Summer of Discontent in Australia’s A-League

“In the nine months since we launched Northern Pitch, we’ve received attention not just from Minnesota or the United States, but across the world. Among them was @sydneyfcinsider, (aka “John Smith”) an Australian fan and blogger, who chimed in occasionally on Minnesota news, from the latest on Tiago Calvano (a former Sydney FC player) to the success of Miguel Ibarra.

Recently, some major news about Australia’s soccer scene made its way to our shores, and so we turned to our Aussie readership of one to make some sense of it all.”

Read the full, original post on Northern Pitch.

John Smith – Sydney Tribune Chief Football Analyst

Socceroos History: November 16 – 10 Years On

On Nov 16, 2005, the Socceroos defeated Uruguay on penalties to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

10 years on, Click here for a selection of Tweets, memories and photos of that amazing night that changed football in Australia forever.

John Smith – Sydney Tribune Chief Football Analyst

Western Sydney Wanderers Social Media Manager is a GRUB

What is wrong with the A-League social media managers? We’ve thankfully seen off the era of banter between clubs, but it looks like we’ve entered a whole new realm of rubbish. The era of the GRUB.


You think you can just delete your tweet and nobody will notice that you are a sleazy GRUB? The Wanderers social media manager busted being the GRUB he is.

Yes you are correct… That is meant to be Tony’s O face after ejaculating on a woman’s back. Pure class from an official football club’s social media account with women and children reading along.

The GRUB couldn’t even get his own material, instead stealing from his past project, the Football Sack.


You see, the difference is that the Football Sack is a fan account. It is run for the purpose of stupid banter like this. An alternative view to the sometimes mundane official accounts.

But if you don’t want to read that sort of stuff, you click unfollow. Fans shouldn’t have to click unfollow on an official in an effort to avoid petty banter or sleazy tweets!


After being blocked by the @wswanderersfc official Twitter, I decided to ask one of the women who works in their media department what her thoughts on the sleaze were.


There was no positive to come from a reply so it’s fair enough that she didn’t bite, but I still thought the deafening silence was telling.


The Houston Rockets social media manager lost his job for that piece of golden ‘banter’ which didn’t sit too well with the league’s general followship.

So now I have a few questions that I’d like to ask the powers that be:

Does Tony Popovic mind having his face on that sleazeball GRUB’s Tweet?

Does the FFA have anything to say about the consistently poor social media account management from the Western Sydney Wanderers?

Why does that GRUB still have a job?

The fans deserve better.

John Smith – Sydney Tribune Chief Football Analyst

Friday Night Lights: Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar Preview

Sydney FC Squad: 1. Vedran JANJETOVIC (GK), 2. Seb RYALL, 3. Alex GERSBACH, 5. Matt JURMAN, 7. Andrew HOOLE, 8. Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Milos NINKOVIC, 11. Christopher NAUMOFF, 13. Brandon O’NEILL, 14. Alex BROSQUE (c), 18. Matt SIMON, 19. Jacques FATY, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (GK), 21. Filip HOLOSKO, 23. Rhyan GRANT, 24. George BLACKWOOD, 27. Mickael TAVARES. **Two to be omitted**

Ins: 10. Milos NINKOVIC (promoted), 24. George BLACKWOOD (promoted)

Outs: nil

Unavailable: 22. Ali ABBAS (knee — indefinite)

Ideal Lineup:


Selection Conundrums:

How do you manage Smelt’z form slump?

Do you start Matt Simon?

While Sydney FC have a few manageable selection issues elsewhere, these are the big questions that stand out. The days of the mainstay marquee striker in Marc Janko are long gone and an ageing, out of form Smeltz sees his position possibly up for grabs. Yes Smeltz scored last week, but he was still largely invisible throughout large majorities of the match. Reward performances Arnie and make the change. Matt Simon is never going to be more motivated than now.

With Hoole, Naumoff and Blackwood fighting for what looks like a single bench spot, your alternative could be to play Holosko at number 9 to open up an extra spot? Unfair on Simon after last week, but he knows he is a role player and not a long term solution to an out of form Smeltz. It wont happen this week, but Holosko’s versatility is an option worth discussing.

I would however like to see Arnie pull the trigger and start Tavares ahead of Dimitrijevic. Tavares has looked the goods off the bench, while the guile of the Brisbane midfield could see us needing the extra cover that he provides.

Finally from a tactical point of view, the left side is still open for the debate. Gersbach’s attacking talents far outweigh those of Grant, but the opposite can be said in defence. I have been pleasantly surprised by the fitness and work rate of Brosque who I can’t remember ever running more than he has to start the season, so for me Grant gets the nod from the start but this is my tactical talking point.

Brisbane Roar FC Squad: 3. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Corey BROWN, 7. CORONA, 8. Steven LUSTICA, 9. Jamie MACLAREN, 12. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 13. Jade NORTH, 14. Daniel BOWLES, 15. James DONACHIE, 16. Devante CLUT, 17. Matt McKAY (c), 19. Jack HINGERT, 21. Jamie YOUNG (GK), 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Dimitri PETRATOS, 28. Brandon BORRELLO, 36. Andre JANNESE (GK). **One to be omitted**

Ins: 12. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO (return from injury), 15. James DONACHIE (return from injury)

Outs: 20. Shannon BRADY (not considered)

Unavailable: 1. Michael THEO (GK) (quad strain — 1 week), 10. HENRIQUE (knee ACL reconstruction — 2-4 weeks), 33. Luke DE VERE (quad — 4-6 weeks)


Browsing through some old Sydney v Brisbane images and I came across this. For someone that won championships for the club, how strange does Berisha look in Orange! He’s definitely found a home with the Tards.

Bosschaart says hi.

John Smith – Sydney Tribune Chief Football Analyst

The Story that is Matt Simon

They say that sport is the greatest drama theatre of all and Matt Simon delivering against his former club was better than any movie, drama or show on offer. Reality TV? This is reality.

Matt Simon. The Central Coast Mariners’ all time leading goal scorer. One time club pin up boy. Local junior. Bled yellow for the club and the area that the club represented.

But after missing the whole of last pre-season for personal reasons followed by an injury riddled season where he fell out of favour toward the end of the season, the club informed Simon that he would be released at the end of the year.

Simon was devastated. Even offering to play for his hometown club on minimum wage just so he could stay in the city that was so close to his heart. In today’s world of professional sport, becoming a one club player especially in your home domestic league is a big deal and that’s what Simon wanted.

In what could only be seen as supreme disrespect to a local junior and club legend, summing up the type of man that Matt Simon is, he handled his release with the upmost professionalism, not making waves and accepted the decision.

Enter stage left Graham Arnold. He himself knowing what it is like to be disrespected from the former club that he delivered so much success to, gave Simon a lifeline as backup to Shane Smletz. Never complaining, putting his head down and working hard, the stage was set for him to come off the bench in Gosford, but this time wearing the sky blue of Sydney FC.

When he made his substitution, all Arnold said was “the scene is set”. To which Simon replied in true chill, coastie fashion, “Don’t worry, I’ll go out and win it for you”.

And deliver he did.

Showing again his professionalism and respect for the people of his home town, even after they booed his entry to the match mind you, Simon celebrated with only a chill central coast shaka above his head.

After copping it week after week from his former club, Graham Arnold no longer had it in him to hold back and unleashed an emotional tirade across to the bench that he too once say on.

untitled (2)

“You didn’t want him!”

“Thank you!”

What a result. What a man. What a story. This is football.

John Smith – Sydney Tribune Chief Football Analyst

The Sydney Derby: Sydney is Sky Blue

Sydney FC:
1.Vedran JANJETOVIC (GK), 2.Seb RYALL, 3.Alex GERSBACH, 5.Matt JURMAN, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Christopher NAUMOFF, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 14.Alex BROSQUE (C), 18.Matt SIMON, 19.Jacques FATY, 20.Ivan NECEVSKI (GK), 21.Filip HOLOSKO, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 24.George BLACKWOOD, 27.Mickael TAVARES ***Two to be omitted***

Ins: 7.Andrew HOOLE (return from suspension) 21.Filip HOLOSKO (return from injury)
Outs: Nil
Unavailable: 22.Ali ABBAS (knee – indefinite)



With the above being my preferred line-up, we have a few selection headaches that present themselves.

Seb Ryall v Rhyan Grant: With Grant being the Mr fix it that he is, after Seb Ryall’s disgusting dive last week obviously frustrating Arnold who has repeatedly told him to cut that rubbish out, he is the obvious choice to slot into right back. The question is what you lose and what you gain and whether it’s worth it in a derby to prove an ethical point. I would say that it is worth it because after Grant’s excellent start to the season he deserves his spot on form which should end the discussion there.

Milos Dimitrijevic v Mickael Tavares: I love that the question is between these two veterans and not O’Neil who has earned and locked down his spot. Milos hasn’t done anything wrong, but boy Tavares looked good last week when he got his chance off the bench. For the fact its a derby and we need some hard, reliable tackling to start the match I’d start Tavares and bring on Milos further up the pitch during the 2nd half.

Naumoff v Hoole v Holosko: There are still some questions around Holosko’s fitness and with Hoole coming back in, it will be interesting to see the pecking order between himself and Naumoff. I’d take Naumoff ahead of Hoole but I have a feeling that Arnie doesn’t see it that way. If Holosko’s fitness isn’t up to scratch then the question might not need to be answered but lets not get too far ahead of ourselves here.

There is a final twist to this selection conundrum which I brought up on the @sydneyfcinsider Twitter last night and that’s what happens if we take Smeltz out of the line-up? Does Arnold persist with the same formation with a lone striker in Holosko or Simon? Holosko was brought here to provide versatility up front afterall. Or would we go with the kids and Brosque in a mobile false 9 type formation? These questions are going to come up in a match situation soon enough.

Whatever Arnold goes with, the quality depth that this squad has is immense.

Western Sydney Wanderers FC:
1.Turncoat BOUZANIS (GK), 3.Turncoat JAMIESON, 4.Turncoat TOPOR-STANLEY (c), 5.Brendan HAMILL, 6.Mitch NICHOLS, 7.Romeo CASTELEN, 8.DIMAS, 9.Federico PIOVACCARI, 10.Dario VIDOSIC, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 15.Kearyn BACCUS, 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 17.ALBERTO, 18.ANDREU, 20.Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 21.Jacob PEPPER, 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 33.Josh MACDONALD ***Two to be omitted***

Ins: 17.ALBERTO (promoted), 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS (promoted)
Outs: nil
Unavailable: 2.Turncoat COLE (lack of ball sack – 1 week)

Couldn’t give 2 shits who or what these mugs put out. Journalism. I will however leave you with this quote from the Newcastle post match:

“Whatever, it’s derby week. This city is sky blue. Don’t let any turncoat you work with, study with or talk to through the week forget that, or forget the type of person they are. They turned their back on their football club, and I won’t ever accept the argument that Sydney FC didn’t appeal to them at the start, because if you were a football person in this city, you supported the club in some capacity.

You can tell a lot about a man from football. If you can so easily turn your back on your football club then you can just as easily turn your back on the people in your life that matter the most when in need. Don’t let them forget that.”

To end things up, I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts around the issue of Riot Police at the football. Are they there because you are in the wrong or to protect you from others in the wrong?

Sydney is Sky Blue!

John Smith – Sydney Tribune Chief Football Analyst

Riot Police at the Football

On the eve of another Sydney derby, I cannot wait to get my taste of the charged atmosphere that only a football derby can bring out of this beautiful city. It is an amazing feeling and brilliant to be a part of. For a lot of us, it was and still is the reason we all love football, and is the game’s defining feature when it comes to our battle for attention amongst the establishment.

But this charge that we all love is still seen by law enforcement as criminal and dangerous. So much to the point that the presence of HUNDREDS of riot police is felt to be required to handle what they perceive as danger. Saturday night’s Sydney derby is sure to be one of these ‘dangerous’ occasions where the fans will be greeted by lines of armed police who do not want to make small talk.

I’m from the Sutherland Shire. I’ve spent a lot of Saturday nights trekking to and from Shark Park on public transport and enjoying the nightlife around the Shire for a pre and post match beverage or two around the rugby league. People always ask why it is that I fell in love with football and it’s always hard to explain because its a feeling. A buzz and connection that the crowd and football moving as one brings together that you just don’t feel at the rugby league.

The atmosphere at rugby league matches is a much more lonely experience. Anyone that wants to voice their opinion does so with a lone voice. Both happiness and anger toward the pitch turns to incoherent abuse which just doesn’t feel good to be around. Rugby league crowd’s are actually the definition of anti-social behaviour, yet no overzealous police presence is seen to be required.

My main question is just why? Why are riot police there? Why are they needed on a Saturday night out at the football? RIOT POLICE. Who are they keeping safe and who/what is it they are keeping them safe from? For standing at the back of the home end, am I the criminal or are they there to protect me from someone else?

It’s the football! We are going to the football for a night out. Why does football get the riot police treatment while rugby league crowds are treated as having a laugh? We’re the same people who go to the same jobs in the same city. There is no class divide that makes this code more dangerous than another.

Maybe if NSW Police took the time to understand football culture and especially what it means to be a football fan in Australia, then there would be less police driven hostility. But as that is a common sense approach, we are most definitely not going to see that anytime soon.

Supporting my football club is not a crime.

Read the Sydney Derby Preview here.

John Smith – Sydney Tribune Chief Football Analyst

Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC Post Game; The Smeltz Boot and FFA Mandated Pyro


There’s nothing better than a late winner away from home when you make the effort to travel. Really happy for the lads that made the effort and were rewarded with that peach of a header from a club legend, delivered by our most exciting young prospect.


Gersbach – for Grant
Tavares – for Dimitrijevic
Blackwood – for Naumoff

The 4-2-3-1 ends up something like the above when in play, with the lines becoming much more noticeably fluid and interchangeable than in past seasons.

I commented on Twitter during the match that I am always surprised by how fit Alex Brosque is. With each season that goes by, I expect his legs to slow down but he has started the season as fit, sharp and hungry as ever. He put in a man of the match performance on Saturday and is always the first to press off the ball, leading from the front. A true leader on the pitch and a gentleman off it. Couldn’t be more proud to have this man lead our club.

I wanted more from Naumoff, but in his first game of the season did well all things considered. Another mobile young attacker that could have had a goal or 2. It does however look as though Blackwood is going to be given a proper chance to take his spot by Arnie this season. He’s shown some classy turns and touches but hasn’t had his finishing boots on. The story of the Sydney FC youth prospect… Chianese, Powell etc etc. At least we know that Arnold won’t give up on them like some of our past managers did the previous lot.

Grant wasn’t as sharp this week and with Gersbach impressing on his cameo debut, looking sharp on his wing and delivering the corner for the winner, he should take his starting spot back for the derby. Tavares also made his debut off the bench and showed his class. You can’t drop O’Neil, but can you swap him with Dimitrijevic to start? Not sure if that’s the move you want to make for a home derby, but we’ll see. O’Neil has shown a lot more in attack than anyone expected, highlighted by that ball to Smeltz for the incident. How much penetration in attach would we lose with a midfield of O’Neil and Tavares and whether it would be made up for in ball winning and fast distribution are all questions that need to be considered.

I know we haven’t yet clicked, but we have 4 points from a possible 6 to start the season and I am FROTHING on the entertainment potential of this side. If I’m getting too far ahead of myself, so be it. At least we are going to go down swinging!

The Smeltz Boot:
We all saw it and I’m not going to post any close up photos or anything more. Obviously it was a shit outcome and in hindsight was reckless/careless, whatever by Smeltz to leave the boot in. But on the football pitch, at full pace with a split second to decide if you can score or not, I can’t begrudge Smeltz for going for it.

According to Ray Gatt on Twitter, this is where we go from here:

It was careless and he will get a few weeks if the referee didn’t deem it an accident or had a view. I don’t think it’s fair as it was a 50/50 football incident that went wrong, but I can understand it if that’s the outcome.

All the best to Birraz and Smeltz who I know are family friends off the park. Whatever happens, cop it and move on from there. That’s football.

FFA Mandated Pyro:
The last point I wanted to make was around how ridiculous I find the FFA using their own fully mandated, crowd safety approved, atmosphere increasing, pyro and smoke displays.

I always laugh when I see the FFA using the atmosphere of a misty stadium in their advertisements, while at the same time publicly shaming and cracking down on the freedom of active support in the stands. The definition of ironic.

Flares aren’t safe and are rightly not tolerated, but you can’t have it both ways guys. The forced fakeness makes me sick.

Whatever, it’s derby week. This city is sky blue. Don’t let any turncoat you work with, study with or talk to through the week forget that, or forget the type of person they are. They turned their back on their football club, and I won’t ever accept the argument that Sydney FC didn’t appeal to them at the start, because if you were a football person in this city, you supported the club in some capacity.

You can tell a lot about a man from football. If you can so easily turn your back on your football club then you can just as easily turn your back on the people in your life that matter the most when in need. Don’t let them forget that.

Sydney is sky blue.

John Smith – Sydney Tribune Chief Football Analyst