I will say this from the get-go - it was an ordeal getting to the ground. Not public transport wise, but everything aside from that. Insane roadworks on Glengala Road, fine, these things happen, and a massive detour to get to Sunshine station required. But it was also an ordeal getting into the ground. After having promoted the fact that the southern gates would be open from 4:30pm, this detail was changed about an hour before kickoff in the main game to 'yeah, nah', for reasons which will forever remain a mystery.
But at least I managed to make it to the ground - the designated officials for the under 20s game reportedly failed to show up at all, and thus that game was never even started. Probably a common sense outcome under the circumstances, but South of the Border's go to guy for Football Victoria bylaws says that the game should still have gone ahead, with the home team providing match officials in lieu of the missing referees.
Anyway, arriving at the aforementioned southern gate, I saw that the Bentleigh peanut man was also locked outside. There was a security person on the inside, but even after I noted that I had a media pass (and thus wouldn't need to make a financial transaction to enter), I was informed that he couldn't let me in via that gate as he didn't have a key. Thus was necessitated a massive walk around the back of Olympic Village to get into the ground, upon whose entry the previously mentioned mystery was probably solved - there were fuck-all people at the ground, and thus no need to spend money on extra security and gate attendants for a fixture of minimal appeal.
Now I've seen good crowds at the Village in games between these two sides, and I've seen poor ones, but pound-for-pound this was one of the worst attendances I've seen for a derby here. I think back to the last round of 2012, where the Bergers were already relegated and we were out of the running for finals, and this was much closer to that than anyone would have liked. I suppose the low turnout of ours fans was understandable - we've been erratically pus for good chunks of the season, and what's more, there's no hope left in the club to drag in the slightly less rusted on. Indeed, the South contingent on the outer side before the game that it seemed so small that even the one overly keen security guard assigned to that area was probably overkill
|They were driving a car of some sort.|
Of course he copped abuse from some of our fans, which kick-started the latent pantomime feeling supposedly inherent in derby games. Rumour has it that the groom was actually Heidelberg Laser Dude himself, but I can't confirm that myself. One wonders what the bride made of it all, especially as she (and here's putting my Australian soccer racial profiling hat on) looked to be of south-east Asian origins, and thus not likely to be familiar with the white hot passion engendered by this once great rivalry.
While the bride and groom were off to the side, there was also a minute's silence for the late David Cervinski, and some bloke in the crowd took up the role of cantor; my Greek Orthodox church attendance being as poor as it's ever been, I can't say if it was a prayer was for the dead or a celebratory one for the bride and groom - let's assume it was the latter.
Finally the game got underway, and look - I was distracted by wild conversation for a good chunk of it. As usual in 2019, see Luke's blog for an actual match report. But I did see Zac Bates dink the ball over the Bergers keeper for 1-0, Marcus Schroen bumble the ball into the roof of the net, and I certainly saw Gerrie Sylaidos' shot for 3-0 - hell, I was halfway down the hill as soon as Gerrie took the shot.
|Kosta Stratomitros prepares to be stretchered off the field |
after being violently tackled. Photo: Luke Radziminski.
It would've been nice however if the Heidelberg marshals didn't delay getting the stretcher out to Stratomitros, but at least our man has apparently avoided major injury and shouldn't miss any time.
With Heidelberg down to effectively eight players thanks to the two reds and an injury, we wavered between running over the top of them and just playing calm, risk-free possession football. The last ten minutes (including the seven minutes of injury time) was a bit better, as the risk of the Bergers getting back into the game was over, but our finishing was dire, leaving some to lament the missed opportunity to boost our goal difference.
At the end of the game, one hoped for the southern gates to be opened up to allow the meagre crowd to leave from there, and head back to their cars in Northland's car park. No dice. At least I avoided getting mugged on the dark path alongside Darebin Creek; less fortunate was having to deal with Heidelberg Harismidis on the bus until I got to Preston station. That's the great public transport peanut gallery for ya.
Back to Lakeside, and back to cup action on Wednesday night against Langwarrin. Langwarrin are a capable NPL2 side, with quite a few veteran NPL players, so I'm expecting a pretty tough game.
Partly borrowed midpoint summary
Thanks, Dave. Not that one wants to throw away the six points gained over the past two weeks (and the comparatively more competent performances that came with them), but if we'd managed to take at least some points off Kingston, Oakleigh, and Pascoe Vale, it wouldn't be just points gained for us, but also points taken off fellow relegation battling opponents.Half way through the season. @smfc currently sitting in 8th position. Interestingly, we've taken more points from the teams above us (1-7) 3W 1D 3L than below (9-14) 2W 1D 3L. That's good... but should be a lot better. Still, positive signs. Keep fighting lads.— ēļřāffő (@dvrf1878) May 18, 2019
Anyway, if the magic number is 30 points to guarantee survival*, we're two points ahead of where we need to be, with a stack of home games to come which should make things easier.** More importantly, we're three points ahead of Pascoe Vale and Port Melbourne, four points ahead of Dandenong Thunder, and five ahead of 12th placed Oakleigh who lie in the playoff spot, who despite their ongoing struggle to get results are apparently improving their general play and are now closer to 'unlucky' rather than merely 'crap'. So, you know, no time to rest on our laurels and such.
*Not a guarantee.** It probably won't.
Fare thee well. Bon voyage. Toodle-oo.
Goalkeeper Alastair Bray is no longer at the club; his current whereabouts and/or ultimate destination remain unknown at this point in time, and no, I'm not going to stalk him on Instagram. Bray's irrepressible talent for getting injured limited his appearances for the club to a miserly two games - round 1 of last year, where he was crippled by a reckless Bulleen player; and round whatever it was when we played Pascoe Vale away this year, where an underdone Bray made that dreadful error which set us back 1-0 early in that game. A pity that it couldn't have turned out differently. Had he not been injured in that Bulleen game, Sasa Kolman might still be coaching us. Hmm.
All of which means we're probably on the lookout for a backup goalkeeper, because realistically Amir Jashari isn't going to be a good enough prospect for that role. Which, if we're being honest, should be communicated to the lad quite clearly so that he can move on to another club, even if lower down the league system, so that he can start playing regular senior football.
As for who will or should become the backup keeper, some of 'they' are saying that we've signed 'Josh' from Doveton. I have no idea if this is true or not. Neither do I want to disparage 'Josh's' abilities based on the one game I've seen him play, in which I saw him ably close down attacks on relatively tight angles. But if it is true, all I can think is that the club has made the recruiting choice in large part due to the fact that it was the one time that members of the football committee had actually ventured out of their comfort zones and watched a game involving an unfamiliar opponent.
Such cynicism! Such unbecoming cynicism even! But if you thin that's bad, you should hear the terrace chat about who we're looking to bring back in! Utterly unprintable, and scarcely believable, but imagine the possibilities!
Hmm, football seems enjoyable again these last two weeks. Not sure why.