Monday, 20 May 2019

Pantomime - Heidelberg United 1 South Melbourne 3

This game simultaneously had a bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing, and if you missed it for whatever reason, you missed one of the more off-tap local soccer experiences of recent times.

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.
But for the Bergers and their fans? They're the reigning champs and are still a top three side so far this season, and their support also seemed poor. One Berger who did turn up did so in a (I assume) rented convertible sports-car of some sort (someone said it was a Porsche, but I don't know cars, OK?), dressed in his wedding suit and bringing along his new bride along for the ride. The car was parked on the goat running track on the western side of the ground where the South fans tend to congregate, where the bride and groom eventually had a wedding photo taken with the current Bergers squad. Why he decided to come onto the western instead of eastern side of the ground is curious, but one can assume that he wanted to aggravate the South fans on the hill with chants directed their way.

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.

3-0 up at halftime, only an all-time and yet entirely plausible implosion would see us cough up the lead. The Bergers showed a bit more initiative and had a shot hit the crossbar early on in the second half, but in general we were doing enough to maintain the lead and they weren't doing enough to make a comeback. Reuben Way getting sent off for a second yellow - a dodgy handball call, but stuff him, I say - should have made things harder for the home team, but then came the classic Kristian Kontantinidis Klanger. With his Berger opponent turning away from goal and being no obvious threat, KK decides to clatter right into him for an obvious penalty.

Kosta Stratomitros prepares to be stretchered off the field
after being violently tackled. Photo: Luke Radziminski. 
Thankfully, though the home team scored the penalty, they never really came too close to another one. When Lewis Hall tried to smash through Kosta Statromitros' through the latter's shin, Hall was shown his marching orders, and that was pretty much that for the game; except for Heidelberg assistant coach Jeff Olver getting red carded for smashing a chair on the sidelines I assume.

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.

Next game
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.

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!

Final thought
Hmm, football seems enjoyable again these last two weeks. Not sure why.


  1. I like KK, but he has cost us 2 stupid goals with 2 stupid decisions in 2 weeks. Someone needs to drill into him 'safety first'.

    If we can eradicate silly mistakes like this, and keep up our recent goal scoring form we could sneak into the finals come season end.
    It will be nice to make sure we can't get relegated first ;)

  2. Surprised you did not mention this is the last match at this venue before the re-development

    1. Didn't realise that to be the case. More importantly, there are still three more senior games at Chaplin Reserve this year.

    2. Well, they are playing their last 8 or so games away.

      But there is a distinct lack of information emanating from the club about this redevelopment.

      But my insider tells me that redevelopment works start in first week of July.

      That ground NEEDS it!


A few notes on comments.

We've had a lot of fun over the years with my freewheeling comments policy, but all good things must come to an end. Therefore I will no longer be approving comments that contain personal abuse of any sort.

Still, if your post doesn't get approved straight away, it's probably because I haven't seen it yet.

As usual, publication of a comment does not mean endorsement of its content.