played one competitive fixture in about seven weeks, missing one of its more important players. Sydney's speed of thought, speed of movement on and off the ball, and their surer touch was always going to bring us undone at some point. The fact that we didn't completely sit back and try to absorb pressure was admirable, but also more liable to see us punished.

Not that it would've likely made any difference in the long run, but for a team like ours, missing Brad Norton unbalanced the whole thing. Our players were initially overwhelmed by the occasion and the lack of space afforded to them, and they often second guessed themselves. Mistakes that would lead to nothing in our league veered closer to life or death situations here. Nothing unexpected about that for anyone involved, but it's one thing to know it and quite another to experience it. Perhaps if they could bottle those moments where we took the initiative and showed no fear, there may be something worthwhile that we could take into next season.

Our team, like others at a similar playing level - and there's so many of them - is largely made up of those who have reached the A-League but have been discarded by it, and especially those who will never reach its ranks. Often enough, despite whatever gnashing of teeth there may be about lack of opportunity, there are good reasons for this. The players at our level are too slow or too small or not polished enough. It's not for lack of heart though. Matthew Millar is a prime example. Last night he was one of our best, for mine especially in the first half (though others will point to his second half) as he got into dangerous positions on the byline on a few occasions; but the quality in the form of an end product was just not there.

An extended dose of professionalism or even a consolidated second division would improve things, but establishing either is not within my capabilities; at best I'm here only to note the mostly obvious shortcomings of any attempt to establish such things. There is also something to be said for the notion that in FFA Cup games between A-League and state league opponents, the A-League team should be allowed to field two visa players, the same amount allowed to NPL teams as per their ordinary league business. Certainly it's been a thought bubble that a few have simultaneously had on and offline, and I'd be for such a move. Still, one must also acknowledge that even if such a rule was brought in, the calibre of visa player available to an A-League team easily outstrips what's available to a state league club.

It doesn't help either that Sydney's first goal was offside. You need all the luck in the world to get close, and we didn't get ours. 2-0 down at half-time, and despite having looked OK at times, there was no sense that there was any way back. But then Leigh Minopoulos scored that goal, and for the next 20 minutes all things seemed possible.
There was little chance that it could last, certainly not without an equaliser. We almost got there - Millar's long range effort after their keeper was caught way off his line would have brought the house down had it gone in -  but as the match wore on you could see the tiredness not merely creeping in, but storming in. The equaliser didn't come, and we ran out of gas. Some of the goals we let in were especially poor. But what a 20 minutes it was. It didn't all of a sudden make the struggle of the past 13 years worthwhile, but it was enjoyable, joyous even. There'll be plenty of chances next year and the year after and the year after that to wallow in the miserably meaningful; yesterday was about enjoying the absurd inconsequential.

After the Sydney goals rained in and the margin blew out, I got tired of chanting and of having an obstructed view thanks to hands and flags and people standing on seats, and worst of all, the score of opened umbrellas, so I went down to the concourse area. As the rain kept coming down, I got a good view of Clarendon Corner, the only full bay left in the ground, singing, chanting and enjoying themselves. What surprised me most though was how many people throughout the ground stayed to the end. The result was done, the weather was stuffed, there was no good reason for pretty much anyone apart from the usual people to stay. Yet they stayed.

That rain was something else. I guess we all knew that there was going to be heavy rain on the night, but I can't remember a Lakeside game that had a storm like that for some time. It was initially blown in from the north, chasing a lot of people out of the southern stand around to the northern side. Then the wind changed and moved it around so it blew into the northern stand. The running track threatened to turn into a lake, but the ground itself seemed to hold up well. Most surprisingly perhaps, our boys seemed to handle the conditions better than the Sydney players, especially during our best period, with even long passes to the wings being perfectly hit on several occasions.

All I wanted from the night was that we would avoid embarrassment on the field and off it. In my opinion we managed to avoid both, if not comfortably then by enough. Oh, and we scored a goal. Leigh Minopoulos, the player that gives me the most joy of any player in this team, wrote himself into a little bit of South Melbourne and Australian soccer history. Almost 18 years ago, John Anastasiadis bundled home the first Australian goal at a Club World Championship. Last night Minopoulos became the first player to score for a state league club in an FFA Cup semi-final. They're trivia questions that no one outside the dedicated few of us will be able to answer, but that's part of the story, too.

What to do with our good fortune
There's an episode of The Simpsons - atypically, I've forgotten which one - where the kids of Springfield are lined up outside the Noiseland Arcade, being shaken by a bouncer/security guard to see if they have enough loose change in order to be allowed inside. One hopes that the overpriced souvlaki (just like a proper top-flight stadium experience, as one wit noted), the $25 entry price for most patrons, and the $10 charge for social club members in direct opposition to the promises made by this board, have all raised enough money to pay off our debts to players, as well as current and former employees, with whatever's left over going towards paying off the loan the club took out to finish off the social club.

South of the Border off-season mode begins
There'll be awards no one cares about, and the usual periodic round up of news. There'll also be an AGM to discuss. And book reviews. I also have some other business to take care of and finish, so don't expect too much from me unless something dramatic happens.

Missed it by that much
There was some chatter out there that we had signed Gold Coast City striker Sam Smith. Smith, a 27 year old Englishman who didn't play against us in the FFA Cup due to injury, has instead re-signed with Gold Coast City.

Thank you
To the bloke who noticed that my keys had fallen out of my pocket during the second half.

Final thought
The season is finally over, thank goodness. See you all back in a few weeks time for the start of pre-season.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Odds and ends leading into our FFA Cup semi-final

There's news things which I could link to, but you're all pretty tech savvy individuals, so this is more of a filler piece, with some general advice about what to expect on Wednesday.

If you believe such things, ticket sales have been going pretty well for our FFA Cup semi-final, at about 3,000 pre-sales. That augurs well for a decent crowd, which will depend somewhat on what kind of hype (if any) will be built in the remaining few days, and if the relatively fine weather we've been having holds up.

At any rate, whatever the specific crowd number will be it's fairly certain that it will be one of the bigger crowds at Lakeside for a South game for many years, and thus there will be some common sense which will need to be applied on the night.

For starters, the car parking situation around the ground will likely be atrocious. So either get there early if you can, park further away, or seriously consider taking public transport. The no.12 tram goes right past the ground, while the no.1 stops two blocks away, on Clarendon Street or Moray Street. You could even take the no.96 down to MSAC.

Apart from pre-purchasing your tickets online, getting to the ground a little earlier should (though I make no promises on this) make all the difference with regards to getting into the ground in a timely manner. Whether you're new to Lakeside or have merely forgotten what it's like to have more than 200 people turn up to one of our games, it's worth remembering that our people have a tendency to turn up to games at the latest possible moment. I assume both gates will be open, which should make things easier.

Our regulars of course know this, but it's worth noting for 'occasional' and new visitors, that Lakeside is a non-smoking venue.

In terms of food and drink, if you're not a social club member, you may find it difficult if not impossible to get into the social club on the night. I am told however that there will be other food and drink stands open around the ground, and that these will be under operating under the auspices of the club. It also seems there will be a loosening of the up to now very tight liquor arrangements. All this is part of a hoped for general improvement in what South can offer on a match day.

I don't know if there will be any significant range of merchandise. If you're into that kind of thing, you know the drill already: bring your wallet, bring your credit cards, and hope that there's enough stock to satisfy your longing for stuff.

It might rain on Wednesday, it might not. If it does, the best places to be will be under those small parts of both stands which provide shelter. If it starts getting windy, that sheltered areas is diminished further, If you're out in the outer, bring an umbrella or poncho. Fox Sports will apparently be filming from the northern stand, which will reduce the capacity of that stand by a little bit.

If you choose sit in the bay in which Clarendon Corner locates itself, especially in the rows immediately behind them, you're more likely to have an obstructed view. Clarendon Corner will be standing and they will be waving flags and arms and such. If you are sensitive to swearing for whatever reason, this might also not be the best place to locate yourself. A good thing then that the whole venue will be open, right?

If you are not a regular in Clarendon Corner, but choose to stand in there on the night, there's some pretty basic protocols. If you're going to stand right in the middle, you should do so on the understanding that you will be expected to chant. If you're not a big chanter, stand somewhere to the edges. No flares. Don't be a dick. Pretty straightforward.

There will be no segregation at the game. I don't know if Sydney FC fans will bothering to turn up in such numbers as to be creating any sort of organised atmosphere. My advice for those of them that want to congregate somewhere is to take up a spot in the northern stand or on the terracing behind the goals. As for any other Sydney fans attending, sit or stand pretty much where common sense says you should. Most of us don't bite.

One hopes that the atmosphere will be jovial and relatively lighthearted. Of course we South people want to win this game, thought realistically our chances are fairly remote. Hopefully the boys can do well enough and have enough good fortune so as to at least make a game of it. If things go bad, it's not a reflection on us specifically, but mostly on the stark inequities of the situation as a whole.

That's not much as far as inspirational speeches go, but that's never been my bag anyway. For those able to enjoy South matches, enjoy it. For those who have more trouble enjoying games with any measure of importance, you know best how to deal with it.

In other news...
Not unexpectedly Nick Epifano won our best and fairest award for season 2017, at a low key awards night last Saturday in the social club. How low key? Pretty much no one outside the players and committee knew it was on. Natalie Martineau took out the equivalent women's award.

Monday, 2 October 2017

South claim WNPL title over Geelong Galaxy in dramatic grand final

Despite the senior men starting pre-season in late November 2016, the 2017 South season just doesn't end, and so we - the few, the proud, the geeky - found ourselves out at Broadmeadows for WNPL grand final day. I got there early enough to see almost all the under 18s final, which South lost 2-0 to Calder United. It was an uphill battle for most of the game for the South girls, who trailed 2-0 at the break and took a long time to get going in this game. They were up against the bigger bodied opposition which didn't help matters, but they fought their way until the end and had they snatched a goal late, things may have have ended up differently. As it was, Calder were the better side by some margin

The bombshell news before the senior grand final was that the league's golden boot winner Melina Ayers would be out, reportedly at the behest of the national youth squad selectors who did not want her playing and further aggravating a calf injury she had picked up while training with them. It left a sour taste in the mouth, but one had to have confidence in the rest of the squad which had done so well this season. And besides which, we had the services of the Matildas' all time leading scorer in the form of Lisa de Vanna.

Lisa De Vanna shields the ball from a Geelong opponent. De Vanna was a crucial element of the championship win, even if at times her teammates went all mid 1990s Collingwood with her by looking to pass to her at every opportunity, as did those Magpie players of that era with Nathan Buckley. Photo: Mark Avellino.
After a sluggish start from both sides, it was De Vanna who put us ahead early on when she smashed a low cross from Natalie Martineau into the roof of the net. Still better was to come, with De Vanna setting up a shot for Jamie Pollock, only to have that effort sharply diverted with a header into the back of the net by Martineau. 2-0 is never a done and dusted scoreline, especially only half an hour in. This is perhaps especially true in the women's game at this level where shifts of momentum can be quick and devastating.

And thus in the second half, Antonia Niteros gave away an unnecessary penalty which was converted by former South player Laura Spiranovic, and soon enough Geelong were level when South keeper Molly-May Ramsay misjudged her positioning and saw a shot curl around her from distance into the far corner. Times like that you think the game is going to slip away, but the introduction of Caitlin Greiser off the bench, along with renewed resolve from the South players saw us get on top in the final ten minutes of regular time.

Caitlin Greiser tries to win the ball from a Galaxy opponent. Photo: Mark Avellino
We hit the woodwork four times. We should have stormed over the top of them. And while Greiser was the main culprit, missing one sitter in particular, saying something like we would've won easily if Ayers was playing is a bit of a misnomer - the chances were there were to be taken, and we didn't do it. So the game went into extra time, and this time Greiser found herself at the back post and made no mistake. 3-2 up early in extra time, and looking good, only to cough up another equaliser. So as it was two years ago when South last played in and won a women's Victorian top flight grand final, the game was off to penalties.

One got the feeling of an immense injustice about to take place, but we worked our way to a two goal buffer in the shoot-out; only to try and Melbourne Croatia 1991 grand final our way out of the game by botching our chance to finish Galaxy off. When De Vanna stepped up to take our fifth penalty, it just looked wrong. Galaxy keeper Emily Kenshole had been doing a good job in the shoot-out, and she easily saved De Vanna's tentatively placed effort. Skipper Alex Cheal stepped up in the sudden death round, and though among some of the watchers in our behind the goals group thought that this would be another Michael Eagar/Palm Beach 2015 moment. But Cheal put her penalty away, and then Geelong had their next effort saved easily by Ramsay.

120 minutes and still no winner, so now into the shoot-out. No one here seems particularly confident. Photo: Mark Avellino.
It was fitting but also pleasing that Greiser scored the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. The striker has been understandably overshadowed by Ayers' goalscoring feats this season, but got into enough good positions to win the grand final on her own and yet came away with just the one goal. Credit to Greiser though, she held her nerve brilliantly and placed the ball out of reach of the goalkeeper, who had done a good job of guessing where our penalties were headed. And thus South won the title, adding 2017 to our previous wins in 2011, 2014, and 2015, and the enforced State League 1 title from 2016 - although to be fair, the 2011-2015 titles were done under the auspices of the SMWFC.

Tiff Eliadis was awarded best on ground, and she was a worthy recipient. She was important at first in midfield, and then in defence later in the game. It also wouldn't be a South championship without the trophy coming apart upon presentation, and that was the case again yesterday as the base came free right on cue. Later on the team and some of its well-wishers returned to the social club. The kitchen was closed, but the bar was open, and there were pizzas from Blue Room up the road, and later unfortunately from Pizza Hut. Nevertheless the vibe was good, and why wouldn't it be? You'd just won one of the most dramatic grand finals by the skin of your teeth.

But all's well that ends well! Trophies, pennants, and big smiles all round for a fine season. Photo: Mark Avellino.
It's in the nature of women's football (so far as my observations go) that at this stage of its development that teams are less cynical in their play than the men, and are always looking to attack rather than defend. Even so, this South team from what I've seen of it is even more obsessed with scoring goals over not conceding than even that stereotype of women's football allows. Some of the keener watchers of this team put that down in part to the coaching of Socrates Nicolaidis, and I like to think that somewhere in that influence is a bit of the old, classic South - the one which sought not just to win, but to attack, to fear no team. If the men's team under Chris Taylor has understandably taken on a more pragmatic approach during its run of success, then it's at the very least pleasing that in the women's teams and in the juniors, the old South ethic of winning and winning well is kicking on.

The grand final win however will no doubt annoy many of the other teams. Few if any of them wanted South included in the WNPL this season, crying both for lack of depth in the local women's game as a whole, but also for what they perceived as favourable treatment from FFV in us getting in at all after we missed out on the inaugural WNPL intake in 2015. For those who kept the faith, especially those players who remained with South during our short WNPL exclusion period, yesterday's triumph will be especially gratifying.

Just quietly, too, this grand final was a cut or two above that 2015 decider at the Veneto Club, a messy and mistake riddled game. Geelong had given our women a good run for their money throughout the 2017 season, twice drawing 3-3 with us and losing the other game we played in circumstances which could've easily led to another 3-3 draw. While I think we deserved to win this game both on the balance of the day and on the balance of the season, Geelong would be devastated knowing they that threw everything they had at us and it still not being enough. Still, those of their supporters in the crowd were good sports about the whole thing, and there was a great feeling after the game at the entertainment which had been provided by both teams.

Those who weren't there missed an entertaining game of a good quality. Those who were there maybe just for the day for a bit of fun, saw themselves perhaps being surprised by how much they cared by the end.

FFA Cup semi-final ticketing news
Details have finally been released by the club.

If you haven't received an email about it yet, head here for a rundown of what's been announced so far.

Please keep all comments about ticketing for that game in that thread and not in this one.

Around the grounds
Double dose of joy and despair
The Saturday before last I headed out to Port Melbourne for a couple of state league promotion/relegation playoffs. These are my favourite fixtures in the Victorian soccer calendar. There's something on the line, and you get two sides playing against each other, on a neutral venue, who are of a roughly equivalent level but who may seldom if ever meet because of geography. And unlike a similar meeting in an FFA Cup game, the rewards are a bit more tangible, if modest. For clubs at this level, it's not the wishy-washy 'promise' of the impossible getting to the FFA Cup round of 32, but rather the more tangible and hard-earned slog of getting promoted up the Victorian soccer pyramid.

First up was Ashburton against Dingley Stars. Ashburton had been relegated to State League 4 under the stewardship of former coach (and one time South player) Steve O'Dor, but had done well enough to earn their way through to a promotion playoff. For Dingley - the old Southern Stars, who were in turn the old Dingley - a loss would mean another relegation. First things first - the temperature was up in the high 20s, which was going to play havoc with the fitness of both sides, especially if the game was going to go the distance into extra time and penalties. Secondly, it's not often you get two sets of bantering, chanting supporters to a game at Port. Usually it's the 50 old blokes who are hanging on to Port for grim life and maybe whatever of Clarendon Corner or MCF decided to turn and try and create some atmosphere. No aggro here, just good old fashioned passion.

I'm not going to pretend the skill level was the greatest, but at least the two teams got to play on a pretty decent surface and provided a very entertaining contest, and well with the $5 entry fee - because the weather was so nice, I'd left my media pass at home in my good jacket, but no gripes from me. Ashburton looked to attack on the wings, Dingley with balls over the top. It was one of those balls over the top that gave Dingley the lead, as the lofted through ball ended up being misjudged by the Ashburton keeper and bouncing over him into an empty net. In the second half Ashburton had the breeze and appeared to be taking control of the game. They drew level thanks to a deep cross to the back post, and that moment it looked like momentum was such that Dingley would get overrun.

But Dingley worked their way back into the game, and the game went into extra time. If one was to say who deserved to win it in normal time, it'd have been Ashburton, but they didn't take their chances. Yet it was Dingley who found the breakthrough in extra time, a cut back from the right being bundled into the back of the net for an own goal. But Ashy wasn't finished yet, and managed to get another equaliser, from a corner if memory serves me correct, their many corners before that point being almost all garbage. The penalty shoot out saw both teams supporters congregate behind the Williamstown Road goals. Dingley were the better team here, winning the shoot-out 4-2, leaving Ashy to wonder what if - but at least they were good sports about it. Just a pity that I don't think anyone was there to film this game.

The second fixture was State League 4 Sebastopol vs State League 3 Fawkner (the seniors of the junior wing, not the original senior wing which ended up at Mannginham). This game was a major let down after the previous one. Both sides were ordinary. Sebastapol had the better territory, but were ineffective in attack. Fawkner were solid at the back, but couldn't really get the ball forward. About 25 minutes in, Fawkner finally managed to get the ball upfield, and scored a very easy goal. That didn't improve the game in any way, and it took a dog's breakfast of a goal for Sebastopol to get level midway throough the second half, a series of headers from an uncleared corner ending up with one being looped over the Fawkner keeper.

Fawkner went down to ten men, and then survived an almighty keeper mistake to send the game into extra time. Not much happened in extra time, unless you count Sebastopol also going down to ten men, Fakwner cracking a shot into the crossbar from six yards after the keeper spilt the ball, and Blue Thunder doing a lousy job of preempting the problems that would arise from the rowdy Sebastopol support behind the goals which was liquored up and launching unceasing vitriol at certain Fawkner players. You can bet that if that was Clarendon Corner they would've had the security teams out there from the start, but for some reason it took one of the Fawkner defenders getting into slanging match with the Sebastopol support for security to cotton on the issue.

The game went into penalties, and Sebastapol won the shoot-out 4-2 to win promotion to State League 3. Unlike the earlier game, which was finished in a very sporting manner, the Sebastapol supporters and certain Fawkner players almost came to blows on the non-social club side of the players race, with security reacting very slowly. I'm not quite sure how it didn't kick off, but credit to those who few people from both sides who managed to assert their authority and eventually calm the situation down.

Final thought
Trivial as it may seem, and loathe as I am to finish on a sour note, it was disappointing not to see any members of the senior men's team in support of the senior women.

FFA Cup semi-final ticketing details announced

Ticketing details for the FFA Cup semi-final have finally been released by the club, or at least an email has gone out to those who are social club members. The pricing structure is as follows:
  • General Admission Adult - $25 
  • General Admission Concession - $15 
  • SMFC 2017 Social Club Members (including Parents) - $10 
  • Children Under 5 - free
This pricing structure of course is absolute bollocks. A slap in the face for all members, whether they are social club members or season ticket holders, who are being asked to pay for something that they were already. There is no way of getting around it - we were promised as part of our membership entry into all club controlled FFA Cup matches at Lakeside Stadium, and yet here we are being charged $10 (plus a booking fee if you pay online, lol).

It was bad enough when they pulled this kind of stunt during the finals series, and then had president Leo Athanasakis try to provide specious reasoning to justify it at the information meeting held afterwards, but this blatant thievery is a joke. Of course most people will pay it because the event is maybe a once in a blue moon affair, and that's what the club and the people making these decisions are banking on. Goodness knows the financial mess that must exist in the background for the club to be trying to gouge those who turn up week in, week out for even more.

Now of course if they hadn't included these games in the package, or specified that games from the round of 32 onward weren't included, I doubt you would've heard a peep from anyone, and people would've been fine paying ten bucks to get in. But since it's there in blue and white that these games are meant to be included, I would just absolutely love to see what kind of pathetic reasoning those behind this pricing structure use to justify it.

On another matter, while I noted in a recent statement that I was in favour of non-members being gouged as much as possible, the $25 charge for adult non-members is still strange. The minimum charge as set by FFA is $20, and considering the big talking done by some of our club reps with regards to our A-League bid and 'filling out the joint' (not that any of that matters), wouldn't they want to make the pricing scheme for those people as attractive as possible? Look, maybe I'll be wrong and people in their several thousands will pay $25 for the privilege of coming back to Lakeside after missing out on the the last 13 seasons or maybe 20 seasons, rationalising perhaps on the one hand that that's what they pay for (at a minimum, and it's probably more) for a seat at the A-League at the Bubbledome, and on the other hand that a penance rate of $1.92 per season (for 13 seasons) or the bargain basement rate of $1.20 for twenty seasons is well worth the price.

Indeed, there's an idea, although who knows how you'd implement it: charging people varying rates based upon how many years since they've been away from the club. Impractical as that is, I suppose we can hope that at the very least that those once in a lifetime bandwagon jumpers end up paying their $25 and end up being situated on the concrete terraces a million miles behind the goals because all 5,500 odd seats have been taken up.

Anyway, all gripes aside (for now), it should also be noted only social club members, South Melbourne Life and Hall of Fame Members, and SMFC players and parents are eligible for the $10 tickets - season pass holders will need to purchase one of the $25 general admission tickets. Social club members will need to present their social club cards upon entry. The social club member tickets will be available from www.smfc.com.au/SydMember, as well as from the club offices at Lakeside Stadium from 2pm on Tuesday October 4th.

Those who are eligible only for general admission tickets should check out smfc.com.au from Tuesday for more details about how to purchase tickets. Keep in mind also that the club has stipulated that social club members and South in Business Coterie guests will enter through the social club. The 1959 social club will be open from 5pm on match day.