That, and having a customary pre-game chat with former South and now Oakleigh assistant coach Chris Marshall, discussing football of all things, and what had transpired over the past couple of seasons.
As for the game itself, the big question was which South would turn up to the game? The good one, the mediocre one, or the terrible one? All three as it turned out. You can read about that in appropriate depth on Luke's blog. Or you can do a google search and try and find his poem about schnitzel.
But let's be fair - the way Oakleigh has been performing for the past three and a half months, no matter how well we played, we probably wouldn't have been able to match them. Three months and a half months... think back to that time - a time when both ourselves and Oakleigh were playing abysmal football, and Oaks managed to win what was pound-for-pound one of the worst games of football I've ever seen.
At any level. In any code.
We started with Josh Dorron in goals, because Nikola Roganovic had accrued five yellows. Pretty soon Dorron was being forced to make save after save - sometimes in the same sequence of play - and the signs looked ominous for us. That we actually sort of settled and won a a maybe dubious penalty - our first for the season, and which we scored from! - didn't really make things any less ominous.
Credit to Bates though. Despite his dodgy hamstrings, which are always on the verge of snapping into oblivion, probably no one else could've run fast enough to get to that ball and win that penalty.
Oh, and credit to Marcus Schroen for putting away the penalty. We'll remember it fondly, if only because who knows when we'll get our next spot kick, let alone score from one?
But the good times weren't going to last forever, with Oakleigh equalising from a sequence of play involving a shot off the crossbar and an easy tuck away that I won't be revisiting on the highlights package. Apologies to George who compiles the highlights, and desperately needs views on the club's youtube channel so the club can hypothetically promote its metrics to sponsors, but this year I'm in mid-1990s Paul Mavroudis the Collingwood fan mode, where I avoid Saturday replays if the Pies had lost. And back then, it happened too often.
If memory serves me correct, Oakleigh had an offside goal disallowed, and forced several more good saves from Dorron in the first half. For our part, we still looked lively, at least on the counter. Once we got to the dangerous areas of the ground, things tended to fall apart, but it was nice to get that far.
And if Pep Marafioti's well-guided header had gotten past John Honos late in the first half, well, it provided a case of what might have been.
Nah. We probably still would've lost.
In the end, the what-ifs and might-have-beens were settled the old-fashioned way - by what actually happened on the field. And the second half from our lads was not good, while Oakleigh maintained their relatively (proportionally?) high standard of play.
It finished 4-1 - and not 5-1 as someone in the nearby in the crowd had thought, but I forgive them - but it could've been so many more for them, and maybe one more for us. Two of the goals we conceded were carbon copies (or at least rough ad libbed short term memory copies) of each other, crosses headed down and slammed home. The fourth goal was some dodgy keeping from Josh Dorron, who probably scuppered any chance he had of ever being considered a permanent first choice keeper in NPL Victoria from 2020 onward.
That's a slightly harsh call, since he'd pulled out a number of excellent saves on the night, but why should Josh avoid being made a scapegoat? Pretty much everyone else of even half note had copped it. Perry Lambropoulos, Marcus Schroen, Pep and Gio Marafioti, Nick Krousoratis, Jake Marshall, Kristian Konstantinidis, Billy Konstantinidis, even Josh's main rival for the goalkeeping spot, Nikola Roganovic.
|The presence of Milos Lujic made the final 15 minutes of a game that|
was cooked, slightly amusing for a gaggle of fools, this reporter included.
Photo: Luke Radziminski.
Well, some found it funny. Others saw it as a more of a last straw, seeing nothing noble or amusing in the self-loathing on display. They probably prefer their self-loathing to be directed inward perhaps, or maybe even just want straight up loathing directed toward them by others. Hey, it takes all sorts.
Some people are saying there's a lot of difficult decisions to be made during the off-season, but is it really so? As long as we're comparatively skint (either because we're broke or saving pennies for the alleged second division), the kind of player we'll be able to attract is not likely to be a game changing player. With the instability on the coaching front over the past two years, it's unlikely as well that we'll be able to get a "name" coach, or even a promising up and comer, so chances are we'll probably end up with Esteban Quintas for another season not because he's the best candidate for the job, but only because
That instability goes for the backroom machinations as well - a new technical director, a shuffling of the deck chairs in terms of who's responsible for the football department. The board promised us a competitive team, and at times - even plenty of times, if I'm being fair - the team was competitive. Just not often enough, and certainly not for long enough in most games. The board also said that the aim was finals, and from a finals perspective, the last two games are now officially a wash for us. Already a long shot, our loss on Friday night put paid to our chances of making an unrealistic and frankly undeserved tilt at the title. What's more, other results over the weekend meant that the top six is locked in - no one can get in or out, with only final positions up for grabs.
All we've got left is some experimenting with youngsters, and denying the Bergers what I still calln the minor premiership.
This week is a Dockerty Cup and designated catch up weekend, and thus there is no senior men's fixture on this week. We're back at home not this Sunday, but the one after, against fellow 2019 also-ran Altona Magic.
In the meantime, our senior women have an important game against Heidelberg away this Sunday afternoon at Olympic Village.
As for me, I'm going to spend the week - or portions of it - at the film festival.
So, er, what now for the juniors?
A little while back, we engaged the services of former South player Michael Valkanis - who was an assistant to John Van ’t Schip at PEC Zwolle in the Netherlands - as a sort of distance education coach for our junior program. Now Van ’t Schip is the Greek national men's team coach, and it appears as if Valkanis will follow him there. I don't know if part of the club's arrangements with Valkanis was meant to see us access some of the know-how at Zwolle or not, and if, whether that was actually followed through with.
Still, you'd like to think that a national team job would generally incorporate a lower day-to-day workload, so would this mean Mike could do more work with our kids? I don't know.
Since the resignation of previous Football Victoria media and communications guy Teo Pellizerri earlier this year, FV has outsourced its media to a company run by Michael Zappone and some other bloke, with news yet to come about what FV has planned for next year on whether the outsourcing will continue.
But one part of next year's local media landscape has been revealed, with Football Victoria sending out a memo to all NPL clubs informing them that they'll be charged a $5,000 levy for marketing and promotion in 2020. For that cost, clubs will receive:
- a pre-season photo-shoot (team and individual players), for clubs to use in their own marketing.
- access to Football Victoria's media studio for podcast and content production.
- access to a central club portal for video footage.
- the chance for clubs to include their own advertising on live streaming (up to 10% of allocated advertising banners).
- match day photography for each club, at least once per season.
- written match reports and previews.
Teams that wanted to spend more, or who had the organisational and/or volunteer capacity to do so, tended to do better work. Those that didn't, often did nothing at all. I suppose then, that the problem with this initiative - even though I would say its intent is good - is how much value will the clubs get back? For clubs who have already invested in equipment and people over a number of years to do this stuff for them, the benefits seem likely to be modest at best.
For those clubs who have struggled with getting volunteers to do this stuff, or who have rarely bothered to make an effort, will they all of a sudden become more likely to become media players? I'm not optimistic, especially as it concerns being able to make a return on this forced investment. As long time South media volunteer Skip Fulton notes:
Being in a competition where crowds are low for all sorts of reasons, and where most club income comes from junior fees and the largesse of wealthy club patrons - the latter of whom will never see a monetary return on their investment - it's almost like misreading the room on why someone sponsors a club in the first place.I personally dont think its worth it. There's nothing there that can be monetized to recoup the $5k beyond what clubs can do now at no cost. There may however be clubs out there with little or no access to media volunteers and they may benefit.— FB Skippy (@fb_skippy) August 6, 2019
As far as I'm concerned, more media and more coverage of Victorian soccer is not a bad thing. But the expectations around that - especially the implied notion that such increased media will increase sponsorship - is misguided. More media content under our current situation is good for historical and record keeping purposes, good for providing training and opportunities for young media hopefuls, and good for engaging (up to a point) extant audiences.
But revenue? Crowds are too small and too fragmented to be useful to potential non-traditional sponsors. Live streams do not have the commercial credibility of free-to-air broadcasts, especially when the quality of play is poor, the crowds low, and the atmosphere non-existent.
Other questions remain up in the air. Will NPL 2 and 3 (or whatever those league are going to be called) teams going to be slugged this levy as well, even though they will get less value? Will people providing services to FV - such as the live stream commentators - actually get paid for their efforts?
Skipping ahead to the fights
My interest in the rest of this league and pretty much all competitions below it, is cactus for 2019. The notable exception is the relegation battle that thank Christ we're not involved in anymore.
But even that relegation battle is barely engaging my interest. I tried watching moments of the Dandenong Thunder vs Pascoe Vale game, and got bored pretty quickly. Turns out that I would have been less bored had I popped in the approximately 74th minute mark, where a run of the mill foul and then a Pascoe Vale player kicking the ball - hard - into a prone opponent kicked off an on-field scuffle, which got on to the fence, and even made the cinematic leap into avant-garde film-making when the live stream camera was filming the Paco cameraman filming the violence; a cameraman by the way who had gone all Arnie Pie and wanted to make the news. At least he had the good grace to later apologise for getting involved.
Compared to that, the scuffle near the players' race - with pitch invader - at the Port vs Bergers game seemed almost telescopically quaint.
Thanks to Johnny for the lift back to the city on Friday. You've been a champ on that front this year.