Marching bands, match programs, and a grassy hill that's deteriorating into dirt. These are some of the reasons why you should turn up to away games, instead of sulking at home. I mean, sure, if you have something better to do, you should do that, and more power to you. But watching your team from home when you have the option to go to a game? That's just madness. If one of the supposed (accidental) advantages of not being in A-League is the fact that you can see your team in person every week, why not take up that opportunity?
That's for those people to deal with. On Friday night it had not crossed my mind that with an 8pm kickoff, that there wouldn't be a reserves game. So here's me and Gains making a terrific argument for the experience of turning up to games in person, by getting to Green Gully Reserve about an hour and a half before the game, to find the entrance to the ground locked. What to do, other then try and find the alternative entrance to Gully's social club and bistro, which meant wandering around many doors trying to find the right one, before figuring out that it must the be the entry with the people smoking.
Oh, and how wonderful to be forced to go through the gaming area in order to get to the bistro. I'm sure such an arrangement is down to trying to minimise the amount of entry and exit points due to pandemic protocols; but how convenient that they didn't open the main doors which give you the option of not passing through the gaming room.
Anyway, eventually they did open the gates to the ground, and we were greeted by sprinklers on the field for some reason - because it wasn't like it hadn't already rained in the western suburbs earlier that day. But also, there was a marching band, that wasn't really marching so much as standing most of the time, parked next to Gully's covered shed thing, blasting out the tunes like it was 1885 and the Kaiser was due in town.
Some people on Twitter may have come across my recent footy posting about the music at AFL matches; this was not quite in that level of annoying, as well as my gripes over the selection of music at South games; but at least it was a band and not a recording, and at least they were playing full length songs, even if their repertoire was short. But damn it if there just wasn't anywhere to get away from it without leaving the vicinity of the western side where the food/toilets/drinks/etc were.
It was bloody loud is what I'm trying to say. Hard to hear oneself think, and you know I was missing out on some golden thoughts because of the noise, and even worse, finding it difficult to relay those thoughts to people in my vicinity, who were all desperate for my wisdom. On the plus side, credit to Gully for being one of the few clubs persisting with a (free!) match program, which made it easier to figure out who was who for them, and for reminding us both of the Maltese love for 1950s and 60s tribute acts, and for the existence of ex-South personnel at other clubs - in this case Steve Laurie (assistant coach), Peter Gavalas (physio), as well as the still active Shaun Timmins, Jerrad Tyson, and Melvin Becket.
Much to one person in particular's disappointment, Becket didn't even make the bench for Gully, nor he did he return the greeting offered by his biggest fan. The lesson here being, of course, never meet your heroes. Stranger though was the lineup that we put out, which after weeks of complaining about Esteban Quintas' ultra-defensive set-ups, on Friday night instead looked like something that was 65-80% compiled by the collective wisdom of the South forum.
Ben Djiba starting at right full-back, and Luke Adams on the bench. Daniel Clark on the bench (apparently for arriving late to the ground), and Zac Bates starting. Basically, it was the most attacking line-up we'd put on the park all year in the league, and that helped produce what was a pretty open game. Neither side was particularly good at producing quality final third product, but it was entertaining, which was a real change of pace for what we've dished up this year. But for the few hundred people at the game (up on the more usual mere couple of hundred for this fixture), at least they got their fifteen dollars worth in terms of end-to-end action.
It was weird to see a Quintas coached South side actually going toe-to-toe with an opponent of roughly similar calibre. I'm not so confident that it will always work out well, and the second half was in particular was much messier for us than I would have liked. Our midfield, or at least our desire to play through the midfield, disappeared almost entirely. Instead we resorted back to long ball after long ball to Harrison Sawyer, with Gerrie Sylaidos and Bates trying to pick up the scraps. It was invigorating to see Sylaidos and Bates unleashed, given licence to break lines and zip forward, at least in the first half. The second half's long-ball plan worked better than it should have, and I can't see it as a viable long-term prospect, but Sawyer did well enough with little help from either teammates or the officials to set up the winning goal.
He still looks as awkward as the proverbial baby giraffe, but for the time being he's getting the job done. Who knows what will happen if he gets injured, but you'd almost not want to think about it.
That it took until the 80th minute or so for the deadlock to be broken is down to bad luck and poor finishing rather than a paucity of chances or lack of daring from either side. And then we got a bit lucky with a goal line clearance, but we escaped with a third 1-0 win for the year, and the players got to do their rendition of the dreadful 'Sweet Caroline', which is apparently their thing now instead of the 'Celtic Song'.
Along with the win came injuries both physical (Wallen's arm injury) and to one's pride (Daniel Clark), who seemed not quite as enthusiastic in his play as he usually is, after he had come on as a second half sub. We also continued to pick up yellow cards, and
Back at Lakeside on Saturday evening against St Albans, who are winless in their last four matches. Please note that the under 21s match will not be played as a curtain-raiser, but rather will be played after the senior match.
FFA Cup draw news
|"So you like South vs Knights cup fixtures, eh?"|
"Well, have all the South vs Knights cup
games in the world! Ahahahah, hahahah!
Football Victoria should just make South vs Knights a default fourth round FFA Cup game each year, and that way at least get rid of the pretense that the draw isn't rigged. Just alternate the home team each year. Save on the electricity bill by not having to heat up the balls in the microwave. I suppose we should be glad that we at least avoided the banana skin (on field and off) that would be a game against Preston - unless you're one of these people who want a big pay day - but that's really small comfort. Give me the cruisiest path to the cup any day of the week.
Expect the game to be fixtured pretty close to whenever it is we're supposed to play them in the league.
Rout via (mostly) the right hand channel
Judging by the opening half of their league season opening game against Bulleen, it looks like the senior women are back into overpowered squad domination mode. Which is fine by me, though I wish the audio on the NPL stream wasn't so unbalanced as to come out almost entirely through the right-hand speaker. The women were six goals up at half time, and finished with a 7-1 win. Who knows if this is an aberration on Bulleen's part - they looked a lot sharper in the second half than the first - but this could be a long season for pretty much everyone else other ourselves and Calder if that's the kind of performance we can dish out to a likely finals team.
|Image edited from original photo found on|
Wallen's Instagram page (IG:joshuawallen)
Josh Wallen's arm injury, which has required two surgeries, will rob us of one of our better players for several weeks. My guess (and probably yours) is that Luke Pavlou will probably take his place, but it could well be that Marcus Schroen has picked up enough match fitness to be able to start a game, if not quite finish one.
We can rest assured that Wallen is being well taken care of, because clearly the photo on the right was not taken in a public hospital - that toast certainly looks better than anything I've come across in the public system.
Of more concern in this matter is the size of the cup of tea that Wallen is seemingly about to drink while injured. That thing is so massive, you wonder how someone with a broken arm is supposed to safely lift that much hot liquid without spilling it on oneself.
On the couch/On the streams/In the stands
Here's to getting into arguments with strangers at a game, on the topic of why the team you both support just so happens to suck so very, very much.
Here's to me sitting on level two at the Punt Road End on Saturday night, and somehow ending up next to one of the few people who apparently regularly attends Avondale matches, who himself may have been wondering how he ended up next to someone who still goes to South matches. Don't ask how the topic of soccer came up in conversation, only know that it was the more genial part of the conversation, as we spent most of the next three hours disagreeing about why exactly Collingwood sucked. He repertoire on that front was straight out of 1992, while I was - unusually for me, perhaps - very much in the present. I did check out some of the NPL Victoria stream action at halftime, when it wasn't drizzling so much, by which I mean I was trying to skim through to where the goals were. Certain teams really loving draws this year.
I will say this for the Bentleigh vs Heidelberg game, and not much more. It was the first full-length game I watched on a stream for quite some time (though I say that with some frequency), and I still cannot get over the fact that several years down the live-streaming track, and NPL Victoria's offering still doesn't have a instant replay option. And no, I'm not talking about sliding the cursor back a few a seconds yourself, but something that's part of the coverage itself. If they can do it Tasmania, why can't they do it here?
We're now thirteen points clear of the relegation zone; or fifteen more points to go as the kids like to say.