Playing long balls into empty space since 2012.

Thursday 31 May 2012

There's soccerphobia and then there's soccerphobia

There are two things to note in this piece from 'UNOME', soccer writer for the Daily News in Perth, 18 October 1933. One is his quoting of the insane paranoia of an Australian rules representative speaking of Australian soccer's war chest for its impending battle against footy. But the other point is UNOME's unbridled and unfounded optimism. During the 1930s many soccer people saw an immediately bright future for the game. Depression and war intervened and left the game floundering in most parts of Australia. The point about amateurism. however, is well made and is one which the custodians of the game could reflect upon today.

Another thing that strikes me is how much the anti-soccer rhetoric resembles other kinds of political and racial xenophobia - a fear of  outsiders, their covert plans, their money, their capacity to corrupt our youth - a vein to be tapped down the track.

The following extract from the 'Melbourne Age' of October 7 is a sample of the foolish propaganda against the game [soccer] in the Eastern States. Speaking at a wind-up social in connection with the Saturday Morning Industrial Football League (Australian rules), Mr. W. J. McDonnell, secretary of the Victorian League second eighteens, said: "The controllers of the Australian game would need to be wide awake to the menace of soccer. He had information that the latter organisation was willing to put £250,000 into soccer in Australia. This money was not Australian money, but came from England, where there was £1 million [only slightly under $100,000,000 in today's money] waiting to be used to foster the game." 

The stupidity of Mr. McDonnell's remarks can be gauged from the fact that the majority of the professional clubs in the 'Old Country' are working on bank overdrafts at the moment. As a matter of fact, both the English and Scottish Associations are unable to consider the sending of teams to Australia owing to the financial positions of their respective bodies, which are not such as to enable them to take the  risk of the amount of their guarantees not being forthcoming. The soccer code has been spread all over the world by amateurs who are prepared to give their time and money to furthering the interests of the game, and so pave the way for the arrival of the professional player, who reaps the reward of their spade work in the end. The game has reached this stage already in Sydney and balderash such as this will only hasten its progress in other States.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Soccer at the MCG

We don't get much soccer at the MCG these days. Though I'm not too worried about that. It's not the greatest venue for the game. Steve Bracks wanted "one blockbuster a year" but we are lucky if we get that. There have been some great games there though, including the one that will not be mentioned.

Here's a game from 20 May 1925 when Victoria took on the visiting English side and lost 7-0. The Argus published this terrific photo. Don't you love the white Vs on the Victorian players' backs? Though I'm not sure the caption actually captures what is going on in the frame. I reckon it's a goal.

BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL AT M.C.G. For the first time an all-England team of British Association ("Soccer") footballers is visiting Australia, and keen interest was taken yesterday In the first match against a Victorian team on the Melbourne Cricket-ground. An English forward (white jersey) in a spirited tussle in front of the Victorians' goal beat his opponent for a shot at goal, but Robson, the Victorian goalkeeper, turned the ball round the post.

The crowd for the game was a respectable 5600 (receipts £463). Its number must have befuddled the Melbourne journos, whose soccer coverage in this time was always meagre. The arrival of a British team however, forced their hands somewhat. This article appeared in the Argus on the morning of the game (note the dots explaining the positions):

The Argus, Wednesday 20 May 1925, page 24

An updated version of this kind of map was printed in 1951 prior to a test against England at the MCG (note the 5-5 formation!).

Updated version, the Argus, Wednesday 6 June 1951, page 12

This thin coverage was maintained for the subsequent game, a 'test' between Australia and England, at the same venue on Saturday 23 May (relegated to 'B' international status by the FA). We get a sense of the journalist previewing the game having had to brush up very quickly on his soccer information. The Argus writer has trouble coming to grips with the transition from the idea of the Victorian state team to the Australian national team and demonstrates little practical or local knowledge of Australian soccer.


Australia v. England.

Both England and Australia have made seven changes in the teams that will meet at the Melbourne Cricket ground this afternoon. Robison (goal-keeper), Aiken, Ritchie, and Orr (who played on Wednesday) the only men who retain their position in the Australian team, the new members being Maunders and McNaughton (from New South Wales). Mitchell (from South Australia), Honeysett (from Tasmania), and Bristow, W. Raitt, and Morrison (of Victoria). The side will be much strengthened by these changes. Hardy displaces Davison in goal for England, the other inclusions being Whittaker, Hamilton, Graham, Hannaford, and Batten. Batten has a reputation for scoring goals, and Graham (Millwall) is probably the best half back in the English team. Before the International match there will be a match between the juniors - red and white v. blue and white. Teams: -

Red and White. - F Smith, France, G. Whiteaway, Burr, Wilkins, G. Fairweather, Prince, Denvil, Woods, Stewart, Cunningham.

Blue and White. - McKerrall, Williamson, Lockwood, Gray, A. Fairweather, Taylor, Hawkes, Todd, E. Fairweather, Campbell, Spivey. Kick-off at a quarter to 2 o'clock.

ENGLAND. - Hardy, Whittaker, Poynton, Hamilton, Spencer, Graham, Hannaford, Simms, Walsh, Batten, Seymour.

AUSTRALIA. - Robison, Mitchell, Aiken, Bristow, Ritchie, Morrison, Honeysett, W. Raitt, Maunders, Orr, McNaughton.

Referee, Mr McLeod.

His Excellency the Governor the Earl of Stradbroke will kick off at 3 o clock.
The Argus also assumed that many of its readers would be equally bemused by the game, so it supplied an adequate description of the game, while still leaving the offside rule unclear.
The Game Described.

The following points will be helpful to those who do not thoroughly understand the game of soccer football. The field of play is an oblong, the short sides are goal lines, the long ones "touch" lines. Goal posts are placed centrally on the goal line, being 24ft between the posts, with a cross bar 8ft above the ground. There are 11 players on each side, 5 forwards, 3 half backs, 2 full backs, and one goalkeeper. The ball is out of play whenever it passes outside the oblong. Should a player propel the ball behind his own goal line, a free kick is given to the opposing side from the corner nearest which the ball passed. When the ball passes over the "touch" line it is thrown in from the spot over which it passed. With the exception of the goal-keeper, no player is allowed to control the ball with hand or arm, unless, of course when throwing-in. Goalkeepers may only handle the ball inside the penalty area which is a space between the goal line and a parallel l8 yards from that line. The game is to propel a round hall between the goal posts and under the crossbar, using only feet, head, or body. The side scoring the most goals wins the game. Play commences in the centre of the field and recommences there after each goal is seored. A player is "off-side" when he attempts to take part in the game whilst there are less than three opponents between himself and their goal line, with four exceptions - (1) when a corner kick is taken (2) from a throw in, (3) when the ball, when last played is between him and his opponents goal line, and (4) when he is in his own half of the field. A free kick is allowed to one side when an opponent handles the ball, trips a player, throws in from "touch" incorrectly, or plays whilst off-side.. When a free kick is awarded to the attackers through a defender infringing the rules inside his own penalty area, the ball is placed on a spot 12 yards from goal and only the goalkeeper may stand between the kicker and the goal. The duration of the game is 90 minutes, with an interval of five minutes at half-time.
Despite the relatively large attendance for the warm-up game, the authorities still underestimated the demand for the upcoming test match on the Saturday, possibly because they didn't comprehend the step up from state to national representation. Equally possible is that they felt that with the game going head-to-head with League and Association footy, a small crowd was likely.

The press reports suggest they were taken by surprise with spectators not able to get in until very close to game time. They also made note of the fact that many of the crowd were English migrants and so queued in an orderly fashion.

Interestingly the photographic focus of the Argus seemed very much on the English side of things. It presented a photograph of the English team meeting the Earl of Stradbroke before the game and another of a bunch of English sailors enjoying themselves at the game.

The English team lines up to meet the Earl of Stradbroke
before the game against Australia at the MCG.

English sailors enjoying the game.
The game went ahead successfully and was won quite easily by England, 5-0.

But what happened off the field made it a watershed moment in Victorian football history. A massive crowd (10,600) had been registered for a soccer match in Melbourne at the home of Australian rules football. The VFL had happiliy co-operated (unlike the South Australians) to allow the game to go ahead on its premier ground while the Melbourne first team was playing away. Such moments of co-operation have been sporadic ever since.

Even more telling than the crowd numbers (which on the face of it were on a par with only two VFL games held at the same time) were the receipts (which more than doubled those of any simultaneously held VFL game). The crowd had paid £995 to get in, a phenomenal figure for one game. The Argus reported these receipts in comparison with the figures for the weekend fixtures across the two local footy competitions.


England v. Australia.                  10, 600 £995


Richmond v. South Melbourne   22,000 £430
St. Kilda v. Fitzroy                     17,000 £415
Collingwood v. Geelong            16,000 £375  
North Melbourne v. Essendon    15,000 £350
Footscray v. Melbourne              12,000 £290
Carlton v. Hawthorn                   10,000 £230  
Total                                           92,000 £2,060  



Coburg v. Brunswick.                  7,000 £126
Northcote v. Port Melbourne       4,000 £56
Geelong v. Williamstown            2,000 £40
Brighton v. Prahran                      2,000 £27
Total                                            15,000 £249

One game of soccer took in four times the VFA's total receipt figures (figures that were boosted no doubt by the Sydney Road 'derby') and one-half of the VFL's total figure! It certainly set some minds a-thinking.

But is this the first example of soccer on the MCG? A free year subscription to Neos Osmos for the first correct response.


 Soccer Photos from the MCG

The Argus, Thursday 7 June 1951, page 9


The Argus, Thursday 1 May 1947, page 17

AUSTRALIAN SOCCER PLAYERS (white shirts) and South Africans
leap to head the ball at the Melbourne Cricket Ground this week. 
South Africa won 5-4. Sunday Times (Perth) Sunday 4 May 1947

It's football on the Melbourne Cricket-ground again - but not Australian rules.
These two players are battling out the first Olympic soccer semi-final,
between Yugoslavia and India, yesterday. Yugoslavia won 4-1.
5 December 1956.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Soccer photo of the day, 27/05/12

Moreland City v Essendon Royals, U13Bs. The Moreland boys queue up for a corner.
The game ended up 1-1. Are these next week's lotto numbers? Photo copyright Kitty Novy.

Saturday 26 May 2012

FC Clifton Hill v. Westgate FC, Quarries Park, 26/05/12

Crunch time down at Quarries Park today. Anything less than a win against Westgate FC will see some serious questions being asked by Clifton Hill supporters.
I've seen the Hillmen play three times this season (WDL) and each time they've looked OK without being all that impressive. A good squad with solid defence and some good attacking players they need to work a bit harder in the midfield. And they need to capture the spirit that saw them come back well to win against Ballarat in the opening round.
Looking forward to seeing Westgate play for the first time. They have an upper mid-table position and form to match from all accounts.
I'll blog from about 2.15. so I'll catch the end of the ressies. I expect it to be freezing and sunny. A two-ouzo game.

Some background on Westgate from their web site (which seems a little out of date):
Westgate "Sindjelic" Football Club (Синђелић), is a Serbian-backed club based in Ardeer, Melbourne. The club was formed in 1985 and entered Division 2
The Facebook page is much more useful! This, for example, is its constitution - though why anybody would want to read it is beyond me.

Arrived with 20 mins or so to go in ressies. 1-1. Even game. Westgate looking good in attack with the light wind behind them - running away from clubhouse.

Action from the ressies.

Good period for Clifton Hill. Able to get behind Westgate defence.

Westgate one-on-one. Very brave keeping. This is the keeper who came on against Moreland two weeks ago. Did well then as well.

Action from the ressies.

Really good open game. Lots of effort. End to end stuff.

Handbags. All in. Out of nothing really. Enjoyed the Westgate coach screaming out: "Marko! Marko! Get back in the farken goals!" after keeper nearly does a hammy trying to get to half way to join in.

Full time. 1-1. Good game. 

Westgate players stretching before game. Clifton Hill townhouses behind them.

I was Wrong about the weather. It's now officially pouring and miserable.
I engaged in some banter with the referee, James Milloy and his assistants before the game.
  • Why do you do it? Love it!
  • What about the abuse? Don't notice it.
  • Which games do you hate? The ones furthest away!
  • What about the hotspot games? They have to be done.

The older assistant tells me he's refereed NSL games where he's been spat on and escorted from the ground. But he wouldn't take back a moment. Thicker skin than mine!

The money's OK. $150 for refereeing at this level. $75 (iirc) for running the line.

They told me that Daniella, the female ref at Altona East who stopped in the 83rd min a few weeks back, had suffered an asthma attack and did not, as was rumoured, get scared off by crowd or player abuse.I was there at the time and that certainly didn't seem to be the case.

Referee James Milloy, with a thickish London accent, centre.
Assistants are an Aussie and a young bloke.

3.00. All of a sudden it's fine. Underway. Clifton Hill on attack immediately.

3.02. Good cross from Bobby met at back post and headed behind.

3.03. Attacking free kick for westgate. Defused. Ball returned. Weak shot saved by keeper.

3.05. Enterprising Clifton Hill attack. Bobby tricky backheel. Saved by keeper.

3.06. Referee pulls up Clifton Hill captain for bad foul. Lets the player know what for! 'I got the ball ref!' 'Yeah. But you also got him!' He has the advantage of looking and sounding 'harder' than the players! Free kick centred and headed over.

Clifton Hill looking good with the ball today. Yet to put together a threatening attack.

3.10. Great run down right by westgate's Raffael Origlia. (I hope I have the spelling right.) Excellent cross met with diving header. Just over.

Good game so far. Both teams look to have goals in them.

3.13. Lucky deflection for Westgate in attack. Poor decision-making by striker to shoot from too far out.

3.14. Clifton Hill break and shot saved. Westgate go to other end and keeper clears. Clifton Hill on attack again. No-one in the middle to receive powerful cross.

Clifton Hill dominating but Westgate showing enough to be a threat.

3.16. Bobby offside, again.

3.17. Westgate attack. Keeper out bravely. Ref sees foul in any case.

3.19. Bobby good run in from right wing. Probably selfish in the end. Ball cleared.

3.20. Sustained Clifton Hill attack. Should have scored. Put behind by good defending. Corner cleared.

Clifton Hill defence dealing with long throw in.

3.23 Long throw by Westgate cleared. Attacking header wide.

3.27. Good period for Westgate. Long shot wide.

3.28. Attacking free kick to Westgate. Clifton Hill breaks. Bobby fouled. Yellow. Free kick cleared.

3.30. Good attack by Westgate. Origlia again. Good cross. How did the striker not put it in the net? Westgate appeals for handball.

3.32. Good period for Westgate. Winning balls in midfield. Wingers working well getting around their full backs.

3.34. Bobby skies one, to the frustration of his teammates.

3.35. Good Clifton Hill cross from left headed behind for corner. Another corner. Punched away. Subsequent cross cleared.

3.38. Clifton Hill corner. Headed away. Long cross from left, over and wide.

3.39. Soft free kick to Clifton Hill in midfield. Cross from right. Cleared up the right wing. Westgate get throw.

3.40. Bobby runs and cross. Appeals for handball. Shot from right into side netting.

3.42. Free kick to Westgate on left wing. Yellow for foul.

Dangerous moment as ball comes in from throw.
Westgate could have done better as the ball goes behind for a goal kick.

3.44. Another great run from Origlia. Good low cross produces lucky backheel from Clifton Hill captain.

3.45. Pressure from Clifton Hill on right. Keeper gathers. Westgate throw on right. Clifton Hill clears.

3.46. Another good run by Origlia. Results in attacking throw on left. Long throw headed over.

3.47. Half time. 0-0

Westgate looked sparkling in patches and even though Clifton hill probably shaded the half, Westgate looked more likely to score. Clifton Hill are a good team playing without luck/confidence. 

A good entertaining half. Let's hope an early 2nd half goal can lift the game even higher.

4.02. 2nd half underway. Rain eases slightly. Westgate going downhill with wind and rain at their backs.

4.07. Westgate shot blocked. Corner right. Wasted Into side netting

Rain seems to have dampened the spirits. Players yet to warm to their tasks.

4.11. Clifton Hill attacking free kick from right. Headed away by striker back in defence.

4.12. Clifton Hill move from midfield but no one in position up front to receive.

4.13. Clifton Hill attacking free kick on left. Headed clear. Follow up shot just wide.

4.15. Clifton Hill long ball from defence. Why?

4.16. Ambitious long shot from Westgate left. Impressive but always covered.

4.17. Clifton Hill attack down right. Long shot hooks wide.

4.18. Bobby breaks. Good cross if anyone had been there. Dangerous Clifton Hill free kick 25 out in front. Powerful strike hits wall. Out for corner.

As usual I take the photo about a second before the ball rebounds and is put into the net.

4.19 Goal. Rebound from save driven home Clifton Hill 1-0.

Clifton hill starting to look dominant. The goal has sparked them.

4.25. Westgate attacking free kick 30 out. Beautiful kick curled around wall hits left upright and out for goal kick.

4.28. Ref tells player to 'Get up!' like an opposition crowd would. I like this bloke.

4.29. Great cross from Bobby met by no. 10 who hits post and falls over. Tries to put the return ball in from the ground and slices over.

4.31. Bobby starting to play well. His appeals for a penalty are turned down. Good lead up work leads to shot over.

4.33. Fantastic double save from Westgate keeper. Tips header onto bar and saves the return shot well.

4.34. Clifton Hill almost relentless now as Westgate losing structure.

4.35. Westgate long throw from left attack interrupted while refs speaks to players. Effective throws leads to blocked shot. Goal kick.

4.39. Clifton Hill attacking free kick on left. Nice cross headed over.

4.42. Another Westgate dangerous long throw from left. Handball appeals as ball put behind for corner.

4.43. Corner headed wide.

4.44. Yellow to Westgate for holding back Clifton Hill attacker.

4.45. Long kick caught easily by Westgate keeper.

4.46. Seemed a clear Clifton Hill penalty to me. Weak shot wide by Westgate after quick break.

4.47. Long shot by Westgate. Hit and hope time.

4.50. Westgate working hard but can't penetrate.

4.51. Full time. Clifton Hill wins 1-0.
Westgate's Raffael Origlia didn't see much of the ball in the second half
but impressed me with his pace and skill and excellent crossing
on the right wing in the first half. One to watch.

The right result in the end but Clifton Hill should have won more easily. Westgate looked good from time to time but couldn't do it for long enough and their defence seemed to lose the plot at times. Their keeper had cracker too and Raffael Origlia is a player with bucketloads of potential.

But Clifton Hill! The enigma wrapped in a mystery, stuffed into a souvlaki. When they crack the code they will be a real threat in this league. 

The real star of this game for me though was the referee: good natured, stern, officious, relaxed as required he struck the right note at all times. He tried to stay in the background and helped it to be a good game conducted without much rancour at all. Well done James Milloy, possibly the best ref I've seen in FFV competitions yet!

Thursday 24 May 2012

The Code War 1950s' Style

There must be a united front from all Australian football clubs to halt the soccer movement.

Around Australia, and particularly in Victoria, access to (enclosed) grounds has been a troubling issue ever since people have wanted to play organised outdoor sport. As the dominant Victorian code, Australian rules has looked on protectively at the network of grounds over which it has had tenure, having established its possession of them over many years. Periodically, other sports, often soccer, have threatened the exclusivity and stability of that network of grounds.

There have been years when the tension has escalated into something resembling sustained turf wars. 1954 was as vicious as any.

The story of this footballing year opens with an incredible offer from J.U.S.T. Soccer Club to pay the local council £800 (perhaps $40,000 in today's terms) to rent Toorak Park on alternate weeks throughout the winter. The council initially rejected the offer, something which caused an outrage among ratepayers.

Prahran refusal opposed


Prahran ratepayers will demand an explanation of the Prahran Council parks and gardens committee's decision to refuse an £800 offer by J.U.S.T. Soccer Club for the use of Toorak Park on alternate Saturdays this winter.
The council will consider the committee's recommendation that the offer be refused when it meets on Monday.

Mr. G. T. Gahan, Prahran Ratepayers and Progress Assoçiation president, said yesterday he would lead a deputation to the meeting on Monday night to protest against the action.

Mr. Gahan said: "Prahran badly needs money. Our Royal tour decoration scheme was sadly hampered by lack of sufficient funds and the council is seeking permission to float a £17,000 loan for urgent works.


"If the council refuses the offer of £800, I will seek referendum.

"It is ridiculous for the council to seek a loan when it is refusing good money like this."

Mr. Ivan Kuketz, J.U.S.T. president, said yesterday "We have no fight with Australian Rules, League or Association. We have some money, and we need somewhere for our boys to play.

"We have only asked for use of the ground on alternate Saturdays, and have no wish to push Association players out.

"We can help them, and they can help us, by sharing the ground. It is ridiculous to fight."

Cr. Martin Smith, chairman of the parks and gardens committee, said the offer had been refused on sentimental grounds only. The V.F.A. club had played on the ground for 50 years. (12 February)
Grandstand at Toorak Park, nd. Image courtesy Stonnington Library.

At the subsequent meeting the offer was again refused at an effective cost of £775 to the ratepayers of Prahran. Loyalty and fairness were cited as the reasons - ones that probably wouldn't get much of a look in today's culture of pragmatism.

Soccer £800 refused

Prahran Council last night rejected the £800 offer by J.U.S.T. Soccer Club for the use of Toorak Park on alternate Saturdays this season. It confirmed its parks and gardens' committee's decision that the ground be let to Prahran V.F.A. club at a rental of £25.

Cr. Martin Smith, parks and gardens committee chairman, moving the refusal of the J.U.S.T. offer, said: "I agree that the offer is tempting, and that the ratepayers are to be considered, but in fairness to our Australian game and the Prahran Football Club, which has been our worthy tenant for 50 years, I feel we must remain loyal to it."

Cr. G. S. Gawith, Mayor, was the only councillor to oppose the motion. He ordered his protest be recorded on the minutes.

A request that a deputation from ratepayers protesting against the refusal be heard, was referred to the next meeting of the parks and gardens committee. (Argus 16 February)

Interestingly, the following makes it clear that the Prahran decision was not all-encompassing because soccer was played on Saturdays at Toorak Park late in the season and on occasional Sundays during the season. The Argus reported on 13 September that the council was paid £750 for three Saturdays' rental for Dockerty Cup finals.
Prahran cricketers will not be able to use their ground at Toorak Park until the 1954-55 season actually starts. Their ground has been let for soccer finals for £750 for three Saturdays, ending September 25. As the cricket season starts on the following Saturday, only a week is left to prepare a wicket.
On top of this, at one stage soccer and baseball proposed the addition of lights to the ground to allow night matches! The council agreed in principle but the proposal fell over because the relevant clubs and associations couldn't meet the costs involved (Argus, 16 November)

If footy celebrated the council's loyalty in this instance it didn't have long to wait for a nasty setback in the nearby suburb of Brighton. The Argus reported on 24 February that Elsternwick Park had fallen to the soccer hordes (but only every second week):

Soccer Victory Shock to national Code 


VICTORIAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION and Amateur Football Association officials have been shocked by the announcement that Elsternwick Park had been leased to Brighton Soccer Club on alternate Saturdays this winter.

The ground, previously shared by Brighton Football Club and Elsternwick Amateur Football Club, now will be occupied by Brighton Football Club and Brighton Soccer Club.

Mr. Jack Fullarton, secretary of the Victorian Amateur Football Association, said he was "absolutely rocked by the news that Elsternwick amateurs had been kicked off' their ground."

"Elsternwick was first given permission to use the ground in 1908," he said.

"Now, apparently, £. s.d. has destroyed all the goodwill built up by the amateurs in their 46 years at the ground.

"After giving such long service we have been kicked off. It is one of the rawest of raw deals."

Mr. Fullarton claimed most of the amenities at Elsternwick Park had been paid for by money raised by the Elsternwick Amateurs Ladies' Auxiliary.

"Now soccer is to take over the advantages gained by the hard work of the Amateurs," he said.

Mr. Alex Gillon, newly appointed president of the Victorian Football Association, said he believed soccer had made it first step in its campaign to seriously rival Australian football.

Now soccer has one of the V.F.A.'s grounds, and appears likely to seek others, it may, also make an attack on some of the weaker League clubs.

"I think this is a job for the Australian National Football Council."

"United Front"

Mr. Harold Snook. V.F.A. secretary, said: "There must be a united front from all Australian football clubs to halt the soccer movement.

"After all, the grounds and their amenities were built by the pioneers of the Austra- lian game, yet soccer is just stepping in and taking it all away.

Mr. Bob Coldrey, secretary of Brighton V.F.A. club, claimed the move was "the first "leg-in" for soccer.

"With the soccer club using our ground for training on Mondays and Wednesdays we will have to find a new place for our second eighteen," Mr. Coldrey said.

"The senior team's pre-season Saturday practices have now been cut down from five to three," he added. (24 February)
The VFA saw this very clearly as a war between the codes in which a united front was needed to stop the movement of soccer into Australian cultural space.

Some correspondents, however, saw soccer in a positive light, as a game which enabled cultural commerce between peoples and nations. Bill Drummond of Oakleigh wrote to the Argus:

Sportsmanship is wonderful

IN view of recent comments on the Brighton Soccer Club obtaining the lease of Elsternwick Park, I would like to make the following observations: Sportsmanship is a wonderful thing as we read of Gordon Pirie being coached by a German, Billy Knight gaining valuable experience with the Lawn Tennis Association, John Landy receiving invitations to help him in his mile record attempts, John Marshall, and a lot of other sportsmen being offered scholarships so that they can concentrate more on sport.

Sportsmanship creates international good will, and will help us to make our migrants good Australians. This country has long had the name of being one of the best sporting nations in the world, yet how can we reconcile this reputation with the recent statement by the V.F.L. secretary: "There must be a united front from all Australian football clubs to halt the soccer people"?

What of the invasion of international football in the 1956 Olympic Games? Will this be banned from Australian grounds and forced to play in the open parks, with few facilities for players and spectators?

This is the set-up at present, and all soccer people ask for is a share of some decent grounds. Give them a go! (5 March)
A substantial 'go' in this matter was not forthcoming. In March, a number of Australian rules bodies met to discuss the issue and organise their strategies of resistance:

Soccer 'grab' gives V.F.L. worry

REPRESENTATIVES of the Victorian Football League, Football Association, Amateurs, and the A.N.F.C. will meet soon to discuss inroads on football grounds by soccer clubs.

The question was discussed by V.F.L. delegates last night when a letter was received from the V.F.A. suggesting the meeting. Mr. K. G. Luke (Carlton) said soccer had acquired more grounds during the past year than the V.F.L. had in 20 years.

Finance was mainly responsible for Soccer clubs acquiring some of the grounds used for Australian football, said Mr. Luke. Funds were coming from overseas to help secure those grounds. The Australian game was a cheap sport, and not a money spinner, and could not compete in this direction.

Later in the meeting Mr. Phonse Tobin (North Melbourne) suggested the League should do something to counter soccer influence.

Coaching class

Mr. Tobin said coaching classes, set up by each club, should operate in those areas where migrants were strongest. The meeting adopted a suggestion by Mr. Luke that the V.F.L. propaganda committee should discuss the question and produce a scheme.

Mr. W. Brew (Essendon), president of the A.N.F.C., said individual clubs should take action. He said a meeting of sports masters had been called at Essendon to discuss the subject. (Argus 13 March 1954)

This piece articulates themes that echo across the decades:
  • soccer taking over established footy grounds
  • soccer using foreign money to influence councils
  • soccer as a wealthy body
  • the need for footy to appeal to migrants and educate them about the game
  • the importance of schools in educating boys into playing one sport or the other
Perhaps it also surprises in its declarations of poverty for Australian rules, especially given the popularity of elite forms of the game and the income generated through the turnstiles. Australian rules has always been conscious of the the financial drawing power of established elite soccer (witness 70,000 people paying on average $100 each to see a 'meaningless' friendly between Australia and Argentina on a Tuesday night in September 2007). It is only in recent years that the AFL (via some clever corporate management and extraordinary broadcast deals) has become such a wealthy sporting enterprise.

There is no question that soccer was growing around Australia during the early 1950s and the pressure being felt by Australian rules in 1954 is understandable. However, the following piece from the Argus just one day later, on 14 May tells a pretty blunt story of the problems soccer faces in Melbourne at this time, problems that utterly contradict the points made the day before. 

According to this second article, a potentially booming game is being held back by councils refusing to grant access to enclosed grounds. Despite the compelling arguments made by the game's advocates and organisers, soccer had struggled for many years to acquire home grounds for leading clubs and in 1954, despite whatever complaints were being made in footy circles, the game was yet to possess an enclosed ground. While the headline seems to continue the paranoia of the first article (with soccer supposedly keeping a covetous eye on footy grounds), the body tells a very different story.

Soccer has eye on grounds  


Chairman Victorian Amateur Soccer Football Association, as told to BILL FLEMING

FOR almost six years now, Victoria's soccer fans have been paying a weekly tribute to make soccer "talk big." It's been an unsung sacrifice with sixpences, threepences, and even odd pennies - so soccer promoters may one day buy enclosed grounds for our booming sport.

And soon - sooner than Aussie Rules fans think - the tribute will be paying dividends. Already a £12,000 official fund has been built up - and there's much more money behind that. Any sport which can attract sufficient numbers in open park lands, with no amenities for players or spectators, to subscribe £12,000 in less than six years must surely have a strong claim for better conditions.

Soccer's spectacular rise In popularity in the postwar period is due mainly to the arrival of 612,375 migrants in Australia between 1947 and 1953. Of these 171,000 have settled in Victoria, and whether they come from north of the Tweed or the depths of Central Europe, they all cherish soccer.

Are we in Victoria going to adopt a dog-in-the-manger attitude and compel these thousands of New Australians to drop their game and suffer instead Victoria's "foreign" Australian Rules?

Soccer does not want to oust Australian Rules, but it wants, and demands, a fair deal for players. and spectators. It is fighting for survival. We know enclosed grounds are available - but not available to soccer!

Why can't Association seconds teams stage their games as curtain-raisers to the firsts, as is done with V.F.L. finals? And why can't they let soccer use the vacant grounds, and share the cost of providing amenities of benefit to both codes?

A "mutual benefit fund" could even be established to finance the improvements. Almost every suburb has an enclosed ground, but Melbourne's football fans only pay to see 12 League teams and 14 Association teams play.

At the same time, there are 46 soccer clubs, comprising 86 senior teams and 47 junior, and none has an enclosed ground.
Both articles cannot be right. The two pieces outline a fundamental conflict between the two codes in terms of both interests and perceptions. They also bring home the issue of the reliability of journalism in constructing a historical record. Just where does the truth lie in this matter? It is a matter of separating the rhetoric from the facts.

The to-ing and fro-ing continued in the press and, fortunately, some maintained their senses of balance and humour. G. Johnston of Toorak played with the war metaphor:

This is war

Get the Army. Navy, Air Force out; apply for American military aid; use the A-bomb, and enlist all flt people in Australia to fight the greatest menace in the world today - soccer. That's about the attitude of Australian Rules football officials against a sport which is played in 57 different countries and attracts millions of people every week against a code which is not even played all over Australia. (17 March)
While some members of the public could see the lighter side of the matter, the footy clubs themselves were taking it seriously. In April Essendon FC convened a public meeting, "intended to create a more football minded public in the Essendon district and to combat the rising progress of other codes - particularly soccer." (Argus 2 April 1954)

Many within footy saw the situation as very much one of crisis. In a long article focused on the problems facing Australian rules in 1954, the writer foresaw the dangers inherent in the potential collapse of the VFA. The piece mentions 'other codes' but the game clearly in the author's sights is soccer.
If [the VFA] went out of existence - and that is a real possibility - the way would be opened for other codes to take over the grounds in the growing outer districts.

The threat from these other codes means little at the moment. Any expansion, they may have made in recent years is due solely to the number of New Australians now in our midst. Nothing can draw them from their national games, so what they do has no effect upon Australian Rules. What does matter, however, is what their children do.

In this lies the danger to Australian Rules if these other codes get control of the outer ring of grounds now occupied by the Association. This would give them a tremendous impetus in the rapidly growing areas of Melbourne.

Not only would it make the way easy for the New Australians to have their children play the other codes, it would also give them a splendid opportunity to woo young Australians, for the major ground in any district is the focal point for all young sports lovers. Consequently the League must decide whether to bolster the Association sides or, somehow or another, hold their grounds. (Argus 17 April 1954)
The VFL, via its official publication, The Football Record is publicly conscious of the crisis revealed by the Prahran and Brighton ground allocation conflicts. The very first issue in 1954 is unashamedly propagandist on the matter, making the argument that footy must reign because soccer is "tame, insipid, uninspiring". It is
not a game for a young and virile country. The United States evolved their own football game of ''gridiron" to suit the volatile enthusiasm of their young and up-and-coming nation. We in Australia have evolved something much better—a game of football that has been acclaimed by all who have seen it as unequalled the world over for excitement and spectator appeal—a thrilling experience for players and onlookers alike.
Let us, then, guard this glorious heritage, bequeathed to us by those pioneers of 100 years ago, who builded better than they knew. Let us unite to strengthen and preserve the national game. Today soccer is assuming some importance. That is only natural. The advent of hundreds of thousands of migrants into Australia has meant that soccer—the only football game they knew—must inevitably be played here—for a while at least. That is a situation with which we have no quarrel. But when municipal councils and/or trusts controlling sports arenas decide that for a few hundred pounds they will kick dinkum Aussies off arenas which have in fact been established, and in most case maintained, because of football—Australian football—then we feel it is time to act.

As propaganda, this is both insidious and effective. But is it enough to stem the soccer tide?
If self- or national interest would not convince those in power to defend Australian rules against the soccer threat, there were other means of creating moral panic. For some, enclosing a ground in Albert Park would effectively restrict children's capacity for play in the Albert Park/South Melbourne area.

Labor 'must save the parks for children's play'

THE Labor Party had to fight to preserve Melbourne's inner parklands, Mr. F. McManus, A.L.P. assistant secretary, told the opening session of the annual Victorian A.L.P. Conference last night. He was replying to criticism of the Labor Party's veto earlier this year on a proposal to fence a section of Albert Park for soccer matches.

The veto was criticised by Senator Kennelly, chairman of the Albert Park trustees, who said migrants from overseas should have a right to play and attend their own type of football in a minute area of the 688-acre park, where no sport had been refused a ground.

Mr. McManus said professional soccer interests, which had great influence and large amounts of money to spend, should not have priority over other sports in the search for playing areas.

These soccer interests showed no interest in grounds in the outer suburban areas. If the trend of fencing off parklands continued, a ring of enclosed grounds diverted to a single sport, would be established on Crown land in industrial areas.

Mr. McManus said once a fence was erected, buildings would arise. Finally the children from industrial areas would be excluded following claims that sporting property had to be protected.

Mr. D. Lovegrove, A.L.P. secretary, said Labor had vetoed the proposal to fence a ground at Albert Park because it would have created a precedent.

The central executive's report on its actions to prevent alienation of parklands over the last year was adopted by conference, with some dissentients, on the voices. (12 June)
And, in what was to become a staple for those criticising soccer for decades to come, Ken Moses invoked the spectre of ethnic soccer violence. Though he did follow this with a positive story (in keeping with his normally fair-minded, if glib, perspective)

Where's that soccer deputation! Why keep it quiet?


ABOUT three weeks ago the Victorian Amateur Soccer Association was going to send a deputation to all newspaper managements. The deputation was to complain about all the adverse publicity soccer had been getting - the brawls and crowd riots, &c.

The deputation did not take place - the council thought better of it at the last moment.

Prime mover behind the deputation was Hakoah club. Hakoah was the club which recently had its tenancy of St. Kevin's Oval, Heyington, cancelled as from the end of July.

Now Hakoah was slaughtered by Moreland at St. Kevin's last Saturday. It was a very interesting game.

Hakoah supporters staged a demonstration every time a decision was given against their team. Three of Hakoah's players were cautioned by the referee. The police had to protect the referee from the crowd at the end of the match.

Yes, it is a great shame that deputation never took place.


NOW something on the other side of the soccer picture.

At the international games at Toorak Park on Sunday, there was an interval between the matches. During that interval Empire Games athletes Winsome Cripps and Marlene Middlemiss give an exhibition run.

From a crowd, of which more than 50 % were New Australians, the blanket appeal resulted in the sum of £105 for the girls' appeals for funds to pay their way to Vancouver.

That is as much as the Melbourne City Council gave to the whole Empire Games appeal. And it is a credit to soccer and its followers. (7 July)

And if all that had gone before didn't work to convince readers that soccer was the great evil, then a subsequent event might. The game was poised to commit the greatest of crimes, the murder of a pennant cricket club!

Soccer may kill a pennant club


Prahran cricket club might lose its affiliation with the V.C.A. because its ground has been let to Soccer for semi-finals and finals through September.

Each pennant club gives an undertaking to the V.C.A. that the curator will be given time to top-dress and otherwise prepare the ground for the opening of the season, which, this year, will be on October 2.

Because the ground will be used for Soccer this cannot be done this year.

The subject has not yet come officially before the V.C.A. but the executive of that body will meet on Monday, when it is almost sure to discuss it.

Years ago Collingwood was out of the V.C.A. for several seasons, because no guarantee could be given that the ground would be available as required for cricket. (31 July)

Yet again a writer managed to use humour in countering this rhetoric."GREENIE" from Tullamarine writes:


Marvellous the excuses and alibis made to "down" soccer by us "sporting Australians," now the "foreign game" (like cricket) is preventing topdressing of the Prahran oval. Could not the Government declare this game illegal? [And clap all those kids who play it in backyards, and alleyways into Pentridge?] (3 August)
More interesting than Greenie's implied defence of soccer is the editorial allusion to kids playing the game in the backyards and alleyways of Melbourne, thereby domesticating soccer in a vital way. It's an uncommon image in Australian cultural memory.

After the dust had settled on the 1954 football season, Labor Party deputy opposition leader in the Federal Parliament, Arthur Calwell articulated the position that should (in my opinion) always hold the upper hand—that all sport should be encouraged and allowed to blossom to its potential. A devotee of Australian rules, he nonetheless condemned the selfishness of an organisation and culture that wanted all for itself. If only the following were published every year in Victoria and politicians and community leaders took its sentiments to heart!

Share sport grounds, Mr. Calwell

"Monopolistic control" of Melbourne sports grounds should not be tolerated, Mr. Arthur Calwell, deputy Opposition leader, said yesterday.

League and Association football clubs should help to foster sport by opening their grounds to teams which play other codes of football, he said.

"Our football clubs have nothing to fear or lose, because nothing can supplant Australian Rules football in Victoria," he said.

"It is up to civic authorities to see that playing grounds are made available tor all forms of sport." (Argus 27 September 1954)
It really is no surprise that Calwell's positive sentiments were not heard by some. Even in the height of the cricket season, footy officials were still working out how they were going to combat the ever-present 'soccer threat'.

V.F.A. can 'defeat soccer threat'


RETIRING Camberwell secretary, Mr. Ray Bond, believes the threat of soccer to the V.F.A. can be overcome by co-operation of the two codes in the use of grounds.

This is one of several suggestions in the secretary's report to be presented at Camberwell's annual meeting on December 7.

Mr. Bond said the threat to some Association clubs by soccer is very real.
But one answer to this could be to form a V.F.A. soccer division under V.F.A. control, playing as a curtain raiser to the main game. The third 18's could then play as curtain raisers to the seconds.

With the two codes on the same ground and both controlled by the club, attendances and finances must benefit. (22 November)
The bizarre suggestion that the VFA should run a soccer competition (in cahoots with the organisation they claim is trying to undermine them or as a new breakaway soccer competition) perhaps shows how out of touch they were with reality - though it does echo another moment in the 1930s when the VFA threatened to adopt soccer as its code in the face of VFL instransigence. Absurd ideas for absurd times!

* * * 

How did these issues play out over time? Has the intransigence and enmity subsided into a competitive tolerance between the two codes or are we still at war? How well did soccer go in its attempts to obtain grounds? When we watch the A League or even some Victorian Premier League games we can be lulled into a sense that in the main the problems have been solved.

Those of us who frequent the Victorian Premier and lower Leagues will tend to disagree with the idea of a broad-based improvement, because we experience the historical trace of soccer's marginalisation just about every time we go to a game. South Melbourne's newly renovated Lakeside home is a stark exception to the rule. 

South Melbourne's shiny new Lakeside Stadium (I preferred the old Bob Jane Stadium).
We know well enough that many of our games are still played on glorified windswept tips and though much love and hard work has gone into many of the grounds in use, the sense of being on the edge of things is very much with us. On the terraces at Somers St (the home of the Melbourne Knights, one of Australia's top 5 clubs ever), spectators are standing in the confines of a stadium at the edge of metropolitan Melbourne wedged between an industrial estate and a cliff above a deep quarry. Spectators can almost feel the historical processes of marginalisation at work as they stand there watching the remnants of a strong and vital soccer culture as it struggles to maintain a semblance of what it was, waiting metaphorically to fall into the void below.

Indeed to stand at Somers Street pondering these issues can really lead you into thinking that while the "footy people" lost a few battles in 1954, in the end they may well have won the war. We'll see.

Knights players in preseason training at Somers St in 2010. Note the city in the background.
Just behind the terracing is a steep cliff and quarry. Image taken from Melbourne Knights FC web site.

Soccer in 'Grab' for Footy Grounds 1954

This piece now superceded by

Sunday 20 May 2012

Olympiacos teach Victory’s youngsters some lessons

by Roy Hay

Three down after 25 minutes Melbourne Victory found out what it was like to play against one of the top teams in Europe, Olympiacos Piraeus, the Greek league and cup champion.
To be fair the Victory team was a shadow of that which played for most of the A-League season with only Archie Thompson as a regular starter throughout the year.
The visitor had six players who will be taking part in the European championship next month, five for Greece and Olof Mellberg of Sweden.
So youngsters Lawrence Thomas, Petar Franjic, Diogo Ferriera and Jimmy Jeggo got an opportunity to test themselves against real quality.
In the opening minute or two Victory actually monopolised the ball but Matthew Foschini, playing in an unaccustomed spot in central defence with Petar Franjic, gave the ball away and David Fuster put the chance over the bar.
Victory did not learn from that incident and Olympiacos struck in the 10th minute, rebounding from an attack which broke down with David Fuster running through the defence and round the keeper.
Leigh Broxham set up Danny Allsopp but the big striker lifted his shot over the bar.
In the 23rd minute Belgian international Kevin Mirrallas got away down the left and crossed for Ioannis Fetfaztidis to score with a precise header.
Two minutes later Rafik Djebbour got into a similar position and his driven cross was deflected into his own net by Franjic.
Chose Cholevas brought down Archie Thompson in the penalty area as Victory tried to respond.
The Socceroo striker got up and put away the spot kick efficiently.
Olof Mellberg was booked for a foul on Foschini, but that was no excuse for the latter’s assault on Djebbour which earned him a yellow card in turn.
Lawrence Thomas came off his line quickly to save from Djebbour and at the other end Thompson tried to walk the ball into the net when Victory had three men up in attack.
So half time came with Victory three-one down.
At the interval Ernesto Valverde removed all the Greek internationals, Ioannis Maniatis, Vasilis Torosids, Cholevas, Fetfaztidis and Avraam Papadopoulos, though Melberg and Mirallas remained to test Victory.
Victory came into the game against the revised line-up and Matthew Kemp set up Thompson but the final shot went narrowly past the post.
A couple of minutes later Thompson returned the favour but Kemp was much more wayward.
Kemp and Diogo Ferreira gave way to Sam Gallagher and Julius Davies and later Ange Postecoglou brought on Damir Lokvancic, Paulo Retre and James Reccobeni.
Victory continued to have a better share of possession and chances though the final ball was not precise enough and there were some unforced errors (as well as forced ones) in defence.
Allsopp fired in a free kick which rebounded off the keeper, now former Manchester United stopper, Roy Carroll.
Thompson got the loose ball first but his effort just went wide again.
As the game wound down Davies released Marco Rojas whose inviting cross was pushed past the post from right in front of goal by Lokvancic.
Then in the last minute of normal time, Lawrence Thomas underhit a clearance towards Gallagher and Fuster intercepted and knocked ball over the stranded keeper.
The ball just crossed the line before Foschini could hook it clear.
So it finished four-one but all the youngsters who took part will have learned something about the level they have to reach in future.
Ange Postecoglou said afterwards they would have realised that they would get a chance to play football in that environment provided they did the right thing, but that mistakes would be punished instantly.
‘You might get away with that at youth team where the majority play or even at A-League level, but at this level you don’t,’ he said.
The attendances was 16,879, somewhat disappointing, but understandable given the timing and the quality of the team the Victory was able to field out of season.
As the coach pointed out at a different time of the year the story might have been more favourable to the home team.

Match details (unofficial)

Saturday 19 May 2012
Melbourne Victory 1 (Archie Thompson 28’) Olympiacos 4 (David Fuster 10’ & 89’, Ioannis Fetfaztidis 23’, Peter Franjic, own goal, 25’)
Competition: International friendly
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Local kick-off: 7.30 pm
Referee: Ben Williams
Assistant referees: George Lakrinidis & Shaun Evans
Fourth official: Alex Azcurra
Attendance: 16,879

Melbourne Victory
20 Lawrence THOMAS, 2 Matthew FOSCHINI, 3 Adama TRAORE (5 James RECCOBENI 81’), 4 Petar FRANJIC, 6 Leigh BROXHAM (Paulo Retre 76’), 7 Matthew KEMP (15 Sam GALLAGHER 54’), 10 Archie THOMPSON, 11 Marco ROJAS, 13 Diogo FERREIRA (29 Julius DAVIES 54’), 17 Jimmy JEGGO, 18 Danny ALLSOPP (8 Damir LOKVANCIC 76’).

Substitutes not used: 21 Rani DWISHA, 25 Luke O’DEA, 26 Nick ANSELL.

Yellow cards: Matthew Foschini 32’

Red cards: Nil

Coach: Ange Postecoglou

42 Balasz MEGYERI (1 Roy CARROLL 46’ (99 Iosif Daskalakis 77’)), 2 Ioannis MANIATIS ( Francois MODESTO 46’), 4 Olof MELLBERG, 8 Lubomir FEJSA, 10 Rafik DJEBBOUR (87 Diogo SANTO), 18 Ioannis FETFATZIDIS (Djamal ABDOUN 46’), 14 Kevin MIRALLAS, 35 Vasilios TOROSIDIS (31 Pablo ORBAIZ 46’), 21 Avram PAPADOPULOS (Jean MAKOUN 46’), 19 David FUSTER, 20 Chose CHOVELAS (Ioannis POTOURIDIS 46’),

Substitutes not used:

Yellow cards: Olof Mellberg 32’, Pablo Orbaiz 75’.

Red cards: Nil

Coach: Ernesto Valverde.

Saturday 19 May 2012

Melbourne Victory v. Olympiacos, Etihad Stadium, 19/05/12

I'll be blogging this from about 6.45 in the press box at Etihad! More interested in the sandwiches, pizza, coke and Michael Lynch's song list than the game. Only joking. It should be a good display given that half the Greek national team will be on the field.

Can't be arsed typing out the team lists but here's an image of them.

23 minutes before kick-off at it looks like a North Melbourne v Fremantle crowd (when both teams are crap) at Etihad. People still in the bars?

Olympiacos supporters, mid picture.
A few on the wing
More turned up just before kick off.

It's a strange atmosphere with a very strong supporter group for Olympiacos from Sydney in attendance. But not a lot of Victory fans, yet, relatively at least. At present just under 15K in the ground. It really needs 20 before it feels occupied. This would have been fabulous at AAMI.

The flare helps!

7.34. Underway. Victory kicks off. Colleague calls for penalty as Archie Thompson falls in a challenge. No one else calls though.

7.37. Olympiacos player mile offside through on goal. Called.

7.38. Olympiacos player blazes over after mistake from Foschini at cb.

7.40. Djebbour shoots wide for Olympiacos.

7.41. Olympiacos all over victory. Will score soon!

7.42. Offside call. Olympiacos robbed according to some.

7.43. Olympiacos score. Told you so! Fuster! 1-0.

7.47. Allsopp blazes away high and wide.

Crowd 16,537 and rising! Victory seemed to have stemmed the flow a little.

7.51. Olympiacos Corner on right. Another.

7.54. Victory attacking. Looking competent without the polish to finish well.


7.56. Beautiful goal to Olympiacos. Run by Miralles on left cut back to Fetfaztidis. Headed in beautifully. 2-0

7.54. Own goal by Victory. 3-0.


8.01. Penalty to victory. Thompson brought down in area. Scored. Olympiacos. 3-1.

8.04. Olympiacos player fouled Victory player off the ball. Yellow to Mellberg.

8.06. Foschini yellow. Olympiacos free kick 25 out. Dangerous. Put out for for left corner. Dangerous until keeper fouled.

8.09. Allsopp fouled in clear. Should have been yellow.

8.10  Good save by Thomas when goal looked likely.

8.11. Great long effort by Olympiacos 30 out. Only just over. Victory follow up with a bit more stupidity.

8.13. Victory pressing. Archie gets a great ball on the right. Stuffs it up by failing to pass off.

8.15. Victory pressing forward again.

8.17. Good attack by Olympiacos but Victory up to it and defend well.

8.18. Victory forward again. Game seems more balanced now. Maybe Olympiacos have foot off pedal.

8.19. Break by Olympiacos. Stemmed. They come again.

8.20. Half time.

After looking likely to cave in Victory find something and make a game of it. Though it's probably fair enough to suggest that Olympiacos are playing at 75 per cent full throttle.

Crowd 16,851

8.37. Second half underway. Olympiacos make 6 changes.

8.38. Sparkling attack by Victory down right. Archie puts it into side netting.

8.39. Olympiacos corner on left. Should have scored. Keeper Thomas did well again. Victory break. Break down.

8.42. Victory looking steady again.

8.43. Good work down right by Victory. Kemp shoots wide.

8.45. Olympiacos pounces on Victory error. Poor finishing sees ball go behind for goal kick.


8.49. Game has lost edge. Olympiacos seem to be going through the motions and victory can't penetrate.

8.50. Olympiacos attack. Good save by Thomas.

8.54. Good lead up play by Olympiacos. Shot side footed over.

8.55. Victory corner. Saved by Carroll. Olympiacos break. Shot saved by Thomas.

8.56. Archie offside.

8.58. Good pressing by Victory but let down again by poor final ball. Too long and behind for goal kick.


9.05. Davies has a crack from 25. Blasts over.

9.07. Archie brought down. Yellow for 31.

9.08. Allsopp drive fumbled by carroll. Archie stuffs up the follow up.

9.13. James Riccobeni on for Victory Looks lively.

9.14. Good break by Victory Lokvancic fluffs good chance.

9.21. Error by victory. Goal to Fuster. 4-1.

9.23. Victory still pushing for another.

9.25. All over. Olympiacos 4, Melbourne Victory 1.

Hopelessly outtclassed victory's youngsters deserve a lot of credit for the way they competed in the game. Olympiacos had a night out and seemed to enjoy themselves. It was clear that had the game been meaningful then the story would have been very different.

OMG an ethnic flag!
Ange Postecoglu seemed reasonably happy with the performance.
Thought his young players fought well and learned a bit from the experience.