Friday, 23 June 2017

The Dockerty Cup as unloved middle child - South Melbourne 0 Bentleigh Greens 2

It needn't have ended up like this, but the way things were set in motion, what happened last night was the most likely outcome. That no one seems too bothered by the result seems to me on one level to be problematic - after all, don't we at South Melbourne go in to win everything? - but at the same time, this being the year of unstoppable good feeling at Lakeside, most people seem happy to go with the flow.

That, and the Dockerty Cup doesn't seem to be the hill that anyone want to die on. In that sense, the Dockerty Cup is the forlorn middle child grasping for attention against mature and serious big brother League Ambition, and spoiled and petulant little brother FFA Bandwagon Cup.

The match was against Bentleigh, the team that presently more than any other causes us unending grief. The match was at Jack Edwards Reserve, a venue at which we have only won once in the last few seasons, and even that was more due to a chaotic late flurry in a rubbish game than dare I say it, skill or planning. The match was also in the middle of June instead of at the pointy end of the season, the latter of which we are far more predisposed to doing well in, as long as you ignore our 14 or 15 match unbeaten streak, and a potted history of disastrous results during several recent pointy ends

There was also once again no Milos Lujic, and also no Nick Epifano, so I think you could quite clearly see where our priorities were set - namely, getting in and out of this affair primarily without injury or suspension. And if things should just happen to pan out a particular way, end up having Lakeside host the final as the neutral venue of choice, where we may make some decent coin at the bar and kitchen. All in all, a case of win-win being not so much different from lose-win.

David Barca Moreno was put up front, by himself, and it did not work. This was mostly due to the fact that, apart from the first twenty or so minutes, we played the ball to him as if he was Milos Lujic; that is, long balls that he was asked to chase and compete for against centre backs. Now Moreno may be a gifted player or he may be a plodder, but I don't think he is that particular kind of forward; rather, I think he is one of those types that prefers the ball to feet, and for the most part we didn't do that.

But that opening twenty minutes! My word, didn't we look almost-sorta-competent-but-not-really during that time! Well, yes; yes, we did. As much or opponents were taking the ball up one end with a certain amount of confidence, so were we. In what was an open game marred by petty officiating - which we copped the brunt of of, though on reflection most of that fairly - both sides sought to outdo each other for bad crosses and midfield turnovers.

They didn't make us force a save during the first half that I can remember, while we had some OK chances, but this game soon went where so many recent contests against the Greens have gone - we forfeited any pretense at controlling the midfield, and eventually let Bentleigh have the match played on their terms. Our wide play, or the narrower confines of Jack Edwards Reserve, was limp at best. Neither Leigh Minopoulos, the returning Jesse Daley, nor Marcus Schroen had any meaningful impact on the contest.

Matthew Millar trudged up and down the field, but ineffectually. Maybe the bright sparks in the crowd are on to something when they say that he struggles at this ground, but I want more evidence first; two times only being a coincidence and not a trend as is three times. Luke Pavlou was industrious (ugh, bad word for 'tried hard but didn't do good') but also got lost a lot of times.

Further back, Brad Norton slipped and fell and looked shakier than I've noticed for a while. Matthew Foschini tended to have the measure of his direct opponent at right back, and even made some promising runs forward, but was let down by his crossing - which to be fair, was pretty much the sa,e deal as any other South player that attempted a cross last night.

The best on ground for us was Michael Eagar, who continues to play like a man reborn in 2017. Stefan Zinni was brought on probably a bit late for my liking, but once on had negligible impact on the contest. I'd also like to note that, while it's not like we weren't competing, we did look perhaps a little reticent in going full-blooded into the contest, maybe even a bit tired.

Once we fell behind in the second half, as we deserved to do, I guess the writing was more on the wall than ever. Did we improve once we conceded? Not really. Did anyone get particularly upset when Tyson Holmes doubled Bentleigh's lead thanks in no small part to Tom Rogic (video blocked to due FIFA chucking a tanty)-esque outrageous piece of good fortune? Not that I could tell. The team lifted a little bit, played with a bit more urgency, but not much more skill, and thus we bowed out of the Dockerty Cup running.

I am the bag of sand that puts out the party flame
I really would have liked to have won this game, seeing as how I fought for the return of the Dockerty Cup name and trophy, and to a lesser extent because I like it when South wins things. But everyone else around me, and even those on the forum, seemed not so fussed.

On the terrace last night then, perhaps because of the fatigue of winning too much or because of a general apathy towards this tournament, the atmosphere in Clarendon was at its most convivial, witty and oddball. Chants started off strong, before withering off into nonsense noises; more deconstructionist sound art project than chant, like the time we did staccato renditions of the 'vamos a la playa' chant back in 2008.

After hoping that the whole Matthew 'Apples' Millar thing (Millar being close enough in pronunciation to the Greek for 'apples') would die a sad and lonely death, last night we reached peak 'Apples' season when two inflatable red apples made an appearance. Goodness knows what Millar himself makes of this; provided he pays any sort of attention to this nonsense. Suffice to say, I did not join in the 'apples' chant, nor did I playfully bounce the inflatable apples around.

For some reason - maybe because he had a particular moment of bad play early on, or perhaps because as a collective we've gone through hating every other Bentleigh player these past few seasons - Nick Glavan came in for some attention this time. Either way, the erratic booing and cheering of Glavan - referred to only as 'Number 19' because I don't think most people knew he was - became an essential feature of the first half as he trod up and down the wing in front of Clarendon Corner.

Had it been up to me, some mention would have been made of Glavan's traitorous move from Knights to Bentleigh being part of the reason the former are in the dire straits they are, but that would have killed the entire whimsical notion of him being some random that people had decided to focus their attention on. That, and it was kind of sad when it did look like Glavan's Greens teammates were deliberately not passing the ball to him. For his part Glavan took the unusual attention directed toward him in his stride.

The crowds at state league soccer, as they were for much of the NSL, are of a such nature that fans and players can find themselves building a rapport even over the course of just 45 minutes. Since in our case this often ends badly, I'm just glad that for once we managed to get out of both Jack Edwards Reserve and a match against Bentleigh without any unpleasant scenes.

I still rather we'd won though.

Next game
Oakleigh at home on Sunday. Very short turnaround. Mid-season slump time?

Fixture updates
We have a rescheduled date for our postponed round 16 home against Avondale. It's been scheduled for Wednesday August 2nd.

This is the last time I'll mention this, for the next few months at least 
Some or many of you may be aware of SBS having sold off their a good deal of their world cup rights to Optus, in exchange for one game a week of EPL rights. This has upset some people, me included, but I've not made a big deal about it under I lost my cool on Twitter the other day.

This decision means that rather than showing the whole tournament, SBS will only shows 25 matches live (others on delay), while Optus gets 39 exclusive matches. For SBS, that will be one live per day (their pick), four round of 16 matches, two quarter-finals, both semi-finals, and the final. For free-to-air views, everything else will probably be on delay.

Because SBS has decided it would rather have access to Bournemouth vs Palace, what was the best free-to-air coverage of the World Cup in the world is now gone. For folks of a younger vintage, who have grown up accustomed to watching sports on subscription television, this won't seem like bad a deal. For those of us who grew up with this service as a given, the compromise seems nonsensical.

While it was the best free-to-air coverage of the tournament in the world, Australians still had to work for it in order to watch. Along with the mainstream media's ignorance of the tournament's magnitude, the ridiculous late night and early morning sessions, always in the middle of winter, made the tournament accessibility an inherent issue.

But that's where SBS stepped in, the self-appointed broadcast media guardians of soccer in Australia. They brought us the tournament in its entirety, and gave it the respect it deserved - give or take Craig Foster's inability to comport himself professionally during Socceroo matches. But no more, because SBS prefers to live off the drip feed benefits of Anglophile and Eurosnob magic beans. SBS once boasted about its soccer coverage, of which the World Cup was the the undoubted jewel in the crown.

I have had one Twitterer say that I should just pay for the Optus package. After all, I must have a 'home phone, mobile phone or broadband'. Well, yes, I have all three of those products with one company or another, and I can easily afford whatever Optus would charge. But that's not the point. The point is we are being asked to pay for what we already had, all while getting in the form of a weekly EPL game, something that very few of us actually want.

Not everyone has the proper internet connection quality to watch legal or illegal streams. Not everyone has the budget to splurge on pay television. And considering that we as Australian taxpayers (even those who contribute mostly through  paying GST because you don't make enough money to pay income taxes) have already paid for this, it is the height of robber-baron capitalism that we are asked to pay again for what we have already paid for.

And no, I will not pay for access, and no, I will not use the services of people who have. That's my pledge of pettiness to you, the reader.

I get that unlike our other erstwhile public broadcaster, SBS has particular commercial imperatives that they must satisfy. But it also has public broadcaster imperatives that it also needs to serve. Seeing as how they've reduced all their prime time viewing into English language programming, banished most of the foreign films in favour of mainstream American alternative cinema, and only play Miyazaki anime - in English dub - instead of the cooler stuff they used to dabble in, this move should come as no surprise.

[The most telling evidence of SBS selling out? Playing This is Spinal Tap instead of Get Ready to be Boyzvoiced]

That doesn't mean I'm happy about it, and it doesn't even make sense to me from a commercial aspects. Why sell out your world cup rights now, at the height of soccer's popularity in Australia? Because of Qatar and then 48 teams, this will be the last World Cup many people will likely care about so much, and now we get to see less of it because of EPL magic beans.

And no, watching games on delay is not cool. This isn't 1993, when those of us a certain vintage were happy and dumb enough to 'look away now' if we didn't want to know the score in order to pretend we were 'in the moment'.

So that's my final word on this matter from now up until the tournament starts and everyone else catches on about how SBS has dudded Australian soccer fans.

As an addendum to this post, some of the few who read my 2014 World Cup Heavy Sleeper work have wondered what will this mean for that feature's possible return next year. The truth is, I don't know. Part of what made the Heavy Sleeper work (in my opinion) was its amazing access to every game, provided I could wake up, which is obviously lessened now. Another aspect was its spontaneity, and I'm not sure I can replicate that.

But most importantly, the Heavy Sleeper was able to succeed as an immense piece of Great Art (whatever that is) because the tournament was great, and I was able to tap into joy for once - and for close to a whole month no less - instead of the unceasing negativity and moroseness that is South of the Border. Do people really want to read an angry and ceaselessly negative World Cup variant of what I do here? Do I even want to write that?

The answer to those questions is 'I don't know'. I was happy enough to let that glorious experiment remain as is, and I may still do so. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Final thought

Monday, 19 June 2017

Showboat - South Melbourne 8 St Albans 1

Nearly impossible to understand in-joke placed here for my own amusement.
We'd left the Bubbledome behind, but our fine form and the seagulls followed us back to Lakeside.

Yes, when you approach games such as this you are expected to show at least some level of at least mock concern. You know, the kind of concern that goes along the lines of "sure we're unbeaten in three months and they've won one game all season, but stranger things can happen so let's not be complacent".  That went out the window pretty quickly in this game. We dominated from the start, and even though it took a little longer than one would've like to open the scoring - I did say to Gains at one point that 'it'd be nice to score soon, just in case' - the gulf in class was there for all to see.

A struggling team like St Albans might be able to hack and scrap out a result on its own ground - especially something like the small and bumpy Churchill Reserve - but on the wide, lush expanses of Lakeside, they will struggle to keep up. This is especially the case if their opponents, like South, employ a wide and expansive game. Without Milos Lujic - who was out injured - Leigh Minopoulos moved into the centre-forward position, and Stefan Zinni replaced the suspended Jesse Daley. Minopoulos provided a more mobile forward option, and Zinni a faster option out wide, neither of which St Albans could handle. And that's not even mentioning the marauding goal scoring midfield machine that is 2017's Matthew Millar.

Once the first goal was scored by Millar, the rest came tumbling after, and any sense of this being a danger game was quickly pushed away. Minopoulos, Brad Norton and Nick Epifano all had goals before the break. With Heidelberg falling behind at home to Oakleigh, the focus turned to goal difference and possibility of even snatching top spot. After our abysmal 'sack everyone' start to the season, it has been a remarkable turnaround. That doesn't mean that complacency hadn't slipped in - Calvin Mbarga's goal before half time seemed to come out of nowhere, as these things tend to do when you're on top by so much, so early.
The social club has upgraded its seating. It's now steel frames and padding.
They also had a spaghetti special, which I would've been more amenable
to trying had it been made with a short pasta variety. Spaghetti gets messy. 

And to their credit St Albans came out hard in the second half, while we were still poncing about. They should have added a second goal, and only the vagaries of the laws of physics kept them from doing so. Don't ask me how it works, I'm a lowly humanities human. Soon enough however South woke up and resumed the barrage - and the showboating. The heights of this insanity? Michael Eagar attempting some outrageous flick from a corner, and a Pavlou pile driver from a very long way out which crashed against the post.

Never mind. Two more goals to Minopoulos, another goal to Millar, and a goal on debut to Spanish forward David Marca Moreno completed the humiliation. If not for the efforts of the St Albans goalkeeper, without any sense of hyperbole the scoreline could've ended much worse for the visitors. They were also saved - if such a thing could be argued - by the referee, who refused to play any additional time. Maybe he'd seen enough. I understand. We'd got enough goals to do end the day on top of the table, and the crowd was mostly very appreciative of this fact - except for some indistinct goings on at the back of the stand.

I was pleased that Matthew Foschini was kept at right back and Luke Pavlou at defensive mid. Nick Epifano came off injured in the second half - it looked serious, but you never with these things. A late yellow card to Brad Norton was unnecessary. It was good to get a full game into Zinni, and some minutes into Moreno. Both looked good, but the calibre of opponent was not optimal in regards to testing either of them to the fullest. If this match demonstrated anything, it showed up the difference between the haves and have nots of the Victorian topflight. Once upon a time, the power centre was very much in the north and west, and even if St Albans were never the most successful part of the western element, they were a Victorian topflight mainstay for twenty years. The arrival of Melbourne Knights from the NSL hasn't helped Dinamo's cause, but neither has the power and money centre shifting in a south-easterly direction. They've also had their injuries, but they also can't attract the combination of quality aspirant youngters, A-League fringe-dwellers, and top-shelf VPL lifers as South and teams like South can.

For us, we have a much tougher run in the next couple of weeks - Dockerty Cup midweek, very short recovery time before playing Oakleigh, and then Green Gully the week after. The squad's depth will be tested, and while we want to win everything, there may need to be some rationing made, and some players nursed through. Oh, and Kristian Konstantinidis is due back soon.

Next game
Bentleigh Greens in a Dockerty Cup semi-final at Oakleigh on Thursday. My first wish is that we win the game. My second wish is that whoever is listed as the away side for this fixture - and it appears to be Bentleigh in this case - wears white or their nominated away colours. for the sake of improved visibility insofar as this is a night game and royal blue and dark green tend to blur into each other, especially on poorly lit grounds. I expect this game to be streamed live, but check your local guides closer to the event.

Slipping under the radar
Among the transfers last week - unannounced by the club - was Lionel Masudi from NPL 2 side Murray United. He played in the under 20s match last week.

Congratulations to...
Former South Melbourne junior Ajdin Hrsutic who made his national team debut last week in the Socceroos' loss to Brazil.

Match programmes
Added round 5, 1978 thanks to Mark Boric.

Around the grounds
In the interests of science
So by now you've all heard of the amazing nine minutes in which Bulleen put five goals past Knights at Somers Street. It sucked the right out of the stadium. The goals were flying in so quickly, my phone froze and Bulleen scored twice during the reboot. What you may not have heard is who is getting the blame for this - and it's not who you may think! Yes, rather than the coaches or the players, it's your correspondent who has been singled out for blame, all for doing nothing more than attending Knights matches in 2017. Well, there's only one way to test this theory out properly - I must keep going to Knights matches this season to see if it's really my presence that's cursed them.

No food in the fridge so let's repaint the house
So, Altona East finally get to a play a proper home game in 2017. The new grass is close enough to ready. The new fences are up. Now all they need is some points, because as it stands things are not looking good. They start off this game against the capable Banyule by hitting the crossbar, then falling behind. They win a penalty, and have it saved. Things fall apart in the second half as frustration turns teamwork toward ego, and they cop two more goals. None of these three goals are especially remarkable, but they are pleasing to watch for their simplicity, which is not the same thing as hoofball. Given the level they play at, and the bigger budgets of other clubs, Banyule at least provide a lesson in how to play the game from which anyone can learn from.

Final thought
The cheesecake was fine. I've had better. I've had worse. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't go so far as to absolutely rave about it. But at least I know how to savour these things, make the moment last.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Original Bingate artefact Wednesday

Apart from the main goal of (re)presenting) and presevring these materials, the words in this post is mostly me trying to fill out a page with text when the entries themselves - including the teacher's comment of 'nasty stuff Peter!' - speak for themselves.


Back in 2009, I put up this post which focused on how once upon a time (circa 2001), South Melbourne Hellas was still relevant enough that references to it in local Greek school course materials seemed entirely natural.

But of course, independent of any curriculum mandate, South Melbourne Hellas fans had been using South as part of their schoolwork for many years before that, and in my case also much later.

Some time ago a bloke posted these diary entries he'd written in primary school onto a Facebook group; I think it was the 'Bring Back the NSL' page. If true, this would be both ironic and hilarious because these images provide several strong arguments on why the NSL should not be brought back - unless you're into this kind of thing of course. Some people are.

I never got around to posting those here on South of the Border at the time, despite obtaining the permission of Peter Kougi to do so. So here they are, and a belated thanks to Peter for sharing them in the first place, and for allowing us to share them here as well. It's safe to say that these diary entries, especially the one with the bin, have already earned a significant amount of notoriety of their own volition.

We'll never know why I delayed putting these up, but the whole 'bingate' affair from this year's trip to Kingston reminded a lot of people of these images, so it seems fitting that we at South of the Border have eventually got around to uploading them, I am also reminded of Billy Natsioulas' story post from the blog's earliest days, which included reference to the 1993/94 Hellas-Croatia riot incident.


Monday, 12 June 2017

A rare treat - South Melbourne 3 Heidelberg United 0

The Setting
Every now and again, when a good crowd turns up for what might be considered by a neutral as a meaningful affair of a South match, I like to note in these pages that the occasion 'felt like a real game'. Of course, for South fans, every game is important and meaningful, no?
And let's not forget no social club either!

So, because Brazil wanted to use Lakeside exclusively for training preparations, we found ourselves at the Bubbledome. No complaints from me as a one off, and I think most South fans, whether regular Bubbledome visitors or first timers, enjoyed the novelty of the experience. Those first ten minutes especially felt surreal, some strange mishmash of past and future that shouldn't have been, but was. Then the game eventually did its bit to overcome the uncanniness of the setting, and attention was then mostly on the players.

I don't like to predict crowds or count them, but I was expecting no more than 1,200 or so. The public holiday long weekend, the relatively lake kickoff, the lack of media attention, and all the usual banes of this state league existence. Some of that would be offset by the novelty value, the odd neutral making the trip in, the fact that it was South vs Heidelberg in a near top of the table clash, but those expecting miracles of several thousand to turn up were to my mind misguided.

The fact that close to 2,500 (officially 2,365) turned up was a good result. It was not earth shattering, but neither was it embarrassing. The club had promoted the game through its social media channels, the FFV did their bit, and the Berger fans came out in good numbers. One fan noted afterwards that a crowd like that at Lakeside would have been electric - and I won't argue with that - but it was hardly a disaster. It helped that, so far as I could tell, South itself did not put a number out into the public sphere that would be considered as a pass mark. Sure, it's true that you miss all of the shots you don't take, but by avoiding setting a definitive target, the crowd number did not become the be all and end all of the day.

Catch her if you can: Melina Ayres celebrates as South's WNPL side
keep pace with the ladder leaders after beating Alamein 3-1.
Photo: Mark Avellino.
I was surprised that rather than just opening the entirety of the western stand and leaving the rest of the ground closed off to the general public, that the folks in charge went for a bit more of a customer focused approach, opening the lower deck on the western side, but also each of the goal ends. South of the Border and associates got to the ground well before kick-off for the men's game, and had little issue with quickly getting our tickets and getting in. I'm not sure if lines closer to start time were more problematic. Security outside the ground was a bit intense for an NPL match, being standard major events stadium practice of bag searches and empty pocket metal scans, but inside the ground everything seemed fairly casual.

(the food and drink prices I'm told were ridiculous; it makes you appreciate the relative pleasures of local grounds, and for me at least, what we have with our social club)

As you'd expect there was no segregation of fans, though there was a certain amount of natural selection; South fans tending to take up areas of the southern side of the available space, including the behind the goals, while the Bergers took up northern areas. Security inside the venue seemed non-intrusive, the only interference in our area being to tell people to not stand on seats, which seems like a reasonable enough request. I don't understand why people stand on seats anyway when they don't need to do so in order to see the game. Clarendon Corner's minimal banner and confetti display received no hassle. Clarendon Corner's numbers were fine, and the chanting more frequent and committed than usual. The most memorable chant? Off the top of my head, 'shit ground, no fans'. Oh, and anything primary school level in order to outdo some Berger juniors on the wing.

Then there were the seagulls. The seagulls are infamous, of course, and Lakeside is not immune to their appearance - we are not so far from the ocean, after all. But the seagull problem at Bubbledome is something else. The kookaburra noise intermittently played over the speakers to disperse them was also almost as irritating as the seagulls to some. I was later told that the same sound is also played at the MCG, but I can't say I've ever heard it, maybe because I was too busy abusing Travis Cloke at the time. Anyway, I can't say with any authority whether the sound affects worked,

The stadium music was too loud, and its musical selections - with the exception of a bit of Pulp's 'Commin People' - not much better than Lakeside's offerings. The benches from the 2015 Asian Cup didn't make an appearance, and thus we had the famous Bunnings chairs instead. The scoreboard was in full operation, simulcasting the live stream. Most importantly, the grass and line markings all seemed up to scratch, which was a relief after the Wallabies had played on the field the day before.

The Match Itself
As we were making our way to the ground from the pub on Swan Street, I noted to one of the fans along for the walk that I no longer felt confident about any South game. So different to the NSL days in that regard, and so out of synch with the fact that in the Chris Taylor era we've been able to amass several long undefeated streaks. And as much as I hate to say it, the novelty of having an open doors match at Bubbledome also left one wondering about the contrived social media reaction would be if we lost this game. But that's just me being unnecessarily sensitive, as per usual.

For all Heidelberg's complaints about having to field a sort of makeshift defense - which seemed to me to centre mostly around Steven Pace being out injured - it's not like we didn't have our own issue. Milos Lujic had injured a hamstring during the week, or so they said, so I wasn't expecting him to be out there yesterday, but there he was, metaphorically on one leg, Seeing him out there didn't fill me with confidence - it was certainly a gamble, but I guess the powers that be felt that the situation warranted the risk. I had felt, and still feel, that we've been very fortunate to not have Milos miss many games, and that while what do no doubt works most of the time, it would be interesting - from a strictly scientific point of view, of course - to see how the team would play without him. I'd expect that properly set up, it would be probably be less clinical, but it would also be much more flexible and unpredictable.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves a bit. Our defense also had a notable absence, in that Tim Mala was missing because of the red card he got in our game two weeks ago against Port. So what was the plan going to be for this time around without a known right back? Would Taylor play defensive mid Luke Pavlou there for a third time, having copped eight goals in the two games he was slotted in there? Thankfully not! Matthew Foschini was put there, and he played rather well. The big threat for Heidelberg around the final third is of course Kenny Athiu. It's not just his size, but also his mobility which causes opposition defenses problems. And in the first fifteen minutes or so, we were on the back foot, scrambling around a bit. But after that, we seemed to control the game. As one unfairly maligned supporter noted, apart from playing in his natural position, Foschini was also able to play those passes down the line better than Mala usually does.

Nick Epifano's shot on its way for 3-0. Photo: Mark Avellino 
Our wide play - our best feature when we play well under Taylor - was at its best last night. On the other hand, the Bergers would get to wide areas, or into the corners, and get stuck; snookered if you will. Our counter-attacks, so often a weak point of ours, have become a bit more a reliable outlet for us. Going two goals up before half-time - a slightly fortunate goal for Nick Epifano, and well taken one on one by Lujic - made things much easier to sort out for the second half. Lujic was subbed for Leigh Minopoulos, and while we played a bit more conservatively in the second half - we always controlled the nature of the game. As an aside, it will be interesting to see how Lujic's hamstring issue is managed over this next little bit - provided that he didn't aggravate the matter in his 45 minute stint yesterday.

We should have added to our lead well before the Peoples' Champ tapped in Jesse Daley's pass with about ten or so to play, but that's to nitpick unnecessarily. Our desperation for the contest across the board was excellent. Our organisation was usually pretty good. Even at our most vulnerable Nikola Roganovic only had to make sparing saves, the most spectacular of which was when the game was well over. If I was to pick out something which annoyed me, it was our continuing tendency this season to collect yellow cards from unnecessarily aggressive fouls or assorted inessential nonsense. Yellow cards get collected out of custom anyway, and the more games you play the more you'll get. Coming up to a crowded bit of the schedule though, it will be a problem when we have to shuffle things around more so than you would like. But that's where the much vaunted depth comes into play.

Unfamiliar venue, familiar routine: Nikola Roganovic, as he usually does
 after a game, celebrating with South Melbourne fans. Photo: Mark Avellino. 
The ladder as it stands is a complicated situation, what with the teams at the top, including ourselves, having various numbers of games in hand, sometimes against each other. The important thing is that we've kept in touch with the ladder leaders, especially Heidelberg, who could've skipped away with a win yesterday. We also extend what is an absurdly long unbeaten run. It's a long way from the dire start to the season.

In conclusion
A good win, and most people seemed to enjoy the event. It was also nice to be able to share the experience with everyone else, as opposed to what happened last year.

Next game
Sunday at Lakeside against St Albans.

Coming and goings
Liam McCormick has departed the club, joining Dandenong City. Meanwhile, we've signed young midfielder Bardhi Hysolli from Bulleen. I have no idea who he is, which doesn't mean he's no good. We've also gone for a Spanish forward, David Barca Moreno, from Getafe B. I feel like I've seen this move played before, but I can't put my finger on it. His international clearance reportedly came through this week, but not his local clearance, There is talk that Andy Kecojevic has gone overseas, but nothing official at the time of print.

Intergalactic Space Hussy department
For Victorian premier Daniel Andrews, caught two-timing us with the Dandenong A-League bid.
Around the grounds
Half arsed
Among even the most sartorially oblivious of men can be found a certain niche for fashion trends - the soccer jersey. And thus I spent part of a Friday night at Somers Street observing a conversation about colours, shades, cuts and fabric; about makers, years, taste, and at times an unapologetic preference for unpopular styles. As for the game itself, it was rubbish. Knights are barely keeping their head above water, being at the start of a very long rebuild. Bentleigh meanwhile went about their business completely half-arsed. While else would they play Andy Brennan when he is clearly battling with injury? The game seemed set to take its expected course, when Bentleigh took the lead in the first half via Lambros Honos. Knights were bound to get one chance which they would need to make the most of - and Tom Cahill blasted his penalty into the back of the net. Then Bentleigh had a player sent off, and you wondered how Knights would manage to stuff this one up. The answer? By conceding a woefully soft goal with the last kick of the game, And I never got to find out for sure if Knights ever had an Umbro kit in their history.

The proverbial, dare I say, quintessential six-point game
Westgate, the home team, were on three points. Altona East, the away side, were of four. South of the Border's correspondent, having not had lunch, was hungry. Westgate scored, early in the second half, and won the game. Altona East had their chance, saw it saved, and lost the game. I had a cevapi, was satisfied, and walked home for dinner after the match. Where everyone involved lost: when someone decided to have this game kickoff after 6:00PM. It was cold when the game began, and it was bloody cold when the game ended. Dead set, this bloke rocked up to watch the game early in the second half wearing shorts and thongs and I was *this close* to getting his mates to stage an intervention. As you can see, it was not the most thrilling of affairs.

Making hay while the sun shines
Approaching the gates, I pull out my media pass. One bloke at the gate is OK with it, another guy demands a more rigorous examination. That's no surprise - who from the media would bother to cover this game? So after I explain that I'm a freelancer, I eventually go through. The old blokes in front of the social club - some of whom I know from other grounds - are comparing their ages. I buy a souv - and you know it's a big game when they have a separate booth for buying tickets away from the food outlet - and wander through the social club. The picture frames tell the story. Of humble origins, in photo and in print. Of volunteers who built the social club building in the late 1980s. Of being proud of playing South, and beating us. Western Suburbs had a brief bit of limelight in 2007 and 2008, when they reached the lofty heights of the Victorian Premier League. They got a new grandstand and media box out of the stint, and good luck to them for that. Nowadays things are a bit more grim, down in State League 1. Myself, it's moment like these, sitting in the stand during the tail end of the reserves, wondering how I got here. Yarraville had the better of the first half, and should have capitalised on their chances. They didn't, and during the second half, five or so minutes of napping undid the visitors. The first goal was a chip over the keeper from angle; the second goal a lofted ball from a midfield free kick which sailed over the Yarraville keeper, and which almost no one expected let alone saw. Yarraville only managed to wake up late, and score in the dying seconds.

Final thought
The staff at the Richmond Club Hotel really should have given me a pen so I could get the out of date map on one of the walls up to speed.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Ticketing and entry info for tomorrow's match

Of course you should all know by now that tomorrow's WNPL and NPL double header is on at AAMI Park and not at Lakeside. Here are the rest of the details as per FFV sources and some other stuff I've added.

Public transport and parking
  • Short walk from Richmond Station (in the event that they open up the southern gate), a longer walk if they only have the northern gate open
  • Better yet, catch the No. 70 tram to Wattle Park from outside Flinders Street
  • I don't drive here, so I couldn't care less, but for those that must, there is no AFL match on the MCG on that day so for those that know the parking situation around the area, maybe take that into account.
Ticketing and entry
  • Tickets are available for purchase online.
  • Ticket sales on the day will be from 3:15PM onward, from the ticket booth in Section E.
  • As this is a South Melbourne home game, South members receive free entry to this match, but they will first need to go to the ticket booth to pick up a printed ticket. There will apparently be a designated booth for this purpose.
  • Gates will open at 3:30PM - entry will be via Gate 7, which is opposite what was Olympic Park on the western side of the Bubbledome. This makes me think that only the western side of the ground will be open to the public.
Women's game
  • The WNPL game between Alamein and South Melbourne will kickoff at 4:00PM.
Men's game
  • The NPL game between South Melbourne and Heidelberg will kickoff at 6:30PM
Live stream 
  • The women's game will be streamed live on www.facebook.com/wnplvic
  • The men's game will be streamed live on Flip TV, which I assume will also be on Facebook but I don't know what the address will be for that, maybe check it yourselves by keeping track of FFV's sources.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A post-Roberto Carlos VIP Dinner Night cigarette with Savvas Tzionis

My attempt to get Roberto Carlos to attend South of the Border's
exclusive dinner event failed to achieve its goal.
Last week some of you may have noticed that South Melbourne Hellas were involved in all sorts of Roberto Carlos fluffery, including a gala ball event at the casino. Since I was not interested in paying whatever the bloated cost was of attending the gala event, and also because I was trying to ignore the whole Roberto Carlos thing as much as possible, it appeared unlikely that there would be anyone who would be able to relay some thoughts on the evening's affairs. Luckily for South of the Border and its audience, regular comment leaver and occasional contributor Savvas Tzionis not only found himself at this event, but he was also gracious enough to agree to my request for a rundown of affairs.

From a personal point of view, reading this piece reminded me of a few things. For example, the involvement of Mark Bosnich reminded me of this and also this, while the appearance of Paul Wade reminded me of this (see the comments section in particular), and made me regret once more my not having not gotten around to writing up a piece on Paul Wade's mid 1990s autobiography, which could have led to several interesting observations. That's what happens when you leave something on the backburner for seven or eight years though. So it goes. Over to Savvas.


A post-Roberto Carlos VIP Dinner cigarette with Savvas Tzionis
When you continue to advertise your renewed passion for South Melbourne, be prepared to be called on it. I probably wasn't, and x amount of dollars later, I was obligated to attend the Roberto Carlos inspired gala event at Crown Palladium, at the invitation of a friend of mine (let's call him LH) from the GOCMV (Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria). I was initially hesitant simply because I have some doubts about the push for an A League spot. But not being a complete naysayer, I was curious. Plus, I got a discounted ticket.

The attendance was very good, except for three or four empty tables near ours, but I struggled to spot any regular NPL attendees except a couple in the smokers room (and as I will explain, it's STILL the place to be, where you can find out interesting tidbits). The highlights of the previous week's amazing FFA Cup game against Dandenong City were shown and I dare say if the attendees included a few more actual supporters, there would have been more than polite applause at the climax with the Rocky music.

I happened to be adjacent to the table that had Michael Eager, Marcus Schroen, and Jesse Daley. Leigh Minopoulos was on another table for some reason (did he bring his family or something?). Schroen (mis)informed me that the Avondale game was bring played that Sunday. My table was full of LH's friends. Not one word was spoken about South, except about the redeveloped ground, which instantly morphed into a discussion about Eddie McGuire and AFL. And then My Big Fat Greek Wedding somehow popped up! Nearly all appeared to be private school alumni; is that a line of demarcation in relation to supporting South? What percentage of our supporters attended or send their kids to private schools?

Sponsor and menu details from the Roberto Carlos VIP dinner.
Click on the image to enlarge.
The food was very nice, but there was no alternative servings like at a wedding. And while the dessert was nice, it was heavy on the chocolate, which meant I had no urge to eat the additional chocolates that were served with tea and coffee. As for the night itself, it proceeded smoothly. Not that anything can really go wrong when it's generally a talk-fest, but hats off to the organisers. I particularly liked the obligatory Brazilian percussionists. It brought back memories of the 2002 World Cup (a forgotten lost opportunity for Australian Soccer where the Socceroos could have been playing prime time football).

The only lull was while they did a half hour Foxtel cross, but that allowed everyone to socialise and/or go for a second cigarette. Earlier, LH and I went to the smokers room for an initial cigarette, and I was introduced to the MC, Costas 'Tony the Yugoslav' Kilias. Just as we were finishing, in strode both a verbose Mark Bosnich and Robert Carlos himself, who for no particular reason smiled at me before he sat down for a ciggy! There you go!

Roberto Carlos, the man of the moment himself,
snapped during a quiet moment away from the festivities.
The interview with Roberto Carlos via his interpreter, the sponsor of the night, the presumably multilingual Morris Pagniellok was interesting enough. Was Roberto speaking Spanish or Portuguese? I cannot remember. I felt some sort of vindication when Carlos stated that the most important thing that Australian soccer needed to achieve was to create great players. This was exactly what I had said to LH in an earlier conversation when I mentioned that the greatest failure of the current regime is their inability to have fostered any players that can match our Golden Generation (which was not just the 2006 team. In my opinion it encompasses the years from the mid 1990s).

Some of the other interviewees revealed some interesting information such as Bozza's request for LESS players in his defensive wall at free kicks! And even more interestingly was Goran Lozanovski telling us that he was in tears of joy at one point during the World Club Championship in 2000. Is this the apex of South's peak moment in its history? If so, there is an irony that someone called Goran Lozanovski was the person who would encapsulate it. Bozza also pushed the line about the women’s game growing in record numbers. I wondered if this was to counter the AFL push into the female ‘market’ or simply because he was interviewing Lisa De Vanna.

The last interviewee that piqued my interest was Paul Wade. Now I am led to believe that he has been less than effusive about South and the NSL in general. He certainly has little idea of what is going on at South now, as he asked if Lefteri was still there playing his trumpet! His less than effusive manner may have prompted his interviewer, Mark Bosnich (who is much taller in person than some of us imagined) to ask if South Melbourne should change their DNA. I cannot remember Wadey's response, but ultimately I didn't think he believed South Melbourne should be in the league primarily because of their 'DNA'. In some ways it was strange to have him as one of the key guests. But it was interesting nonetheless, especially when someone asked him if Australia could ever win the World Cup to which he said 'NO'. Personally, I do not particularly like his style of answering questions. It's not conducive to having an exchange of ideas.

But at least having Wadey there provided a counter to any pie in the sky thoughts about getting in the A-League. There is still a school of thought among some that the likes of South shouldn't be considered for inclusion. And if I can use the pub test (the Blackburn Hotel to be exact), among my suburbanite friends there are a couple who refuse to countenance South's inclusion. The majority however are not perturbed and are in fact keen on a South Melbourne bid insofar as it provides a point of difference to the existing arrangements. They certainly are not aware of any ‘falsehoods’ being put out there. It’s all about the Sell!

To finish off, a South Melbourne Hellas event wouldn't be complete without the obligatory infighting among the 'fans'. For a moment I thought I was attending a vital cup match between South Melbourne and a lower league club, and South was losing 4-1 in the 80th minute. But then I realised it was a (presumably?) drunk former 'player' (who went on to Hollywood 'stardom') who started throwing abuse towards a table near us. I am not sure if he was directing it at a particular person or a group of people because no one (thankfully!) at the table responded. Luckily Mr Thedoso .... oops I better not mention his real name (let’s call him Costas Mandylor) departed without further rancour.

And kudos to Bill Papastergiadis for no further unnecessary embellishments. Someone, maybe Bill himself, even made the statement about South Melbourne being one of two clubs to have featured in every season of the NSL. Let’s stick to the facts from now on.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

One (more) thing that was bothering me

Despite having largely overcome the seven year ordeal of not having a social club, South Melbourne Hellas continues to face many obstacles in its day to day existence. These obstacles include, but are not limited to:
  • The arcane machinations of state and national soccer bodies
  • A now seemingly permanent second tier status
  • Media obscurity except in the most unusual and desperate of situations
  • The assimilation/absorption oriented nature of Australia's Anglo-Celtic centric form of multiculturalism
  • The club's own intermittent or frequent (your call) bouts of incompetence
  • Modern difficulties of managing work/life balance
  • Neos Kosmos, Neos Kosmos English Weekly, Ta Nea
  • State Sport Centres Trust
  • Winter
  • A-League hooligans
  • Opposition sides
  • Negative bloggers
But there is one group above all others whose actions - or just as often, lack of action - has hurt the club more than anyone. What's more, compared to everyone and everything else, this group tends to slip under the radar.

I am talking of course about that broad collective which contains former and especially latent South Melbourne Hellas supporters. Now, most of us have dealt with the defiantly former South fan, and their myriad of mostly retrospectively contrived reasons for no longer supporting us. Frankly, I'm not in the mood to deal with those folks right now. But the latent as opposed to merely treacherous fan tends to fly under the radar. Oh, we talk about them a little bit - more so in the past - when we need them to perform one of two symbolic functions.

The first of these functions sees reference made to The Great Lost and Wandering Tribe of Hellas when we talk about all the fans that will come back to Lakeside once we re-enter the A-League. The second instance is when we talk about their absence as it affects us in our guise of misery inducing second tier status. 'If only a quarter (or similar number) of the 6,000 odd regulars of the NSL era who have left us would come back, we'd be better off in so many ways on and off the park' is the somewhat mangled mystery meat combination lament.

Unlike the deliberately and self-consciously trendy infidels who now support 'other' teams and who boast about their disloyalty towards South, the latent fan is harder to find. You may find an elder gentleman sitting at a barber shop, kafeneio, or perhaps in a cemetery. But there are also younger and more tech savvy variants who are easier to find by use of a simple device: the posting of South Melbourne Hellas pictures or videos of our glorious NSL teams and players. Do that on Facebook and to a much lesser extent Twitter, and watch them metaphorically scurry out from underneath the proverbial fridge, only to disappear once the business of South Melbourne Hellas as it exists now comes to hand.

Now I can empathise with these people. The NSL was undoubtedly awesome, especially if you were a South fan. You watched one of the league's most popular and successful teams, which played in one of the competition's better stadiums, and the club you supported carried about itself an air of invincibility and cockiness that likewise added a spring to your step.

But nowadays the club is - as this blog has talked about in far too much depth - something you no longer recognise or wish to recognise as the club you spent so much time, money, and emotion supporting. Your heart is broken by seeing South become re-associated with clubs that it had left behind. Watching the club play every second week in industrial zone paddocks, and every other week from behind the running track, is a torture the now latent fan cannot bare.

[Let's also not discount the problem of your mates or relatives no longer coming to games - it makes motivating oneself for the grind that much harder if you had a social group you were involved with and which is now no longer interested. People attract people, a crowd attracts a crowd, but once you slip underneath a certain critical mass, attendances, interest and relevance can dissolve very quickly.]

And let's not get started on the standard of play! So they stay away, and cloistering themselves at home, or at the footy, but especially in the soft, warm cloak of nostalgia. Meanwhile, those South fans still attending games rationalise the behaviour of latent fans as soft, or weak, or even as irresponsible. Me, I probably think all those things and more when I think about these latent Hellas fans, but at the heart of the matter, I understand the compulsion to stay away. I don't agree with it, but believe me, I do understand.

The same issues that keep those types away don't just magically disappear for those of us that still do attend. Every car trip into a suburban outpost, every long multi-modal and poorly serviced public transport trip to some ground that doesn't have an elevated view or even a concrete terrace, every loss to a team that five minutes ago was playing three or four divisions lower - all of it takes a toll on those still going to games. The flip-side to that is that there is also a camaraderie among the fans, especially those that do the business week in and week out; there is joy, there is comedy, and there is also victory, compromised as it may be by our circumstances.

So because I understand their reasoning, when I see these latent fans reminiscing about the 'good old days', I don't jump in and judge them. It doesn't do any good, and is certainly not likely to get them to come back. I'd rather set the example via my own attendance and this blog, where I contribute to the general South experience in order to do my small bit to keep the club as a going concern.

Recently however on Twitter, there was a passionate but also hilarious discussion on South's A-League bid shenanigans, especially some of the very loose handling of facts by certain members of the bid team. During that discussion, one of these self-confessed latent Hellas fans - one notable not only to myself but also to others for his tendency to only talk about South as a historical instead of ongoing concern - accused some South fans who were discussing and disagreeing with the conduct of South Melbourne's A-League bid team as exhibiting 'disreputable' behaviour.

One assumes this scalding (and for that writer, also quite uncharacteristic) epithet was directed to persons like myself, and possibly to folk like T. Arvanitis of Murrumbeena, who posted what was otherwise considered a very worthwhile bit of commentary on South's A-League bid media strategy on this blog. My normal response to such a provocation would be to remain in character, play a straight bat, and ask a question along the lines of 'disreputable how?'.

Instead of doing that - maybe because it was getting late and because tolerance to latent fans had worn thin - I responded with a hastily cobbled together response (including a choice typo) which played the man and not the issue. One could see it as giving back what I'd received, but it still felt a little unbecoming. The response to my riposte was to accuse me of having an agenda, whatever that meant to the particular person making that accusation (there was no follow up explaining what my agenda may be).

I don't know how he read something so sinister into my Twitter oeuvre, but if I were to admit to having an agenda, as a South fan it would be: to go to as many games as possible in order to support the team; to add a dry, curmudgeonly wit to the general atmosphere; and to lend my assistance to the club where I reasonably can. As a blogger, my aims are to do what I've always done: to provide a source of South news, opinion and assorted nonsense that is independent of South's official media channels; to increase the level of South fans' interests in the club's off-field operations; and to present a different public front to non-South fans about what this club is about. Sometimes this will compliment the club's efforts, and sometimes they will take an oppositional tone.

But to get back to the main point. Yes, it's sad that we have latent fans who for whatever reason can no longer bring themselves to attend South matches. That's their choice, and if they want to define themselves by reminiscence alone, there's not much we can do. Those of us who are still attending games appreciate what we have, not just what we had. So by all means if you're a latent fan, enjoy your fill of nostalgia - but don't go complaining about contemporary happenings at the club on or off-field, or the media's treatment of the club - because if you're not going to games yourself, you should probably reconsider the merits of your indignation.

Ultimately, the club exists for the living, not the dead. It's all in or not in at all. Lastly, it's never too late to come back - others who have drifted away have come back - even I've done it. It's not all bad.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

IMPORTANT FIXTURE NEWS

There were some rumours about fixtures being changed and such, and somewhat surprisingly, they've all turned out to be true.

Here are the details of those changes, some of which you can check on the official site.

Round 16 vs Avondale - Postponed
This week's scheduled league match against Avondale has been postponed, due to the unavailability of Lakeside because of Brazil's visit to Melbourne and their extended use of the ground. Avondale have had a little bit of a sook about this, which would be all well and good if they didn't play at someone else's ground because their own ground is a piece of crap (playground excluded).

Women's fixtures - moved to Knox
The WNPL team has had its fixture for this week against Southern United moved from Lakeside to the Knox Regional Football Facility.

Round 17 vs Heidelberg - Venue and time changed
Due to the unavailability of Lakeside, this game has been moved to AAMI Park, with the kick-off time being changed from 4:00 to 6:30. The WNPL match against Alamein will act as the curtain raiser. The date remains the same.

In terms of entry at the gate, it is a South home game and thus South members will be able to use their membership to gain entry to the match. I anticipate that most of the ground will be closed off and everyone will be bunched up into one side of the ground.

As a one-off, this switch does not bother me in the slightest. My information is that we have been appropriately remunerated by the Victorian government for being forced to relocate the game from Lakeside. It's an opportunity to experience something different, and maybe engage a broader audience for the novelty value if nothing else.

For those South fans who have never been to any events at the Bubbledome because of:
  • FFA/A-League/Socceroos/Asian Cup related boycotts.
  • No interest in other Victorian soccer teams who have played there for cup finals or grand finals.
  • No interest in rugby league or rugby union.
  • Did not attend 2010 AFL grand final replay fan site broadcast, or post-match celebrations.
  • Have never been to a concert there.
  • Were unable to attend closed doors Victory vs South game from last year.
  • Some other reason I can't think of between now and the start of a Simpsons repeat coming on in five minutes.
You are in for a real treat. It's a terrific stadium. I hope we win big and I hope that you get a kick out of the venue. I also hope all the Negative Nancys who apparently don't come to Lakeside because of the running track come out of the woodwork for this game.

The only real drawbacks so far as I can tell are that a 6:30PM kickoff will mean that it will probably be freezing, and that the pitch may not be in the best shape because the Wallabies will have played there the night before. Here's hoping that for the sake of the surface it doesn't rain during that weekend.

Dockerty Cup semi-final details
Rather than being played next week, our Dockerty Cup semi-final against Bentleigh has been pushed back to Thursday 22nd June with a 7:30PM kick-off. The neutral venue that has been arranged by FFV is Jack Edwards Reserve in Oakleigh.

In the meantime..
We'll be looking to post up one or two new posts during the week to keep you occupied.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Comeback (ahem) Kings - South Melbourne 2 Port Melbourne 1


Jesse Daley's shot flies past Port's keeper for the equaliser.
Photo: Rob Cruse.
If you're in the mood for jokes, copious Simpsons references, and the usual sorts of hilarity, this week's post will likely disappoint. Wednesday took a lot out of everyone, including myself, and it's going to take a little while to recuperate. That's why this week most of the good gags are stolen or woefully out of date.

But as for Sunday, what a pleasant late afternoon's work it was. There was a chill in the air even as the sun shone, there was a rainbow, there was a little bit of rain, and we worked our way to another win and third place on the ladder. It was great having to once again only half care about what was taking place on the field. No hype, and no glory even in victory, just like most other weeks.

If there was one lesson to be learned from our embarrassing 4-0 loss to Port earlier this season, it was 'don't let them shoot'. So of course we let them shoot, and got lucky - one shot rattled the crossbar if I remember correctly, though I could well be remembering another game - except for the one time where we weren't lucky. Did Andreas Govas' shot bounce over Nikola Roganovic's arm?

Either way, we fell behind, but did we even care? As one of the lads in the stand noted, after Wednesday, what was left for us to do? It was kind of like one of those thrill seeking adrenaline junkies that's pushed the envelope so far that it's impossible for them to get excited about anything. Nevertheless, the team worked its way into the game, working the wide positions well, which is when we're at our best under this current iteration. On a narrower ground, with an opponent more apt at closing down the passing lanes, we'd be a lot less convincing.

I'm not saying we were great, because we were not. Everyone expected that we'd be flat, and we were, except for the unsung hero of Wednesday, Jesse Daley, who was in manic form. He was everywhere, and it was through him that we got the equaliser, when he blasted his shot past the Port keeper. By this stage we had gained control of the match, and apart from some slack marking in the middle park, there should not have been to many issues with overcoming the visitors.

The second half saw Daley - who was in an especially mouthy mood - put in a number of good crosses, with one eventually being met by the head of Milos Lujic. There was a period of five or so minutes where we struggled to get the ball out of defensive third, but apart from that, Port posed little threat. Even with an assortment of Stellas coming onto the field, Port's biggest chance lay with us being stupid. Cue Tim Mala badly misreading a passage of play, and getting sent off for his troubles, as he committed a foul as the result of needing to furiously track back. At least the resulting free kick missed, and we got the chocolates..

The only downside was having to ponder the consequences of winning in this way, with yellow cards mounting up and real or imagined reinforcements still some time away.

*record scratch*
*freeze frame*
Yup, that's me. You're probably wondering how I ended up in this situation, etc
Next game
I don't know. It's supposed to be Avondale at home on Sunday afternoon, but there's all sorts of wild rumours going around about postponed matches, Brazil using Lakeside, and Dockerty Cup scheduling, that who knows what's going on. Check the official sources for any changes, but maybe wait just a bit for the Roberto Carlos circus to leave town first. If South of the Border hears anything, we'll let you know.

It can only end well
A bloke who can't coach, hired for a team that doesn't exist, for a competition that's not desperate for either. But of course if you talk like this, 'they' get upset and start murmuring things in the bowels of Lakeside, believing that you can't hear them. Guys, even if I don't type it, I'm thinking it. And even if I can't hear you say it, I can imagine it.

I mean, I've started joining in wrestling gags, and I don't even watch wrestling for crying out loud.

Chants
An unusually productive day yesterday, motivated mostly by the tenacious work of Jesse Daley and Luke 'The Luckiest Man in Show Business' Adams coming back from Bali without a tan,
  • 'Bill Paps is on fire, the truth is terrified'
  • 'I wish that I scored Jesse's goal / where can I score a goal like that?'
  • 'Jesse talk it up, talk it up, Jesse talk it up'
  • 'Where's your tan at?'
A big opportunity was missed when we failed to tie Adams' midweek absence to Schapelle Corby's return to Australia.

Comings and goings
Fahid Ben Khalfallah (still no idea who he is) ended up signing with Brisbane Roar. What a pity.

Letter to the editor (including how to contact South of the Border)
Following on from Wednesday's win against Dandenong City, South of the Border received some welcome feedback and commentary, including a timely and appreciated reminder about choosing certain words more carefully.

[Although I was a bit taken aback by one regular reader who saw only an attempt to be a curmudgeon - which was certainly the not the point]

One of the more interesting bits of correspondence came through the comments section (though I did not publish it for reasons which shall reveal themselves), which reads as follows:

Greetings Mr Paul, wow I've just discovered your blog and love it. I read in some very early posts you sometimes ask fans to contribute articles. I would like to contribute this below if you think it is appropriate regarding Hellas’s A-League bid. Sorry for posting in this wrong area – I just didn't know how to contribute this article.

Well, of course I'm always delighted when new readers discover South of the Border, especially when it's South fans doing the discovering. And I'm even happier when they want to contribute something a bit more substantial than a comment - not that there's anything wrong with contributing solely through the comments.

As for the best way to go about contacting me, email is my preferred option - blackmissionary@hotmail.com is my address. If you want to more immediately get my attention, and you have a Twitter account, then you can find me @paulmavroudis.

Here is our new friend's submission, on the matter of the rhetorical conduct of South Melbourne's A-League bid. Keep in mind that this was sent before yesterday's shenanigans.


Bill Paps was off in the world of make believe again today.
SMFC A-League bid strategy – wrong approach
I write this piece with a heavy heart. I have been a South Melbourne Hellas supporter since I was a young child – probably like most South fans. I have experienced agony, frustration, sadness and plenty of lost sleep whenever I think about our omission from the top flight of football in Australia. I wouldn't say I am a great fan of the A-League or its structure – but I am mature enough to recognize the NSL needed to replaced. I just always thought that South would be at the forefront of soccer in Melbourne and indeed the highest competition available in Australia. I like most have waited patiently knowing that some day our time will come. Melbourne is a big city growing by 100,000 people per year and it’s inevitable that at some point a third Melbourne A-League club would be looked at. That is indisputable; at some point expansion will happen again in Melbourne. This has always provided me a glimmer of hope even in the dark times when I felt sick at the prospect we will be stuck in the wilderness forever.

I absolutely do want to acknowledge that the board of SMFC have done a terrific job re-building the club which let us never forget was on the brink of oblivion circa 2004. The stadium deal, the refurbishments, the social club are massive achievements. These are no small feats, they have secured our future. So why the heavy heart and frustration and countless nights lying awake in the middle of the night? It is because I unequivocally and firmly believe that we are squandering the best chance we will ever have to position ourselves to get back into the top flight. This shouldn't be the case but we actually are shooting ourselves in the foot and on various fronts becoming a laughing stock. Here is why:

We need to stop our arrogant approach, we need to stop the rhetoric that it is our ‘Alvaro Recoba’ divine right to be in the top flight. I would like to know from the board who thought it was a good idea to have Bill Papastergiadis head our bid and be a spokesman? Wrong choice. In all his public appearances and interviews the ridiculous comments regarding over inflated crowd figures, the whole Real Madrid ‘link’ which is misconstrued garbage and the let’s not get started on the ‘Roberto Carlos’ angle. This is all GUFF – this actually harms the credibility of our bid. I cannot overstate this.

Bill is obviously an intelligent person, great lawyer etc., but he should not be representing our hopes and aspirations. That he is the President of the Greek Community of Melbourne and the spokesman for our club does nothing whatsoever to demonstrate to the masses that we are looking for broad based appeal bid, it rather just reinforces prejudices that unfortunately the majority of people hold.

Other bids speak of how they will engage the community. Someone please, correct me if I am wrong but I have not heard from anyone associated with the bid team or the board how we will be a broad based bid – how we will attract new fans. Other bids talk about alliances with local communities, teams or football associations. But for us it’s been left to assume that the ‘thousands’ of poulimenoi will come back to follow us. Wrong, wrong, wrong! If this is our great hope – we are gone.

The other angle I wish to tackle is our relationship with the FFA and indeed what the A-League is and represents. Key people from our club and some supporters continually diss the FFA and the A-League. Geez! Where is our diplomacy? Does anyone think this approach will actually bring a groundswell of support to our bid? Do we actually think it is a great idea to have Tom Kalas being pivotal in forming and becoming a spokesman for the AAFC? Agitating change, sniping comments against the FFA but then at the same time asking to be considered for an A-League license? Again – no diplomacy at all. Where is our humility?

I will end here with a comparison to other A-League hopefuls. This quote from Robert Cavallucci of FC Brisbane City A-League aspirant is a pearler and sums up perfectly all that is wrong with our bid team strategy:
If you've got a commercial argument, if you've got a football argument for what you’re doing, stop doing it by antagonising and picking a fight with FFA. Through positive presentation of who you are, demonstrate to the football community, the A-League clubs, the governing body, why you deserve to be there.
Bang! Spot on! Let’s repeat this and shout it from the rooftops to our bid team, Mr President Leo Athanasakis, some board members and some of our social media fans. Please say after me: “stop doing it by antagonising and picking a fight with FFA”. And again: “stop doing it by antagonising and picking a fight with FFA”. Through positive presentation of who you are, demonstrate to the football community, the A-League clubs, the governing body, why you deserve to be there.

In concluding, I would please urge our board and the bid team to reconsider our approach. This might be our last shot for a very long time. Do what is right, be humble, focus on what we bring to the table and demonstrate how we can attract new fans. Make it a football bid – not just a selfish we deserve to be there SMFC centric bid.

Regards, T. Arvanitis, Murrumbeena, VIC

Around the grounds
$7 for a souv means $3 for the raffle
Standing in a particular position at McIvor Reserve on Saturday afternoon, it looked like there were twice as many people at Yarraville vs Altona East than there actually were. But enough about metrics. Both teams have had their difficulties in 2017, but there's struggling and then there's struggling, if you catch my drift. The team that was struggling less scored within the first few minutes, scored a penalty at the end, and were rarely troubled by Altona East in between those events. I don't remember Tommi Tommich, who was in goal for Yarraville, having to make much more than a solitary save.

Final thought
Very saddened to hear of the passing of former Heidelberg player and president Jim Mangopoulos. Back in the 1990s in his guise as a lawyer, he represented my folks in a civil case when so many others refused - and got them a result of sorts. It was an incredibly stressful time for us - his support was and remains appreciated by my family. Sincerest condolences to his friends and family, and to all at Heidelberg Alexander.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Broken down and rebuilt from scratch - South Melbourne 5 Dandenong City 4

We have options
For a well balanced review of last night's game, read the Corner Flag's story on the match.

For a professional report, see David Davutovic's Herald Sun piece.

The short version
...you will be broken down to the level of infants, then rebuilt as functional members of society, then broken down again, then lunch, then, if there's time, rebuilt once more.
Prelude to mediocrity
Two weeks ago
I decided belatedly to get a flu shot. I hadn't had one for a couple of years, but decided to do it this year because I'm in the final stretch of my thesis work, and besides which, I watch a lot of soccer during the winter and didn't want to be laid up at home unnecessarily. Apparently it takes two weeks to work, so it was a good thing I didn't get sick during that time.

One week ago
Someone used a pair of scissors to break into my car, but found nothing of value to take except for a box of tissues and a pair of my dad's reading glasses. I'm not sure what they were expecting to find in a 1989 Toyota Camry with two of its rims missing. I haven't even bothered checking to see if they took my Achtung Baby cassette; it's not like the cassette player in the car works anyway.

Saturday
I experienced the brief visceral thrill of watching Collingwood beat Hawthorn on television, before rationalising that it was a Hawthorn side missing five of its best, while at the early stages of re-build, and how did we get seven goals down anyway? I then watched Spinal Tap on SBS2, not really thinking that I'd be rationalising anything like that Pies' win on Wednesday, not even really thinking about Wednesday at all.

Sunday
Get to Lakeside, and have a blast watching a game that no one really cares about. Get home, have dinner, write a slapdash and uninspired match report for a game that no one cared about.

Monday
Trying to get some work done. Started to feel that nervousness kick in. Hating every second of it. But so far it's been bearable. As usual, Twitter provides a useful distraction. Late in the afternoon I get a message from a mate about a conversation he's overheard on the tram (see right). I don't know what to make of it, because on the one hand, it's completely unimportant - I mean, it's only South Melbourne after all. And there's also the paranoid matter of it possibly being part of a disinformation plan.
Of course the Fahid Ben Khalfallah (whoever he is) stuff has been doing the rounds on Melbourne soccer focused internet forums for a couple of weeks at least, lest a certain Sydney based radio programme tries to convince you of its having snared some kind of 'scoop'. Later on I find myself thinking about the cup fixture as I'm trying to get to sleep. At least the distraction of an inflamed eye (again) diverts my attention to something else.

Tuesday
Realised I'd lost my USB drive at uni, again. But fortunately found it where I'd left it the day before.
Wednesday
Juniper Hill earned a hard fought 1-0 win on the road in the fourth round of the Oceanian Cup. I skimmed through the relevant parts of Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters and Ange Postecoglou's book for my thesis. And then it was finally time to go to Lakeside.

Nick Epifano shoots and scores with his left for the opening goal.
Photo: Jason Heidrich.
Frivolity leads to near-despair
Having a drink and a feed in the social club while watching a futsal match, the mood was light and festive. I even made lighthearted quip toward Milos Lujic as he was walking in about his choice of hat. I honestly did not feel as nervous about this game as I normally would have. Even when we got outside and Clarendon Corner inexplicably split into Upper and Lower factions, the fact that there was a Rod Stewart lookalike wandering around our bay just reinforced the nonchalance I was feeling. That, and Nick Epifano opened the scoring within two minutes, with a left foot shot of all things. Even when we conceded the equalising goal soon afterwards, I didn't feel particularly bad. Annoyed, but not bad. In any event, the team spent the next twenty minutes carving up the visitors, so surely another goal for us was coming soon, right?

When Milos Lujic was pushed in the back in the box, I thought surely that would be the chance to retake the lead, but the ref didn't call it, and City went up the other end and scored. And that's when things started to look really rubbish. We'd had City where we wanted them, off-balance and chasing shadows - especially Stefan Zinni's - and now we were behind and forced to play the game on their terms. We lost our nerve, and started bombing the ball long to Milos, and every one of those balls was cleared away easily by the City defense. Worse, we weren't really putting any pressure on City's players on the ball, so they were able to play as they wanted to.

In the last five minutes of the half it looked like we were getting our mojo back just a bit, so it was a surprise to see Zinni benched and replaced with Leigh Minopoulos. Is Zinni not match fit? Was the plan to only play him for an hour or so and hope we'd have wreaked enough havoc that we could sub him off safely? Whatever the initial plan was, I give credit to Chris Taylor for going for the early sub instead of waiting, even if it's not the sub I would've made myself. The move and whatever was in the halftime talk seemed to work, as we came out in much the same way we had in the first 25 minutes of the game.

[I am reminded here of something I'd read in Postecoglou's book earlier that day, about a coach having really very little opportunity to make an impact during the course of a game, and realistically only four or so minutes in ideal circumstances during the halftime break - it's probably a bit different in a fully professional environment compared to one merely aspiring to reach that level. The overall point here though is that the coach, while not being absolved of match day results and decision making consequences, must do most of their work during the training sessions, and not just on fitness - they must prepare the team to be able to handle itself on the field without the coach's constant interference.]

But the elephant in the room - the makeshift defense - came back to bite us on the arse repeatedly. Letting former South Melbourne Hellas defender and golden boot (2012 season) Shaun Kelly score once was bad enough, but twice? The marking for both goals looked abysmal. How he was able to get so free for that header beggars belief. So 4-1 down, and now I'm slumped in my chair. Worse is to come, because we revert to that nonsense long ball crap, which Ljubo Milicevic deals with easily. As eccentric as he is, he's a fine player, and among his greatest assets is his ability to read the play - not much of a challenge the way we were going about it though.

We had begun the season with four senior and experienced centre backs, and somehow started this game with just one. So while the coaching staff don't escape any of the blame for what happened last night, I would like to berate two people in particular before anyone else. Those people are Kristian Konstantinidis and Luke Adam. Konstantinidis for his finger business suspension; Adams for going on holiday during the season. Oh, and a special brickbat to whoever couldn't manage to keep Carl Piergianni around for one more week knowing that we would be short staffed in this area.

[I am reminded here of a game away against the then all conquering Dandenong Thunder in 2012, where we squeezed out a meritorious draw despite being similarly short-handed, in part because we'd managed to get Filip Jonsson to stick around long enough to play one more game.]

The lack of centre-backs meant that we ended up using Tim Mala at centre-back and Luke Pavlou at right back, throwing our whole backline and system out of whack. It was scenes straight out of Gully from earlier this year. You can't blame a player for under-performing in a position they are clearly not used to or suited to playing in. At some point someone decided that Matthew Foschini at centre-back and Pavlou in the defensive midfield role wasn't the way to go, We got punished for this repeatedly. Every time City went up the field they looked dangerous. They didn't even do it that often, because we had most of the ball, but their efficiency in front of goal showed not only how makeshift our defense was, but also the quality of the chances City created. But that didn't mean that their defense had magically improved. We'd just reverted to being dumb and playing dumb. You might call it a lack of composure, you might call it a lack of leadership; you might call it both, and you wouldn't be wrong on either count.

[Discussing this issue with one of the coaching staff after the game, he felt it could be one of those things which changes the side as we've known it during the Chris Taylor era. Having managed to dig really deep and find that intangible something in order to overcome the frankly ridiculous odds, one wonder what the long term consequences may be. That's not to say that the team hasn't been resilient, that it hasn't won things, that it hasn't come from behind in big games - but has it overturned a game in this fashion? This game wasn't about Taylor's rhetoric and conditioning of a team to win mere 'moments' - this game and its comeback were about overcoming our own implied/inferred mental fragility and the spectre of repeated failures in similar occasions of elevated importance.]

So to get back on track. I enjoyed the first two minutes of this match. The other 90 odd minutes, increasingly not at all. That's a strictly personal take, and I do not in any way wish to lessen the excitement and joy felt by our long suffering and loyal supporters which materialised during the comeback; nor do I want to diminish the achievement of the players in somehow finding their way back. But last night, this team broke me.

I only have two sporting loves. The Collingwood Football Club and South Melbourne Hellas. Both have caused me an immeasurable amount of mostly manageable grief, but when in attendance at a game of either of these two I have only voluntarily walked away twice that I can recall. Both times were at Collingwood matches, once in the old Ponsford against Geelong in the early 2000s, and once in the new Ponsford in the mid-2000s against Fremantle. I can't recall what exact minute or what particular sequence of play triggered my walking out of the stands last night - maybe it was the general trajectory of play and the team's attitude - but I'd had enough. I couldn't take anymore, and so I walked into the social club to sit quietly waiting for the inevitable to play out.

I loathe the FFA Cup. I hate how it skews things so much in our league that league performances - the bread and butter of any soccer club - become secondary in importance. I hate the perverse financial and promotional rewards. I hate the gimmickry, and the patronising commentary. I hate the crap-shoot. I hate how this peripheral tournament has taken centre-stage, and set in course a new player wage arms race. That doesn't mean I don't understand the FFA Cup's appeal, its novelty, its charm, its so-called romance. But all those things belong to dare I say it, smaller clubs than ours. Not less worthwhile clubs, but smaller certainly in history and ambition, and indisputably smaller in ego.

For almost no other club in Australia is a knockout tournament hinging on the luck of the draw more than just about a fleeting moment in the limelight, and a happy payday if they're so fortunate. It's not even about making a passing political point for us. The way we think of ourselves, distorted and anachronistic as it may be, forces us to treat this thing as being incredibly serious. This seriousness lends a bizarre and unearned sense of legitimacy upon the worth of the FFA Cup. We judge our success and more often our failures now based on this, These are failures which have, and successes which could have, or so we like to believe, serious long term consequences. This is even in the likely event that those consequences are unquantifiable and what's more, indistinguishable form everything else that we have to contend with in our hopes to get back into the top flight.

On top of our own complicity in setting up this paradigm, everyone outside of us who hopes we do well - or just as likely, hopes we fail - also places a ridiculous amount of conceptual leverage. We could win ten Victorian titles in a row, and none would warrant as much merit for South as reaching the FFA Cup semi-finals, or so the thinking goes. What an atrocious situation to find yourself in every year; not just for us supporters who are locked into this for seemingly years to come, but also for the players and coaches who have an elevated sense of pressure on top of whatever other expectations they have to deal with. Is it any wonder then that I lost the plot yesterday? I thought I could see what was coming, having seen it so many times before.

At 4-1 down, and while I was still in the grandstand, we had some nut in the back of the stand start abusing Chris Taylor, and folk from Clarendon Corner abusing that bloke back. The scene was overwhelmingly familiar - a disastrous performance on a stage set up for us and by us, followed by eating our own, and then onto a Sunday league game in front of 30 people. Then of course there would be the pile on of the haters, the fence-sitters. Left in that wake would've been the people who turn up every week, both in the stands and behind the scenes, who cling on to misguided and repeatedly dashed hopes that this club might somehow dig its way out of this unceasing and only partly deserved purgatory.

The first goal in what came to be the comeback came from a clumsy penalty, which on other days may not have been given. It was certainly not as obvious a call as the push which Milos received in the first half and which should have been given as a penalty, and from which City scored from immediately after. Enes Sivic wasn't in any way malicious, but the way he threw his body at Milos Lujic just looked incredibly stupid. It got Sivic a second yellow, and eventually for Milos Lujic a hundredth goal in South colours, a milestone completely overshadowed by the massive hole we still had to dig ourselves out of. Not that I thought we had it in us, as I remained in the social club feeling miserable alongside various staff members.

Even when we got it back to 4-3, I still didn't think we'd get it back to 4-4. Watching the replay afterwards, my attention is caught by Leigh Minopoulos. Yes the pass from the People's Champ is the right one, as is the run into the box by Leigh, but there's a moment where Leigh does a quick head check just before he collects the ball. It's probably just a reflex, but that moment is so crucial to what happens next, because instead of going for the direct, low percentage but perhaps even necessary shot at goal, he cuts the ball across the six yard box and not only is it perfectly placed, but someone is actually there to drive it home.

The goal for 4-4, I heard it before I saw it. As I've noted before, even though there is a stream of the game being played in the social club, it's on a few seconds delay. The social club's proximity to the arena means that should anything of note happen - especially a goal - you'll hear the cheer well before you see it on screen. What strikes me only now after watching the goal several times, is that for probably the first time in a year - the last time being Kristian Konstantinidis' goal against Bentleigh at home - that we actually had someone waiting at the right spot at the edge of the box. Let's not make it to be something greater than it was - it was an absolutely horrible shot - but at least Daley was in the right place to take it.

There was some discussion about whether Jesse Daley's goal was helped by Michael Eagar obstructing Dandenong City goalkeeper Damir Salcin from an offside position, and possibly even Eagar getting a touch (so far I've only seen Daley as being credited with the goal in official channels. Eagar however was kept onside by one, and possibly two opponents. (After publishing this piece it occurs to me that Milos Lujic is more guilty of obstruction than Michael Eagar, but that shouldn't matter if Milos is also onside, and I think he is, though the footage from stream's broadcast side doesn't make that clear.)

Image credit: Paul Zaro/SMFC TV.
Being off in mental no-man's land, I didn't give Daley the credit for being one of the catalysts of the comeback, but others have noted that after he came on he seemed to bring a bit of poise and composure to the team. I'll take their word for it.


So at 4-4, despite feeling like a ton of crap even though we'd almost got ourselves out of this mess, I went outside again but could not enjoy what was happening. There I was watching one of the most ridiculous comebacks you will ever see, and all I could do was pace up and down the concourse, where much of the grandstand had decamped to, Upper and Lower Clarendon Corner Egypt having combined again in their excitement. I was even told, probably rightly even though I have no truck with any kind of superstition, that I should go back inside the social club so as to make sure of things for us.

If nothing else, coming back outside and pacing up and down the concourse like a maniac saw me end up pretty much right in line with the final, incredible, incredulous moment of the game. In the sequence which would lead to the winning goal, it was certainly unfortunate for Dandy, but for mine that was a handball any day of the week. That's not partisan feeling talking - after all, I was almost guaranteed to be in a foul mood regardless of the result - that was gut instinct. And if I am wrong on many things to do with the game, one thing in which I usually find myself in total agreement with the referees and their decisions is that when it comes to handballs, we're almost always of like mind. You can talk all day and all night if you like about accidental handballs, and ball-to-hand instead hand-to-ball. But gut instinct told me handball, and that's what the ref gave.

Lujic stepped up and scored. A hat-trick on the night, and goals 100, 101, and 102 in his South career in all competitions. Despite everything that had happened that night, and even at 4-4, I couldn't see City getting past us in extra-time had Lujic missed his second penalty. We would have overrun them. As it was, the final score was a stupid 5-4, the method madder than the end product. I am still stunned and upset by the whole experience, probably unconsciously why I have so much of my self-esteem attached to this club in particular, and being amazed that I even had a breaking point. The South fans had gone absolutely mental, and I've got Joe Gorman yelling at me as I stand there in a daze.

Whatever misgivings and unease I had and possibly still have, I felt good for most of our supporters. I felt good for the people working at the club above and beyond the call of duty, as they have done for many years, trying to put in place everything so that the club can leverage opportunities like this, opportunities which we have inevitably blown. I felt great for our supporters, who have to put up with a lot of crap. And I felt good that for the first time in seven years that we could celebrate a win like this in our own social club. I even managed to join in with the general joy, admittedly after I'd consumed a neat gin to restore some sense of existential equilibrium.

I would also like to relate a conversation I had with a now former contributor of South of the Border. This contributor and I have often had very different views on any matter of social issues. In more recent times, our views on matters at the club and those running it have also gone in wildly different directions - these things happen. But on certain matters, we do find ourselves in agreement, and informed by a sense of vanity I like to think it's because we watch a lot more football at this level than most people at South. I probably watch too much.

The point here is that there were people at South who apparently were happier to play Dandy City over Northcote. Now, no offense to Northcote, who have beaten Dandy City this season, but I would have rather played the mob from John Cain Memorial Park any day of the week. Northcote are a team based on heart - they will grind out results, but they have no outright star quality. They are team fortunate enough this season to be in the weaker side of the NPL 2 divide, and they are team based around winning promotion in a competition that is a marathon, not a sprint.

Thanks to Dion for passing along these screenshots of this text
message conversation his dad was having with an absent fan.
Dandy City, in the stronger NPL 2 East, are also gunning for promotion, but the kinds of players they've recruited and the gradual build from a slow start also seems to indicate that they were taking very seriously an FFA Cup push. Apart from knocking out the Knights and Bulleen, the quality they had on the park last night should have been enough to dissuade even the most foolish of our people to think that this was a safe or easy draw. Certainly it was better than many of the other options, but it was not the best of all possible outcomes. After all that, it was impossible for me not to feel a little bit sorry for Dandenong City's players, but what good would mine or anyone else' sympathy do? As for our people, I let Leo Athanasakis and assistant coach Chris Marshall know that if our players ever tried a stunt like that again, they'd have to answer to me. A stupid, nonsense threat if ever there was one.

On the way home, the tram was on time, and the connection to the train was good. What else could any reasonable person want?

Next game
Now that the circus has left town, it's back to plain old unimportant league action against Port Melbourne at home on Sunday.

Comings and goings
Gavin De Niese has left the club, joining NPL 2 East side Springvale White Eagles.

Dockerty Cup news
Concurrent with our victory last night taking us to the national stage of the FFA Cup, that win has also seen us move into the Dockerty Cup semi-finals, where we have been drawn against Bentleigh Greens. The game will be played at a neutral venue. The game will be played on one of Tuesday 6th, Wednesday 7th, or Thursday 8th June.

Final thought
A-League or NPL, it does not matter to us;
The only thing that really matters, is FFA Cup South Melbourne Hellas.
See everyone on Sunday.