Friday, 28 June 2013

Round 11 2013 VPL previews

No Kiss of Death this week, again. Apparently Kiss of Death is seriously under the pump these days at whatever keeps them occupied during the working week. Funnily enough though, there hasn't been mass hysteria about not getting your weekly fix from you, our beloved readership. I couldn't be arsed filling in the void with words of my own, so we're taking a different tack this week. If you want insight, you're in the wrong place.

Bentleigh Greens vs Southern Stars 

Richmond vs Pascoe Vale 

Dandenong Thunder vs Green Gully Cavaliers

Hume City vs Northcote City

South Melbourne vs Port Melbourne Sharks

Oakleigh Cannons vs Melbourne Knights

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Cool Video, Naff Music

A Heartfelt Plea From an Anonymous Reader

Not sure why this couldn't just have been posted in the comments section, but one of our readers pleaded for us to have this posted as open-letter, so here goes.

3-0 loss to Northcote, eh? You fucken recycled sods. Pull your fingers out of your asses and play some football. I am sick and tired of excuses from the top down. The fish rots from the head, and after Sunday's loss, Gus has shown he lacks in the substitution department once again. The sub he made in regards to Keenan off Cartanos on was a joke of the highest order. Firstly, Keenan tweaked his hammy at training on Friday night, secondly, when he did it again on Sunday the bench had no idea, thirdly, you have an experienced Fernando, and instead you bring on a raw Cartanos. This is where the game was lost. I’m not having a go at Cartanos for that, I am having a go at Gus. What the fuck are you doing?

How could you play an injured Keenan? How could you not see when he did his hammy? Why not bring on Fernando? I can’t wait to hear your excuse on SMFCtv on Wednesday night. Don’t blame injuries, or suspensions, every team needs to go through those. Blame yourself. You have no faith in the players you have. Cliques have formed in the team and you are doing nothing about it.

The players also have a lot to answer. None of you realise how good you have it at South. From the changerooms right down to the TV shows, and the rest of the professional setup at South. You fucken arrogant showponies. You’re all fucken talk. You couldn’t play yourselves out of a paper bag at times. Some of you shouldn’t even be allowed to watch the games from the grandstand. You can’t handle the abuse from the fans, yet you don’t play decent football. This is South Melbourne, we expect wins, especially when you're all apparently ‘excellent’ players. I use the word ‘excellent’ very loosely. You ungrateful plebs.

The fans are reaching boiling point. I have no idea where the reaction will occur first. You people are playing with people's passions. Yet, none of you spineless pricks have any passion. You’re all happy to get your pay cheque, yet don’t give a flying fuck about what you’re actually doing out on the park. If I was the board at South, I wouldn’t pay you clowns a cent until the end of the season, and that’s only if you make the Grand Final.

Solution: Sack Gus, and about 4 players. None of them are worthy of representing South at A-N-Y level.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Byles, Matthews, Keenan, Mattei, Payne all apparently sacked

Huge news! I have no idea of the why, the who etc - only an oblique rumour as to the existence of a 'clique', which might not even exist, let alone include all of the above mentioned players. More news if it comes to hand.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Jekyll and Hyde - Northcote City 3 South Melbourne 0

There's no way of sugarcoating a performance like that. When we got beaten 5-0 at this venue by this opponent a couple of years ago, it was with a half strength lineup, plagued by internal strife. Yesterday we had a strong team that was clinically torn apart by an opponent that we had beaten only a couple of weeks ago, making us believe - or me at any rate - that we were a side that weren't too far off the mark as far as season 2013 was concerned.

Initially, things looked promising. In the first five minutes, we looked good. We had the ball, we had a cross go across the face of goal and just out of reach. But for the next 55 minutes - and I say 55, because Northcote put the cue in the rack for the last half hour - we were barely in this match. And, if it wasn't completely obvious, a large part of that has to go down to Northcote, the best team in this league so far in 2013, even if some of our fans still don't rate them as a side.

We were out-hustled and out-muscled. When it counted, Northcote were at almost every loose ball before we were. For a side that has put its stock on a high pressing line, our forward pressure was poor. Several times Northcote were able to escape from the back and move the ball up to the other end of the field with just two or three passes, after we had looked hopelessly for space that apparently didn't exist.

We were beaten tactically. In comparison to Northcote's quick ball movement, we were often stagnant. The overlapping runs of Brad Norton and Tom Matthews, so vital to our success this season, were nowhere to be seen. At times we even struggled to get over the halfway line, and when we did, we were often squeezed up against the touchline. When we tried to play through the middle, we often came up against a solid blue wall.

Structurally we were a mess, and we did nothing to change that during the course of the match. Defensively, we looked to be confused. We backed off opponents, and the communication between keeper and defender was off. Peter Gavalas had a good game, making several saves which prevented the score getting completely blown out, but otherwise we looked reluctant to pressure the Northcote attack.

An anxious moment for Chris Theodoridis-Petropoulos as South Melbourne's
Shaun Kelly tries an overhead kick. Photo: John Punshon/Goal Weekly.
Some fans were calling for Fernando to come on, and he did during the last 20 minutes. While he did a couple of nice things, he didn't also alter the game in any meaningful way. Let there be no mistake - that period of the game was merely an exercise in killing time. Nando's passing and dribbling was often no better than what had come before his arrival. And if Steve from Broady's stats are to be believed, at 71 turnovers, we were getting awfully close to turning the ball over once every minute.

Not only did we lose this match, but it also took a toll in terms of injuries and yellow cards. Rhys Meredith got a corky, while more seriously, Joe Keenan seemed to injure his hamstring. Trent Rixon missed this game, and who knows how long he'll be out for, nor when or if Renco Van Eeken will be back. I believe Shaun Kelly will also miss this week's match against Port after picking up a fifth yellow card.

We have a tough run of games coming up, but also a lot of home matches. Port, Gully, Bentleigh, Thunder, Preston in the cup, and Stars before we have to head out to Richmond. And I must admit, even I found myself cringing at how after what I think has been a half decent start to the season, that one really bad loss has everyone calling for heads to roll. It's like the good results we've had have been entirely forgotten. Or maybe they can see something on the horizon that I can't. Hopefully it doesn't come to that, and that we don't fall into the trap of our annual mid-season slump.

Steve From Broady's under 21s report
South Melbourne's under 21s took on top of the table Northcote City yesterday at John Cain Memorial Park. South, coming off a good win from last week, were trying to get some momentum going as we near the halfway point of the season.

The match kicked off late for reasons unknown. The first 20 minutes of the game was very tight, a shot off target here, a ball into the mixer there. There weren't any good chances for either team to score and at halftime the lads went into the sheds locked at 0-0.

The first 15 minutes of the second half were the same as the first half, tight with neither team managing to find an edge. In the 63rd minute the South gaffer decided to make some changes bringing on Sebit Muon and it didn't take him long to make an impression, when Anthony Giannopoulos played a cutting ball through the Northcote defence. Sebit had the best chance of the game to fire home but the City defender managed to block the shot.

In the last 10 minutes South had plenty of shots at goal but could not make any count. As the clock wound down South had one last push forward, when Sebit found himself in some room and fired a shot from outside the area, only for it to go wide. That ended a frustrating game for South, who probably should have won.

The game finished 0-0 and now we need to look to next week vs Port Melbourne and the five home games in a row what we are about to play - all must win games if South want to fight for the title at seasons end.

Steve from Broady's Canteen Report
Northcote's canteen was in the spotlight yesterday, and they failed miserably. The souv was a shocker, with fuck all lamb, a shit roll that was harder than my cricket bat and no garlic sauce, it was the biggest disgrace since sliced bread. I give this disgrace of a canteen a 3.5, disappointing.
  1. Pascoe Vale 10/10
  2. Hume City 8/10
  3. Bentleigh Greens 7/10
  4. Northcote City 3.5/10
  5. Southern Stars 2/10
  6. Green Gully 1/10
  7. Dandenong DQ 
South food truck
  • Week 1, 4.5/10
  • Week 2, 7/10
  • Week 3, 8.5/10
Around the Grounds
Took a trip out to Port Melbourne to watch the Sharks take on Dandenong Thunder, the first time I'd seen either of these sides play this season. The first 20 minutes was pretty ordinary, but after that Dandy took control of the game, and they probably should have lead at half time. A slightly dubious freekick early in the second half helped them get that lead. After that I was expecting Port to fight back a bit, but nothing really happened. Thunder's second goal came in injury time, sealing the deal. Thunder aren't the force they were last season, but you'd hate to come up against them in the finals.

Jesus of Port Melbourne was angry for some reason, even before the Port substitutes, who were warming up during halftime, asked him to fetch the balls they'd kicked over the fence. Not sure what the deal is with the far side of the ground being blocked off to spectators either, which is my preferred spot to watch games from at that ground.

Friends In High Places
Which current South Melbourne player, who happened to be wearing shorts on that freezing Friday night, bought Steve from Broady a beer? Ah, I remember the days when I was the one being bombarded with questions about what was going on behind the scenes. The student has surpassed the master in that regard - not that I was ever told things that they didn't want to get out anyway, lol.

Next Week
Port Melbourne at home to complete the first half of the home and away season. Trust them to fire up for this one. If I'm even later than usual in supplying the entry on next week's match, it will be because I will be driving up to Canberra early next week to conduct some research and to attend a conference. I trust that you will be as patient as you usually are.

Final thought
I have heard unofficially that the Kiss of Death is ready to put out a pretty awol kind of piece this week. My response to that is, we'll see about that, as the Kiss of Death has been pretty scratchy in terms of supplying any material of late.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Round 10 2013 VPL previews

No Kiss of Death this week, hopefully still alive and well somewhere and back with us soon.

Port Melbourne vs Dandenong Thunder
Incredibly, Steve From Broady has chosen for us to attend this game over the other Friday night fixture - seriously, Port's canteen over Paco's pizza? Has the world gone completely topsy-turvy? Anyway, I haven't seen either of these sides yet in 2013, so we might as well go here. We play Port next week, so it makes sense, doesn't it? I reckon a score draw, but what do I know?

Pascoe Vale vs Oakleigh
Oakleigh are already a long way back. Drop points here, and it'll be an even bigger hole to dig themselves out of. They've made some signings apparently, but I'm backing the home team to get at least a point here. Don't ask for any sort of explanation on that though.

Green Gully vs Bentleigh
There's about three non-gamblers in this world who lament the axing of the FFV's live game of the week. I'm one of those three people. For whatever reason, the FFV had a habit of filming this fixture, and since no one actually watched it in the flesh, no one will regret missing out on it this year. Gully don't look crash hot this year. Then again, they never look too crash hot even when they're winning, so who knows what to make of them this season. Their rained out match against Richmond is still not resolved, with Richmond taking the matter to the tribunal. I reckon Richmond are right to do so, but good luck getting a favourable result out of that place.

Southern Stars vs Richmond
Speaking of Richmond, surely they're due for a first league win for 2013. Surely! Surely?

Melbourne Knights vs Hume City
I think when it comes to the Knights this season, Manny's not too far off with his summation. Though considering the nature of last week's game, who the hell knows what kind of weird coin they were using. Maybe they were using one of those 20 sided dice that my brother uses for dungeons and dragons.My prediction here is that Ljubo will do something slightly less outrageous than last week, but good luck to him if he wants to go the other way.

Northcote vs South Melbourne
Strange rumours of signing some sort of party boy MLS player are circulating. Arguments about how many Knights fans were at Lakeside last week. People still intimating that we're on the verge of A-League inclusion. Apparently we have some sort of keys to a magical pavilion? Is that NPLV still thing going? You could almost forget that we actually have a game this week, and against none other than the runaway league leaders, at their ground, who are looking for revenge after getting turfed out of the cup by us just a week and a bit ago in dramatic circumstances. Nope, nothing to see here, move along everyone.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Did both teams drop two points? South Melbourne 2 Melbourne Knights 2

The match started flat. Well, we were flat at any rate, and my mood wasn't helped by conspiracy theory discussions and Thailand trip reminiscences (thanks for the shirt, Con!). And then we justly conceded the opening goal. And then we started playing well.

Our first equaliser was ruled out for offside, and there seem to be differing theories as to its legitimacy. For our actual equaliser there was little doubt, as Brad Norton added another goal to his impressive tally this season.

And then we fell asleep again, in the most heinous sort of fashion. Shayan Alinejad was free for about five minutes at the back post, and while he may have been offside, and while the finish was classy, he should not have had that kind of room. It's Defending 101.

So we went into half-time 2-1 down, and while I'm not begrudging the Knights their lead – they at least had the ability to finish – I was left feeling as if there were more goals left in the game, and if that we bothered to actually look like we were interested, that we'd be scoring most of them.

As it turned out, there was only one more goal in the game. And it didn't even come from our own labour, as we struggled to finish off a series of chances and were also denied by some desperate Knights defending. No, our second equaliser came from an own goal.

It could only have happened to Ljubo. Photo: Melbourne Knights.

Poor Ljubo. Playing for his boyhood club against one of their more important rivals – and the team he spent a memorable, what was it, eight matches with just a couple of years ago – and he coughs up an own goal. And it wasn't just any own goal, it was something so daft that you have to see it to believe it. All you can think of at a moment like that is 'it's funny because it's not happening to us'.

While there's people out there who've claimed that you 'couldn't make this shit up', Steve From Broady took a decent stab at it, having predicted in jest before the game that a Ljubo own goal would give South a 2-1 win. Close, but no cigar.

I have already read that some Knights fans think they could have got all three points if they finished a bit better in the first half. That's not an illegitimate position to take, but I reckon more important was our own attitude. Once we decided that we wanted to control this game, I think it became evident that we had more influence over this game's result.

When we come out to play, we are the equal of pretty much any of the leading sides in the league. When we seemingly choose to cruise through portions of the game, we look sloppy and second rate. The one saving grace is that last year, we were losing these games, relying on 15-20 minutes of OK football and three chances.

This year at least we're creating several good chances per game, and are at least putting together 45-60 minutes of solid football. It's not enough, but it shows we've made some progress, and that there's even more room for improvement. In contrast to a few people, I reckon Trent Rixon actually had a half decent game, even if it's frustrating for everyone that he's not yet on the score sheet this season. I'm not convinced that he's the best fit for the kind of pressing football that we want to play, but that's another issue entirely.

An Unplanned Detour
It's been fascinating reading other people's thoughts on this game. As mentioned earlier, Knights fans seem to feel a little hard done by based on their first half efforts, but afterwards feel fortunate to get a point out of the match based on their second half. One South fan saw the Knights putting on a lot of pressure on the first half, whereas I saw a South team that looked tentative and bereft of ideas, and even looking a bit slack, with the Knights taking advantage of that. It's another case of the same game and the same series of events being viewed differently by different individuals.

I only bring this up this week because in the course of looking back at Ljubo's brief stint at South, I came across this match report from 2011, when we got slaughtered 5-0 by Northcote (that we're playing them this week is a lucky co-incidence). One of our readers had a very negative reaction to what I had written, and I'd tried to defuse the situation with my patented 'let's trying reasoning with them' approach, before the Kiss of Death jumped in with a stronger, perhaps more hostile response.

Being a very sensitive soul, such criticism does take its toll on me, no matter how thick-skinned I pretend to be. Thankfully, I reckon most people who read this work are well aware of the context in which I'm writing - as a non-expert, partisan supporter. I'm also glad that most of the feedback we receive is positive, even for parts where the reader may disagree about our content.

Brenton Hayward and Gus Tsolakis know it's a game of opinions. Photo Cindy Nitsos.
While it was mostly me contributing to this site, I could to some extent keep such concerns to myself. Now that we have four of us contributing in some way, I'm more aware of the kinds of issues that can arise. Not that it's happened yet to Steve From Broady or Manny's work, but the Kiss of Death has won its cult audience based on its hard hitting, take no prisoners, poke them in the eye approach. Occasionally, despite the written disclaimer that I am not the Kiss of Death, that work has been equated with me, the non-expert, glasses wearing, never played a game in its life character, as opposed to the player, coach, administrator Kiss of Death character.

In my mind, these are not different personas of the same writer, they are clearly two distinct authors. I realise that it's easy for me to say that; after all, I know who the Kiss of Death is. And yet people who know both myself and the Kiss of Death in 'real life', have been among the people who have equated the Kiss of Death's work with my own.

In taking this detour, my aim wasn't to ask any of my writers to pull back, nor to add further caveats and disclaimers on to my work - only to digress briefly to see how diverse the views on our game can be, even within a very small sample of of people.

Back to the game
Finally, while I don't think that it had a major bearing on the end result – our poor finishing and pretty poor first half did most of the damage – but the refereeing was pretty crappy.

You Don't Look Half Bad For A 60 Year Old
This year is the Knights' 60th anniversary. As part of commemorating that event, there was a nice video played before the game and during half timeshowcasing the highlights of our rivalry. As it turns out there, were some not bad moments over the journey. There was also a commemorative plate given by South president Leo Athanasakis to his Knights equivalent Ange Cimera. When packing up the social club last year, I came across several such commemorative items, mostly dating back to the 1990s. I didn't realise that the practice still continued, but I'm pleased to see it's not dead in the water yet.

Steve from Broady's Under 21s Report
South Melbourne's under 21s were finally back in action on Sunday after two weeks with no game. South, taking on rivals the Melbourne Knights, were looking to get back into some decent form to push them up the table so they could get back into the title race.

South kicked off the match in sunny conditions. The first half was a very tight affair, with both teams struggling to gain an inch on their opponents with an equal amount of turn overs, balls into the box, shots and clearances. It was a fairly uneventful half but towards the end of the first half there was a piece of action that fired up both teams when a Knights defender put in a disgusting tackle on Anthony Giannopoulos in front of the Knights bench. Both benches were up in arms South screaming for a red and the Knights bench calling for a dive, which was quite embarrassing from the Knights as the tackle clearly should have seen the Knights player dismissed from the game - but he managed to stay on the pitch to the surprise of many at Lakeside and added more questions about the refereeing in the under 21s competition this season.

The first half come to an end with the score 0-0. The crowd was building up nicely as the second half began. South started dominating possession early in the second half and was creating good chances while moving forward. In the 53rd minute South were rewarded for their good start to the half when Cartanos picked the ball up on the edge of the area and blasted the ball across the keeper into the top right corner of the net to give South a 1-0 lead.

South went up another gear after that goal and continued to dominate the match and nine minutes later it was Cartanos creating a goal out of nothing as he smashed another long range shot into the back of the net. At that stage of the game Knights looked finished and South continued to dominate as the game came to a close. In the final minutes Solano picked up his second yellow card of the season for a silly tackle. It finished up 2-0 South Melbourne, the city is blue and white until the next time the two teams play each other.

Here's hoping this win is the start of a long winning streak which can send South to the top of the league, until next week get around it!!!!!!

Steve from Broady's Canteen Report
South's canteen was on centre stage this week after a cup round of disgraces worse than sliced bread e.g. (coffee stands closing at half time, canteens closing at full time of a cup game which is going into extra time). Anyway South's food van picked up its game this week, producing a quality souv with lamb that for once was not, dry a good portion of tzatziki and of course the legendary pita bread. After the game the canteen stayed open for the under 18s game which flabbergasted me after what happened last week. Anyway, I talked my way into a free kransky with the canteen woman. Besides the fact it was free, it was a pretty decent kransky, I rate the South food van this week an 8.5 out of 10. They're so close to that 10/10, can they crack it before season's end? Only the food gods know, until next week keep off the sliced bread.

  1. Pascoe Vale 10/10
  2. Hume city 8/10
  3. Bentleigh Greens 7/10
  4. Southern Stars 2/10
  5. Green Gully 1/10
  6. Dandenong DQ
South food truck
  • Week 1, 4.5/10
  • Week 2, 7/10
  • Week 3, 8.5/10

I'm still not sure why the Jordanians had a stuffed rabbit. Photo: Gains
National Duty - Australia vs Jordan
I don't like the Docklands Stadium, but at least most times you can count of having a half decent view of proceedings. Sadly this was not the case for me and my crew on Tuesday, where we found ourselves on the ground level behind the goals, about ten rows back, with the crossbar blocking a good deal of the view.

We did get to see a fair bit of first half action, but the second half frankly was a bit of a blur. I think I saw Cahill's header for his goal, but the rest was a bit of a mess, and we had to take our cues from the parts of the crowd who could actually see the action at that end.

We were two bays over from the Jordanian supporters, who made a bit of noise until they copped the first goal, and were heard less and less as they conceded more goals. As for the Australian home end, they were pretty quiet except for when Archie Thompson came on.

At half time, as per the New Zealand friendly at the MCG a few years ago, they gave out a few retrospective caps to national team players. I think I was the only person to cheer for Michael Curcija getting his. Some people don't get no respect, but I'm no longer surprised by it, and only a little bitter.

The dreaded Mexican Wave got a very good run. I much preferred the old fashioned foot stamping. Still, the team is one favourable result from another World Cup appearance, and we should be grateful for that, considering the sputtering mess that the campaign has been up to this point. Almost time to roll out the bandwagon again.

Next Week
Rematch vs Northcote, this time at their place, and in the league. It's the start of a pretty tricky series of games - the good thing is, that after this game, they're mostly home games.

Final Thought
To a different Con from the one mentioned at the start, get well soon mate, and we hope to see you at South again as soon possible.

Friday, 14 June 2013

League back after cup - round 9 preview

No Kiss of Death for this week, which is a pity, but we'll soldier on as per usual.

Because there's no Kiss of Death, this week's preview is therefore brought to you by:

Simplified FFV Preview™: The VPL preview for those who are overwhelmed by the depth of the actual FFV VPL preview.


Bad Internet - sick and tired of Good Internet? Then try Bad Internet! Nothing goes slower and disconnects more!

Bentleigh vs Port
Two team not lose much 2013.

Thunder vs Northcote
Northcote like 2012 Thunder.

Stars vs Gully
Gully not do good. Stars worse.

Hume vs Paco
Hume many goals for/against. Paco opposite.

South vs Knights
High spirits vs form. Also, NSL.

Oakleigh vs Richmond
Not either team good.

Richmond vs Gully (1-2, 19 minutes to play)
Because FFV make up own rules.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Heroes and Villains - South Melbourne 3 Northcote City 2 (after extra time)

This was a game that had nearly everything. It was characterised by open, attacking football from both sides. There were red cards, there was blood, and there were heroes and villains in abundance. And there was even mass confusion on more than one occasion.

There was tension on and off the field, both during and after the game. If you weren't there, or if you left early for whatever strange reason, then you missed one of the more entertaining games you're likely to see this season. The good thing is, I suppose, that you can catch up on at least some of the goodness on SMFC TV.

The other good thing is that we won.

Call of the year so far
Directed towards the Northcote goalkeeper, who was wearing a fluoro green jersey and shorts, with black socks: 'You look like a highlighter!'

A false start of sorts
Northcote launched a free kick into the box, and saw it headed home, for what looked like on first impression a legitimate goal. But the linesman on the far side had raised his flag straight away, and the effort was disallowed. To be honest, I can't really say for sure either way - my hunch however is that it was a goal. I'm not sure the video will be conclusive, but we'll see.

Taken from Shauen Kelly's Twitter feed.

There will be blood
While the officiating was often pedantic, some of the players didn't do themselves any favours. Shaun Kelly's head was busted open halfway through the first half, and blood poured forth from the wound. He soldiered on, with the kind of bandaging that every well proper central defender wears with pride. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to continue, and was soon replaced by Matko Budimir.

That wasn't the end of the carnage though. About 30 minutes in, Alan Kearney, having his first start after several weeks off with injury - although he did come off the bench last week - was sent off for an off the ball incident with a Northcote player, who was also sent off.

Northcote were the better side in the opening half, and seemed to adjust to the more open spaces better than South, often finding wide men in space. This was especially so on our left hand side. Any hope of surviving until halftime at 0-0 and then re-organising went out the window when Northcote justly opened the scoring, with Milos Lujic tucking away the mess of South's attempt to clear their lines.

The second half
It's fair to say that we were the better team for the majority of the match from this point onward. This is not to discredit Northcote, who still kept looking for their second goal, but the stats in this case are perhaps a little misleading. While we didn't get that many shots on goal, the fact is that we should have. Our counter attacks in particular went unrewarded so often that it was maddening. Our refusal to shoot was only part of the problem - the major issue was not even being able to hit a proper cross where a striker could run on to it. The balls into the box would elude literally everyone, like, literally

At last though, Rhys Meredith cut in and curled his shot around the keeper from the right, and it was 1-1, and the game's momentum was clearly with us. We kept peppering away, and subs were even made before the 85th minute -Trent Rixon off and Andy Vlahos on turned out to be a pretty important decision. Fernando De Moraes also got onto the field, to a massive cheer from the faithful, though I'm not sure if he or the coaching staff were expecting him to end up playing 50 minutes rather than a pinch hit 20 at the end.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times
I reckon Peter Gavalas has had a very good season. So much so, it's like having an entirely new recruit. And in this game, he actually played well, coming off his line and making some fancy diving saves, until late on during regular time when he tried being way too fancy at exactly the wrong place and time. His attempt to play around James Kalafatidis failed dismally, and gifted Northcote the easiest of finishes for 2-1.

At that point we were all having horrible flashbacks to 2012. Thankfully, for everyone's sake, Andy Vlahos, probably the shortest player on the field, somehow got onto the end of a free kick launched into the box and headed it home. And believe it or not, that's when this game started getting really interesting.

And it finishes 2-2, we'll see you again next week...
A lot of people at the game didn't seem to realise that this was a cup match, and that as a cup match in the modern era, we were not going to have an infinite amount of replays until we had a winner. Maybe some people were walking out to have a cigarette, or put some extra coins into the parking meter, but somehow I very much doubt it.

Fence runs ain't what they used to be. Photo: Gains.
Great, who's he going to cross it to...
... because to me it seemed like there was no one in the area waiting for the pass. And then Brad Norton, perhaps my favourite much maligned South player of recent times, appears to me as if he's come out of nowhere to put it away and give us the lead for the first time in this match. Cue a fence run of all things, with people running out of the grandstand to revive this once great tradition.
And then the scoreboard shenanigans started. Among the many mistakes - which included an out of synch match clock and listing all the South scorers as 'Goal' - was having Northcote leading 3-2. It did confuse one of the South fans near us who had gone out for a smoke.

There were five in the bed, and the little one said...
This cup tournament allows you to make up to to five substitutions, which is a bizarre sort of situation. It did lead however to Anthony Giannopoulos finally making his senior debut. Long time readers of this blog will recall us banging on about giving this kid a go to the point where people got absolutely fed up, and then we stopped doing it for the good of everyone. 

Fix the scoreboard! Photo: Gains.
 Now I admit that I do know the lad, although I only see him on match days, when he greets me with a 'hey, Juniper', which then leads into a Hattrick discussion. While we've never believed he's been the best thing since sliced bread, all of us of a certain ilk at South Melbourne who have watched him for years, both in underage competitions and at Clarendon Corner social football, are stoked that he's finally reached this milestone, playing for the club he loves.

We're just as glad that he didn't get sent off - though it was nervous times when he while standing over a fallen opponent and giving him the death stare!

Post match follies
Did Peter Gavalas flip the bird at the supporters, or was he putting his hand up in acknowledgement of his blunder? Who do we play next, is it Preston? Don't know for the former. Yes to the latter. Waiting for all conmspiracy theorists to appear in 3... 2... 1...

New segment!
One of our readers, identifying themselves only as 'Manny', has sent us this comic as a first offering. Now he's not promising that it will be a regular feature, but I'm glad that someone with the even merest hint of an artistic bent has offered us their services. That brings the current number of regular contributors on this blog up to four, which is kinda insane when you think about it. Any good suggestions about what to call this series are also welcome. It was sent to us last week, so if it feels a little out of date, that's completely our fault.

Around the grounds
I was at the Clifton Park synthetic pitch on Saturday afternoon. Somehow the Moreland City - Clifton Hill match was only the second best cup classic I got to see this week. Footage by Football Chaos. By the way, while I've not seen much of Clifton Hill's goalkeeper Mason Interlandi, what I have seen of him suggest to me that he won't be a state league 2 keeper for too much longer.

The Socceroos play Jordan at Docklands. Myself and Gains will be at the opposite end of the stadium to the newly formed and FFA approved Australian home end group 'Terra Australis', but if you do somehow see us in the crowd, do come and say hello.

Next week
Melbourne Knights at home. There's talk that some chap named Ljubo might be starting for them.

Final thought

Friday, 7 June 2013

Round 5 Dockerty Cup Preview - South vs Northcote

Pretty big game. Undefeated Northcote, against a half decent South.

Bah, who am I kidding? It's a nothing game.

No one is even talking about on field stuff any longer. The forums are clogged with NPLV talk. And why wouldn't they be?

Still no word from South about an EGM to see whether the membership endorses the matter. Wouldn't it be funny if the expanded voter franchise, which now includes parents and season ticket holders, chose to defeat this scheme?

Well, it'd be funnier than them approving it. But then again, we haven't workshopped that idea yet, so we haven't seen how test audiences will react. Maybe we can add in the laugh track regardless.

This whole thing has become such a farce that I'm not even taking the South hatred personally any more. I mean, it's hilarious that South has been mocked for years about our now shitty crowds, about our not being the 'real' South Melbourne, about being a just another suburban team.

But apparently the anti-NPLV crew can't launch meaningful opposition without South's involvement. It appears that if we're nothing, we're a strange kind of nothing. Dark Matter South Melbourne? Anti-Matter South Melbourne? Un-Real South Melbourne?

The good thing is, we could use those as part of our NPLV application as well, seeing as how we have to come up with three names in the event that, Allah willing, the FFV encourages our juniors to ditch us and move along.

The FFV must be pissing themselves. They're winning the propaganda war almost by default. They get 44 expressions of interest for their NPLV, while the naysayers just sit there and whinge on internet forums.

It's classic divide and conquer, and we're all falling for it. Even better, we're back to breakaway league talk, which is always fantastic. Meanwhile, whichever side of this issue we happen to fall on, we still get to be called recalcitrants by people who for the most part have never cared about senior football below the top tier.

Anyway, back to the Dockerty Cup game. I'm not expecting to win for some reason. No Van Eeken makes the team look pretty different, less mobile. Regardless of the result, the best thing is that after this match, we get to do it all again in a couple of weeks anyway.

Still, if we win, that would be a good thing, as it means we're one step closer to maybe winning a trophy that's not a pre-season competition. It might even mean being paired up against our old friends Preston, which could mean all sorts of other hilarity.

But one step at a time I think.

Monday, 3 June 2013

One Life And It's All Politics - Pascoe Vale 0 South Melbourne 0

A disappointing result to say the least. Did we drop two points in the first half? We were well on top even before Pascoe Vale's red card in the 8th minute for a head butt on Brad Norton. And we blew several chances to take the lead, perhaps the worst miss of the lot going to Trent Rixon, who pulled his shot wide with the goal beckoning, missing the target by about two metres. But still, that first half was only missing a goal from us, and didn't foreshadow the lackluster second half to come.

Norton got a sore head, his opponent a red card. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Indeed the second half resembled what in footy speak might be called circle work, running and passing and keeping the ball without doing much with it. When we did choose to move it quickly, we either miss hit our passes, or were reticent in taking on opponents and trying to get into the box. There was an issue also in delaying putting in crosses. And despite having an extra man for 82 minutes, it was sometimes hard to tell where that extra man advantage was. Brad Norton was perhaps the serial offender on both of these last two fronts.

Credit must go to Peter Gavalas. Though he had very little do throughout the evening, he saved the day right at the death when Pascoe Vale threatened to steal the win. While it hurts to not win that game, I get the feeling that last year we would have lost this match. The turnaround in Gavalas' form has been a big part of our better season to this point.

The home team celebrated a hard earned point, while we walked out of the ground incredibly frustrated. There are still questions about Tsolakis' tactical decisions. But the earth keeps turning, and the focus must now move on to next week. At least we got to see Alan Kearney get on the field and get some game time. And we got our first clean sheet in several weeks, for those who care about such things. So disappointing, yes, but not a complete disaster.

As for the ex-South boys at Pascoe Vale... Joseph Yousseff was out injured. Stefaan Sardelic perhaps wasn't tested as much as he should have been - except from Rhys Meredith, who clattered into him in the first half - but otherwise didn't put a foot wrong. His ground kicking still leaves a lot to be desired though. Jake Vandermey, like the rest of the Pascoe Vale defence, rode out the storm of the first half onslaught before putting in a very steady performance when South ran out of ideas. Apparently Marco Santilli - a member of the 2006 Crazy Johns Cup final winning team, where he was one of the goal scorers - was also out there. Shows how observant I am.

Hosken Reserve
Only been there the once previously, several years ago for a state league two north/west match between Pascoe Vale and Altona East, and what a fantastic game that was.

Pascoe Vale 2 Altona East 1
Right team won on the day, no doubt about it. Paco kicking with a strong wind in the first half dominated, a great goal from about 25-30 metres out leaving them 1-0 up at the break. 2nd half was everything you'd want from a top of the table clash, with East really getting into the game and equalising only for Paco to take back the lead within 5 minutes. Some send offs and wasted chances at both ends, with the Paco keeper pulling out some great saves. Paco best team I've seen over the past couple of seasons at this level.

Gains and me got off at Merlynston station, and like the Zoroastrian magi of that familiar myth, followed the light (tower) in the sky, albeit this was a dimmer object than those Persian would have followed. So dim in fact that I was a bit worried that the lights wouldn't be up to scratch, and when we got there, it didn't look too good. But when all the lights were turned it was adequate, if not spectacular.

SMFCTV cameraman Tim Dovas acknowledges the crowd. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
In terms of the food, the pizza was actually pretty damn good (I'll let Steve from Broady gush over the food), but there was no chinotto to go with the pizza, and I had to settle for a blood orange soda. But you can't have everything I suppose. A ground worth taking into consideration when pondering which game to see. Like other venues without a hill, the viewing isn't great when the crowd gets more than one deep along the fence. Not sure how good the video footage will be either, considering there was light pole in front of the scaffolding used for filming.

Around the Grounds
How much soccer is too much soccer? I think I got close to finding out the answer this weekend.

First Stop: Jack's Place
Thank goodness for Steve from Broady, who made the right choice on Friday night's offerings. I was all up for going to Richmond vs Green Gully, in the superstitious belief that Richmond were 'due' for a win. That game got washed out with Richmond down 2-1. How the FFV will sort out that game will be interesting.

Instead we ended up at Oakleigh vs Hume. The under 21s match was a bit of a goalfest, 4-3 I think it finished to Hume, though I only caught the last half hour or so. The senior match was largely unspectacular for 60 odd minutes, Oakleigh doing nothing and Hume doing the simple things finding themselves 2-0 up. When Oaks unexpectedly pulled it back to 2-1, the game was on, and Oaks hit the post soon after. A backheel goal from a goal mouth scramble by the Hume striker variously dubbed 'Lurch' and 'Star 21' by some of the South faithful seemed to pretty much ice the game at 3-1, but Oaks kept coming. Then Hume's little no. 30, who was playing like it the pitch was bone dry, slipped past two defenders on the by line and cut it back for an easy to finish to someone or other. 4-2 it finished to Hume, who are on a bit of a roll now, while Oakleigh under Miron Bleiberg are going nowhere fast.

From about 6:00pm onwards the rain didn't stop. It slowed down at times, bucketed down at others. Steve from Broady was disappointed, because he wanted to stand next to the Oakleigh bench and listen to Bleiberg. It got very interesting when the thunder and lightning got real close to the ground, the thunder rippling through the covered terrace at Jack Edwards Reserve, so close you could feel it in your belly, and so loud that I couldn't hear the footy match that I had on my earphones. The ground held up well though, and at least we were able to finish the game.

Second Stop - Xavier vs Melbourne Grammar
I'd been asked several times by a friend to come watch some sport at Xavier, as part of the continuing tradition of alienation that we love on this blog. I had been asked to go to a cricket match - against their main rivals St Kevins - to get the more authentic experience, but life had gotten in the way.

The tram goes uphill from the corner of Collins and Spring. It also flies along the avenues. That's a crucial part of the experience. Most of my tram experiences have been laboured affairs, meandering in a stop/start fashion through the inner suburbs.  After ending up a lot further on than I was supposed to, and making a wrong turn into some sort of car park - I eventually made it to the proper gate to see a match already in progress. The field the soccer was being played on was nearest to Barkers Road, which at least made it easier to find. The different fields apparently had names as well - at my high school the oval was simply 'the oval'. There were large puddles on the other side of the field, but otherwise the ground had held up well.

As a novice to such carnival style sports days - my two year stint at the Corporate Games excluded - I suffered from an acute case of sensory overload. There were two Aussie rules games being played adjacent to the soccer match, as well as a rugby union game being played a little further on. Whistles and sirens, balls, crowds switching between different games. Add to that the large electronic scoreboard on the main footy ground - which also of course has a little grandstand. Even the traffic is captivating, and I normally couldn't give a stuff about cars except as a way of getting from point A to point B. Looking around, just about every car is new. In contrast, I reckon that there's three 1989 Toyoto Camrys on my street alone.

Xavier's soccer team was playing host to Melbourne Grammar. I had been promised a higher calibre of football, with neat, crisp passing. Instead, thanks to the weather, I got something else entirely. There were some pretty poor sliding tackles in this match, with players not taking into account the slippery conditions. What made this more interesting is that as a whole, the game wasn't actually very physical. This was especially in the moments where I expected it to be almost inevitable, where the ball got stuck in one of the puddles on the other side of the ground, and yet more often than not players were able to extricate them out of the lakes without too much opposition interference.

Grammar looked the better team when I got there early in the first half, playing a bit more direct. Xavier were playing a style that was too fancy for the conditions, and found themselves 3-1 down at half time. Still, Xavier came out the stronger team in the second half, and managed to pull it back to 3-2 early on, only to then not to do very much for the rest of the match. And then almost out of nowhere, they won a late, late penalty. The sideline cheered in celebration. The young man who had scored both of Xavier's goals stepped up to the spot, aiming for both the equaliser and his hat-trick. Of course he skied the shot about five metres over the crossbar, to the unbridled joy of the Grammar players and supporters.

The whistle blew, and the Grammar team sang out their school song with gusto in the middle of the field. School pride was always a nebulous, even fruity concept where I came from. Concepts such as alumni associations are anathema to a system where people can't wait to get out and hope to never see 95% of the people you were forced to be with. We also didn't have a school song as far as I can remember, so hearing something like that roared out was fascinating and also disturbing, but I suppose that's all part of the culture shock that I had experienced.

We don't often talk about social politics on this blog, because frankly, I don't think that's what our audience is interested in, and I also don't think that our audience is particularly interested in my poorly constructed pseudo-anarchist ramblings in particular. But there was something undeniably wrong about the scenario, where a community which is that privileged, and seeks to create an insular environment, while priding itself on its 'independence' and which has so much more than my old high school could ever have had, could possibly want even more from the taxpayer?

This is not about the politics of envy. It's about a bizarre social experiment that's been created, that is supposed to include, in Xavier's case at least, social justice, but who can't even stomach playing against its poor Catholic brethren, instead aligning itself with other wealthy Protestant schools. It's about how in attempting to stay relevant, public schools like mine have had to become marketing machines, trying desperately to mimic the aesthetic tropes of the private school system.

It's probably not fair to come into such a situation, with all my lower middle class western suburbs prejudices, and then come out of a mere two hour experience with all the answers. When I did take that detour into the car park, I was faced by cyclone fencing and barbed wire. Why was my immediate reaction to think that at a public school, this would be used to keep people in, but at an elite private school this would be used to keep people out?

Like I said, they are some poorly constructed ramblings. It was a relief to get out of there though, and head to a place that seemed a bit more grounded in reality.

Third Stop - Campbell Reserve
A sample of Moreland's shirt collection. Photo: Gains.
The overnight downpour did put into doubt whether the third leg on my Friday/Saturday football journey would go ahead, as Moreland City's Campbell Reserve is more likely than most grounds to turn into a swamp at the first hint of deluge.

On arrival at the ground, there was no action at all. The reserves match was postponed at Campbell Reserve, but luckily the senior match would go ahead.

I like Moreland City. I don't blame them for being able to get away with having four different ethnic symbols on their jersey (leek, thistle, clover and rose), and not receiving flack from anyone for it. That's the fault of Australian culture who don't think of these symbols as ethnic, or at least not in a negative way, and the soccer authorities who are supposed to be on top of all these issues. I also love straining my neck looking up at the soccer jersey collection that adorns the ceiling of their social club. And it's always a treat to hear the banter directed towards the visiting team's goalkeeper from behind the goals.

Moreland City have been one of the form teams in state 2 north/west this season, but conceded a heavy defeat at Preston the week before. Altona East have won one match all season. It didn't start well for East, falling 2-0 behind early on. They pulled one back, but soon conceded again. East weren't really in the game, but won a lucky penalty - they should have scored from the same play anyway - and made the score 3-2. It should have been 3-3 soon afterwards, but instead Moreland piled on the next three goals, and it finished 5-2, although the official records say 5-3. If I missed a goal, I'm not sure where that happened.

Steve from Broady's Canteen Report
On Saturday evening I ventured down to Pascoe Vale's ground Hosken Reserve. There was a lot of hype about their canteen, so I was expecting big things and I can confirm big things is what I got. A wood fire oven cooking some very good pizzas was unbelievable to see at a VPL venue - perfectly cooked, not burned, not an overload of topping - it was awesome. Inside was another canteen with food that was not as good as the pizzas but let's be honest, nothing could live up to those pizzas. After assessing both canteens at the venue I must without a doubt award Pascoe Vale's canteen a perfect 10 and encourage all VPL fans to get around this canteen for the rest of the season.

  1. Pascoe Vale 10/10
  2. Hume City 8/10
  3. Bentleigh Greens 7/10
  4. Southern Stars 2/10
  5. Green Gully 1/10
  6. Dandenong DQ
South food truck
  • Week 1 - 4.5/10
  • Week 2 - 7/10 

The Pitfalls of Taking Public Transport 
In the morning while taking the 48 tram, stop 26 became stop 32 in the space of about five seconds. Not cool when I wanted to get off at stop 29. In the evening, after traipsing through the mud of the Hosken Reserve carpark and hoofing it uphill to Batman station, we missed the train by about 30 seconds. Still, I managed to catch the 10:07 to Werribee, and didn't need to top up on the day either. Twenty-two cents left on my myki card.

Next Week
Queen's Birthday Monday Dockerty Cup game against Northcote. At least they've finally stumbled.

Flaaaaaaaaaaaaanders. Flaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanders.
One of our friends at the game needs to come up with more than one line to yell out over the 90 minutes of play. One of our readers who was at the game suggested that this person needed a Jewish writer, and I think he also suggested the image on the right as an obtuse way of making that point.

In addition, if you want to submit photo or picture suggestions for upcoming posts, send them to and I'll see if I can make them relate to the topic somehow. Cartoon related references preferred.

Final Thought
It was good to meet Bill, Jake Vandermey's old man. Always nice to put a face to a name.