Tuesday, 27 May 2014

An Evening With Finey

Thought it was as good a time as any to review The World of Football show on SEN radio's Evenings With Mark Fine program.

A big gripe I have with the football/soccer coverage on SEN is the reluctance of most presenters to stick with either one term for the game or the other. Fearing backlashes from both sides of the Code Wars, they often use "the world game" or "world football" in a way which just seems unnatural. Sometimes it is "the round ball" game, anything to skirt around using either just football or soccer. If they start calling golf "the little dimply ball game" or cricket "the ball and stick game of the old British Empire countries" I can wear it, otherwise show some courage in your convictions and pick either soccer or football and stop talking like there's an elephant in the room who you dare not speak of. Though this show's name is in line with that principle, Fine doesn't seem to jar me with "the world/round" as much as he used to.

Socceroos talk was up first. It was a lot better than the drivel served up by Andrew Gaze and Andy Maher in the morning. Dave Davutovic and Michael Zappone didn't seem to have imbibed of the same happy juice as Andy Harper was drunk on, both during his call of the game on Fox Sports and his appearance on Kevin Bartlett's Hungry For Sport show earlier in the day.

Actually, the national team talk was quite refreshing. Perhaps I shouldn't watch games whilst following twitter so much, as that can often distract you from the real issues. Social media flared up over trivialities (Samantha Jade's World Cup anthem) as well as flogging dead horses to a pulp (state of the pitch) which perhaps only deserved a cursory mention.

Listening to Zappone reading out NPLV results reminded me of glorious radio days gone by. During the interview with Goran Lozanovski he even mentioned the great man Peter Kotsiris. Again, it was very refreshing to hear a football expert on the station with some knowledge of anything outside the select few top European leagues and our domestic A-League.

Despite the show tweeting that the focus would be on the Socceroos (and with a game last night and a World Cup a couple of weeks away that's the way it should be) Davutovic did touch on the subject of recent FFV Board matters. An interview with a NPVL coach, though, was probably not the best way to broach the subject. Lozanovski was understandably reticent to delve too deeply into the matter which is not really his domain and a question more pertinent to a club official or administrator.

Overall it was a solid hour of football talk. In most weeks when there's not a local Cup tie on or an AFC Champions League game on Fox I will keep listening.

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Sad State

I don't really want to write posts critical of the management of the game all the time, but what is the alternative? If you accept poor standards, you are just as complicit as those who deliver them for the sad state of affairs we find ourselves in.

A sad state it is indeed. When two Directors step down from the Board on the same day, in the same week as another CEO is turned over we are in a similar condition to the state of Denmark circa the 1500's.

To me this poses many questions. Why? What is going on? Who is to blame? Is the Board of the FFV dysfunctional? And more and more, why aren't more people demanding answers? Without any real scrutiny, it is not hard to see why the situation seems to be getting worse rather than better.

In an age when journalism increasingly seems to involve rehashing official press releases (no different to Year Seven students changing a few sentences around when copying their homework from someone else) perhaps I'm being optimistic to expect any better.

Without delving into innuendo, what we do know for sure is that:

FFV CEO Mitchell Murphy has resigned

His tenure was hardly longer than that of the previous interim appointment, Peter Gome.

FFV Director Kimon Taliadoros has tendered his resignation

From his candidacy statement we know he wanted to focus on governance. Are things that bad that he wants to disassociate himself from them after a relatively short time on the board?

FFV Director Aldrin De Zilva has also tendered his resignation

This is less surprising. Given that he is facing charges of misconduct from an Under 13's NPL fixture one may have thought that he would have been temporarily stood down immediately pending the hearing for that matter.

What adds to the intrigue in this case is that he had reported concerns about the disclosures of the financial situation of the FFV to Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission. That has given the conspiracy theorists plenty to work with.

Without a media prepared to investigate or ask the hard questions, who knows when we will get any answers? The FFA has only ever proven to put in token interest in the problems of the game at the lower end of the food chain. These issues are secondary to shifting as much Socceroos merchandise prior to the World Cup as possible. No one there must care about grass roots football. As long as Timmy Cahill's fashion gear isn't made in dodgy Asian sweatshops, there's no real scandal that would concern them.

On twitter a few weeks ago I sarcastically expressed concern that Zagame's should be the naming rights sponsor of the NPLV junior leagues.

Though billed as a family restaurant, it was the connection to gaming venues that raised my eyebrow. A week later an AFL player is arrested after a fight involving security guards in which crutches were allegedly used as weapons at their Caulfield venue. There is currently no naming rights sponsor for the senior NPLV Leagues. Even if the sponsorship deal did not meet the expectation for naming rights of the senior competition, why you wouldn't have given a chain associated with gaming and alcohol the naming rights for the senior league rather than risk the junior competition being linked with drinking, gambling and violence baffles me.

I'm also taken aback that the South Melbourne television crew should be made to assemble a scaffold gantry themselves for their fixture at Werribee this week. I would have thought that if a venue didn't meet requirements, the hosts would feel more obliged to assist in overcoming any deficiencies. Throwing someone some pipes and parts and saying "there you go" does not come up to scratch in my opinion. Especially when you have some clubs being docked points for upholding the letter of the law in terms of fielding junior teams. The old saying is "rules are rules". Under the FFV it seems that some rules matter, and others don't. How's the governance on that?

Finally, it was good to see the FFV get involved in the DON'T STAND BY. STAND UP! campaign against racism. I suppose they don't have anyone there anymore who refers to "you people" in reference to ethnic clubs?

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Transparency, Or The Lack Thereof

Back after the first week of the NPLV season, the contributor known as Kiss of Death on the South of the Border blog uncovered the fact that Trent Rixon should have served a suspension in the opening round. In light of the revelation in the post from March 17 it is interesting to see how the matter was handled.

If Northcote City did indeed seek clarification of his status from the FFV prior to fielding him in the game against Melbourne Knights and were told he was eligible to play, it is fair enough no action was taken against them. However it should be incumbent of the FFV to be transparent and explain what occurred. Given the player was not on the team sheet the following round, can we assume it was because he was serving the suspension that week?

An explanation should have been given, it is hard to trust an organisation that sweeps things under the carpet.

Speaking of trust, we can't trust people not to cheat in junior football. Every child must have an ID card (with photo) in the hands of the match official before they can take the field. It is strictly NO CARD, NO PLAY.

In the high stakes NPLV, however, the FFV is yet to share with the public the Player Points System information of the competing clubs. A transparent body would provide a list of each the players registered for each club and their individual points values so everyone could see how clubs stood.

We have players clearly listed on FFV documentation as being suspended playing without any apparent sanction. We have a new PPS which we can't check is being fully adhered to. Then we have kids being treated like criminals if their parents/club haven't been up to date with their paperwork. Seems to be the wrong way around to me.

I'd rather let the kids play and be more stringent on the supposed professionals and elite.

Monday, 19 May 2014

The old Box Hill

The above is a photo (click on it for larger version) of Box Hill Soccer Club from the 1928 season. The establishment of the Box Hill club began in 1922-23 with a team playing sporadic friendly matches. In 1925 the club was admitted to the new Fourth Division of the Victorian Amateur British Football Association. It was a successful season, the Championship clinched with ten wins out of twelve games leaving the club four points ahead of Brighton.

It was a barnstorming start for the pioneers of football in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, who took out the Third Division Championship in 1926. Eleven wins from fourteen games saw them finish two points clear of runner's-up Werribee United.

The following year was that of the District League schism. Box Hill were part of the District League, recognised as the official premier competition in Melbourne football. With one result missing (a game between Box Hill and St Kilda) my records have them level on points with Footscray Thistle and South Melbourne, four points behind Prahran City, the Champions. The inscription on the back of the above photograph lists the club as being runner's-up in the District League of 1927. With the weakest of the three teams on goal difference, a draw in the missing game would give them that position. Alternatively the game may have never been played and it maybe "equal runner's-up" would have been more accurate.

It may well be the latter, as it also lists them as being runner's-up in the District League Southern Division the following year. My records have them level with South Melbourne (but with an inferior goal difference), eleven points behind the Naval Depot who took the Championship.

With the split between the District League and Melbourne District Association resolved, 1929 saw Box Hill competing in the new Second Division, finishing fourth behind Caledonians. Winning the Second Division in 1931 led to a stint in the First Division which ended with relegation in 1935. The club competed through the early years of World War II until going into hiatus from 1942.

Returning to action in 1945 in the expanded top flight, steady improvement each year culminated with Box Hill taking out the First Division Championship in 1948. It would be a mainstay at the top level until 1962.

In the 1928 photo, there are only ten players, perhaps because "selfies" hadn't been invented yet. At the time the club was playing on a ground at the corner of Springfield and Dorking (then Doncaster) Roads in Box Hill North which literally was a cow paddock during the week.

The next picture is of a letter (with neat letterhead) from Box Hill to the Moorabbin City club regarding the possible move of R.Rigby between the clubs. It is from the Olympic year of 1956 when the club finished seventh in the First Division won by Juventus on goal difference from Hakaoh.

The old Box Hill went through an early 1980's revival before a downturn in fortunes eventually led to a merger with Clayton Inter. A further merger with Bulleen which formed Bulleen Inter Kings in 1997 saw the link to Box Hill disappear. Junior and women's clubs continued to play out of the Wembley Park ground, and a merger between them and Southern Suburbs in 2011 saw senior men's football return to the district with the formation of Box Hill United.