Thursday, 21 December 2017

The Goal! Weekly Archive

I'm not exactly sure when, but at some point recently the Goal! Weekly website added the vast bulk of their back catalogue to an archive on their website called The Collection. I've now added a link to this collection to the Newspapers page on the History Documents section of the blog. The modern successor to Soccer News and Soccer Action rounds out the history of post-WWII soccer in Victoria.

The archive covers the golden era of the mid-2000's VPL. There were full page match reports and some sensational photos. Full, poster-sized team photos are also of great interest, as well as the full page Football Focus photo and interviews of a player. There is also the foundation of the A-League, and in later years the magazine is a virtual Football Record for the national competition.

From a history perspective, the Blast From The Past page with Roy Hay is unmissable. He along with former Soccer Action journalist Craig MacKenzie were the paper's veterans writers, along with George Stogiannou and with John Punshon, Steve Gray and Anita Milas on the cameras. They were later joined by Walter Pless, Mike Salter and Nat Adamopoulos as the paper went national. A whole crop of young media talent later got in on the act, like Sacha Pisani, Matthew Galea, Donald Sutherland, Matthew Naqvi, Teo Pellizzeri, Con Stamocostas, David Manuca, Matthew McNamara, Daniel Quinn, Brandon Galgano, Katie Lambeski and Shaun Moran.

It's great to have the paper available online. All hail the King, Costa Koutropoulos!

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Some Blog Housekeeping

In the absence of coming across the missing editions of Soccer Action to scan and complete the collection, I've updated a couple of old items I had lying around on the hard drive. There is now a brief index for Soccer Action and Soccer News, which may come in handy if you are looking for a feature/profile on a particular player or club. As well as being found below, there are links on the relevant archive pages.

Soccer Action Index

Soccer News Index

I've also added three new compilations, one of which is complete while the others will be works in progress to be added to annually. They are they Australian pages of World Soccer magazine. The 1990's compilation is complete, scanned from my own collection. As I don't have any in my collection from the 1960's and 1970's, these compilations are based on the issues found on the Soccer Nostalgia blog. As more come to hand, the pdf file will be added to and updated. There will also be a few new items added to the Magazine Article Archive, including World Soccer pieces on Mark Viduka, the Tim Cahill nationality issue and the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

World Soccer Australian Pages 1960's

World Soccer Australian Pages 1970's

World Soccer Australian Pages 1990's

Thursday, 12 October 2017

The 2017 Draft of the Statistical History

Following the completion of the 2017 FFV season I thought it's time to release the latest draft of my Victorian Football Statistical History.

So here it is:

Victorian Football Statistical History draft 9 - 2017

There's a few new things since the last draft. The National Competitions section has been expanded. There's a new Award Winners section to include discontinued awards and non-playing awards. A Regional Leagues section has been added, and by releasing this draft I hope people can see what information I'm looking for to fill in the gaps in that section. Just because there weren't enough missing details already I've added an Other Competitions section so I have to find some goalscorers for the Laidlaw World Cup Finals and the results of the Industrial/ASFV/VicSoccer Cup Finals.

In terms of senior tables, they are nearly as good as they will probably get. There are only a few problematic years, mainly 1912, 1914-15, 1922, 1936, 1938 and 1946 that need a bit more effort.

With the Dockerty Cup, it may take a time machine to ever uncover any more information on the 1919 edition. The Second World War years are also shrouded in secrecy, when even the VFL coverage in the papers was limited. Then there are several years where we fall 3 or 4 players short from establishing complete line-ups, I still hold out hope for being able to discover them.

Feel free to share it around, and if anyone has some information that can assist please contact me at

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Sad Situation of Richmond

Some of the following could have been included in the Why I've Arrived Where I'm At post from March, and some from Elitist But Not Elite as well but I was trying to put a limit on my rambling at the time.

On Friday the Richmond Soccer Club put the following message on their Facebook page:

I would be lying if I said I was surprised, as this has been a long time coming, six years in fact.

A poor start to the 2011 season by the Under 21's precipitated the end of Helmut Katizki's presidency at Richmond. Donald MacLaren had taken over the side after assisting Jim Maclean, and an element of the committee from the juniors side were not satisfied with performances. The pressure to make a change continued to build, and eventually a newcomer to the committee, Jean-Marc Imbert, was made caretaker coach for the remainder of the season.

The following year it was senior coach Michael Chatzitrifonos who was under the pump. Early season losses prompted agitation from some of the committee. He had cut Didier Imbert from the senior squad during pre-season, before politicking forced a reconsideration. The tensions reached a head in early June following a 0-2 loss at home to Hume City when Chatzitrifonos quit his post after being confronted post-game.

Kalitzki managed to get Chatzitrifonos back on board the following day but the damage had been done. Captain Michael Ferrante, struggling with a back injury that would not see him play regularly for another year after surgery, left the club dismayed at the politics that had crept in, clearly able to see the writing on the wall. The team's results would improve, eventually finishing just three points off a finals berth, despite the turmoil off the park.

The committee was now dis-functional and having failed to oust Chatzitrifonos they now set their sights on Kalitzki. Their meetings required security intervention. Prior to the final game of the season, Kalitzki met with the players to announce he had stood down as president. Though he always honoured promises over player wages, he told them to see the new committee about payments for the final game but hoped that they would still turn out and play for each other and their coach. Following a spirited 1-1 draw away at the league champions Dandenong Thunder, Chatzitrifonos finished his tenure at the club after five years.

The new committee appointed Imbert as first team coach for the following season. The core of the playing squad moved on, though Davey van 't Schip was happy to stay and play with his mates who had remained. A bust-up with Imbert in pre-season though saw him follow Ferrante and Tom Milardovic to Pascoe Vale where he remains to this day, one of the best players in the NPLV. After four straight defeats at the start of the 2013 season, culminating in an embarrassing 2-7 defeat at home to Northcote City, Imbert was dismissed. By the end of the year the club was relegated, and those that had ousted Kalitzki had all jumped off the ship they had sunk.

                          Sub Bill Fleming Medal for Gold Medal and.....

The club rallied under a new committee and in 2015 with the backing of sponsorship from Concave won the then NPL1 to secure promotion back into the top tier. Instantly relegated, it was a second successive relegation this season that has brought the club to the brink on which it now sits.

So in reading the commentary to the club's EGM announcement it was interesting to see how some apportion the blame for the predicament.

There were some fingers pointed at the FFV and also the NPL set-up as a whole. What is clear is that relegation from the NPL will have a more devastating effect on clubs than relegation from the VPL did. What can a club do if the bulk of their junior players may be looking to stay in the NPL system by moving to other clubs? When committee people may be pondering such a move for their own children, it's easy to see how a crippling exodus may occur. Battling to meet the costly NPL requirements no doubt causes a lot of burn-out as well.

Does the NPL set up, particularly in NPL2 do clubs any favours? I recall in the heyday of Friday nights at Kevin Bartlett Reserve, the bar and canteen would make twice as much as it would with the same crowd on a Saturday afternoon. So what does hosting a single busload of players and officials from Goulburn Valley or Murray United on a Saturday offer? A 28 game season means six more week's worth of wages need to be found than previously. Not that every club relegated from the NPLV will find themselves in Richmond's predicament, but there would be a few others skating closer to the edge than they'd like to admit.

Of course the lack of stability since the departure of Kalitzki leads some to point out the perils of relying on a single benefactor. From what I've seen though, few clubs would cover their costs on gate takings alone. Surely a benefactor or sponsorship is preferable to using junior membership fees? The old chestnut of clubs being at the mercy of the whims of such benefactors also rises, as if they just like to withdraw their support for a laugh. Most benefactors would prefer clubs become less reliant on them, but that can take years to achieve. Since Kalitzki the club was aided by various sponsors, none of whom have been long term.

I think the situation Richmond has found itself in illustrates how committees with junior parents dominated by self-interest will destroy more clubs than these supposedly flip-flopping benefactors do. And for that the FFV has to shoulder some of the blame. A decade ago now the FFV forced clubs to alter their constitutions to allow the parents of junior players a vote at club's elections, which probably assisted the ousting of Kalitzki at a club with a small member base like Richmond.

Of course the two A-League clubs with teams in the NPLV do not have to comply with these rules. These privately owned clubs are allowed to operate without the ability of a group of Under 14's parents upset at being confined to the back pitch all season to wrest control from Sheikh Mansour. Melbourne Victory's chairman Anthony Di Pietro is safe in the knowledge he doesn't need to placate the parents of the kids sitting on the bench in their NPL2 West U20's team to keep his role. Funnily enough the person I used to argue with on Twitter about the unfairness of this is currently on the run in Romania from Australian taxation authorities so we are not able to resume that debate.

Though the FFV saw fit to meddle with constitutions, there's no protections put in place that could prevent the scenario that has occurred at Richmond. When those on the committee failed to get their way in sacking the coach and demanded money they had put into the club back, the president had the option of paying them, or standing down and letting them have their way once the situation had become untenable. When the following committee failed to achieve what they wanted and left, they were free to be able to do so. They did not have to be held to account, it was left to others to pick up the pieces if they wanted the club to carry on, and saddled with debt they managed to move it on a little further to the crossroads it now finds itself.

It also needs to be noted that none of the changes to the competition made with the introduction of the NPL where made with the clubs, and their best interests, in mind. As with much of Australian football decisions are made on a "top down" basis. The authorities give little consideration to those running clubs. If clubs fall over they know another one will take it's place.

Having put in 30 hours a week at the club for over ten years, it would be sad to see it go under. Cannot say, though, that I'd be sad enough about it to go through all that again to save it. Which in itself is the saddest part.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Boo Reviews Some More Yearbooks

Another batch of VSF Yearbooks have been scanned and uploaded, so time for another review.

Not a VSF Yearbook, it's the Australian Soccer Yearbook

Australian Soccer Year Book 1963

Or more accurately, the Soccer World Yearbook for 1963. This is a treat, a wonderful record of the season in NSW and pretty good coverage of other states. All the line-ups for the interstate championship and Australia Cup are there and player appearances for the NSW top tier. The great names leap from every page, Marston, Baumgartner, the brothers Ninaus, Jaros, Warren, Watkiss etc

Not a VSF Yearbook, it's some Queensland Soccer Federation Yearbooks

Queensland Soccer Federation Yearbook 1968

Queensland Soccer Federation Yearbook 1969

These are also great, up there with the early 1960's VSF Yearbooks and better than what the VSF was offering at the time.

About to enter the Golden Age, the 1974 VSF Yearbook

1974 VSF Yearbook

The new World Cup trophy on the cover. All the framework for the classic Yearbooks of 1976-78 are there without the fancy extras. Lots of fixtures, tables and cup charts.

From the top shelf, the 1976 VSF Yearbook

1976 VSF Yearbook

Another trophy on the cover, this time it's the Rothman's State League Championship Trophy. Tons of fixtures and tables. There's results grids and cup charts, and a list of VSF Cup Finals for the year prior. There's a list of the state team games from a tour of New Caledonia, and the Bendigo League gets a mention.

Returning to the Dark Ages, the 1980 VSF Yearbook

1980 VSF Yearbook

Plain, lame cover. Fixtures and club contacts book, more like. Not even tables from the previous year, let alone results grids or cup charts. Nothing about the juniors. A few pictures and the state team line-ups for the season the only highlights. Pocket sized, but no pocket rocket like the 1960's VASFA versions.

Same crap as the year before, the 1981 VSF Yearbook

1981 VSF Yearbook

Did Oliver Twist ask for some more slop? It's delivered here in spades, another shocker with the plain lame cover now a signature for mediocrity.

Page size is bigger, just makes it a bigger waste of space, the 1983 VSF Yearbook

1983 VSF Yearbook

The pocked size has been increased a bit, but the plain, lame cover offers the same dire content as it's 1980's predecessors. Scanning it made me sad.

Friday, 8 September 2017

The 2017 NPLV Grand Final Soccer Marathon

One of the great Melbourne institutions is the HSV7 (7 Network) Grand Final Footy Marathon. Late night on Grand Final Eve the station would run highlights or full games of previous VFL/AFL Grand Finals all through the night, leading in to the coverage of the Under 19's then Reserves Grand Finals leading up to the main event.

This year I start what will hopefully be a new tradition, the NPLV Grand Final Marathon as we build up the big clash between Heidelberg United and Bentleigh Greens at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday. There's all the links to the highlights or full games of  previous VPL/NPLV Grand Finals that I have found so far.

Maybe next year we can find a few more videos to add for the next marathon.

1992 North Geelong v Brunswick Juventus

1995 Altona Magic v Bulleen Lions

2003 Green Gully v Frankston Pines

2005 Green Gully v Heidelberg United

2006 South Melbourne v Altona Magic

2009 Altona Magic v Dandenong Thunder

2010 Green Gully v Richmond

2011 Green Gully v Oakleigh Cannons

2012 Dandenong Thunder v Oakleigh Cannons

2013 Northcote City v Bentleigh Greens

2015 Bentleigh Greens v South Melbourne

2016 South Melbourne v Oakleigh Cannons

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Boo Reviews Some Yearbooks

Some more old VASFA and VSF Yearbooks have been scanned and uploaded to the Yearbooks & Annuals archive, and I thought I'd discuss their relative merits in a blog post.

Not a VSF Yearbook, the 1968 Victorian Soccer Yearbook

1968 Victorian Soccer Yearbook

Although a VSF product, this is not the actual VSF Yearbook for that year which can be found here.

It is basically a laws of the game booklet with last season's tables thrown in. Maybe they gave them out to schools for promotion/publicity, but even today I wouldn't waste thirty cents on it.

It cost shillings and pence, the 1959 VASFA Yearbook

1959 VASFA Yearbook

VASFA emblem on the cover, a lion and a kangaroo around a football with a crown on it. You could buy Stanley Matthews brand boots and balls in Queen Street. Good solid yearbook, list of VASFA officials and fixture list all nice. Slight shame the players are not identified in the picture of the previous year's State League Champions. Tables perfect, great results grids and cup charts. Slight let down with the list of champions, it's a shame Cup finals don't have further details as in scorers and line-ups. Some reasonable history with lists of previous champions and tours results. A quality production.

Here comes another one, just like the other one, the 1960 VASFA Yearbook

1960 VASFA Yearbook

Very similar to the previous year's version. The pic of the previous year's champion was ditched, and profiles of the leading officials was added. A good historical record.

It's a little bit different, but not in a good way, the 1966 VSF Yearbook

1966 VSF Yearbook

Cover photo is nice, Mike Jurecki of Victoria taking on Torpedo Moscow. Lists of officials and fixtures are all there, as well as additional editorial content with plenty of club profiles an a few photos. It fails to pass muster as a paper of record though, with the results grids and tables on covering the State League and Metropolitan League seniors only. No Cup charts, or even a list of winners, no state team match details, no reserves tables and no junior tables. G.T.Edgar, you are/were a fraud. Not fit to shine Stuart Beaton's shoes.

Gold on the cover but not enough gold, the 1970 VSF Yearbook

1970 VSF Yearbook

Nice action shot on the cover, but sadly the Hakoah and Hellas players aren't identified. Tables still unsatisfactory, none for reserves, the District League or the juniors, but some from interstate and country leagues. Cup charts are back, as are state team match details. Passable.

As old as me, the 1972 VSF Yearbook

1972 VSF Yearbook

Another unidentified player on the cover. Tables issue improving, with reserves, thirds and the District League back in the fold and only the juniors lacking. Cup charts and state team details all there, now with a review of all the State League clubs and a piece on the Argus Medal winner. There are team pics from state team games, again sadly unlabelled. Improving.

Entering the vintage era, the 1975 VSF Yearbook

1975 VSF Yearbook

Cover photo, with the team identified on page 8. What is this sorcery? Fixtures - even the Industrial League is included. Tables - seniors, reserves, thirds, District League and Provisional League. Only junior table included is an Under 20's league though. Gone - State League club reviews, results grids and state team details. Plenty of Cup charts though. On the verge of the Golden Age that was the 1977 and 1978 editions.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Completing The Set? VicSoccer '89

Earlier this year Paul Mavroudis of South of the Border scanned and shared my copy of VicSoccer '88. Now I'm able to share with you all the copy of VicSoccer '89 loaned to me by George Cotsanis of My World Is Round.

As noted back in May, VicSoccer was the annual/yearbook of Les Shorrock's Soccer Star newspaper. In a way it was a local successor to the Australian Soccer Annual's of Australian Soccer Weekly. While Soccer Star went on into 1990, I'm not sure there was a VicSoccer '90 as the paper didn't last beyond that year.

Personally I prefer the 1988 edition, finding squeezing multiple team photos onto the one page a bit of a let down. Though the records of the State League clubs is nice.

Anyway check it at the link below:

VicSoccer '89

Sunday, 25 June 2017

State of the Blog 2017

I'm doing a bit of housekeeping on the blog as I prepare for a bit of a revamp in the coming weeks.

I will be keeping the existing major pages, but by adding pages within pages in the History Documents section I hope top make it less unwieldy. The same method will be used to clean up the Video Archive as well.

End of Financial Year Stocktake

Soccer News Archive - 76 items

Soccer Action Archive - 387 items

History Documents - 201 items

Posts Record Statistics

Page Statistics

                                        (Click on images to enlarge)

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Not So Random Pictures

Yes, it's the return of one of the Blog's franchise series, a Random Pictures post. Only not that random as they are all from a collection of photos loaned to me by Heidelberg United, so there's a strong Alexandros theme.

Speak of the devil....

No doubt there are some in football that will cringe at this image of our ethnic football past. Even less doubt that many of those aren't as tolerant of other cultures as they like to make out. Screw the hypocrites, all hail Alexander!

Ollie Norris interviewing then Sydney Olympic coach Tommy Docherty.

Manny Poulakakis and Ollie Norris present legendary VFL coach Tom Hafey with a commemorative Phillips Soccer League plate.

Ange Koutos presents Collingwood FC icon Lou Richards with a ball in the short-lived Collingwood Warriors era.

The multi-media mega star takes on Koutos.

A youthful John Anastasiadis.

Peter Tsolakis heads the ball under pressure from George Petrov.

Heidelberg's Phil Stubbins is tackled by Melbourne Croatia's George Hannah with Stuart Stevenson watching.

Jimmy Rooney tries to get away from Croatia's Ned Batinovic.

The third of the trilogy, Jamie Paton battles with Croatia's Steve Kokoska.

Celebrations for Gary Cole, Jimmy Tansey, Derek Hunter and Jimmy Campbell.

Heidelberg United from the Victorian Premier League in 2000.

Back (LtoR): Andrew Charalambous, Bill Makris, George Angelos, Peter Di Iorio, Alfonso Opazo.
Middle: Cameron Brown, Manny Pappas, Arthur Tsonis, Leigh Tsoumerkas, Sean Cunningham, Robbie Grakovski, Gerry McAleer.
Front: Jeff Stefanidis, David De Propertis, George Katsakis, Jeff Olver, Phil Peladarinos, Mile Medjedovic.

                                           (Click on images to enlarge)

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Soccer Action Is Well And Truly Here!

Last August I started putting my Soccer Action collection online, and in under a year the task is now complete. Which is a bit ahead of schedule as I initially anticipated uploading just one or two a week and thought it would be something that would be completed in five or six years. The device of posting links to the new uploads on Twitter every Friday brought about the hastened completion of digitising the collection, making sure I did a few week then pushing me to do a few more than the week before.

It went from being happy with four uploads a week to trying to hit ten every Friday. I'd like to thank John Morris for giving me my original collection, and Damian Smith for the inspiration in putting them online. Thanks to Pave Jusup for allowing me to add to that collection by letting me copy from his own. Thanks also to Shahan Petrossian of Soccer Nostalgia, Miles McClagan and his amazing flickr scans, Paul Mavroudis of South of the Border and George Cotsanis of My World Is Round for further inspiration in making sure the collection was shared for all to enjoy.

Thanks also the the great statistician and historian Andrew Howe for providing me with a few missing pages and moral support. Thanks also to everyone who provided encouragement via the comments section of the blog or on Twitter, knowing people wanted to share the memories contained in the papers is what it was all about. The great Gary Cole falls into this lot, as well as the final group I need to thank, those that provided us with Soccer Action in the first place - Laurie Schwab, Les Shorrock and Craig MacKenzie.

Of course the the job is not quite finished, as my collection is not complete and after a break I will look towards finding and scanning the missing issues. The starting point to that, of course, is listing them here.

There are a few editions I have that are incomplete. They are:


March 19 (pages 13 and 14 missing)


March 25 (pages 13 and 14 missing)

July 1 (pages 5, 6, 7. 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 missing)

July 22 (pages 3, 4, 13 and 14 missing)


July 16 (pages 1, 2, 15 and 16 missing)

And the editions I am missing completely are:


February 4

March 31


March 14

July 25

August 29


May 28

June 4

June 25

September 10

October 15

October 22

November 5

November 19


April 1


January 27

February 10

March 3

March 10

March 17

March 24

April 14

May 19

June 30

July 14

August 11

September 22

October 20


February 16

March 16

March 23

April 6

June 8

July 20

August 10

August 17

October 19

October 26


April 4

September 12


September 4


April 9

May 14

October 8

So it's 387 down, 71 to go. Currently the file full of scans comes in at 5.96GB, so it may be that one day you can carry a complete set of Soccer Action's with you on an 8GB USB. The wonders of modern technology.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Soccer World, Week & News Plus A Spot Of Tennis

A few years ago I got a USB from leading historian Roy Hay which contained files of scans of old Soccer newspapers. The file was labelled the John Punshon-Tom Wall Collection. John is another of the great football historians, largely responsible for the Victorian state league section of OzFootball. I don't know who Tom Wall is.

The scans were a mixture of jpeg and pdf files, but each file was just a single page from the paper. They must have been able to scan full size A3 pages and are great quality. Having discovered sites that allow you to make pdf files of jpeg images, and merge single page pdfs into multi page documents, I can now add these papers to the various archives on the blog.

Soccer World

The Green Paper (not hard to figure out where this nickname came from) was Sydney's soccer newspaper from the 1960's to the early 1980's with Andrew Dettre and Lou Gautier chief contributors. Jim Cook was the longtime Melbourne correspondent.

If you scroll down the History Documents page, you will find the Soccer World archive.

The new editions added to my previous scans of 1970's issues are:

1961 September 8

1962 Septmber 21, 28 October 5

1963 August 9 November 8

1964 June 12

1966 October 7, 14

1967 June 9

1968 May 3 July 26 September 13 October 4, 11

1969 January 24 May 9 August 22 September 5, 12 October 3

Soccer Week

I've blogged about this mid-1970's Melbourne paper before. Now I can share the following editions, also found on the History Documents page:

1975 April 23 June 9, 18 July 9, 16 August 6

Soccer News

The old faithful Soccer News underwent several changes in the 1960's. Having begun as a small A5 booklet in the 1940's, it grew slightly larger in the late 1950's. In the 1960's it would go full newspaper size, also becoming Soccer Weekly in 1962 in an attempt to go national. Reverting back to Soccer News the following year, it became Soccer News & Soccer Life in 1966 and then Soccer Tennis News in 1968 with the legendary Harry Hopman involved in the tennis section, again reverting back to Soccer News for 1969.

Some of the news scans are missing pages, but I've added them to the archive as there may be information someone is after and something is better than nothing. The Soccer News Archive now has had the following added to it:

1962 August 30

1963 April 11 October 3

1964 February 27 March 26 April 2, 16, 23 May 21 June 25 July 30 August 27 September 17
         October 15 November 5

1965 March 12 May 27 September 9

1966 June 2 August 11

1967 April 6 June 8 and better versions of June 15, 22 & 29

1968 April 25 May 16 June 27 August 1

1969 May 22

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Vic Soccer '88

I've always maintained that Vic Soccer '88 is one of the greatest things ever published. When Soccer Action died, the great Les Shorrock started up Soccer Star, and Vic Soccer '88 can be considered the Soccer Star Annual of 1988.

Following the Great Computer Death of 2015, I gave a box of items to Paul Mavroudis of South of the Border to have a look at while I began to put my collection back into order. Thanks to his efforts in scanning and hosting, we can now share Vic Soccer '88 with a wider audience.

Personally nothing can hit the nostalgia sweet spot for me better than this publication. It's hard to turn a page without finding someone I know. On the cover is the great Josip Biskic hoisting the Dockerty Cup. Biskic was a proper footballer, and a gentleman as well. There are team photos of all the Victorian NSL clubs, all the clubs in the Victorian State League, all the Victorian boys junior state teams, the NYL-winning Sunshine George Cross youth team and touring Dinamo Zagreb side featuring the legendary Zvonimir Boban. Even the Industrial League champions and Cup winners get their pictures included.

Phil Stubbins, Andy O'Dell, Dean Hennessey, Roy Maclaren, Carl Gilder, Stan Webster, Steve Blair, Ange Goutzioulis, Jimmy McBride, Stuart Cannell, Nick Gourlias and Willie Raynes are all pictured, men who I served under as team manager in their senior, senior assistant or reserves coaching roles. It's a sign of my old age that some players pictured that I handed shirts to now have children who are NPL stars.

As a pictorial record, it is without peer. Carl Recchia even makes it into a picture as a club mascot. All the tables are there, which is a basic feature that the VSF came up short in with their late 1960's Yearbooks often lacking the final reserves tables. A slight fault could be lacking full details of Cup Finals (full line-ups, but that's probably being too picky). It was also clearly published before Croatia was stripped of that Dockerty Cup Final win for bringing on a substitute who had been suspended in a NYL game.

The only possible thing that could surpass it would be Vic Soccer '89, which I'm told by George Cotsanis of My World Is Round did come out. But for now, behold the beauty that is

Vic Soccer '88

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Musings on Recent Research

As steady work continues on the Statistical History, frustration at years of poor record keeping continues to grow.

A fortnight ago, I visited the State Library to check out some old VSF Annual Reports they had retrieved from storage for me. Unfortunately rather than ordering all the years I'd requested all I got was that for 2000, and I had to re-order the others and go back a week later.

The good news was that in the 2002 Annual Report I was able to find the missing State and Provisional League Best and Fairest Award winners. As well as the missing reserves league champions for that year. The 2000 Annual Report had already given me the missing reserves league champions for that season, with full final tables no less!

The Annual Reports generally have reports from the President, CEO etc at the front, a Roll of Honour of past champions and award winners in the middle along with lists of that season's award winners and champions plus state team achievements. At the end are financial reports.

What I found odd was that the 2000 Report had all final tables, yet the 2002 one didn't. Given that the VSF had ceased producing a Yearbook in 2000, I would have thought it may have been the other way around. With no Yearbook to record the final tables in, they should have been in the Annual Report. A lack of foresight from those at the VSF at the time, who obviously assumed their results system would still be operational and functional in the years to come rather than dead and holding so much data in it's grave.

The foundation of my research began with the Rolls of Honour in the mid-1990's VSF Yearbooks. I added to this by visits to the State Library to check out the major daily newspapers and The Sporting Globe on microfilm in the Newspaper Reading Room. Then came the internet and OzFootball and later Socceraust. Trove then made going through old newspapers so much better, with a search function that covered what winding through whole newspapers on microfilm in a darkened room may have missed.

So when I look at the Roll of Honour in the 2000 VSF Annual Report, I can't help but be a little angry.

                                                       (Click on image to enlarge)

Look at that list of PREMIER LEAGUE RESERVES CHAMPIONS. 1983 and then nothing until 1972. 1970 and then nothing until 1961 and then nothing before that time. Now 1973-1982 is hardly ancient history. How come no-one with any sway was able to say that this was not good enough and try and improve this sad neglect of history? A bit like the version of the FFA Hall of Fame on their website, can such an embarrassing record of history really be labelled a "Roll of Honour"? Where is the honour? All is see is disrespect.

At this point in time I'm one or two years short of being able to extend that lineage all the way back to WWII, and with around 80% of the reserves champions before that also established. The FFV, meanwhile, no longer even bothers to maintain a Roll of Honour, they have in fact gone backwards.

Similarly incomplete was the list of top flight leading goalscorers. Pre-1970 all that was listed was 1969, 1967 and 1963. Wouldn't it be great to see if the current four time consecutive champion, Milos Lujic, was the all-time record holder? I've been able to add 1960, 1962, 1965, 1966 and 1968 to that list, as well as large chunks of 1930-1941. Looks like the great Frank McIver was top scorer on 5 or 6 occasions, so Millsy will need to keep on banging them in for some time to come to catch up.

Just to put the lack of records in the 1960's and 1970's into perspective, I've been able to complete a record of the "Local International" played between 1908 and 1937. Complete, and almost with line-ups, the major issue in that regard being the newspapers of the day only using surnames (no initials) and possible various spelling differences actually being the same person needing to be clarified. Once that's worked through, I'll be able to list everyone who was "capped" in these games. The data is there though.

As it is, the local international was contested annually bar for some years during WWI and 1910 when it was held twice (possibly because the 1-1 draw in the first game was an unsatisfactory result). Some reports state it began in 1909 with the first organised league, but there was a contest in 1908 that I've included in the records. There are also selected teams for the 1884-1886 versions, but for some reason no results found for those games.

The home of the local international was the Fitzroy Cricket Ground, which held 12 contests. The Motordrome was used 4 times, as was it's successor Olympic Park. The fields at Middle Park were utilised 3 times, with the Exhibition Oval used twice and a single event held at East Melbourne Cricket Ground.

In the end, honours were even. Scotland had 11 wins, England had 11 wins and there were 4 draws. The Scots did inflict some heavy defeats on their foe though, with the goal difference being 64-50 in their favour.

J.Maxwell (of Windsor, and later Prahran City) was England's greatest ever scorer with 7 goals. P.Dowker got 5 with G.Brown, Percy Lewis, Hawkes and Frank McIver all getting 3. Jock Baxter led the way for Scotland, netting 9 times. Johnnie Johnstone got 7 with Thompson on 4 and Jim Lurton with 3 next best.

From 1970's Soccer Action I see that when the Bill Fleming Medal was run by the press, independent of the VSF and the Rothmans/Gold Medal, there were also press awards for Under 21 VSL Player of the Year and VSL Coach of the Year. I will add these winners to the lineage of their later VPL/NPLV equivalents, as they should be. Maybe in the future the FFV will do the same.

Monday, 27 March 2017

This Year's Draft of the Statistical History

Last week I uploaded a pdf version of the Statistical History of Victorian Football, which can be downloaded from here:

Statistical History of Victorian Football - Draft 8

I thought I'd explain the layout and content a little. All the final league tables, and scores of Grand Finals, Finals and any games relating to promotion and relegation are on the left of the page. In a column down the right there are details (date, venue, referee, score, scorers and line-ups with substitutions) of top flight Grand Finals and Dockerty Cup Finals. Next will come scores and scorers of any other Cup Finals that year. Finding details like for the Grand Finals and Dockerty Cup Finals for all these games would be impossible, I'd estimate there would be less than 10% of that information available, so I'm just running with score and scorers.

The next information I'm looking to record are the winners of the league best and fairest awards and top goalscorers for each division. Then comes a list of reserves league champions. In the years of the District Leagues I include a list of champions in that league above the list of reserves league champions. To include District League tables would add more pages to the document than is necessary, a line has to be drawn somewhere.

I've only used pictures to fill in gaps where there was no text. The use of pictures has been along these lines: Team shot of league champions or Cup winners. Player pic of best and fairest winners, top goalscorers or member of league championship or Cup winning team. I'm not looking at adding pictures where it would mean adding another page for that year.

At the end, a month or so ago, I've added a National Competitions section using the same format, tables on the left, details on the right. In this section the tables and details on the page may not necessarily be from the same year. In future I'll probably include details of NSL and A-League Grand Finals, though that information is widely available elsewhere.

Another section I'm looking at adding between the Victorian and National sections would be a couple of pages to list non-playing awards like VPL/NPL coach of the year. There I would also like to add a list of the various media awards for the VSL/VPL over the years as issued by Soccer News, Soccer Action, Soccer Star and Australian and British Soccer Weekly.

Since that last draft I've corrected the wrong table being cut and pasted into the box for the First Division in 1969 as well as the scores in the 1984 and 1989 State League Cup Finals.

From what I was seeking here I've found the referee of the 1991 Dockerty Cup Final and the reserves champions of Provisional League Division One South East 2002. The rest still remains unknown. Please share the document with anyone you know who may be able to assist in filling in the gaps. There must be players out there who recall playing in some of those 1980's Cup Finals where only the only record the VSF kept was the name of the winner inscribed on the trophy. There must be old team managers and club secretaries with a collection of VSF Yearbooks or memos from the VSF with final tables (mainly reserves missing now) or their own records of Cup finals. I'm really hoping that someone somewhere has a list of award winners, top scorers and reserves champions for 2002 seeing as the FFV can't open that year's Annual Report.

It would be nice to be able to work out which players have played in the most Dockerty Cup Finals, or had the most wins in it. Referees are people too, it would be nice to know which ones have had the honour of reffing the most Dockerty Cup Finals. Surely every senior and reserve team that won a championship deserves having that feat noted somewhere for posterity? Would anyone expect the AFL to have a gap in it's list of Brownlow Medal winners? Then where are the 2002 State and Provisional League best and fairest winners and top goalscorers?

If we can get most of what I listed in that blog post, I can just make up some of the pre-War stuff and we're finished. Well, I wouldn't do that but a few asterisks could tie things up.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Moorabbin Thirds Stories

This is yet another blog entry that stems from the Why I've Arrived Where I'm At piece from a few weeks. back.

I consider myself to have been lucky in arriving at the club culture I fell into at Moorabbin City, especially compared to what I've observed in my latter years involved in the game. Now players have always moved club, but when kids aged 19-20 have had four clubs in a two year time span, something is wrong.

Being a late arrival into the competitive playing ranks, I was more than satisfied to play third team/Sunday League football at Moorabbin. The reserves were on their way to winning a second successive championship, and I never thought breaking into that squad was likely.

Player movement was not as great then, and older players were more inclined to settle at a club towards the end of their careers. Reserves teams were very much that, not as focused on being youth sides as they are now. This meant that in my time I saw many players move down from playing first team football, to the reserves and then finally the thirds. I'm not sure this happens as much these days.

The third team was usually the core of the senior clubs supporter base as well, as well as generally containing around half of the committee as well. A true reserves side also usually provides a lot of support for the first team, whereas we now see many youth/reserve players leave straight after their own game.

When I arrived pretty much all the thirds players went by a nickname and I soon picked up my own. As the youngest player in the team I was linked with the second youngest in the side. That was Eric Igoe, who had been nicknamed "Yogi Bear" (later just "Bear") due to his hulking physique. So I was given the Yogi Bear's offsider's name - "Boo Boo". Thankfully this was quickly reduced to just the single Boo.

There were a couple of memorable incidents involving Bear at games. Doing it tough away at Boronia one day, several goals down already, he had enough when the referee awarded a penalty against us. "Why don't you take it for them as well, you cheating cunt?' he uttered, and with that we were down to ten.

His best effort came against one of the University sides. His opponent (probably on the losing side, they were never much good) didn't take kindly to Bear's marking and chat and informed his apparent social inferior "I'm at Uni, one day I'll be your boss!" Bear set him straight with "Well, I'm an apprentice bricklayer and one day I'll shove a trowel up your arse!'

Some nicknames were based on physical appearances. There was "Buddha" for Sam Laverty and "Fergie" (in honour of the red-headed Duchess) for his brother John. Andy Loney was "Squiggle" after the Mr Squiggle children's tv puppet with the massive pencil for a nose. Peter Crawford was "Little Pete" due to his diminutive stature. Mark Feehan was "Max" for Max Headroom, the MTV character. Nowadays it's probably seems racist but Trevor Bishop acquired "Shaka" when the Shaka Zulu tv mini-series was a massive hit at the time.

Irishman Richard Robinson naturally became "Spud", with Gerard Robinson being "Mash". Little cousin Davie Swords therefore became "Chip". There were a couple of oft-told stories about Spud. One Sunday morning I arrived to see him despondent, head in his hands. When I asked what's wrong he pointed to the pitch. Lining the pitch the morning after a pub crawl following the senior game the day before was not advisable. Neither is trying to scuff out a line with your foot and having another go. Repeat this process three or four times and you get what looks like a group of snakes intertwined. Luckily the ref let us play with some cones to mark the true line down that side of the pitch.

As coach, Spud's team talks were legendary. The best came in a crowded room at Bailey Reserve one day. The club bookie, Brian Morris, raised funds by offering 5-1 on correct score bets for first team games. Due to the frequent use of profanities in his talks, on this occasion bets were being taken as to how many swear words Spud would utter during his oration. All bets were null and void when he twigged as to what one corner of the room was counting as it cracked the thirty mark. A tirade was launched with more fucks than anyone could ever keep up with, and he was right, we were all cunts.

There was another tale that a penalty he took against Kew Deaf went so high and wide of the mark it knocked a kid off a swing in the playground behind. That one was more fiction than fact I think, but he did miss the pen.

While I'm on Kew Deaf, there was another Irishman, Mark "Bap" Withers that had an interesting encounter against them. After a crude tackle on one our opponents, the bloke got up and remonstrated with Bap, become more aggressive with his gesticulating. Bap turned around and asked another "What's his fucking problem, I said I was fucken sorry!"

More nicknames: Stirling Sainty was "Seagull", because he was quick to pounce on a chip I suspect. Victor Holder was "Two-Stroke", after the motors found in Victa lawnmowers. Ed Atkin was "Job" because Ed Job was just too good to pass up. Mick O'Neill had picked up "Suck" I believe due to the way he had fallen under the thumb of his missus. John Bris was "Phar Lap" because of his running prowess before becoming just "Brisi". Craig Forsberg was "Double" because inbred Tasmanians are alleged to have two heads. 

Mark Mangan picked up the "Riddler" moniker after a suit he wore which resembled that of the villain from Batman. Paul Morgan was "Woody" after one of the Bay City Rollers. Steve Martin was "Jerk" in respect of one of the movies of another Steve Martin. Steve Seizis was "Alexi" 'cos he looked like Alexi Sayle. Mark Crooke was "Illi" because his temperament matched that of Ille Nastase.

Dave O'Gara's initials meant he was "Dog", not just because he owned a couple. He had a great big Irish Wolfhound, which caused confusion on a foggy winter's night back in my first year at the club 1990. I wasn't driving yet, and my mum had just arrived to collect me from training. As I approached the car, the police arrived and called me over. They informed me that there were reports an escaped lion from the circus being staged down the road at the grounds of Murrumbeena High School had been sighted in the vicinity of the ground, and that I should go back in and inform those left inside to be careful. I didn't, seriously I'd have been slaughtered going back in telling that story. My conscience was spared the guilt of anyone being mauled to death when it emerged that there was no lion missing, a resident simply jumped to conclusions when spying Dog's dog through the blanket of fog.

One legendary character was "Mick the Barman". Mick Bowers was recruited to the thirds via being a barman at the pub the lads stopped to meet in before departing interstate on an end of season trip. An Ocker Aussie, he got talking with the boys and said he wouldn't mind giving soccer a go. He was, let's say, very raw but a very nice guy. Indeed during one game he shook his opponents hand at half-time, thanking him for the half and expressing how he looked forward to meeting him again after the break. We were playing Dandenong, a side loaded with VSL and State team stars from the 1970's, hard-nosed Scots who genuinely wondered if he was taking the piss out of them. He wasn't, he was just like that.

Another instance of that came in what should have been his greatest triumph, when stunning everyone by putting the ball into the top corner from out of nowhere (and thirty yards) on a mudheap at Doveton. For some reason, the ref disallowed the goal, and as we went in to remonstrate it was Mick the Barman who broke it up with "Now, now fellas, the referee is always right".

Doveton was where Tony Wynton picked up his nickname. A former first team player, he was nearing the end of his career, his long 1970's rockstar hair having more than a bit of grey in it. He was having a battle in midfield with a much younger opponent, and after one torrid tussle that opponent's mother called out from over the fence "Leave him alone you paedophile!" And thus for his remaining playing days he was known as "Pedda".

Good, good days.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Elitist But Not Elite

In the week FFA Technical Director Eric Abrams was critical of the NPL it's opportune to take a look back how Victoria came to adopt such a flawed version of it.

The part of the Why I've Arrived Where I'm At piece that seems to have struck a chord with many was the passion, dedication and loyalty of those who get deeply involved with a club. While it may have resonated with football people who have been in similar situations, it probably wouldn't be understood by the architects of the FFV's original NPLV model.

That model was an attempt to supplant the existing VPL club structure with a zonal franchise model. The first push in this direction was the old Summer League, which later became the Victorian Champions League. These leagues were only able to get off the ground as junior competitions, with the senior component dropped due to lack of interest in anyone willing to establish and run these teams.

People volunteer at clubs for all sorts of reasons. It may be a link to a particular ethnic community, it may be because they live within a goalkeeper's clearance of the home ground. Some will stay on at a club in various roles after playing, others are drawn by family members being involved. Whatever the reason, most are loyal to their club and will only ever perform the duties they do at one club during their lifetime.

It's an indictment on those running the game at the time that they thought it possible that there'd be a groundswell of people willing to set-up and run new zonal clubs just because they would be part of some kind of "elite" pathway. The lure of being labelled "elite" is not enough to sway your typical club volunteer to shift their loyalties. It may induce a parent looking to give their child's career a "leg-up", but that alone would not secure the numbers and dollars required to get the venture up and running.

The FFV would have preferred to have installed a zonal set-up when introducing the NPLV a few years later, but settled for a system in which existing clubs would be chosen to represent the respective zones. Again it's staggering to believe that supposed football people thought this would be a workable idea.

With the new top tier to be a closed league, the "elite" clubs would sit above subservient "community" clubs in their zone. Even with the obvious issues posed by the ethnic backgrounds of many clubs, it was a concept that would alienate all those not included in the new league. How could you expect clubs that may have been rivals to another for years that they would now have to be a feeder team for that club? That they could no longer aspire to promotion back to the top tier?

So not surprisingly, there was rebellion. Clubs took the FFV to court to have their own version of the NPLV implemented, and the resulting compromise has largely been a disaster. Instead of an actual elite competition we have a watered-down, bloated debacle. Have kids with genuine talent been priced out of the game by the significant fees required to be involved? Will extended seasons involving plenty of travel see others burnt out before they are even ready for senior football?

The compromise saw a two-tier NPL established, to include any club (from the existing VPL and State League Division One) which may have had a grievance at being left out. Regional teams were included, in a manner which has not enhanced their future prosperity. Somehow, after a few years, Nunawading City were added despite having slid down the State League.

Looking at the areas of the regional teams, the first thing one may wonder is how is it that Gippsland could have a team in the NSL but not a spot in a bloated NPLV? Similarly in suburban Melbourne, why not a team for the Frankston/Mornington Peninsula area? That is because of the loyalty factor. In both areas there are several clubs that could make a claim to be number one in the region. This means those involved would prefer to stand by their club, whatever league it plays in, rather than ditch it to be a part of a new representative team. Also, in the case of the La Trobe Valley, officials there were concerned about the financial viability of the venture, fears which were warranted given the issues later faced by some of the regional clubs.

I understand why the FFV felt it needed to add the regional teams upon the league's inception, but feel it has lead to them being lame ducks. Perhaps a better way of introducing them would have been to include them in only the junior competitions to begin with. After three or four years, when hopefully the inaugural Under 16's and Under 18's may be ready for senior football they could then have been added to the second tier. Allow them an extra visa spot to alleviate the issue of being able to attract players from Melbourne. Maybe a mini-tournament amongst themselves in the interim to develop the best older talent. They were included from the beginning to make a statement, but will this prove to be detrimental in the long term?

As it is, the best local players are not necessarily playing for the local country NPL side. The best players can enjoy the game winning more (and earning more) in their local competition than by turning out (with the associated travel) for their local NPL outfit. FC Bendigo became Bendigo City and now Ballarat Red Devils have been replaced with Ballarat City. There is still no La Trobe Valley representation. Have the benefits for these areas being included in the NPL been diminished by the whole thing being poorly implemented?

Elsewhere, the second tier has been particularly lopsided. With no prospect of relegation meaningless games clog the two divisions. Nunawading were introduced and won just one game in two years. Does the paying public want to watch glorified training sessions? Probably not. Luckily junior fees are quite high so that gate takings don't have to fund the whole scheme. Now that promotion/relegation is on the agenda even the Mahoneys Road Philosophers are splashing some cash to attract players.

In terms of best practise for juniors, with the most development coming from the best playing against the best, we have gone from a 12 team Superleague back in the day to 32 teams spread over two divisions. Divided between East and West, clubs only play the teams from the opposite side once a season. So the best team in one division plays the best team in the other once, it's a long way removed from what "Best v Best" really should be. It is so watered down it should be sponsored by Yarra Valley Water not PlayStation 4.

It should not surprise that with the whole concept being poorly executed it is hardly attracting plaudits.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Frankston's Soccer News Treasure Chest

A week or so ago I was exploring new avenues at finding more details from football's past, and finally got a promising result when I entered "Victorian soccer" into a search box on the Frankston Library website.

Item 3 looked interesting enough, and examining it's contents revealed that it did indeed contain gold.

                                              (Click on images to enlarge)

Mr Albert Piggott was a great man. He gave the Library a collection of Soccer News magazines, Frankston match programmes, newspaper clippings and scraps of paper with the Frankston team's line-ups for matches.

I've paid one quick visit to look at the collection, and will need more time to go through it. All I had time to do was exhaust the photocopier in copying 10 issues of Soccer News and 2 match programmes for scanning and uploading to the blog.

The 1951 Soccer News issues are from an exciting time with an English F.A. side touring the country, it was as big time as soccer got back then. The rise of the "New Australian" clubs was about to begin, with J.U.S.T. and Juventus knocking on the door of the First Division and George Cross, Polonia, White Eagles, Olympic and Macedonians all in existence.

The new issues added are as follows:


May 9

May 19

May 26

June 16

June 23

June 30

July 14

July 28

August 11


May 24

The match programmes are:


Frankston v Moorabbin City - August 4

Frankston v Park Rangers - August 18

The Soccer News issues have been added to the Soccer News Archive.

The match programmes are being housed in the History Documents section.

All the videos I've converted lately have now been uploaded to YouTube and can be found in the Video Archive section as well.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Why I've Arrived Where I'm At

It was not until I was seventeen years of age that I played my first ever competitive game of football. The chief reason for this would probably be my father developing lung cancer in the early 1980's. At the age I may have been introduced to junior sport, there were other things going on. I spent equal amounts of time kicking a footy or a soccer ball around in the backyard, and took part in lunchtime soccer games at primary school.

Competitive sport at East Oakleigh Primary School began in Grade 6, and I tried out for the soccer team but was placed in the "B" squad, not quite near the level of the kids that had undergone coaching and were already picking up Soccer Action Hat Trick Certificates. The "B" team ended up not going ahead because there were not enough numbers to field the Aussie Rules team unless the Soccer B squad was conscripted.

This fork in the road actually led me to play weekend club footy for Oakleigh Youth Club six years before I would first play organised soccer. I must have been okay enough at the school footy for someone to suggest I go down to the club, and it fitted it well enough with my now widowed mother's work schedule for it to happen. While I was a prominent enough member of the school team, we weren't much chop. At Oakleigh Youth I was very much a fringe player, but we were sensational, losing only one game all season on the way to capturing the Grand Final.

When moving up to secondary school, at Salesian College Chadstone, I didn't try out for either footy or soccer teams, opting for table tennis which I was handy enough at. The senior soccer team there had a State Championship pedigree, and I knew I hadn't done anything to bridge the gap between myself and the kids already excelling at junior clubs. I assumed the footy team would be strong as well, and thought I would be on the periphery there as I had been at Oakleigh Youth Under 12's.

I'd adopted Tottenham Hotspur as my club of choice, on the back of their F.A. Cup Final success earlier in the decade. I followed them through the combination of old Shoot! magazines and the results in Monday's newspaper.  Then came Saturday nights staying up to listen to the marvelous sports coverage on the BBC World Service.

Locally I followed Melbourne Croatia from nearly as afar as Spurs. I had vague memories of attending a game in the late 1970's at Olympic Park No.2, where I asked if we could come back when the greyhounds were on. Reading newspapers and watching the SBS/ABC television coverage of the NSL was the limit of my involvement.

So when I'd started Year 12 some family friends I had backyard kickabouts with (they were a little younger) suggested I should go down to Bailey Reserve (where they played at East Bentleigh juniors) as they heard there was a shortage of players in a senior team there. Their family friend, Justin Scrobogna, was a brilliant junior soon to break in to the Moorabbin City senior team. He may have heard of or been one of the reserves players asked to back up on Sunday for the Thirds and told them, whatever it was they told me so on a Tuesday night in 1990 I turned up at Bailey Reserve. I trained with the reserves that night, then the Thirds on Thursday when they showed up. On the Sunday I started in central midfield against Monbulk and we won 2-0.

Before long I was playing two games a week, as I also joined the Salesian College Senior B team. After contributing a few things for the club magazine, Moorabbin Matchday, I was soon asked to edit it. Which of course, meant writing it all. Did it on an old fashioned typewriter (google it if you have to). The following year I began attending more senior games, and after that I was club linesman every week for the reserves. I soon became familiar with putting nets up, and taking them down. Got covered in lime loading and using old school line marking machines. There was a bit of canteen work, and a few relief stints manning the entrance gate. Club functions saw more bartending work.

The club began to climb the leagues, eventually rising from State League Division Three all the way to the Victorian Premier League. There was a year where we played out of Gaelic Park in Keysborough, where heavy wooden goalposts had to be lifted in and out of place every matchday. That was the result Bailey Reserve not being up to higher league standard, and the new ground at Kingston Heath not yet ready. The first years at Kingston Heath saw times where I'd mark and put nets on all four pitches in a single morning. The clubrooms and dressing rooms were portable buildings, before the current structures at the site were erected. Indeed work on the permanent buildings had barely commenced when Moorabbin City folded at the end of 1998.

The factors for that were numerous and I won't go in to them now. The end result was a way of life had come to an end. I didn't realise how loyal I had become until it ended. I would continue to play with the Moorabbin Thirds, as we became Moorabbin Old Boys playing out of Gardiner's Creek Reserve. More than a few Moorabbin players moved there as well, joining the then Old Scotch Waverley (previously Waverley City, now Eastern Lions). I went to a few games, but did not want any further involvement. I was a Moorabbin person, and that's all I wanted to be. I'd expected to be Moorabbin City for life, and didn't want to be anything else.

Now football solely centred around a Thursday night kickaround for training and a game on Sunday with the Thirds. I started going to more NSL games, mainly to Somers Street to watch the now Melbourne Knights, but also to Optus Oval and Olympic Park for Carlton SC matches as well as Bob Jane Stadium to see South Melbourne.

Then in early 2001 I got a call from from former Moorabbin president and secretary Sam Laverty. He'd been asked for assistance in assembling a new squad by Helmut Kalitizki, who had taken over as president of Richmond following their relegation to State League Division Two. They'd just played a practise game and the players weren't particularly well looked after on a scorching summer's day and I was clearly the go to man when water bottles needed filling.

I would say the main reason I responded to the call was a personal loyalty to Sam. He had minor involvement at Old Scotch Waverley after Moorabbin City folded, but never pushed me to follow. Now he was actually asking me to help out, I couldn't say no.

For the first season I only attended match days, being team manager for the first team. The next year that would evolve into training nights. Establishing and "editing" the Richmond Alemannia Magazine followed. Managing the first team became managing the reserves as well. Kits were washed, week in, week out. You never forget how to put a net up properly. Kevin Bartlett Reserve being alongside the Monash Freeway led to some challenging ball retrieval work.

Eventually Richmond would also start the climb back up the leagues, also rising all the way to the Victorian Premier League. This would in part lead to the inner conflict which now sees me follow the game as a distant observer, rather than a passionate participant. Even after a few years, I still considered myself a Moorabbin person. Moorabbin Old Boys played one season at Richmond before getting too old (I was ten years younger than most). The rise of Richmond meant an ever increasing workload, and it came to the point where for the Old Boys to continue I'd have play a greater part than simply turning up to play and that was not a viable option so playing retirement had arrived.

There was the rise of the internet. Participating on local forums, as someone from a club lacking a huge supporter base , I sort of became the face/spokesman of the club to many. Which was odd, as deep down I still felt I was more Moorabin than Richmond. The rise of the internet, naturally, also soon saw me running a club website.

Success brings great times, so soon that feeling began to change. As time passed it was only natural I would become more comfortable being a "Richmond person". The end of the NSL saw Melbourne Knights join the VPL. A year later, Richmond were promoted to the VPL. When we would come to clash, my loyalty went one way and it was the way of the team in white. Now I was truly Richmond.

At the same time, the A-League had come into existence. Melbourne had a new team, Melbourne Victory. I went to a few games when I wasn't busy with Richmond, and naturally wanted them to beat the interstate scum. There was no way I could muster any real passion for them though, and snobbishly I'd question the motives of many who overtly had that passion. I mean, this was not a club they had grown up following, or had began following in a family tradition. They hadn't played for them as kids, it all seemed a bit cheap.

Matchdays would involve arriving at the club by 4pm on a Friday afternoon to put the nets up and flags out and put ice in the freezer. I had a huge set of keys, some for the gates that were used to turn an open park into an enclosed venue. There'd be checking that the away rooms were tidy. Then setting up the home room by bringing in the kit, pumping up the balls for the warm up. Drinks (2 trays of water bottles, one for each team, two five litre cordial mixes - one orange, one apple raspberry - and a twenty litre Powerade/Gatorade mix) would be prepared, as well as a supply of lollies laid out to keep the players buzzing. Fill in some team sheets, hand out some shirts. Give the referees the match balls. Copy the team sheets for any media in attendance. Get the players to put their valuables in a case and lock it away for safekeeping. Make sure there were whiteboard markers and magnets at the coaches disposal.  Find some new socks for the players that needed them every second week. Pour out 30 cups (10 of each flavour) just before half-time time. Take notes for Goal! Weekly and club website match reports. Watching the first half of the seniors was problematic because I had to clean up after the reserves/Under 21's to get ready for half-time (we only had one room to share). As a result the second half of the senior game was usually the highlight of the week. Then it was deal with the match officials after the game faxing results in and what not. Load the washing into the car, put the drinks containers back in the coolroom. Clean out the home and away team dressing rooms forn the juniors on the weekend, take down the nets and bring in the flags. Then have a chat with whoever was left in the clubrooms after 11pm.

At the end of 2012, after eleven years at Richmond, I left the club. It was a case of personal loyalty exceeding loyalty to an institution. Helmut had been forced into a situation which saw him step down as president, and I made it clear to people remaining on the committee they would be wasting their time asking me to continue in my roles. At that stage, I was as relieved to have a break as I was sad. A small club overachieving doesn't happen easily.

Before the start of the following season came a point when I would be more than not involved in the club, but where the term estranged would be more apt. This began to take place when one of the committeemen responsible for ousting Helmut appointed himself senior coach. It became official when the club signed Josh Groenewald.

The night Semir Sivic had his leg broken is without doubt my worst moment in football. Worse than losing any game, even a Grand Final. Worse than Moorabbin City folding, and that had randomly brought me to tears on one occasion. I had been a part of a dressing room, where if for some inexplicable reason Josh had been brought into as a new signing, every person to a man would have walked out. That he had been signed by the same people who brought Semir's brother Enes back to the club marked that the club was no longer the same. Not knowing the history there was something I could not abide. There was also the sense that in signing players who refused to talk to each the new regime had no idea what it was doing and everything the club had achieved in recent years was about to go to waste.

In one way the estrangement was not permanent, but in another it was. The week after the coach was sacked after four straight defeats culminating in a 2-7 loss at home I received a phone call from the new president, Wolfgang Smoger. My replacement as team manager had to return overseas for a month, there was Dockerty Cup game that night, and I was asked to fill-in. I said I would, then called Helmut to let him know that I was going back, to see if he'd object to what I'd agreed to. He didn't. Grant Brebner was then appointed coach, and I stayed on until the end of the season assisting the team manager upon his return from overseas. It was not the same though, it never could be, a bond had been broken and at the end of the year I declined requests to continue.

Long before the club's eventual relegation that year, the whole situation would just make me sad. I'd see Josh in the changing room and feel bad for having hated him. Did I still hate him? Not really. No. Did I approve of him being at the club? No, but he was. We wouldn't have spoken much. I assumed that he'd known what I thought of what had happened, but maybe he didn't. Either way, it was not an area to go to.

I now go to games and hope the team does well, but the life or death nature is no more. Where there was certainty, now there is conflict. I still feel "Richmond", but no longer am. I feel I would be cheating to label myself a Knights fan when I compare myself to genuine die-hards. Part of me now feels like a neutral at games even when I'm there to support a particular team. This may also stem from going to watch the former Richmond boys at their new clubs. There's also plenty of people I respect at other clubs, which makes it hard to hate. More than anything though, it's because when you've been in the inner sanctum so deeply, and then step out, you end up an outsider just looking in.

It's for that reason that this blog is more about the past than the present and future than intended when I started it. I just don't enjoy going to games as much as I used to, and still have concerns about the direction the game is heading. Since I first started to do some research as Moorabbin began to plan to prepare for it's 50th anniversary, compiling a history of the local game has been a project on the backburner, now you know why it's at the forefront of my endeavours.