South Melbourne FC

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This article is about the football club. For the former Australian rules football club, see Sydney Swans.
South Melbourne
South Melbourne FC emblem
Full name South Melbourne Football Club
Nickname(s) Lakers, Gunners, Hellas, Blues
Founded 1959
Ground Lakeside Stadium
Ground Capacity 15,000
Captain Micheal Eagar
President Leo Athanasakis
Coach Chris Taylor
League NPL Victoria
2013 1st
Website Club home page
Current season

South Melbourne FC is an Australian semi-professional soccer club based in South Melbourne, Victoria. Considered the most successful soccer club in Australia,[1] the club has won four national championships, a string of Victorian State League titles, and represented Oceania in the 2000 FIFA Club World Championship. Along with the Marconi Stallions, they were one of two clubs to compete in every season of the National Soccer League. The club currently competes in the Victorian Premier League.

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

South Melbourne was formed in 1959 with the amalgamation of three struggling Melbourne soccer clubs – South Melbourne United, the oldest of the three clubs with a history dating back to the early 1900s – the Greek-backed Yarra Park Aias (Ajax), and Hellenic.[2] Theo Marmaras, initiator of the merger proposal and president of Hellenic, became the first president of the new club.[3] In recognition of the large Greek Australian support base of Hellenic and Yarra Park, which were also the best-supported of the three clubs, the new club was named South Melbourne Hellas, the name by which it was to be known for the majority of its 50 years. The first emblem reflected the colour scheme of the Flag of Greece. The first uniform consisted of jersey of white with a red 'V' around the collar, the was also that of South Melbourne United, as well as blue shorts and blue and white hooped socks. Later on they would adopt predominantly blue and white strips, with various designs throughout the seasons, with the most common being a predominantly royal blue strip.

1960–1969[edit]

A rare photograph of one of the early South Melbourne Hellas squads, circa 1960.

South Melbourne won the Victorian First Division (North) championship of 1960,[4] the club's inaugural year of competition. The club was promoted to the Victorian State League First Division the following year, where it finished fifth in its first year.[5] With a number of astute signings – Tommy Anderson (George Cross), Ernie Ackerley (Manchester United), Leo Damianakos (Kalamata), and Jim Pyrgolios (Panathinaikos),[2] the club won the division championship in 1962, 1964, and 1965.[6] In 1965, South Melbourne secured the services of 35-year-old former AEK Athens FC star Kostas Nestoridis as player-coach. The result was a significant increase in crowd attendances (more than double) and a fourth league title in 1966.[6] Eager to repeat its success, the club recruited a number of Greek and local footballers, but they failed to make any impact. By 1969, the import experiment was considered a failure and most of the Greek players returned to their homeland.[2]

1970–77[edit]

In 1970, the club focused its attention on recruiting local soccer players. It soon signed two players that would become South Melbourne's greatest players, Steve Walker and striker Jim Armstrong. South Melbourne missed out on the title by a point in the 1971 season, edged out by Footscray JUST,[7] but with Armstrong scoring goals aplenty, South Melbourne went on to win the championship in 1972.[6] The season also saw coach Bill Curran consolidate the first team's strength by signing midfielder Peter Bourne (Burnley) and promoting youngsters Giovanni Batticiotto, Fethon Ileris[2] and Bill Hasapis.[8] The club continued its successful run with the 1974 title,[6] second place in 1975,[9] and with star recruits Jimmy Mackay, Peter Ollerton and Duncan Cummings, capped off its final year in the Victorian State League by winning the 1976 championship.[2]

National Soccer League[edit]

South Melbourne joined Mooroolbark, Heidelberg United, and Footscray JUST as Melbourne's participants in the newly formed National Soccer League (NSL) in 1977.[10] A mass exodus of its best players (Armstrong, Bourne, Mackay, Walker), saw the team slump to 11th place in its inaugural year, but a recruiting drive by coach Dave Maclaren gave the club a respectable third in 1978. It wasn't to last. South Melbourne finished at the bottom of the league table in 1979.[2]

1978–89[edit]

The first club emblem.

The recruitment of Alan Davidson, George Campbell (Aberdeen F.C.), Steve Blair, Branko Buljevic, Alun Evans (Liverpool), and Charlie Egan, helped South Melbourne climb the NSL ladder in the early part of the decade, with South becoming runners up in the NSL in 1981, which was their best ever NSL placing at the time. They also won the Ampol Cup in 1982.[11] Some solid player signings such as (Oscar Crino, Doug Brown, Bobby Russell and John Yzendoorn) gave the club some respectability, but a combination of committee problems and a string of coaches, never allowed the team to settle and gain consistency.[11] South Melbourne finished first on the league ladder in 1984,[12] but in a newly restructured NSL competition, it also had to win the finals series to win the title. The club powered past local rivals Heidelberg United in the Southern Division play-offs, and edged out Sydney Olympic in the Grand Final to win the 1984 national championship.[2]

After the departure of George Campbell to rivals Preston Makedonia in 1983/84, Branko Buljevic to Footscray Just in 1985 and others, South Melbourne could not repeat the success of the previous year. Despite finishing in first place,[13] it was knocked out of the finals series by local rivals Brunswick Juventus and Preston.[14] A major overhaul by coach Brian Garvey saw a number of new signings being made, including youngsters Paul Trimboli, David Healy, Kimon Taliadoros and Harry Micheil.[2] The young team put in some memorable performances as the decade came to a close, finishing in the top half of the league table, but failed to win another championship. The club appointed Ferenc Puskás as coach for the 1989/90 season, helping South win the NSL Cup tournament for that season, as well backing up their 1988 Dockerty Cup win with victory in the 1989 tournament.[15]

On 28 November 1981, South Melbourne Hellas and Melbourne Hakoah announced that they had merged to form a second team for South Melbourne which would compete in the Victorian State League and act as a feeder club to the South Melbourne national team.

The price paid for 54 years of Hakoah history was $35,000. The merger had been an on-going discussion between the two co-tenants of Middle Park from the middle of the 1981 season.

The two clubs had shared Middle Park from 1961 until 1981. Melbourne Hakoah cited financial strains and lack of crowd support as the two prime reasons why the club was forced to accept the offer from South Melbourne.

1990–95[edit]

The club's change of fortune continued next season, with the club winning its second national championship, beating Melbourne Croatia on penalties after a tense 1–1 score line in normal time.[16] The team boasted some of the finest Australian football talent in Ange Postecoglou, Michael Petersen, Paul Wade, Mehmet Durakovic, Paul Trimboli, and Con Boutsianis. The feat could not be repeated the next year as the club was eliminated by eventual premiers Adelaide City in a Preliminary Final.[17]

Former player Jim Pyrgolios replaced Puskás for the 1992/93 season which saw the club finish first on the points table during the regular season.[18] South Melbourne was again eliminated during the finals series by Adelaide City and Marconi-Fairfield, the latter inflicting a 7–0 thrashing.[19] In 1993/94, the club finished second,[20] but failed yet again to progress to the Grand Final, courtesy of Melbourne Croatia and their nemesis, Adelaide City.[21] For the 1994/95 season, the club hired former Socceroos coach Frank Arok to replace Pyrgolios. The round one game from that season was the club's last at its Middle Park home before moving temporarily to Olympic Park while they awaited the completion of their new home, the 14,000-capacity Lakeside Stadium, on the site of the former Lake Oval. The club finished sixth on the ladder,[22] but was eliminated again in the Preliminary Final by the Melbourne Knights.[23] Arok left the club after a disappointing 1995/96 season, which saw South miss the finals for the first time since 1989.[24]

Forced name and emblem change[edit]

The club emblem during South Melbourne's brief appearance as the Lakers.

In 1996, the club was required by Soccer Australia, along with clubs all over the country, to change its emblem and name in an attempt to move soccer into the Australian mainstream and away from direct club-level association with its migrant roots. As a consequence, South Melbourne Hellas reappeared as South Melbourne Lakers. Its new name and emblem was not well received by many of its Greek supporters. The name change also drew attention from American NBA club L.A. Lakers, who threatened legal action.

Under new coach and former captain Ange Postecoglou, the club bounced back in season 1996/97, finishing third on the table[25] and eventually being eliminated by Sydney United in the Preliminary Final.[26] The club capped off the end of the decade with impressive performances, becoming Australian champions in 1998 and 1999, thanks to performances by Paul Trimboli, Vaughan Coveny, Con Blatsis and former PAOK FC star John Anastasiadis. In the 1998 Grand Final South defeated league newcomer Carlton 2–1 with a controversial late goal by Boutsianis.[27] That win was followed up in 1999 by a come-from-behind 3–2 win against Sydney United in the Grand Final.[28] By now, South Melbourne had dropped the Lakers moniker and become South Melbourne Soccer Club, and sported a new emblem – the current blue and white shield with stars (each star representing a national championship). They followed up their fourth domestic title with the 1999 Oceania Club Championship, a win that qualified them for the 2000 FIFA Club World Championship in Brazil.[2]

2000–04[edit]

Grouped with Vasco Da Gama, Necaxa, and Manchester United in the 2000 FIFA Club World Championships, South Melbourne lost all three games. Despite the losses, the club gained some respectability amongst its peers with its performance, as well as some much needed exposure on the world stage, something that had been severely lacking for Australian soccer clubs at the time.

On its return from Brazil, South Melbourne failed to make the finals in the 1999/2000 season, finishing well outside the top six finals spots.[29] Before the new season started Postecoglou left South Melbourne in order to take up the position of Australian youth coach, and was replaced by former South player and team mate Mike Petersen.[2] At the end of the 2000/01 home and away season, South had finished a comfortable 8 points clear of Wollongong,[30] but lost both legs of its major semi final against the Wolves 2–1,[8] meaning South would have to win the prelimanary final in order to earn a rematch. South duly did so with a 2–0 victory over Sydney Olympic,[8] but in the grand final put in a lacklustre performance, once more losing 2–1.[8]

Prior to the start of the 2001/2002 season, South suffered a major blow as Petersen, along with several players including Boutsianis and Andy Vlahos left to join the Football Kingz. A young squad under the management of Eddie Krnčević struggled, occupying the bottom rungs of the table half way through the season, before the return in controversial circumstances of Boutsianis sparked a major revival, which saw the club finish fifth in the standings,[31] eventually being eliminated by eventual champions Olympic Sharks in the finals.[32]

Krnčević was replaced by former player Danny Wright for the 2002/03 season, but the club failed to reach the finals by a point.[33] Stuart Munro took over as coach for the 2003/04 season, with the club finishing fifth,[34] eventually being eliminated by a penalty deep into extra time against Adelaide United[35] in what turned out to be South's final game in the NSL.

With the combined factors of the demise of the NSL, and poor financial management, South Melbourne fell into voluntary administration and lost most of its squad. With Melbourne being allocated just one license for an Hyundai A-League team, which was widely expected to go to a new franchise, and with South in extreme financial difficulty, South chose not to lodge an application to join the new competition.

Return to Victorian competition[edit]

South Melbourne celebrate their 2006 VPL title

Entering the Victorian Premier League in 2005 as South Melbourne Football Club, and with a new team under former player and new coach John Anastasiadis, the club reached the Preliminary Final of the VPL, going down to their old rivals Heidelberg United.[36] The season was highlighted by fluctuating crowd attendances at home games, national media attention paid to crowd trouble with fans of Preston Lions, but also by good performances by a young and talented side, which before the season had been a relegation favourite. In 2006, South finished third on the table courtesy of a strong home record,[37] including a record 7–0 thrashing of old foe Melbourne Knights.[38] South eventually progressed to the final by defeating Green Gully and Altona Magic in successive weeks.[37] In the final itself, once more against Altona Magic, a second half goal by Gianni De Nittis was enough to see South win the game 1–0,[37] and win their eighth Victorian championship, their first in 30 years and first since returning to the competition in 2005. In 2007 South Melbourne had a poor year finishing in 7th spot missing the finals and after a poor start in 2008, Anastasiadis resigned. With another former player Michael Michalakopoulos taking charge, the team moved away from the relegation zone, but still missed the finals.

The club celebrated its 50th anniversary year during the 2009 season, with several heritage strips and a logo reminiscent of the pre-1990's logo used to mark the occasion. The club secured the services of Vaughan Coveny, recently retired from A-League football, who went on to score his 100th goal for the club, with Ramazan Tavsancioglu and Fernando de Moraes also marking personal milestones by playing their 100th games. Michalakopoulos departed after the club bowed out early in the finals series, to be replaced as coach by Vaughan Coveny.

The 2010 season saw drastic changes to the club with the redevelopment of Bob Jane Stadium commencing several rounds in the season. This forced the club to relocate the remainder of its 2010 home fixtures, and all of its 2011 home matches, to John Cain Memorial Reserve in a sharing arrangement with Northcote City SC. The arrival of high-profile players including Carl Recchia, Peter Zois and Joseph Keenan among others brought a renewed hope of on-field success to the supporters. Despite some good on-field performances and individual brilliance, with Fernando de Moraes winning the VPL Player of the Year and Peter Zois taking out the Goalkeeper of the Year award, the promised success did not eventuate with the club narrowly missing out on a finals berth.

Meanwhile, the club gained much international recognition with the award of being the Oceania Club of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics at a lavish gala ceremony at the Hurlingham Club in Fulham, London in May 2010 and entry into the 2010 Singapore Cup. South Melbourne FC miraculously won its first-round match against Gombak United FC 2–1 and returned to Singapore in October for a two-legged playoff against Bangkok Glass FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium but was knocked out by the eventual champions 6–4 on aggregate. Coveny was replaced as coach after the end of the VPL season for the Singapore Cup tie by Eddie Krncevic who returned to the club after a stint as coach in the 2001/2002 NSL season. The club travelled to Singapore again for the 2011 Singapore Cup but were bundled out in the first round by Albirex Niigata Singapore FC.

Under Krncevic, the club rallied late in the 2011 VPL season to finish fourth but had their season ended in a penalty shootout in the semi final by Oakleigh Cannons. Krncevic was replaced in 2012 by former player Peter Tsolakis, who moved across from Northcote City with several players. 2012 saw the return of South Melbourne FC to their home ground, now known as Lakeside Stadium with vastly improved amenities, a second grandstand and an international-standard athletics track which was opened in December 2011 with a friendly against old foes Sydney Olympic. However, the club could not capitalise on its own turf, with terrible home form condemning the club to finish outside the top 5 and miss out on finals once again.

A-League aspirations[edit]

Since dropping out of the national competition at the demise of the NSL, the club has held aspirations to return to the top competition for football clubs in Australia. On 14 February 2007, South Melbourne announced their interest in becoming the second Victorian club in the A-League.[39] In June 2008 South Melbourne FC sent a letter of interest to join the league[40] and lodged an application for the second Melbourne licence as part of the Southern Cross FC consortium, but on 26 September 2008 the Football Federation Australia announced[41] it was commencing exclusive negotiations with the rival 'Melbourne Heart FC' bid which went on to join the competition for the 2010-11 A-League season.

In March 2013 it was revealed that the club was in negotiations to take a stake in the cash-strapped Central Coast Mariners, but talks cooled off when the Mariners ownership structure was consolidated under Mike Charlesworth.[42] In April 2013, the club was revealed to have made several offers to take a 100% stake in Melbourne Heart FC which were rejected by the Melbourne Heart management.[43]

Current squad[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Australia GK Jason Saldaris
2 Australia DF Timothy Mala
3 Australia DF Andrew Mullett
4 New Zealand DF Michael Eagar (Captain)
6 Australia DF Dimitri Tsiaras
7 Australia MF Nick Epifano
8 Australia MF Matthew Theodore
9 Australia FW Milos Lujic
10 Australia MF Tyson Holmes
11 Australia DF Bradley Norton
12 Australia MF Iqi Jawadi
No. Position Player
14 New Zealand DF James Musa
15 Australia MF Kobbie Boahene
17 Wales FW Jamie Reed
18 Australia MF Dion Kirk
19 England DF Shaun Kelly Injured
21 Australia GK Christopher Maynard
23 Australia MF Andy Kecojevic
25 Republic of Ireland DF Shaun Timmins
26 Australia MF Joshua Meaker
27 Australia FW Leigh Minopoulos
77 Australia MF Steven Hatzikostas

2014 mid season transfers[edit]

Transfers in

Transfers out

Competition timeline[edit]

Season League Cup Confedeartion Other Top scorer
Pld W D L GF GA Pts Position Finals Player(s) Goals
1977 11th
1978 3rd
1979 14th
1980 3rd
1981 2nd
1982 6th
1983 4th
1984 1st
1985 1st
1986 7th
1987 6th Runner-up
1988 3rd
1989 8th
1989–90 2nd Champion
1990–91 2nd
1991–92 3rd
1992–93 1st Semi-final
1993–94 2nd Preliminary-final Semi-final
1994–95 6th Semi-final
1995–96 8th Champion
1996–95 3rd Preliminary-final Semi-final
1997–98 1st Champion
1998–99 2nd Champion
1999–00 10th Champion Group-stage
2000–01 1st Runner-up
2001–02 5th Semi-final
2002–03 7th Preliminary-final
2003–04 5th Semi-final
2005 3rd
2006 3rd Champion
2007 7th
2008 9th
2009 5th Elimination-final
2010 6th
2011 4th Semi-final Round 5
2012 6th Round 5
2013 4th Semi-final Semi-final

Honours[edit]

Records[edit]

Top goal scorers[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Oceania's club of the Century". IFFHS official website. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j South Melbourne FC
  3. ^ http://www.smfc.com.au/history/origins/
  4. ^ 1960 Victorian Metropolitan League Division One North – Final Table
  5. ^ 1961 Victorian State League – Final Table
  6. ^ a b c d Victorian Premier League Champions
  7. ^ 1971 Victorian State League – Final Table
  8. ^ a b c d 2001 National Soccer League Playoff results
  9. ^ 1975 Victorian State League – Final Table
  10. ^ Hay, 2006, The World Game Downunder, pp 121–122
  11. ^ a b http://www.smfc.com.au/history/1980-s/
  12. ^ Australian Soccer
  13. ^ Australian Soccer
  14. ^ Australian Soccer
  15. ^ Dockerty Cup Winners
  16. ^ Australian Soccer
  17. ^ Australian Soccer
  18. ^ Australian Soccer
  19. ^ http://www.ozfootball.net/ark/NSL/9293/Playoff.html
  20. ^ Australian Soccer
  21. ^ Australian Soccer
  22. ^ Australia – List of Final Tables
  23. ^ Australian Soccer
  24. ^ Australian Soccer
  25. ^ Australian Soccer
  26. ^ 1997 National Soccer League Playoff results
  27. ^ 1998 National Soccer League Playoff results
  28. ^ 1999 National Soccer League Playoff results
  29. ^ Australian Soccer
  30. ^ Australian Soccer
  31. ^ Australian Soccer
  32. ^ 2002 National Soccer League Playoff results
  33. ^ Australian Soccer
  34. ^ <http://www.ozfootball.net/ark/NSL/20032004/ALTable.html
  35. ^ 2004 National Soccer League Playoff results
  36. ^ 2005 Victorian Premier League – 2005 Season Results
  37. ^ a b c 2006 Victorian Premier League – Final Table
  38. ^ 2006 Vodafone Cup – 2006 Season Results
  39. ^ http://www.smfc.com.au/news/450/investors-chase-south-melbourne-fc-for-a-league-bid/
  40. ^ http://www.smfc.com.au/news/661/melbourne-a-league-bid/
  41. ^ http://www.smfc.com.au/news/677/southern-cross-fc-bid-rejected-by-ffa
  42. ^ http://theworldgame.sbs.com.au/news/1144882/cash-splash-keeps-mariners-afloat
  43. ^ http://www.foxsports.com.au/football/a-league/south-melbourne-fc-launch-bold-multi-million-dollar-bid-to-buy-a-league-club-melbourne-heart/story-e6frf4gl-1226634173348#.UYej8utMYX0
  44. ^ Australian Soccer
  45. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k South Melbourne FC
  46. ^ 1960 Victorian Metropolitan League Division One North – Season Results
  47. ^ 1964 Victorian State League – Season Results

External links[edit]

Preceded by
St George
NSL Champions
1984
Succeeded by
Brunswick Juventus
Preceded by
Sydney Olympic
NSL Champions
1990/91
Succeeded by
Adelaide City
Preceded by
Brisbane Strikers
NSL Champions
1997/98-1998/99
Succeeded by
Wollongong Wolves
Preceded by
Adelaide City
(1987)
OFC Champions League Champions
1999
Succeeded by
Wollongong Wolves
(2000–01)