Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Circus - Oakleigh Cannons 4 South Melbourne 1

I managed to overcome the ordeal of a dodgy public information system on the train to get off at the right station - though the confusion interrupted my reading of Steve Kilbey's autobiography, though I have little in The Church - head to Jack Edwards early enough to watch not much of the under 20s game, even though I could've watched most of it. Instead the time was spent having deep and meaningful discussions about life and all that it entails.

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.
Speaking of scapegoats, former champion of the club and scapegoat for some of what happened last year (for the five people at the club who don't put the entire blame on the board and Sasa Kolman) Milos Lujic made an appearance off the bench for Oaks, after which he was cheered out of respect for being a South legend, and then absurdly cheered upon by a section of Clarendon Corner encouraging him to score, and mock abusing our defenders for denying him a goal.

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.

Next game
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.

Media news
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.
In and of itself, such a move is not necessarily a bad thing. What it is, however, is a realignment of the nature of what is expected of NPL clubs. Previously, there was a degree of autonomy and self-reliance expected of teams - it's your club, and if you don't promote it to the fullest extent of your capabilities, that was on you. Thus the quality of what clubs were able to produce varied significantly, not just because of cost, but because of the lack of will and organisation.

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.

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.

Final thought
Thanks to Johnny for the lift back to the city on Friday. You've been a champ on that front this year.


  1. I think the club has no choice but to act on Estaban, he is not up to it nor were the other 2 coaches after CT. Our fan base has gone down the toilet thanks to the actions of the board, if 2020 resembles the last 2 seasons the remaining fans will just about throw in the towel.

    On the bright side despite what appears to be a case of sabotaging ourselves, we still might only finish 1-2 spots outside finals, so if we actually put in effort over the summer by first signing a credible coach and then building a proper team instead of signing 4 defensive midfielders and 4 wingers like we did last off season then we might back in play, not holding my breath because right now it looks like the club doesn’t give a stuff.

    1. Who is the club? The club or ours. It belongs to the members and supporters. If we are not happy with the current board we should offer our help. If that’s not enough then we need new leaders to step up. The problem we have is that no one is willing to stand up but many are keen on whinging. We need a unified club where everyone that still loves our club works together. From a distance, I think melb knights are a lot more unified than us, but I could be mistaken.

    2. The Knights are unified now, but it wasn't necessarily the case until very recently - I went to enough games there in 2017-2018 to witness splintering and factions.

      For us, all goodwill between the board and supporters is shot. For our supporters, why would they help when the board has often treated poorly the people who have volunteered or sought to help the club? When representatives of the club have gone out of their way to lie to the entire membership about big and little things, and especially independently verifiable things, why would anyone trust them?

      It's going to take a lot of work to rebuild any sort of trust. Seeing as there's scarcely any visible sign of a new board getting involved, that task of starting with a clean slate is made much more difficult.

      IT also doesn't help however that our fan base also likes being waited on hand and foot. Easier for the club to bring a whole bunch of uni interns to do stuff than rely on people who only really want to watch games and do not much more beyond that.

    3. Agree with all your points Paul, but at some point we all need to realise it’s our club and either do something about it or watch it die.

  2. The last time we played a 'dead rubber'* was last round 2012 against ... Heidelberg! What a contrast this year's game will be to some extent. Heidelberg were getting relegated. I thought that was it for them to some extent.

    *I exclude the seasons in between where late season games were warm up games for finals so to speak or the 2014 season where the last 2 games were 'celebratory'

  3. Altona will be the first dead rubber at Lakeside since 2007!

  4. All that controversial footage has been removed from those two other games, unlike the Altona v Thunder game?

    1. Wasn't the Altona vs Thunder stuff taken down as well?

    2. Well, I did watch that live, but I recall seeing it in the days afterwards. It appears the FFV has taken a stricter line on the latest vision.

  5. Serious question to all, would you take CT & Chris Marshall back?

  6. No, should never go backwards.

  7. The only time, that I can think of, where a club (in any code) has re-hired a coach and been successful, was Carlton with David Parkin in 1991. But his original departure in 1985 was unlike the silly Chris Taylor sacking!


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