Monday, 9 April 2018

The Old Adage - Melbourne Knights 3 South Melbourne 2

It's not how, it's how many. Truer words have never been spoken. OK, maybe they have, I'm not conducting an audit here. And now that I think about it, sometimes the how is as important than the how many, perhaps even more important. No, as important.

Anyway, three set piece goals, nearly identical to each other for the appalling decision making which lead to the cheap fouls gifting the opposition the chance to swing in dangerous balls, the appalling goalkeeping which saw Keegan Coulter get nowhere near two of the balls he came out for, and the appalling marking in a team with three or four centre-backs on the field at any given time. At the other end of the ground you had the farcical situation of attacking players being unwilling to shoot, or unable to put in a proper cross, or be in the right spot to receive a pass or latch on to a loose ball. It's like a variation of the Dr. Katz joke about the three most dangerous parts of flying, where our three biggest problems at the moment are attacking, defending, and everything else.

Having said all of that, I thought we actually played pretty well. Truth be told, Knights were rubbish after halftime, and ran out of gas well before full time, but still we dominated general play, looked good on both sides of the field, controlled the ball in the middle, and created many dangerous situations. It's probably the best we've played over a whole for several weeks. It didn't get us any points though, and that's all that matters at the moment, because as the arch-miserablists have been keen to remind everybody, we've pretty much played only the easy teams so far, and have all the leading sides to come.

Actually, and this isn't just contrariness on my part - or at least I hope it isn't - but the more I thought about the loss on Friday night over the weekend, the more optimistic I got about what's to come. As far as I could tell, we didn't pick up any new injuries, and with Andy Brennan due back this week, we at least have one more genuine starting eleven option. Marcus Schroen, even though far from my favourite player, is back in training. The return of Jake Marshall to the field means that we have more flexibility in how we line up defensively. And perhaps most importantly, after our troubles finishing games with any energy, we managed to run out the game with a decent head of steam.

But then I saw Brad Norton's post-match interview, and I felt like crap all over again. I know it was straight after the game when we all felt like crap, and while he said all the right words, the agony and despair of the situation was there for all to see. It's not the kind of thing that will be cured by a nice cup of tea and a biscuit, only by wins.

If I sound like I have nothing new to add it's because there's nothing really new to say at the moment. You try and find the motivation to come out and type up gibberish to a diminishing audience about a diminishing team (on and off field) without realising that maybe there's something more worthwhile to do with your time. Oh look, I missed three episodes of Batman on to watch us cough up a lead. OK, time to write some stuff, but there's double episodes of season one Law & order SVU on free to air. What about now? No, the lawn bowls is on the telly.

The past six or seven weeks have been like waking up from a wonderful dream. OK, so winning NPL titles and riding the crest of a ridiculous FFA Cup run is a pretty lame dream to have, but it's still better than this descent into awfulness. I mean, from a South perspective, who was even at the game on Friday? Heathens and pagans, that's who. The devoutly religious and the culturally religious were at Orthodox Good Friday services, others probably went to the footy, leaving some very strange people to cheer on the Hellas in its hour of need. I'm not judging, it's just the way it is.

So there we are, maybe ten to fifteen of us behind the goal, twenty at a pinch, trying to lift the team even though in our heart of hearts we don't think we've got a chance in hell of overhauling the 3-1 deficit. We're watching the game from the worst spectator vantage points deliberately out of spite, or to be on camera. So why are we there? Sense of duty? To what, the team, the club, the players, each other? Sport does this strange thing where you end up befriending or at least hanging around a whole bunch of people you'd otherwise have nothing to do with, and who would vice versa have nothing to do with people like me.

But general despair at being crap in an irrelevant league is one thing, but having to endure some of the other nonsense which you'd thought by now should have gone away, is quite another. No one is surprised when Knights fans bring out the "I'd rather be an Abo than a Greek" chant. It makes its appearance at just about every so-called derby game between us, and will in all likelihood be brought out again in every future contest between us. It's offensive on several fronts, but it's also sad to hear it in terms of its time capsule quality; like, have we not arrived yet in 2018, and are still actually in 1988? Is there a time-portal at the gates of the Somers Street car park?

There are three groups who could put an end to that chant but which probably won't. They are Knights fans themselves, the Knights committee, and FFV. If the first two choose not to, then you would think that FFV would, if not for any moral or governance dimensions associated with the racist chant, then at least from a public perception point of view. After all, the chants were made right next to the broadcast tower, from which FFV were conducting a live radio broadcast of the game. Or maybe FFV don't care because neither myself nor Mark Boric were at home to listen to the game online, and there was therefore no one actually listening to the live stream, in which case it's carry on as you were and as you always have for those Knights fans; and a reiteration from me to South fans to avoid similar behaviour if not because it's the right thing to do, then because you just know for sure FFV will take a different view on the matter.

But that's "just words", and as a very helpful random anti-political correctness police officer on Twitter informed me and some others, we shouldn't be policing other people's language, in a discussion which ended up discussing the non-existent anywhere in the world abstraction of freedom of speech. It wasn't even an interesting attempt to police our attempts to police other people; the least our out-of-the-blue friend could've done is put on the persona of Libertarian Cop for our amusement.

Of greater concern however were incidents of intimidation directed towards some of our fans after the end of the game. OK, Somers Street has never had the reputation of being the most family friendly sporting venue in Australian soccer, and if we're being honest Knights fans have often revelled in that reputation. But there are limits, no? Stealing scarves from opposition fans? Really? Gloat about the win and how awful we are as much as you like. No one's expecting gracious winners, and goodness knows South fans are hardly gracious losers, but we're living in a society for crying out loud.

Oh, and there was also this
which is some straight out of NSL 1995 shit, that strange period where some Preston fans would tag along to Knights games against Greek teams for the sake of causing trouble, because their team was relegated and they wouldn't get to the play the Bergers or us on a regular basis until "insert the year each of those clubs got relegated to whatever division Preston was dwelling in". If your hardcore manifesto is being the Chester to MCF's Spike in order to push around scarfers, are you even doing this ultras thing right?

Next game
A home game at last! Bentleigh Greens on Sunday afternoon. The curtain raiser will be the men's under 20s game.

The first home game of the season is when nearly everyone pays for and picks up their memberships. I can't say with any certainty that it will be an orderly and well run experience. If it's not, please don't take it out on the volunteers. Ditto for the paid and volunteer staff whatever the situation is in the social club with food service.

I don't know what kind of merchandise will be available on the day. I'm only interested in getting a pompom beanie, but will not cry into my corn flakes the next morning if they don't have any. You have my permission though to cry into your breakfast cereal of choice if you are displeased with the range of merchandise on offer.

Variation on a theme
The club, in the form of our NPLW or WNPL side (I don't really know which acronym is the right one, but I assume it's the former) was back at Lakeside for a match for the first time during the season proper in 2018. The NPLW team's form has been erratic: some wins, some losses, lots of goals for and against, and a tendency to only get going once they fall behind. The lineups have tended towards the young side, as they tend to do in that part of the season closest to the end of the W-League season, but the starting eleven against Geelong Galaxy was as far as I can tell our strongest for the season. Galaxy, last year's losing grand finalist, had also been in less than stellar form. So even if this match was hardly a slam dunk for us, surely we'd be favourites to win? Not so.

After a tepid start from both sides, things started going bad when we copped the opening goal of the game from a set piece. I mean, what is even the point of living? To be fair, after copping the goal the team woke up, as I was promised they would, and they equalised, but the goal to get ahead never came and eventually giving Geelong chances on a silver platter cost us. Young gun Sofia Sakalis was brought on with about twenty minutes to go to try and salvage the game, but things just got worse for us. Needing to chase the game, we found ourselves opened up the back and instead of making inroads we copped a third and fourth goal, to give Geelong a deserved win.

On the topic of Sakalis, she's very good with the ball at her feet - though some of those who watch her more than I do say she could try and pass it a bit earlier - but wow, those offsides on Saturday. In my many years of watching soccer, I've seen players caught offside repeatedly in games, I've seen players whose speciality is being off instead of on, and I've seen players, usually strikers, too lazy to work back onside; but I've never seen anything quite like Sakalis' wilful offsides on Saturday, where she would keep running forward ahead of the ball instead of trying to work off the shoulder of a defender or at least be behind the ball waiting for a cut back.

It reminded of Greek school soccer matches on asphalt where the offside did not exist, or like a small child running forward with joyous abandon. And then you remember that Sofia is actually only 15 years old, knee-high to a grass hopper. I mean, she was born after I graduated high school. How many times have I failed and what exactly have I achieved in those 15 odd years to be criticising to a teenager playing soccer? The one possibly meaningful thing I could hope to achieve in this lifetime  hangs in interminable balance as I await the results of my thesis. The last time I played soccer was on the old Lakeside in the shit kicker curtain raiser to the Clarendon Corner vs OM21 where I was gassed out after five minutes

Really, it was no criticism at all; just an observation of a soccer novelty, a muffled and anguished scream from someone who lives vicariously through athletes in order to make up for everything else that's gone wrong in my life. People like me are not fit to tie the laces of those playing any sport even semi-competently.

More unpleasant news
Someone said to me the other day that our attempt to outsource the operation of the fustal court hasn't gone well, with the private operator walking away from management of the court. Here's hoping that one of the other purported offers leads to something.

Final thought
Got some text message from someone saying they were having "blog withdrawals", but probably because I recently bought a new phone - and you know how transferring your numbers from your old phone to your new phone is the one thing technological advances haven't been able to properly solve - well, I had no idea who it was that was writing to me. Of course I could've just asked them, but then I wouldn't have been able to get out this paragraph.


  1. What we all feared about Coulter came to fruition in this game, according to the highlights. As I may have mentioned after sitting behind the goals for the Northcote game, he must be the quietest goalkeeper I have ever heard. No presence! I remember Iqi bellowing orders, when he should have been focusing on his own game.

    As for Norton, I though he was about to cry!

  2. For what it's worth, as an A-League fan and an NPL fan, the NPL is far more exciting at the moment and South is in a better position from a fans perspective than if they were in the A-League... change will happen and we will find ourselves in the top tier, lets just hope it is the result of systemic change for the game here and benefits everyone. The club may be struggling for results at the moment but it's early in the season. Let's wait til the transfer window and ffs can someone interview Taylor!? What happened? What's going on with the board???

    Regarding ongoing issues at the club, is it just me or did the Albert Park closure seem smoother this year?

    Also, is the club living beyond its means? This is what worries me about the Futsal Court... it was such a key selling point of the new areas however as a standalone court it doesn't offer fixture reliability for social leagues and it also competes with MSAC! What else can we do with the space??? Not to mention it's not full size! It seems like the community isn't strong enough to support the social club and futsal court outside of match days :(

    I would suggest starting some sort of South Melbourne Futsal Club that trains at the venue and plays in competition - Series Futsal?


  3. Also, why hasn't the club been encouraging the supporter's to purchase memberships leading up to our first game? The silence is deafening.

    1. You would think that memberships would be something the club would want to promote.

  4. Well thats football buddy, teams do not have to dominate to win. All it takes is awareness pick up your man and be first to the ball.

  5. People seriously offended by the abo chant ? Come on ffs. If we had won this would not have been an issue. Stop sooking.

    1. We won there 2-0 last season, it still offended me, offence became irritation as they repeated the same nonsense for 90 minutes.

    2. Really ? Grab a cup of concrete and toughen up princess.

    3. Not a matter of toughening up, its 2018 that crap has no place in the game.

    4. Stay home then. Or find a safe space at the ground.

    5. Or Knights fans could just follow the same rules that everyone involved in Victorian soccer is expected to follow?

    6. A South fan talking about following the same rules as the rest is a bit of a laugh. Honest question when did South Melbourne become the honorary SJW club? Can't even have some banter on the terraces anymore without you lot bitching and put on an air of faux outrage. How on earth would any of you guys handle a football match in Greece, you would probably faint to death while clutching your pearls.

    7. Was offensive in the '90s, is offensive now.

      Actually had a couple of Knights fans try to explain the chant was complimentary to Aboriginal people. Idiocy.

    8. I'm not greek nor aboriginal and that chant is fucking atrocious... i felt offended simply hearing that this kind of filth is still chanted.

  6. We are a shambles.

    We cant defend basic set pieces and our young goalkeeper is struggling to take control and stamp his presence in the penalty box.

    Playing pretty football is no substitute for being able to grind out results. CT was the master of grinding out results that saw him with a 70% win ratio and achieve so much.

    But hey, we play pretty football and can knock the ball around with tremendous ease and rack up amazing possession stats!

    Forget championship, forget national playoffs, forget finals, forget FFA Cup, forget Dockerty Cup.

    Thanks to the Board for their foresight and clairvoyance in dumping one of our most successful coaches in favour of a junior coach who is clearly out of his depth.

    We are in store for a battle to avoid relegation.

  7. THe board can get fucked. They are not South people.

    1. Andreas Andreadis tou Andrean15 April 2018 at 10:49

      Outen enan kokkalon ellhnikwn. Prodotes mas poulisaten ! Oust apo edwn kathikian


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