Saturday, 30 April 2016

Everybody happy! Or not! Avondale Heights 0 South Melbourne 2

As one would expect, there was only a small crowd on hand to watch this game, with a good deal of South's usual traveling support probably performing part of their one bit of socio-culturally mandated religious duty for the year. So even with three quarters of the ground off limits to spectators, there was still plenty of room to stretch one's legs out at Knights Stadium in its Avondale hosted configuration. Not that this fixture was likely to attract a blockbuster attendance anyway.

Oh Marge, I went to plenty of NPL matches and it never hurt me.
Both before the game and during halftime the host team blared out music at a ridiculous volume, probably in a poorly thought out attempt at creating 'atmosphere', or perhaps trying to reach those Avondale supporters on the other side of the quarry. I'm not much for stadium music as it is, but could we at least keep the volume down to a level so that I could talk to the person next to me without needing to yell?

I thought we got off to a reasonable start. The handball decision which lead to our opening the scoring via the penalty spot seemed harsh - I'm not sure how much the Avondale defender knew about it as he was tracking back hoping to block the cross into the box. The game was fairly even at this point, though I think we looked the more likely to score the next goal. Sadly we didn't help our cause in this matter by resorting to playing corners either short or along the ground, a strange decision considering that opposition keeper Chris May is not the tallest goalie in this league. We also didn't do our cause much good by virtue of one of the most amazing botches of an otherwise certain goal you'll see for some time - the low cross fizzed across the face of goal, barely a metre in front of the goal line, and somehow three of our players missed it despite being in prime position to get us to 2-0. So it goes.

Avondale gradually started getting on top, and while some may say that the removal of Mathew Theodore for Iqi Jawadi during the second half was a catalyst for that, to be honest I think that the rot had already set in well before that. We found it very hard to keep the ball and were camped in our own half during the second stanza for long periods of time; and while we managed to scramble well in defense and repel most of the aerial bombardment, Avondale's poor finishing (and the tidy goalkeeping work of Nikola Roganovic) was as important to keeping the home side from scoring as whatever else happened on the night.

Having said all of that, we did manage to get into promising attacking positions in the second half, even if that was partly due to Avondale committing players forward, but that's the price you pay for falling behind. That need to push forward saw Avondale take more risks than they really needed to, with Chris May flying out of his own area; on one occasion a poor clearance saw him stranded, with the long range shot striking an Avondale defender and triggering calls for another handball, waved away this time by the referee; on another occasion, in May's haste to get the ball as far up the field as quickly as possible, it looked like he carried the ball about a metre outside his own 18 yard area before kicking it. Probably the only people who didn't see this were the officials, as even May looked around wondering how he'd managed to get so far up the field.

We did manage to score again via the last kick of the game, making the scoreboard look more respectable than a dispassionate analysis of the game would warrant. The result left some of us happy because we'd won, while others of us happy because we hadn't played well, and their feelings of vindication will only be magnified when we eventually do crash. Avondale were happy because they outplayed us, which is worth more than the three points on offer if you haven't managed to get those three points - though useless of course if you find yourself in a relegation battle. Massimo Murdocca came off the ground smiling for reasons one can only speculate on. The referees, too, would have been happy to get off the field without copping any abuse from the South fans alongside the players' race, as Roganovic distracted those supporters with a rendition of the trumpet chant. Clever man, that Nikola.

It's interesting to ponder the nature of the team as it has been developed during Chris Taylor's time. Not that the team has only ever played dour, results oriented football under Taylor (I can sense the objections flying in already...), but to some extent it was built to play and succeed in the conditions traditionally associated with Victorian soccer - crap, bumpy, muddy grounds. Think back to the years before Chris Taylor, where ball playing South Melbourne sides would often look much better at home on the usually well kept surface at Lakeside, only to struggle away where the grounds were often in much worse condition. But in 2016 most of the surfaces have been in great nick so far. Life persists in providing such paradoxes,

Like John Cain Memorial Reserve when we had a co-tenancy with Northcote, the surface at Somers Street is beginning to show signs of wear and tear, though it seemed to be far from unplayable. Barring the possibility of being drawn away to Knights or Avondale in the next round of the cup, we'll likely only have the one game left there this year, so we probably won't see it at its worst. Then again, is our team perhaps suited to grounds in poor condition rather than good? And after all the fence mania in 2016 - which seems to have died down already - I finally got to see the newly asphalted car park behind the grandstand. It was very asphalt-y*.

*Keep in mind that it could have been bitumen, not asphalt. I don't know anything about this stuff.

Next game
Melbourne Knights at Somers Street. At this stage the game is scheduled for Friday night, but this could conceivably change to a more traditional Sunday afternoon time-slot, so keep an eye out for that.

Update from South Melbourne regarding incident against Melbourne Victory
For those who have not come across it yet, the club released a statement yesterday providing an update on the investigation and identification of those Victory supporters involved in the attack on our supporters.
South Melbourne FC wishes to update its members, sponsors and the general football public on the recent progress made by the Club in regards to the incident against Melbourne Victory’s NPL team last Sunday 24 April 2016. 
SMFC has so far positively identified 21 individuals connected to Melbourne Victory Football Club that organised an unprovoked attack on SMFC supporters in the designated SMFC grandstand early in the second half of last Sunday’s match. 
Relevant information relating to these individuals, including names, footage and photographs have been given to Victoria Police, Melbourne Victory Football Club, Football Federation Victoria and Football Federation Australia. 
SMFC thanks the many people – including non-SMFC members and supporters – for assisting with information that has helped lead to the 21 positive identifications. The Club continues to investigate the incident as there may be more individuals that need to be identified. 
SMFC wishes to once again praise the actions of the SMFC supporters, who despite the unprovoked attack on them, remained in their allocated section to allow for security, parents, Board of Management, staff and club marshals to de-escalate the situation. 
Senior Coach Chris Taylor, his football staff and the players have all condemned the actions of the Melbourne Victory supporters but have praised the SMFC supporters and give their best wishes to anyone that was affected by this appalling incident. 
The players urge all SMFC supporters to continue their fantastic support of the team tonight against Avondale FC at Knights Stadium.
I think the club itself has done well with its public relations efforts, which is not something you can always say about South Melbourne, especially when an incident like this occurs.

Neos Kosmos
Some South Melbourne fans were wondering how much would be dedicated and how hard Thursday's Neos Kosmos would go regarding this incident, and how it would be spun; especially when compared to some of the criticisms levied at South Melbourne by Neos Kosmos in the past for unruly fan incidents by South fans. For the benefit of the non-Greek readers, in this piece, Elias Donoudis says more or less the following:

  • Donoudis calls these Victory supporters disorderly and hooligans (on several occasions)
  • Makes the erroneous statement that the Victory hooligan behaviour started after Victory fell behind on the scoreboard.
  • Says that eyewitnesses reported to him that the Victory fans (who grabbed banners, threw bottles, etc), created the kind of atmosphere not seen in Australian soccer for some years, especially in the state leagues where the crowds are so small that they know each other by their first names.
  • He claims the situation was eventually diffused by calmer heads and the police (which is wrong, because the police didn't turn up until after the main incident was over)
  • He makes the point of how by the incident making it into mainstream media, those responsible for the incident also damaged the game and served the interests of those who oppose soccer.
  • He mocks (cynically) the fact that Victory, South Melbourne and FFA made press releases on the matter, in a snarky manner adding 'good, we're saved now'.
  • He hopes that these hooligans are already banned from the A-League, and will be banned from the state leagues.
  • With some more sarcasm, he notes that in an era where we're told the game has made large strides, the continuing presence of these extremists will see the game go nowhere.
  • He finishes with noting the irony of Vaughan Coveny (one of the nicest boys and a good footballer) coaching Victory Youth, having worn and done honour to the South Melbourne shirt as a player.

For whatever it's worth
The whole post 'botched banner stealing incident' reaction has been interesting. Most Victory fans have condemned the actions of those involved, even if some of those took their time on the matter. Pretty much the only ones not condemning the action have been people close to those allegedly involved, and that's hardly a surprise, though one attempt to turn those Victory fans attacking South's grandstand into the real or at least co-existent victims was at the strange end of those showing a lack of contrition. Still, it was better (and more amusing) than those feeble attempts by some to make both this and last week's incident of a South supporter getting hit by a flare somehow South's fault. I'm not so sure that some of the internet lynch mob efforts by our fans are appropriate, but welcome to the internet I guess - not every place is populated by people as kind and serene as those who read South of the Border. Add to that the fact that so much of this stuff is played out on the internet anyway, where everyone can spin events their own way. Thank goodness this blog has nothing to do with the internet.

The most interesting comment I came across regarding this incident was not on the internet, but rather on the physical plane of existence, demonstrating that the real world still has something left to offer. At Paisley Park today, where Altona East were hosting North Sunshine Eagles, I overheard some North Sunshine supporters discussing last Sunday's incident, with the woman among the group not buying South Melbourne's claim that they had identified 21 people. Now considering North Sunshine's own problems with the FFV tribunal during recent years, including a massive point deduction in 2016 for a pre-season barney with Sunshine George Cross which relied a lot more on eye witness testimony than the documentary evidence gathered in the South-Victory case, you'd think this supporter could be a bit more cautious and/or circumspect with such assertions.

Anyway, best to let the justice system run its course in this matter. Besides which, there were more extra curricular activities which took place today which had nothing to do with us, so this thing now has its own momentum independent of us.

Talking head for hire
Spent some time at Lakeside on late Thursday afternoon being interviewed for a uni project by a couple of budding sports journalists from La Trobe University. Usual drill in terms of questions, not sure if it will get a release beyond the confines of their class. The lads were very professional though - production had the works, discreet microphone, establishing shots (including hokey looking into the distance stuff). I hope they get a good mark, and remember the little people when they become famous journalists.

Match programmes
I got given some more stuff yesterday, late 1990s and early 2000s. Hope to begin uploading that stuff soon.

Around the grounds
Another favourite goes through to the next round. How inspiring.
Found myself making my way out to Port Melbourne on Wednesday night to see the Sharks take on the struggling Sunshine George Cross. Apart from languishing near the bottom of the NPL2 division, Georgies were lucky to get this far in the cup according to those who saw them play Keilor Park. Anyway, the Georgies showed a bit of pluck as you would expect them to do, but as soon as Port scored their second goal, this game was done. Port won it 6-1, and could have had double that, all while barely raising a sweat. Some fresh air and casual exercise walking to and from the ground was about all I got out of this game.

You get what you pay for
I was greeted at the entrance to Altona East's side of Paisley Park with 'hello, Mr Pass Man'. So off to a good start there. To make up for not paying entry I bought a souv (which I usually do anyway), but also a couple of raffle tickets (which I rarely do), and of course I didn't even hear the winning ticket announced. The first 15 minutes saw Altona East and North Sunshine provide some lively entertainment, which must have then buggered off to the pub or something, because the rest of the game was pretty ordinary. North Sunshine bundled in a corner at the back post, and made sure of the points with a goal at the end. Altona East never looked like scoring; even when they somehow beat the offside trap early in the game, the player in possession decided that instead of aiming at the entirety of the goal face he'd put it wide. The only other fun to be had was in spotting the Dodgy Asian Betting guy at the game. It looks like Victorian soccer's version of Where's Wally has infiltrated the state leagues.

Final thought
Clearly the problem last week was that our security measures were too sophisticated.

11 comments:

  1. Paul may I recommend you bring back the 'fence' review section out of retirement one last time and get one of the North Terrace lads to contribute. Man did those lads get a very good, up close and personal view of the Epping Stadium fence today. Don't think you will find anyone with more intimate knowledge of its quality.

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    Replies
    1. A welder associate of mine did praise the quality of the new Knights Stadium fence.

      The fact also that you got here four minutes after the post was published is pretty impressive.

      Delete
  2. Donoudis sure sounds like scum. I guess he gets a lot of facts wrong because getting the agenda out comes first.

    Hopefully it's not too wet a winter, that would exacerbate the issues with co-tenancy at Knights Stadium as well. A few postponements the year Hume City played out of there.

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  3. He didn't mention his sons alleged involvement.

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    Replies
    1. Was not his son, but the son of (I believe) a now former Neos Kosmos contributor.

      Delete
  4. Oh shit!

    I need to retract what I have said to all and sundry! LOL

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  5. Great to get another 3 points and maintain our lead at the top of the ladder. There will be matches where we simply don't play well, and there have been matches this year where the heroics of Roganovic have kept us in matches. Be that as it may, these are the 1 per centers that prove the difference between finishing second, and winning the minor premiership.

    As for the Victory thugs, interesting how many of the North Terrace members were denied entry at Epping Stadium and were forced to watch the match proceedings behind the perimeter fence. Good to see South Melbourne has identified many of the culprits and is working closely with the appropriate authorities. Hopefully we see many more clubs turning away these thugs.

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  6. Heidelberg v Bentleigh this week. Dream scenario would be beating the Knights and either a draw or Heidelberg win in that game.

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    Replies
    1. If the moons align, we could be up to 6 points ahead at the top of the ladder. Important we win at Knights on Friday night.

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  7. Another 3 points. My South mentality is telling me we're safe from relegation. We can work on the next worse scenario and have our fingers crossed for a lower mid table finish now

    Manny

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  8. Very annoyed that I cannot find the quote in the Match Programmes that Postecoglou made about the new breed of clubs being flash in the pan, and that the traditional clubs will reclaim their place at the top of the pile.

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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.