Rockdale City Suns FC
|Full name||Rockdale Ilinden Football Club|
|Ground||Bicentennial Park South,
|Website||Club home page|
Rockdale Ilinden Football Club (commonly known as the Rockdale City Suns Football Club), founded in 1969, is an Australian soccer club based in Sydney suburb of Rockdale and competes in the highest men's competition in New South Wales, the NSW Premier League. The Club's home ground is Bicentennial Park South, located in the suburb of Rockdale, New South Wales.
The Rockdale Ilinden Soccer Club was formed in 1969 by a group of Macedonian Australians who gave the team the name "Ilinden" which has special meaning for all Macedonians throughout history. The club’s first President Simon Zipevski laid the foundations as did the late Vlade Temelkovski who was President in 1978. The name Ilinden represents the Macedonian people’s struggle for freedom, justice, and recognition.
On the field, the highlights would have to be the grand final wins (of different leagues) in 1984, 2002 and 2006. The 1984 NSW First Division grand final team was coached by Ilija Takac, winning 3–2 over Inter Monaro at Marconi Stadium and is firmly entrenched in the memories of the Rockdale Ilinden supporters.
It took 18 years for Rockdale Ilinden to rejoice another First Grade Grand Final victory. In 2002 the coaching team of Mile Todoroski and Bill Pilovski led the team to an amazing Premiership/Championship double with only 1 loss in 24 games. In the grand final, they would meet the Hajduk Wanderers (who Rockdale defeated 5 goals to 3 just two weeks earlier in the semi final) in very rainy and windy conditions at the Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre. The team was captained by Spase Najdoski who scored the only goal in the game which in turn was the winning goal in the grand final in front of a crowd of 3000 at Melita Stadium.
Four years later in 2006, Rockdale Ilinden would claim another grand final victory this time over Penrith Nepean United. Rockdale won 1–0 in front of a crowd of 2000 at Melita Stadium. Penrith Nepean United would gain promotion to the New South Wales Premier League as Rockdale's application would be denied by Football NSW due to the Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre not meeting specific stadium criteria for the Premier League.
The Rockdale Ilinden Soccer Club has been led by a wide array of coaching identities over their history. Some of these coaches were great players in their playing days. Kaz Kulak, Archie Blue, Ilija Takac, Ati Abonyi, Ljubo Gojkovic, Geoff Hoggart, John Fleming (1980s), Ljubo Jancev, Bill Pilovski, Manfred Schaefer, Risto Gojkovski, Rale Rasic, Doug Utjesenovic, Bill Temelkovski, Bill Boskovski, Gerry Gomez (1990s), Mile Todoroski, Ivan Petkovic, Zlatko Nastevski and current coach Mike Grbevski.
Mile Todorovski, the 2008 Super League Coach of the Year was announced as the new coach for the 2009 season with all members/guests and players welcoming the announcement. Lee Sterrey, formerly the coach of Marconi Stallions, replaced him for the 2011 Premier League season. Hugo Sanchez was also named as the new Youth League Head Coach. The Club Committee also announced STOBI Int. as the new supplier of the playing strip and accessories for the 2009 season and beyond.
The 2009 Super League season officially began on 15 March 2009 with Rockdale Ilinden drawing 1–1 with the Northern Tigers at the Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre. The club finished the season in first place on the ladder, claiming the Premiership and advancing to the finals. They were, however, eliminated during the preliminary final by the eventual champions Spirit FC 2 goals to nil.
The 2013 Season saw the appointment of Branko Culina as Head coach, along with Ivan Petkovic as his assistant. The 2013 season has been the most successful season since promotion into the NSW Premier League with the Rockdale City Suns finishing 4th in the regular season, beating Marconi Stallions, Sutherland Sharks and Sydney United on the road to the Grand Final, before going down to eventual winner, Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 1-0 in front of nearly 6,000 people at Penrith (Centrebet) Stadium.
The 2014 season saw the Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre hosted the inaugural launch of the Westfield FFA Cup on 24 February. On the field, the Suns finished in 5th place, bowing out to Sydney Olympic 2-1 in the first week of the finals.
In 2015, Rockdale parted ways with Branko Culina after an indifferent start to the NPL NSW season, appointing the experienced Paul Reid as Player/Coach. 2015 was also the first year that the Suns qualified for the FFA Cup, beating Rydalmere Lions, Arncliffe Aurora, Sydney University and Sutherland Sharks, and drawing Perth Soccer Club in the National Round of 32, to be played at the Ilinden Sports Centre on 5 August 2015.
Colours and badge
The primary club colours of Rockdale Ilinden are red and black with a secondary, less-used colour of white.
The Rockdale Ilinden badge was created and used since the clubs founding in 1969. It contains the ancient solar symbol known as the Macedonian star, with the centre disc replaced by a traditional black and white soccer ball surrounded by the name of the club.
From its founding in 1969 through to 2009, the Club played their home games at the Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre, except during 2001, when the proximity of construction of the M5 East Freeway caused them to relocate their home games to John Crehan Park in Wollongong, New South Wales. The club continued to enjoy considerable support during this time, due in part to the size of the Macedonian community in the Illawarra Region.
In 2008, the club announced that they would be moving 1 km south from the Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre to Bicentennial Park South in Rockdale. Bicentennial Park South was to be transformed into a new football ground meeting the stadium standards of Football NSW, with new turf laid, an underground irrigation system installed, and a new clubhouse and facilities building constructed.
The Ilinden Sports Centre comprises a large modern club house, undercover seating for 1000 spectators, floodlighting to enable night matches to be played, and a state of the art pop up sprinkler system for the playing field.
Youth teams and Juniors occupy the nearby sporting fields of Bicentennial Park East, which adjoins the main ground of the club by a footbridge.
Many supporters of the Suns are traditionally of Macedonian background. The active supporter known as "Komiti Sydney" are present at most fixtures. The Rockdale City Suns are widely regarded as one of the best supported sides in the NPL New South Wales, making the Ilinden Sports centre one of the most imposing venues to visit for opposition teams.
Chairman and coaches
The current President of the club is Dennis Loether. The current first grade and under-20s coaches are Paul Reid and Archilleas Markopolous, respectively. The Club's Technical Director is Mr. Michael Grbevski. The previous Chairman was Paul Goreski.
- NSW Premier League:
- Champions (1): 1984 (Division One)
Runners up 2013 Semi finalists 2014
- NSW Super League:
- Premiers (3): 1983, 2002, 2009
- Champions (2): 2002, 2006
- "Rockdale City Suns History".
- "Lee Sterrey to lead the Suns in 2011".
- "Super League Round 1 vs. Northern Tigers".
- "2010 Football NSW Premier League Circular" (PDF).
- "Rockdale City Suns shining bright for the future". Retrieved 3 Feb 2010.
- "Bicentennial and Scarborough Park Upgrade Plans" (PDF).
- "Rockdale City Suns FC open Bicentennial Park". Retrieved 3 Feb 2010.