It was a strange week, too, even before we got our caning against Kingston and pulled back down into the heart of the relegation stoush. South fans, paranoid, panicky, and with a 14 year chip on their collective shoulder, are ready to lash out at anyone. The first target was Paul Wade, for his support of the Dandenong A-League bid. It was a reaction from our fans which I wasn't surprised by, but one that I felt was misdirected for a couple of reasons. First, where Wade can be considered to have a coherent and/or consistent policy with regards to what our nation's top tier should look like, he is long ago on record as saying that "broadbased" teams (complete with gimmick nicknames) were/are the future of the game. That was all the way back in 1995, in his autobiography - which I apologise again for not having reviewed in depth, ten and a half years into the blog.
Now it was pointed out (and rightly so) that Wade had also endorsed our bid last year, and that therefore something must have changed for him to do this, and that "something" was money. I wouldn't rule it out - why rule anything out in Australian soccer? - but Wade never seemed to me like the kind of guy who would do something just for the money. Still, that seeming inconsistency in his endorsements goes to another point about how nonsensical the fury at Wade's most recent comments was: and that point is, who actually takes what Paul Wade has to say seriously? Yes, he'll get wheeled out by the ABC from time to time to talk about the Socceroos or the state of the game, but his overblown pronouncements almost always make him seem incredibly out of touch with everything going on in Australian soccer. He is in a lot ways an Australian soccer media relic, one whose heyday was a very long time ago as a player, not that much far removed as a commentator, and it's odd to me that anyone takes what he says seriously, let alone personally.
Once everyone got bored with Wade, it was time to turn on The Age's Michael Lynch. Now goodness knows, South of the Border has hardly been Lynch's biggest fan over the years, but we've mellowed out to the point where my loathing is now muted, and I'm now mostly just plain old distrustful. Lynch, who has found if not a soft-spot for "the old clubs" in recent times, has certainly managed to rediscover at least a peripheral interest in them. As to what prompted that rediscovery, the only wisdom I can offer on that front is typically cynical and a little bit hackneyed: that Lynch and other soccer journos noticed a change in the air, and they thought that maybe their previously dismissive attitudes towards the old clubs might see them miss the zeitgeist.
And when it comes to Australian soccer media, the zeitgeist is all, and anyone who falls outside of that looks naff, old, fossilised, doddering. In this case, Lynch didn't necessarily commit any heinous crime other than putting forward the idea that in his view, and so far as the Melbourne A-League bidders were concerned, behind the scenes it was not South Melbourne that were favoured, but rather the other two bids. Enter a more subdued version of the angry mob that went after Wade, which hadn't necessarily taken the time to think about the situation. For as absurd as the South bid is, and as as absurd as the other two Melbourne bids are, and any A-League bids for a system that needs drastic overhaul (whether pro/rel or plainer reform to its current state), is noting that the powers that be might prefer some over others, and that such attitudes may have been locked in place for a long time, really that absurd of an idea?
Anyway, having amused ourselves by turning onto outsiders, and someone who people had convinced themselves was South through and through by virtue of stuff that happened most recently 23 years ago, ignoring the fact that Wade has had little to do with us since, it was time to lash out at each other. Which, to be fair, is a longstanding South speciality, and in recent times enjoyed by some of our people more than what happens on field. At some point during the under 20s game on Sunday, word was going around about a small group of South fans - perhaps half a dozen - being banned by the club, and/or possibly the stadium trust.
This was odd, in part because at least some of those supposedly banned were already in the stadium, an oversight which it turned out one could put down to the club being too slow to get its act together from the time gates were opened. Eventually had photos of the banned supporters, and prevented them from entering (or re-entering) the stadium. The other odd aspect was no one seemed sure why it was that these supporters had been banned, for how long they'd been banned, and what efforts the club had taken (if they had taken any effort) to inform those banned that they were indeed banned from Lakeside.
That obviously cast a pall over affairs from before kickoff, and eventually most of Clarendon Corner decided to watch the game from outside the ground from behind the fence at the western end of the ground. It's not the best of the view of the ground, but for this banned and their sympathisers, there was an obvious principle involved, and also precedent - let's not forget that members of Clarendon Corner had spent a good portion of our early time at Northcote protesting the banning of some fans following the pitch invasion at the final game at the old Lakeside.
There was next to no chanting from what was left of Clarendon Corner inside the ground, and a lot of chanting from the majority of those who decamped outside the ground. Nothing out of the ordinary was chanted that I could discern from my position inside the ground. Those at the ground who are not up to speed on all these kinds of things must have been very confused by what was going on. At times volunteer marshals spent some time there, as did security, and one stadium trust staffer seemed particularly nervous about the whole affair, though seemingly not doing much other than pacing up and down the stairs in front of his match day office.
While their chants were mostly clearly audible, Clarendon Corner in exile were largely invisible to those inside the ground, except for one character who was quite visible as he climbed on top of the ticket box next to the Gate 1 entrance, and proceeded to walk along the top of the outer fence to the bewilderment of most and even to the amusement of some - including a security guard - who I suppose could appreciate the farce of the performance and the situation that performance was embedded in. As security approached, he jumped down back outside
Me, I acknowledge that farce of what passes for supporting this club on a weekly basis, but I couldn't help find the whole thing exceptionally grim. I wouldn't go so far as to call the past few weeks a truce between disgruntled fans and the board, but as has tended to be the case at South in recent years, a run of good results acts like a sedative, numbing tension for a short time before a bad result or two brings the underlying issues back to the surface. The only odd thing, if one could it even call it that, is that on Sunday we didn't even get to the bad result bit before the unpleasantness began.
And if everything else going on wasn't making things grim enough, the team itself came out of the sheds half asleep and seldom looked like it was a chance in a game where, had we won, it would've secured our NPL status for 2019. Kingston took the lead early through a penalty (no complaints from me on the decision) and eerily - and not bloody helpfully - Gully had also taken the lead at Olympic Village at the same time. Kingston being a quick side, I just had a feeling that we would struggle to keep them away from goal, and we weren't helped by having an unsettled defensive set up thanks to the absence of Brad Norton.
We did eventually start clicking into gear, and I thought we finished the half reasonably strongly. Marcus Schroen's goal direct from the corner got us level at halftime, just as the Bergers themselves had equalised. So at that particular moment, things were looking a lot better than they had five minutes into the game. I wasn't especially confident about the second half, but I didn't foresee the second half collapse. You could, as some have done, try to put it to the fact of Kingston having the wind in the second half, but it wasn't like they were hoofing the ball down the field. It was all very neat and tidy, and exploiting a slow defence.
Before you knew it we were behind again. By the time we got to 3-1, it was a matter of playing out time and hoping things didn't get worse. They did, of course, but the bigger concern was Schroen coming off injured; along with Oliver Minatel, Schroen has been the other key player in turning our season around from its direst point, and to potentially lose him for further matches would be a massive blow. This is especially the case when we have three tough games to go, including two of the top three side. But all credit to Kingston - they have a smaller budget, they play youth, and they play attractive football. I hate Monday night football, but if we're going to have a surplus of (Greek) minnow teams in this comp, the least that we can hope for is that try to entertain.
As the sun set on another home loss in 2018, and people retreated to their various internet hovels to vent and moan and plan their next moves, some of our people turned their attention towards the spectacle of the Western Melbourne Group's open forum, deciding to scoff and deride several of the key takeaways from that affair. Not that any of that matters, of course, but I guess it's nice to have a hobby that people get some joy from. Goodness knows there hasn't been much joy at South this season.
At Heidelberg on Sunday afternoon, in a replay of the previously abandoned match. It's the catch-up round, and we're the only teams playing, so there could be a decent crowd. That, and the Bergers can secure what I'm still calling the minor premiership with a win here. Rather than making the game free entry, there will be a cover charge - with the proceeds going to the Greek bushfire appeal. As noble as that sentiment is, I can positively sense the cynicism dripping out of some of our supporters.
The arrangement is going ahead with the blessing of our own club, which makes total sense when you think about it. After all, we are a Greek club; we would be destroyed in the media if we didn't support it; and at any rate, one of our board members also happens to be the president of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne.
Apparently you will be able to get a receipt for your donation/entry ticket, if you are that way inclined. I'm just hoping for a win, and no repeat of the nonsense which took place after our most recent meeting. Which, when I put it like that, is clearly hoping for too much.
Relegation/survival prognostication - as stolen from Greekfire's post on smfcfans.com
The following post by "Greekfire" appeared on smfcfans.com, and does a much better job at summarising our predicament than any amount of waffling I could do. All I've changed from it is shortening the team names so they don't stretch out the table template.
I've run the numbers on the remaining games to analyse the scenarios whereby we can end up in 12th and the relegation playoff. There are basically 5 teams in the mix:
- South Melbourne
- Kingston City
- Hume City
- Green Gully
- Dandenong Thunder
- We lose all of our last 3 games - to put us in the worst possible case for ourselves
- Goal difference plays no part in the result (i.e. we don't get battered / we lose 1-0 in each game / no one else belts anyone)
- Dandenong Thunder is ignored for now - the teams they play (Northcote @ home, Knights away) don't have any other influence on the results of anyone else, so it's not worth analysing every combo of their games
- Kingston City vs Heidelberg United
- Hume City vs Green Gully
- Hume City vs Pascoe Vale
- Green Gully vs Kingston City
If we consider that each game can either be a win to the home team (1), a draw (X) or a loss (2), then there are 3x3x3x3 possible outcomes, or 81 scenarios.
Of these, we finish 12th in 7 of them, or in 8.6% of cases (assuming every result of every game is equally likely and independent) - these are outlined below:
Key things to note:
- If we get a point from any of our last 3 games, we avoid all of these scenarios as we would move up to 29.5 points and safely above at least 1 other team in every scenario (assuming we still have better GD)
- Green Gully have to get a result from Hume City in 2 weeks, or else we are safe
- Hume City have to beat Pascoe Vale on the last day, or else we are safe
- Green Gully have to get a result from Kingston City on the last day, or else we are safe
|Team||Scenarios finishing 12th||% chance|
Of course, if Dandenong don't get a point from their last 2 games, we are safe anyway as they would stay below us on 28 points and lower GD, and all this would be moot.
Around the grounds
Sat at home reading Kate Grenville's The Lieutenant while watching Batman, and later the footy.
Went to the footy. Was alright.
This semester I am in what may be called semi-gainful employment, with the possibility that my workload will increase significantly at very short notice. So, if you've been disappointed by the quality of South of the Border match posts in 2018, the lack of ephemeral material, or even just the deplorable promptness of publication, things are going to be pretty annoying for the next three months or so. Also, I've become quite fond of coming home on a Sunday evening after a game, switching my phone off, and just lying on the couch watching trash TV. So you know, take all of that into account for the next little bit.