Thursday, 19 January 2006

Footballing With The Stars

(Originally posted at Park Life - The South Melbourne FC Blog))

Sure, it's Glenn Manton as a Goalkeeper part two - but tell me you didn't yelp when you flipped over the Herald-Sun and saw the back page with a massive picture of a South home jersey?



And wouldn't Rocket Batteries be dancing around in celebration at their investment paying off for the first time?

STROKE victim Angelo Lekkas is threatening to sue his former club Hawthorn for more than $1 million while contemplating an audacious career switch to soccer.

Lekkas, 29, has been training with Victorian Premier League club South Melbourne for the past two weeks and has not missed a session.

While Lekkas and South are suggesting his appearances at the Albert Park ground are "just for fitness", it is believed club is hopeful he can succeed.

The 180-game AFL on-baller played soccer as a junior and has not looked out of place at training.

Meanwhile, Lekkas is embroiled in a bitter battle for compensation for his career-ending stroke, sustained in a practice match in Western Australia in 2005.

Lekkas said last year his neurosurge on had warned risk of another stroke had increased.

Originally Lekkas was believed to be seeking about $150,000 compensation, with the Hawks offering only 10 per cent of that.

But negotiations soured after a meeting with Hawthorn officials last week.

Lekkas' manager, Jacques Khouri, said yesterday the officials asked Lekkas to sign a waiver, absolving the club and its doctors from any blame if a he accepted the payout.

But when Lekkas refused, Khouri said he was told he was no longer welcome at the club.

"Initially they promised Ange he would be welcome there, either way, whether he pursued a claim or not," Khouri said.

"The boy's got 30 per cent damage to his brain and will be on medication for the rest of his life, and any further head injuries could cause death."

Khouri said he had been approached by a legal firm to take on the case for free and it was looking at the exact nature of Lekkas' injuries.

When asked if Lekkas could seek damages of $1 million, Khouri said the claim could exceed that figure.

"Brain injuries can be life threatening and the brain doesn't recover," Khouri said.

"It's an absolute insult to be told he is no longer wanted around the club.

"What if it was Shane Crawford who suffered a similar injury or the chief executive (Ian Robson)? How would they deal with it then?"

Robson said last night he was not prepared to respond to specific claims made by Khouri, given that the matter could be subject to litigation.

"What I will say is that we have always shown an on-going commitment and interest in Angelo's welfare," Robson said.

"Given that the journey with Angelo is almost 12 months since he suffered the stroke, I believe the club has been respectful of its obligations to his welfare at all times."

Robson said Lekkas was encouraged in his recovery, firstly with Box Hill in the VFL, and then in the AFL.

"He was placed on the list in 2006 and a contract offer was made to him, but he chose to retire," Robson said.

"We then offered him part-time employment while he assessed what he wanted to do next in his life."

Khouri also stressed that Hawthorn would receive a summons for compensation within the next three weeks if any further offer was not forthcoming.

Khouri also wasn't prepared to confirm Lekkas' South Melbourne association as any more serious than keeping fit.

"A lot of his mates play soccer and he has been doing a bit of jogging with them," Khouri said. "I don't think he has any intention of taking up the game."

Lekkas is a friend of a South director and South coach John Anastasiadis was happy to include him in the senior squad's pre-season training program when Lekkas indicated he was looking at ways to stay in condition.

Pre-season training is more about fitness than ball skills and match practice and that has presented Lekkas with an easier way to blend into the surrounds.

He would be unlikely to walk straight into the first team if he decided to register with the club but his touch on the ball is reasonable and he is a natural athlete who would not find it hard to adapt if he stuck with the task.

South has reserve and junior teams which would be a more reasonable vehicle if Lekkas was just looking for fitness.

It's believed South hopes Lekkas succeeds at the club he followed as a junior before turning to Australian rules.

Lekkas' long-standing association with South Melbourne included a substantial donation when the club was trying to buy its way out of administration two years ago.

Nice to get a mention in the press but don't expect him to line up at the Village in Round One and smash home the winner against Heidelberg. The bit about how blows to the head could kill him is hardly compatible with a sport that consists largely of knocking a heavy object around with your head. But, let's milk that publicity while we can.

Sunday, 8 January 2006

Pre-Season Madness

(Originally posted at Park Life - The South Melbourne FC Blog))

Note: This site does not go in for match analysis and rating. In fact we don't know what the fuck is going on half the time. Until somebody else writes a match report that we can beg to print it'll be half arsed observation and farce all around.

The South pre-season world tour continued at Oakleigh's Jack Edwards Reserve on Sunday in front of a relatively large crowd. Bigger than what we got in the last round of 2005 at home to Bentleigh anyway. SMFC took the lead in the first half through new signing Kevin Nelson and were unlucky to go into half-time at one apiece after a scramble in the sandpit goalmouth at the city end of the alternative pitch resulted in the ball being kicked out of Dean Anastasiadis' hands and into the goal.

The makeshift defence, consisting of a triallist from the Ivory Coast (!) on the right and a guy who was a 100% dead ringer for Thomas Gravesen on the right held up well in the 2nd half under almost constant pressure, and only cracked in the 90+ minute when former NSL player Esala Masi scored the winner for the Cannons and sent a group of watching Fijians into rapture. One in particular completely lost the plot. Standing up on a chair and yelling like they'd just won the World Cup. Maybe somebody told him it was the A-League and he was enjoying football but not as he knew it?

Next stop - Springvale White Eagles in the Crazy John's Cup @ BJS next Sunday.

A disappointing debut. Must try harder 3/10

(Originally posted at Park Life - The South Melbourne FC Blog))

Welcome to Park Life. Inconsistently posted news, rumor, undue speculation and outright slander about events surrounding the four time Australian national champion South Melbourne Football Club. That's football in the world game sense of course. If you've come looking for wild Sydney Swans post-Premiership celebrations you'll go home empty handed. Face facts, they ditched you and moved north. We've flogged the name now. Cop it.

What we've missed posting in the last couple of years,

* South Melbourne plays in the NSL.
* The NSL is abolished.
* A new league is created.
* The new league declares that each city will have only team.
* Everyone realises that we're no chance of making it.
* The VPL refuses to admit South and the Melbourne Knights for the 2004 season because the Whittlesea Stallions would have been forced to reprint thousands of fridge magnets with fixtures on them.
* With no money coming in South go into administration and come ludicrously close to going out of business. Extinction is only avoided due to big donations and creditors accepting insultingly low payouts on what they were owed. Thanks for that.
* The Whittlesea Stallions were relegated and forced to merge with Fawkner to avoid dying in the arse. They were then invited to stick their fridge magnets fair up their arse.
* South finally admitted to the 2005 Victorian Premier League, along with the Knights.
* 13000+ show up to the first game of the new season against Heidelberg and everyone wonders why we didn't do this years ago
* 5000 show up to the next game and we realised why
* The world came to Bob Jane to punch on against Preston. Result = we lost, people knocked down a fence and the next two days were spent with frenzied media reports about the evil nature of football in this country.
* By the last home and away game of the season there were 600 people there.
* South were defeated by Heidelberg in the preliminary final.
* Australia qualified for the World Cup and suddenly football wasn't evil anymore and everyone loved the World Game.
* Another season rolled around and left us right at this spot.

This page has been created as a way of dissecting all the important things covered on the SMFCboard forum but without having to go through two hundred "OMG! ROFL! LOL!" posts to get to it. Thanks to Adam 2.0 for our logo. I think the picture of Albert Park looks a bit like a giant cock and balls but he assures me that's it's stylistically off the charts and worthy of any number of design awards so I'm sticking by it.

Stay tuned. There's at least a couple of months of this to be had before I lose it and give up. If you want to contribute to Park Life please contact me via the forum (username: Supermercado) and you'll be firing off lengthy slanderous diatribes against Neos Kosmos journalists before you know it.