Sunday, 28 April 2013

Back To Earth - Dandenong Thunder 3 South Melbourne 0

And now we cross to our man in Dandenong for match reports on both the senior and under 21 matches against Thunder.

Steve from Broady's senior match review 
South Melbourne played at a soulless George Andrews Reserve this week due to the five home game lockout punishment handed down to Dandenong Thunder by the FFA and FFV. There was an extremely strong wind during the game, with goal kicks blowing back to the goal keeper, making conditions very uncomfortable for the players.

South Melbourne kicked with the wind in the first half and had a few opportunities to score but failed to hit the target. Instead it was Dandenong Thunder kicking against the wind who opened the scoring in the 25th minute when Foster played a ball across the goal and Shaun Kelly turned it into his own net. As the half came to an end with Dandy leading 1-0, South had wasted their chance kicking with the wind and it looked a very hard road to come back from for South.

South tried to get into the game at the start of the second half, but struggled to break down a Dandy defence which looked happy to sit on their one goal lead. In the 77th minute South got caught on the counter and went 2-0 behind. Kelly was lucky to stay on the pitch at the end when he went through a Dandy player late while already on a yellow card but the ref resisted pulling out the red. In the last minute Foster put south out of their misery scoring a nice solo counter goal to give Dandenong Thunder a solid 3-0 win and capped off a bad day for South in the hard to play in conditions.
Now that's commitment. Several fans watched the match from behind the back fence. Photographer unknown.

Steve from Broady's under 21s Match Report
On Saturday afternoon South Melbourne under 21s took on Dandenong Thunder at George Andrews Reserve. South were coming of two good away wins and were top of the table after three rounds. South had a massive boost with Trent Rixon and Tom Matthews both in the starting eleven. Rixon was having his first real chance at some game time for 2013 after he had surgery on his injured hip at the end of last season and Mathews was coming back from a broken arm.

Dandenong kicked off the stronger of the two teams in the early stages of the match, but in the sixth minute South was awarded a free kick on the edge of the area. The ball was swung into the mixer and headed home by The Rixer who towered above the Dandy defence to give South an early 1-0 lead. After South took the lead they created s6me more chances to go 2-0 up, with Anthony Giannopoulos making some good runs off Rixon.

But that didn't last too long, and after a while Dandenong started to dominate again and were rewarded in the 14th minute when their captain stood up and made the most of a goal line scramble to level the scores and 22 minutes later the Dandy captain had another chance to score from a goal mouth scramble and didn't disappoint, converting his second goal of the afternoon.

The lads went into the sheds at half time with Dandenong Thunder leading 2-1. At the start of the second half South lost the ball immediately and paid for it with Dandenong running the ball down their end of the pitch and converting after 48 minutes - after that goal went in to put Dandy 3-1 ahead the game started to die down. South got themselves back in the game in the 79th minute when Sebit Muon broke clear of the Dandy defence and buried the ball into the back of the net to make the score 3-2. This continued Muon's good start to the season, finding himself on the score sheet regularly.

Just as South thought they had a chance at a draw and maybe even a win Dandy ran the ball down their end and scored an excellent solo effort goal sealing South's fate. The game finished 4-2 to Dandenong, but there were some positives to take out of the game with Tom Mathews playing a full match on his comeback from injury and Trent Rixon getting on the score sheet for the first time in 2013. South Melbourne's under 21s next league game is against Richmond at Lakeside Stadium in two weeks, until then GET AROUND IT!!!

Steve from Broady's Canteen Review
Since Saturday's game was behind closed doors, I was unable to try any food from the Dandenong canteen and I only see it fit that they get disqualified from the VPL canteen championship. Better luck next year lads.
  1. Bentleigh Greens 7/10
  2. Southern Stars 2/10
  3. Green Gully 1/10
  4. Dandenong Thunder DQ

Around the Grounds
With a Friday night match last round, and no access to the venue this week - and no desire to watch our match at $29 for a stock standard chicken parma Beachcomber - there was plenty of around the grounds action to take in.

First up was a trip to John Cain Memorial Park/Reserve to watch the two other sides with perfect records up until that moment. The Melbourne Knights opened the scoring in the first minute, but that was as good as their afternoon got. Northcote equalised a minute later, and had a 3-1 lead at half time, with the third goal being scored right at the end of the half. The Knights missed a sitter at 3-1 down, before Northcote added a couple more to make a sure thing of it.

Rubbing salt into the wound, the Knights also had a penalty saved at 5-1 down. They were pretty poor, with no midfield presence worth mentioning. Northcote were OK without being anything flash. They could have scored a few more, but who wouldn't take a 5-1 win before kick off?

On Friday I went and saw Richmond at home to Northcote. Richmond were a rabble, structures all over the shop and a rampaging Northcote hungry for goals found them in spades. 7-2 it finished to Hercules, who though may have played some weaker opposition this season, have at least been able to put most of them to the sword, ans sixteen goals in four matches in not something to sneeze at.

Even more disappointingly for Richmond, what was the best canteen in the league has gone down the toilet. No more cakes; they seem to have changed their kransky supplier to a significantly inferior product; and they're offering pizza and gyros now. The pizza was reportedly cold, the souvlaki 'so-so'. Richmond were great for quality and value, and they did it by focusing on doing a few things and doing them very well. Now they're doing a billion things and doing them pretty much all poorly.

Lastly, headed out to Paisley Park to watch Altona East and Ballarat Red Devils, two struggling State League 2 North-West teams. East managed to score one early, and score one late, enough for their first win of the season. It was a pretty dire game in between those goals though, and there's only so much you can blame

Next Week
Next week South are at Lakeside for the first time this season, with a Dockerty Cup match against Oakleigh. The match is provisionally scheduled for Saturday, though the time has not been confirmed as of yet.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Kiss of Death invents annual leave for bloggers

Artist's conception of the Kiss of Death (pictured here with a
crappy hat) in a Vietnamese POW camp. 
Where is the Kiss of Death? Did the KOD die from one too many Northcote City kranskies with BBQ and sweet chili sauce last week?

What's kinda sad is that we've already done a Missing In Action gag with the Kiss of Death before, and it was much better then as well.

Anyway, Dandenong vs South this week. As noted several times already by all and sundry, this is a closed door game for regular fans. Your FFV season pass, if you have one, will not get you in. Your media pass, if you have one, will.

If you don't have a way of getting into the ground, these are your options. You can watch the game from the freeway at the southern end of the ground. Watch the live stream at Beachcomber cafe in St Kilda. Or don't bother with either, and so something else with your precious time. I'm going to Altona East, to get a world famous souvlaki as endorsed by Steve from Broady.

Also, yes there are other matches this week. This South of the Border correspondent will be at Richmond vs Northcote tonight. Should be good.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

I Knew Him Before He Was Famous!

Now I don't make a habit of listening to South Radio, but this week I was bombarded by people telling me to listen to episode 3 of South Radio 2013. Our very own Steve from Broady makes an appearance on the show, discussing how he got into South, his stats work, the quality of food across the VPL, and his often irritating catchphrases. His segment starts at about 21 minutes, 55 seconds into the show. Worth a listen.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

News on Thunder and Richmond games

There are doors that open by themselves / There are sliding doors / And there are secret doors
Thom Yorke at his usual illuminating best. In other words, confirmation today from the club that this week's closed doors match against Dandenong Thunder will be streamed at Beachcomber cafe in St Kilda. While I appreciate the gesture, I've already made my thoughts clear on Beachcomber to those who matter, and will thus not be at this event. However you, dear audience, are free individuals and can make your own decisions on this matter.

Who do you love more, your mother or South?
The home match against Richmond - our first home league game of the season - has been moved from Saturday 11th May, to Sunday 12th May at 3PM. I am reliably informed by several people with mothers that this game will now be held on Mothers' Day. It matters not very much it seems that Mothers' Day, like all the other gimmick days of the year - Valentine's Day, Talk Like a Pirate Day, Saturnalia/Christmas - is an absolute crock used to exploit the gullible and the guilty who don't actually appreciate the things that matter to them on the other 364 days of the year and feel they can get away with cramming it all into one greeting card approved occasion.

But since these people do make up a fair chunk of society - and aren't I superior for not being a part of said society - the club appears to have made a rather daft decision in this matter to move this game to this time slot. What I'm more concerned about is that it is a ploy to avoid acknowledging the fact that the original date for the match was scheduled to coincide with FA Cup night which would have been held in our newly renovated social club. Instead the club seems to be trying to distract people with the fact the social club will not be ready. So here again is my message to the club.


But what do I know? I'm not in the room with the fancy lawyers.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Mild Self Promotion

Apologies to the people who visited today expecting NPL commentary. Life got in the way, so here's something I prepared earlier.

A couple of weeks ago I had the minor thrill of being published in a peer reviewed academic journal for the first time. Based upon my honours thesis, Against the Run of Play: The Emergence of Australian Soccer Literature is a predominantly bibliographic work, creating and examining the niche genre of creative writing concerned with Australian soccer.

It's published in Volume 30, Issue 5 of the International Journal of the History of Sport (Special Issue: Regional Issue: Australasia and the Pacific), which means that unless you are at some sort of tertiary institution, you can't access it without paying some sort of fee. However, interested parties outside of the university cocoon may wish to shoot me an email, in which case I'll see what I can do about emailing you a PDF copy of the article.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Plucky! Bentleigh Greens 1 South Melbourne 2

The scoreboard has an existential crisis. Photo: Gains.
First things first: this was a pretty damn good game to watch. Secondly, the home team were very stiff not to get at least a point out of this contest. A lot of the credit for that must go to the re-invented and/or re-awakened Peter Gavalas, who since emerging from his year long waking dream (specific moment - against Port during the pre-season), has started restoring the faith of not only his detractors, but also his ardent supporters and most importantly the players in the defensive line ahead of him.

It was end to end to stuff, as South sought to apply the kind of forward pressure that had worked so well against a lacklustre Green Gully and an insipid Southern Stars in the first two rounds. Bentleigh weren't surprised by this tactic, nor were they flustered by it, as they moved the ball well out of defence and set up several promising chances from counter attacks.

For South's part, they stuck to their guns, albeit not in the rampaging manner of the opening two rounds, Without the grunt work of Alan Kearney in the middle - he'll miss another 3-5 weeks with a knee injury - South's build up play was more disjointed, less precise. But credit must also go to Bentleigh for limiting the space available to South's wide players more than other teams had done so far this season.

Still, the opening goal of the match came from a cross from the right by Dimi Hatzimouratis, finding Brad Norton at the back post who it must be said for the umpteenth time, whatever his merits as a footballer, does have a knack for finding the back of net. The ball had to bounce a couple of times, but it found its way into the goal, and in this game they all count the same.

Bentleigh predictably wouldn't go down without a fight, and equalised not too long after. Byles was down hurt, and keeping everyone onside, and Bentleigh made the most of that opportunity to level the scores. South players complained to the officials for several minutes, but it didn't do any good - a salient lesson in playing to the whistle. As for the officiating in general, while it was a clean game for the most part, the home team for mine seemed to get the sway of the 50/50 decisions.

The second half was more of the same. A few spectators have given the first half to Bentleigh and the second to South, but speaking only for myself, I didn't think it was thet clear cut. Anyway, the longer the game wore on, the happier I was going to be with a draw. As it turned out, another cross from Hatzimouratis from the right ended up creating the winning goal. Renko Van Eeken, unmarked in front of goal, nodded it past the keeper, and we managed to hold on for the final 10 minutes or so for a plucky win.

During the match, I was concerned about the lack of more defensive players available to us to stifle Bentleigh's game plan. This is where Carl Recchia is certainly being missed. Luke Byles came off hurt, so we're awaiting news on the severity of that injury. But three from three to start the season, and just one more away game before we return to Lakeside for the first time this season.

Steve from Broady's under 21s report
On Friday night South Melbourne's under 21s took on Bentleigh Greens in cold conditions at Kingston Heath. South had good memories at this ground from the week before when they beat Southern Stars here in a very one sided affair. Pre-game controversy arose again when South came out for their warm up and Seb Mattei was nowhere to be seen.

Instead a young kid stepped out of the tunnel in a pink goalkeeper shirt believed to be the under 18s South keeper and I can confirm the lad had gloves. South Melbourne in recent years has always had their second choice goalkeeper playing in the under 21s and then sitting on the bench for the seniors. I don't understand why this is different this year.

Why Mattei just sits on the bench for the seniors and does not keep for the 21s Is beyond me. If he is going to put work in front of playing for South he should find another club. This great football club deserves players who would dive on the chance at playing for the mighty blue and white. I hope this situation is sorted out quickly and does not appear in next week's article.The message is simple: play 21s or go Seb!

But on to the football. The game kicked off and South lost the ball immediately the Greens showed their intent, winning a few corners and not giving up possession for large spells. But as we know in football possession means nothing if you don't put the ball in the back of the net. For all the chances Bentleigh had, they just could not make it count and they paid because in the 25th minute the ref spotted a Greens player all over a South player and awarded a penalty to South. Anthony Giannopoulos stepped up to the spot and converted convincingly.

Bentleigh restarted the game with the match proceeding as it was before the goal, with Bentleigh dominating possession and creating all the chances, but they fell into the same hole again in the 38th minute, when once again a Greens player was pulling a South lad's shirt in the area and the ref spotted it again and awarded South another penalty. Once again Anthony Giannopoulos stepped up to the spot and smashed it straight down the middle to give South a 2-0 lead at half time.

In the second half the Greens were still dominating but the game started slowing down and both teams were running out of puff. In the 79th minute Bentleigh had a crack from outside the box and the swerving screamer of a shot had the South keeper beaten all ends up and gave the Greens that little bit of hope for a draw or maybe even a win. But the South lads stood strong for the last ten minutes of the game and run out 2-1 victors.

Next week the lads face Dandy away which will be another good test for South. Another big thing to come out of the game last night was Anthony Giannopoulos unusual dragging at half time, he could've had a hat-trick in the second half but was dragged. Maybe he was injured or maybe there is more to this than meets the eye - we will see how it all plays out over the week, but until next week GET AROUND IT!!!!!!!!!!!

Steve from Broady's Canteen Report
This week it was Bentleigh Greens' time to shine in the canteen. After a lot of build up about their souvs I can say that this week they did deliver - nice meat and a good serve of meat in the souv, good salad in the souv. They lost some points with making a souv in a bread roll and a very high price ($9) but overall it was nice. I was loving the help yourself to the garlic sauce set up, I got around that shit. The souv kind of reminded me of the old Bob Jane souv days with the bread roll and nice serving of meat. Overall I gave the Greens canteen a 7/10.
  1. Bentleigh Greens 7/10
  2. Southern Stars 2/10
  3. Green Gully 1/10
Lost and Found
Cripes, a couple of wins and everyone comes out of the woodwork. Saw some faces last night that I hadn't seen for quite some time.

Meet and Greet
It's always awkward meeting people off forums in real life for the first time. People on the internet are not meant to exist outside of that medium.

Chewing Gum
Avoid Wrigley's Vortex brand green apple flavoured gum. It admittedly smells quite tempting, but within a minute becomes incredibly bitter and unpleasant.

Public Transport Tales
An uneventful night on the rails. Got there in good time, got home by midnight. No complaints, no weirdos. Some of our under 21s players decided to hoof it to Cheltenham station instead of waiting for the bus. Hope they made it home alive.

Next Week
Closed doors game away at Dandy Thunder. I had been planning to do the stupid thing and actually attempt to watch the game from outside on the freeway, but I've since changed my mind. My time will be better spent at Altona East, who are playing Ballarat Red Devils next week, and pumping a little of money into the fantastic canteen there. Best souvlakia in Victorian soccer, and it's been too long since I had one. Damn fixturing conflicts.

For the rest of you, there's rumours going around that there may be some sort of live stream provided by the club - I'll keep my ears open for any news on that front and report on it if any details come to hand. Or you could just follow the club's official news sources.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Preview for Round 3, 2013

Artist's conception of a catatonic Kiss of Death.
Sorry folks, no Kiss of Death preview this week. Rumour has it that upon seeing the final criteria for the FFV's implementation for the National Competitions Review (now known as the National Premier League) the Kiss of Death went into a state of catatonic shock. Hopefully by next week the Kiss of Death will have snapped out of it, and we'll be back to business as normal.

If I have time - and with four tutorial classes to teach and post-grad coursework classes starting, I'm the busiest I've ever been, even if by regular people standards it's not really that busy - I'll share my thoughts on the NPL Victoria early next week, though considering the reaction to my limited response on the matter so far, it looks like some people have the impression that at the very least I'm:

  1. Very late to the party with regards to the dodginess of athe proposals, and/or
  2. Some sort of FFV or FFA or SMFC board lackey that just chooses to go whichever way the wind is blowing.

All of which hurts my very fragile ego, which is in turn attached to my decade long attempt to craft an online persona of being Mr. Cool, Calm, Reasonable and Independent, in order to wash away the uncleanness of my teenage try-hard 'effniks rule Aussie sockah 4eva' internet persona. And yet that dirt will not wash away. Unclean! Unclean! Unclean!

Anyway, for those heading out to Kingston Heath by public transport tonight, there's no scheduled public transport works, so one of the more laborious trips of the season should be slightly easier than last week. The trip home is always a nightmare though. Hope you have friends or a good book to keep you company.

Because I'm a fan of half-arsed efforts, I might as well chip in with some uninformed thoughts on this week's matches, even though I have a dislike for making predictions of this kind.

I'm hoping for a win tonight against Bentleigh, but will be happy with a point. Though I like what I've seen of us so far, we have had these false dawns before. Port should be too strong for a Pascoe Vale side that for both rounds hasn't managed to defeat opponents that have had players sent off. I expect Collingwood to bounce back from last week's loss, and Vishnu help all of us if the Tigers actually win a fourth consecutive match. I'm going to say that last week was an off day for Thunder, but that Richmond aren't beyond getting a result in their game. Last week seemed to see Green Gully return to regularly scheduled programming with their win against Hume, while Oakleigh have their backs to the wall with two losses from two starts, the only team below them being the Thunder who started the season on minus three points. I reckon a draw on that one. Hume should easily dismantle a poor Southern Stars outfit, not that that's meant to be belittling anyone - but so far Stars have looked absolutely pants. For Sunday's game - which South of the Border could be attending, just in case you wanted autographs - another match with teams with perfect records. I think though this is where the Knights run ends, Northcote have apparently looked shit hot so far this season and I expect that to continue.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Cause for concern?

One month on from this post, and still no word on the status of the social club negotiations with the government. This doesn't fill me with confidence.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

It's too early for trends, but... - Southern Stars 0 South Melbourne 3

Along with the joy and relief of the win last night - joy for three points and the manner in which of some of that was achieved; relief for not stumbling against this side as we did last year - the acknowledgement that we played against a very poor side must also be taken into consideration. Right from the start, Southern Stars had parked the bus and weren't going to move it. If they could, they probably would have parked their bus at DFO across the road, but such are the petty laws of the game that you restricted to patch of grass about 105 metres long usually not much longer.

They'd done the same against Dandenong Thunder last week, and managed to get a point out of that game. And while for about half an hour it looked like maybe the same fate would befall South, as Stars' goalkeeper and the bounce of the ball conspired to keep the score locked at 0-0. But then Marinos Gasparis' powerful long range shot took a massive deflection, giving the keeper no chance at recovering, and it was 1-0.

At that point, one may have thought that Stars would show some initiative and start playing some soccer, but instead produced more of the same. As a measure of how little Southern Stars troubled the South defence, it took until about the 60th minute for Peter Gavalas to touch the ball last night. Sometimes one is all for the humiliation of an opponent, but at other times even though you want to see your team win and win well, you'd like to see at least some sort of fight from the opposition, to have the feeling that the result was not a fait accompli.

Gasparis' second goal - from what looked like a side footed free kick around a shonky wall - just about iced the game. For whatever reason, South then took the foot off the pedal, and Stars managed to make the odd forward venture, getting close to scoring on perhaps one occasion, but any lingering doubts about the result were put to bed when Shaun Kelly found himself with far too much room at the back post, and scored a lovely scissor/volley into the back of the net.

As much as I spent a fair chunk of last night downplaying the merits of the result, on reflection there were some important things to take out of the game. The high defensive line and manic pressure from the win against Green Gully were there again, but it will be interesting to see how those concepts cope with a team that has the ability to launch quick counter attacks.

Something else to keep in the back of one's mind, is to see how we will cope with falling behind - as well learning to play something else other than the fast paced style. Can we slow it down and still look comfortable? When the game slowed down last night and seemed to be infected by a lack of motivation from both sides, the link up play just didn't have the same fizz and sparkle as when we were going at full steam.

These are the kinds of thoughts of course, given birth by the god of cynicism and the goddess of it's still too early to tell how we'll go this season.

Steve from Broady's Under 21 Match Report
On Saturday night South Melbourne's under 21s took on Southern Stars at Kingston Heath. Coming off their 2-1 loss last week at the hands of Green Gully, the South Melbourne lads started off the game very well, winning several corners early in the first half. South Melbourne looked more and more convincing as the game went on, creating plenty of opportunities for the strikers, but the South Melbourne forwards were unable to convert and the boys went into the sheds at half time 0-0.

South Melbourne started the second half as they did in the first, dominating from the get go and in the 65th minute all the South boys' hard work payed off when Sebit Muon headed home from close range. After South Melbourne took the lead Southern Stars started playing with some more fight, but it didn't last long because in the 71st minute Luis Bulboa scored a cracker for South from long range giving South a 2-0 lead. As the clock wound down Southern Stars looked to have given up and South added to their misery in the 91st minute when Sebit Muon played a beautiful ball to Baggio Yousif to strike home and make the score 3-0 to South Melbourne, and 3-0 it finished to the boys in blue, a well deserved result and a very good bounce back from last week's loss to Green Gully. 

Next week South Melbourne will play Bentleigh Greens away at Kingston Heath, with reports that Trent Rixon might be making his comeback from hip surgery for the under 21s.

Steve from Broady's Canteen Review
This is a segment that will appear every week this season rating and ranking the 12 canteens in the VPL. After not eating at Green Gully last week because of a bad experience a few seasons back with a shit hot dog (which automatically gives Green Gully's canteen a 1/10) I had a kebab at Southern Stars this week and well fuck me, another food tactical disaster with the choice of bread by the Southern Stars canteen men and women. It was some sort of white bread roll that I could compare to say a cheese and bacon roll. The salad in the kebab was OK - the lamb was questionable - it looked like rabbit shit if you know what I mean. The hot food looked standard, so I give the Southern Stars canteen a total of 2/10, very disappointing and a let down from last season's kebab that I had there. Next week it's Bentleigh Greens canteen time to shine. There's a lot of hype about their souv - can they deliver on Friday night when the pressure is on?
  1. Southern Stars - 2/10
  2. Green Gully 1/10
The Scenic Route
There was track work being undertaken yesterday on the Frankston line, so I decided that I couldn't be bothered changing to a bus at Moorabbin to change to another bus at Cheltenham. Decided to take the Sandringham line out to Hampton, and catch the 828 from there. Took about as long, but you get to see nice scenery as the Sandy train travels along the beach front.

Also had a nice chat with some random who was moving house, talked about such things as racism in society, cultural studies, was sport better in the 70s (OK, that's just poetic licence to play this song), our binge drinking culture, Aboriginal spirituality, the nature of masculinity then and now, and building cars from spare parts in the olden times to go riding around the paddocks of what was then outer Melbourne. His diagnosis was that things for the most part had improved, but that there was still some way to go.

Kingston Heath
The surface was in immaculate condition. Amazing what not being trampled on by a bajillion Hellenic Cup games over the summer can do for a ground.

Around the Grounds
Trundled out to watch Richmond play the Knights on Friday night. It finished 4-1 to the Knights, even though it didn't feel like that sort of game to me - things might have been different had Richmond scored from the spot to make it 2-2 - it was their second failed penalty attempt in as many matches. One Knights fan was sick as a dog on the freeway wing - seemed like one of those cases where he wanted to vomit but nothing would come out. The Knights fans managed to entertain - albeit briefly - with their adaptation of Pink Floyd, chanting 'referee, leave them kids alone' when the referee was trying to defuse a possible melee. A whopping 32 free kicks against the Knights (stat courtesy of Steve from Broady) indicates they will be playing Andrew Marth style this season - which is appropriate since 'Stabba' Marth is coaching them.

Next Week
I wonder how much hype will be built for this game? Another slog out to Kingston Heath, this time to play the free spending Bentleigh Greens, but at least we get these trips out of the way early on in the season. Last year we were in a very similar position, two wins and zero losses, and like last season, one of those wins was against a struggler while another was on a good team.

Last year during round three it all came to pieces though. I'd like to believe there's something different about this team - and I think in the way they link up, and the way they pressure opposing teams, that there is - but we've been here before and capitulated. I know it's easy, especially for me, to play the arch cynic, but it's pretty obvious we're going to find out a lot more about where we stand this year, and where some of our deficiencies may lie, than we have over the previous two matches.

Final Thought
Two from two and still not quite satisfied. It is the South way.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Kiss of Death, Round 2, 2013

I found this in an email I received from the FFA about the upcoming Melbourne Victory vs Liverpool friendly. Talk about trying to educate your customers LOL. Right down the bottom under the ridiculous pricing schedule was this:

Important Notes about Active areas.
Active areas are designed for supporters who are extra passionate and vocal in support of their team. By purchasing in the active areas, you should already be familiar with active support and that standing and prolonged chant participation is mandatory.

In other words, if you are not willing to stand for 90 minutes, and participate in prolonged chanting which is mandatory (mega fucken lol), you are most likely opening yourselves up to abuse, violence, pepper spray, and everything else that comes with being involved in FFA gimmicks. Would love someone from the FFA to answer the following question since we are on the topic of crazy stuff.

When a customer (fan) receives an FFA Ban Notice, does this notice apply to footballing matches Australia wide, or just A-League matches? Because the last thing I want is for the shit that’s not good enough for you, which you have subsequently banned, rocking up to VPL matches trying to be all macho. Just because your shit stinks, doesn’t mean I want mine to. Believe me, my shit smells like roses.

Friday 12th April @ 8.30pm
Oakleigh Cannons vs Port Melbourne Sharks
Oakleigh copped a 3-0 hiding at Northcote, while Port Melbourne were dumped 0-1 at home by Hume. More of the same this weekend for Port Melbourne when they face Oakleigh. Oakleigh will be looking to rebound. The brown tongued lizards from Port will have no one but themselves to blame for this season's shambles. Four games to go before the change of coaching staff down there, with the popstars already apparently forming a bit of a clique. Oakleigh Cannons 2 – Port Melbourne 1.

Friday 12th April @ 8.30pm
Pascoe Vale vs Northcote City
Pascoe Vale lost 1-0 to the eight man Knights, while Northcote started with a 3-0 bang at home over Oakleigh. Dear Pascoe Vale. You were given a right royal chance of beating the Knights when they were down to 10, 9 and 8 men. In State 1, you might’ve beaten them. But this is the VPL. Where sometimes even 11 men isn’t enough to beat someone. You learned your lesson the hard and most embarrassing way. Good on the Knights though for persevering and scoring a pearler of a free kick at the death. That is what the VPL is all about. Northcote will be too good for Pascoe. Even with seven men, they would be beatable. Pascoe Vale 0 – Northcote City 4.

Friday 12th April @ 8.30pm
Richmond vs Melbourne Knights
Richmond was unlucky to lose 1-0 to Bentleigh, while the Knights had a 1-0 win against Pascoe Vale. A tough task for Richmond, but an even tougher one for the Knights, who will be without three regulars for this match. I’d like to tip the Knights, but I just can’t based on those red cards last week. I’ll dump the heart and use my head for this one. Richmond 2 – Melbourne Knights 1.

Saturday 13th April @ 6.00pm
Southern Stars vs South Melbourne
After a draw with Dandy last weekend, Southern Stars come up against a very good looking South Melbourne outfit. South Melbourne taught Gully a lesson in defending high up the park, with a 0-3 win last weekend. Southern Stars will be in for a long night if South plays the way it did against Gully. I am expecting them to do just that. I am also expecting Tsolakis to name an unchanged lineup. There is no need to change a winning formula, especially when you go to Gully and beat them convincingly. Standouts from last weekend, were definitely Hatzimouratis, Kearney, and RVE. But alas, the whole team was exceptional. Rare for a South outfit of the last six years, but I really couldn’t pick a weakness in the win. We defended high for a change, challenged pretty much every ball, were strong in the back, Gavalas was on his game, and restricted Gully's free passing football. Bumper crowd expected. Southern Stars 0 – South Melbourne 5.

Editor's note: For those foolhardy enough to make the trip out there on public transport, it will be an even more laborious affair than usual, as there are significant works taking place on the Frankston line that weekend. You have been warned.

Saturday 13th April @ 8.30pm
Dandenong Thunder vs Bentleigh Victory
The first of the lockouts for Dandy. No fans will be permitted entry from either team. Not that it matters for Bentleigh, they have none! Dandenong Thunder drew 0-0 at Southern Stars last weekend, and will be looking at this weekend to get off the bottom of the table and gain back those three points deducted at the tribunal. Bentleigh Victory as they have now been baptised, can stick their Victory rejects where the sun don’t shine. Dandenong Thunder 3 – Bentleigh Victory 0.

Saturday 13th April @ 8.30pm
Hume City vs Green Gully Cavaliers
Hume had a big 1-0 win at Port Melbourne, while Green Gully was spanked by South Melbourne 0-3. Gully looks ordinary, more ordinary than usual at this time of the season. Rumblings already apparently. Hume by all reports is doing enough to get the job done. Too hard to pick, so I’m going with a draw. Hume City 1 – Green Gully 1.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

At Last! Finally! Επιτέλος! Green Gully 0 South Melbourne 3

Today sees a couple of firsts for this blog. Both of these are due to our regular real life sideman Steve from Broady, who has finally put his money where his mouth is and chipped in with his first written contribution - a match report from the under 21s - and also provided some stats work as well. We hope he continues to contribute on a continuing basis, and that our audience enjoys the extra variety and information.

In the end, it was almost anti-climactic. The standard implosion by South sides at Green Gully just didn't arrive. There were a couple of jittery moments, where Peter Gavalas was a little hesitant, but one can perhaps read too much into those incidents.

Indeed, there were several moments today where I thought, 'this is going too well'. Gully looked lackluster throughout most of the game, but we'd stuffed it up so many times before. Renco Van Eeken had his first half penalty saved onto the post, we'd missed a few sitters and half chances - and even though the much maligned Brad Norton had given us a 1-0 lead to take into half time with his flicked header, of course one felt that Gully would surely fire up in the second half.

But they scarcely tested our South boys. There was a period when we were 2-0 up, and we started to sit back a bit deeper, where Gully managed to get forward a bit more, and put in some crosses, win a few corners. But most of these were cleared with relative ease, and eventually we went 3-0 up, and even the most cynical and damaged of South fans had to acknowledge that there was no way back for the home team - and then attention switched to wanting a clean sheet.

There were no bad players. Alan Kearney seemed to get the vote of a few fans as best on ground, and certainly we controlled the middle of the field for most of the match. Dimi Hatzimouratis, playing out of apparent necessity in the unfamiliar position of right back, also played well. The forward set up seemed to click as well - indeed, it was one of those performances where you wondered, how and where are we going to fit in the players that missed out today? There were no Tsiaras, Rixon, Matthews, Fernando, Recchia (who is of course out for the season) - when we start racking up a few suspensions and injuries, it's good to know there are some capable players waiting in the wings.
Even Brad Norton thinks Brad Norton scoring is messed up. Photo: Cindy Nitsos

Soccer's one of those things that people love to over think. Today we saw that it does not necessarily have to be so. Restrict the room the opposition has. Move the ball forward quickly. Put a few more crosses in. It was a continuation of the sort of form we saw during the pre-season, albeit with some nicer finishing. Without wanting to get carried away - it's one win, in round one of a twenty two round season - there were good signs, and if we play like that most weeks, we'll do OK this season.

Steve from Broady's under 21 match report
South Melbourne's under 21s kicked their season off today away at Green Gully Reserve. There was some pre-game controversy with South Melbourne's second choice goalkeeper Sebastian Mattei, who was reportedly expected to start for the under 21s, not rocking up - this caught the coaches off guard and forced them to use a left winger in goals with no gloves which I thought was an absolute disgrace.

Not bad for a first try by Steve, except that this game started at 1:00.

The first 15 minuets were very sloppy with both teams turning over the ball 10+ times each. In the 18th minute South Melbourne received a free kick on the edge of the area and Baggio Yousif stepped up and placed it beautifully in the top left corner. South were in control for the rest of the first half and went in at half time 1-0 up. Green Gully come out in the second half immediately with some fire in the belly, picking up some corners early in the second half. Thankfully at the start of the second half the South Melbourne goalie had been given some gloves. In the 69th minute South Melbourne's defence was finally breached with a Gully defender rising above everyone and heading home from a corner. As the clock counted down Green Gully made one last charge in the hope of getting a win. The Gully winger ripped around three defenders and fired home in the last seconds to give Gully a 2-1 win.

South Melbourne fought bravely today and I personally can not wait to see their next game away to Southern Stars. To the bloke who played in goals today for us, well done mate, you did an excellent job considering you are an outfield player.

Crowd Watch
Looks like Gully made a bit of an effort to get a few of their juniors out to watch the game, so the attendance was actually respectable for a Gully game. Someone said the crowd got up to around 1000, but that's probably being very generous.

Canteen Capers
An apple and a couple of bowls of corn flakes doesn't last too long, and I was momentarily tempted into perhaps buying something from the worst canteen in the league - but after taking the food poisoning experiences of others into account (and remembering my own horrible non-soccer related food poisoning experience of a few years ago), I decided to hold off. A victory for self-discipline or self-preservation?

Next Week
Southern Stars away on Saturday, at Kingston Heath. A dogged defensive effort was apparently the Stars' main weapon in their 0-0 draw with reigning champions Dandenong Thunder tonight, so expect more of the same next week. Dimi Tsiaras' will be available again after serving the remainder of his suspension. There'll be no Tom Matthews for about five more weeks, after he reportedly fell off a ladder at work and broke his arm.

Final Thought
I enjoyed that. Here's hoping it's not another false dawn like last year.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

I Don't Care, You Don't Care - Kiss of Death, Round 1, 2013

About fucken time. Now to preview the real football action happening this weekend.

Saturday 6th April @ Green Gully Reserve @ 3pm
Green Gully Cavaliers vs South Melbourne
South haven't won there in like 20 years. Sounds really good, but if you take out the NSL days then it's actually not that many years. Please someone give me the real figure not this mumbo jumbo coming out of the media team at South. All I know about Gully is that Roddy (Rodrigo) Vargas is suspended until the 14th April so will definitely miss this one. South on the other hand have only Dimi Tsiaras suspended. It's good to be playing them round one. Gully are always slow starters, whereas South always start off kinda well. However, anything but a win here would be seen as a disaster and the doors might as well be closed down at Lakeside. Gus has a full squad to choose from. I definitely know who shouldn't be in the starting eleven, let's hope Gus has the same idea. Win this one and we are set, lose at Gully, and expect hell. Green Gully Cavaliers 1 - South Melbourne 3.

Saturday 6th April @ Kingston Heath @ 6pm
Southern Stars vs Dandenong Thunder
Both teams copped a pounding in the pre-season with player departures. Thats all i know. Dandy thought they would take on the FFV at the FFA, and copped a shellacking. A game of no interest to myself, yet I will still attend because I have no life. Southern Stars 2 - Dandenong Thunder 2.

How many mountzes will the Kiss of Death be dealing out this week?
Sunday 7th April @ John Cain Memorial Reserve @ 3pm
Northcote City vs Oakleigh Cannons
The Greek derby. The one that everyone wants Northcote to win, except for a handful of Oakleigh fans. Northcote has looked the goods in the pre-season. Oakleigh has been very, very quiet. Just like Elmer Fudd hunting rabbits. Dunno, don't care, but I will be there signing autographs. Northcote City 2 - Oakleigh Cannons 0.

Sunday 7th April @ Somers St @ 3pm
Melbourne Knights vs Pascoe Vale
Expect the Knights to be top of the table after round one. Pascoe Vale will go down as quickly as they came up. The Knights have recruited well, but don't ask me who, because it's a surprise. Pascoe Vale hasn't recruited shit. They have kept pretty much their entire State League 1 side. As much as I think that's great and promoted teams should do it, I don't want you in the VPL. Nothing personal, but I have a side wager on, and you staying up will cost me a few bottles. So work with me here. Melbourne Knights 6 - Pascoe Vale 0.

Sunday 7th April @ Kingston Heath @ 5pm
Bentleigh Greens v Richmond FC
Bentleigh. Big shamwow! Well done. Recruited well apparently, and got rid of all your youth. Bravo, bravo. I have nothing to say to you lot. You aren't even worthy of a review. Richmond on the other hand are looking OK. From what my sources tell me, they have recruited well, but need time. Who knows. Bentleigh Greens 0 - Richmond 2.

Sunday 7th April @ JL Murphy Reserve @ 6.30pm
Port Melbourne Sharks v Hume City
Port Melbourne. The first coaching vacancy will be here in five weeks. That's all the review they are worthy of. Hume City. Quiet, yet always a handful. Port Melbourne Sharks 0 - Hume City 5.

Monday, 1 April 2013

The worst season preview ever - 2013 edition

Finally, the new season is just about here. Let's get stuck in.

On-field, the expectations will of course be high. That's what South fans expect, and finishing inside the top three, with the double chance that comes with that, is the only acceptable outcome in the home and away season. For better or worse, there's no more Joe Montemurro on the sidelines for the first time in three years - and now it's all down to Gus Tsolakis and his crew. During this pre-season, however much you can take out of that, we've moved the ball forward more quickly, and haven't been reliant on two or three chances to score all our goals - even if our finishing has been poor this so far.

Defensively, the English trio of Matthews, Byles and Kelly, provided they stick together for most of the season, should provide a more solid defensive framework than last year. With Kiwi Rhodri Payne seemingly finally out of favour, the left-back slot will be a hotly contested position, though there don't appear to be any obvious replacements yet. Will much maligned utility Brad Norton get the gig? Will Phil Petreski be shifted out of his midfield roles to fill the gap? Or will they pull a rabbit out of the hat and give the passionate/temperamental Anthony Giannopoulos a gig?

Since waking up finally when he got a back pass against Port (all praise to mighty Baal), Peter Gavalas has actually looked hungry. He got benched against I think it was the Bergers and instead of a doing a casual warm down he was doing sit ups and push ups like a bit of a maniac. Rumour has it that likely second choice Seb Mattei doesn't give a shit about football anymore, but since it seemed like we had one of those last year as a first choice, who'd notice the difference this year if it turned out the same?

As usual we have more midfielders than you can poke a stick at, and how we fit them all into a starting eleven will be very interesting. With Carl Recchia done for the year, you'd expect Dimi Tsiaras to have the defensive mid slot sown up. Alan Kearney will hopefully add some much needed toughness to the middle, but the attacking midfield roles and wing positions are still all up for grabs, with most of the contenders not completely grabbing the bull by the horns just yet.

Marinos Gasparis looks fitter than he's ever been, but will that help him to overcome his chronic inconsistency? Joe Keenan has been given a fair bit of time this pre-season to show his mettle, but the Keenan of old, who was able to slide past players, slot lovely curved goals and put in good crosses hasn't been spotted for some time. Dimi Hatzimouratis's 2012 season was cut down by injury, and while he hasn't done anything remarkable this past month, there are still those who rate him highly

There are also several young players - among them James Karvellis and Andrew Cartanos - who got game time last year and during the pre-season -, who may be called upon if the above players don't perform.

And what of Fernando De Moraes? He didn't have one of his best seasons last year, and even though his work rate did go up to unprecedented levels for him, that's not what he's there for. A role off the bench role may be what's forthcoming, but will he bes satisfied by that?

There's also the question of Andy Vlahos, who could be used either forward or in midfield. While surely coming to the end of his career, he seems content with coming off the bench, and he was useful in that role last season. His greatest strength may lie in his several years of coaching experience, perhaps adding to the tactical arsenal available to Tsolakis.

Further upfield, Renco Van Eeken, and the Queensland pairing of Tyson Holmes and Rhys Meredith have looked fast and dangerous, without putting anyone other state league two Malvern City to the sword. I can't wait to see how they fit Trent Rixon into this line up. Hell, I can't wait to see Trent's reaction when his first touch in an attacking move isn't 15 metres in our own half.

Let's Digress and Have a Look at the Other Teams
Green Gully
What disaster will happen to us there this year?

Port Melbourne, Bentleigh Greens, Oakleigh Cannons (combined preview)

I don't care about their management switch, or which players they've lost or brought in. Like Michael Lynch, all I want to know is, will the food still be as good?

Hume City
Back home again, no need for a trip out to Epping.

Melbourne Knights
Our very own Gus Tsolakis reckons people should keep an eye out for them this year.

Dandenong Thunder
Thanks to the FFV (and for me on two fronts!), this is where we'll be watching this game from this year.

Pascoe Vale
Another team going for the night game angle.

Southern Stars
What now after the end of the Irish Free State? I suppose there'll be some prurient interest in seeing in how Rama is getting along, a bit less so for Jason Ricciuti.

Should not be underestimated.

As usual there will also be the myriad off-field shenanigans.
The social club's progress - or rather, lack of it - will be felt more and more as the season wears on. What was meant to be one of the linchpins of our return has yet to materialise, and the dispute with the government about the social club redevelopment fund could well drag on. What would be good would be to see some information from the club on this issue, and though there have been inferences that it is forthcoming,

The end of the year also sees elections for the boards of SMFC and SMH. Will there be any rival tickets this time around? We've not had an actual election for so long. There's been much dissatisfaction from among certain former board members, but will they make a move? And if they do, what will their platform be? Who else will be on their ticket?

Another question to ponder is what role will the expanded suffrage will have in determining our future. Now that voting rights have been opened up to a whole lot more people, will there be increased interest in the behind the scenes working of the club? There were signs at the AGM that outside the ranks of the old social club clique, there were people who were willing to turn up and participate or at least be witness to the nitty gritty of our club's planning.

There's also the question of the National Competitions Review. There are those out there who are claiming that it won't come in next year - witness the splurging by some state league 1 clubs for a promotion spot that probably doesn't exist - and yet you also have certain VPL clubs spending cash like it's going out of fashion for what exactly?

Assuming that the NCR does go ahead next season, how will we be forced to adjust? Will the rumoured 280 point cap - instead of 200 - come in? If it does, will it be permanent, or phased down over subsequent seasons? Will the FFV allow us to keep charging our $3200 a year?

Of course, there is the ongoing issue of the re-conciliation efforts with SMWFC. Progress seems interminably slow on this front, and yet a women's unit will be an essential component of the NCR. Does SMWFC even want re-conciliation, or just co-operation for the sake of the precinct? If they want to remain a social/community outfit, what are our options after that? Is there demand for $3200 coaching for junior girls' teams?

And how much more South for the A-League nonsense will we see this year? Every time I think this issue is going to finally go away for good, it comes back with a bit of vengeance. What will be the next phase in this consuming obsession?

Hint: Another Melbourne Heart is doomed or moving to Geelong is already gathering steam.

As For The Blog
Expect more of the usual sweet nourishing (Krusty Brand Imitation) gruel from myself: match reports where the actual game is almost incidental, more calls to give 'Gia' a run, rushed experiments in stylistic alternatives to our normal writing (thinking about Our Man in Kandahar style things - I'm halfway through Egon Kisch's Australian Landfall at the moment), and the usual South of the Border Cheap Eats guide - we've already lost our original and most loved fall-back place Es Teler '77 on Swanston, now that they've moved somewhere else and re-branded themselves as some sort of Indo-Malay place instead of just plain old Indo.

Maybe even a a retool of the blog's look, because I'm not convinced that we've got close to plumbing the depths of hideous web design that only looks semi-decent on a seven ( I think) year old Benq notebook.

There will also be the usual off the wall observations from the Kiss of Death that has earned this blog its cult audience of movers and shakers, and boy are we looking forward to its contributions before the KOD's usual late season slide into 'too much busy farken, can you do it for me farken' status.

Of course if anyone else (lol, bahahahaha) wants to write for us, just drop us a note. Some more comments would be nice, someone apart from the ever reliable Savvas Tzionis and whichever board lackeys decided to add their two cents of propaganda. Also, maybe this year we'll actually get to see Steve from Broady pitch in with his long promised regular comments or even some stats or something.

I have no idea how much time I'm going to lose for this project now that we're working(!) three days a week and are also expected to do PhD level research and writing, but if my honours thesis year and half was (or more like three months of actual half-arsed effort) is anything to go by, I don't think you'll notice any difference, except for the soccer fiction reviews I'll have teed up for the off-season at the end of the year.

Final Thoughts
I've already seen Oakleigh Harismidis at two separate matches at Chaplin Reserve, once with a knock off Brisbane Bears scarf, and once talking to the canteen ladies telling them how valuable they are to that organisation. It's going to be hard top off that spectacle, but the VPL hasn't disappointed before. Chances are another farcical loss at Gully this Saturday will do the trick.