Monday, 30 November 2020

News from northern climes for southern slackers

Every now and again one sees little items about some of our players currently occupied with soccer matters in Queensland: Pierce Clark made some saves; Daniel Clark scored a goal of some sort in a game that was maybe important; Harrison Sawyer scored a ton of goals against what looked like on video to be a very flatfooted defence, but turned out to belong to the team sitting second on the ladder at the time.

If I were being paid to keep track of this stuff I'd have put in more effort - not just in terms of taking an interest in the form and status of our players currently in northern climes - but also maybe trying to figure out how Queensland soccer actually works, and in which league which players of ours are playing in. It'd be so much easier if they were playing in Tasmania.

Anyway, I think the top flight Queensland (that is NPLQ and BPL - is there still a BPL?) season(s) are over, which means that soon enough our on loan personnel will be returned to us, so they can go jogging on the grassy bit in the middle of Lakeside Stadium, and running on the sand of South Melbourne beach.

But then again... one does these routine searches for news in one's half-arsed way, and see that Harrrison Sawyer was selected for a Brisbane Roar pre-season friendly. That Roar outfit beat their opponents (according to one source, some sort of youth team) 7-1, with Sawyer not getting any of those goals. Nor was there any indication of how much game time Sawyer got to see.

So, I guess he'll be back in Melbourne soon?

Friday, 27 November 2020

Well, it was more or less inevitable, when you think about it

Almost four years ago now, in a semi-mock confused and somewhat curmudgeonly way, I wrote a piece about the unveiling of a statue of Ferenc Puskas out the back of Gosch's Paddock.

At the time I noted that the entire concept of the statue - its provenance, its reasoning, its design, its location - was so out of sync with what Puskas meant to Melbourne, that the only vaguely meaningful part of the enterprise was the fact that they placed the statue in the obscurity of the bushes beside a goat track. 

Since then, the Budapest bid for the 2024 Olympic Games - for which reason the statue was commissioned and given as a "gift" to Victoria from the government of Hungary - was withdrawn well before the voting for 2024 got to its final stage.

Considering the Victorian government didn't even want the statue, the supposed "avenue of champions" that was to see more statues commissioned and placed within the vicinity of the Puskas piece, has not yet materialised. To which I say "I am shocked, shocked! Well, not that shocked", as the kids like to meme.

Meanwhile, the statue itself has not fared well, as seen in this tweet by SM Pete

which shows not only the statue looking quite the worse for wear, but also that the plaque that was on the plinth has gone missing. One assumes that it was stolen by someone, for who knows what reason. Considering the out-of-the-way location of the statue, and the restrictions on movement around the city due to the pandemic, who knows for sure when the plaque even vanished?

At any rate, the unseemly state of Puskas' statue has fired up parts of our supporter base, who are petitioning members of the state government to relocate the statue to Lakeside. I wish those activists well in their quest for statue justice, though it might help their cause a little if they knew about how the statue came about - and that for once it was not a failure of the Club that saw things turn out the way they have. 

Yes, there is a first time for everything. And I also forgive those people for not reading about the story of the statue on the one place that reported on it.

It's been my understanding for some time now that there has been provision made for a South Melbourne Hellas statue to take up a spot outside Lakeside Stadium, opposite the statue of South Melbourne Swans champion Bob Skilton, assuming we could find someone to stump up the cash to craft such a thing. 

Since that's unlikely to happen anytime soon, there are worse solutions to this sorry saga than to move the Puskas statue to the spot which has been allotted for a possible future Hellas statue.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Peter Skapetis joins Kingston City

Well, considering the career trajectory of Peter Skapetis, his South tenure seems to have come to a suitably anti-climactic end. So it goes.

Usually at this part of the year I like to keep tabs on who is signed with South, who's come in, and who's head out the door, but frankly who knows how to make sense of this year's goings on.

That, and maybe I just can't arsed.

Friday, 6 November 2020

Just a few things to keep the blog ticking over.

The hard lockdown is over, the sun shines occasionally, and Paul thinks it might be worth continuing to blog - even though blogging was already passe when he started, and he's now engrossed in another passe pastime, podcasting.

This year being just awful, what was there to say even if one was half-motivated - which one was most certainly not. Not much news of new signings or looking to the future, but the club has been making announcements about junior coaching appointments and such, which I am sure will work out just fine.

Still, the fact that this stuff is happening at all seems to suggest that the club believes that the year 2020 will eventually come to an end, and that there will be a 2021 (hard to believe, but I suppose anything could happen), and that football will be played in this hypothetical "new year", and thus preparations should be made for that eventuality.

He's aged terribly / but haven't we all
So the club put up a Facebook video with an update from (a weary looking and sounding) club president Nick Maikousis. Some chat about the national second division. Nothing particularly new here - reiteration that the club has always sought to play at the highest level possible, and chat about working on the model. But ah, the promise that any South Melbourne Hellas club in a hypothetical higher competition will be a community based and member based entity. Also some stuff about the South Melbourne Business Community initiative. 

The holding of the AGM will be problematic because of COVID restrictions,  but the club is working through that.

Notable persons
Former South Melbourne Hellas president, the late Sam Papasavas, has made it into the Australian Dictionary of Biography. The article is a well-rounded summary of Papasavas' versatility of public service, especially within the migrant and soccer spheres. As good as the article is, it's already been noted that the detail on Papasavas' tenure as National Soccer League chairman is in error - but I'm sure someone out there will take the necessary steps soon enough to correct

That's some language you got there. And you talk like that 24/7, huh?
So there's some kind of Brazilian A-League podcast or something on YouTube, and they had beloved post-NSL South Melbourne Hellas hero Fernando de Moraes on as their guest. I assume the entire hour and forty-five minutes is in Portuguese, and my Portuguese isn't crash-hot.

Ay, caramba, que mujer tonta! Veinte horas estudiar por nada!
Slightly easier to get a handle on is this Spanish language interview with our senior men's team coach Esteban Quintas, if only because there are ways to dump the whole site into translating tools to get the gist of what's going on. And what is going on? Well, there's a bit about Quintas' playing career and his transition from playing to coaching, and some stuff about his playing philosophy. 

Thinking back to when I read the article a week or two back, and trying to claw back memories of what was said, I'm less concerned about Quintas' methods - which seem convoluted to me, but hey, I'm no football professor, so what would I know - and more concerned with his assessment that Australian players are strong (yes), fast (yes), physical (yes), but don't necessarily lack in technique (what?). Quintas says (more or less) that Australian players lack for tactical knowledge and situational awareness (undeniably true).

While I have my doubts on Quintas' assessment of Australian players' technical prowess, what's more important here is that his assessment of Australian soccer's strengths and weaknesses - and that on field organisation and decision making is our major flaw - is what informs the way he coaches. Thus if you are the kind of person who has a higher interest in matters of a tactical nature, it might be worth the effort to get a translation of the interview to try and understand what it is that Quintas had been trying to get out team to do.

As for me, I think I'll stick with yelling out variations of "clear it", "up the line", and "box him in".

Community support
Here's an interesting story, on how South Melbourne is trying to make it easier for young footballers of African heritage to play in the NPL system. What's just as important is that it seems it's not just a South Melbourne initiative, but one that ties int broader efforts led by the Greek community, looking at mentoring African diasporic communities in establishing the community infrastructure that the Australian Greek community has created for itself over he past few decades.

Scene missing
Finally, we started out with the current president, and we finish up with a former one - and some of his mates for good measure. In a Soccer Scene article, writer Peter Papoulias, interviews George Vasilopoulos, Peter Filopoulos, and Peter Abraam in a piece nominally about the off-field talent and innovation fostered by clubs like (and in this case, specifically) South Melbourne Hellas; talent which has gone on to higher degrees of responsibility both within Australian and in other fields.

There's no denying that - much of both the on field and off field talent which was at South Melbourne during the 1990s (the focus of this article) has ended up holding down important roles across the Australian soccer industry - in media, coaching, administration at state and national level, and even at A-League levels as owners, sponsors, or board  an administrative positions.

But the most perplexing part of the article is the literal missing scene; like here is this innovative and successful club, which goes to Brazil and then without any real explanation, ends up where it is now. Like, how did the hell that happen? And before some people yell out "racism, Frank Lowy, and A-League" related conspiracies, my thoughts are more on what did the people leading the club through the 1990s and (immediately thereafter) do which contributed to the club being in a position where it could not even contemplate pursuing an A-League licence?

Ah, but this is retreading very old ground, and the world has moved on. Still, I'm intrigued by that bit which says that the club itself engaged with the producers of Acropolis Now to get more South content and branding on the show.