Almanac Soccer: After an eleven month Covid hiatus, State League football is now open for business.

To introduce myself, I’m a photographer for South Melbourne Football Club and also do film photography while I attend games at A-League Fixtures that Melbourne City competes in. My approach to the way I wish to do my photos is to create an objective overview of the venue and acknowledge those in attendance and admire the aesthetics of architecture and facilities. It is to bring out that human connection that seems to have frustrated me for many years as a regular fan of football and not much interest is generated from solely sifting through action on the pitch. My approach has been like this since I started in 2019.

 

Last year’s season was a write off across all levels of the pyramid in Victorian football due to government lockdowns and germaphobia running wild. To be exact, the last football match I attended was the 28th of February 2020 and South played away to Oakleigh Cannons at Jack Edwards Reserve in a 0-0 draw. Not the most spectacular game to drive home to after, but perhaps an omen of sorts of the mundane and mind-numbing year we the people were subject to confined into our homes for more than half a year.

 

Last Saturday night became the opportunity to reunite with South Melbourne staff and players as they travelled to Cranbourne on a cool summer’s night against Casey Comets. What should be a familiar routine for my line of work, my bearings were skewed along with my responsibility to focus on the key points of the game with my camera. It was as if my memories were from a parallel universe and struggled to replicate that same thought process of choice making and purpose of what I wish to capture.

 

The game itself was a bit dire for the most of it. Casey Comets, who compete in State League 1, controlled the midfield in the first 10 minutes with all guns blazing and threatened the South defence line a handful of times with crosses to no avail. However, as both teams arm wrestled in the midfield, South’s new signing, the Queenslander Henry Hore, found the back of the net from a whipped cross on the right wing after a build-up play.

 

The second half was more of a war of attrition with South having majority of the possession but with little to offer up front. Nothing eventful but it is understandable that there were a rotation of players and fitness fatigue as South were coming from a 4-game winning streak against NPL clubs in behind closed-door friendlies. Casey Comets who play in State League 1 (4 divisions below to South Melbourne) were on the back foot later in the second half but extinguished any sort of threat. That is until Gerrie Sylaidos was substituted on and his individual brilliance slotted in a low driven shot towards the far post to seal the win for South very late in the game.

 

The underlying fact here is that this may be perhaps South Melbourne’s best run of form in their pre-season hit-outs for a long period of time. All eyes are on the signings of Henry Hore and Harrison Sawyer who have been scoring consistently and were making noise last year in Queensland, as their football had the luxury of avoiding lockdown restrictions.

 

Club Spotlight: Casey Comets FC

 

 

I have never stepped foot onto the grounds of the Comets nor did I have prior knowledge of their history. Upon first impressions as I drove up the graveled entry to the ground, I was happy to see a simple grand stand that stretched down the far wing of their main ground and provided rain cover for their seated benches. Nothing too crash hot but you could squeeze in 200-300 spectators. Not many grass-root clubs have this luxury so it is always pleasant to see these infrastructures that adds a whole new level of spectacle and vibe in comparison to a basic pitch in an open field.

 

On the opposite wing are the team benches with an aging media tower that also accommodates 2 tables with bar stools for club stuff to watch in a prime position.

 

What made me glad to be back into park football is the welcoming aspect of the club and the peace of mind. Where the main focus is the action of the pitch and nobody twisting their nose at you. There isn’t any coordinated seating and you could happen to bump into a complete stranger and strike up a football conversation or listen to seniors re-living their favourite memories from decades ago.

 

The Comet’s canteen offered home made cevapi with cabbage and smokey BBQ sauce which fulfilled the appetite. I was then introduced to their Vice President, and came to an understanding that the club is run and organised by a Scottish family. The man himself was a 35-year season ticket holder at Celtic and collected match day programs both at club and international level that was proudly displayed in one corner of the club room by the pool table.

 

Their bloodlines run through their current senior squad to my surprise, in regards to Brodie Paterson, who represented Australia in the U16 Joeys squad during their campaign in the AFC U16 Championship where they were knocked out in the semi-finals against Uzbekistan. His Australian jersey is proudly displayed amongst 2 other Socceroos. One being Jamie Maclaren and the other, to my amazement, Scott McDonald.

 

To some it may be trivial piece of information, but I was in awe to find out a player of his calibre, Scott McDonald, played for Casey Comets during his junior development and clearly, he has not forgotten about them.

 

It is hard to describe in words, but it’s a mix of my enthusiasm as a history buff and maintaining an open minded, spiritual appreciation of where I would stand does resonate with me that Scott McDonald was present at this venue once upon a time. The fact that he, a prolific goal scorer for Celtic and appearances in the English Championship with Middlesbrough, crafted his skills that was only a short drive from where I lived.

 

Casey Comets, a club that was established in 1975, takes pride in nurturing and developing junior players across all ages. You get the sense of appreciation and pride the committee strives for to connect with numerous multicultural families. They don’t strive to obtain an ethnic identity but an identity of being an all-inclusive, wholesome football club and being the forefront of representing Cranbourne and the surrounding suburbs under the Casey district.

 

 

 

For more photography work of this event, the album can be found here:  South Melbourne v Casey Comets 30.01.2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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