South Melbourne SCHome to South Melbourne Football Club
HISTORY OF SOUTH MELBOURNE SOCCER CLUB
The year 1959 saw the amalgamation of three Melbourne soccer clubs - South Melbourne United, Greek backed Hellenic and Yarra Park. All three clubs had been struggling and the amalgamation was the brainchild of Theo Marmaras, the then president of Hellenic.
Of these clubs South Melbourne United was the longest established (circa early 1930's), playing from pitches that now form part of the Australian Grand Prix track. Marmaras went on to become South Melbourne's longest serving president as well as serving as the chairman and president of the Victorian Soccer Federation.
In their first year of competition 1960 South Melbourne Hellas won the Victorian 1st division north championship - dropping only one competition point in the process, scoring 79 goals and conceding only 11. In the first year, the club also reached the semi-final of the Dockerty Cup before going done to Hakoah 2-0. The club was not surprisingly promoted immediately to the Victorian state league first division, finishing fifth position in 1961.
The next year South took the State League Championship for the first time the following year under the coaching of Manny Poulakakis who was brought over from Egypt.
In 1963 South Melbourne reached the final of the Ampol Cup (losing 1-0 to Polonia) but it had a poor season, finishing in 6th place despite of signing Tommy Anderson from George Cross.
A further recruiting drive in 1964 yielded Ernie Ackerly, the former Man Utd apprentice, Jim Pyrgolios from Panathinaikos, Sam Service and Jim Adam. The new players started a run of three consecutive State League titles for South (1964, 65, 66) Winger Leo Damianakos from Kalamata was added to the squad in 1965 after waiting a full year for his clearance.
Perhaps their most successful season in this period was 1966 when one of Greece's best ever players, Con Nestorides, joined Souths. 37 year old Nestorides' immediate impact upon joining the club was to double the crowds and secure the 1966 Victorian state league title. In 1967 South underwent a slump finishing fourth and losing the Ampol Cup final to Slavia.
Ten Greek players were brought over but only three were up to standard. By the end of the season all had gone back to Greece. Lou Brocic guided the club to third spot that year. Under Brocic, South won the 1969 Ampol Cup beating Croatia 2-1, with one of the goals coming from Frank Micic. South repeated the import experiment in 1969, bringing 5 more players over from Greece. Once again it failed and the players all returned home. The club finished in 7th spot on 21 points. In 1970 South turned it's recruiting resources locally and secured two of it's all time greats, Steve Walker (from Lions for $3500) and Jim Armstrong (from Hakoah for $6000). The club also brought Ulysses Kokkinos back from Greece for $2000. However the club finished fifth despite of winning the Ampol Cup. In 1971 South missed the title by one point, many people believing that the absence of Kokkinos (trying his luck in Greece again) cost them the championship.
Bill Curran took over the coaching in 1972 and promoted Giovanni Batticiotto (16) and Bill Hasapis (17) into the seniors as well as recruiting Peter Bourne from English club Burnley. With Armstrong scoring goals galore, South kept pace with the front runner George Cross before overtaking then in the penultimate round. And despite dropping a point in the last round, South won the championship on goal difference.
In 1972 South and George Cross were again front runners but it was the mighty Footscray side who clinched the title. The barren period finally ended in 1974 when with Arthur Xanthopoulos by now established in the side, Bourne dominating in midfield and Armstrong still scoring freely, South took over as early leader and romped away with championship by four points. Armstrong was top scorer with 22 goals. South also won the Dockerty Cup beating Ringwood City 4-1, with goals coming from Marshall, Armstrong, Nick Nechvoglod and Bourne. South retained the Dockerty Cup in 1975 beating Sunshine City 2-1, the first goal coming from the best recruit of the season, Jimmy Mackay. South had to be content with 2nd place in both the Ampol Cup and the State League.
The club's final year in the Victorian State league, 1976, ended with another championship as well as another Ampol Cup. Peter Ollerton, signed for $9000 from Apia, scored a hat-trick in the final against Footscray, which South easily won 4-1. Ollerton's striking partner was Duncan Cummings, a $10,000 buy from Melbourne. The pair scored 18 goals between them as South romped away with the title by nine points. The club then waited for Mooroolbark to make the first move before joining Footscray and Heidelberg as Melbourne's participants in the newly formed nationwide Philips Soccer League.
Despite big expectations, South Melbourne had a very mixed start to the national league. They had discarded Armstrong, Walker, Bourne and Mackay claiming they were too old for the new league. In that first year they finished 11th. They had recruited heavily but without that old backbone, they weren't the same team.
In 1978 coach Dave Maclaren embarked on another huge recruiting drive signing John Hansen and Stuart Baxter from Sweden, Bertie Lutton and Bobby McGuiness from Sydney City, Sammy Wright from Wolves, George Campbell from Aberdeen and promoted George Christopoulos from the reserves. The club finished in a respectable third spot. A low point in Souths' twenty-one year national league experience was 1979.
After a positive start to the season, the club had three competition points deducted after it was deemed that import player Tony Turner had not been properly registered with Souths. Three coaches, along with high profile Socceroo player Jack Reilly all left the club that year, which saw Souths finish the season last. The only high points of that year were the arrival of Alan Davidson and Steve Blair. They both proved to be revelations and at $1000 a piece, money well spent. John Margaritis was coach and he rebuilt the side with experienced players to lift the club up to third spot. Socceroo Branko Buljevic and former Liverpool star, Alun Evans led the scoring with 18 goals between them. The next year Evans managed 14 on his own and the club climbed to finish second behind Sydney City.
Striker Charlie Egan was signed from Frankston City in 1982 and he went on to score 20 goals but Margaritis was released after 4 consecutive losses. The controversial Tommy Docherty was lured from England to take charge for an eventful 5 months. The club finished 6th and Tommy was sent home. Former National coach, Rale Rasic took over and he rebuilt the side signing Oscar Crino, Ken Murphy, Doug Brown, Bobby Russell and John Yzendoorn. The newcomers along with Davidson, Blair and Egan were to bring the club great success but there were committee problems that overflowed onto the field. The team hadn't settled and the coach was sacked after 13 matches. New coach Len McKendry lifted the side to fourth.
In 1984, Souths secured first position on the final league ladder (Southern Division). But in this year, a restructure of the national league meant that, for the first time, the minor premier were not champions. South had to win the finals series to be declared true champions of 1984. The club powered through the Southern Division finals series, defeating arch-rivals Heidelberg in the Southern Division grand final before a 15,000 crowd. Souths then won out over Sydney Olympic 2-1 in both legs of the 1984 National Grand Final.
In 1985 South again finished top of the Southern Division but were knocked out of the finals by Brunswick and Preston. 1986 didn't see any improvement and the club finished a dismal seventh in the Southern Division. Brian Garvey took over in 1987 and after an ordinary season, decided on a major overhaul of the team, bringing youngsters like Paul Trimboli, David Healy, Kimon Taliadoros, Harry Micheil and Paul Fernandes. The young team put on a memorable season to finish third but lost it's 2 finals matches. Souths finished all five seasons from their knock-out cup-winning year of 1990, until 1994, in the top three.
In the midst of this extended halcyon period, a massive crowd of 23,318 gathered to watch probably the most enthralling national league grand final ever in May 1991. Here Souths defeated Melbourne Knights - albeit on penalties - after two hours of intensive on-field action resulted in a quite pulsating national league season climax.
A move to the Bob Jane Stadium and a nickname change in the early 90's injected new life into the club. South were now known as the Lakers and after the 'failure' - by Souths' high standards - of the last couple of years (5 preliminary finals defeats), South Melbourne were able to shrug the finals monkey off it's back by winning the 1997/98 Ericsson Cup.
One of only three clubs to have played in all twenty-one seasons of Australia's premier football league, Souths supporters were hungry for another championship, and the team delivered, defeating Carlton 2-1 in controversial circumstances. However nothing could be taken away from the team and coach Ange Postecoglou - as they were also worthy champions throughout the regular season.
The next season the question was, Could South Melbourne win another championship and go back to back? The answer was yes! After unluckily finishing second (by one point) in the home and away season, South won through to the Grand Final and played Minor Premier Sydney United. South fell behind to a 13th minute goal but two goals from John Anastasiadis and one from captain Paul Trimboli saw South Melbourne claim it's historic 4th championship.
And as Australian National Champions, South Melbourne was chosen to represent Australia at Oceania Club Championships that took place Sept 1999 in Fiji. After an early scare, South Melbourne dominated the competition to set up a birth against Nadi in the final. In one of the most historic games that South Melbourne has taken part in, the team rose to the occasion, defeating Nadi 5 - 1. As Oceania Champions, South Melbourne has won the right to take part in the inaugural World Club Championships in Brazil Jan 2000 - against teams like Manchester United, Real Madrid, Vasco De Gama, Corinthians and Necaxa.
In Pre-Season 2000/2001, successful Back to Back Championship winning coach Ange Postecoglou, left the Albert Park Club and became the Joeys and U20 National Team Head Coach. He was replaced by one of South Melbourne's and Australia's talented midfielders players Michael Petersen.
In his rookie season as coach, Petersen had a vast array of talent in his squad. Classy Simon Colosimo joined the squad, whilst Con Boutsianis, Michael Petkovic and Mehmet Durakovic returned to Bob Jane Stadium. Another solid and classy defender was found in Patrick Kisnorbo.
South Melbourne only lost three games in a wonderful season which saw the Club win the Minor Premiership by a whopping 8 points.
Petersen's men went on to meet reigning Premiers Wollongong Wolves in the Grand Final at Parramatta Stadium. Unfortunately the 'Blue and Whites' narrowly lost the Final 2 - 1 with goalscoring hero John Anastasiadis netting the only goal for the Albert Park Club.
Eddie Krncevic became the new coach of the Club after the departure of Mike Petersen. In a very interesting season, South introduced a Youth policy which saw many youngsters take centre stage. Ray Sekulovski and Massimo Murdocca proved be the new exciting products of South Melbourne.
After an indifferent start to the season South Melbourne found itself last at the halfway mark of the season and travelled to Perth having never won a game in the West. South Melbourne drew as Con Boutsianis returned to the Club after a controversial stint in Auckland.
South never looked back after that only losing one match in the second half of the season and made history by becoming the first Club to make the top six after being bottom at the halfway mark of the season.
South Melbourne also created more history by announcing it's Team of the Century, as well as hosting the Round 5 Melbourne Derby at Victoria's newest Sporting venue, Colonial Stadium.
South Melbourne easily accounted for Brisbane Strikers in the Elimination Final but on a day where Paul Trimboli celebrated his 400th South Melbourne match South succumbed to Traditional Interstate rivals Olympic Sharks in the Minor Semi Final losing
2 - 1 at Marconi Stadium.
Another great chapter in the history of South Melbourne is waiting to be written.
❊ Address & Contact ❊
⊜ 25 Albert Road Albert Park | Map
❊ Web Links ❊
→ South Melbourne SC
❊ Also See... ❊
→ Albert Park and Lake
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