Thursday, 28 November 2013

Old Soccer News

Not as in Old Soccer/New Football. And not as in news updates that are out of date. Instead, let's look at some old copies of Soccer News, the Official Organ of the Victorian Amateur Soccer Football Association back in the day.

There's been a small sample available on-line for a few years at the magnificent Australian Online Football Museum site, specifically at this link.

I've uploaded a few issues myself, like this one:

The Dockerty Cup Final edition of 1952. A beauty with several team shots of the League winners for the season, as well as the Cup finalists and pen portraits of the players in the Final.

Then there is:

In the editorial V.J.M.Dixon looks at the problem of the lack of enclosed grounds, whilst club jottings include news from Brighton, Frankston, Polonia and Fifers.

I've also got three issues from the end of the 1949 season:

An exciting time leading up to the Dockerty Cup Final, and a must read for those at the FFV who slowly seem to be coming around to embracing the Dockerty name once again. You can see what it once meant, and hopefully a revival can regain some of the former prestige.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

It Just Ain't Right

Progress on the Statistical History of Victorian Football remains slow but steady. I found a few more Best and Fairest winners and Top Goalscorers lists in the Annual Reports archive on the FFV website, but a gap still remains between the end of the VSF Yearbook era and the start of the current FFV's results system a couple of years ago.

In adding all the new tables to the project, the 2013 ladders for the various State League Division Fives had me shaking my head and mumbling the title of this blog post over and over again.

State League Division Five North had 14 teams competing. Division Five West had 16. Division Five South had 14 and Division Five East comprised of 15 teams. I will now digress for a moment.

The above is a picture of the classic Commodore 64 game, International Soccer. It came not on a CD, or a disc, or even a cassette tape, but on a cartridge inserted into a slot in the primitive early "home computer". Graphics were chunky, and the screen did not allow for a full team of eleven, but it was football.

Unlike modern games, the options were limited. You could play a game against the computer or a human opponent and that was about it. It did not run a league for you, which is where I start to bring this back around to the point.

When I was a young 'un, I ran my own International Soccer league. We all had two teams each to make an eight team league, the clubs named after ourselves (Markham Hotspur took the title). I typed up a results and ladder sheet on an olde fashioned typewriter, which had a ribbon of ink. To do the fixtures I took a blank piece of paper, and wrote 1v2, 3v4, 5v6 and 7v8 on it. I then rotated the numbers for each round, and then reversed the fixtures. Assigned a team name to each of the numbers and that was that. It was not rocket science, even for a Year 7.

Now in an eight team league, if everyone plays each other once home and away, it gives you a fourteen game season. If  you have twelves teams in your League, it's a 22 game season. So when I looked at the number of games played in the State League Division Fives this season, only 22, I knew it just ain't right.

In football/soccer a league season involves every team playing each other once both home and away. Anything else just ain't right.

To be the Champion, you are the team that sits atop the table AFTER every team has played each other twice. If some teams didn't play each other twice, it just ain't right. Promotion and relegation is unfair should every team not play each other twice, because it just ain't right.

The VPL season of 2007 wasn't right either.That was because the introduction of the AIS and an administrative error from the FFV leaving it prone to legal action from whomever it relegated out of Sunshine Georgies or Essendon Royals left the competition with an extra number of teams in a time of drought which hindered the ability to start the season earlier. It still was not right.

The FFV does the game and clubs a disservice by restricting competitions with 14, 15 and 16 teams to a 22 game league season. A league competition is not fair unless each team players the others twice. It goes against the Integrity section of their stated Core Values, which reads:

Integrity - The affairs of the FFV will be unconditionally embedded in honesty and fairness.

In an effort to make their competition more fair, the clubs of State League Division Five East Reserves opted to play each other just once. I hope they got a discount in their affiliation fees for their rather short 14 games season, as that would only be fair.

Surely the FFV could start the season for these league earlier, or extend them to allow for the extra two, three or four rounds to make the competitions fair? Everyone knows the AFL game has a compromised draw, but there is no need for the FFV to copy them in limiting leagues to a 22 game season. Our football is a game where plenty of clubs around the world can play two games a week for periods of time, unlike the AFL which is restricted to a 22 game regular season by their Player's Association. 

 There is plenty of time for the FFV to sort out this situation for next season, hopefully they will make it right and make the competition fair for everyone.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Statistical History

Again another long gap between blog posts. You may remember last time I mentioned the historical record document I had started a few years ago.

Here's the link again to the MS Publisher file for what was then the grandly titled "Victorian Football Statistical History 1909-1979". I'm trying to get all the final tables for the senior men's leagues for each year since regular league competitions began in Melbourne in 1909. The wider column on the left has the tables, the narrow one to the right the results of Cup Finals (line-ups if possible for the major Cup of the day) and then Leading Scorers, Best and Fairest Award Winners and Reserves League Champions as they were introduced.

Since the last post, I have decided to remove the 1979 conclusion and bring it up to the current day. I already had most of the tables typed up in the template I have for them up until 2006, so some typing was involved. As time consuming as this was, it paled into insignificance compared to the time spent ascertaining the information for the right hand column.

Despite being in the Internet Age, on the information super highway the FFV is pulled over, broken down in the emergency stopping lane. Searching for some of these details is no easier than it is for stuff from 1909, when football was "British Association" and a clear poor relation to the other codes.

The FFV has changed website providers and results systems a few times, and archiving has not been a priority. With the final VSF Yearbook having been published in 2000, that is where the recorded lineage of a lot of this information ends.

From the old VSF Yearbooks we know that Maurice Payne of South Yarra won the first Medal for best player in the First Division in 1954. Back then it was The Argus Medal, later the Rothman's Medal and various other sponsored names before simply becoming the Gold Medal. It remained the premier award as the First Division became the State League and then the Premier League. In 1970, Jim Dale of Heidelberg won the first Metropolitan League Best and Fairest Award, repeating the dose in 1971. When Les Gooney of Eltham took the honour in 1972, it was the last time that award was determined by one winner from all four divisions. In 1973 each Metropolitan League division had it's own Best and Fairest. The history of the Provisional League Best and Fairest Award starts in 1983 according to the records in the VSF Yearbooks.

So who were the Best and Fairest winners in the State and Provisional Leagues in 2007 or 2008? Great question, don't have the answer. It's hardly ancient history, but it may as well be. It's a damning indictment on the FFV that it's archives are restricted to the last two seasons though league tables and results going back to 2006 can still be found on a link to the old ResultsVault system.



and ask yourself could the FFV do better?

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Long Time, No Blog

Been busy, and too many topics to choose from that I didn't know how to get back into the swing of things.

When I say busy, things at work became more chaotic when the warehouse I delivered from went up in flames. Some may recognise former NSL Championship-winning South Melbourne goalkeeper Bruce Maclaren in the video link above.

Spent some time at Officeworks on the self-serve photocopiers, copying and reducing pages from the Sydney Soccer World newspaper from A3 to A4 so that I could scan them at home. This produced the following documents:

They are the NSW First and Second Division match reports and results pages, as well as the interstate results pages from Soccer World in 1969 and 1970. The NSW First Division all-in-one results, line-ups and match summary pages are brilliant, and I don't think those years are fully covered on OzFootball yet. Some great names to be found. For local content, the Cook's Tour of Melbourne column is also among the scans taken.

Scanning the full papers is a task too big for me, and I mainly focus on results because I want to complete the gaps in this document I started a few years ago:

There was more than a bit happening on the current football front. The Socceroos reached a bit of a low, and Holger Osieck got the chop. Melbourne Knights and South Melbourne drew nearly 5,000 people to their clash in the VPL Finals, a figure unlikely to be reached when Bentleigh Greens and Northcote City meet in the Grand Final at AAMI Park at the ridiculous kick-off time of 1.00 pm this Saturday.

On the NPLV front, the injunction sought by the 60-odd co-signatory clubs will go before the Supreme Court. It's hard to see the FFV's vision up and running next year if this drags on any longer.

The A-League is back up and running, with the Melbourne Derby drawing a big crowd that witnessed a game that didn't live up to the hype. This also means Goal! Weekly is back in print, so get to a newsagent and read something better than this blog.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Well, What Can You Say?

Seriously, what can you say after another black day in one of the blackest years in Victorian football history?

It's not everyday someone you know is arrested for alleged match fixing. It's not every day Kevin Bartlett Reserve gets mentioned in the mainstream media, including making the SEN promos all day as Robert Walls recycles the old comb-over grass gag.

On SEN, issues like these do show up how little their supposed experts know about the game beyond what is shown on Foxtel or ESPN.

Seeing as I was there, and this is the one article to focus on the game, I'll take a closer look:

As the final whistle sounded over a patchy pitch in a unregarded corner of outer suburban Melbourne, a nil-all draw seemed a fitting result.
If Burnley is outer suburban Melbourne I wonder what Nino would call Dandenong or Epping?

The game on Friday night was unlikely to linger in the memory, a scrappy match between two sides seemingly so hopeless they were no longer even capable of losing.
Can't dispute that.

But thousands of kilometres away, an international criminal syndicate was counting its winnings after betting up to half a million dollars on the hapless Southern Stars drawing with Richmond in the Victorian Premier League.
And as the players who allegedly fixed the match were getting changed, they had no idea plain-clothed police, sitting alone in cars parked behind the city-end goals, were plotting their arrest.
In the GE Carpark at the Heyington Bridge End, site of many a wrong-doing I would suspect.

There was little in the game that roused the small crowd. Apart from the occasional shout of ''c'mon Southern'' and Richmond's reserves heckling behind the Stars' goal, the small crowd stayed silent. Passing traffic on the Monash Freeway drowned out the occasional shouts of players. An elderly woman with a Richmond scarf sold $2 raffle tickets, and the canteen had a well-stocked bain-marie.
Nice to see Annie get a mention, hopefully he bought a ticket. The loudest calls on the night, in a bit of an indictment really, came from some workmates of Andrew Viola who provided more vocal support for him than anyone else did for either of the two teams combined.

Less than 48 hours after the final whistle, police swooped. Those arrested include players who may have once held aspirations to play first-class football in Europe but whose last match may have been on Kevin Bartlett Reserve.
          How these football journeymen lost their way remains unknown.
Last year, Nicholas McKoy debuted in England for Tamworth in a third-round FA Cup match against English Premier League side Everton at the famous Goodison Park. Even though his club lost, he and his teammates were met with a standing ovation from the Everton fans as they walked from the pitch.
Another Stars' player, suspected of involvement in the match fixing but overseas when arrests were made on Sunday, had previously trialled for Arsenal.
          A the start of the season, Southern Stars coach Zaya Younan was upbeat: ''It would be silly of me to say we 
             want to win the league, although I'd love to win the league.'' On Sunday, he, too, was arrested.

It's interesting that the police would have the media on hand to record the build-up to the bust. What I recall was the man identified in other reports as Reiss Noel was very vocal on the sidelines. For a team with no chance of avoiding relegation, he was taking it very seriously and encouraged every Stars tackle and appealed for every decision from the referee. It was something that stood out even before the subsequent stunning revelations.

Already the debates are raging. There is the line that the club should have suspected something was up when players were offered with only accommodation and local transport costs expected to be covered. If that's the case, surely the FFV should be considered slack in allowing a broke club to sign so many imports (reasonably well-credentialled for "amateurs") during the mid-season transfer window. Even Tom Waterhouse copped a whack, though it is bookmakers in far away lands on internet sites that will be impossible to ever regulate that would be at the heart of this scandal. 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Richmond Alemannia - 1970

Still stuck sorting through a large mass of historical items. Amongst the finds is this look by Soccer News at Richmond back in 1970. Then coach Wolfgang Smoger is the current President. Until three years ago Manfred Kuhn was Secretary, a role he performed for nearly as long as he was a gun striker. Sadly Mani's memory is starting to deteriorate, but he is still getting to games. I once asked him if he could list for me the years he won the Best and Fairest Award or Top Goalscorer title, but either because he had no record or was too modest, the list never came to fruition.

The article has a solid history of the club, including the upheaval and split that occurred when the VSF was established. It also correctly captions a photo of the German side that won the Junior Laidlaw World Cup in 1958 that would later have the junior part omitted in subsequent club histories. Fritz Schwab was the father of The Age and Soccer Action journalist Laurie, whilst I believe Franz Marth is the father of Melbourne Knights legend Andrew.

The affiliation to the Club Tivoli would wane in the 1980's. Perhaps an opportunity was missed when the Club Tivoli moved from Richmond to Windsor when a move to acquire the Leonda By The Yarra reception centre was considered.

I've also included another item from Soccer News that year which shows Manfred Kuhn meeting with the touring Hertha Berlin players at the German Consulate. Hertha played a game against the Victorian state team at Olympic Park which ended in a 1-1 draw, the late Jimmy Mackay scoring for The Vics.

Monday, 26 August 2013

The Olympic Park Record

Until Friday, I had never known of the Olympic Park Record. All the issues I've come across are from 1968, which is it's inaugural year and I'm not sure if it came out beyond that. It was the work of former star player and multimedia journalist Alex Barr, who you can find out more about in blogs here and here.

The Olympic Park Record was a four page booklet of team line-ups for the weekend's games at the home of big time soccer, Olympic Park. There were brief previews and editorials from Barr, who was not afraid to voice his opinion against the establishment. It seems he was taking on the official V.S.F. publication, Soccer News.

The home tenants of the Park that season were Alexander, Port Melbourne Slavia, George Cross and eventual State League champions, Croatia.

Great names of the past to appear in the line-ups include Mike Jurecki, Horst Rau, Hammy McMeechan, Billy Vojtek, Jimmy McKay, John Sanchez, John Bedford, Frank Micic, Ulyesses Kokkinos with the list going on beyond those I've just mentioned from the first two pages.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Zonal Problem

No, not a tactical discussion but a look at one of the major stumbling blocks in the creation of the NPLV.

In the great plan of the FFV for the future of Victorian football, there would be an elite NPLV club in each of the zones it has divided the state into. Each zone then has it's community leagues, with the clubs in it developing players for the elite club.

Nice in theory, but putting it into practice was always going to prove problematic.

Take the Frankston area for example. Frankston Pines, Langwarrin, Peninsula Strikers, Seaford United, Skye United, Baxter and Mornington. Large area, with long established clubs, mostly with British heritage which does not come with the baggage of other ethnic groups.

Have these clubs banded together to make a consortium for an NPLV license? Is there a club that stands out as being the most elite amongst them? No.

Why not? Does the FFV understand why not?

Most club volunteers do what they do because of a long term attachment to their club. They may have played there, coached there, or started attending games because their friends or children did. These bonds being established is the lifeblood of the game.

With people already loyal to their club, most would be uninterested in switching to a new entity simply because it was to be labelled "elite". Under the promotion/relegation set up which has always existed in the Victorian game, their clubs have always had the chance to aspire to be amongst the elite. These clubs have had their highs and lows, and established genuine rivalries. To anoint one as elite and expect the others to fall in line and be subservient to the chosen club would be the utmost folly.

So by the Bay, the glamour of the NPLV has not seen a clamour from volunteers/administrators willing to get on board by starting up an elite venture. With no standout elite club that the others would accept getting a license without resentment, the area could go unrepresented.

Now the issue become more difficult when you look at other zones. Ones which have clubs from diverse ethnic backgrounds, some of  which may recently have been at war with each other. Zones which have two or three clubs already playing at the highest level. If the FFV expects people to put aside such grudges, they need to get some experts on human nature on their already ample payroll.

Moving from a promotion/relegation system to a closed shop top tier was never going to be easy, and given the backlash even if it comes to fruition it may not prove workable. With clubs already feeling the FFV does not support them, becoming officially designated second class citizens is not likely to see many working too hard to support the elite club of their zone.

It makes you wonder how well those that mapped out the NPLV masterplan knew the landscape.

Monday, 12 August 2013

So many questions...

but is there anyone able to give some answers?

How does a club with a few strikes against it's name get involved in a brawl with their opposition and escape without any punishment whatsoever?

Is it true that in the above tribunal case involving North Sunshine Eagles that the rocket flare at the 2012 VPL Grand Final between Dandenong Thunder and Oakleigh Cannons was mentioned? Would that be because like Thunder, North Sunshine Eagles are a club of the Albanian community? Is that not racial profiling?

How many clubs has Stuart Webster been registered with this season? Isn't there a limit as to how many transfers one can have in a year?

Why is Stuart Webster's request for an out of window transfer to Richmond denied, but his later out of transfer window exemption granted when he moves back to Bentleigh Greens after spells at Dandenong Thunder and Doveton?

Who is it at the FFV you have to slip some cash to to get an out of window exemption for a goalkeeper transfer granted? Should I ask someone at Bentleigh Greens, as they seem to be able to get one every year?

If there are 12 clubs in the VPL, and one has junior fees of $3200 per season, whilst everyone else has them below $1000 per season, is it not an outrageous lie to claim "these clubs $3200 to register for the year"?

How many of the 0-3 defeats suffered by the Ballarat Red Devils reserves have been due to forfeits for not being able to field a team? Does that bode well for regional NPLV clubs?

How is it that when Michael Lynch is finally able to cover some lower-tier football in The Age that the FFV CEO Mitchell Murphy should be unavailable for comment?

Why would the FFV's Tim Frampton, at a meeting of the Bulleen Lions members discussing the NPLV, make remarks about other clubs which were derogatory or slanderous (depending on how far down the Chinese Whispers line you were when they were relayed to you)?

Can anyone who insists the NPL is entirely directed by the FFA and that the model is the same across the states tell me how the NSW NPL does not include Northern New South Wales or Canberra?

Which one of the FFV's core values makes you laugh the most?

Unity - Victorian football stakeholders will work together to deliver a shared vision and purpose for the growth and  health of the game.

When was that supposed to have happened? Isn't the FFV currently playing clubs off against each other and creating divisions within individual clubs?

Pride - We are proud of the organisation we work for and bring infectious enthusiasm in pursuit of our vision for football.

But not proud of the clubs that make up that organisation, more like ashamed of them.

Integrity - The affairs of the FFV will be unconditionally embedded in honesty and fairness. 

It shouldn't be too hard for someone from there to answer a few of the questions posed above about out of transfer window exemptions in the comments section of this blog then? Surely they can offer a reasonable explanation of Webster situation?

Respect - We will treat others the way we expect to be treated. We will also earn respect through becoming a positive and powerful force capable of delivering meaningful sport and social outcomes within the broader community.

They expect to be treated like scum then? That's how they treat the clubs.

Openness - We will engage and communicate transparently with the football family and listen with open-mindedness.

Apart from the NPLV consultation process I assume?

Performance - We will strive for service and business excellence off the field and inspired results on the field for Victorian clubs, players, coaches and referees.

Losing $900,000 last year was business excellence? Melbourne Victory Youth results only became inspired after the club took over running the team from the shambolic FFV.

When will the madness end?

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

It's All Happening Here...

at the MCG, to quote the great Bill Lawry. An apt title on the day that ground was announced as the venue for cricket's 2015 World Cup Final and a week on from the memorable game between Liverpool and Melbourne Victory there.

Also apt because it really is all happening. Nearly all the VPL clubs have announced their lack of support for the FFV's proposed structure for the NPLV. It is, as they say in the classics, about to get real.

It may not look like it;s all been happening on the Melbourne Soccer blog front, but looks can be deceptive. I'm currently in the midst of my most intensive spell of research in the history of the local game ever. It began just over a month ago, when for three consecutive Sundays I hit the newspaper microfilm archives at the State Library of Victoria (SLV). That run came to a halt when Richmond played Melbourne Knights away on a Sunday, but in speaking matters historical with Pave Jusup he offered to let me go through his vast collection of old documents and newspapers.

For a while the SLV visits saw me more immersed in the soccer split of the late 1920's than the current dramas. After attending more than my usual quota of matches recently though, that soon passed as talk of the looming confrontation between the FFV and clubs intensified.

After sorting out through a huge bundle of copies of Soccer Action from the 1970's and 1980's, there is a lot to process, which has kept me from posting on the blog. I'm not a greedy man, so I wouldn't want any more than 10 cents for every time Tasmanian journalist Walter Pless has written the name Ken Morton since then. The 1970's was big on Cups, there was the Dockerty Cup, the Harry Armstrong Cup, the Ampol Cup, the Federation Cup, the Cumberland Cup, the Provisional League Cup, the District League Cup and the State League Cup. All we really get from the FFV today though is one fuck-up after another. That last gag will only really work if read out aloud.

I've found a few of my own items I'd forgotten about, and many of my notes from the SLV sessions are starting to come together. With Pave telling me there are more boxes to come, the blog posts may still remain infrequent for a while to come. If you are desperate for my random musings, check out my twitter account

Apart from my struggle to bring back the return of monkeys riding greyhounds in races(#monkeyjockeys) as a mainstream sport, most of the content is football related.  

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Allo Allo Allo

What 'ave we 'ere?

Is revolution in the air? Will it actually amount to anything? Hopefully it does, as reform is sorely needed.

From their Candidate Statement, I like this:

As a Zone Representative I undertake to convene two meetings
annually inviting all the clubs within the Zone to drive and develop the direction within which
we wish to collectively head.
It sounds a touch more genuine than the current consultative processes undertaken by the FFV. Also it seems that their Zone Representatives would be maintaining more of a profile than the incumbents, who have well and truly earned the "faceless men" tag often attached to them.

 Ensure there is accountability on governance and financial performance of the organisation.
Again, a welcome change from the current regime. Appointing a temporary CEO who is an accountant does not make one accountable...

Their overall background page pretty much nails the main concerns of the critics of the current FFV.  Reform is needed. What the FFV passes off as Consultation is the biggest sham since Sham, the horse that ran second to the mighty Secretariat in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes of 1973. Governance is also an issue, who is running the show at the moment - the faceless men making up the Zone Reps or is the tail wagging the dog with the FFV staff calling the shots? Accountability has long been an issue, as we know Goal! Weekly had its funding withdrawn because columnists and editorial content dared to question some of the decisions of the FFV.

The results of the upcoming elections are eagerly anticipated.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Past, Present and Future

The present: Only attended two games last weekend, Richmond 1 Bentleigh Greens 1 on Friday night and then Eastern Lions 1 Western Suburbs 2. Richmond took the lead when Tom Cahill converted a penalty just before half-time on his return to the club, but conceded shortly after the restart. It was less auspicious return to his former club for Tom Matthews, who picked up a second yellow card to see Bentleigh reduced to ten men for the final half hour, but Richmond were unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage.

Eastern Lions went down 1-2 at home to Western Suburbs, conceding two "coach killer" goals from horrendous errors. First the Number 4 made a hash of a back pass, playing in his opponent and exposing his keeper for Suburbs to take the lead. A good team goal saw Lions level before half-time, but a late keeper howler saw the Ralph Reserve boys take all three points. The Lions keeper came out to take a long ball, but it became apparent that it would arrive outside the penalty area. It appeared he looked to leap out and head the ball away, but miss-timed it horribly, overshooting the mark and having the ball bounce by him and to the Suburbs player who got ahead of the defender and finished well from an angle.

The future: No news is bad news on the NPLV front. What chances of an early resolution for how the leagues will be comprised next season? Slim to none you would reckon. Hopefully they will be able to get the fixtures out at least a couple of weeks before the season begins.

The past: Started to track down some missing line-ups from past Dockerty Cup Finals. It's a shame that the South Melbourne and Melbourne Knights websites don't have all their winning teams listed in their otherwise excellent History sections on their websites.

Worked out a final table for the Second Division in 1948, won by Bradford from South Yarra. In the Third Division, in which 12 teams played each other just the once, only a score from Heidelberg B v Macedonians that didn't come to hand on August 7 leaves the table incomplete. Melbourne University won the competition from Olympic, with Heidelberg A and George Cross just behind.

In the First Division of 1928 P.Lewis scored 9 as Naval Depot thrashed Richmond 14-0 on July 14. May be close to the record. Lincoln Mills were revived in that year, in the Melbourne and District League which ran alongside the Metro District League and Suburban League in the midst of a split in the administration of the game.

The 1927 Dockerty Cup Final will go down as having the earliest ever kick-off time, commencing at 10.15 am. It was on Melbourne Cup day, hence the early start.

Enjoying the past a little more than the present at the moment with worrying concerns for the future.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

In Search Of... 1912

Having found the final tables for the Victorian League in 1910 and 1911 long ago, this week's trip to the library saw me target 1912. From the online archives of The Argus and The Sun, results were sporadic. So once again I went to The Herald microfilms to see what Jackeroo was revealing in the Friday edition.

New clubs in 1912 were Footscray, Melbourne Thistle, Sunshine, Birmingham Victoria and the juniors of Moorabbin. The former South Melbourne club had changed it's name to Albert Park, whilst Williamstown and become Williamstown-Yarraville to broaden their appeal.

Middle Park was still the home of football, with seven clubs using the ground there, namely Carlton United, Fitzroy, Burns, Melbourne Thistle, Albert Park, Birmingham Victoria and St Kilda. There must have been a few ground there, as up to four games were played kicking off at the same time on some days.

In June, leading referee G.Hawes was appointed the new press correspondent. The Herald football reports now had a new byline, written by "Centre-Half". The previous press correspondent had been Mr.W.Jackson (Jackeroo).

Early in the season there were results for the competition as well as a junior (no age group specified) competition. It's fair to assume the junior competition was near what we would call the Youth team age bracket, probably 18-20 year olds. A new club was formed at Preston (Ground at Bell Street, South Preston, colours light and dark blue vertical stripes, white knickers) for the first Second Division, which commenced on June 1st. The other teams in that league were all reserves teams from First Division clubs: St Kilda A, Burns A, Prahran City A, Footscray A and Birmingham Victoria A. To make things confusing, late in the season the junior results started to be listed with the Second Division results, though at no point did the teams crossover and start playing each other.

Once again there are missing results, so from the last table published, on September 27, the published results after that date give us:

BURNS 17 12 1 4 45 20 25
CARLTON UNITED 19 12 1 6 41 18 25
ST KILDA 17 11 2 4 42 20 24
ALBERT PARK 19 9 6 4 46 29 24
BIRMINGHAM VICTORIA 17 8 1 8 25 23 17
PRAHRAN CITY 20 8 1 11 29 42 17  
MELBOURNE THISTLE 17 5 3 9 19 27 12
FOOTSCRAY 18 3 2 13 14 36 8
FITZROY 15 2 0 13 17 44 6
SUNSHINE 15 1 1 13 17 66 3

The results for Burns v Birmingham Victoria and Footscray v St Kilda on September 28 are unreadable on the microfilm, whilst Fitzroy v Burns should have taken place on October 5.

From the Second Division results I could find I came up with:

PRESTON 7 7 0 0 37 7 14
ST KILDA A 9 5 2 2 28 14 12
PRAHRAN CITY A 7 4 0 3 16 16 8
BURNS A 5 0 2 3 3 13 2
FOOTSCRAY A 5 1 0 4 6 21 2

Looking through the weekly (Saturday) paper The Leader for a readable version of the September 28 results (unsuccessful) , I came across photos of the teams that played in the "Local International". This saw Scotland defeat England 3-0 with goals from Forbes, Spencer and Dick.

I thought I'd found photos of the Victorian state team in the same paper in a 1913 edition, but it turns out that was Aussie Rules. Didn't have time for a head count or to check if there had even been a soccer game between Victoria and South Australia, but there hadn't.

Back to 1910 for a second, so happy were they with the inaugural season that once it ended, a "third competition" was begun. The League would have been the first and the Challenge Cup the second. Only a few weeks in, Prahran and Williamstown withdrew, as it was now mid-September and the summer sport season was imminent. It's doubtful that this Third Competition was ever completed.

I have all the other First Division tables prior to World War I bringing proceedings to a half in 1915. By that time The Herald reports were coming from "The Spectator". The 1913 Dockerty Cup Final was played at "the Birmingham Ground" of Middle Park. Until the next visit to SLV, that will do for now.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Five Days, Five Games

I've been watching a bit of football lately (though Sunday also saw a solid session at the State Library Victoria which will be covered in the upcoming In Search Of...1912).

Friday June 28
Richmond 1 Pascoe Vale 1

Richmond recovered from a poor first half to probably be a little unlucky not to take all three points after an improved second-half showing. Poor marking from a throw-in and casual defending let Hernan Espindola stroll through the box before beating an exposed Aaron Romein from eight yards to give Paco the lead. There was an element of fortune with the Eagles equaliser, as Hamlet Armenian's shot appeared to many to be a cross initially. Sam Gallagher drove a shot into the underside of the crossbar which then bounced on the line, before he was dismissed for a second yellow card in the final minutes.

Saturday June 29
West Preston 4 Oak Park 3

It's fair to say this State League Division Five North clash had it all and then some. West Preston came back from 0-2 down to claim a late winner, with plenty of drama along the way. There was some questionable refereeing in the aftermath of a West Preston goal as a player looking to get the ball back for a quick restart was kicked across the shin by an Oak Park defender. The assistant referee flagged over the main official, which had some overly optimistic Oak Park fans and players hoping for the goal to be ruled out, a hope which would have evaporated when the assistant acted out a kicking across the shin motion for the referee. Suprisingly the end result proved to be a yellow card to the Oak Park keeper, who did not put in the kick whilst the perpetrator wearing No.2 escaped without sanction.

Further ill-discipline saw an Oak Park player sent-off late in the game, but as he crossed the line to exit the pitch he did a sharp turn to run ten yards back onto the field and throw a haymaker punch at the West Preston No.52 which saw chaos briefly ensue. Somehow the full scale riot which threatened to materialize was averted, and in the final minutes West Preston's No.8 completed a famous comeback.

Sunday June 30
Oakleigh Cannons 0 Melbourne Knights 1

Melbourne Knights were well worth their early lead, Adam Zilic heading in after a corner was headed across goal by Ljubo Milicevic. Wasting a couple of chances to extend the lead, it would be a nervy second-half for the Knights after Ryan Filipovic was sent-off following a second yellow card with half an hour remaining but they were able to hang on. In between abusing team-mates, Milicevic provides an amusing running commentary at times.

Monday July 1
Bulleen Lions 1 Heidelberg United 3

Heidelberg United went to the top of State League Division One with an emphatic win at the Veneto Club on Monday night. Star of the show was the Heidelberg Rooney, Daniel Heffernan with an impressive brace. Talk on the terraces mainly revolved around the unfolding drama at South Melbourne, with time of Peter Tsolakis as coach was coming to an end.

Tuesday July 2
Richmond 1 Melbourne Victory 2

Victory began their pre-season friendlies with a 70 minute game at Kevin Bartlett Reserve. They were led out by Leigh Broxham, even though Adrian Leijer was also starting, possibly an indication the Mark Milligan will be captain come the start of the season. In the second minute Leijer put in a double footed tackle on Timmy Purcell which would have seen him sent-off more often than not, but the referee was happy to give him just a warning.

The 2012 fixture was won 4-3 by Richmond, and in the eighth minute they took the lead with the sweetest of volleys at the far post by Hamlet Armenian. Victory equalised with a deflected shot from Jimmy Jeggo and then took the lead just before half-time when Andrew Nabbout got free on the right and finished well.

Victory only made one sub for the game, as Richmond changed their entire team over the course of a scoreless second-half. No flares this year, Blue Thunder Security cracking down hard.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

But All You're Doin' Is Leavin' Me In Pain - Bits And Pieces III

It's been very quiet on the NPLV front since the countdown clock to get the EOI's hit 0.00, eerily quiet. It was a busy time with clubs taking to MFootball or twitter to announce their intentions, and the FFV website making wild claims about the number of clubs interested in getting involved. Apparently 44 EOI's were received (NPLV gaining momentum with 44 clubs on board), but that momentum may have been lost as little news has come out since. Has the FFV succeeded in it's attempts to blackmail the Geelong and Gippsland clubs? Which regional clubs would remain viable if being uncompetitive early on leads to players opting out of grueling travel requirements? Will we get a countdown clock until the 5.00pm July 31st deadline for NPLV Applications? Any chance of letting the vast majority of football stakeholders, the so-called "community clubs" aka average shmucks, where they stand next season? Or will it like the case of Melbourne Heart being put into State Two North West earlier this year where clubs will only find out when the fixtures are released nest year a few weeks before the start of the season?

Reading a lot of old newspapers at the moment, it's apparent that even in the days when many were openly hostile to our code, the coverage of local football was better then than it is today. It was certainly a different world then. A few things younger readers may not know:

High scores - not all down to bad defending or more adventurous attacking. Sometimes eleven players did not always turn up, which brings us to...

Reserves - there were no reserves teams at all in the early days. Before there was a Reserves League, larger clubs entered a reserve team in the lower leagues which went under the name of the club with the suffix "A".

No substitutes - the reason eleven players didn't always start a game was because squads were smaller as substitutes did not enter fray until the late 1960's. Without a bench, any setback to a player on game day would leave a team short.

Smoke Nights - clubs would occasionally advertise social functions known as "Smoke Nights". Not sure what went on, doubt it was smoking of the Cheech and Chong variety though.

Replays and no penalty shoot-outs - Drawn cup ties meant a replay, another draw meant another replay and so on and so forth. The 1923 Grand Final between St Kilda and Footscray Thistle went to a second replay, and the VABFA Council declared another draw would have seen the Championship shared as no ground could be obtained and players couldn't be retained with the cricket season having commenced to allow for another replay.  The famous win of Wonthaggi Magpies in the 1931 Dockerty Cup Final came after a Second Replay. The 1914 Dockerty Cup was shared between Thistle and Northumberland and Durham United (imagine their Twitter account) after a Second Replay could not be scheduled.

The headline on a recent article on the FFV website had me wondering if justice had finally been served. Port Phillip Prison visit had me thinking the FFV staff may have gone to visit some of their colleagues who were doing time for the crimes against football they have committed.

Breaking news of high drama at South Melbourne, be sure to keep an eye on South of the Border for more details as they come to light.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

In Search of... 1909

Back when I first went to research Victorian football history at the Newspaper Reading Room of the State Library of Victoria (SLV), I was aiming to one day get at least the final table of the top division each year since league football began in 1909.

I was a little lazy in my approach to this task. I went through the microfilm reels looking for the easy answers which I soon realised were not there. Head to July/August/September to find the tables did not work when the final table wasn't always published. Sometimes, just the points tally was published. It was becoming apparent that in some years, it would require recording all the results, and compiling the table myself. Then, more sadly, it was clear that for many seasons finding a record of all the results would not be happening.

So for the 1909 season, won by Carlton United, things didn't pan out. Adding up the results I'd written down made for a ridiculous ladder. So it was put on the back-burner for a few years, hoping that John Punshon at OzFootball would put something up.

Recently I began re-checking the results on the online archives of The Age and The Argus. A discovery then clarified one problem, which was having teams having played more than the 10 game season a 6 team competition should produce. The season started on Saturday May 8, and any results before that were from friendlies. So that took away the teams over 10 games, but still there were a few short, so I set off for the SLV today looking to fill the gaps.

Now we need to understand the times were different then. For the result of a Saturday sporting contest, you would need Monday's newspaper, as there were no papers published on Sundays in that time (right up until the late 1960's or early 1970's I think). The Herald was an evening paper, and did have Saturday's results in it for footy and racing, but not always for the "British Association" or "Soccer". By Monday those results were old news and often not carried.

I made a breakthrough when I discovered the day for soccer news in The Herald was actually the Friday edition. The previous week's results were often found there, gradually growing in column inches with the author's nom-de-plume, "Jackaroo" even getting a byline late in the year. On July 23rd there was even a final table, of sorts. It's not a real final table because Goals For and Goals Against are not included. It also takes the format of Wins Losses Draws rather than the modern Wins Draws Losses. I guess this was due to perhaps following along with Aussie Rules lines. After finding a few more results, I'm only two matches short (and one blurry number) from compiling a proper final table.

CARLTON UNITED 10 9 1 0 32-4 19
The goal difference is still not final, missing the scores for their wins over Fitzroy
ST KILDA 10 7 0 3 40-17 14
This is complete
MELBOURNE UNITED 10 4 0 6 16-32 8
Goal difference not final, missing the score for their win over Prahran on June 12
WILLIAMSTOWN 10 3 1 6 22-32 7
This is complete
FITZROY 10 3 1 6 14-25 7
Goal difference not final, missing the scores for their defeats by Carlton
PRAHRAN 10 2 1 7 9-22 5
Goal difference not final, missing the score for their loss to Melbourne United on June 12

So just three issues remain. A hard to read score for Carlton against Fitzroy on July 17, which is either 5 or 9 to nil. And the June 12 game between those sides as well as Melbourne United v Prahran. The Herald did give a score of  Melbourne 7 Prahran 2 but the report stated it was played as a practise game for some reason the reporter did not agree with. Perhaps the result stood, but I have failed to find any mention of that. The Age and The Argus and The Leader all only have the St Kilda 10 Williamstown 0 scoreline from that day and nothing else.

All games in 1909 were played at grounds in Middle Park, except for Williamstown home games. I'm not sure if there were actual change-rooms at Middle Park, or if a room at the Middle Park Hotel was all that was used. Harry Dockerty, who donated the Cup which would eventually be named after him (called the Challenge Cup initially) was a back for runner's-up St Kilda. He also captained the Scotland side which lost 2-3 to England in the local "International" game, an annual fixture that would continue up until the 1938 contest set for July 23rd was abandoned due to lack of interest.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Weekend and Millennium Wrap

VPL action for the weekend began with a 1-1 draw between Bentleigh Greens and Port Melbourne. Graham Hockless gave Port the lead from the spot, Greens equalised through Luke Pilkington and then held on for a point after having Luke Sherborn sent-off with a quarter of an hour remaining. Both sides remain contenders in 2013.

The same night saw Dandenong Thunder go down 0-1 to the flying Northcote City. In a game the FFV Facebook updater seemed to have fallen asleep at, it was Milos Lujic who produced the winner on 65 minutes. Northcote are still unbeaten, and Thunder should still be in the mix come the business end of the season.

Two goals from Osagie Ederaro saw Green Gully defeat Southern Stars 2-1 at Kingston Heath. Stars only have Richmond below them on the table, and Gully look unconvincing as they try and bridge the gap to the pacesetters above them.

Hume City moved up into third place with a hard fought 1-0 win over Pascoe Vale at Broadmeadows Valley Park. Hume can mix their form, but if goalscorer Nick Hegarty can retain it are set to be in contention for a while yet. Paco continue to battle away and remain closer to the Finals contenders than they are to what would normally be the relegation places.

Richmond missed a few easy chances, which mixed with conceding soft goals is a recipe for disaster and went down for the eight count, 2-4 to Oakleigh Cannons. Oakleigh have plenty of new signings lined up, but money can't buy you love and may not get them back in the Finals mix for 2013.

Finally the old NSL Derby saw honours even, with South Melbourne and Melbourne Knights playing out a draw at Lakeside Stadium. Much mirth has been made of big mouth Ljubo Milicevic scoring an own goal which made the final score 2-2. 

Onto the wrap from the last millennium. 1929-1931 was a tumultuous time for the Brunswick club. I'm not able to come up with a final table for the lower leagues in 1929, with a few results still missing, but Brunswick were promoted to the First Division as runner's-up in Division Two behind Caledonians. 

Beginning their time in the top flight with consecutive wins before a loss to Melbourne Thistle. Three more wins followed before the upheaval of Saturday June 14. The expulsion of Croatia from the State League in 1972 is well documented, but Brunswick being thrown out of Division One in 1930 is less well known.

The year prior the Victoria Soccer Football Association had taken a lease of the Motordrome for the winter sporting season. The venue was used to host a weekly match of round at a time when soccer clubs were having trouble getting access to enclosed grounds. In fact the practice of taking around a collection plate whilst playing in open park was still taking place in the 1950's.

On that fateful day in June the proverbial hit the fan when Brunswick refused to play their "home" game against Footscray Thistle at the Motordrome. They were not happy about having another game moved there by the VSFA. Their May 10 clash with Melbourne Thistle had already been allocated as a Motordrome game by the Association. With a succession of away games and a weekend off for the annual England v Scotland fixture, they faced going three months without playing an actual home game at Royal Park. They argued that such a break made it hard to gain an enclosed ground from their council given it would be used so infrequently. A letter was sent to the VSFA and the game was announced as not going ahead the day before with the Division Two clash between Caulfield and Williamstown moved to Swan Street instead. The VSFA Council then suspended Brunswick for the remainder of the season, their results expunged from the records.

Footscray Thistle went on to retain their State Championship, with Caledonians runner's-up. Appeals were dismissed, with the great Harry Dockerty resigning from the Council in disappointment. Unlike Croatia, Brunswick's exile would be brief. South Melbourne were relegated after finishing last, losing all 12 games. Travel from Crib Point every second was becoming an issue for 1928's unbeaten Champions Naval Depot, and they withdrew from the League. Therefore upon the end of their suspension Brunswick remained in the First Division for 1931.

1931 would be their year, winning the Championship by six points from Caledonians, winning 12 and drawing 2 of their 14 games. In J.Lyons they had the league's top goalscorer with 14 goals. In an epic Dockerty Cup Final, which required two replays, they finally lost out 0-1 to Wonthaggi Magpies after two goal-less encounters. Their decline was imminent and just as dramatic, finishing only fifth in 1932 before being relegated when coming last in 1933 when conceding 103 goals in the course of an 18 game season, picking up a solitary point.   

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

'Cause Night is Day and Day is Night - Bits and Pieces II

Another random thoughts column, losing on penalties in the indoor soccer semi-final taking up most of the time tonight. Making the loss worse is the preliminary final is on Sunday afternoon and will clash with VPL game between Oakleigh Cannons and Richmond, which is where I will be.

Great win by the Socceroos last night, giving us the reasonable equation of winning against Iraq next Tuesday equaling World Cup qualification. Milligan, Kruse, Holman and Bresciano amongst our best with opening goalscorer Bresciano far and away still the best passer of a ball we have. Or maybe it just stands out more amongst those that are more athletes than footballers like Wilkshire.

The things that infuriate most when going through The Age and The Argus online archives can be too numerous to mention. But I will have a crack. Results are often listed in the format of Winner 2 d Loser 1, rather than Home Score Away Score. Results are pretty consistent, but actual league tables are few and far between. Some years the results are conveniently placed at the bottom of the match reports, but some they are not and you have to read the full match reports to determine final score and scorers which is fairly time consuming. There are some times when not all goalscorers are listed in high scoring games, with only those that, in Aussie Rules parlance, "kicked a bag" rating a mention. 

In the time before lights and longer working hours, there were no midweek catch-up games. There were no penalty shoot-outs, so postponements and replayed cup ties would often extend the season to the point where it could not be finished because clubs lost venues when the cricket season began.

I would probably change my stance on the whole NPLV shambles if Flinders Naval Depot had put in an Expression of Interest and were brought back to top flight Victorian football. Is there a scoreboard big enough to accommodate the name Northumberland and Durham United? Footscray Thistle and Melbourne Thistle used to give us a great Thistle Derby. 

John Wren's Motordrome was one of the early homes of Melbourne football. The pitch was surrounded by a concrete saucer track used for cycling, motor bike and speedway racing. The latter two were not particularly safe events, and it's a sobering thought that more than a few lives were lost at the arena.

The above mentioned online archives are all well and good, but the true gold can only be found on the microfilm at the State Library Victoria, in the little reels marked Sporting Globe. I'm old enough to remember The Sporting Globe being in publication, with the primary sport if covered always having been horse racing. Many pages were devoted to Aussie Rules (for a long time the Victorian Football Association (VFA) was almost on par with the VFL (now AFL) and other sports though. Soccer was usually pretty well covered, exceptionally so in the 1960's in the post-War migrant boom years. The Globe came out twice a week, a midweek edition on Wednesday, and a Saturday evening edition which contained all that days race results and footy match reports. This was of course largely in the pre-television era.

Actually, there is greater gold than even The Sporting Globe. Accordingly it is also even harder to come by. Have a look at:

where you can find a few of these beauties:

Next bits and pieces I will ponder the question, does the FFV have a copy of each of the Yearbooks the VASFA and VSF used to produce?

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Forgotten Grand Finals

Many hours of looking at the online archives of The Age and The Argus have left me closer to insanity than usual and neglecting the blog for the longest time in it's brief history.

I guess most casual observers of the local game may know that the VPL switched from a first past the post Championship to a Finals series in 1992, with North Geelong taking the first Grand Final 4-1 after extra time against Brunswick Juventus. Despite the old First Division, and then from 1958, the old State League awarding the Championship to the side the headed the ladder at the conclusion of the season, there had been "Grand Finals" prior to 1992.

In 1915 the fledgling League was contested in two Sections rather than Divisions. In the Semi-Finals, Albert Park (top of Section A) defeated St Kilda (runner's-up in Section B) 4-0. Section B leaders Thistle got past Section A runner's-up Northumberland and Durham United 3-2. Thistle claimed the Championship of Victoria by triumphing 1-0 over Albert Park at Middle Park, Brown being the scorer.

With the disruption caused by the First World War, soccer in Melbourne went into recess as most players enlisted to serve their King and Country. When organised football got back underway in 1919, there were only enough teams for one division, but in 1920 the two section set-up was back in use. The first Grand Final between Northumberland and Durham United and St Kilda was drawn 1-1, leading to a replay in which N&D (a much needed abbreviation) claimed the title with a 2-0 win.

The competition then went back to the traditional divisional structure, but again a Grand Final of sorts was required in 1923. This time it was because deciding the Championship on goal difference or goal average was considered inadequate, so St Kilda and Footscray Thistle, locked on 20 points each faced each other in a Championship Play-Off. The two sides still took a bit of separating, the first encounter ending in a 2-2 draw. The replay was also drawn, this time without any goals, before St Kilda finally took the honours 2-1 in the second replay, making it a double by winning the Dockerty Cup 1-0 over Preston as well.

There was upheaval in the administration of the game in 1927, with a "District" competition set up by the new Melbourne Soccer Football Association. Some older clubs were cast aside and played in their own competition, which was not covered by the major papers.

In 1928 the District League was divided into North and South Sections, again requiring a Grand Final to determine the Championship of Victoria. Naval Depot, playing out of Crib Point, went undefeated in the Southern Section, and Footscray also failed to taste defeat in the Northern Section. The Grand Final at the Motordome saw the Navy men take the honours 2-1 with goals from Crowe and Lewis. P.Lewis would go on to represent Victoria and play for Brunswick and Hakoah before his death on May 26th, 1936.

The District set-up was abandoned in 1929, as was the use of sections in the top league. They say war is hell, and it certainly was for local football in the latter part of World War Two. The league continued to shrink, back to a single division for much of the hostilities. In 1945 the teams played each other once, before the second phase saw the top five play each other once again, the bottom five doing likewise.

By 1947, it was back to the two sections top division concept, this time with ten teams each. It turned into a farce, as the difference between some clubs was vast. Sunshine United hammered Heidelberg Rangers 21-0, South Melbourne United won 13-0 at Woodlands, the R.A.F. beat Olympic 12-1, Moreland crushed Woodlands 15-2 and Park Rangers defeated the same hapless Woodsmen 18-1 amongst the many uneven contests which resulted in numerous double figure scores. Angus Drennan netted 8 goals in the above mentioned romp by Sunshine United. The Grand Final was also a high scoring affair, with Sunshine United getting up 6-2 against Moreland at Olympic Park.

The debacle saw a permanent return to the traditional divisional league structure from 1948. So there were Grand Finals before 1992, but I've yet to ascertain enough information from match reports to see if we can declare retrospective Jimmy Rooney Medal winners.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

In Search Of....

This is not a post on the American tv show that ran from 1978 to 1982, but I will digress in that direction for a paragraph. If seen at the wrong age, many episodes would have well and truly freaked some kids out, like The Abominable Snowman, Bigfoot, The Bermuda Triangle and the big one, The End of the World. It was what I knew Leonard Nimoy from, not Star Trek.

Last month I mentioned the passing of Alex Barr was noted in the minutes of the VSF Board of Management from April 24, 1990. Since then, I've been in search of more information on Alex Barr and here's some of what I've come up with. He was a Glaswegian, who came to Australia after WWII. In the course of his Victorian career, he would play in every outfield position for Brighton, featuring as an outside left at his peak, which came with a single appearance for Australia in 1949. It was against what was billed as "Yugoslavia", but was in fact touring club side Hajduk Split.

He played for Brighton between 1948 and 1954, apart from a small stint with Prahran at the start of 1953. In that time Brighton were Champions of Victoria in 1949, also winning the Dockerty Cup in 1952. Whilst still playing he was contributing items for Soccer News from 1951, and when he retired his media work grew as he became the soccer reporter for The Age in the 1960's. He also had spots on various radio programs as well as sports panel shows on GTV-9.

The history of the game in Victoria has, sadly, long been neglected. Even now there is no outright History section all on the FFV website. I have been to Gold Medal Nights run by the FFV which have featured people being inducted into the FFV Hall of Fame, yet the link to anything about a Hall of Fame on their website is well hidden. It deserves a more prominent link rather than being hidden in an About Us section. I wouldn't expect it to compare with:

The FFV should do more than their once a year token effort and truly honour some great people with something more substantial.

So that is what I'm in search of, more of the hidden history of Victorian soccer. I have a book, Spurs: A Complete Record by Bob Goodwin. And a complete record it is, even having the line-ups of friendly matches played in the 1890's. Currently we do not even have the final ladder for every season of the Victorian First Division/State League/Premier League since it began in 1909, let alone the results of all the top flight games. The gaps are vast.

I'm in search of information on Lincoln Mills. The huge textile factory located on Gaffney Street, Coburg fielded a side in the Second Division in 1924 and 1925 before disbanding in 1926. They were probably around in 1923, but The Age only published Division One results that year. The Argus tells me there was a massive fire at the Mill in 1923, there were frequent break-ins and robbery attempts, and at least one unfortunate female worker got her hair caught in a knitting machine and met an untimely demise. Their ground was listed as being "Batman", the name of the nearest train station just off Sydney Road. The former factory site is now a retail block containing Bunnings and Harvey Norman stores, with one great big brick chimney still preserved for posterity.

In the next In Search Of... post, I will go back to 1909 and list what is needed to complete the final table for the inaugural season. Until then, if you want to search anything for yourself, try starting at these links:

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Consistently Inconsistent

Let's start with a look at various abandoned games (mainly VPL, but one Provisional Three North West) in recent years and how the FFV handled the situations:


Friday March 17 Richmond 0 Heidelberg United 2
Abandoned after 33 minutes, floodlight failure.
Replay from 33rd minute
Wednesday April 5 Richmond 0 Heidelberg United 3


Saturday July 26 Altona Magic 1 Coburg United 0
Abandoned at half-time, floodlight failure
Full replay
Wednesday August 20 Altona Magic 4 Coburg United 1

Wednesday August 20 Melbourne Knights 0 Oakleigh Cannons 0
Abandoned after 18 minutes, floodlight failure.
Full replay
Tuesday August 26 Melbourne Knights 1 Oakleigh Cannons 0


Saturday June 13 Dandenong Thunder 0 Green Gully 0
Abandoned at half-time
Full replay
Sunday July 5 Dandenong Thunder 5 Green Gully 1


Sunday April 11 South Melbourne 1 Heidelberg United 1
Abandoned after 91 minutes, pitch invasion.
Match awarded 3-0 to Heidelberg United
Upon appeal, 1-1 score reinstated and South Melbourne deducted 6 points

Saturday June 15 Watsonia Heights 3 Upfield 0
Abandoned 70th minute, serious injury to Upfield player.
Full replay
Tuesday August 24 Watsonia Heights 1 Upfield 1

Saturday July 25 Dandenong Thunder 1 Northcote City 4
Abandoned after 58 minutes, floodlight failure.
Full replay
Wednesday August 18 Dandenong Thunder 1 Northcote City 4


Saturday May 14 Dandenong Thunder 0 Melbourne Knights 0
Abandoned after 20 minutes, floodlight failure.
Full replay
Saturday July 23 Dandenong Thunder 3 Melbourne Knights 1


Friday May 31 Richmond 1 Green Gully 2
Abandoned after 71 minutes, waterlogged pitch/lightening
Replay from 71st minute
Wednesday June 19

No wonder the FFV have people calling them corrupt on their Facebook pages. Combined with the anomalies/inconsistencies with the outside of transfer window goalkeeper signing rule, the discretionary decisions of the FFV are usually highly questionable. Given the decision regarding the Richmond v Green Gully game yesterday, Watsonia Heights in 2010 can feel highly aggrieved. 3-0 up, twenty minutes to go, an opposition player suffers a back injury and can't be moved leading to the game being abandoned. Yet they has to come back and start from scratch.

The greatest injustice was inflicted upon Northcote City that same year. 4-1 up at Dandenong when the lights went out, they didn't get a resumption of play from the 58th minute either. Instead indecision from the FFV and a drawn out appeal saw them finally have to squeeze in a full replay in midweek (which ended up 4-1 again) before the final round of the season. Not ideal playing three games in a week when they were chasing a finals spot.

Hang your head in shame FFV. Full replays for all games abandoned prior to 70 minutes like it used to be, or all abandoned games to be restarted from the minute they came to a halt. One or the other, it's not hard.

Monday, 3 June 2013

An Incomplete Wrap

So the weekly VPL wrap is a little incomplete, as there is still no resolution on the likely outcome of the abandoned game between Richmond and Green Gully on Friday night. In the era of emails and smart phones, waiting for the FFV to take possession of the referee's report seems somewhat inadequate. Maybe they need the time to work out how to handle the situation, given the current rules are written in shades of grey rather than black and white.

The other Friday night games saw two outcomes of 4-2 scorelines. Oakleigh Cannons went down at home, 2-4 to Hume City. If Miron Bleiberg had a towel, he'd be contemplating throwing it in already, with Oakleigh only sitting above Richmond and Southern Stars on the table. Not good enough considering you could combine and then double those club's wage budgets and still not be close to what Oakleigh pay. Turhan Sumbul was a hat trick hero for Hume, with the ever dangerous Nick Hegarty on the also score sheet once again.

Port Melbourne triumphed 4-2 at home to Southern Stars. Stars let an early lead slip before Port gained the upper hand, and there was no coming back after Andrew Viola was sent-off for two yellow cards in quick succession.

Pascoe Vale and South Melbourne engaged in a 0-0 draw, Paco holding on to claim a point after having Luca Santilli sent-off inside the first ten minutes. After a rocky start to the season, Pascoe Vale have become the new number one plucky little club mixing it with the big boys in the VPL.

The top of the table clash at John Cain Reserve saw Northcote City drop their first points of the season in a 1-1 draw with Bentleigh Greens. The Metropolitan Fire Brigade has been negligent in their duty, as Dean Piemonte is still on fire, notching his seventh goal for the season.

The celebrations for Melbourne Knights continued from the Australian Croatian Association (A.H.D.) Croatian House in Footscray on Saturday night to Knights Stadium in Sunshine on Sunday afternoon. The day after celebrating 60 years of Melbourne Croatia/Knights, the Knights twice came from behind to claim a dramatic 4-3 win over defending champions Dandenong Thunder with a goal from skipper Adam Zilic in stoppage time. Zilic features in the following video on the club's history, a fantastic tribute to a great club.


Saturday, 1 June 2013

Blame It On The Rain

Until last night, that was the last game I attended that was abandoned due to heavy rain/flooding. It was on Saturday July 29, 1995 (one day before my birthday) in State League Division Two. Moorabbin City were hosting Springvale White Eagles in a top of the table clash at Kingston Heath. It was before the current facility was completed, as evidenced by the portable cabin dressing rooms behind the goal Moorabbin are attacking, and the temporary clubrooms on the far side on the right. Even the trees on the hill at Capital Golf Course have yet to be established.

Springvale White Eagles had scored in the first half before the above goal from Iain Stirton (proud father of current Bentleigh Greens star David) equalised in the second period after the heavens had opened up. The referee, Dennis Voutsinis I think, abandoned the match which was replayed on September 16. In the replay Moorabbin triumphed 1-0 with a goal from Mickey Maguire, to seal promotion, with White Eagles having already clinched the championship.

Stirton was pipped for top goalscorer honours in the league that season by Waverley City's (now Eastern Lions) Alex Livingstone by a goal, with big Stirts getting 16 for the season. The White Eagles pair of Michael Michalakopoulos and Zlatko Mihajlovic both got 14 for the campaign. The NSL was won by Melbourne Knights, with Mark Viduka winning the golden boot with 18 goals. Altona Magic defeated Bulleen 3-2 in the Grand Final to win the VPL in the year Port Melbourne dominated but stumbled in the Finals. Oakleigh City (now Cannons) were relegated from Division One, with South Dandenong (now Thunder) promoted as runner's-up in Division Three.

Last night at Kevin Bartlett Reserve it was Green Gully leading Richmond 2-1 at around the 72nd minute when Luke Brennan pulled the pin. Apart from flooding, there was also thunder and lightening making things frightening. If the referee's report indicates the game was stopped due to thunder, it is highly possible that the FFV will deduct further points from Dandenong Thunder as well as fine them.

The pageviews counter indicates not too many people are reading the blog, and comments are virtually non-existent. But I take heart from the fact that since my last post on Thursday, the VPL Live TV icon alongside the club logos on the VPL website has disappeared. Co-incidence or not?

Thursday, 30 May 2013

It's Wednesday night, it's Box Hill Indoor Soccer Night

Not amateur Hammond organ recital night. After more than a decade, I have made a return to playing indoor soccer, with Blue Steel in the Wednesday Night Division Three competition at the Box Hill Indoor Sports Centre. Last night saw the second-placed Steel notch up a comfortable 11-4 win over last-placed Unatletico Madrid to pretty much seal a place in the top four Finals series (with only six teams in the competition, it's a bit like the A-League in that regard). Scored twice and did not further injure myself, so good result all round.

It meant not keeping up to date with the rapidly changing NPLV landscape. We've now had Hume City, Preston Lions, Cairnlea and Altona Magic declare they will not submit EOI's. Dandenong Thunder will submit an EOI, but seem lukewarm on making a final submission, perhaps sensing they are about as welcome as Eddie Maguire at a corroboree.

Not much has been mentioned about the involvement of Melbourne Heart Youth and Melbourne Victory Youth in the NPLV. It has widely been assumed they will play in the senior competition, but will they have to meet all the other criteria other licensees must meet? Maybe more will be revealed when the list of clubs to have put in the EOI's is announced.

I notice the FFV VPL website still has a link to the long departed VPL Live TV to the right of the links to the club websites. Sure it is nice to have a link to the videos of games from previous years, but perhaps a bit disingenuous to keep the link there when there is no longer any more actual VPL Live TV broadcasts. It was interesting to note on the VPL Facebook page earlier in the season whenever anyone posed the question which was to be the VPL Live TV game that round, or if the current match being updated was on VPL Live TV, there would be no response from the FFV. Whilst it may be embarrassing for the FFV to admit they could no longer afford to service, and therefore admit they were reducing their service to the clubs and league in promoting the competition, it was downright rude not to make a statement and answer poster's questions.

Whilst on the VPL Facebook page, you can almost set your watch to the weekly "South Melbourne for relegation" post from Chris Margaritis and Michael Italiano coming on to pump up the tyres of his son Lewis in the Oakleigh goal. I've heard of club's having to "please explain" comments posted by their players, a bit rich coming from the organisation which failed to answer enquiries from the public. At least we get an idea on how the staff of over 60 at FFV HQ are spending their time.

Another matter to arise on the discussion on the NPLV on the various forums and Facebook pages is the number of times someone argues that the NPL has already been implemented across the country. The FFV's criteria means the NPLV is a vastly different beast to the versions currently underway in other states. Once again, to claim otherwise is ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst.

If you think things are getting absurd, then check out this beauty:

I would love to hear more about this. I'll assume two yearly increments in those age brackets up until the Veteran's League begins at Under 35's. So that could be Under 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32 and 34's. Someone start making some more pitches, I'll try and round up enough referees.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Bits & Pieces (Not a Dave Clark Five Tribute)

The Dave Clark Five were the "Tottenham Sound", perhaps a little overshadowed by the "Merseybeat" of the same era. This post is not about them though, even though the title is the same as one of their greatest hits.

So Harry Kewell is close to signing for Melbourne Heart in the A-League. For close to minimum wage apparently. Will add a bit more spice to the Derby, and I'm not talking about his appearance in a marquee at Flemington. Just don't let me have to hear anyone claiming he is the greatest Australian player of all-time, not in this town. This side of the Murray, we all hail King Dukes!

Conflicting reports on whether the two VPL Melbourne's, Port and South, will be submitting EOI's for the NPLV. The deadline to hop of the fence is 5 pm Friday, with a countdown clock on the FFV NPLV keeping everyone informed.

Thanks to South of the Border for their promotion of Melbourne Soccer on their blog:

I answer Yes, Hell Yes and No to the three opening questions. I don't think the blog could be summarised in just six words any better than they have in their links section - Australian soccer history, Victorian soccer politics. That's what I'm here for.

The Guardian have launched an Australian website, and in the following blog Joe Gorman explains why they will be referring to the game as soccer:

As you may gather, calling football "soccer" does not have the same effect on me as showing a cross to a vampire. I grew up with the name, and like many can easily switch between the two terms depending on what company I am in without suffering any scarring of psyche as a result. I called the blog Melbourne Soccer, as in Melbourne the dominant code of football is Aussie Rules, and I'm not looking to cause any confusion.

If any club would like to announce their intentions regarding the NPLV via this blog, please get in touch. According to the countdown clock, you have 2 days, 19 hours, 38 minutes and 51 seconds remaining.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Interesting Expressions

With Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the National Premier League Victoria closing at the end of the week, there has been plenty of movement at the station.

Melbourne Knights Press Release

First came this press release from the Melbourne Knights about the decision of their members at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to not submit an EOI. How many other clubs have even put this decision to an EGM yet?

The FFV website today issued a reminder that interested parties have until 5 pm on Friday to submit their EOI.

FFV News Update

There is nothing on the FFV website at all pertaining to a query in the last paragraph of the press release, in which "The Melbourne Knights calls upon Football Federation Victoria to immediately release the criteria for the so-called 'community leagues' so that the club, and others like it, may prepare to the fullest for the 2014 season." I hope no one is holding their breath, because the vast and expensive FFV resources are being devoted solely to the NPLV and the grassroots can wither and die for all they care.

Mfootball - Green Gully Exclusive

Next cab off the rank to announce they don't want a bar of the NPLV is Green Gully. When the most financially stable club in the state won't take the risk on the viability of the FFV's brainchild, it is time to phone Houston, for we have a problem.

To get everyone in the mood for where we may currently stand in history, have a look at this if you have the time:


The great Roy Hay covers the split that lead to the foundation of the VSF. Are there any lessons to be learned from history?