The playing side is one thing, and we'll get to that eventually, but the off field stuff has been just as annoying. Take Sunday for example. As I approach the ground from across the street, I can see that the under 20s have kicked off. Having not read the email from the club which said that members should head in from the office side - and not that there's any signage to indicate otherwise anyway - I go in through the futsal entrance. The lady at the door to the social club says as a member, I can't go through there, I have to go around to the office side.
OK, frustrating, but I'm not here to cause a scene, so I go out and to the office entrance, whose doors are of course locked. So I spin around in a daze of confusion wondering if maybe I got the instructions wrong, but the lady comes away from her post and motions to me to come back in to the futsal entrance because the office entrance is clearly not open yet, and I can just scan my card at the merchandise/ticket sales desk. I am frustrated and confused, but these are the things which the cosmos throws up to test us - if you believe in a sort of deterministic universe - and all you can do is grit your teeth and carry on. In the greater scheme of things, it's a very minor annoyance. I went out to watch the rest of the first half the under 20s, in what was a pretty dire opening half.
At halftime I went into the social club. There was a notice next to the bar that alcoholic drinks could not be taken outside, thanks to another new face at the State Sport Centres Trust trying to push back on something in an attempt to remind South Melbourne Hellas who the top dog is. As if we don't know. Again, that's fine, *serenity now*, I can drink my booze inside where it's warm, I'll have a gin and tonic thanks. After SES volunteers spent three days and nights searching through dense scrub on difficult, mountainous terrain, it was established - at great cost to taxpayers, probably, assuming that they also sent the chopper out - that there was no gin in the social club. Ready as ever to take these kinds of things as a personal slight, I remembered that board member Andrew Mesorouni also likes a G&T, and thus it was probably just "one of those things" and settled for a rum and coke, which generations of underage drinks know could easily pass as a standard cola drink and thus able to be taken outside.
Not that I did that, because I was on my very best behaviour. I finished my drink, and watched the rest of the 20s game, which at least managed to yield three goals to the good guys. Mr Hollywood didn't get on the score sheet, but he did his best People's Champ impersonation when one of his shots was deflected and finished off by a teammate. You'd think you'd be happy when one of your teammates scores, but our man in Burma looked like someone had told him his dog had died. Also, good on the club for putting on all the lights at their disposal in the increasing gloom, unlike when the women's team got only half of them for a night game a few weeks back. Maybe that - and the missing corner flags - should've been enough of a clue that we didn't really care about the Team App Cup all that much.
The 20s done, and waiting for the loukoumades truck to do its business, but that takes a while, and eventually we ran out of time before the game kicked off. Besides which, I got into a convo with journalist Gregory Letort and his photographer pal (the latter of whom knew Matthew Klugman, one of my PhD supervisors; any word on when on if the second examiner's report has come in yet Matthew? It's only been four months...). I'd had a lengthy chat with Letort not the other week, but the week before that, about all things Australian soccer and South Melbourne Hellas, for some work he's doing hopefully to get into Le Monde and/or L'Equipe. The photographer wanted a photo, which is fine, but he also wanted a smile, which is against my ethos. Yes, I used that Daria line.
The game started, and we looked OK, not great, not good, maybe not even passable, but considering our form and that of opponents, OK was, well, OK. Lot of corners, but in all honesty, not a lot of chances, and never really looking likely to score. No striker doesn't help, it hasn't helped for weeks, but if that was the only thing you could sort of throw your hands in the air and exclaim "what else we can do?" and just wait until someone with an innate goal sense comes back into the starting eleven. But it was also the structures and the willingness of players to go up and down the field. Missing Iqi Jawadi didn't help. Whatever his drawbacks as a player, he does have a ways of making the play push forwards. His replacement, Luke Pavlou, whatever his positive attributes as a player, is the opposite.
When we fell behind to a Stefan Zinni header, that was probably the ball game right there. With out limited firepower and discombobulated attacking methods, falling behind at any point is pretty much a death sentence. We battled away in the second half, but it was more of the same. Players playing out of position. Players playing when not fit. Players playing who probably weren't entirely motivated. If there was any doubt, Avondale's second goal clinched. The third was the misery cherry on the despondency cake. Luke Boland launched one from halfway over a back peddling Jerrad Tyson, sending a good portion of the miserly crowd out the door.
Look, while I was obviously pretty upset at the time, I'm pretty much over that goal now. These things happen, what's the use of crying over spilled milk and all that. I mean, yes Tyson put up an edited highlights video of himself from the Green Gully we lost 3-0 - probably omitting the three goals we copped that day - which is great for self-promotion, but not great in terms of being in tune with supporters' expectations. Neither does any keeper want to be chipped from long range like that, ever - and he's not even the first goalkeeper Boland has done that too, and on far bigger stages than this. And I'm still trying to figure out how Tyson missed the ball considering that it seemed like he';d managed to get back on his line in time to keep the ball out.
But we were already cooked by then. The one thing you could take out of the game was the return of Marcus Schroen, and to a lesser extent, Leigh Minopoulos. Schroen looked keen, and - within a very limited framework - seemed to make things happen. Who knows how much match fitness he has, but it's good to see him back, and good to have at least another option. For Leigh's return from injury, who knows how much he's actually recovered from his injury.
Somehow we're still in positive goal difference territory, which considering we're only three points clear of the relegation playoff spot, is worth an extra point.
Port Melbourne away on Saturday night, to round out the first half of the home and away season. It's the last game of Milos Lujic's suspension, so we'll have to wait and see whether Leigh Minopoulos is good enough to start.
Welcome Ndumba Makeche
Makeche is a striker who played five games several years ago for Perth Glory, and has since puttered away in Malaysia for a few teams in a few different divisions. The transfer window doesn't open until after the Port game, probably, so he won't be available for selection until the Bulleen game. As per my custom, I'm not going to watch the YouTube highlights reel
Members forum on Thursday
The club has announced a members forum for this Thursday, in the social club, starting at 7:00PM. It's open only to "full voting members", but I'm not sure if this means only South Melbourne Hellas members (ie, social club members), or also South Melbourne FC members (ie, season ticket holders).
The announcement of the meeting has come up at what looks like quite short notice, and as best as I can recall, no announcement was made over the PA system at any points during yesterday's game before the club put up the details of the meeting at about 9:30 last night. There is also no agenda or specific purpose for the meeting articulated in the club's announcement of the meeting.
Cynics may come to the conclusion that this meeting has been hastily arranged because of a non-club sanctioned meeting of supporters held after yesterday's game - but more on that when that group formally comes out with its plan and/or demands. However, if my memory serves me right, at the most recent AGM President Leo Athanasakis did mention that there would be a supporters meeting held in April of this year, and perhaps this is just that idea a little overdue. Maybe because we have a huge run of home games coming up, that they'd like some ideas and feed back on how the social club is going.
Or maybe because the A-League bid expressions of interest are due in this Thursday, it seems like an opportune time to give us an update on how that's going?
Speaking of our A-League bid
I see that last week local member of parliament Martin Foley stepped up from being a well-wisher to actually joining our bid team. Is that a good thing? I don't know. Who am I to judge?
More hilariously, journalist Jack Kerr has been doing some good work, asking some interesting questions and getting some interesting answers. Roberto Carlos as our A-League coach? Yeah, that's probably not going to happen. As Kerr rightly muses:
Which makes you wonder why they called the press conference in the first place.There's also some interesting stuff in there about old mate Morris Pagniello of Genova International School of Soccer, and the ways in which South initially talked up Pagniello's proximity to South, and later tried to sort of pretend that it never happened, and now it's "hey, look over there, Pagniello's hanging out with the Team 11 people" and "we never knew about his alleged shady dealings, honest". Which is all very sophisticated. Not that any of that matters, of course. But it is fun.
As for the rest of them
One bidding team has pulled out of the running, and it's not us. Brisbane Strikers have withdrawn their bid citing a lack of clarity from FFA regarding financial and other requirements.
According to a (pay-walled) article by David Davutovic, 15 consortia from across Australia - excluding the Northern Territory - have indicated their interest. Though I suspect some of these are more pie in the sky than others, the bidders include:
- South Melbourne (whoever they are)
- Team 11/Dandenong corridor
- Western Melbourne - confirmation that this a rebadged/repositioned Geelong Patriots bid.
- Tasmania - the bid backed by Harry Stamoulis and Robert Beltecky
- South-West Sydney - the consortium that tried to buy out the Phoenix licence.
- Apparently another south-western Sydney group.
- Southern Expansion - the Southern Sydney (whatever that means) and Wollongong combination
- Brisbane City
- Gold Coast
- Wollongong Wolves
- Canberra - though Davutovic only says here that "people" think Canberra should have a team, not that anyone is actually putting one in on the city's behalf.
- West Adelaide Hellas
Around the grounds
After Saturdays spent at the footy, Kensington City, watching the South women, and chasing the men's team to far flung places, I finally got around to seeing an Altona East game. Not at Paisley Park mind you, but rather at Kevin Flint Reserve in Cairnlea near enough to my old stomping ground of Victoria University's St Albans campus. Cairnlea and Altona East used to be relegation battling rivals in State League 1, and after a year or two apart they're now mediocrity battling rivals in State League 2. Sunrise, sunset. I caught the tail end of the reserves match, which finished with the absurd scoreline of 7-4. Then the seniors. A cold, swirly, breeze. A bumpy pitch. Two teams of panel beaters. Not much chance of a quality contest, and so it prove, but at least the company was good. Cairnlea took an early lead. That's pretty much all that happened in the first half. The second half was a little livelier, but that's not saying much. Cairnlea - who were the better team, even if they weren't creating much - iced the game just before injury time. East scored from their only chance right at the end. I spent the second half catching up with Richard Maynard, father of ex-South keeper Chris, who was playing for Cainrlea on the day, and didn't have much to do.
Thanks to all those who asked after my health, I appreciate it.