Friday, 26 December 2014

South of the Border celebrates seven years of seething, and lesser seething

Fear and loathing are for the other 364 days of the year. Today is reserved for thanking the following people:

The club, especially those who volunteer their time to keep it going week by week.

The players and coaching staff who won us a title.

Thanks also to Steve from Broady (stats), Supermercado (security management artefact), Arthur and Nick Vertsonis for sending some great artefacts to put up, Cindy Nitsos (many, many photos), Pavlaki (assorted hilarity), Mark Boric (for lending me his VSF yearbooks), Manny (comics), Skip Fulton for the odd under 20s report and around the grounds bizzo before I lent him to Goal Weekly and the South official site, the Agitator, and of course Kiss of Death for another erratic year of contributions.

People whose match reports I stole details from because me no see very good and stuff.

The Hon. Hugh Delahunty for responding to my letter.

Engel Schmidl and Athas Zafiris at Shoot Farken for publishing my Heavy Sleeper world cup pieces. It was a pleasure doing them.

Anthony Colangelo for letting me have an hour on radio to put forward my world view, albeit an hour that I had to share with someone else.

Tom Pollock, for letting me be on his radio documentary, even if Roy Hay managed to get both the first and last word.

The peerless Walter Pless, who took up my offer of doing a write up on his site, explaining South Melbourne's season in the lead up to the South Hobart game.

Also Pave Jusup, Joe Gorman, Chris Egan, Lou Tona, Nicholas Tsiaras, The Saint, Tony Montana, Cuddles, all for various reasons not necessarily related to the blog.

All the new people I met.

All the old faces.

Anyone who gave me and Gains a lift to some place.

Everyone who re-tweeted, left a comment, or sent us something to put up. Your interest in this project ensures not that it survives, but that I try a little harder than I otherwise might.

Anyone who thinks they should be in here but isn't - it's probably my fault.

And especially Ian Syson and Gains.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Book Review - Sweet Time, by Graham Reilly

Graham Reilly's 2004 novel Sweet Time is a nostalgic look at the birth of a soccer club, and the community which created it, as an assortment of mostly Scottish migrants attempt to settle into their new lives in Australia.

In the 1960s, former Catholic priest, now high school teacher Douglas Fairbanks and his wife Kirstin arrive in Australia from Glasgow. More specifically, they arrive in Melbourne, settling in the fictionalised western suburb of Baytown. As with many migrant tales, it is the immediate differences which fascinate them. The heat (they can't figure out whether to keep their butter in the fridge or pantry), the people and the sense of opportunity that exists - the working class Glasgow streets they've left behind being mired in the usual social ills.

It's perhaps a slightly atypical Australian migrant narrative, in that the focus is on British migrants, mostly from Scotland. It's also for the most part light hearted, as the migrants of all stripes try to make the best of their situation, appreciating what their new country has to offer. The main conflict in the novel comes from inside of Douglas, unsure about the choices he's made in his life, including his marriage, a struggle which doesn't necessarily engage as much as it should - but that may be an issue of personal taste.

What is most fascinating about this text, at least for me, are the passages dealing with the creation of the Baytown Soccer Club. In large part, this is because the suburbs of Baytown and its new soccer club share a few traits with the suburb of Altona and the Altona City Soccer Club. The now long defunct Altona Star newspaper becomes the Baytown Star. Like the fictional Baytown S.C., Altona City was formed in the 1960s in Melbourne's western suburbs, on swamp land across the road from Cherry Lake. 

Since Reilly was a 1960s migrant himself to Altona, and because of the obvious references to those real life entities, it makes one think about which parts of the Baytown club are based on actual Altona City history, which parts are a re-telling of historical facts about other clubs in an amalgamated context, and which parts come entirely from Reilly's imagination.

Overall, the soccer narrative, like the rest of the text, is couched in nostalgia. The group which forms the new soccer club, despite being dominated by Scots, also includes Maltese, Italians and the odd local, breaking with the commonly held idea that soccer at that time was a sport completely dominated by mono-ethnic clubs. Indeed, apart from a brief mention of Celtic, there is no mention of any other clubs, scant mention of the Victorian soccer system, and no mention of ethnic divides within the game. The club also has relatively humble ambitions, unlike those clubs which exist in say relevant novels by David Martin or Peter Goldsworthy.

As mentioned earlier, the club’s land is located in semi-reclaimed swamp land, mirroring the fringe lands historically allocated to other soccer clubs. The volunteers put in countless hours of labour to get the place up to scratch. There is also antipathy from certain quarters to the establishment of the soccer club. This includes members of the council and the local Australian rules football fraternity, who attempt to sabotage the creation of the club. At different times, they pull down the fence, destroy the field, and burn down the pavilion. Compare this treatment to the real life attempts at sabotaging soccer grounds (Middle Park and Hobart) and denying soccer clubs access to land (Footscray JUST and Hakoah).

Part of this antipathy and vandalism is linked in the novel to local antipathy to migrants and ‘their’ game – the inference being that they should assimilate and all that - but also to the mayor (and president of the Australian rules football club) who is seeking to drive the club away from the land allocated to them, in order to build a new large scale housing development. It's an interesting tack to take, pairing soccerphobia with self-interest, even if the mayor's villainy makes him look a little cartoonish, with Reilly taking much glee in creating a caricature of the ultimate soccer hater. In some ways, it's an antecedent of the soccer hating journalist from Adrian Deans' Mr Cleansheets.

Reilly also tries to find ways to secure an Australian place for soccer, by showing the hard work of the soccer club's volunteers, as well as their diversity, open mindedness, and their ability to participate in other parts of Australian society. Reilly attempts, not very subtly but effectively nonetheless, to overcome the perception of soccer as a weak game.The most notable way he does this is via the teenage ‘schemie’ immigrant Wullie Henderson, who has a no-holds barred attitude to violence and swearing. Wullie, with his accent and role as comic relief, is also by far the most interesting character in this novel.

Even without the Altona City touchstone, you don't need to know how the soccer side of the story ends. The main plot involving Douglas' internal struggle has its dark moments, but overall this is a text that would rather celebrate the migrant narrative than question it, seeing in it an overwhelmingly positive story - and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. A good, entertaining read.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Calculator artefact Wednesday - Kimon Taliadoros, Playmaker of the Month

This was sourced from Australian soccer historian and Hellas fan Damian Smith. Two things about this image. Firstly, I've been waiting for a suitable time to put it up, but let's be honest, there was probably never going to be a suitable moment. Secondly, I have next to no idea what the context of this photo is. Is there an article attached? More photos? What kind of Greek is that hairless? Will Kimon use the excuse 'that he was young and needed the money'? And perhaps most importantly, does Kimon still own that tie?

This seems like a good note to sign off on for 2014. Apart from a couple more posts - one a book review, the other my annual thanksgiving post - that's it this year from me. Unless of course, something really stupendously amazing happens - like going broke, or getting into the A-League - and even then I'd probably wait until the new year.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Book Review - Keep It Simple, Stupid - Peter Goldsworthy

Peter Goldsworthy is one of Australia's better known writers of literary fiction and poetry, as well as being one of its more lauded exponents in recent times. He's also someone whose work has managed to cross over into the popular sphere as well, with some of his texts (such as Maestro) also studied widely in high schools across the country.

So some years ago when I was told that in the mid-1990s Goldsworthy had written a soccer novel, it was with no small measure of excitement that I sought it out. And yet Keep It Simple, Stupid, or KISS for short, seems to be one of Goldsworthy's least regarded novels. Does it merit that antipathy? Well, as we'll see, it depends on who's reading it.

Paul 'Mack' McNeil is the veteran star of his local Italian backed soccer club in suburban Adelaide. Raised by an emotionally distant and war affected father and a timid mother, as a young man Mack found a more satisfying surrogate family not just in the local soccer club, but also in its dominant Rossi family. Mack feels so ingrained in the club's culture - he's even picked up conversational Italian - that he can't picture a life without the club. However the club, and its new success at all costs British coach Billy Colby, don't see it that way. As Mack struggles to come to terms with his aging body, and the ball flying over his head courtesy of Colby's route one football, he realises his time may be up, but he struggles on regardless.

Mack also faces issues with his wife, Lisa, and their inability to conceive as well as her hostility to Mack's soccer career, in which women take a back seat. Mack, too, is fed up with his primary school teaching gig, and considers taking up a milk delivery route, in an attempt to remain a physical creature, and not just an intellectual one. So, this is very much a book about masculinities, and about the refusal to grow up, or outgrow his youth as Lisa points out. It's another novel about a male character who's unable to deal with his midlife crisis, unable to relate to women, nor come to terms with his troubled and often ephemeral, non-expressive relationships with other men.

The men in this novel are all damaged in some way, and their inability or refusal to express themselves is a massive part of that. However, even those who can express themselves often do so with a level of deviousness. Colby's hardheadedness is perhaps the exception to the rule. The women, for their part, often seem to live lives either in the shadow of their men, or in lives apart. There's little meaningful communication between the sexes, the only perceptible evidence of life in suburbia being the blue hue of televisions screens.

The broader commentary in the novel is about the decline and fall of the ethnic soccer culture in Australia, and what that might mean for the cause of the game and even multiculturalism itself. Crowds and interest have fallen away, and with it the money that spurred the game on to new levels of professionalism. The questions of loyalty and of insiders and outsiders, and what exactly it means to be part of a club, especially if such a thing is only the hobby of a rich benefactor aiming for a sort of glory from a community which largely no longer cares for the clubs they built.

Goldsworthy has a long background in Australian soccer, with an extended playing and coaching career under his belt. His depiction of the mid 1990s ethnic soccer scene is as true as any I've read. Through Mack, he shows an obvious love for the people at these clubs, but not without casting a critical eye on the negatives as well. The politics, the cowardice, and the conservatism of clubs like these is there for all to see. The members, mostly elderly gentlemen, are at best an amorphous mass, wielding no obvious power, but nevertheless remaining powerful as a barometer of who is in favour and who isn't.

KISS's final act is its weakness. After the soccer storyline gets wrapped up satisfactorily, the other story line, dealing with Mack's marriage and the ghosts of his past just doesn't sit right with me. It's too melodramatic, moving too quickly and suddenly into a sort of heightened tension that doesn't feel like a natural resolution to the narrative. Having said that though, for any Australian soccer fan with even the merest interest in this kind of work, and even for those with an interest in the game's broader history, this novel is well worth seeking out.

Post script
Year later, Goldsworthy would return briefly to his soccer theme, with the short story 'The Bet', which is focused on the absurdity of junior soccer. It's much more lighthearted in nature, but also a useful milestone on where the game had progressed to, the egoism of senior soccer transported to its junior scene, with those who are supposed to be older and wiser now living through their children.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Social club artefact Wednesday - Team of the Century team sheet

I found a small bunch of these during my social club clean out a few years back. Not being there on the team of the century night, I assume these were made available on all the tables. Of course, the team of the century concept has always been something that's baffled me slightly, not only because it was clearly influenced by both the AFL's centenary celebrations as well as the millenarianism that was in vogue at the time, but also because the club was barely 41 years old and well short of the century mark. Of course as with all such endeavours there was also controversy regarding the selections. George Donikian noted at the time (in an interview with the Four Diegos I believe; wherever the link to that transcript was, it's now gone) that Ulysses Kokkinos was left out due to character issues. But perhaps the most interesting decision was to have Michael Petkovic in as first choice goalkeeper, ahead of the very popular Peter Laumets. While Petkovic did have the runs on the board with two national championships, his tenure at South up until that time had been comparatively brief; then again, Oscar Crino's South stint was much shorter. Petkovic is also the only person in the team of the century to have begun his South career in the 1990s - his 1996 starting date coming in seven years after the other most recent inductees. More disturbing perhaps in hindsight, is that due to the circumstances we find ourselves in, there will probably never be another player that could be included in any future or revised team of the century affair.

Friday, 5 December 2014

FFA's Whole of Football extravaganza - Melbourne edition

So FFA had decided to do some old fashioned box ticking public consultation about the future of the Australian game. Part of that includes a survey, and the other part a traveling roadshow of heavy hitters ready to face the Australian soccer public - well, at least those who bothered to apply and get selected for entry.

I had put in my application for the meeting, and was pleased to receive the metaphorical golden ticket to attend. It's easy to be cynical about these affairs, especially if you come to it with an obviously partisan point of view; but self-perpetuating cynicism shouldn't be the only outcome possible, only one of many possible outcomes.

A small audience in a large auditorium, it made me wonder if the FFA were being selective with who they allowed into the meeting, or whether there just wasn't that much interest from the general soccer public. There have been similar meetings in the past, which I have not attended, and which reputedly turned into farcical, partisan affairs. The Melbourne event on Thursday did not turn out that way. Most of the few people attending managed to ask sensible questions and make reasonable commentary, no matter how much I disagreed with their position. Apart from myself, the most rambling, elusive effort was by someone going on about the quality of referees, especially 'home team' refs who have dudded his team.

More problematic perhaps than partisan commentary, is apathy. The small crowd was one thing, but the follow through of discussion across the net appears to be negligible. Where I would have expected various soccer forums and bulletin boards to at least have a topic on the several meetings taking place across the country as part of this project, there appears to be next to no interest.

The meeting was chaired by Kyle Patterson, who steered the two hour long meeting from one animated slide to the next. A panel made up of John Aloisi, Damien De Bohun (head of the A-League), Emma Highwood (FFA head of community football and women's football) and FFA CEO David Gallop was also on hand. Gallop also provided a speech outlining... well, I don't know what exactly. He droned on for what seemed like a while (though it was probably only about ten minutes), saying as far as I can tell nothing of any importance and doing it in the most boring, soul sucking way possible. And thus in one fell swoop my desire to avoid being cynical was crushed.
It wasn't helped when they brought out the 1.9 million participant number, a hokey tactic straight out of the AFL, NRL and cricket playbooks.
That was just one of several things that would come up to which I felt there was not a satisfactory answer given, More on how the FFA see that number later on.

Of those people involved in a non-administrative role (that is, not within a Federation or other paid interest group), many seemed to come from the east and the south-east. Skye, Brighton, Ashburton were all represented, but rarely did there seem to be a northern or western voice, or an 'old soccer' voice heard. For mine, there was also not much discussed on women's soccer, at least not as much as I thought there would be, considering that's one of the Australian game's unambiguously brighter spots. Nothing at all that I can recall on futsal, some on disabled soccer.

The issue of representation came up every now and again. Jack Reilly (former FFA board member, and one time South goalkeeper) made the point that we have too many representative bodies, and that it'd be better to stop the doubling up of services and administrative bodies - but to me that came across as code for 'let's abolish the states, bring it all under FFA's command, and let's have no recourse to any sort of representation as recommended by the Crawford Report'. I wonder how the several FFV personnel in attendance, including FFV president Nick Monteleone, felt about that, especially when there was talk of too much political self-interest. But more on that later.
There was much discussion on the accessibility of football in terms of price, once again focusing primarily on the elite pathways. While all sorts of reasons were given as to why the costs were so high, there was one observation made that leaped out at me. When Patterson brought up the costs of his kids' violin lessons as a comparison to elite junior soccer training, I was taken back to 2012, when Tom Kalas made a similar point (which I noted in the comments section) when trying to explain or justify the proposed $3,500 cost of that original version of South's academy approach. In a nutshell, the point was that we had to stop comparing the costs of elite junior soccer to other sports, especially other football codes, and instead think about other expensive activities that kids might partake in, such as music, dance or karate.

The conclusions that I've drawn from those observations is that when it comes to the FFA and administrators within clubs who hold the same ideology, is that soccer is now a middle class aspirational pursuit. Whatever the social or fun aspects may be of violin, karate or dance, there's also quite clearly a bourgeois (both petite and haute) element to it. Soccer is no longer a game played at that level because of, or even primarily due to the fact that the kids enjoy it - it's now enmeshed in the same aspirational, civilising, networking, status seeking culture of the elite private school system.

No amount of scholarships - and really, considering the costs involved, and the lack of top down funding, how many scholarships can there be? - can resolve the inherent inequity in the system. And it's a system that's unequal in part because of the willingness of people to pay the outrageous fees to both the NPL sides and the academies promising the world, but possibly delivering more run of the mill players without any distinguishing features, except for an unearned sense of entitlement.

Though I was satisfied in my own curmudgeonly way to produce cynical tweets, throughout the night I was still wondering what question I would ask, because in all likelihood I'd only get to ask one. Sitting two seats to the left of me, Sydney FC fan and Australian soccer historian Les Street had the microphone in his hand twice, and didn't get to ask either of his questions.
Eventually the opening presented itself, when Patterson asked the audience about who felt engaged with the A-League, both as a supporter and in terms of whether they felt their community involvement, whether at a school or club had a genuine connection. It was interesting that there didn't seem to be this overwhelming feeling of connection to the A-League on a personal level, but that could just be a willfully pointed observation from me. Whatever that number for the supporter connection, far fewer people in the audience felt that their club, school or community engagement with the A-League was in any way satisfactory (ignoring the old soccer council of doom in my vicinity).

With only two A-League teams, it's of course difficult to spread those resources out - but with such a long off-season, surely there's more time to engage in these kinds of events? It does remind me however of comments on this matter that Melbourne Heart CEO Scott Munn once made at a local sports academic conference back in late 2012. From a marketing point of view, he seemed to see little value in terms of converting kids into fans from such one off visits.

And this is where the issue of leverage mentioned comes into it. The FFA, and Emma Highwood in particular who used that word, seemed to think that things like school visits and absurdly inflated participation numbers - which included intangibles like kids playing street soccer - were all about converting kids into being A-League fans. The difference with those of the community club sector was the community club representatives were showing annoyance at the lack of school visits not because of the missed opportunity of getting kids to follow the A-League, but to get them involved with the game of soccer as opposed to other sports. The example given to counter the FFA and Scott Munn approach was that Essendon and Melbourne Storm would make trips out to the relevant far more regularly, and that there was evidence to suggest that their efforts had more impact, because kids were taking up those sports.

Patterson then asked the audience for a show of hands of who didn't have a connection to the A-League, and I made a motion for the microphone. After I bumbled my way through a self introduction, including forgetting to give the blog a plug, I started off with making the obvious comment that I didn't feel connected to the A-League because my team wasn't in it, which presents one with a conundrum.
While in the majority of the rest of the soccer world, not having your team in the top-flight is reason enough not to take an interest, the peculiar situation of Australian soccer means that this position makes you come across as a recalcitrant. So how do you separate the appearance of selfishness from the driving principles which also underpin that disconnect? And how do you make an argument that can carry any sort of weight against the relatively overwhelming commercial and popular success of the A-League, Socceroos and FFA in the eyes of the backers of the new dawn?

It's a persistent problem, which is in some ways related to the issues of governance and accountability. If you're getting everything your own way, especially with regards to public relations and the lack of being able to be turfed out, why should you even care what some nobody from Altona North has to say?

What I did have to say is why did the FFA feel the need to bring in the NCIP, which threw off most of the panelists in part because they didn't seem to understand what was meant by NCIP - a classic Railpage Australia forums faux pas, whereby you should always remember to avoid abbreviations - and partly because I don't think people were expecting the issue to be brought up.

As has been made clear in my other writings and interviews on the matter of the National Club Identity Policy, I don't like it. I don't like it because regardless of whatever piecemeal regulations have been brought in over the course of Australian soccer's history, it's an irrelevancy. The A-League has superseded the ethnic bickering (such as it was) of the NSL. At state league level, with a couple of exceptions, no one is fooled about where each club's loyalties lie in terms of the game's ethnic mosaic, and there's little to no prospect of positive change being gained if you de-ethnicised the clubs at this level, regardless of what Roy Hay says.

And apart from all that, we're still a multicultural society and it should not be up to the FFA to decide how different groups are categorised. That's where my sense of oppression regarding this matter comes from. De Bohun got annoyed by this, and brought up the case of Bentleigh Greens and their moment in the FFA Cup limelight. Never mind that Bentleigh spend most of their existence being lucky to pull a hundred punters through the gates, nor the patronising Fox Sports commentary which, as several people have noted, reduced Bentleigh to the status of a late night kebab joint.

Patterson asserted that the push for the NCIP roll out - and really, who cares if it's not retrospective, that's nothing to do with anything - came from the grassroots. Patterson then brought up the absurd idea that the introduction of the NCIP so close to the launch of the FFA Cup, that tournament designed to bring together soccer's estranged factions, was entirely coincidental. Suffice to say, I'm not buying that, and neither did a lot of people when that came out.

Not wanting to deal with the issue, Patterson decided that the matter was best ended then and there, to be discussed with me personally after the meeting. (and I'm sorry Ian, even though you weren't there, for saying 'right' too many times again). To be fair, this wasn't out of step with the rest of the meeting. Topics sped by at a rate of knots for the most part, and I was clearly the most fired up person in the audience. The rest of the meeting then became a bit of a blur for me, as I sat seething in my seat.

 After the official parts of the meeting were concluded, I finally got to meet Evan Binos, an interesting character on Twitter. Binos' particular bugbear of late, an entirely valid one, is how can we ensure that community clubs are able to entice enough young and talented people to volunteer and run their committees? This is an especially important issue when looking at clubs designated as development clubs, whose responsibility is to create elite players. The paradigm being set up in these clubs is that of inherent self-interest, with the inevitable outcome seeming to me to be that loyalty under these conditions is almost impossible. How can the loyalty of a player be sustained, when the club is only keeping them there so long as they think that no other player can replace them? How can loyalty be built if a player is at a club only so long as they think their development couldn't be better served at another club? It creates a poisonous self-interested symbiotic relationship. And no, I don't think the zone system originally proposed by the FFV would have been any better.

 It finally came time to talk to Patterson on the side. This informal post-meeting gathering also included several South people, as well as Melbourne Knights vice-president Pave Jusup. Quite why Patterson felt he had to bring up the NSL only he knows. He began by comparing crowds, and mentioning his own pedigree with regards to involvement in the NSL, as if he was the only one involved, or as if we were petulant children too young to remember what the NSL was like. But the issue was not about back then, it's about the system as it is now. For all the talk that 'bitters' are hung up about the past, and willing to bring it up at any opportunity, those on the other side of the ledger are just as likely to bring it up, if not more so, because they see it as a useful stick to beat up anyone who disagrees with the current regime.

Of course, Jusup then got stuck into the NCIP topic, especially with his club's issue with their sponsorship being banned by FFA, after initially being approved. Patterson accused the Knights of trying to subvert the rule to make a political point, to which the answer was obvious - so what if they did? And how did Broadmeadow Magic get away with its ethnic sponsor? And who were these people from down below that suggested to FFA to bring in the NCIP? 'I can't tell you that' was the response. That's accountability right there. Never mind the fact that, when the policy was announced, it not only caught members of the new dawn online commentariat by surprise, but also saw significant opposition from them - because they thought that ten years on, the idea was utterly unnecessary and deliberately provocative. 

The reasoning used by Patterson that there were ethnic issues in junior soccer was almost laughable. I say almost because I could never be sure if he was trolling us. Surely bad behaviour by parents at junior games, as well as racial abuse and angst, is already covered by a plethora of other laws and statutes? What's the NCIP going to do to stop those kinds of people? Since when did dickhead parents at the soccer become an ethnic issue and not a dickhead parents issue the way that it is in other sports? Why focus on the symptom but not the disease?

The discussion then became a tit-for-tat about the way that the changeover to the new era happened, and whether it could have been done better. Where Jusup made the assertion that if Frank Lowy had simply made the call, that Knights and South could have been let into the VPL in 2004. Patterson pulled a Pontius Pilate on that one, absolving the FFA of any sort of responsibility, which quickly became a core theme. 

Whether accidentally or on purpose, Patterson admitted that the FFA were like FIFA - in other words, a self-styled benevolent dictatorship. How we even got to that stage is illuminating in itself. I made the point at one stage to Patterson that local representation was a crock, when someone like Jusup (also an FFV zone representative) could not even call an EGM. Patterson's reply was 'why would you call an EGM?' Maybe because you're concerned with the way the federation is being run, losing money hand over fist and becoming increasingly out of touch with its constituents? Because under a democratic system - the one the Crawford Report promised us - we should have the right to do so?

It was, really, the most disheartening part of the whole evening. Forget whatever hang ups I have about the NCIP, or my customary and safe cynicism. The fact the FFA can admit that it's a dictatorship, without shame because it knows it can't be touched, is deeply distressing - and I'm saying this even within the context of years of conspiracy building, and super hyper backs against the wall nonsense to make ourselves feel righteous. Earlier in the evening, I'd tweeted about feeling as if I'd walked into a meeting of the Politburo, the decisions already made and the audience being there merely to clap and agree with the secretariat's already made decision. And then you more or less get it confirmed.

Right at the end of the discussion, I noticed that Patterson had a 'we are football' sticker or badge on his jacket. It reminded me of the time I went to an FFV life members Christmas function several years ago, which I attended courtesy of my being on the FFV's historical committee. After Rale Rasic had given his speech as special guest, Nick Monteleone went about making a big deal about the slogan handing out badges and the like. While the new dawn run around with their slogan, those of us not entirely on board are branded with the ethnic soccer
Mark of Cain, a curse forever separating us from the chosen people. How's that for melodrama?

The next day, while going through an online debrief with several like minded people, the FFA's version of events was put up. All that managed to get included were Reilly's governance remarks, Aloisi's idea that we need to focus on funding better coaching and talent identification, and that there was lively debate. What's that line about never starting a royal commission unless you know what the result will be in advance?
Then again, all this is only one point of view. Others probably thought the affair was well worth the effort.