Monday, 25 February 2019

Gerrie! Gerrie! Gerrie! - South Melbourne 1 Dandenong City 0

Someone not familiar with soccer might think it strange how one goal can make all the difference between throwing the club into the emotional abyss or writing off a match with the cliché "not a great performance, but it was good to grind out a win and on to the next game".

Such people may also find it strange how creating three or four clearcut chances and failing to take any of them means less when someone scores off a half chance, slotting a ball through traffic from the edge of the box.

Before that, most of what we had was increasing frustration and the fear that we would cop a goal on the counter. Dandy City came to Lakeside with a plan, and that plan was to sit back and try and hit us on the break.

It was in stark contrast to last week's game against Bentleigh, where the Greens sought to take the game on, and we were able to attack promisingly on the counter in the spaces left behind by the Greens' aggression. In contrast, last Friday we were thrust into the role of the more active team, and the evidence was that we still have some work to do on that front.

On the one hand, I suppose we should be flattered that an opponent thought enough of our potential to try and curtail our attacking threat in this way. On the other hand, you wonder if other teams will also employ this tactic, hoping - possibly correctly - that we aren't as effective when we're asked to dictate play with the ball.

Most of what we were able to produce in the first half came through the work of Gerrie Sylaidos, who in lieu of adequate connections in midfield, worked cross-field passes to the right-hand side where Nick Krousouratis was operating. This combination - although not the precise tactic - led to our best chance of the game, with a Sylaidos pass opening up the City defence for Krousouratis' shot which somehow hit the post and come straight back out. I thought it had gone in, and so did a good chunk of the home crowd, but it was not so.

When added to makeshift centre-forward George Howard's shot straight at the opposition goalkeeper (who was not Chris Maynard, as some in the crowd believed) early in the game, there was palpable frustration in the crowd, mixed with wanting to show patience with the young squad. The red card to City's James Kelly for an off-the-ball attack on Dean Bereveskos only served to solidify the tactical trajectory of the game.

Outside Gate 2 at Lakeside Stadium/ Photo: Luke Radziminski
And as the game wore on, it seemed to be heading for one of two outcomes; a tepid 0-0 draw, or a loss to us courtesy of a goal pinched by the visitors. They sent in some dangerous balls across the box, but their only real chance came from a Dean Piemonte strike from the edge of the area - the kind of sucker-punch that Piemonte specialises in, not least against us - which sailed high and wide.

Otherwise our defence held up reasonably well, and much praise has been sent in the direction of Luke Adams and Jake Marshall, who did enough good work to see that Nikola Roganovic didn't have to make a save all night. But further up the field things were less cohesive, and the end result perhaps meant that what looked like a team afraid or unsure of how to take the game on against a conservative opponent, can be construed as - for now - a team playing patiently and to instruction.

For example, I'm not sure what George Howard's natural position is, but it ain't centre-forward. Pep Marafioti struggled against Steven Topalovic out wide, but I would have preferred Pep at centre-forward rather than Howard, because at least Pep has a striker's instincts, as shown by his flick-on attempt on from a low Sylaidos cross - an attempt which would have broken the deadlock if not for a superb reflex save by Kennedy in the Dandy City goal.

We did eventually get the lead thanks to Sylaidos' shimmy and toe-poke from the edge of the box through a maze of bodies, and it was not an undeserved lead. The rest was about holding on, and seeing a glimpse of what prize recruit Billy Konstantinidis can do. Though helped by the fact that the now trailing Dandy City had to come out and get a goal, Konstantinidis' mere presence was that of an old-fashioned footy full-forward, someone who immediately straightens up a side and gives it a sense of directional clarity.

We played better the week before, and came away with nothing but a small replenishment of the pride and belief we threw away last year. We played not so well on Friday night, but came away with three points and the knowledge that we can win when playing less than thrilling or inspired football. Now what would you rather have?

Next game
Port Melbourne away on Saturday night, beginning our customary stretch of early season away matches. It's another one of hose theoretical must-win matches. Port are currently on one point from two games, haven't scored yet this season, and yet are also probably not quite as bad as that form-line suggests.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Saturday is set to be a scorcher - 38 degrees - so hopefully it gets a bit cooler by kickoff time. Pity for the under 20s though. Remember to be sun smart this week.

Observations on match day operations
There was no minute's silence for the passing of Brian Edgley last week. Granted, Edgley was only our coach for about two thirds of the 1976 season - and his legacy at other clubs like Mooroolbark, Preston, and Balgownie Rangers was much more substantial - but it seems remiss not to have at least paid some tribute to him.

The game started ten minutes late for who knows what reason, which is not a great thing when Friday night games already start so late. I suppose it worked in favour of the habitually late.

Food service in the social club was slow. Since we have seen it happen with every operator of the social club's kitchen since the social club re-opened in 2017, one must assume that the kitchen is ill-designed for match day operations as opposed to normal bistro operations. Here's hoping that it's just teething issues with the new operator, and that when the glut of home games arrives later in the year that these issues are ameliorated to a degree.

I can understand waiting for things like burgers and steak sandwiches, but having to wait for things like dim sims and potato cakes, which should in theory easily sit ready in a bain marie, is a worry.
The menu has been simplified for match days, and most things seem to be of reasonable value. The burger I had was not nearly as good as the one I had at the members' night a few weeks ago, but one reader wanted me to note for the record that his steak sandwich was excellent.

Away from the kitchen, there was new and old merch available, and the promise has been made of a variety of heritage themed merchandise becoming available during the year. People seemed to like the commemorative postcards which voting rights members received, though I almost can't bear to look at them because of the rampant superfluous apostrophes. One member who did like the postcards was moderately disappointed that the cards were double-sided, as that meant that he couldn't frame any of them without needing to get another set of cards.

There did still seem to be some problems with people not being on the database despite having paid for their memberships. On the plus side, the bloke who complimented the quality of the steak sandwich also wanted me to note that the sturdy reusable sealed plastic bags were a nice touch.

No cheesecake
It wasn't in the membership brochure, but I'm still shattered.

Pines' under 12s runners-up pennant from 1966, from the South Yarra
Junior Soccer Federation. Photo: Paul Mavroudis.  
The South Melbourne women kicked off their 2019 campaign last week against Southern United at Monterey Reserve. Normally I wouldn't dare head out that far for anything other than a South senior men's game, but the senior women play away from Lakeside in the early part of the season for as long as the men do, and every time they play at Keilor - the only away NPLW venue close to me - there's always some damn clash with the men's team or some other event.

Besides, long public transport trips allow me to clear my head, and get into a faux-Zen state of mind, pondering koans like:
"where is the amenity in delivering all-day ten minute train frequencies if adjacent bus routes only operate at hourly intervals?"
Southern United are a struggling outfit who were reputedly close to folding last year, but they've sorted themselves out enough for another go in 2019. Their existence and struggles do seem to suggest that the late Tony Dunkerley's dream of composite representative franchise teams from the south-eastern suburbs and Mornington Peninsula are not as straightforward as he would have liked.

Having smashed them 14-0 last season, it was no surprise that we ran out 11-0 winners here, even without several W-League players in the team, and notable absentees such as Tiff Eliadis who has retired. Southern struggled to even get the ball up the field; the only chance they had for the game was when a South defender hit a stray back pass to the keeper. So, no stress on this occasion, just a relaxed day out in Frankston North.

Thanks to the Marafioti brothers, last week we got into a discussion in the comments section about player-family connections at South, and we came up with the following.

  • Anastasiadis (John and Dean)
  • Goutzioulis (Ange and George)
  • Tavsancioglou (Rama and Adem)
  • Trifiro (Jason and Glen)
  • Marafioti (Pep and Gio)
  • Tsolakis (Manny and Peter)
  • Salapasidis (Savvas and Kosta)
  • Maclaren (Bruce and Fraser)
  • Fraser Maclaren - Alastair Bray
  • Steve Tasios - Steve Panopoulos
But there must be more. So hit us up in the comments section for the obvious (and not so obvious) ones we've missed.

Match programs
We put out the call for more South Melbourne Hellas match programs, and Luke Patitsas (of the Sour Grapes blog, a South blog with someone who pays attention to the games) answered the call.

Thanks to Luke's efforts, we've been able to add one program from 1985 (Brunswick away); five home programs from 1987; a home program from 1989; two from 1989-90; one from 1990-91, a really great George Cross program; one from the opening day of the 1991-92 season; and two from home games (rounds 18 +20) from 2005.

For these and every other program we've managed to source, check out our match programs section. And if you have something that South of the Border is missing - and I know that some of you do - please get in touch with me.

FFA Summit Series
FFA is doing a roadshow gathering people in cities across Australia to talk about the issues the game faces. They're in Melbourne on Thursday May 2nd, a training night, but if you'd like to go anyway, head to this link and register your interest.

Personally I think this is a really dumb idea, but that's never stopped any of you before
So this week FV announced it had entered into some sort of arrangement with some sort of group to broadcast - live - every NPL men's match, every NPL under 20s match, every NPL women's match, and a minimum of two NPL 2 games a week.

Now having seen this kind of thing happen before, albeit on a much smaller scale - I'm thinking of circa the 2010 or 2011 seasons when some Harvey Silver related company filmed one live game a week - I was not in favour of this at all. I'm happy for highlights packages to be produced, and I'm happy for the odd radio game and full-blown live stream for important games - but this is too much.

And surely the aim should be to get people to go to games? But then I remembered that whatever you do, no one's going to turn to up to any game after whenever someone decides summer's ended, so sure, why not stream every single game? And as Matthew Galea has noted, it will at least provide some sort of quantifiable data on the interest in NPL competitions for proponents (and opponents) of the second division and promotion-relegation debate to manipulate to their liking.

The NPL Victoria games are available on YouTube and Facebook, and the consensus seems to be that the video quality is better on the YouTube streams. The graphics are basic but mostly clean, and they're updated regularly with stats and promos for various Football Victoria events. There's no replays - yet - which means if you stop paying attention you have to scroll back on the video to see a goal again. They seem to occasionally have commentators, and occasionally not.

By the way, if you're interested in doing commentary, analysis, etc for this, hit up Teo Pellizzeri with an expression of interest.
I'd put my name down but I don't know the players and I can't see good and I don't even know anything about soccer; and while that's part of this blog's charm, it probably wouldn't translate to something requiring a certain degree of competence. But you people, you know what's going on, you can see better than I, and you just might want to give amateur broadcasting a stab.

Personally, I'd rather be at a game, with the true fans, knee deep in mud, beer and blood. But that's not for everybody.

On the couch
Oh, what the heck; you only live once. Give me a white wine spritzer, spritzer, spritzer...
So I was coming home on the train from Frankston late Saturday afternoon, and while the waiting times on the Franga line might be lower these days - thank you Sky Rail - the actual train trip itself through suburbs where you wouldn't want to live and suburbs where you couldn't afford to live is just as long as it ever was. How to pass the time? Well, it just so happens that Football Victoria signed up some ridiculous deal to broadcast close to a bazillion of its NPL games probably mostly to indigent gamblers, and it's just my luck that there's one on right at the time I'm travelling. It's Manningham United Blues against Springvale White Eagles, from the Veneto Club for some reason. Manningham is up 1-0, there's half an hour left and no commentary. Springvale find a way to overturn the deficit and win the game, and thus begins my bender.

Even early in the season, the Somers Street pitch isn't in great shape.
Something done in and around watching Gerrie's goal about twenty to thirty times on YouTube
Knowing the score beforehand, but being impatient for someone to upload the condensed highlights, I settled in on the couch on Sunday morning to watch the replay of Knights vs Magic in its entirety, in whatever gap my brothers left open in between another Titan Quest campaign. And I have to say, I was a little disappointed. Granted, that may just be me - not someone who watches full-length soccer matches on television except during the World Cup, nor as someone who ever watches replays these days of matches where they already know the outcome. But this was a 4-3 game, with an implied shifting of momentum, a red card, and reputed great atmosphere. But it felt kind of... flat? Credit to Knights I suppose for not being so honking in the first two weeks of this season as they've been for the past few years, but I'm not quite sure how they scored four times; I do understand how they didn't cop six or seven, what with Magic being wasteful in a way they won't be whenever it is they're due to play us. You'd like to think these kinds of things even themselves out in the end, but they don't.

Scene missing
Sunday afternoon, too hot to go outside, so I park myself in an armchair with my dad taking the couch, and him belittling the quality of the players in the St Albans vs Moreland game, comparing it unfavourably to the players in his village team playing back in early 1960s Greece, back when villages like his still had children and young men. But that's my old man in a nutshell; like many people of his vintage who have fallen off the local soccer bandwagon, they live with misty eyed memories of Ulysses Kokkinos and his ψαράκι headers or Gary Cole cracking shots with enough power to kill someone. Me, I have to be subservient to my probably ill-considered and often downright inconvenient principles and take what I can get in this day and age, and not some fast-receding memory of a corrupt idyll of yesteryear. This is another not great game. St Albans have a halftime lead they probably don't deserve. The second half is ordinary if not quite dire - I cut the teams some slack because of the heat - and it is actually improved by the stream cutting out for a good ten minutes or so. The stream returns and the game is going nowhere, until everything gets turned on its head when Moreland score two goals in as many minutes. St Albans manage to level things up by the end, but since my old man has long since left to do something else, did it really matter that the two teams saved up the excitement until the end?

Final thought
They must only come out after midnight. Two weeks in a row at Sunshine station at about 12:30 in the morning, a random starts talking to me about South. This time, not very contemporary discussion, just a bloke who saw my beanie and went "South Melbourne Hellas, that's going way back, Trimmers" etc, etc.


  1. Really poor match and just glad to win in the end.

    Just in terms of the social club, there were serious issues with the service. They weren't making coffees at half time ! Plus the wait times to buy food were far too long. With a new operator and first home match, I'd expect some teething issues, but this was beyond a joke.

    Tough match coming up against Port Melbourne. Will be happy with a 0-0 draw. The more points we can collect early on will help with avoiding another relegation battle later in the season.

  2. Why do other clubs appear to have less issues with their food and beverage service?

    As for your 'Final Thought', every time I see a South Melbourne Hellas related article on NEOS KOSMOS, it get's flooded with people who continue to 'reminisce' and/or fling epithets towards the FFA. I decided (without really thinking about what I was doing) to respond to each person along the lines of "Is this an obituary? The club is not dead" or "The club still exists. Do you go and watch then NOW?!!"

    My 'Final thought' .... it appears the previously unknown (to me) Chris Nikou is alot closer than I imagined. His family is very good friends with the wife of a good friend of mine, AND he is the ex brother-in-law of a girl I am friends with (I only discovered this on Sunday!). Eventually I will find some 'dirt'. :)

    1. On your first point, I suspect it's a kitchen design issue, because surely at least one of the three operators would have sussed out how to make things work by now? There doesn't appear to be the same issues with catered or bistro affairs rather than the quick-service needs of a match day.

      On your second point, there's this that I wrote a couple of years ago but also an interesting journal article on Italian/Marconi/APIA soccer fans in Sydney by Klugman and Ricatti that I think I sent you, but can re-send if you want me to.

      Re: your final thought, you seem to be very well-networked in general, Savvas.

    2. My apparently large network would be even greater if I did not decide to go on a FB deletathon about a year ago (no more racists/sexists/haters etc).

      Speaking of in the know, I was speaking to a fellow Elwood beach ger on Monday and he informed me that he gave money to one of South's bid's via Nick Galatas! LOL

  3. Some further points.

    1) The Howard miss. I thought the build up play was one of the best I had ever seen at the club. Starting from the keeper and defender's having enough confidence to play the ball out from the back rather than pump it forward. Adams and Marshall maybe starting to gell into a super combo. They appear to win every header.

    1) I loved the look of the t-Shirts, until I discovered that the emblem was on the back rather than the front. Plus the polo tops are not the standard cotton variety I prefer. It made me realise that I had never purchased anything from our merchandise store. I trust the fresh batch in time for our next home game is suitable. This is just my personal view. Other's may be entirely happy with what's on offer.

    3) I watched with anticipation the 15 minutes worth of highlights of the Melbourne Knights v Altona Magic match. I thought that the editing contributed to my being less than enthused about a 7 goal thriller. But, as you stated, perhaps it just wasn't that gripping a match? And that does happen quite often in Soccer. The One Nil game can be so much more tense than the goalfest.

    1. At the game I fancy quite a few of us were a bit upset with Howard's shot, but the video shows it wasn't quite the gimme goal it may have seemed from the other end of the ground.

      The retro t-shirts looked good, and I would have bought one if
      - the design was on the front, not the back
      - they were in blue and white or white and blue, not black and near-black.

      I won't comment on the quality of the polos, because as a Kappa product I'm aready outside their demographic.

    2. I was sitting at the lake end and it appeared Howard was surprised (as we were) that Krousouratis was able to nutmeg the pass to him. But a 'true' striker would be ready for this, perhaps.

      "Demographic"? What is their demographic?

    3. To quote myself from an earlier post:

      "Of course with Kappa being *the* signature label of the 1990s Altona North effnik techno bunny test station KISS (or Hitz or KIX or Stomp or Clomp or some piece of crap) FM listening demographic, that rules me out of buying any merch next year."

  4. The knights game had a great atmosphere... in the last 5 min. I noticed it didnt carry over to the camera speakers on the far side. Hence why it seemed flat. Half the fans were maco anyway.

  5. Oh, and one more thing. I decided to briefly chat to the peanut man as I overheard someone say he was Cypriot.

    Once he realised I was also (half) Cypriot he proceeded to excoriate me for not supporting Bentleigh Greens! After my Facebook war with some of their supporters a couple of week's ago, I found it ironic.


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