Sunday, 30 November 2014

Novermber 2014 digest

Some of the things that happened in November.

I'm reliably told that when we do it, it's called recruiting, not poaching.
Bonel 'Bones' Obradovic, central midfielder from Oakleigh, also ex-Northcote. Milos Lujic seems particularly pleased with this signing. David Stirton, a forward of sorts, arrives from Bentleigh Greens - maybe he wasn't Queenslander enough to play there. Luke Adams, a Kiwi defender with an Aussie passport. Also Andy Brennan from South Hobart. Brennan is a forward/winger, and the standout player in Tasmania over the past few years. This will be his second stint in the Victorian topflight, after his 2013 stint with Bentleigh was ruined by an osteitis pubis injury.

Chris Taylor has also been signed to what the club is calling a 'long term' deal, without specifying what long term means. The inference seems to be that Taylor will also be doing something like a technical director's role, which seems funny to me, because I thought that the roles of senior head coach and technical directors at NPL clubs were supposed to be separate by now.

Lastly, assistant coach Graham Hockless has left for Queensland. His replacement will be the recently retired Tsiaras. Some more obsessive and/or observant readers of South related media may have noted that I hinted towards that signing on the South Facebook page. Honestly, it was a lucky guess. Also, the meaning of the word 'honestly' has now changed.

Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it/When everyone's special, no one is/That's not enough! We demand MORE asbestos! MORE asbestos! MORE asbestos!
First up, we have the addition to NPL1 of Eastern Jets/Nunawading-without- anyone-from-the-real-Nunawading/Dr Angelo Postekos' Football Young Talent Time Superstar XFactor Dream Factory, and Murray United, who had already been granted licences from the original contingent of applicants with a year's delay so they could get up to speed in their own time. Then, because of the deal the FFV was forced into with the Coalition of the Unwilling last year, Moreland City and Eastern Lions - the winners of their respective State League 1 divisions have accepted the opportunity to move into NPL1. But no Preston. Seriously. They didn't win their respective title - they blew it in the last two rounds. If they're good enough, maybe they can join in 2016.

Also, Victory and Heart's youth teams are into the NPL Victoria, but not in our division - they'll start in NPL1, which is now split into two conferences, East and West. Everyone plays everyone in their own conference twice, and the teams from the other side once. It's like an oldskool NFL season, only with more chance of teams going bust and worse facilities that teams will be begging local governments to upgrade. Anyway, back to Victory and Heart. Some people will no doubt be aware that players from NPL teams, like our own Andy Kecojevic, play for those teams in National Youth League season (if you can call that handful of a games a season). Will those players choose to stick it out with their 'winter' clubs, or will they move across to their holiday house A-League setups on a permanent basis?

And also, are there enough facilities for everyone? Are there enough players? Are there enough coaches? Is there enough money?

Or, in other words...

Or, as a very wise man on said...
Can't see the problem here.
The clubs voted for this system/structure.
The clubs sued the FFV for this.
The clubs voted for all clubs to be given a fair and equal consideration.
The only thing the FFV have done is implement what the clubs wanted.
Are we suggesting that some clubs are more equal than others??
I wonder if the results of the South Melbourne fans survey, even if just given in a gist, will ever be released? Probably more chance of the FFV's NPL facilities audit being made public. Also, when's the AGM?

On honouring soccer's Australian history, even those stupid wogs who spent 27 years in that trench warfare filled cesspit of history called the NSL. Did I mention the NSL sucked? Also, let's put the museum in Sydney.
Museums. They're actually complicated things to fund, locate and set up. For instance, where should history be stored and presented? Can a nation's soccer heritage be stored and presented effectively in just one location? What benefits are there in putting non-Sydney histories in Sydney, away from their origins? If non-Sydney centric materials aren't sent to Sydney, would a national soccer museum based in Sydney end up telling an almost inevitably Sydney centric version of history? What is the role of historians for Australian soccer? Is it to confront the myths and mythologisers or is it to jump onto whichever bandwagon is in charge at the time, in the hope of gaining more patronage, and isn't that something that could be asked of so many people in the game right now? What's the story they and/or we want to tell about Australia's soccer history, and who'll get to tell it?

Here are some of the thoughts I made on a Kevin Moore keynote address about the founding of England's National Football Museum, many of which would need to be considered I think in any attempt to recreate such an enterprise here:
First up was the keynote address by Kevin Moore, from England's National Football Museum. How do you create a museum for the entirety of the game, in a nation that has such fervour for the game? It's not easy. But Kevin Moore says you start off by not targeting it at die hard football fans, because they'll turn up anyway.
Because you see football as part of broader society, you don't try and gloss over all the negatives in the game's history, including the stadium tragedies, the violence, racism, misogyny and homophobia, no matter how distasteful these issues are to some. You provide an outlet for people to create and provide their own memories, within reason.
You do not make yourself the be all and end all of historical preservation. You work with local communities to find ways of preserving local history locally, and only step in to preserve history as a last resort. You try and tell stories, not just provide facts and figures. You recognise the importance of topophilia, but you do not become a slave to it, in part because football topophilia can be expressed in several ways.
In summary, Kevin Moore provided a very interesting look at the development of the National Football Museum, from its beginnings in Preston to its move to Manchester. Moore talked about the difficulties in securing funding, the fact that there is no national sports museum in England, and that the museum in some ways has to compete against Premier League club museums, which seek to tell a very different, hagiographic story, and which are often not standalone enterprises, but part of the 'stadium experience'.
The key parts for me are about hagiographies and local histories.With regards to the latter in particular, the emphasis should be on teaching local institutions - clubs, federations, local councils, whatever's relevant - how to maintain and preserve their own local histories locally. Australian soccer is such a diverse experience that to move it all into Parramatta (hypothetically) would be denying local people from being able to learn and add to their own soccer narratives, while replicating a top down approach to preserving history.

On the other hand...
Is the writer of the original article actually being serious? Considering he has to have a dig at the past for reasons I'm not sure of - except, possibly, because it's the right/cool/expected thing to do if you're not Joe Gorman, who is addicted to the street cred one gets as Anglo-Australian soccer fan hanging out with bitter wogs; at least that's my extrapolation of some stupid comment I read responding to one of his posts in The Guardian, probably the article on Middle Park -  I don't see the point, if that's going to be the dominant attitude. I mean, is it really going be worthwhile having a museum which will be:
  1. Kings School vs Wanderers
  2. Football doesn't exist outside of Sydney and, at a pinch, Newcastle.
  3. 1974 Socceroos.
  4. Huge gap due to ethnic strife.
  5. Frank Lowy is grouse and stuff.
At least I learned what the word 'internecine' means.

Victorian Election Part 1 (Number 1 ticket holder vs wheeled after five years of waiting for the social club vs the bloke who put his hand up and then said for Number 1 ticket holder anyway).
Well, after a tough race between the shadow arts minister and current sitting member Martin Foley, and the Liberal candidate wheeled out when the Liberals finally signed the lease - and Tex Perkins, who once Foley said Labor would fund the repair and restoration of the Palais, said basically you don't need to vote for me anymore - it looks like at this stage that Foley will get retain the seat of Albert Park. Now where's the fuck is our social club?

Victorian Election Part 2 (Someone's crusin' for a bruisin'/Next year in Jerusalem) 

Speaking of the social club.
In case you missed it
Me and Pave Jusup  talking about how much the NCIP sucks. Ian Syson is more ambivalent about it. Roy Hay thinks it's grouse.

Does not compute/pots and kettles/γαϊδούρια και πετινούς
So apparently earlier this month Perth Glory played a Cheltenham based souvlaki joint in the semi-finals of some kind of nationwide soccer tournament. Anyone got any idea what that was about? And to make things really absurd, the bloke who wrote this, is now noting in this article the patronising souvlaki commentary. YOU COULD NOT MAKE THIS SHIT UP.

Bitter is as bitter as does/Fuck this cunt and his never-ending lap of honour/"And how we just made fun of those who had the guts to try and fail"
A lot of people have been getting all misty eyed over the apparent retirement of Les Murray (the soccer pundit, not the poet, and the fact that I'm not as spiteful of the latter as I am of the former these days is disturbing). As for myself, the first thing that's thrown me is that I thought that Laszlo was already more or less retired, because when was he on TV anyway? Was he on The World Game while it was still buried at 11pm on SBS2 on whatever day it was scheduled? Anyway, people have been lining up to offer their praises on a worthwhile career promoting the game, and more power to them and to him, as he did put in the hard yards over the journey. However, one bit of misplaced praise in this grizzled nostalgia fueled marathon has really pissed me off, and that's the recent line Les has been trying to spin about being a friend of the ethnic clubs, and 'why oh why are we so mean to them?'

And of all people to be asking the question in the most recent notable case, it had to be Mark Bosnich. The same Mark Bosnich who can't decide if we should  or shouldn't have ethnic clubs in the A-League. Now the reason of course that I get upset at Murray's commentary is because SBS - the supposed promoter of multiculturalism and of migrant communities - has in my most honest and considered opinion (as seen through red mists of rage and possibly incidentally coinciding with Ezequiel Trumper's thoughts on this matter) long forfeited any right to speak on behalf of Australia's ethnic communities. And this is not just because SBS has long exorcised non-English language programming off its prime time schedule on its primary station, and filled SBS2 with American sitcom repeats. It's because when it came time for SBS's soccer pundits - including Murray - to stand up and defend the migrant and ethnic soccer milieu from its detractors, they were found wanting.

For me, the most glaring example is of course the hatchet job Southern Cross A-League bid profile, a piece so vile that even one of the people behind our then rival bids for A-League expansion (Canberra United) could only shake his head at how bizarre it was. If that sounds like I've got a massive chip on my shoulder, so be it, but I don't think there's any need to apologise for holding that stance. I'm not going to begrudge anyone that wants to get a little misty eyed for Les' final bow, but as for me, this bloke sums up my feelings on the matter.

There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about
Those crazy Melbourne Keniggets fans. Some of them seem to like talking about South even more than I do. More of it, I say.

You can always sleep through work tomorrow
- OK, I'm done.
- You're done?
- Yeah, there's no point in dragging this crap out any longer. Do you want to do the thing?
- Sure. You're reading South of the Border, the South Melbourne Hellas blog that hates old people just because it can.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


In a forthcoming post about everything (well almost everything) that had happened during November, I was going to ask the question 'WHERE ARE MY (AND GAINS' AND HIS MATE CHRIS') FUCKING ASIAN CUP TICKETS YOU FUCKING CUNTS?' except not like that, but rather more like 'Where are my Asian Cup tickets?', because there's no need to get worked up over it, even though they said September, then October and then when I rang them last week 'if you don't get them by early December, give us a call'. Right.

I was going to go COMPLETELY OFF TAP whatever that means, taking aim at everyone vaguely responsible - the local Asian Cup organising committee, Australia Post, even that bloody wombat named after a spice which can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes and don't you dare tell me that it can't. Tripod said it could in a song about Adelaide being shit, and who are you to disagree?

Anyway, I even speculated that the following would have happened before I got my tickets delivered.
  • South will have held an AGM.
  • South will have apologised to the Hamiltons and permanently adopted the heritage jersey for away matches, putting it in the constitution and thus making it incontestable.
  • South will been granted entry into the A-League, as South Melbourne playing in blue and/or white, and playing all games out of Melbourne and/or Darcy Street/North Hobart Oval/Launceston/Souvlaki Stadium.
  • Les Murray's farewell tour will have ended.
  • The social club will have been completeda dn ready for use, after officially being opened by Frank Lowy.
But lo and behold, yesterday my dad brought in a waterlogged card saying that I could pick up a package tomorrow at the Duke Street post office in Altona North, and I got very excited. And then after awhile, I kinda thought, 'maybe it's not the tickets. Maybe it's my copy of the inaugural edition of Leopold Method which is being mailed out this week'. Well that killed my buzz a bit, but there was only one thing to do - go to the damn post office and get the package.

And so here we are.
The envelope was severely waterlogged, the fancy case had some damage on the sides, but thank goodness the tickets - which are moderately attractive - managed to arrive in excellent condition. So, Gains, you can relax now just a smidge. And Steve from Broady, you can keep waiting for your cricket world cup tickets to arrive. 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Book Review - David Winner's Brilliant Orange

David Winner's Brilliant Orange, an idiosyncratic look at Dutch football and its culture, is one of the more unusual soccer books I have ever read. (I read the updated version, which includes a chapter on the 2010 World Cup; the original book was published in 2000). It's unusual because it is a football book which is not necessarily about football, but about a cultural mindset, and the history which had to occur to create that mindset - the transformation of an inherently conservative country into one that's equated with the most brazen sort of liberalness.

Brilliant Orange, at least as far as I'm concerned, asks two important questions. Firstly, how much can sport represent or be representative of the particular cultural aspects of a nation? Secondly, can the pursuit of intellectualism and the arts be not just reconciled with sport, but also influence each other to the enhancement of both?

Winner tries to examine how Dutch football emerged from its entertaining but backward amateur era, and how it ended up with this small nation becoming the world leader in both attaining results (World Cup failures aside) but also beautiful football and revolutionary tactics. To that end, Winner opens up with an intriguing comparison of Dutch concepts of landscaping, space and architecture, and the development of Total Football. In it, Winner sees the influence of Dutch 17th century art and the necessarily efficient use of space by the Dutch as essential components of that tactical development.

At times it feels like Winner is shoehorning his argument, using retrospective analysis to make his point. This is inevitable, but he overcomes the worst excesses of this phenomenon with the help of several of his interviewees, not all of whom are footballers or coaches, let alone even fans of the game. I must admit I was reluctant to read this book. I haven't been interested in overseas soccer for close to a decade, and I especially wasn't interested in another hagiography of the brilliance of Total Football.

But to my surprise, by about page sixty I was hooked. Yes, there are hagiographic moments, but there is also a great amount of dissent as well. For every Johan Cruyff who is all about artistry being foremost, there is a contemporary of his who makes the point that the game is about winning. Caught in the middle of these debates, which are as much about perception and nostalgia as well as ideology - there are those like Louis Van Gaal, who are in a hopeless position.

While wanting to use the talents and strengths of the Ajax system to his advantage to get results, Van Gaal is forced by the footballing circumstances of the mid 1990s - bigger, faster, stronger and better organised defences - to negate the excesses of that method. He is then accused of turning something beautiful into something mechanistic; turning what in the 1970s was an attitude into a highly disciplined system. The reality that modern football just doesn't allow talented players to slalom their way through 3-4 players at a time is a reality that the old timers don't have to deal with.

The book is idiosyncratic in several ways, with a mostly positive effect (aside from its nonsense chapter numbering system). Apart from one drawing showing the effect of a Dennis Bergkamp pass, there are no diagrams. The reader is therefore compelled to imagine the field of play during those moments. There is also a huge emphasis on Ajax at the expense of almost every other Dutch club. In part this is because Ajax are the most successful Dutch club and the pioneers of Total Football, but Winner is also interested in the city as well. In terms of other clubs, only Heerenveen manage to get anything resembling a thorough profile.

What might the inclusion of Feyenoord and PSV have done to the book? A certain element of working class perspective could have done this book some good, but by doing so, would it also have destroyed the nature of what the book is? The absence of Ajax's chief rivals creates a sort of negative space, though whether Winner intended to use that in that kind of artistic manner I'm not sure.

One last minor quibble. Where is the speed skating? How can you go through an entire book on Dutch sport and culture, and not mention even once what is apparently The Netherlands' true sporting passion? Nevertheless, this is a fine book, one which can be enjoyed by both the tactics nerds and the artistically minded alike - there's even room for the cynic, too.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Donald Sutherland artefact Wednesday - 1954 South Melbourne United reserves

I was going to post this some time ago, but I wanted to get a few things checked out first. MFootball writer Donald Sutherland put this up on Twitter towards the start of the year. It's a photo of the 1954 South Melbourne United reserves team which, if nothing else, shows that youth development at South Melbourne was working a bit better back then. Donald's grandfather (also known as Donald Sutherland) is in this photo (see caption for more details).

1954 South Melbourne United reserves team, from left to right:
Back row: ???, ???, ???, ???, ???
Middle row: Des Hamilton, ???, ???, ???, Graeme James, ???, Peter Hathaway
Front row: ???, ???, ???, Macka(?), Donald Sutherland, ???,  ???.

Former South player Ted Smith was able to fill in some of the player details. Peter Hathaway went on to play for South Melbourne United's senior team, as did Graeme James. According to Smith, both these players also played in the Laidlaw Cup (the local mock world cup tournament of the time) representing Australia. Des Hamilton was of course one of the two founding vice-presidents of South Melbourne Hellas (the other was Floros Dimitriadis of Yarra Park), and reportedly was still coming to South games in the 1990s.

(as an aside, I believe the original South Melbourne Supporters Group may have even named an award after him, for the fans' player of the year. Maybe we should bring that back...)

While the official in the top row, second from left remains nameless, he has been equated by former South Melbourne United junior Graeme Hocking as being the same person as the man in the middle of the back row in the team photo in this entry, and I reckon it's a pretty certain thing. Of course, any help people can offer in filling in the gaps would greatly appreciated.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Tom Pollock's NCIP/ethnicity in Oz Soccer radio documentary

Tom Pollock, Swinburne media student and MFootball/Melbourne Knights media man about town, recently interviewed a bunch of the usual suspects about ethnicity in Australian soccer for a uni project. The piece goes for about 20 minutes, and includes contributions by myself, Melbourne Knights vice president Pave Jusup, and historians Ian Syson and Roy Hay.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Bubblewrap artefact Wednesday - framed Team of the Century print

This post is tinged with both sadness and also a bit of hope. I have lived in the same house for something like 27 years, and now it's on the market. Quite where my family and I will end up is undecided at this point in time, but wherever that new home happens to be, one thing I will finally be able to do is find somewhere to hang up this framed South Melbourne team of the century poster - since I had it framed back in July, it's just been sitting on the floor of my study, leaning up against my brother's barely used drawing board.

The club still has a small handful of these posters left - probably fewer than ten - and not all of them are in the best condition, but most are still in acceptable condition. I found them during my stint cleaning out the social club several years ago in preparation for its renovation, and since then have always wanted one, even though I did cringe at the $150 cost, not including the framing. I suppose I could have nicked one then and there, but I would have felt sick doing that. Besides, I was compensated for my efforts well enough.

As for the painting itself, I'm not sure who the artist is. I may have had the detail somewhere, but I can't seem to find the information now. I'm pretty certain that it was not done by Jamie Cooper, who did the AFL team of the century paintings, and I probably wouldn't class this painting as being equal to that standard - to me at least, it seems like the players' bodies are too similar, and there doesn't appear to be a sense of warmth, camaraderie or connectedness - the subjects being too scattered and lacking in focus, the antithesis of your typical soccer photo, with the starting lineup looking forward with just a hint of the askance, waiting for battle. I suppose I would have liked to have seen the players in the various jerseys used by the club over the years as well, something akin to the Fitzroy team of the century painting - but you can't always get what you want.

Of course the original painting - rarely seen by South supporters, because of the fact that it was located in the old Lakeside boardroom - is in storage at the moment along with our other treasures. Will it be brought out into the public areas of the revamped social club, or will it retain its place in the new boardroom? I'm not too fussed either way, but I did like the way it dominated the old boardroom space, reminding whoever was in charge that there was a profound legacy that they were being asked to maintain, with the muted, but still inherent menace of the framed photos of the club legends in David Williamson's The Club.

Our friend Pavlaki tweeted this as part of his response to this piece.
The suggestion is that the artist's name may be Dave Thomas, who has also done a few other team of the century paintings, from what I can tell mostly rugby league ones.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Johnny Warren and George Negus time capsule - ethnic question 1996

I wasn't going to do anything for the 10th anniversary of Johnny Warren's death - it had both not occurred to me to do so, and neither am I into beatification - but some of the commentary around Warren's legacy - whether he would be proud of where soccer has gone in Australia, and the treatment of the ethnic clubs - was mildly interesting, in a 'party like it's 2006' kind of way.

If, as I've mentioned previously on Twitter, the Crawford Report is the Australian soccer equivalent of the Christian bible that no-one's read but everyone quotes, then Warren is Australian soccer's Jesus, a figurehead whose existence could be co-opted into whatever cause you needed him to, a situation made easier by the fact that now that he's gone, we - and I mean all Australian soccer fans - can turn him into pretty much anything we want, and which suits our particular agendas. WWJWD if you like.

One particular aspect of the debate, as noted earlier, was about the treatment of the ethnic club constituencies in the game, and in particular comments made back in 1996. While digital newspaper archives have improved (especially for pre-1950s stuff), the fact of the matter is that unless one has access to university databases, archival newspaper material in a digital format from the 1990s is very hard to get a hold of. 

To that end, here is a snapshot of the 'ethnic' debate, as it was at the time, no more, no less.

The old curse rears its ugly head, Warren, Johnny. Sydney Morning Herald [Sydney, N.S.W] 22 Aug 1996: 48.

Television commentator, writer and former Socceroo captain JOHNNY WARREN has his final say on soccer's LOST CHANCE .

Soccer's shameful "ethnic logo" controversy may end late today with a simple compromise - the tweaking of a symbol here, a change of colour there.

What the weeks of bad blood and distraction will prove in the end is one, big, blank nothing.

If Soccer Australia bosses David Hill, George Negus and company were hoping to lead the revolution, if they were hoping to storm the barricades of the recalcitrant old guard, then they failed.

They succeeded only in changing some logos. The club boards are still the same, the membership is still the same, the staff is still the same, and the players are still the same.

And so they should be, for they are the heart and soul of soccer in this country.

The muscle-flexing might have given Soccer Australia a real adrenalin rush, but this little exercise has fooled no-one.

Who cares about logos? On my list of 1,000 things soccer can do to improve itself, changing the logos of ethnic clubs does not figure.

My father, a passionate man about soccer, told me two wise things about the sport in Australia. One was that the code would not reach its potential in this country because "they always fight amongst themselves".

The other was that soccer is the only Australian sport where the officials are better known than the players. Both applied in his day and they apply now.

The fact is that this latest fight is just one of a series over the years that has stunted the growth of the sport. The controversy over the colours in a club logo should have been dealt with behind closed doors at the administration level.

But no. Soccer Australia dragged it out only weeks before the start of the competition and all it served to do was distract everyone from the game itself. Soccer has shot itself in the foot again.

The ethnic purging attempted by Soccer Australia was nonsense, as I said in the column that I wrote in the Herald on Tuesday. No other sport would countenance such a move on one of their members.

I can speak with authority on this issue because of my longterm involvement in the sport. Unlike SA commissioner George Negus, I have lived all my life in soccer and have experienced first-hand the passion and commitment of the people who are now being threatened with expulsion.

I played with St George, a club of Hungarian origin. I was there when members passed the hats around the stands to raise money to build the club which in 1974 provided eight players for Australia's only successful World Cup campaign. These are people who should be treated with respect not disdain.

The competition starts in a few weeks. Perhaps some teams will have new logos. Perhaps it will be a competition missing a few clubs.

The sad part about it all is that Hill and Negus have made the headlines but the fans have no idea what the starting line-ups are.

My father was right.


Soccer must change to grow, Negus, George. Sydney Morning Herald [Sydney, N.S.W] 21 Aug 1996: 44.

Soccer's "ethnic" controversy reached new heights yesterday when Johnny Warren, writing in the Herald, took on the sport's hierarchy. Soccer Australia commissioner GEORGE NEGUS replies to Warren and reveals he would have handled the dispute differently.

I've agreed to write this article in response to yesterday's spiteful and personally jaundiced piece by John Warren, but, to better understand my motivation, let me put this in context.

This mess should never have happened. I have stated this view publicly and privately. There was always another way to deal with it, but irrational antagonisms have rendered the current hiatus inevitable. But, that's spilt milk.

On Monday, I was approached by the Herald and asked to respond to whatever was in John's piece, which, the paper indicated, was critical of Soccer Australia.

Fair enough. But what I didn't expect was that John's comments would degenerate into mean-spirited, personal slurs and insinuations. John has bought into the debate in a way that does him no credit, the rest of us a lot of harm and helps absolutely no-one! That's why I am responding.

To attribute racist and discriminatory attitudes to people involved - including myself - is a low, black act and probably actionable. So is to suggest that anyone - including myself - is involved in soccer at this point in its turbulent history to take the credit for any advances the game makes.

Come on, John. You're better than that. I don't think I'll sue, but, I can tell you, I am angry enough to be tempted!

Anyone who interprets as racist and discriminatory attempts by Soccer Australia, David Hill or anyone else to "Australian-ise" - as distinct from "de-ethnicising" - the world game by spreading its influence and attraction as far afield as possible in

this country, has either missed the point entirely or has his own curious agenda.

The sad thing is that much of what John had to say was intelligent and perceptive, even helpful. His analysis of Australian soccer's past is accurate. But, his view of the present is horribly flawed and unfortunately, as I say, personally jaundiced. Worse, any vision he has for the future of the game in this country appears to be non-existent.

As a non-elected Commissioner on the SA Board, I am somewhat at odds with Soccer Australia about the strategy that has been adopted on this so-called "logo issue", but, that's also academic at this point.

Instead, let me quote none other than the incomparable Mark Bosnich from last weekend's press.

Mark had this to say on the whole issue: "I feel sorry for Australian fans. There are so many people who are denied the game. I feel a little awkward that those fans can't come and watch a team they can identify with. It's up to the people involved in the game - of all ethnic backgrounds - for the sake of Australian soccer, for the sake of themselves, to make soccer into an Australian game."

What more needs to be said? Mark has said it all - as a young man of proud Sydney Croatian origins.

The point that John makes - and, it appears, simultaneously misses - is that soccer is the greatest, living, breathing example of multiculturalism this country has.

But, multiculturalism, John, is a two-way process. In this case, it involves non-ethnic Australians benefiting from soccer's old ethnic roots and the original ethnically based clubs benefiting from and becoming part of non-ethnically based Australia. It's all about two-way multiculturalism, John, not racism and discrimination.

Ultimately, this issue has nothing to do with logos, national symbols or even merchandising. It has nothing to do with whether John Warren, David Hill or Tony Labbozzetta - or even yours truly - is right or wrong.

It's about attitudes and vision. It's about removing forever counterproductive rivalries and power bases. It's about acknowledging the ethnic community's indisputable contribution to Australian soccer, without alienating the growing non-ethnic throng of soccer players and supporters. It's about the future, not the past.

That's what I meant, John, by "getting soccer out of the ethnic ghetto" and into the mainstream of Australian sport and society, where all matters ethnic - including soccer - are better enjoyed and appreciated.

That's contemporary Australian egalitarianism, a far cry from the dark image you paint of discrimination. It's also the "Australian identity" that John refers to but chooses to misread in this context.

I became involved with Soccer Australia to employ my profile, experience and contacts for the sake of the hundreds of thousands of kids - more than in all the other codes combined - running around the soccer fields of this nation every weekend - regardless of where their mothers, fathers, grandmothers or grandfathers were born!!

Like so many others, I want my soccer-mad nine year-old, his six year-old brother and their mates - many of them of ethnic descent, even though they wouldn't even know - to be proud of the game they love, not to have to apologise for its dubious history of inaccessibility to so many young and older Australians, particularly at the club level.

Call me an idealist, John. But, don't dare call me a racist. What is racist, however, is to deny non-ethnic Australians - who make up the majority of soccer's players and supporters - access, for whatever reason, to the game they play, love and support.

Speaking as a besotted "Europhile," the ethnic community might have introduced many Australians to the world's best and most popular game, and they should be thanked and acknowledged for that - but, they don't own it!!

And my Italian, Croatian, Maltese, British and other friends of ethnic backgrounds agree.

They also want soccer's enormous potential in this country - which has been talked of, but, never really acted upon since before John Warren's illustrious time as Socceroo captain - to be realised.

 This will not be achieved while we keep re-igniting old embers, John. But, that's what you've done.

Tell the club what you think

The club has an online survey running at the moment, asking about the general supporter experience. Please do take the time to answer the questions, to help the club better understand what kind of person (at least those that have internet access) follows the club in 2014, and what kinds of things they're interested in.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

More headgear artefact Wednesday - Lakers Headband

Back in July of this year, I put up a post celebrating the Hellas headband, a wonderful piece of South Melbourne Hellas merchandise history. Now in the comments section of that piece, someone mentioned that there was also a Lakers headband, and thanks to collector and friend of the blog Nick Vertsonis, we have an image of the Lakers headband for all to see, so thanks Nick for continuing to share the bounties of your collection with the wider South Melbourne Hellas supporter base.