I was playing the part of one of South's designated supporter marshals during this fixture.
Find a calm lake and wait for the twilight in silence! There, existence will visit you with all its magnificence! The existence of the Existence can best be felt in the presence of dimness and in the absence of crowds and noises!- Mehmet Murat Ildan
First Intermediate Period
Things started off dim at Paisley Park last night,
Δεύτε λάβετε φως for the mostly at least nominally Orthodox Christians in attendance.
Finally underway... but mostly Magic, not so much us.
Even with the lights on though, things would just continue to head down a murky path for the rest of the evening. For example, Kristian Konstantinidis was named in the starting line up,
The answers to those questions seemed to be 'yes', and 'not really', as South not only failed to mount any meaningful attacks during the first half, but were lucky not to be down by a couple of goals at half time. Magic, who were particularly keen on exploiting our right hand side, were undone by Nikola Roganovic on the hand and their own profligate finishing on the other. The only obvious solution for us seemed to be to make some changes and bring on some more of our A-Listers, but instead we persisted with the same lineup after the break, hoping they would come good.
And somewhat surprisingly, that's actually what happened. Chris Irwin, part of that problematic right hand side in the first half, came out a changed player, tormenting the Magic defence. It was he who burst through the lines to find himself one on one with the keeper, only to be fouled in the box and have his shot trickle wide. Confusion reigned for a minute or so, as clearly referee Lucien Laverdure had given a card to the Magic defender responsible for the foul, but had not given a signal for the penalty - had he paid the advantage instead? As it turned out, Laverdue did award the penalty, and then the lights went out again.
Second Intermediate Period
The crowd was pretty good for a Wednesday night, with most reasonable estimates ranging from 800-1000. Alongside Magic's usual supporters and their juniors, there was quite a healthy number of South fans, as well as a group of Preston fans - the 'Preston Makedonia' chants seemed to give that one away - though at least one person on the forums contended that Magic have their own active supporter crew, which makes a kind of sense insofar as that chanting group was standing behind a banner containing an Altona Magic logo.
Whoever they were and however they identified themselves, one hoped against history that they were there for the spectacle and the possibility of an upset and humiliation of a rival, and nothing more than that. Unfortunately one coward from that group couldn't help himself, coming up behind a cluster of South fans and throwing a lit flare into said cluster, hitting a young woman. She received medical attention - and I assume she is OK, but again, have no confirmation of that - and one felt that things were about to kick off. How could they not, considering the proximity of those Preston/active Altona fans to the travelling South contingent?Lively start dour finish at 1/2 time @smfc need to step up @AltonaMagic need 2 finish coach Taylor not happy #FFACup pic.twitter.com/T47C4REvHW— Adam Russell (@adrussella3) April 20, 2016
Somehow, despite the combination of the obvious anger of the South fans, the close proximity of the supporters to each other, the darkness and the empty spaces behind the hill, as well as the security force which seemed less than well prepared for such an incident, things didn't escalate beyond words. At least some of the credit for that has to go to those South fans who managed to keep their more aggrieved mates in check, as well as the Altona Magic marshals, who were unequivocal so far as I could tell in getting the relevant 'home' support group to move away from the South fans (even if not quite far enough for some tastes), as well as telling others to just go home.
There were reports that the flare thrower was identified, but as with many of the specifics of the incident, I have seen no official confirmation of that. A police car did arrive, but what exactly they ended up doing, I don't know. With regards to the collective identity of the group that the flare thrower came from, it was interesting in that Magic themselves put the following up on Twitter,
as well asSorry Altona Fans will never do that.— Altona Magic S.C (@AltonaMagic) April 20, 2016
There are NOT Our Fans https://t.co/KYtU2uUNQX
It will be very interesting to see what comes out of this. One hopes of course that the flare thrower was identified, and will have the full force of the law come down upon them. It will be interesting to see also what punishment Magic will receive and how FFV will handle this. One interesting thing which occurred during the game in the online sphere - a sphere I did not have access to because of my marshalling duties - was the categorisation of the scenes as 'chaos at Paisley Park'. I think that tends to gild the lily somewhat - while there was much confusion due to both whether the game would get called off, as well as the aftermath of the flare incident, chaos did not break out as far as I'm concerned, even if the potential for it to do so was certainly there.I dont think so.........Preston chants during the match Altona dont chant. Nice try.— Altona Magic S.C (@AltonaMagic) April 20, 2016
The game itself emerges out of stasis
The game resumed, with Marcus Schroen putting away the penalty in less than convincing fashion - but the important thing is that he did put it away, and now the game could be played on our terms. Magic had to push forward, and had a penalty shout called a dive, but when Milos Lujic bundled home a goal mouth scramble from a corner, we were pretty much there. When Magic's Bozinovski was sent off after receiving a second yellow card - Magic had received a free kick, and Schroen a yellow card himself for unnecessary shirtfront-esque attempt at protecting the ball, with Bozinovski than grabbing and throwing Schroen to the ground - our progress to the next round was official. Lujic's injury time tap in made the score look a lot more flattering it should have been.
In the end, because of both the way the team had performed in the first half, as well as the flare incident during the lights out period, one came out of this match as a South fan with relief at having progressed as well as not been part of a much larger and more violent incident. It was our first win at Paisley Park in since we beat Moorabbin in the Dockerty Cup in 1996, and our first win against Altona Magic at this venue since the 1993 Dockerty Cup, a record which sounds pretty until you remember that our only extended run of games there was from 2005-2010. One could have hoped for a more dull affair, but it's nice to also get that monkey off our backs.
Melbourne Victory youth team at Lakeside on Sunday. This game will be subject to changed security and seating conditions.
SMFC members and supporters will be required to enter Lakeside Stadium through the traditional Gate 2 entry point and base themselves in the traditional SMFC grandstand as normal. This includes all SMFC players (all ages) and parents, as well as FFV and FFA accredited pass holders.
Melbourne Victory (NPL) supporters will enter through the Gate 1 entry point and be based in the opposite grandstand.
All patrons are reminded that any anti-social behaviour contravening the Football Federation Victoria (FFV) and South Melbourne FC Code of Conduct will not be tolerated. There are several CCTV security cameras operating in and around Lakeside Stadium that will be used to identify anyone engaging in anti-social behaviour.
With a large crowd expected, SMFC is working closely with Melbourne Victory, FFV, Blue Thunder Security, the State Sports Centre Trust and Victoria Police to ensure a great afternoon for everyone at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday’s main match kicks off at 5pm, with our Under 20s match commencing at 2.30pm. SMFC will also be honouring the memory of the ANZACS in a short ceremony prior to the main game commencing.Around the grounds
Science of the Cup
Of the three FFA Cup options available on Tuesday night, I decided to take a punt, or perhaps just chose the closest option to my place and headed to Somers Street for Avondale
But to the ground announcer's credit, he was at least an equal opportunity butcher.Ground announcer absolutely butchering the Greek names in the @southspringvale line up. #afcvss #FFACup— Paul Mavroudis (@PaulMavroudis) April 19, 2016
But then Avondale proceeded to throw away any sympathy by doing this:Not doing much better with the @AvondaleHSC84 team list. Time for FFA to step in and #NCIP the names of players #FFACup #afcvss— Paul Mavroudis (@PaulMavroudis) April 19, 2016
Now South Springvale had a reputation of getting above their station in this competition in recent years, so one hoped perhaps that lightning could strike yet again. This was not to be the case, as they were outclassed from the start. Yes, some Aris players had some nice close control, but when it came time to actually control possession, the best they could usually do was three or four passes before bombing it long to an isolated forward. Avondale were getting frustrated with their inability to open the scoring, but eventually broke through seconds before half time and as far as I was concerned, they may as well as have ended the game there. The goals piled on in the second half, but to their credit Aris kept pushing on and managed to get one goal back from the penalty spot, but one goal is fewer than five, and we ain't using no golf handicap system here. Overall, I felt a bit annoyed that I'd bothered to get dressed for this.Creed for intro music makes things worse.— Paul Mavroudis (@PaulMavroudis) April 19, 2016
As one of the South Melbourne players just said..."let's switch on like the lights" #FFACup #MagicOfTheCup— Les Street (@official_lesdog) April 20, 2016