The short version
About fifteen minutes into last night's game, Heidelberg player Harry Noon collided with a corner flag in such a way that he dislodged the flag and had the flag impale his left leg.
Unable to be moved from where he had fallen just outside the field of play, the resumption of play was at first delayed, and eventually the game was officially abandoned.
At the time of print this was the latest news on Noon's injury.
For more updates on Noon, you're best advised to follow Heidelberg's social media outlets.Condition update on Harry Noon: Harry is doing well. He has avoided any serious tendon damage. Last night they flushed out his wound to prepare him for plastic surgery today. We thank you all for your love a support 💛🖤 #thepeoplesclub #UnitedWeStand— Heidelberg United FC (@HUFCWARRIOR) April 29, 2018
There are no details about when the fixture will be rescheduled for, nor whether the match will be replayed from the beginning or whether it will resume from the 15 minute mark.
Should the game (or its remainder) not be rescheduled for some time this week, then the next South Melbourne senior men's game will be at home on Sunday against Green Gully.
Before then, our NPLW side is at home on Saturday against the NTC. Before then they have a cup game against Bulleen at Lakeside on Wednesday night.
The slightly longer version
Thanks to a defective train which dumped all its passengers at Croxton, an ill passenger which delayed the service behind the defective train, and an unscheduled detour to the Chemist Warehouse outlet on Murray Road, it took me an hour longer than normal to get to Olympic Village.
Add to that the fact that the gates on Southern Road were not open, necessitating a very long walk around to the other side of the venue, I thus missed the majority of the under 20s game where we were 3-0 down already. The team rallied to bring it back to 3-2 - including a goal from a free kick, how novel - but could not find the equaliser.
Then it was time for the main festivities to start, The match was a celebration of Heidelberg's 60th anniversary, and thus Heidelberg were treating it as a bit of a special event. They wore a commemorative jersey which is probably a heritage strip of sorts; I think I've seen that jersey in old photos, though I can't say for sure.
Kickoff was delayed by seven minutes in order for certain ceremonial matters to be be taken care of first, which mostly consisted of former Berger players being brought onto the field. There was also a minute's silence for reasons which were not immediately clear, but which were reportedly to do with Anzac Day.
Both teams were far from fielding their best starting elevens, especially up front. For South there was no Milos Lujic, no Leigh Minopoulos, and an injured Andy Brennan was on the most threadbare of benches. Tom Cahill was absent for the Bergers, who also claimed that they were well below full-strength.
Whatever the truth of these claims, the game itself - at least the 15 minutes that managed to get played before Noon's injury - was scrappy and unsightly. There was little tactical or skilful fluency on display. Some of that you can put down to it being a derby, some due to the absent players, and probably a good chunk of it due to it being an NPL Victoria game.
It was exciting though, albeit mostly for the wrong reasons. Harry Noon was the centre of attention even before he sustained his serious injury. Five minutes on he made out to stomp on the prone Oliver Minatel on the halfway line, incensing the South crowd nearby when he escaped unpunished for that action. Considering that a similar incident happened two seasons ago at this same ground with these two teams - with Reuben Way getting sent off then - the South crowd was already fired up and angry.
Add to that the ref not calling the blatant penalty when a Heidelberg player clattered into Minatel from behind in the box an action which should have resulted in a penalty and a possible sending off, and the ire of South fans was already at breaking pont.
The "heat of the moment" is the Faustian pact that all sports lovers make, whether players or spectators. It is the extreme and essential thrill of living in the now that makes sport compelling, knowing that what is done at any given moment cannot be undone later on, only potentially made up for.
A stray Heidelberg pass was heading out for a goal kick, and despite it seeming evident to all that there was no way to keep it in, Harry Noon decided to lunge for it, managing to get only a touch on the ball and collecting the corner flag for his troubles. The corner flag was dislodged from the ground and flew into the air, and Noon went down injured, but not before trying to get up from the initial fall to respond to the bronx cheers of the South fans.
Noon didn't get up again. Possibly a hundred metres away from Clarendon Corner, and obscured by the ad boards, it was unclear what his injury was nor how serious it was. Thus came the chants of "karma" and a "dig a hole", and variants thereof for some time, as confusion surrounded what was happening. The game was stopped, but there was no serious sign of a stretcher being moved out to toward Noon.
Anger at the lack of information provided to the crowd - - at one point it was announced that the game was delayed "for now" - coupled with the apparent lack of any obvious signs of distress from the support staff. That's not to justify some of the nastier stuff that was said during this time (from both sides), only to set the context for how it came about. Once word filtered through about the exact nature of the Noon's injury, most of the jeering and chanting stopped, and when it was announced that the game was abandoned as they waited for the ambulance to arrive, the crowd filtered out of the stadium fairly quickly and without much complaint.
Still, much like Noon may regret his feigned stomp or his reaching for a ball that was not worth going for, so too there will be South fans who will (probably) regret some of the carry on they were involved in. Or at least I hope that's the case.
Others are debating the safety of the type of corner flags used at Olympic Village last night, including whether they were banned several years ago by FIFA and thus by extension FFV. South goalkeeper Jerrad Tyson was one of those shared his opinion in this matter last night:
While an interesting topic and one that should be looked in the fallout from the incident, I'm not qualified to go into these matters. I just don't know enough about corner flags to make even speculative judgements.2/2 A horrific injury that would hav been avoided w a simple folding corner flag.— Jerrad Tyson (@jerradtyson) April 28, 2018
Clubs need to be serious about the safety of their fields.
An issue I do know something about is posting on the internet, and that stress combined with sleep deprivation do not make for good or sympathetic posting. The late Bob Ellis noted that the internet never sleeps, but that people do. Should the world end while you sleep, chances are that you wouldn't have been able to change the course of history, let alone enjoy those final few hours.
Then again, Bob probably didn't stay up into the early hours to watch overseas soccer matches.
I woke up this morning to see that there was discussion on the matter well into the morning, which continued later into the day. Some of the back and forth on social media leaves neither side of the issue looking particularly classy, especially given that after the heat of the moment had dissipated, all the concern should be on Noon's condition, and making sure that even such unlikely and one-in-a-million incidents never happen again.
I would like to wish Harry Noon all the best in his recovery.