Bentleigh Greens SC
|Full name||Bentleigh Greens Soccer Club|
|Nickname(s)||The Greens, Pagkyprio|
|Ground||Kingston Heath Soccer Complex|
|2015||2nd (League), Winner (Finals)|
|Website||Club home page|
Bentleigh Greens Soccer Club is an Australian semi-professional soccer club based in Cheltenham, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria. The club was formed in 1986, by the Greek Cypriot community and currently competes in the National Premier Leagues Victoria. They spent the years 1996–2005 in the Victorian Premier League, becoming finalists 4 times.
Formation and Early Years
In 1986, a small group of former members of Cypriot Community's Soccer Club, Central City, met at 15–17 Heffernan Lane. This group determined to create a strong Greek Cypriot based team in Melbourne. There were two previous failed attempts, one in the mid-1950s and secondly Central City from 1977 to 1983 which ran under the control of the Cyprus Community of Melbourne and Victoria from 1977 to 1980.
The "Founders" at this initial meeting were Michael Christopher, Ray Georgiou, Andrew Nicolaou, Michael Iaonnou, Harry Theocharous, Phillip Philippou, Tony Antoniou and Harry Constantinou. After making a huge fund raising effort and gathering together 150 foundation members we were able to take over Greensborough and move it to Victory Park in the City of Moorabbin. The name of the club was changed to Bentleigh Greens.
Rise to the Victorian Premier League
The club competed in the First Division of the Provisional League in 1987 season. That year the club finished runners up to Chelsea on goal difference, achieving promotion to Victorian League Division 4. The club was promoted to Division 3 in 1989 after a second-place finish, after just two years in Division 4. Bentleigh amazingly were promoted to Division 2 in 1990, having just been promoted to Division 3 that year. Two more promotions followed in 1993 and 1995, taking the Greens from Division 2 to the Victorian Premier League for the first time in the club's history. The 1995 promotion was the fifth promotion for the club in nine years, marking a very impressive rise through the ranks of Victorian football for the recently established Bentleigh side.
Bentleigh went into their first ever VPL campaign under the management of Harry Chalkitis, managing a fourth-place finish and qualifying for the finals series. The Greens met Green Gully SC in the elimination final, but went down 3–1. The following campaign was even stronger for Bentleigh, finishing runners-up in the regular season, finishing just two points behind winners Altona Magic, but then lost 4–1 to Green Gully in the qualifying final and 2–1 to Bulleen Inter Kings in the semi-final to crash out. Mark Bresciano scored the winner for Bulleen Inter that day.
Bentleigh were relegated in 2005, going down to the Victorian State League Division 1 for the first time since 1995. The side finished bottom of the league, managing just 16 points in 26 games. The Greens narrowly avoided successive relegations, finishing 10th in a 12 team league with the bottom two going down. The side finished just three points above the relegated Northcote City FC. Bentleigh were promoted back to the top flight in 2009, finishing second with 41 points. The side would have missed out on promotion and finished third had St Albans Saints not been deducted nine points that season. In their first season back in the top flight, the Greens finished in 10th place, one above relegation.
Bentleigh made the VPL grand final in 2013, finishing third in the regular season. On their way to the final, Bentleigh beat Melbourne Knights FC 4–2 and then Northcote City 2–1, but lost to Northcote City in the grand final 3–2 in extra time.
FFA Cup Run and First Major Title
The club made nationwide headlines after making it to the semi-final of the inaugural FFA Cup in 2014. The Greens beat Blacktown City FC 1–0 in the Round of 32, Sydney Olympic FC 2–1 in the Round of 16, Adelaide City FC 2–1 in the quarter finals before going down 3–0 to A-League side Perth Glory FC. The match against Adelaide City was played in front of almost 2,000 people at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex, while the match against Perth Glory drew a reported 3,300 people.
Bentleigh brought in a number of high profile players for the 2015 season, including the likes of Daniel Visevic, Steven Topalovic and Queensland trio Troy Ruthven, Matt Thurtell and Chris Lucas. The season hit a major snag when the Greens were knocked out of the 2015 FFA Cup in the qualifying stages by the unfancied Ballarat Red Devils but ended in fine style with the Club winning its first ever major title when it beat South Melbourne FC at Lakeside Stadium in the Grand Final, 3–1 after extra time. Bentleigh finished runners-up to South Melbourne in the regular season, missing out on the minor and major double on goal difference.
In mid-October 2015, the Greens announced that they had secured 2015 NPL Victoria Gold Medal winner and former Melbourne Heart FC player Kamal Ibrahim as the latest addition to their 2016 roster. Ibrahim was the Greens' second signing of the off season, following the capture of Danny Charalambous earlier in October. Later in the window, it was announced that key first-team players Steven Topalovic, Daniel Visevic, Troy Ruthven and Alistair Bray would not be returning to the club in 2016. Topalović and Višević joined NPL Victoria rivals Oakleigh Cannons FC and Hume City FC respectively, Bray signed for A-League side Central Coast Mariners and Ruthven returned to Queensland, signing for Gold Coast City FC.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
- Victorian Premier League Finalists 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002
- Victorian State League Division 1 Champions 1995
- Victorian State League Division 2 Runners Up 1993
- Victorian State League Division 3 Runners Up 1990
- Victorian State League Division 4 Runners Up 1989
- Hellenic Cup Champions 1991, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003
- Victorian U18 South-South East Champions 2011
- Victorian State U18 Finals Champions 2011
- Victorian Premier League Player of the Year Award
1996 – Ike Alagiozidis 2002 – Jim Kourtis
- Bill Fleming Medal
1996 – Ike Alagiozidis
- Victorian Premier League Coach of the Year Award
1997 – Harry Chalkitis
- Victorian Premier League Leading Goalscorer Award
2002 – Juan Nilo
- Victorian Premier League Goalkeeper of the Year Award
2002 – Jim Kourtis
- Victorian Premier League Under 21 Player of the Year Award
1996 – Vlad Babic
- Kounelis, Jordan. "Alastair Bray and Francesco Stella sign with Central Coast". MFootball. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
- Moran, Shaun. "Ruthven departs NPL champions". MFootball. Retrieved 8 January 2016.