Thursday, 21 April 2016

Dimness - Altona Magic 0 South Melbourne 3

Disclaimer
I was playing the part of one of South's designated supporter marshals during this fixture.

Prologue
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,
then proceeded to get darker,
and all this before the game had even kicked off - a kick off which was delayed a few minutes because of the lights needing to be turned back on and get up to the maximum lux setting, or something like that. As I remarked to a one time contributor to the blog, it was a bit early for 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,
but didn't seem to be on the field, replaced by Luke Adams. It seems that 'KK' may have injured himself during the warm-up, but we'll need official confirmation on that. Otherwise the lineup was reasonably strong - still mostly made up of players who had recently won championships and were part of the side that was top of the Victorian leagues - but one wondered whether the changes would both unsettle a side that had finally seemed to get in sync last Sunday against Oakleigh after several wonky weeks, but also would it be of sufficient quality to withstand the efforts of a very capable Altona Magic outfit.

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?

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 as
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.

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.

Next game
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 Heights vs South Springvale Aris. Things did not begin well:
But to the ground announcer's credit, he was at least an equal opportunity butcher.
But then Avondale proceeded to throw away any sympathy by doing this:
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.

Final thought

13 comments:

  1. Where does one even begin to discuss the actual match?

    What transpired last night was nothing short of disgraceful and dangerous behaviour that could have led to serious injuries. Thankfully from all reports the young girl is fine, and escaped with nothing more than a fright. It could have been so much worse.

    Altona Magic have been getting onto the front foot to distance themselves from this mindless barbaric act, and point the finger at Preston fans. Problem for Altona Magic is they were the home team and were responsible for all security arrangements. The FFV will have a field day with Altona, so expect a heavy monetary fine, and potential point deduction.

    On a side note, this marks the fifth straight match an opposition player has red carded. Would be interesting to see whether this is some kind of record !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reading the discussion on soccer-forum.net, both Magic supporters and Preston supporters have spent a good portion of today trying to pass the buck in terms of which club the flare thrower was allegedly supporter of, as part of a longer running saga related to their own rivalry. Suggestion is that the flare thrower is from the Vagabondi group that follows Magic.

      Not much concern shown for the person who got hit by the flare though.

      Regarding the red cards, can't imagine there'd have been any runs as long as this! As with the Oakleigh and Richmond games, don't think this one changed the course of the game much, even though in this case there was more than just injury time to go.

      Delete
    2. This is where I laugh. Some supporters of Macedonian descent follow all the Macedonian teams (interchangeable with a wide range of nationalities/heritages). There's every chance the flare thrower genuinely likes both Preston and Altona.

      And then people ask South supporters why they don't support all the Greek clubs. Because they're not our club. This is a football league, I follow my football club.

      Delete
    3. That argument makes your following a club based on ethnic lineage lack integrity. The only way you could maintain integrity based on that argument is if you hailed from the extreme inner south-of-the-CBD locale, which is probably unlikely.

      Delete
    4. If a supporter values the social aspect of football clubs greater than the actual football aspect, fair enough.

      To each, their own.

      Delete
  2. Got a fright? Don't come to the games then.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never really considered getting hit by a flare as an essential part of the soccer watching experience myself.

      Delete
  3. lol at macos, never met a stupider bunch of people. if they just shut their mouths we'd probably have a fine for lighting a flare.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm confused, how exactly are the staff at Lakeside going to accurately police who is a Victory or South fan in order to make people pass through the right gate?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Easy, you can smell the 'bitterness' with one group, and the 'new dawn' smell on the other.

      Delete
  5. Skops just being Skops

    ReplyDelete
  6. The following is a post from the Altona Magic affiliated poster 'Vardarski' from soccer-forum.net

    "The Person has been found and will be dealt accordingly.
    VicPol,FFV & the girl that got struck by the Flare are being notified."

    ReplyDelete
  7. This whole incident reminds of the day 1994 at Middle Park when a near riot broke out at end of game.

    I saw some kids throw a brick that whacked an elderly gent in the head.

    Those fucking young punks got away with it.

    I wonder where they are now, and if the culprit ponders what he did.

    The bear riot occurred because South Mrlbourne, in their infinite wisdom, had for years and years not bothered with having proper exit gates that could accommodate large crowds. So due to the frustration, both sets of supporters lost their but and all hell broke loose.

    Of course it was front page news.

    What the hell was Vasilopoulos and co doing?!

    This is one reason I left the club in 1998.

    Thankfully those 'golden years' are behind us.

    I think our club is a much better place these days.

    ReplyDelete

While I like people commenting on the blog, it would be useful if different posters could at least leave some sort of nickname to make it easier to sort through all the different 'anonymous' posters. If your post doesn't get approved straight away, it's probably because I haven't seen it yet. Lastly, just because I approve a comment for publication does not mean that I endorse its content.