Monday, 30 September 2013

You Couldn't Make This Shit Up - South Melbourne 1 Green Gully 0

If you told me at the start of the year that we'd beat Gully twice - including once at Gully - and have a penalty saved in each of those wins, I'd have told you that you need to get off the drugs. Or perhaps I would have asked what the odds were.

When one of those penalties is in the 85th minute, as it was yesterday, you have to think about all the times Gully have managed to wrangle themselves out of, if not impossible situations, then at least something close to it.

During the first half, barring the final five minutes, Gully were scarcely in the contest. They did their usual business of trying to grind out time and territory, while we seemed to be able to get a few more than dangerous shots on target - there was one particular goalmouth scramble that seemed to defy the laws of physics in how the ball didn't go into the back of the net. It was the kind of half where, because we didn't score, it opened us up to the possibility of getting dudded by what I call 'Gully time'.

I don't have the stats or data to prove my contention, but my theory is that Gully have a 7-10 minute period, roughly from the 65th to 72nd minutes, where if you haven't made the most of your chances earlier in the game, they will punish you. They came close a few times during this period of the game. But so did we. Quite how Trent Rixon put that header wide, I don't think I'll ever know.

Hell, I'm not sure if it fell into this portion of the game, or just afterwards, but I reckon they had a massive shout for handball and a penalty. Their bench went nuts, and I reckon there was a collective gasp from the South fans near me who wondered how Perry Mur didn't award that penalty.

Then when it happened at the other of the field, Perry Mur again didn't award a penalty, until the linesman, in brave, but also very uncharacteristic VPL fashion, made Mur listen to his version of events, and thus a penalty was awarded. I still can't quite believe it. The Greek conspiracy theory DNA embedded within me just had to say out loud that Mur didn't award the second one initially because he didn't award the first.

Anyway, he did end up awarding the penalty. For whatever reason (cramp?), neither last week's penalty taker Rixon, nor Luke Hopper took the penalty. Instead it fell to captain and substitute Brad Norton. Now, I like Brad Norton (maybe against my better judgment), and he's actually scored a fair few goals this season, especially for someone who's spent most of his time as a defender.

Was there anyone more relieved than Brad Norton when
Tyson Holmes scored? And does it matter? Photo: Mark Avellino
But at no stage during the penalty routine did he look confident. Call it one of those great hunches that no one recalls when they get it wrong, but Norton's timid effort was entirely predictable - and whatever angle he was gunning, whether that was showing the captain's initiative, or seeking redemption for his mistake against Northcote just a couple of weeks ago - he made an absolute meal of it.

While I didn't think we were done and dusted, I had a feeling we'd be overrun if the game made it to extra time. Thankfully, Tyson Holmes stepped up to the plate. Holmes shooting from the edge of the box is notorious for seeing balls end up in the car park or lake behind the goals. Yet, when he actually keeps his shots low, they tend to nestle into the back of the net.

That's what happened last night at the crucial moment, when Soolsma laid off the ball to him on the edge of the area. Pandemonium broke out in the grandstand, and the apparently 2700 in attendance - while I'm not sure if was actually that high, it was certainly twice the 1000 odd that I thought would turn up at a maximum - all joined in as best they could in the chanting.

It wasn't over yet though, as Gully, who put in a much improved effort in the second half at least going forward, fluffed what looked like a point blank chance at the death. What was interesting about Gully was their insistence in walking the ball into the net. It was so unlike them, and it was more like... well, us, in a not too distant past. The first half was rough, the second half played largely between the two 18 yard boxes as the two teams became tired and space opened up throughout the middle of the field.

I can't say we weren't lucky, because we were. But we also had a share of bad luck and missed opportunities. Some, maybe in their propensity to exaggerate every achievement, tried to play this up as one of the greatest wins of our history. I won't go that far, but I can understand where they're coming from. From what the club has been through, not just this season, but the entire time since the NSL ended, these events and the emotions attached to them can just take a life of their own.

Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail
It doesn't excuse the poor organisation of the FFV at the gates, but I must admit I did feel like a big shot walking past everyone with my pre-purchased ticket. As for everyone down at the pub who kept saying "I'll go a little later, I'll go a little", well those people will never learn.

"Dodgy Asian Betting, Now We're In The Finals!"

Next Week
Melbourne Knights this Friday Night at Somers Street.

Without meaning any disrespect to the Knights, or any other team, there are only two teams from VPL 2013 that I fear. One is Gully, because they're arsey cunts. The second one is Bentleigh, because they're just a damn good, solid all over the park team.

Having said, it's a game against the Knights, an old rival. It's a finals match, the first between the two sides since 1997. It's at Somers Street, in front of what will be a more than usually hostile crowd, because of the Knights hosting the Australian-Croatian Soccer Tournament. To quote Principal Skinner, "we've even bussed in troublemakers from others schools".

Knights were apparently killed on the counter last week, whereas we looked slow and hesitant in our fast break opportunities against Gully. Fitness will play a role as well. Our front two looked tired towards the end of the game, their mobility restricted.

Even taking into account that Knights' last home and away match was a dead rubber, can you really see them lose three in a row, at home, after doing so well this season? Especially when we haven't even beaten them anywhere since early 2011, and haven't beaten them at their ground since 2010.

Did you notice how much I'm trying to claim the underdog tag here? Then again. we've got nothing to lose, right? I mean, after all, look where we were halfway through this season. Now we've even managed to scrounge two cleansheets in a row. Surely that can't last, right?

Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago
Prior to the beginning of season 2013, I applied for a media pass from the FFV, as has become my custom. While in previous years I managed to acquire accreditation, this season I was rejected, with the justification that "you [sic] blog, while enjoyable, does not require a media pass in my opinion". I tried to claim the high moral ground, claiming to be more confused than offended, but I don't think I fooled anyone, least of all myself.

Now all of a sudden I've been emailed with instructions on how to vote for the Bill Fleming Medal, the league's media award, as well as a couple of other sundry awards. But how can this be? Am I media all of a sudden? Have I managed to move beyond the realms of being merely enjoyable to something more?

So here's what I'm thinking. Since I'm not really media in the FFV sense, but they want to take my vote into consideration anyway, and I'm going to enlist the help of my readership to come up with my votes.

I can't guarantee that they'll count my (our) votes, but since I wasn't expecting to be asked anyway, there's no harm in trying. So send me your votes either via email or in the comments section, and I'll tally them up or whatever and send them into the FFV by the close of business this Wednesday.

2013 Bill Fleming Award

5 votes: Name/Club (VPL or WPL)

4 votes: Name/Club (VPL or WPL)

3 votes: Name / Club (VPL or WPL)

2 votes: Name / Club (VPL or WPL)

1 vote: Name / Club (VPL or WPL)

Obligatory NPL Victoria Update
Today was the day that the FFV would announce the successful bidders for an NPL Victoria licence - although as explained by persons on other forums, they had probably planned to inform the individual bidders first, to see if they would accept before making an announcement. Meanwhile the Anti-FFV forces sought a court injunction preventing the FFV from making those annoucments. The FFV have sought a delay to that court action (now scheduled for Wednesday), and have "in good faith, decided not to announce NPL licences today".

Final Thought
Sometimes you just get caught up in the emotion of the thing.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Believe it or not, we're playing a finals match this week

This will be our first finals game since that depressing night in Oakleigh in 2011, and our first finals match at Lakeside since our grand final win against Altona Magic in 2006. That was so long ago, this blog didn't even exist! And while the Park Life blog was born in that year, it couldn't even get to the season proper, let alone all the way to the final. Maybe South blogs are to blame for our lack of success in the post-NSL era.

Being a finals match, your South membership is of course not valid for entry. Neither are FFV season passes. If you have a media pass however (you lucky sods), these will get you get into this game. I guess this week we'll find out what everyone else has been complaining about with regards to the inflated ticket prices when they visit Lakeside.

As best I can tell, neither side has any suspended players coming into this game. Once again, the 2013 form guide between the two sides will be almost completely useless - round 1 was like whole different team; round 12 was played in the middle of 'the troubles'; the cup semi final was again played with a team from our end made up of what's now just half our team, if that. Both sides are full of experienced finals campaigners and title winners (even if we had to borrow ours from other clubs).

Chris Taylor seems to like a stable line up more than most people, so I'm not seeing any changes on the horizon. After the anticipation for last week's do or die game against Port, this one almost seems to be flying under the radar. Not sure why - it's not like there's anything else going on in Victorian soccer.

Chaos Reigns In Victorian Soccer
Aldrin De Zilva, and FFV director. has apparently sent this letter out to zone representatives and clubs.

Dear All,

I refer to the statements (attached) released by Mr Nick Monteleone on the following dates:

  • 12 September - President's NPL update
  • 17 September - unsigned statement in relation to the financial position
  • 19 September - reissued statement in relation to the financial position (signed and on letterhead).

I wish to advise that these statements were not brought to the attention of (and therefore not approved by) the FFV Board prior to release.

Therefore, I am unable to endorse these statements by Mr Monteleone and wish to distance myself from them.

I will continue to seek appropriate governance procedures are followed by the FFV Board.

Kind regards

Aldrin De Zilva


Football Federation of Victoria

Of course, we're all interested to see where this goes. This comes on top of the Southern Stars betting scandal, and now Sunshine George Cross being relegated to State League 2 (pending an appeal) following an incident in their match against Heidelberg at Olympic Village.

So, no one knows what the leagues will look like next year, and which teams will be in which league. At least we've got a finals campaign to look forward to, which is probably (hopefully) going to remain a fairly straightforward affair.

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Good Kind of Anti-Climax - Port Melbourne 0 South Melbourne 4

Two things. The first is that Port will feel stooged by the week's events for a very long time to come. Considering that they themselves had done nothing wrong, and that they had earned enough points to apparently secure a finals berth with a week to spare, only to be brought back into the finals mire in such a manner, would be pretty hard to take.

But there's also the other thing. From the little I've seen of them this season, Port have been a very ordinary side. Defensively sound perhaps, but woeful going forward, to the point where they were barely scoring more than a goal a game. That alone doesn't mean they should have missed out on the finals, but in my imagination it did make it easier for me to want to see them eliminated from the finals race.

Indeed, all Port needed was a draw from yesterday's match to make it through to the finals. Yet they were cut open repeatedly by a fired up South, while the home team put in what I would consider one of their standard 'meh' performances.

The first surprise of the day was that captain Brad Norton was dropped for Alan Kearney. A risky move perhaps, but initially there didn't seem to be any issues, except for Gully typically taking the lead at home to Dandenong Thunder, which neither Norton nor Kearney could have done anything about. Tyson Holmes' met Nick Epifano's cross with his head to make it 1-0 to South soon after that news, so while things were on a knife edge, at least we trying to hold up our end of the bargain.

Port started to get into the game towards the end of the half, and had one or two chances, but it all comes down to probabilities. Sure, you could score two goals from three chances (and how many times has that happened against us in recent times), but can you seriously go through a whole season of doing that? After a bit of a surge after halftime, Port were basically done and dusted for this game.

Still, we needed a little bit of luck to make things work. That came after Port's keeper made a save which ended up deflecting onto the outstretched arm of one of the defenders on the goal line, with the ref awarding a penalty. Port's keeper tried to argue the point, but even he eventually had to acknowledge that it was a penalty. Trent Rixon ripped the ball from Luke Hopper's grasp, and put the ball underneath the diving Port keeper to make it 2-0.

"What happens when a journo covers the local game properly."
 Photo: Ian Syson
Soon after, key Port man Lambros Honos was sent off, and when Rixon nabbed his second from a spilled shot, we were through to the finals. The celebration, pointing to our very own stats man and telling him to put that down on the records was pretty clever. For good measure, late on Rixon sent in a wonderful cross to substitute Brad Norton at the back post, who headed home emphatically, adding to his impressive goal scoring tally this season.

So, four goals, a first clean sheet under Chris Taylor - and our first since about round 8 - and a bit of miracle escape from that mid season madness that threatened to tear apart the fabric of the club. Now it all starts again.

Not Steve From Broady's Under 21s Report
Steve decided to go drinking before the game at one of the local pubs, so it was left to me to watch this game. Port had their keeper sent off in unusual and unfortunate circumstances. After a mistake in the home team's defence, a South player collected the ball outside the area and faced a one on one situation with the keeper. Unfortunately, he hit it straight into the keeper. Fortunately for South however, the keeper caught the ball outside his area, and was duly sent off.

Port decided to use and outfield player as a keeper, and South didn't make the most of this until the second half. Indeed they found themselves 1-0 down at halftime. In due time however, South eventually ran over the top of the 10 man Port Melbourne and their inexperienced replacement goalkeeper to win 4-1.

Much of the first half was spent listening to Oakleigh Harismidis. Man, that guy has a complicated home life, but all the best to him anyway. The second half was spent eating jellybeans and some sort boiled kiwi fruit and manuka honey lollies that Gains brought back from a recent trip to New Zealand.

Steve From Broady's Canteen Report
Sunday was the last day of the season in the Victorian Premier League canteen championship, and Port was the last canteen left to rate. Expectations were high at SS Anderson Reserve with the Port souv having some serious potential. The souv was in pita which is always a good start. There wasn't much lettuce in the souv and the meat was good but also not much of it. I give the Port souv an 8 out of 10. With Port missing out on the 10 that means that Pascoe Vale have been crowned the inaugural Victorian Premier League Canteen Champions. I would like to thank all canteens involved this season and can't wait for next seasons championship.
  1. Pascoe Vale 10/10
  2. Melbourne Knights 9.9/10
  3. Oakleigh Cannons 9.5/10
  4. Hume City 8/10
  5. Port Melbourne 8/10
  6. Bentleigh Greens 7/10
  7. Richmond 6.5/10
  8. Northcote City 3.5/10
  9. Southern Stars 2/10
  10. Green Gully 1/10
  11. Dandenong DQ 
South food truck
  • Week 1 - 4.5/10
  • Week 2 - 7/10
  • Week 3 - 8.5/10
  • Week 4 - 5/10
  • Week 5 - 5.5/10
  • Week 6 - 9/10
  • Week 7 - 6/10
  • Week 8 - 7.5/10
  • Week 9 - 8/10
  • Week 10 - 9/10
  • Week 11 - 8/10
Final Average Score
  • 7/10
90 Minute Celebrities
Even though the view is shithouse, there's something about being behind the goals that makes a game a lot more enjoyable, and part of that something is when the fans decide to pay attention to one or two of the players from the opposing team. The keeper is always a prime target of course, especially in yesterday's case where he wouldn't take his own goal kicks.

But the real star yesterday was Port's rightback Peter Roberts, who took a lot of those goal kicks. You may recall that a few weeks ago Roberts was involved with a nasty spat with some Knights fans. For whatever reason, he responded much better to the heckling of the South fans, which varied from several 'fat cunt' chants to songs about how South should sign him up.

30 Second Celebrities
Now the last time I visited Port Melbourne (see the link immediately above), I was given some rather minor grief for not paying at the gate by one of the security peeps, even though I had a valid FFV season pass. This time there were no such issues with security. However, I did cop grief from some Port Melbourne - well, I'd call him an official, but he had no identifying clothing or marking - who I assume thought I had managed to elude the crack security squad at the front gate and got in for free (this actually happened to Steve from Broady at Olympic Village a couple of years ago, by complete accident).

Rather than cause a a fuss, I showed him my card, and he looked at it in wonder and confusion. I moved on, annoyed that I have to cop this kind of attitude which doesn't even happen at Altona East anymore. Lift your fucken game, Port.

MVP Night
Good old Beachcomber, my favourite eatery in the known universe, after the vending machines at Spencer Street Station, of course. The pizza was good, even if it was necessary to eat from the couches because there weren't enough proper tables set up.

For the record, Rixon scored the most goals, Brian Bran won the media team's award, and Peter Gavalas was awarded the Theo Marmaras medal for best player. Steve From Broady also spoke about the VPL Canteen Championship. No mention of a certain blog in that presentation, which considering how hard I tried to save his life by telling him NOT TO EAT THE DAMN HOT DOG at Green Gully in round 1, and having him apparently 'this' close to spewing in my car, is what I consider a small oversight. It's a good thing I'm not bitter by nature and don't hold grudges easily.

In that regard, it was interesting to hear Chris Taylor pay tribute to the work done in assembling the squad to Peter Tsolakis.

Next Week
Green Gully at Lakeside on Sunday evening.

Around the Grounds
I had been roped in to play for a team competing in the SMFC Corporate Challenge. I was told that the starting time was 'around 12', but then that got changed to 9am, and I had to politely decline the invitation. So it was off to Burnley Oval to watch the last round of the State League 2 N/W home and away season. The championship, playoff and relegation spots had already been sorted out, so the match between Fitzroy City and Altona East was really nothing more than a chance for some late season glory (and win bonus).

Altona East's reserves won the opening match 2-1. It was nice to see their regular goalkeeper Nathan Debattista get a go playing outfield, and he even managed to provide an assist for one of Altona East's goals. The seniors finished 1-0 to East, probably the right result after a pretty crappy game on a low key Saturday afternoon.

Pave Jusup vs Football Federation Victoria
Being no legal expert, I will try and keep this as short and simple as possible, with as little ephemeral comment as I can manage.

The mediation session last week having failed to sort out the issues between the two sides, we found ourselves today at the Melbourne Magistrates Court, as the sort of main bout after an under-card of mostly cut and dried taxation cases. The main issue at hand was about the plaintiffs' attempt to try and get this case heard in the Supreme Court rather than in the Magistrates Court.

As I understood it, there were essentially two arguments being made simultaneously by both sides. The first was the legal argument, that is, which part of the law should take precedence in this matter; hence lots of quoting of 'subsection so and so' and arguing about which words and which interpretations of those words should take precedence. I think the main part of the law being dealt with was the Corporations Act, with the plaintiffs trying to argue the point of oppression, and the matter of there being no provision for members of the FFV to call a general meeting under the current constitution.

The second aspect of the arguments was more rhetorical in nature, in the attempts by both sides to frame the issue to their liking. In this case, it was mainly centred around how big this issue between the two sides is. The plaintiffs argued that the dispute encompassed and had ramifications for the whole of Victorian soccer, while those representing the FFV sought to portray it as a spat between the FFV and the VPL clubs, and therefore not worthy of being taken to the Supreme Court.

The lawyer for the plaintiffs spoke at length, while the lawyer representing the FFV spoke for a relatively brief amount of time. The plaintiffs argued that there was a possibility of seeking to wind up the FFV (as part of the remedies one could ask for or have offered in such a situation, and which can only happen in the Supreme Court), as well as to possibly gain access to the very large amounts of information on NPL Victoria held internally at the FFV. The FFV argued that while they did not outrightly oppose the matter heading to the Supreme Court, the oppression case could be held in the Magistrates Court.

The interim result is that the magistrate will hand down his decision on whether the matter will go on to the Supreme Court, on the morning of October 7th, via fax.

Finally, there has been some talk around the traps that these court proceedings will prevent the FFV from announcing the successful licensees for next year's NPL on this coming Monday - I do not know if this is true or not though.

Final Thought
Happy Third Birthday To Football Anarchy!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Not Much Left To Say - Round 22, Port vs South, Finals Spot On The Line

So it all comes down to this. We're level on points with Green Gully, who beat Oakleigh 2-0 last night. We have a 1 goal better goal difference, which is effectively a 2 goal better goal difference, since we have scored more goals (seven of them) than Gully, and the advantage is given to teams that score more goals.

After all the mathematical gymnastics of the past few weeks, it's a pretty simple equation now.
  • We win and we're in, to play either Port or Gully in an elimination final.
  • If we draw, we need Gully to draw or lose.
  • If we lose, we need Gully to lose, and hope the difference between our losses isn't more than two goals in their favour.
Of the little I've seen of Port - their home games against Dandenong Thunder and Bentleigh Greens, and the footage of their win against us smack bag in the middle of the South Crisis 2013 (a game I wasn't able to attend) - they have been ordinary. And yet they've kept racking up points, to the point where a draw will see them through to the finals.

Honestly, I'm bad at these previews at the best of times. With such a cut-throat one off game, I'm even more nervous, especially as we'll also be watching over our shoulder (and at our phones) for updates from the Gully-Thunder contest.

Perhaps the cruelest irony would be if we kept our first clean sheet in ages in a 0-0 draw, with Gully winning by any margin at all.

NPL Victoria - Mediate This!
A mediation session was held yesterday. Apparently it didn't go too well, and we'll be heading off to the courts on Monday.

There are rumours and innuendo circulating that the 'ethnic' and 'wog' angles were brought up by FFV person(s) during the meeting.

If true, that's not cool on its own terms, but it will also reinforce the animosity between the two sides.

There is also talk that the FFV is planning on using the Knox Regional Football Facility for one of its NPL franchises, which people are suggesting goes against an agreement they have with the Knox council.

The good news is, if you can call it that, that I have a day off on Monday, and will therefore endeavour to head out to the court to see what's going on.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

South inches closer to finals as 2013 Southern Stars games ruled null and void

VPL Ladder as at 4:01PM 18/9/13. Screenshot: Pavlaki
After what seemed to the pleb Victorian football fan like an interminable wait, the FFV have come out and ruled all of Southern Stars 2013 senior results as null and void. It was a tough call to make, but ultimately the right one.

It is more than arguable that some teams have been disadvantaged by this decision, while others have benefited, and the latter are made up of those who gave up points to Southern Stars. However, the argument can also be made that the teams that dropped points were playing the real Southern Stars, as opposed to the one that is now seen as hopelessly compromised.

On the losing side are Melbourne Knights, who were within reach of a possible minor premiership; Port Melbourne, potentially dragged back into the finals race, after having 'sealed' their finals presence last week; Green Gully, who now probably need to win both their remaining matches; and Pascoe Vale who, if Richmond get three points tonight, could be facing a relegation playoff match on Sunday - if relegation exists, of course, what with all this NPL Victoria speculation still doing the rounds.

On the flip side, Northcote have now sealed the minor premiership; South is a little closer to getting a finals berth, with the chance of perhaps getting a home game in week one; and Richmond has one more chance to try and get itself out of that relegation scenario mentioned above.

Of course, the players who scored goals in those games will have those expunged as well, and the goal difference stakes have also been changed. Not sure on yellow cards gained in those contests though.

So the situation for South has changed from this after last week's draw with Northcote, to the situation below.
  • If we beat Port, we're into the finals regardless of Gully's results - most likely finishing in fourth place and with an elimination final against Port or Gully.
  • If Gully wins both games, and we lose or draw to Port, we are out.
  • If Gully wins one game and draws the other, we need to at least draw with Port, and hope Gully's win is by no more than three goals.
  • One win and one loss for Gully means they are eliminated, unless they can make up the goal difference (+3 in South's favour, with more goals scored) in their win or South gets belted on Sunday.
  • Anything less than three points for Gully, and we don't have to do squat to make finals.
Once again, things will of course be much clearer after tonight's fixtures.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Fuck Everything - South Melbourne 1 Northcote City 1

The whole night was fucked. The refereeing was fucked. The linespeople were fucked. Security was fucked. The ground announcer was fucked - we don't need AFL progress scores, the VPL ones will do thank you very much. Our first twenty minutes or so was completely fucked, under the pump and sending ball flying forward more in hope than in the enforcement of an actual plan. Milos Lujic was fucked when he could have easily let him teammate get the ball instead of himself, and therefore getting pinned for offside. Brad Norton was fucked for giving that attempted pass off to Gavalas which caused us to fall behind. Even our goal was fucked, not for being achieved at all, but because when we had a chance soon after to hit a corner into the exact same spot at the back post, Nicky Soolsma hit it towards the near post. I made a complete pork chop of myself yesterday, so fuck me as well. Port's win against Dandenong was fucked. Oakleigh dying completely in the arse is fucked. This whole season has been fucked. And who knew it could get even more fucked?

Doing The Maths
Now, what could have been much more a case of destiny in our own hands is now a case of not only us needing to win, but being reliant on other results going our way as well. This it how stands now.

With our draw last night, and Port's win, the highest we can finish is fifth. Hume's loss to the Knights today ends their slim chance of making the finals, barring some absolutely freakish results, which now that certain things have happened (see below) are unlikely to occur.

So, our only competition for that remaining finals spot is Green Gully. Currently, we're one point ahead of them, and a two goal better goal difference. However, Green Gully have a game in hand, which they will play midweek. It's against Oakleigh, who out of the finals race for some time now, have seemingly well and truly put the cue in the rack.

Gully's last game is at home against the similarly out of the running Dandenong Thunder, who also have little to gain from their remaining matches. Meanwhile our game against Port is against an opponent with a theoretical though highly unlikely chance of getting the double chance.

So here's how it's panned out.
  • If Gully wins both games, we're stuffed even if we win our last game.
  • If Gully wins one game and draws the other, then we need to win on Sunday and rely on goal difference.
  • If Gully draws both of their games, then a draw of our own will be enough.
  • One draw and one loss to Gully means we can even afford to lose, as long as it's not a heavy loss.
  • Two losses to Gully (unlikely, I know) and we don't have to do squat.
Things will of course be much clearer after Wednesday night. But now there's also this to consider...

Dodgy Asian Betting (via Backpackistan)
By now you've all surely come across the Southern Stars match fixing fiasco, in which several of their players and their coach have been arrested.

Will this mean that Southern Stars will be expelled from the league, with all their results rendered null and void (i.e. 3-0 losses)? Without anything to go on other than a hunch, I doubt it. Imagine the can of worms that would open, considering that the parties concerned have yet to face their day in court - and no decision either on whether Stars' committee had any involvement and/or knowledge about this affair, or whether it only was limited to playing and coaching personnel.

I hope for our sake that none of our players - either those with us at the moment, or those who departed during the season - have had anything to do with these shenanigans. But there are people that are suggesting that this is the tip of the iceberg. Wait and see I suppose.

Then again, the FFV have come out with their own statement, claiming that along with the FFA, they "will finalise appropriate action to be taken against Southern Stars Football Club over the coming days" and that they "are currently assessing any implications associated with the 2013 VPL finals series and will make an announcement tomorrow."

Steve From Broady's Under 21s Report
As the game was played at 4:00 rather than 6:00, and our intrepid reporter couldn't manage to get out to Lakeside that early, his match report is based on what was relayed to him later on by someone else.

South Melbourne's under 21s played top of the table Northcote City on Saturday afternoon. Northcote were three points away from the championship and South were trying to avoid the wooden spoon (for fuck's sake, bit of an exaggeration there or what - Ed) . Northcote City kicked off and dominated from the get go, creating great chances and after half an hour they took the lead and it wasn't long after that that Northcote scored again to make it 2-0, and it stayed like that until half time. Northcote dominated the second half but didn't add to the score - it finished 2-0 to Northcote, who were crowned champions for the 2013 season.

Steve From Broady's Canteen Report
It was the last visit to the South food van for 2013 on Saturday night. The souv was wrapped in foil this week for the first time - maybe this was due to the cup game against Preston when my souv fell to shit and ended up on the athletics track? My souv on Saturday night was good, but it still was short of perfection. I give the final souv of 2013 at Lakeside an 8 out of 10. Hopefully next season South have there own social club and can take the food up a notch to an epic 10 out of 10. Next week we go to Port Melbourne on the last day of the season, with the Port canteen a chance to get a 10 - it should be an epic end to the VPL food championship, until then get a parma into ya!!!!!

  1. Pascoe Vale 10/10
  2. Melbourne Knights 9.9/10
  3. Oakleigh Cannons 9.5/10
  4. Hume City 8/10
  5. Bentleigh Greens 7/10
  6. Richmond 6.5/10
  7. Northcote City 3.5/10
  8. Southern Stars 2/10
  9. Green Gully 1/10
  10. Dandenong DQ 
South food truck
  • Week 1 - 4.5/10
  • Week 2 - 7/10
  • Week 3 - 8.5/10
  • Week 4 - 5/10
  • Week 5 - 5.5/10
  • Week 6 - 9/10
  • Week 7 - 6/10
  • Week 8 - 7.5/10
  • Week 9 - 8/10
  • Week 10 - 9/10
  • Week 11 - 8/10
Final Average Score
  • 7/10
Next Week
Minor shades of 2011 with a pretty fucked up last round of the home and away season game against Port Melbourne, at Port Melbourne. The prize if we win, and if  results fall our way? Fifth place and an elimination final against... Port Melbourne, at Port Melbourne.

Around the Grounds
A pretty fucked up finish to the Altona East - Keilor Park game yesterday. After falling behind to a brilliant free kick, East equalised with a powerful and well placed header. Then they got one of the most fucked up penalties I've ever seen - seriously, the entire crowd was laughing at it - which Andy Bourakis scored, before Keilor got what looked like another fucked up penalty for handball very late in the game (which they converted), making me think that it was square up for the earlier fuck up.

Final Thought
How shit were we that we couldn't even beat a team that was allegedly match fixing?

Friday, 13 September 2013

These Previews Are Getting Worse By The Week - Round 21, 2013 - South vs Hercules

A reminder that this week's game is on Saturday at 8:00, not Sunday as has been the case for most of our home matches this week.

Before getting into this week's preview, a little bit from my tortured adolescence. In the myriad stereotypes and boxes one can find oneself put in during your secondary school years, one of the epithets I managed to drag around with me through six years of high school was of the guy that had 'potential'. And while I suppose there's worse things that can happen to a person - and hell, some of those have happened to me - each person has to carry their own cross, no?

For a long time I've realised that the problem with high expectations is that you're supposed to live up to them, regardless of who created them. Perennially shithouse, that's the way to do it - aim so low that no will care if you miss. That's what this blog has been about, plodding away in obscurity, with the occasional flash of what others may or may not consider brilliance. Attempts at owning those alleged moments of brilliance by building upon them are mostly disregarded. Happily pottering away in my tiny corner of the internet has always been more satisfying, or so I keep telling myself.

And yet, when it comes to park footballers, specifically the park footballers who represent the club that I support, here I am expecting semi-professional, work by day, train by night footballers to produce consistently excellent work on a weekly basis. And then berate them, and chastise them and yes, even abuse them when they fail to live up their potential, regardless of what their potential as individuals and as a unit may realistically be.

Part of it is due to Seneca's collision of a wish with an unyielding reality, something that so many sports fans have to deal with, and yet a mistake that keeps on getting made. Still, there is hope for individuals, if not the collective, as long we keep working on acknowledging that the world owes us no favours, and that there is no divine right granted for our team to do better this week than they did last week.

One of our readers and occasional accidental contributors, Pavlaki, had an interesting exchange on the matter of this week's game against ladder leading Northcote. On, Pavlaki predicted, perhaps out of a genuine belief in its occurring, or because perhaps because he felt the call of the absurd, that we would beat Northcote 5-0 this week. He was called out on that claim, and subsequently adjusted it, acknowledging that 2013 South keeping a clean sheet is beyond absurd.

Like pretty much any of our impending fixtures on the run home, nothing can be taken out of our performances from the first half of the season. Totally different team, different situation. We need six points from our last two games to make a certainty of making the finals. Expecting a lot of attacking football, lots of mistakes, and a lot of tension. In that spirit, I'm breaking my habit of not making predictions, and tipping a 6-4 win to South, if only because I don't want to outdone on the absurdity stakes.

Under 21s Fixture Time Changed
It has been moved back from its original 6:00PM kickoff time to 4:00PM. The curtain raiser to the main game will be apparently be some cops vs SMFC legends game or something.

2013 MVP Night
Scheduled for 22nd September, after the match against Port in the final round. More details here. We really need to make finals now, or else how messed up will this function be?

NPL Victoria - Nick Monteleone Fires Back
Finally back from an overseas trip, FFV president Nick Monteleone has sent out this address to the Victorian soccer community.

There are several items worth nothing from this piece. Firstly that the FFV claims to still have the support of the FFA. The clubs at one stage were claiming vociferously that if anything, it was the clubs who had the ear of the FFA, not the FFV. Though those claims still emanate from some quarters, they no longer seem to be coming from the coalition of the unwilling. A change in rhetoric, or the realisation that they overplayed their hand? The FFV has also claimed to have sorted out the issues with regards to representations made to them by Parks and Leisure Australia.

An apparent clarification of the zonal system. This is a bit of straw man argument from the FFV. I assume that everyone knew that senior recruitment can occur from outside the zone. The two actual issues here a) are that junior zoning means that some zones will be naturally weaker than others regardless of how standardised the coaching becomes, and b) that the player points system compels clubs to use their own youth products, who come from where? Their own zone of course.

The bank guarantee claim is interesting. Here, Monteleone makes the claim that this is standard practice, and not mandatory in case. The issue though leads into the fact that the clubs will be expected to move into a licence agreement as opposed to an affiliation agreement.

I'm also interested in the small sided football and junior fee claims. There's an acknowledgement of the fact that all the other states do their thing differently when it comes to small sided football, and that the FFV is able to go its own way - and they've explained in the past that it's about separating community and elite clubs and eliminating selection bias.

There's no acknowledgment of the fact that clubs will be decimated by this approach though. Not just financially (though that's obviously a factor), but culturally and socially. But at no point do the FFV give any leeway on this issue. On this matter the two sides are at an ideological impasse.

When it comes to fees, and the viability of the clubs going forward, there is little detail other rhetorical skirmishing. The successful licensees will sort themselves out. No mention though of why the FFV decided to budge from it's original maximum fee plan of less than $1,000, to the now $1,700 mark. That's a massive increase. Considering the financial chaos that the FFV has found itself in of late, I'm wary of taking anything they say on viability at face value.

The question that must be asked for me, and I don't see it being asked by people supporting the coalition of the unwilling - what if the FFV are right? Not on all or most issues, but on the issues that count? What happens then? The cockiness from the anti-side has been disturbing from the get go, though it's been toned down a smidge from official channels.

Equally disturbing has been the way that South has tried to claim the public face of the anti-crew. Now, I was quite happy with the way South were dealing with this matter initially - the whole work with the authorities approach, then make a judgment as if it's best for us to go into this thing, and if not, work with the other clubs with a certain sense of humility. I guess I was expecting too much.

Now, both sides of the issue want to put out their propaganda any way they can, with the requisite spin, omissions and obfuscations. One of the more curious aspects of this situation though are those South fans who fall outside of the official anti-NPLV/FFV channels, who prior to South changing its mind on the NPL Victoria process, were dismissive of the other clubs and their lack of progressiveness - and who have now moved so far into the opposite rhetorical branch that their credibility (such as it was) has been rendered entirely worthless.

However there are South people who have been good on this issue - I think Benjamin (of the FourFourTwo forum) and Arthur (FourFourTwo forum and have been excellent, maintaining a literate, balanced and thoughtful approach to the issues throughout their development. There are others, though, who have not covered themselves in glory.

My fear is that perhaps I've been one of them. Hoping that this isn't the case doesn't mean that I have been perceived in that way. So while there's obviously the larger scale issue of what will happen to the clubs and the competition itself, there's also the narcissistic side issue of the credibility of individual contributors - and how we'll come out of this after the war is won, whichever side wins.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times

Let's see what happened over the last week or so.

  • The Dockerty State Wide Knockout Cup was played, and won by Green Gully over Dandenong Thunder. Gully were presented with the State Wide Knockout Dockerty Cup for doing so. Confused? Why should you be confused by the actions of an organisation which has promoted an A-League team's special junior membership season ticket offer more than it did for one of its own showpiece events for the season.
  • Speaking of the A-League, old mate Patrick Kisnorbo has ended up at Melbourne Heart. You may recall that in this article that we reported how someone else reported that Kisnorbo wanted a lot of money. Bleed them dry, Patty.
  • When I went to go on the Victory forum to see them gloating with their usual 'yoof!' catch cry (or to do it first myself), it turned out their forum had been hacked. What's the future for that site? I don't know. I hardly visited there any more, all the debates that were worth having (in a manner of speaking) were sorted out a long time ago, in everyone's else's favour, of course.
  • More Syson vs Lynch hysterics on Twitter last week, which lasted for a good 3-4 days this time, as people dropped in and out before eventually getting bored. Bloggers from all over the place, fellow Fairfax hacks, people who hate Ian Syson (and there's a lot of those on the net it seems) - just who didn't get sucked into that vortex of stupidity? Incidentally, this latest edition of their feud was kicked off by Lynch's paranoid response to a Bonita Mersiades tweet. Was anything solved or sorted out? I don't know. Things got so absurd at one stage that I was even dubbed 'the nation's most under-appreciated football writer' in Joe Gorman's rather good article on the matter, and 'a funny man and if only he could be tamed he'd be a great columnist' by another writer. It lead to a moderate boost in my Twitter following, which was good for my ego I guess.
  • Elias Donoudis blathered on more about the shadowy (yet full of morally upright Hellatzides) group looking to take over the board, without saying much at all.
  • Bob Jane T-Marts is back on board as a sponsor.
  • I went and saw Altona East beat Westgate 2-0 in a catch up game. Ex-South player Andy Bourakis scored one of the goals, a first minute penalty.
  • Ex-South junior Peter Skapetis has apparently pledged his future to Australia.
  • Back to the FFV for a moment, some of the zone reps have apparently called for an EGM to get rid of the current board.
  • In addition to that, the NPL keeps on keeping on, but some people at Bulleen aren't so happy about their club's direction. They're looking to get their own special meeting thing going, if the link is correct.
So all in all, a pretty quiet week in Victorian soccer. This week, back to the horror that is the real world of actual on field South Melbourne action.

Friday, 6 September 2013

My Eyes! The Goggles Do Nothing!

I'm still not over Peter Gavalas' error last week against the Knights. It doesn't help when you have a week off to think about it either. Without any sense of hyperbole, it has single handedly ruined our season. It may have also been quite possibly the worst mistake ever made by anyone associated with South Melbourne in our 54 year history. I'd go further, but records before that are too sketchy to make definitive statements.

But instead of complaining about it, maybe we should actually do something to make sure it never happens again. Here are some ideas I think we should consider.

It seems so simple. They were even handing one out with every membership, and thanks to the FFV's mandatory constitutional reforms from a couple of years back, just about anyone who's sneezed within vicinity of a South game is now a member, and that includes the players. So anyway, back to the hat. It's blue, has a South logo, and 'member' written on the back, without a year listed, probably to save money. It looks kinda crap, but are we here to win titles, or are we here to look good? Since I personally gave up trying to look good circa 1997, let's assume it's the former. I'm also open to the idea of getting someone to sew on a bit of cloth on the back, make it into a legionnaire's cap, for that primary school chic. If that kind of thing matters to you, of course.

Sun Hat
While it may come across as unwieldy, the advantage of this is you get more coverage all around the head area, and even some protection of the neck area, meaning no sunburn. The sun hat also lends itself more to accessorising - maybe add a feather or a flower, perhaps use it to start planning ideas for the spring horse racing season? Still, I'd probably go for the legionnaire's cap option over this one, unless it leads to South releasing a branded sombrero.

  • Will help you keep warm in winter.
  • Will provide you with a certain level of anonymity after another stuff up.
  • While making you anonymous, it will also simultaneously make you look like more of a bad ass, which may mean that angry fans will think you're some sort of psycho , and will therefore be less likely to confront you from over the fence (and in our case, running track). Opposition big men are also less likely to challenge you in the air. Of course that didn't matter so much last week, but you get my point.
  • May lead to those old Perth Glory derived Con Boutsianis/We're Gonna Rob A Bank chants making a comeback.
  • Won't block out the sun. 
I could go either way on this one.

Welding Mask
Seriously, you can look directly at an eclipse wearing these things. Also useful in the event you have a really dull game, such as the Southern Stars game from the start of the season, and you find yourself with a bit of a chance to catch up with some spot welding. There is a downside though, apart from being a cumbersome item to carry around during a match (hence me ditching the idea of maybe using a leadsuit). And the downside is that communication with the defence would obviously get a bit harder. Then again, Pete Gavalas isn't one of the loudest goalkeepers I've ever heard in my time following the game, so it's hard to tell whether in this case it would be such a disadvantage.

Block Out The Sun
I admit, this is a bit of an extreme idea, but we're here to win championships, aren't we? The thing is, if it worked, I wouldn't be worried about the expense. But then you'd have to turn the lights on, and while Eddie McGuire's covered the cost of that (thanks champ!), you'd then have to worry about Gavalas losing the ball in the bright floodlights.

Play Someone Else In Goal
Now you're just being stupid.

Seriously, Who'd Be A Goalkeeper?
Did you see the replay of that goal? The way the wind caught hold of the free kick in mid-flight? That's some pretty messed up stuff up right there.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Moments of Madness - Melbourne Knights 2 South Melbourne 1

I feel gutted by this result.

The result and the manner it was achieved are not the reasons why this report is late - I spent most of today marking papers - but I wouldn't blame anyone for thinking otherwise.

A football match goes for 90 odd minutes. Maybe 30 of those are entirely inconsequential, with the ball out of play, or at rest. Most of the rest is build up, or recovery, no real danger of anything important happening.

So is it right or fair to say that this match was decided by maybe 10 seconds of action? Five seconds at one end, five at the other? How much of a game is viewed retrospectively? As what looked like an innocuous free kick floated towards Gavalas, is it right to say something felt wrong about halfway through that passage of play? Or is that hindsight taking over? Could a materialistic (in the philosophical sense) atheist such as myself start believing in premonitions because of high balls aimed at Peter Gavalas? Or has it become just muscle memory informed by at best semi-conscious statistical heart in mouth stuff?

Pete Gavalas made some good saves again. But that's not the problem. And even if the sun did get into his eyes, the horror of watching him deal with that high ball in the absolute worst possible manner - almost letting the free kick float into the net before palming into the path of a Knights player - was unbearable for this and other long suffering supporters. I can't even imagine what it's like for the goalkeeper himself, living every custodian's worst nightmare, and not for the first time this season.

The thing is though, we still went into halftime at 1-1 thanks to Tyson Holmes' first goal in ages, and looking to play the second half with the wind advantage. And we may have even gone into halftime with the lead. Where I was standing, I was in the absolute worst position to judge whether Trent Rixon's disallowed goal was offside. Trent's on the record as saying that it wasn't, but I guess we'll have to let the video hopefully decide again.

The wind made this game messier than it might have been, and the Knights handled it better for the most part. Our second half wasn't as good as our first, and both sides missed chances, until the Knights took the lead again. I still can't quite believe how Luke Hopper blasted his shot over the bar, when all it needed was for it to be curled in at the back post, nor how whoever took that shot from inside the edge of the box missed everything, goals, defenders, the lot. Late on we finally settled down, and made a late charge, but it wasn't enough. Our defensive efforts were more no nonsense than most recent efforts. But we also played a very high line in the first half that saw a lot of close offside calls.

Late in the game, Gavalas' moment of madness was almost matched by Knights keeper Chris May. Out wide, May didn't get enough purchase onto his kick, and it ended up at the feet of Alan Kearney - who probably should have been subbed on a lot earlier - at the edge of the centre circle. Kearney's shot towards the empty net, possibly our only shot on target in the second half, was almost perfectly placed, but May managed to scramble across and palm it over for a corner.

So what does it all mean? The loss sees us fall outside the five, level with fifth placed Green Gully on 31 points - but Gully also have a game in hand. Two wins should get us in, and if things fall absolutely our way, maybe even still a possibility of the double chance. But that's asking for a bit much. Getting into the finals at this stage would be considered a minor miracle.

The problem is we'll have to beat a Northcote side which, while they've secured the double chance, will be wanting to also win the minor premiership with the moral victory that entails. Then we'll have to beat Port away. Hume is also a couple of points behind us, and not completely out of the running, though they face the top two sides in the last two weeks and have a woeful goal difference.

I don't know. I guess I'm just scratching around for something to look forward to. We're not out of it yet, but my goodness yesterday's loss things harder.

Steve From Broady's Under 21s Report
South Melbourne's under 21s played rivals Melbourne Knights at Knights Stadium on Sunday. South sitting fourth last were struggling to find form going almost two months without a win. The Knights kicked off on a sunny afternoon and they dominated early getting, into good positions and creating great chances to take the lead.

In the 20th minute the Knights early dominance paid off as their number 10 broke through the South defence and placed the ball beautifully in the bottom left corner to give the Knights a 1-0 lead. Four minutes later the Knights had another chance at goal, the ball was crossed in low, the South keeper made a soft effort to get to it, and the ball found its way to Knights' number 11 who toe-poked the ball into the back of the net to give the Knights a 2-0 lead.

Three minutes later a South defender brought down a Knights player in the box and the ref awarded a penalty to the Knights. The Knights' number 10 stepped up and put the ball nicely in the bottom left corner to give the knights a 3-0 lead. South got a goal back just before half time when Francis Solano pumped the ball long to Baggio Yousif. Baggio took one touch and knocked the ball past the keeper and then ran into an empty net and slotted home to make the score 3-1 to the Knights as the lads went in for the half time break.

South kicked off the second half and the boys had taken some confidence from their late goal in the first half into the second half dominating the first 30 minutes of the second half. In the 60th minute Baggio was brought down in the box by a Knights defender and the ref awarded South a penalty. Baggio stepped up to the spot and converted coolly down the middle to reduce the Knights' lead to just one goal. South pushed for an equalising goal but it never come. In the 79th minute the Knights' number 11 broke down the South defence and scored a simple goal to give the Knights the win. It finished 4-2 in the Knights favour. South now slip down to 11th on the table. South host already crowed champions Northcote City at Lakeside on Saturday week at 6:00PM, until then, get around it.

Steve From Broady's Canteen Report
I was at Knights Stadium on Sunday afternoon. I received an invitation to eat inside their social club. I got a mixed grill which was pretty decent. I then wandered over to their canteen try a cevapi roll - it was stuffed so much it was almost bursting at the seams - that shit was legendary. I give the Melbourne Knights canteen a 9.9 the surprise packet of the season, almost knocking Pascoe Vale off their perch. Back at the South food van in two weeks, can they finally crack the perfect 10? All will be revealed then, until then, keep on eating.
  1. Pascoe Vale 10/10
  2. Melbourne Knights 9.9/10
  3. Oakleigh Cannons 9.5/10
  4. Hume City 8/10
  5. Bentleigh Greens 7/10
  6. Richmond 6.5/10
  7. Northcote City 3.5/10
  8. Southern Stars 2/10
  9. Green Gully 1/10
  10. Dandenong DQ 
South food truck
  •  Week 1 - 4.5/10
  • Week 2 - 7/10
  • Week 3 - 8.5/10
  • Week 4 - 5/10
  • Week 5 - 5.5/10
  • Week 6 - 9/10
  • Week 7 - 6/10
  • Week 8 - 7.5/10
  • Week 9 - 8/10
  • Week 10 - 9/10

Next Week
Nada. Week off for catch up games and the cup final.

Our next game is on Saturday 14th September, our last home game of the season. It's against Northcote. It doesn't get any easier, does it?

Around the Grounds
Friday night was spent out as SS Anderson Reserve. Bentleigh beat the Sharks 2-0, a thoroughly deserved win. Two almost identical first half goals, and a few botched chances to the Greens were the scant highlights of this game. Port did nothing. Honestly, they are perhaps the most boring team to watch in the league. Green Gully might grind out results, but at least they seem to care, and provide their share of crunching thug tackles during a match. Boring, but at least they give you a reason to hate them, which means there's some emotion in the contest. Port were down 2-0 and could barely muster the will to get a shot on target. The second half in particular was quite a pointless exercise. The most interesting thing about said second half were the randoms (Knights fans?) giving stick to Port defender Peter Roberts for reasons unknown.

Saturday afternoon was spent out at Brunswick City, with home side entertaining Altona East. Entertaining is probably not the right word. This was a pretty ugly game, on an ugly pitch, with one team getting the job done in an ugly way, while the other team did fuck all for most of it. Brunswick City won this fixture 2-0, courtesy of two first half goals to Kyle Joryeff, who took advantage of two loose balls in the box. Also in the Brunswick City lineup were Rhodri Payne as a defensive mid, Andy Sfetcopoulos in goals (still wearing pants; not taking his own goal kicks) and Arthur Tsonis, who was taking those goal kicks, and wearing the absurd number of 96 on his jersey. Apparently there was also an ex-South 18s player out there as well. In terms of former South players, East could only muster Andy Bourakis - Lester Abalos having wrecked his Achilles tendon I think it was back in pre-season.

Ex-South defender Arthur Tsonis, about to take a freekick for Brunswick City against Altona East.
Photo: Paul Mavroudis.
The biggest news to come out of that fixture was Brunswick's canteen. Now I reckon the Altona East souv is the best souv in Victorian soccer, and while I don't think there's any home club bias there, it's easy to see how people may take that view. But for my money, the Brunswick souv used to be on par with the East souv. Sadly, like Richmond before them, a change in canteen management has seen their souv offering take a massive hit. Considering that was half the reason I trundled out there - and thanks to a police request at Flinders Street/Spencer Street stopping trains from moving through North Melbourne, it took forever to get there - I was very disappointed.

Kiss of Death, Found Alive!
The Kiss of Death has been missing action for most of this season. All of a sudden it appears on Twitter! You can follow them on @KODFootball.

Final Thought
I did not appreciate the attitude of the security person (Port official?) at the gate on Friday night, who complained about people getting in for free due to FFV passes and such. Not my problem buddy. Take it up with the FFV who hand out all these passes. Maybe get more Port Melbourne and Bentleigh people to turn up, instead of having half the (small) crowd made up of neutrals. It's sad when I turn up to a neutral ground and even I recognise half the people there.