Thursday, 12 January 2017

Just The Facts Ma'am - Part 1

The catchphrase "Just the facts, ma'am" is often attributed to the character Sgt. Joe Friday of pioneering U.S. television series Dragnet. The fact is, he never uttered those words. He would sometimes state "All we want are the facts, ma'am" or "All we know are the facts, ma'am" but it was a parody record by satirist Stan Freberg that led to the character having the catchphrase assigned to him. The movie L.A. Confidential features a television show called Badge of Honour, based on Dragnet, who's leading character uses the actual "Just the facts, ma'am" phrase.

So sometimes what is assumed to be a fact, really isn't. Myths can be formed from slight errors, but also deliberate lies can also come to be accepted as fact. There are many instances of both occurring in Australian football.

For many years, the wikipedia entry for goalkeeper Michael Turnbull was one of the great pieces of Australian fiction. Claiming almost 50 senior Socceroos caps, and more than that many first team appearances in the Serie A for Roma, the entry was taken as fact by ignorant journalists who pushed a story that he had knocked back a move to the Budesliga in late 2014. The entry had been toned down by the time he gained notoriety for embellishing his playing career on the "reality" tv series The Bachelorette. It's an example how falsehoods come into existence and can be accepted as truths, and why lazy media should be held to account.

Emile Damey

Former Nunawading City player Emile Damey gained some media exposure last year when he linked up with the Liberian national team for a training camp. This included a game, in which he scored, that the author of his wikipedia entry touts as his international debut.

                                               (Click on all images to enlarge)

Now I'm not sure what the status of the game against Morocco was, but neither FIFA for the Liberian FA seemed to recognise it as a full international.

In the last few days that entry has been changed to note the game was against the Moroccan Under 23 team. His goals and appearances record for Nunawading City has also been amended. From 25 games and 10 goals across 2015-16 it now claims 13 games for 7 goals in 2015 and 19 games for 3 goals in 2016. The actual truth - who knows but I wouldn't trust that wikipedia page.

Sadly, some have.

"Liberia were beaten by Tunisia in their final qualifying game with Damey failing to feature, however he did play in a friendly against Morocco, scoring with his first touch."

Reading that one would assume the friendly was a full International. It wasn't. Morocco's actual national team played a friendly the following day, in Albania. It's an important clarification that needed to be made, the fact that it wasn't makes you question the motives of those that published it.

South Melbourne

South Melbourne certainly has a long and storied history. Founded in 1959 as South Melbourne Hellas the club has won numerous titles in National and State competitions and represented Australia on the world stage at the World Club Cup.

In 2009 the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) awarded South Melbourne the title of Oceania Club of the Century and presented them with this trophy:

The club, and others, have since referred to this award as if it was issued by FIFA.

FIFA only issued one award for Club of the Century, to Real Madrid in December 2000. Real were presented with this trophy:

Real Madrid also picked up a trophy from the IFFHS in 2009 for European Club of the Century. Penarol, Asante Kotoko, Al-Hilal and Saprissa also collected IFFHS awarded for their respective Confederational Clubs of the Century. 

Now undoubtedly a FIFA award is more prestigious than an IFFHS one, simply because most people would ask "Who?" if you brought up IFFHS while with FIFA they would know who you were talking about. Looking at the South Melbourne trophy it's clear to see it's an IFFHS one given the number of times/panels IFFHS appears on it.

For a club which rightly demands more respect for Australian football's past, it could do without the embellishment. When you play around with history you diminish it's credibility, and that does the game no favours.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Fred Villiers on World Of Sport

Long time Melbourne soccer journalist Fred Villiers had a weekly segment on HSV7's popular World of Sport programme, with a clip from a 1985 appearance included above. Villiers had been covering local soccer for papers including The Herald, Soccer News, The Sporting Globe, Truth and the Sunday Observer since the 1950's. He was inducted into the FFA Hall of Fame in 2006.

As you can see from the above clip, the usual formula would begin with a round-up of the overnight (the show was broadcast on Sunday afternoon) British scores. From the early 1980's this would include some footage (as technology began to allow for it). Then it would be a round-up of local results (NSL) or brief preview of fixtures later that day. Occasionally there would be an interview.

Unlike over at SBS, correct pronunciation of names was not a priority, as you can tell from his reference to "Jewventus". Likewise the Aussie vernacular gave us Preston Mackerdonia and Green Gully Ay Jacks.

The set of World of Sport was far less professional than we see in the modern day. Backstage the drinking would begin early. The number of guests (most of the VFL coaches would attend to appear in the Coach's Corner segment, as well as several players) and sponsors giveaways made for a party atmosphere. Practical joke would be attempted, as (prior to the teleprompter era) cue cards would be set alight to see if the presenter could read them before they disappeared. Presenters would also be mooned from behind the camera in an attempt to put them off.

As an outsider from the "foreign" code Villiers was targeted for special treatment from the largely Aussie Rules boy's club. Most of it came from the very old school former Richmond champion Jack Dyer and his offsider Lou Richards.

Never the most accomplished presenter, in later years the number of gaffes would increase, and by the 1990's the pioneer of football media in Melbourne was no longer on the scene. He made an appearance at the FFV's Gold Medal Night in 2011. He accepted the inclusion of his friend Michael Weinstein into the FFV's Hall of Fame, with Weinstein not well enough to attend the function.

Thanks to George Cotsanis of My World Is Round we have a couple of photo's of Fred's newspaper work below:

                                                   (Click on images to enlarge)

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Moorabbin City v Hamlyn Rangers 1982

The footage above is from the Metropolitan League Division Four game at Victory Park between Moorabbin City and Hamlyn Rangers in 1982. The game was played on Saturday June 19, with Moorabbin winning 3-2, to do the double over Rangers after winning 3-1 in Geelong on the opening day of the season.

Moorabbin City folded at the end of 1998, while Hamlyn Rangers are now known as Geelong Rangers. The league was won by the now defunct Caulfield City, with South Oakleigh runner's-up and Sandringham City in third. Moorabbin City would finish eighth, while Rangers wound up twelfth of fourteen.

Sandringham City's team included former Socceroos Jimmy Mackay and Jimmy Armstrong. There were three Geelong teams in the division, with Rangers competing in local derbies with Geelong and North Geelong. For a full look at the season check out OzFootball here. Drago Krajina of North Geelong won the League Best and Fairest Award.

Moorabbin's Matchday programme made a couple of appearances early in the season before going into recess, so there was no issue for this game. There was a special edition produced for Presentation Night, which can be found here.

I got to play with some of those first team players a decade later when they'd dropped down to the thirds, including goalscorer Trevor Bishop who once slammed one in from near halfway on the back pitch at Bailey Reserve. Tony Wynton, Gary Carlisle, Steve Martin, Tony Morgan, Peter Crawford, Steve Thomas, Mick O'Neill, Dave O'Gara and Brian Barlow were the others still playing for the thirds at times during the 1990's. Steve Thomas would often back up in the thirds on a Sunday after playing seniors or reserves on a Saturday, I wonder if that still happens anywhere?

Moorabbin's Best and Fairest votes for this game were 3 for Paul Tierney, the eventual winner. John Rigby picked up the 2, and Steve Gregory got the single vote. Gregory would win the Metropolitan League Division Four Best and Fairest Award the following season.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

FFV 2017 Media Strategy

Just before Christmas I was sent a link by the FFV to their media team's strategy email and video to NPL clubs for 2017. I was invited to pass comment and blog on the video as I pleased, which I shall now do.

Clubs filming their games is a part of the NPL license agreement, and the FFV will be looking to enforce this more strictly this year. Which is fair enough, but if points deductions ever become part of the punishment for a rules breach in this area, well that will be the end of taking the competition seriously and you won't see me at a game again.

Having been involved at an under-resourced club, it makes me wonder how I'd have gone filming the last ten minutes of the first half when it was time to go to the dressing room. That was when I'd clean up after the Under 21's, pour 30 cups of drink, top up the drinks containers, get some ice bags ready for injuries and generally get set for the half-time break.

Filming games must obviously pose issues for some clubs. Finding reliable volunteers is not easy. Finding reliable volunteers without vested interests is harder still. Would it be right to put pressure on a coach to start little Johnnie in the Under 20's because after three weeks on the bench his father is making noises about not wanting to film games anymore? Of course, you can always pay someone to do it. That only increases costs though, and we know it doesn't take much to get people whinging about that.

The erosion of volunteer culture does concern me. There is now a vicious circle, with high fees leaving people less likely to volunteer. People paying $1500-2000 a season for their children to play probably feel that amount entitles them not to have to do anything. When you start having to pay people for jobs/roles that used to be done by volunteers, the pressure to increase fees will also rise.

It was not that long ago that it was only the coaches, players and physios getting paid at a club. Now it may include team managers, videographers and bar and canteen staff. With crowds declining (and income going with it) it's a worrying trend.

One of the main points of the strategy video is to improve standards of match footage to avoid a park football-look. This includes filming from elevated areas near the half-way line, which are not behind closed windows. Drowning the highlights package in doof doof music is also a no no (YAY!). Not a lot I can disagree with in what they say, other than if they don't want a park football look what is everyone supposed to do regarding goals conceded by Nunawading City?

The FFV website will also be less of a news source and more a resources hub. Now if there are video highlights packages from every game, it does make match reports redundant. The couple of years the FFV had independent match reports from all NPL games will always be fondly recalled though, especially since they contained team line-ups and substitutions that didn't always seem to quite make it onto the Sportingpulse results service.

Amid all the talk of commercial profiles and brands, hopefully the strategy is built around getting more people to games.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Vale Dave Maclaren

Scottish goalkeeper Dave Maclaren, who arrived in Australia to coach in the 1970's passed away in Castlemaine last week after a long illness.

A player with Dundee, Leicester City, Plymouth Argyle, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton he came to Australia after a spell as national team coach of Malaysia, starting in Sydney (with Hakoah) before settling in Victoria. He coached South Melbourne Hellas in the NSL in 1978 and George Cross in the VSL in 1979.

His brother Roy was a goalkeeper for St Johnstone, Bury and Sheffield Wednesday. Roy also emigrated to Australia, coaching various clubs in the VSL. Roy was first team coach at Aston Villa during their great late 1970's-early 1980's era which included winning the First Division Championship and European Cup. Roy's son Bruce played for South Melbourne Hellas, most notably in their 1990-91 Championship winning team. The goalkeeping family extends to Roy's grandsons, with Alistair Bray at Melbourne Victory and Fraser Maclaren at Dandenong Thunder.

There's a great interview with Dave on the Wolves Heroes website and a fine obituary in the Plymouth Herald.

Edited to add the link to Soccer Action reporting Maclaren being appointed coach of South Melbourne Hellas.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Where's The History?

Well, where do you start with this? Let's go to the last line "Important our proud history is continuously celebrated & preserved". This is from the organisation that removed the history tab from it's website after it was shown to have contained a few lies.

Let's try a few scenarios to see how well history has been preserved by the FFV.

Mack Heath (no relation to the great Eric) has stepped up to run his local club's website. The history section is pretty flimsy, so he's decided to do some research to flesh it out a bit. He's not sure the few pennants on the clubroom walls are everything the club has won, as there's been a ground change and break-ins over the years. So he heads to the FFV website to go through all the previous final tables over the course of the club's history:

The tables only go back to 2012 and the club was founded well before then.

Can Mack find the final tables for the senior team over the course of it's history on the FFV website? NO

Can Mack find, in the absence of tables, a list of champions for all senior, reserves, women's and junior leagues over the years on the FFV website? NO

Mack asks around and finds out the VSF Yearbook which came out until the year 2000 had all the final tables and award winners in it.

Can Mack find a scanned collection of VSF Yearbooks on the FFV website? NO

Does the FFV have a full collection of VSF Yearbooks in it's possession that Mack can come in and have a look at? NO

Mack discovers that in recent years the information he is seeking is usually found in the FFV Annual Report. This is only available online on the FFV website from 2007 onward though.

Can Mack get this information for between 2001-2006 from the FFV? NO

Jenny Diver is doing a school assignment, and would like to write about her grandfather who she's been told (sadly, he is no longer with us) was a top player in his day and even played for the Victorian state team in games against Manchester United and Roma in the 1960's.

Jenny gets on the FFV website to check out the history of the Victorian state soccer team.

Can Jenny find a list of games played by the Victorian state soccer team? NO

Can Jenny find a list of players "capped" for the Victorian state soccer team and how many games they played? NO

Can Jenny find any footage of the glory days of the Victorian state soccer team on the FFV's Youtube channel? NO

The club Louie Miller is involved with has just had it's home ground renovated by the council. The committee has commissioned him to get a flash looking honours board made for the new clubrooms. He's even been given full list of club Best and Fairest winners over the years from one of the old timers. He would like to add the names of those that have won League Best and Fairest Awards, and League Golden Boots over the years to the honours board.

Louie gets on the FFV website looking for the missing information. Can Louie find a complete list of FFV Player Award winners over the years on the website? NO

Can Louie find a list of League Top Goalscorers since they started to be recorded in the early 1980's anywhere on the FFV website? NO

Lotte Lenya writes for a football website. She's doing a piece on a leading club's new coach, who had a long career playing in the VSL and VPL through the 1980's and 1990's.

Can Lotte get on the FFV's results service to find team line-ups from that era? NO

She can't find a line up to click on his name to bring up his history of which clubs he played for and for how many games. Unlike other leagues and other sports, there is no record of who has played the most games in Victoria's top tier. The FFV frequently changes results service providers, and it seems we are lucky if they bother making sure all the information is correctly added in the present. Maintaining a working database of top tier results and line-ups is not a concern to them.

Some of the above information can be found in a partly complete set of VSF Yearbooks at the MCC Library. That the years between 2001-2006 are not online is appalling given it's hardly ancient history.

The FFV loves putting out propaganda, but until a few of the NO's above can become a YES it needs to stop patting itself on the back and maybe achieve something in regards to preserving history that can be easily accessible to everyone.

Don't take this as an attack on the FFV Historical Committee. A lot of the information missing is stuff the FFV should already have. If the FFV thinks the names of people who have won awards, of clubs that have won championships don't deserve to be recorded there's not much we can do. They just shouldn't expect us to swallow their bullshit comments on their token efforts in preserving history.

Final tables/champions, award winners and state representative honours, these should be the cornerstones we build our history on. I'm not seeing any evidence that this is happening to warrant any boasting. If they are so proud of our history, where is it?

Sunday, 27 November 2016

George Campbell Returns To Aberdeen

Since the beginning of the game in Melbourne, the Scots have been significant contributors to Victorian football. Many early games were drawn along Scotland v England lines, before Harry Dockerty would revive organised competitions in 1909. The importation of Scottish players throughout the 1950's and 1960's saw the standard of Australian football rise to a level which saw the Socceroos able to qualify for the 1974 World Cup Finals.

The signing of a young Scot by South Melbourne Hellas in 1978 created a stir in the football scene, as covered in Soccer Action at the time:

Soccer Action Vol.3 No.11 - Wednesday April 19, 1978

Soccer Action Vol.3 No.15 - Wednesday May 10, 1978

George Campbell had been the youngest ever player to play for Aberdeen. He came on a sixteen year old substitute against Morton in 1975 to make his First Division (current Premiership) debut. Hellas paid a record fee of $20,000 to secure the skillful, tricky youngster already dubbed "The White Pele". In five seasons at Middle Park he would score 17 goals from 104 appearances with the club reaching a best ever NSL placing to that point when Runner's-Up in 1981.

                                               George Campbell at Aberdeen

In 1983 Campbell made the move to NSL rivals Preston Makedonia where he played for three seasons before a transfer to Green Gully in 1986. During his time in the NSL the former Scottish Youth International would occasionally feature for the Victorian State Team. Some of these games included the 2-1 win over Dundee in 1978 and a thrilling 2-3 loss to a star-studded New York Cosmos in 1983.

His time in the NSL was followed by stints with Box Hill (1987-1989) and Fawkner (1989) in the VSL (current NPL). He then continued playing in the lower State League with Nunawading City, then Ringwood City, Knox City and Banyule City until 1998. After an early broken leg which scuppered plans for a return to Scottish League football he would enjoy a career spanning 20 years in Melbourne.

Since retiring as a player he has been coaching in club, academy and school capacities. As well as roles with the FFV and Xavier College he has been involved with the Youth teams at Essendon Royals, Northcote City and his current club Dandenong Thunder.

In October this year he returned to Scotland for a reunion lunch for the anniversary of Aberdeen's 1976 Scottish League Cup win. A special programme was made for the event:


It's fantastic to see a club that celebrates it's past in such a manner. Well done to George on his achievements and his continued involvement in the local game.

                                                      (Click on images to enlarge)