Why does a 40 year-old Geordie bloke living in Newcastle upon Tyne, England love South Melbourne?
Growing up in Newcastle in the 1980s following my beloved Newcastle United FC was a rite of passage. I went to my first game in 1982 as an 8 year-old and from 1992 to 2005 I had a season ticket in the Gallowgate End of St James’ Park.
When my girlfriend (now wife) and I moved to Melbourne in 2005, one of my biggest fears was missing the thrill of watching live football.
Confession time now. In 2006 I actually went to two Melbourne Victory games at the old Olympic Park. At the time I knew that franchise was only a year old, however there was something not right about it, it didn’t seem real and I didn’t really enjoy it that much so I lost interest in going.
In 2007 I went to my first South Melbourne game. I remember that it was a Friday night match at Bob Jane Stadium and that we unfortunately lost (0-1 against Richmond Eagles on 29 June 2007). The only things memorable about that first experience was that I really enjoyed the social club (perhaps a bit too much!) and that I liked Bob Jane Stadium (now Lakeside Stadium).
By the time I left Melbourne to return home to Newcastle in November 2013, I’d been a South Melbourne member for 3 seasons, had a child, got married and had even moved to live in South Melbourne. I was officially hooked as a South fan. I’d met some great people at the games who had a genuine passion for football and an obvious love for South that I could relate to with how I felt about Newcastle United.
With it being relatively easy to go to home and away games in the Victorian Premier League, it meant that I started to go and see South regularly play away from home. I went to Northcote (when it was our ‘home’ as well obviously!), Heidelberg, Bentleigh, Richmond, Melbourne Knights, Port Melbourne and Oakleigh.
I loved the Friday night games at Bentleigh for example, where a few hundred South fans could stand together under the roof on the terrace opposite the main stand and generate a very loud noise. A spectacular Fernando De Moraes goal I remember being a particular highlight (1-0 win at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex on Friday 11 June 2010), even more than the fantastic souvlaki I ate there that night!
By far my favourite South memory was being at the 1-0 away finals victory against Melbourne Knights (at Knights Stadium on Friday 4 October 2013). What an atmosphere and what a performance by the lads. This gave me a small glimpse into what the NSL must have been like with a crowd of 5,000 there that night.
The fact that I missed the 2006 VPL Championship and that I had moved away from Melbourne for the 2014 NPL title win isn’t lost on me. Perhaps I’m a jinx and maybe you lot need to start to pay me to stay away! But the one thing I do know is that the eight and a half years I spent living in Melbourne was without doubt enhanced by being an active South Melbourne supporter.
I am proud to say I’m a South Melbourne fan and I really miss going to the games. Following the games live on Twitter and on football score apps here in England these days just isn’t the same. It’s funny because I was so fearful of missing watching Newcastle United live back in 2005, however given the current shambles that Newcastle is in, I’d rather be watching South Melbourne!
South Melbourne Ole, or as I say in Geordieland, Howay The South!!!
Andrew McTernan – Twitter @AndrewMcTernan