Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Half Time Heroes

Yeah, another link, another web bandwagon to get on board. Half Time Heroes is the brainchild of Eamonn Flanagan, of the Nearpost Blog, but it's been taken over by others along the way. Unlike a few other blog/zine/site Australian soccer projects, this one has managed to survive for more than three seconds, and more than that, is seemingly thriving, celebrating it's first anniversary this month. I've done a couple of book reviews for it (Making News and Mr Cleansheets), and hopefully I can contribute something different for it along the way - though with its obvious A-League bias (and really, what doesn't have an A-League focus these days?) I'm not sure what the hell I could come up with. Anyway, it's not a bad read for people with broader footballing tastes than my own, so check it out.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Review of Tony Wilson's Making News

Being a World Cup year, 2010 almost by necessity has seen a a flurry of soccer cash in books, timed to make the most of the mainstream Australian public's quadrennial interest in the round ball game. There is a pleasing difference this year however – for some reason Australian publishers have seen fit to take a chance on fictional takes on the game as opposed to the usual hackneyed biographies and hastily written histories.

Already Adrian Deans (Mr Cleansheets) and Neil Humphreys (Match Fixer) have had their soccer related novels released this year – now it's Tony Wilson's turn to take a stab at the genre, with his second novel Making News. I fancy that most readers of this review, should they be familiar with Wilson's work, will know him best by Australia United, his memoir of the 2006 World Cup. Making News however, has far more in common with his debut novel Players, his hilarious and surgical dissection of Melbourne's Australian rules culture, particularly how its media wing has made gods of otherwise mere mortals who take part in a decidedly provincial and suburban hobby.

Indeed, Making News is very much like Players in its style and scope, which may or may not put off readers of that work. Admittedly there was much trepidation on my part even after getting a fair start on the book, but what wins one over is Wilson himself. Wilson's writing style has been likened to Ben Elton's – perhaps due to their penchant for clever metaphors and conspiracies which soar ever higher into the realms of absurdity – but where Elton would be best described as a comedian dabbling in books, Wilson is clearly a novelist with a keen sense of humour. His prose is measured, letting his situations explain themselves without Elton's 'look at how witty and clever I am' style; his timing and restraint is delightful, building suspense and deploying his punchlines in an effortless manner.

The novel centres on Lucas Dekker, the offspring of celebrity power couple Charlie Dekker and his wife Monica. Charlie is perhaps the greatest Socceroo of all time, a national hero, who at the end of his career has found himself in the well trodden path of many a professional athlete – desperate for cultural relevance but without the means to do so now that he's retired, and forced into plugging razor blades. Monica is a self-help guru who has sold millions of books, specialising in cliché ridden mass-produced fodder dealing in family values, while her own marriage is plagued by accusations of infidelity.

Both Charlie and Monica despise the fact that they are tabloid fodder, but reminiscent of Oscar Wilde's famous maxim, that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about, the Dekkers are also reliant on the media for giving them an outlet to maintain their relevance and further their careers. Charlie in particular is distraught when Lucas wins a traineeship with The Globe, a particularly vile Red Top who had once attempted to imply that Charlie was part of a gay sex scandal. Making News therefore is not a soccer novel per se – it is much more about celebrity ego, and the lengths both the subjects of tabloid news and those who write for them will go to control the images that get placed into the public sphere. Wilson stresses the symbiotic nature of this arrangement, while tending to gloss over and forgive the consumer at the end of the supply chain.

Where Players was happy to create an entirely fictionalised world, albeit while basing many of its key characters on well known Australian rules identities, Making News seeks to rewrite history itself. Australia does not lose to Italy in Kaiserslautern – Fabio Grosso's penalty claim is denied, and Charlie scores twice in extra time to send Australia through to the next round. Sepp Blatter even apologises to the unfairly vanquished Italians. Various actual Socceroos, FFA CEO Ben Buckley and even George Negus appear in the work.

Underneath the levity, and even beyond the range of his black humour, Wilson seems to bear some deep seated grudges. The injustices go deeper than that day in Kaiserslautern – they often feel personal. Wilson does not have a soccer background; indeed he is steeped in Aussie rules culture. His father Ray was a member of Hawthorn's 1971 VFL premiership team, and Tony himself for a time was on Hawthorn's list, albeit never making a senior appearance. It's these facts that make one ponder how much Lucas, a failed athlete but more than competent writer, is an attempt by Wilson to perhaps express his anger at his inability to be what his father was and perhaps wanted him to be.

If the story falls over at any point, compared to Players at least, is that it's not quite as plausible as Wilson's debut. London and its cast of characters seem impossibly small; the villains more broad; the balance of the teenagers' naivety and maturity leaning too much towards the latter. But these are minor quibbles. Wilson once again showcases his talent in creating alternative worlds which are often frighteningly plausible. Making News is a blackly comic novel tempered by just enough sweetness to allow readers to keep turning the pages, with broad themes that should attract a diverse readership – it's certainly deserving of that audience.

Friday, 27 August 2010

South's MVP night this coming Thursday

Talk about short notice - should still be good though. On a Thursday obviously to avoid conflicts with AFL finals, though it will clash with folks who have soccer training. Cheap too, compared to previous years, and nice to see that we're sticking local. Of course, some will prefer the more upmarket gala ball night, which is being held at Crown Casino this year, but that's for the suits in my opinion - I much prefer lower key events.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Kiss of Death, Finals Week 2, 2010

Major Semi Final – Friday 27th August @ 7.30pm – Kevin Bartlett Reserve
Richmond vs Green Gully Cavaliers
Green Gully surprised me with their 1-3 win last week against Hume. They are coming good at the right time. They have a tougher challenge this Friday night however when they take on the ‘fresh week off’ Richmond. Richmond will be looking to take advantage of their week break by beating Gully and going straight into the final at AAMI Park, so their 10 or so fans can finally watch their team in more comfortable surroundings. On that note, if Gully was to beat Richmond then I’d love to see its fans try to get their coffee and biscuits into AAMI Park.
Final score of this breathtaking encounter Richmond 2 – Green Gully 2. Green Gully to qualify for the final 4-5 on penalties.

Minor Semi Final – Saturday 28th August @ 3.00pm – Epping Stadium
Hume City vs Heidelberg United
Who the hell schedules these games to kick off at the same time as State League matches? 3pm on a Saturday? Are you people in those fancy offices smoking that green stuff again? Which non-football background brainiac thought of 3pm at Epping? The lot of you should bloody well resign. Hume City is on the down low, while the Bergers are on a high. They beat Northcote 3-1 on the weekend, rumbled down in the jungle, and now they are off to Epping. Epping Stadium for those of you who have never ventured out there is classified as the coldest place in the cosmos. The crowd will be poor as both clubs struggle in that department, Hume will win and everybody will go home miserable from the cold. Hume City 3 – Heidelberg 2.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Keenan to Adelaide United as injury replacement

Joe Keenan signs up with Adelaide United, as a four week injury replacement for some guy called Nigel Boogaard. We'll still have him for Singapore Cup, my sources have assured me - at least this way he keeps match fit, maybe. Thanks to Johnny for the tip, and Cuddles for the clarification.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Kiss of Death, Finals Week 1, 2010

The finals series is upon us. South Melbourne is not there therefore neither am I. I hope the finals series is a complete flop, and the AAMI Park final gets no more than 500 people. The heathens are an absolute disgrace. I have more important matters such as betting on football and making people money than berating the morons up top. Here we go.

21 August 3:00PM Hume City vs Green Gully - Epping Soccer Stadium
Not a derby and not really a spicy encounter either. Hume has been outstanding this year even with an unjust three point deduction. They have done extremely well and continue to surprise. Green Gully on the other hand had a slow start but have once again come good by this time of the year. I can’t see them overcoming Hume because they just aren’t up to it. The game will finish 2-1 in Hume's favour and the crowd will be about 300 people. The loser of this game lives to fight another day, against the winner of the Elimination Final.

21 August 6:00PM Heidelberg United vs Northcote City - Olympic Village 
Well, well, well. Who would’ve thought that I’d be previewing a finals match with Northcote City. At the start of my kiss of death journey I predicted that Northcote would not win a game all season. How wrong was I? I can live with it. As perfect as I am even I make silly judgements at times. Has anyone spotted the irregularity about this game compared to the one up top yet? No, no, not the different teams. The venue. The Qualifying Final is played at a neutral venue, yet this game is played at the Olympic Village. WTF is going on? Out of all the grounds in metropolitan Melbourne, why is this game being played at Heidelberg's home ground? Should it not be at a neutral venue? What’s wrong with Somers Street, Paisley Park, Green Gully? Something is just not right about this fixture from the start. The Bergers have been pathetic on and off the park all season. I hope Northcote goes to town on you once again. They have done it twice this year and this will be their third. Heidelberg 1 – Northcote City 7. Crowd of 700 people, 650 Northcote fans.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Highlights from round 22 against Georgies

Some musings. How rainy was it last week?! Then how sunny?! Then rain, then sun. Poor cameraman. Poor camera. I can't decide if Kyle Joryeff is trying not to sound like a geezer. I'm going to miss Sunshine's keeper Martin John - here's hoping they get promoted again before he retires. How old is he, like a hundred and ten or something? Also chat with Nando, Zois and Rama.


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Well, that was worth it - Dandenong 1 Northcote 4

Good night VPL season 2010 for South, after Northcote sliced up a disappointing Thunder outfit. Not that Dandenong didn't have their chances, but overall they looked lackluster compared to their opponents. Trent Rixon's icing on the cake goal was frustrating to watch though - after years watching Stuart Webster deny is otherwise certain goal, to be beaten at the near post from such a tight angle was a little heartbreaking. Now on to the Singapore Cup I suppose, in early October. The Kiss of Death will continue during the finals, as will the usual non-active season filler - my annual awards will be handed out after the conclusion of our entire season however.

South loses appeal in second go

After months of angst, court proceedings, and another six long hours at the appeals tribunal, we're basically in the exact same position. I'm not going to repeat every word of every step of the process - so here's a summary, aq look back through an amazing journey.

To not completely short change my public, I will include some new material. I, amongst others, was asked this very valid question on the Victory forum, by a poster I believe Teo Pellizzeri, a local football journalist (apologies if my attribution is false).

So what exactly should be the outcome/reprimand from the original case South was cited for? Or should it have not even gone that far in the first place?

It's a good question because it cuts right to the heart of the matter, moving well away from the increasingly incoherent anti-FFV babblings of several people - that there was a pitch invasion and several other instances of improper conduct, and that something has to be done in these situations to discourage future incidents. It took me at least an hour to craft what in the end was a very short response. The chief requirements were that I did not excuse or lessen the behaviour; that I was not inconsistent with comments I had made previously; and that I offered some sort of alternative.

Personally, I think the club was foolhardy in appealing at all, but it has the right to do so and to be treated fairly. The rules apparently say that you can't be penalised competition points for a 'first offence' - which this was - but the appeals board can make up their own penalties.
Your question is difficult to answer TP, because I think there is a legitimate question of how much a club can be held responsible for the actions of its supporters who are not performing official duties. South (in large part due to the Major Events Act), was required to have more security and police than other clubs. If it complied with all the regulations, and things that it otherwise can't control went wrong, what else could it do? It got on the front foot and dished out bans to the relevant individuals. What happens if a twice a year attendee screws up?
I'm not excusing what happened - a lot of the friendships I've have at the club have been messed up because of this situation. And I think point deductions are a legitimate direction to consider - but there should also be some methodology that people can see and say, yep, we got exactly what we deserved and we know exactly why.

The situation now is, that Dandenong and Northcote are replaying their game tonight at the Veneto Club at 8:30, after their original meeting was abandoned due a lighting failure a few weeks ago - with Northcote leading 4-1 at around the 50th minute mark. The only suitable result for us to make the finals now is a draw - a win for either side sees that team through and us out. The winner of this Mexican standoff plays Heidelberg. For a previw of tonight's game, see the special edition of the Kiss of Death. If I can make it out there tonight, I will. If nothing else, it'll be an exciting end to the regular season.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

South win Supreme Court battle - but will it be enough?

Justice Pagone handed down his judgement today, agreeing with the FFV that they may substitute additional charges as is allowed under their constitution, but that in this instance they did not properly offer South an opportunity to defend the newly created charge, which included both not giving enough notice and not articulating the charge. Justice Pagone also awarded legal costs to South - though it seems like we did not get all our costs paid, but rather the majority.

The crowd was the biggest of the trial thus far. At least four South fans in attendance pondering whether to start chanting when the verdict was handed down, asking if anyone had any flares, and whether we should have brought our South scarves to pretend to be ultras for the cameras outside. In the end, nothing happened, and people got quickly to replying to the several dozen phone messages they'd received asking about the case.

The press also turned up today, filling up at least four spots in their section of the courtroom. One bloke was from the ABC, and you should probably keep an eye out for a brief segment featuring Nick Galatas speaking to them outside the court. According to the journo, when asked what the significance was of this case, he said it was something a little different and unusual. Obviously not familiar with Victorian soccer. If I'm not mistaken, Michael Lynch was also there. Probably hasn't reported on a game of ours since 2005 (apart from the Victory friendly), but there he was. Meanwhile Paul Daffey gets a weekly column talking about the VAFA. Beggars can't be choosers I suppose.

The net result is that sometime soon, possibly as early as tonight, the appeals tribunal will be reconvened to hear the case once more. Justice Pagone made the point that he did not have the authority or the will to demand that the FFV use an appeals board made up entirely of people who had not been part of the original appeals tribunal. So the situation basically is that we can still get done over at the appeals tribunal - it'll just be that little bit easier for us to defend ourselves this time. Should we have results of the appeal go our way and we make the finals, we'll end up playing Heidelberg in the elimination final this week. Lovely little coincidence. We'll see what happens.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Judgement Day tomorrow

Well, for us anyway, if not quite Christendom itself. The first part of this will take place at Court, Court 1, Old High Court, 450 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, with Justice Pagone. Again. The second part, if there is one, later that night, or so they say. Likely won't last long. Your correspondent plans to be there.

Kiss of Death, Special Edition - Dandenong vs Northcote

With the final five already somewhat decided, I will be previewing the most important game of the last two years for South Melbourne. South Melbourne you say? Yes, South Melbourne I say.

Dandenong Thunder vs Northcote City
After going AWOL at Somers St watching Hellas beat the Georgies to a pulp in driving rain and pretty shit weather, I have decided that I am a glutton for punishment and will drive out on Wednesday to the Bulleen Veneto Club with a few mates to go AWOL once again, but this time for a draw. I am a neutral virgin. I have never gone to a match where I have openly supported another team, or cared about any particular result working out for me. I am after all an Oracle, a seer of the future, I am “KODstradamus”!!! (cue lightning bolts).

Why is this game important? Pretty simple really. Hellas needs a draw to finish fifth. A win for either Dandenong or Northcote will result in Hellas finishing 6th. I am not going to talk about the court case because quite frankly, I’m an on the park person, and not a tribunal/court season decider person. For me, what happens on the park, stays on the park. Regardless of any court outcome we need a draw on Wednesday night. A few bright sparks are on various forums are saying stupid things, like the following:

“I expect our friends from Heidelberg to support us on Wednesday night against Norfcote, so we can make the finals instead of them or South, opa rok der !”

I say only one thing. The Bergers have no fans to support themselves so I don’t think they will be supporting any other teams. South fans will be out in force as per usual.
Finally, (picture me walking down from clouds on a white staircase in a white robe Demis Roussos style, virgins throwing rose petals at my feet) Dandenong Thunder 2 – Northcote City 2. This will be the cracker of all crackers. Expect cards and plenty of them. Expect a crowd, and plenty of neutrals. Expect the lights to stay on for the full 90 minutes. Invest wisely, the end is near.

South on the brink of finals - George Cross 0 Hellas 4

Despite putting up a bit of a fight in the first half, the Georgies capitulated miserably in the second half to find themselves out of the VPL. Fernando chipped in with two goals, Recchia with a lovely freekick and Rama rounded it out with a rare goal. We still looked very susceptible on our right hand side. But we got the job done, the Maltese went a bit awol in the first half watching their missed chances before being hit with the familiar feel of relegation.

But what you all want to know is, where are we and what do we have to do make the finals. Quite simply, a draw in the replayed Dandenong vs Northcote game on Wednesday sees us play Heidelberg in the elimination final... unless of course the off field shenanigans fall our way. Will it be worthwhile heading out to that side of the city to watch that game? Well, the next paragraph might have something to do with it.

Word on the street (or more accurately, the front of the Mark Viduka Stand where these conversations took place) is that Justice Pagone would be highly unlikely to give us our six points back, as that would be meddling in the FFV's internal affairs - more so that we would be given the chance to defend ourselves or appeal the latest charge or something like that. We could find out as early as tomorrow afternoon his decision, with the appeal heard at the FFV that very night.

It's all too much to think about.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Kiss of Death, Round 22, 2010

A reminder. All matches kick off at 3pm this weekend. Call your mates around the grounds, or access the FFV’s facebook page via your mobile device in order to keep up to date with the scores and happenings. Better still for all my readers, futbol24.com.

Bentleigh Greens vs Richmond
This will be Bentleigh's last match in the VPL for year 2010. They will be relegated after Richmond smashes them to smithereens. Bentleigh is just not up to VPL standard. They can take their money, their players, their coach, and go play in State 1. Richmond will secure top spot with this win. Bentleigh 0 – Richmond 3.

Dandenong Thunder vs Heidelberg Utd
Don’t ask me why, but my crystal balls tell me this game will end in a draw. Other than that, I’m not too interested in these two teams. They both bore me to death.
Dandenong Thunder 2 – Heidelberg 2.

Green Gully Cavaliers vs Melbourne Knights
Green Gully are playing to stay in the five, and the Knights are playing for pride. Danny Tiatto retired from VPL football last weekend, and sets to put the boots on for Werribee in State 2 N/W this Friday night against Port Melbourne. Green Gully 1 – Melbourne Knights 3.

Northcote City vs Hume City
Northcote played on Wednesday, is playing on Sunday and Wednesday again. The decision at the tribunal to replay the Dandenong game will be on the back of their minds. Hume will be just too good and secure second spot going into the finals series. Northcote City 1 – Hume 3.

Oakleigh Cannons vs Altona Magic
As predicted by moi back in round 12, Oakleigh will this weekend choke up against the Magic and bow out of the 2010 finals series. People think this is an easy game for them. They thought the same against Sunshine. If Magic wins and results go their way, then they survive by the skin of their teeth. Oakleigh is shaky. They struggled against South last Friday night. This is Magic's best chance to survive the drop. Oakleigh Cannons 1 – Altona Magic 2.

Sunshine Georgies vs South Melbourne
George Cross needs to win, and so does South. George Cross to stay up, and South to have a bee's dick chance of making the foive. Regardless of all this, at the time of writing, South was due to present its case to the Supreme Court of Victoria regarding the six point penalty it received against Heidelberg. South beat Sunshine, get the six points back, and all of a sudden they can finish second or third. Sunshine Georgies 0 – South Melbourne 5.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Your Guess Is As Good As Mine

I'll be blunt. I don't make any claim to understanding the law. While some other people who attended today's hearing walked away from it reasonably confident, albeit still with an appropriate level of cautiousness, I'm not so sure - certainly I don't think we came out of it any worse than we when we came into it - but Justice Pagone is a hard man to read. I'll do my best to set the scene.

The first 50 minutes or so was taken up with our lawyer setting up the foundations so to speak. Nothing new or exciting there; quite dull actually. It was after the 50 minute mark that we started seeing a bit more action. That's where we started going through the arguments we thought were relevant. After about another 45/50 minutes, it was the FFV's turn.

Justice Pagone is quite softly spoken and has a very wry sense of humour. Very old school teacher kind of vibe as well - he was giving each side enough rope before succinctly and subtly bringing them back into line. Since we went first, it was quite nerve wracking to see him shoot down various angles we were trying to pursue - the thing to remember was that he was just as likely to do it to the FFV's lawyers, which is exactly what happened. He even managed to break out in laughter a couple of times.

As one would expect in such a matter, both sides appealed to many of the same materials - the original tribunal hearing, the appeal transcript (which went to 120 pages) and the FFV's constitution - with emphasis on which elements would take importance over others differing, of course.

Much was vested by either side in two little words - for us 'other', and for the FFV 'may'. We were trying to argue the point that since the issues of bottle throwing, racial vilification etc. had been covered by the original charges (I think MP5 and/or MP9 was the main one), what 'other' charges were they trying to hit us with in MP10? For the FFV, if I recall correctly, they were talking about the ways in which they 'may' introduce charges and/or punishments as they wish and as is indicated in their constitution.

In terms of preparedness and performance, I think our side was better. It won't be the main thing Justice Pagone will look at, but it wasn't a good look the FFV fumbling around for papers they didn't have, and being unable to answer how they managed to come to their idea of a six point deduction - in addition to it seemingly going against their pre-ordained list of set penalties of for transgressions. At least, that's how I read the situation.

The FFV tried to argue that the possibility of the punishment being heavier on appeal was always on the table, as it is with regular courts. We argued that how could that be so when we had already been punished and accepted guilt for those actions previously - surely we could not be found guilty and punished for the same charge twice? The FFV seemed to struggle to prove to Justice Pagone that the new charge and/or heavier punishment had been adequately articulated to Nick Galatas - with both sides pointing to different parts of the appeal transcript to prove their point the FFV focusing naturally on very early segments, us on the very end - both sides deemed this quite crucial to the debate. We referred to the Carlton vs AFL case of a few years back - the FFV to the 1978 case of the NSW Coursing Club or something like that.

The FFV lawyers at one stage mistakenly indicated that Heidelberg Laser Dude was one of our fans - he was immediately corrected, though Justice Pagone wondered out loud what kind of game was this that caused such behaviour. Clarendon Corner was described as a known trouble spot. I wish I could be as confident as others seem to be about our chances, but I don't know the law, and I don't know what Justice Pagone will come up with next week, and which arguments he'll be swayed by the most. Like the rest of us, I just have to wait until next week when Justice Pagone hands down his decision.

SMFCTV Oakleigh vs South highlights

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Directions hearing rundown

Awesome five minutes of action today. The lawyers on each side did their little legalese speaking act, papers and stuff to be done by a certain time (by us), trying to fit the whole thing into Justice Pagone's schedule. The FFV for their part, seemed to be trying to argue that if results of other matches went a certain way, the case wouldn't really be necessary - at least that's how I understood it. Justice Pagone eventually agreed with South's legal reps that, yep, we could finish this all tomorrow.

As for the less important stuff, I've added that court building to my list of court's attended. It's not much of a list to be honest - it was the first time I'd been to court since I got called up for jury duty about two or three years ago. Being the dill that I am, I forgot to take my watch off when going through the metal detector. That's about as exciting as it got.

The action should go up a notch on Thursday 12th August, as the actual trial gets underway. We're back in the Old High Court building once more, in Court 1, 450 Little Bourke Street, kickoff at 10am. Referee for this match is Justice Pagone.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

South vs FFV directions hearing tomorrow

In the Commercial Court, with Justice Pagone (who doesn't have his own wikipedia page, unlike some justices), Court 1, Ground Floor, Old High Court, 450 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, at 9:30.

It's a directions hearing, which this Australian legal glossary defines as

A hearing held before the full hearing so that the court or tribunal can give directions to the parties about how the action should proceed.

Which doesn't sound very fun and interesting. Not sure if it's worth going to. Then again, I don't think I've been in the Commercial Court before. Decisions, decisions.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Good excuse to use an Asterix reference

First up it was the Melbourne Victory, with their 'Parade of Champions' charade. An explanation if you're not up to speed with what that was - prior to their fixture against the Wellington Phoenix earlier this year, they invited us and the Melbourne Knights to parade our NSL championship winning teams around Docklands. Both clubs told them to stick it - there's no need to show us off in the manner of Vercingetorix. But that wasn't the end of it.

There's a new club on the A-League beat. Melbourne Heart, another top down franchise, just like every other 'club' in this competition, who are now competing against the Melbourne Victory without any clear indication, at least amongst vast swathes of the local soccer public, of why they should even exist. Geographical reasons? Hardly. Playing style? They're using that argument now, but since when have playing styles at clubs ever remained static? And surely the need to eventually grind out results will become a factor in their quest for glory. So, sure, that argument, of a different method of play to Evil Ernie's might work for some. But that's not quite enough. There has to be a social reason why people will attach themselves to this organisation, so that it feels like a group of people seeking to win something together rather than a budget Aussie soccer Harlem Globetrotters.

So, the route that Melbourne Heart have attempted to take is this. We're not actually another heartless franchise - we're actually one of you! We love tradition and stuff! It's heaps good! Of course this means the requisite clinics all over the shop (no complaints there), but what does it actually mean to be 'traditional' and why is it even a worthwhile trait to pursue? Traditions are merely the things we have been doing for a very long time. In themselves, they do not contain any sort of intrinsic value, except to make us feel safe and secure by providing a solid basis of routine, the steady ground which allows us to continue our miserable lives without complaining too much.

The issue at the core of these political games, is the 'we'll decide when you are useful to our ends' approach. The knocking down and enforced exclusion of ethnic clubs from top flight football, and the looking away while the FFV tries to make us third tier. The rearrangement and erasure of history in order to facilitate the building of this new regime. And when it needs or desires it, for reasons I can't fathom - considering we've been banished by these same people to the shadow realm - oh, please come across and give us some sort of credibility with the weight of history at this stage only you have, and we (perhaps) fear we may never possess.

And so a Melbourne Heart supporter group, Yarraside, decided they'd get in on this show of alleged empathy, and put up a banner (click on the image to enlarge) which included the logos of the past Victorian NSL clubs (or at least the Melbourne based ones). I don't doubt for a second that it was done with the utmost respect in mind - unlike their management, which includes several former boardmembers and financial contributors of the Victory. But they shouldn't have done it. South's history, the Knight's history, does not belong to Melbourne Heart. For Melbourne Heart, its administration and support, no matter how much they would like to convince themselves and us, the so called bitters, that they understand us and our grievances, and most importantly, that they are not a replica of the Melbourne Victory, for the minority of us left at Knights Stadium or Lakeside, I would safely bet that it just doesn't wash.

I've also read that it was an attempt to prove to the Victory that football was here before them. Well, duh. That's why we have the A-League - because what constituted top flight soccer before was considered at best inadequate and at worst a front for ethnic crime syndicates - mostly by the people who are following this new league! And apparently some of their fans didn't feel they needed to ask the permission of those clubs to use their logo to make that point - way to reinforce the whole us and them approach of the FFA and A-League. And leaving the bleeding obvious until the very end, while also neatly reconnecting with our Vercingetorix analogy made at the beginning of this post - Melbourne Heart defeated a bid backed in part by South Melbourne! The mind boggles at some of the logic being used.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

South breaks five year Jack Edwards drought - Oakleigh 0 South Melbourne 1

Below is the match report I was asked to write for the official site. Not sure when it will go up, or what changes will be made to it, but I feel you should all see this anyway - even if it will be just a change of pace from what will likely be fantastic court based theme week.

Anyway, a whole bunch of other stuff happened apart from the game. I gave a synopsis of the final episode of That's My Bush!, one of the greatest ever series finales. After the game at Huntingdale, where we had a chat with one of Fernando's mates from TAFE, we ended up having an epic duel with the snack vending machine - which with the power of teamwork and persistence we won.

On the Werribee line, some mostly Lebo kids who had been to the footy were being a minor nuisance, ending up accidentally kicking some old aussie bloke. Bloke gets up, looks really fucken pissed off, puts his hand inside his jacket - what he was threatening to pull out of there who knows. I ended up having a very superficial conversation with a couple of the kids about Mish Mish. I suppose you can read the match report now.

South Melbourne has kept its slim finals chances alive with a 1-0 win away to Oakleigh Cannons on Friday night. In wet conditions, Fernando De Moraes’ first half goal saw the visitors take all three points from Jack Edwards Reserve for the first time since 2005, and handed the out of form Cannons their seventh loss in eight matches.

South settled down quickly, and set up several chances in the opening minutes. Joe Keenan on the left, and De Moraes on the right in particular were repeatedly beating their opponents one on one, and sent in several crosses into the area.

Gianni De Nittis had South’s first guilt edge chance, when he ran on to a through ball by De Moraes, rounded the keeper, but ended up being unable to keep the ball in play. Soon after Keenan fired just wide from a free kick.

Ramazan Tavsancioglu ran on to another through ball, this time by Marinos Gasparis, but Oakleigh goalkeeper Griffin McMaster was able to smother the ball. Further dead ball situations had McMaster stopping long range shots and being forced to punch or tip the ball to safety.

Eventually South’s good work paid off in the 30th minute, when De Moraes, finding himself in metres of space on the right hand side after a through ball by defender Eddie Cetkin, slotted a low shot past McMaster to give South the lead.

Oakleigh’s first half attacks were mostly reliant on South’s occasional midfield errors and on rapid counter attacks on the wings. For the most part South’s defence was able to thwart the home side’s advances without too much difficulty, with only Ricky Diaco’s aerial prowess getting the ball through to Peter Zois.

Oakleigh’s best chances in the first half came from ex-South winger Yusuf Yusuf, who sprayed his shot wide after his teammates had provided some neat build up play, and as the half wore on, a passage of play started by a Billy Damianos interception forced Zois to come off his line to clear the ball - with the ball bouncing around dangerously in the box, Steve O’Dor managed to clear it to safety from the goal line.

The second half saw more of the same attacking football from both teams, albeit with a much improved effort from the home side. Diaco looked lively again early in the second half, while De Moraes failed to repeat his goal scoring effort of the first half, shooting across the face of goal and wide from a tight angle. At the other end, Zois was also forced into action, saving a shot resulting from a goalmouth scramble.

The Cannons brought on dangerous but out of form striker Jerry Karpeh midway through the second half, but for the most part South kept Karpeh quiet, by double teaming him and forcing him away from goal. Still, Karpeh was able to create Oakleigh’s best chance of the night, when he latched on to a cross with his head, forcing Zois to dive spectacularly to his left to tip the ball away to safety.

As Oakleigh were forced to press up the field, South turned their attention to absorbing the pressure, and hitting back on the counter. Numerous attempts were foiled by mistimed runs and the linesman’s flagging of offside calls. The best opportunity for South in the second half came when Rhodri Payne ran through clear on goal, where he appeared to be taken down from behind in the 18 yard box - the referee though, waved play on. South though was able to hold on to its lead until the end, and in doing so was able to claim a deserved victory.

With thanks to Andrew Ongkodjojo and John Diegan

Channel 9 news report on South going to court

Surprising that this even got this much attention in the mainstream press - even more surprising that it doesn't include gratuitous riot footage as is the norm.

Friday, 6 August 2010

South taking FFV to Court!

Can I just say, I'm all for this. Whether or not it's popular amongst the plebs out there, from both our own and opposition sides, is not important to me. What is important is that, following the lead of the Whittlesea Zebras last season, who fought the FFV and won, we are apparently taking a stand as well. There is the notion of picking your battles, but sometimes you just gotta go for it and see what comes out of it. The fact the Court has allowed the matter to proceed is a good early sign. The club's media release follows, which I think paints a fairly clear picture of where the club is coming from at least.

Word on the street is that Tuesday or Wednesday will see court proceedings go ahead further after the initial court phase which took place today. Hopefully it's Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday - therefore your correspondent can make it down.

Media Release: South take court action to recover points

Friday, 6 August 2010 3:28 PM

South Melbourne Football Club advises that it yesterday commenced a Supreme Court action against both Football Federation Victoria and Football Federation Australia. The Court action relates to the decision by the FFV Appeals Board on 18 May this year to deduct the Club six championship points for a charge relating to an incident at South Melbourne match against Heidelberg United on 11 April this year when a number of South Melbourne supporters ran onto the ground immediately following the equalising goal in the 91st minute.

The Club had initially been fined $2,500 by the FFV Tribunal for that incident. The Tribunal also ruled that the match score which stood at one all when the match was abandoned in the 91st minute, should be recorded as a three nil win to Heidelberg. At the same time, it banned three South Melbourne supporters from attending any further matches for life.

The Club appealed those three decisions and the FFV Appeals Board made the following decisions:
It set aside the life bans for the two supporters who pursued the appeal and in their place, it banned one supporter until the end of the 2010 season and another supporter to the end of the 2012 season.
It reinstated the match score at one all.
It agreed with the Club that it was not guilty of the offence with which it had been charged.
It substituted another charge for the same offence and deducted the Club six championship points in place of the fine.

The Club was aggrieved at the decision to deduct it six points which it felt was wrong. Since that time, it has worked behind the scenes with the FFA and FFV with a view to having its grievance heard by either the FFV or the FFA or even having the matter referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Agreement was not reached to do so and with the season fast coming to a close, the Club has commenced urgent Court proceedings with a view to resolving this matter prior to the VPL finals series commencing following the final round of VPL matches next week.

The Club will not comment any further on the subject matter of the Court action as it is presently before the Court.

Kiss of Death, Round 21, 2010

Well, out of the misty jungles of Indochina emerges the one and only Kiss of Death. Conveniently just minutes after I put up my Missing In Action/Chuck Norris appreciation post, which somehow was nearly three years in the making. I know, I know; I, too, thought a Chuck Norris reference would have have made it on here sooner.

If you followed my tips last week, you would’ve done well; 5/6, in a topsy turvy round. My sources tell me that Sunshine George Cross was paying a bundle to beat Oakleigh, and Kiss Of Death predicted it here first! The upset of the season.

Oakleigh Cannons vs South Melbourne
Oakleigh lost 2-1 last weekend to lowly George Cross. South Melbourne drew 2-2 to high flying Richmond. For starters, I don’t think the game will go ahead. The ground will be in atrocious condition and player safety will be the referee's priority. In the event it does go ahead the result will be Oakleigh Cannons 0 – South Melbourne 2.

Dandenong Thunder vs Sunshine Georgies
Sunshine are climbing out of the bottom after last weeks shock win to Oakleigh. They will continue their climb out of relegation with another shock win over Dandenong on Saturday night. Dandenong Thunder 1 – Sunshine Georgies 3.

Hume City vs Bentleigh Greens
The nail in the coffin for a very very poor , yet expected Bentleigh. Bentleigh will get relegated people. No, they will not win the league this year, no, they will not make the finals, and no, they will not bounce back next year. The downward spiral has begun for that club. All the money in the world can not save them now. Lucky for them they at least have a money making facility. Hume City 6 – Bentleigh Greens 0.

Melbourne Knights vs Northcote City
Northcote to capitulate at Somers St to a very organised and fan driven Melbourne Knights. The Knights need this win to ensure their survival……from the fans! Northcote has too much on its plate at the moment. Two games in hand, a tribunal hearing still to come, and all the pressure of finals football on their heads. Melbourne Knights 2 – Northcote City 1.

Richmond vs Altona Magic
Richmond will be just toooooo good for a demoralised BAPDAP. Altona will be torn to shreds. It will be a very open game played mostly in BAPDAP’s defensive half. Richmond 4 – Altona Magic 0.

Heidelberg United vs Green Gully
The nobles from Green aya Gully ha ah!, will absolutely batter the burgers. The violent surroundings of the Olympic Village will not strike fear into the seven travelling Gully fans. They will avoid Headlock Hill, sip their homemade tea and coffee, and share biscuits among themselves as they sit back and enjoy the action.
Burgers 0 – Green Gully 2.

Oakleigh vs South Tonight

Where in the world is this week's Kiss of Death? Possibly rescuing long forgotten POWs in Việt Nam, after already having of course, busted out of the aforementioned POW camp, visited a Thai strip club on the way back, in order to hook up with the guy that has the weapons. It's strictly business, or so we're lead to believe. Anyway, there's a game on tonight which we'll lose. Should be fun. Apparently several South fans have received mobile text messages from Oakleigh promoting this game. How did this happen? One theory is that the Hellas Fan Club, of which several South fans were or are members of, have had their details passed along or something. It would explain why I haven't received any correspondence - not that I'm complaining. I'm not entirely convinced of this theory, mind. Just that my limited lateral thinking abilities are only able to come up with one paranoid conspiracy this late at night. And what happened to our own text message service? I don't know. Doesn't bother me, I don't leave my phone on most of the time anyway.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Zois jumps van 't Schip

News tonight is that Peters Zois has joined the Melbourne Heart ostensibly as their second choice keeper. Zois was already goalkeeping coach there, but why they felt they needed to sign up another veteran as opposed to an up and comer - and surely there's at one young keeper who could use the experience - is beyond me. Apparently there's a a special FFA provision that should we make the finals, we can keep him, but that won't extent to our Singapore Cup fixtures. I don't really get it to be honest. Tommi Tommich was taken up late in our season by Melbourne Victory two years ago, which necessitated us using Stefaan Sardelic for our last game against Frankston Pines, though there was nothing on the line except pride on that day. Last year we should have got rid of Tommi earlier then we did, but that's another story. Message is pretty clear though. You want to be an A-League back up keeper? Come to South. This could hurt Pete in my calculations for this blog's player of the year award though. I'm a small man in some ways; a small, petty man. Three months detention. No, wait - make it four months detention.

A hearty congratulations to...

Our under 21s who sealed the championship weeks ago, but keep on keeping on regardless. Now, it's fair to say that much of the opposition is of a poor standard, but you can only beat with who's put up in front of you, or something. And the squad is like, young, too, which gives one a minor, cautious hope for the future. Their only loss thus far was in the very first game against the NTC. So here's to the under 21s, for going one better than last year, winning our first under 21 title since the 2004 NSL Southern Division youth championship. We went on to lose 2-1 to Canberra Deakin, the Northern Division winners, who featured one Nathan Caldwell (and for us, Steve O'Dor), sidelined for almost two seasons now. Is he ever going to come back?

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Pea Hearted - South 2 Richmond 2

2-0 up, looking pretty good, in difficult conditions. Very few chances for Richmond, while we're slicing and dicing by comparison - it's as good an opening hour as we've probably played all year, and against a competition benchmark too. And then we concede the first goal, and we basically disappear. Suddenly nearly every 50/50 ball is won by Richmond - and in many cases won because not one South player in the vicinity seems to want to put their body on the line. And Vaughan doesn't seem to want to create that atmosphere either - after taking Fernando off, instead of putting a tough inside player like Sebastian Petrovich, who has been languishing on the bench, and who would have been ideal for being able to break up the play so we could grind out a result - instead of that, he puts on Kyle Joryeff, who, whatever his faults and virtues to the individual eye, is certainly not suited to playing in rain and sleet and hail. At least now, at last, hopefully, surely, we can put away this fantasy notion of making the finals behind us, and 'enjoy' the last two games before we go over and probably get mauled in Singapore by Bangkok Glass.