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 And not as in news updates that are out of date.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?