Sunday, 28 November 2010

Relatively succint notes from the 2010 AGM

Where's the kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering kaboom!

Last year's AGM was a riotous affair, and suitably so. The club's existence was on the line. This year's threatened to be riotous for other reasons with a threatened rival ticket and anger over the consequences of the pitch invasion against Heidelberg. Neither happened. In fact, this was the AGM I'd been waiting for. Robust questioning from a reasonable variety of people - though there's always room for improvement - without it becoming an out an out shouting match. Since it is an AGM, with the expectation that the broader public should not have access to the in depth details, I'll be brief.

The club almost made a profit - the forecast is for one to occur soon. The ground is scheduled to be finished by August 2011. The social club renovations will hopefully begin by December 2011. The club will play all its home games out of Northcote next year. The re-unification with the junior set up has gone smoothly - talks with the women's wing are continuing. the VPL clubs have seemingly made important steps to banding together for their own good. The FFA's review of all state competitions has not yet released its terms of reference. Confirmed blue and white running track. IAAF standard scoreboard which we will have access to.

There were two overall pleasing things about today (apart from the improved financial situation). One was the fact, whether it was because of me asking so many questions in the last three or so years or others doing so, board members presentations have improved out of sight, and I believe them when they say that they want people to ask questions (it was also good to see the front rows rather than only the back tables being taken up - me, a trendsetter!). The other thing being that the club, from its position just two or three years ago, where there was no hope, no vision and no ability to plan for the future outside of just surviving, could actually present a short term schedule and vision of what's going to happen in several areas. It was part revelation, part collective sigh of relief.

That's what I want to see more of.

Monday, 22 November 2010

AGM on this week or something

You know, I had this massive post in the pipeline about this, my most favourite South related event of the year. And then, just like that, another anti climax. For you see, this year is an election year. Last time elections were due, a month or two before this blog was born, there were rumours of a rival ticket being formed. They were allegedly seeking to take the club back to its Greek roots, which they had claimed had been tossed aside.

Concerned supporters met up in a semi-clandestine fashion to prepare themselves for this challenge. But no rival ticket emerged. A couple of people joined the board, and that was it. The fretting was not for nothing, as there were other pursuits this half-arsed supporter group managed to, er, pursue before internal divisions and apathy took their toll, but the immediate threat from one of the many reactionary contingents at South failed to even materialise.

Three years down the track, the rumours started again, this time from the people allegedly seeking to run for office. The threats and the clash of ideas, while they lasted, were more obvious. Not only had the club thrown away its Hellenic soul, it had been run by incompetent fools who thought they owned the club. The time was ripe for people who actually cared about the club to take over, or rather take back the reins.

But who were these people exactly? Seemingly none other than people who had been involved during the NSL years, such as Manny Anezakis and George Vasilopooulos. For many fans these names, while associated with the club's glory years, are also inevitably linked - and not without justification - to where the club found itself in the post-NSL era.

While ready to listen to the arguments put forward by representatives or supporters of such a faction as to how they could run this club better than the current mob, the personal attacks made by them don't make me think highly of such candidates. As much as I have and do disagree with many of the actions and positions held by members of the current board, the reality is I don't think I could honestly say that anyone of them considers the club their personal fiefdom.

And as to the argument that they are incompetent, the obvious riposte is if they are incompetent - and if this is true it has surely been so for a long time - why have no others in the many years following our exile to the VPL taken up the cause for the club and against the incumbents? The timing of the redevelopment deal money coming in makes such moves seem suspicious. For all their faults, this board has been the only one that has been prepared to do something to keep the club afloat.

Extended tenure is not a good enough reason to vote for or against something. It is the the vision and the arguments that count. But does that even matter, when it actuality, no rival tickets have put their names forward? It doesn't preclude from a surprise on Sunday - this is South after all - but it does seem to mean that perhaps this year's AGM will follow a slightly more predictable course - the pitch invasion; the court case; the sacking of Vaughan Coveny; the hiring of Eddie Krnecevic; looking for a general manager; fixturing; and hopefully all sorts of interesting discussions.

Lastly, it appears that apart from the current members of the board who are seeking re-election, only one person outside of that group has put their name forward for nomination - one George Kouroumalis, who has been involved with the club for several years principally with the club's multimedia and marketing wing. If that's true, there are few people I would like to see on the board more than George, as his dedication to the club has been prominent for several years at a volunteer level - and it shows also that there is a place for those volunteers to make the step up.

It won't require a popular vote, as South's unwieldy constitution - which still doesn't exist in a computer friendly format - allows for a ridiculous amount of members on its board. Though to place a caveat on that claim, as the former Morwell Falcons president Don Di Fabrizio once explained to me, it doesn't matter how large your board is, as long as everyone is actually doing something then it's not an issue.

The merits of this board's tenure are up to each South member to judge for themselves - for what it's worth, I think they could have done better. But they could have also done worse. Finding themselves in the most difficult position the club has ever found itself in, they've managed to keep the club together long enough, through the disappearance of our sporting, social and media profile, perhaps even our relevance, to the point where there is a light at the end of the tunnel - a possible future prosperity from which who knows what possibilities are available.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

So damn easy to cave in, man kills everything

Some things we/I learned/had reiterated last night at the Manics' gig at the Forum. You can guess/decide for yourself which of these falls into what category.

  • There are actually a lot of guitar solos in the Manics' repertoire.
  • The fact that Sean Moore couldn't play his trumpet solo during Ocean Spray(apparently due to a coldsore) did not take away from James Dean Bradfield's substituted guitar solo.
  • Manics fans have been waiting a long, long time, and it showed. In a good way though.
  • If you're a Manics fan who doesn't know every single lyric, you're probably in the minority (like me), but it doesn't matter one bit. Just shout out during the choruses.
  • Nicky Wire's lyrics have become ever more ludicrous, but within a certain context, it does not matter.
  • Being a pasty Welshman who wears a leopard print skirt, eyeliner, captain's hat straight of the Love Boat and has feather boas wrapped around your mike stand probably gives you more right than anyone to have a go at the dress sense of a Sydney audience.
  • The way the floor at the Forum shifts and shudders when a band and an audience are jumping around in unison is a great feeling.
  • That was one of the best, most friendliest but engaged and active vibes I've experienced at a gig. Why can't they all be so dickhead free?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Rama goes on six week stint with Fury

As seen here, though the PR dude or dudette responsible for that post could have had the courtesy to mention our name somewhere in it. It's of course his second injury replacement stint at an A-League club following a stint at Melbourne Victory late in the A-League's first season. Good luck to Rama and all that, but I'm going to sit here mumbling about anti-South Melbourne conspiracies. Don't mind me folks, just waiting for something which will probably never arrive. It's not important. But then again, what's the deal with this injury replacement arrangement still going when these franchises now have youth teams? Nothing against experienced players like Rama getting a go, but at least make it permanent.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

South Melbourne heading to South Hobart 2011

How about that? As reported (twice) all the way back in January of this year South Melbourne will this time head down to Tasmania as hosts of South Hobart, whom we've hosted in three matches over the past few years. The following from Walter Pless' blog, but we first notified to its existence by our old buddy 11.Boo. Cheers for that!

South Hobart have confirmed they will host South Melbourne in a tournament in Hobart in mid-January next year.

South Hobart travelled to Melbourne before last season and played South Melbourne there, so the Victorians will come here prior to the 2011 season.

They will arrive in Hobart on Thursday 13 January and games have been scheduled for Saturday 15 January and Sunday 16 January.

South Melbourne’s coach is the former Socceroo, Eddie Krncevic.

South Hobart have a new German fitness coach, so the squad should be fitter than ever.

Marcus Parschau is a sports science educator and will employ the latest techniques in fitness coaching.

South Hobart commence their pre-season training at Cornelian Bay on Thursday, 25 November, at 6.15pm.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Lakeside from the sky, October 20th 2010

A rather quick update from Nearmap from their previous flyover, and therefore not massive changes visible. The new stand is the most noticeable difference, with works continuing at a solid pace to my untrained eye. You can also see the outline of where the the track will be, with the soccer field in the middle of it. Behind the goals won't be the best spot for viewing the game.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Department of oversight - Sporting Afrique

Did you know that defender Lukmon Anifaloyin, who recently joined us from Fawkner and played in the two Singapore Cup quarter final games against Bangkok Glass, actually played in the S-League? He played for defunct side Sporting Afrique, which lasted just the one season, which had been plagued with controversies, including being investigated by a corruption watchdog. Not sure what came out of all that.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Off-season digressions - international rugby league

This is a demographic/sociological/ephemeral digression from almost everything this blog has stood for over the past three years or so. It has naught to do with South, or soccer, so it's OK if you decide to skip this entry. If you still haven't dropped off, I warn you also that the following is all very convoluted, but I've tried to break it up into sections.

Preface - State of Confusion

Earlier this year, I took my buddy Gains to his first Australian Rules game, the Queens Birthday clash between Melbourne and Collingwood. It seemed a good choice. No soccer that weekend, big crowd expected (or average crowd by Collingwood standards), but not a terribly hyped game and neither side at that stage really turning it on. It was a pretty rubbish game in the end, though the fact that it was a close game (a draw), gave it a little bit of an edge. Still, the poor lad was utterly confused by what was going on.

Of course, I tried to explain what was happening. That came up a treat when a mass of players dived on a loose ball on the Southern Stand side of the ground, the umpire picked out a free kick (for us I think, and by us I mean the somehow 2010 premiership Pies), and I was only able to explain the decision by remarking that probably no one in the ground, umpire included, knew how he'd arrived at his decision. Enjoyment was certainly diminished by factors such as these. As I've maintained for a long time, it's a game with its own stupid rhythm, and if you ain't born into it, it's a very hard rhythm to become accustomed to.

Yesterday, it was my turn to feel all discombobulated.

My History With Rugby League
Until the recent introduction of One HD, unless you had a subscription television service, as an Australian sports fan you've been reliant on what the free to air networks deem commercially and culturally appropriate for you to see. Which means that, if for example you're a rugby league fan in Victoria, you only get to see midnight replays of NRL games, except for the grand final and possibly one other game during the season, and perhaps some live State of Origin fixtures.

It's not much. So unless you're already dedicated - and in a Melbourne rugby league context, it would be a fair assumption that you're less likely to be a convert as opposed to having been born into an ex-pat rugby league culture of some sort - it can be difficult to understand the culture underpinning the game, the tactics, and even the rules themselves.

Which is not to say that I don't understand the basic rules and the gist of the game. I have picked up something from Channel Nine's (at best) scatter-shot programming of the game into Victorian loungerooms. And I have a bit of an understanding of the history of the game and its development, even internationally. But like many Australian rules following Victorians, I still can't find an 'in' to the game - but unlike a fair few other commentators, I'm interested in trying to find reasons other than Victorian parochialism for why I think this game won't take off here.

So it was in that spirit that I took up an offer of attending my first rugby league match yesterday, which happened to be not a club game, but Australia vs England at Swan Street Stadium. Turns out our tickets were for third row seats at the Yarra end. Not that there's a bad seat in the house in this stadium, but we were close enough to have our eyebrows singed from the half-arsed flame oriented pyro show before the game. But despite the close proximity to the field, it did not make for a good initiation.

Lollies, Chocolates, Donuts and Chips
With kids, the general rule of thumb with them seems to be that you wean them to spectatorship slowly, and mostly with bribery - chips and lollies being the main currency. When attempting to initiate an adult into a new spectator sport, it's a different story. They already have all their preferences and allegiances. And thus the conversion gimmick of choice seems to be, the bigger the game, the higher the quality of the combatants, the more likely one is to succeed in gaining a new follower.

Once I would have followed that same kind of logic, but my thinking on the matter has shifted considerably over the years. If looked at dispassionately, most sporting contests are predictable affairs with mostly predetermined results, even if the methods may vary. It is allegiances to teams and fixations on the end result that blinds us to the massive letdown that these games are from a neutral's entertainment point of view. So if this is the case - and I believe it to be so - why not seek to initiate someone with a lesser fixture, especially as it will be the modus operandi for the rest of their spectator career?

International contests are not the pinnacle of rugby league. England is equivalent to a second tier side in a sport which internationally barely has one tier  - the Australians with only New Zealand as a near competitor. And the visitors were fortunate that the Kangaroos were in cruise control for much of this game, otherwise the English would have struggled to score at all. And it rained as well, meaning the game contained several elementary handling errors. And the crowd was flat sounding, with even most of the tries having the celebratory sting taken out of them.

But this I felt, despite the protestations of the league folk I was with, was more true to the nature of the game as it exists week to week. Not every game is a blockbuster, tight contest, or high quality affair. Most aren't, and thus I feel that saw I'd witnessed something authentic, despite, or perhaps rather due to what I perceived to be its pedestrian quality.

Against Modern Everything
There are many things that bother me about modern sport. Right near the top of that list is the desire that the game itself no longer be the centrepiece. It wasn't just the music played after all the tries, drowning out any possible fan reaction, which is not unique to rugby league. And I can deal with the incessant advertising before the game and during the half time break, if only they'd turn the volume down just a little so I don't have to shout to the person next to me in order to be heard. For some reason, they thought it'd be a good idea to have Brian McFadden sing some songs off his new album, and have some woman sing at halftime. Little chance to even start a punch on with the English supporters in the ground.

Which brings me to the English. There were quite a few at the ground and the pubs around town - the most logical explanation being that they were cricket tourists who had arrived early for the upcoming Ashes series. There were flags dotted round here and there, and the odd English rugby league jersey as well, but seldom have I seen such a forlorn bunch of supporters, knowing they would get spanked even before the team got onto the plane. I wish I could say it endeared me to them but the effect of their fatalism was both disheartening and ludicrous.

Degrees of Altitude and Comprehension
Back to the game, it made a little more sense sitting near the top of the stand where the side to side movement was easier to see, but the game is missing something. I'd get rid of the ten metre rule for a start. The game needs more kicking, and for a supposedly territorial game, its rather more about maintaining possession while marching it up the field withing a certain amount of tackles while being given a fair amount of breathing space to do so. They should also get rid of the video referee, let him go with his gut and if it's wrong, it's wrong, and just tally those mistakes as part of the great narrative arc. The big tackles that I was promised also did not eventuate. Not that there wasn't big tackling, but there wasn't that sense of exhilaration that one was meant to feel.

Despite not understanding a great many things about the game, I did manage to have one minor breakthrough. Inevitably when watching a Channel Nine broadcast of the match, Ray 'Rabbits' Warren is the chief commentator. His style of getting excited at seemingly random, innocuous moments of play - innocuous in that the plays Rabbits gets excited about seem identical to each other, at least to a person uneducated in the game such as myself - finally made sense. The way I came to this conclusion was in the random outbursts of excitement from the crowd. Had they seen a gap, a movement, a tackle that I failed to comprehend? Possibly, but I was not able to pick up a particular pattern.

I've struggled since late yesterday (not helped by the Flinders Street Station chip wagon closing moments before I could gorge on deep fried starch and my choice of condiments) to pinpoint the thoughts and find the appropriate words to explain my very 'meh' and perplexed reaction to the game, and further to that, reasons beyond parochialism. I'm disappointed to find that I have failed, and not necessarily because I've failed to overcome mine or everyone else's parochialism. I still feel that there is a deeper answer beyond a cultural slant. I just haven't been able to isolate it from that factor entirely yet. Work into this problem may continue into the future.