St George FC

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St George FC
Logo of the St. George Saints FC
Full nameSt George Football Club
Nickname(s)Saints, Budapest
Founded1957
GroundSt George Stadium
Capacity6,000
Head CoachesMr Joe Di Giulio and Mr Jeff Suzor
LeagueNPL NSW 2
201910th
WebsiteClub website

St George FC, commonly called Saints or Budapest, is a semi-professional Australian association football club based in the St George district in the south of Sydney. The club was founded by Hungarian immigrants in 1957 as Budapest Club and by 1965 was renamed to St. George-Budapest Club.

One of the top clubs of Australia from the 1960s to the 1980s, St George currently competes in the third-highest tier of Australian association football, the National Premier Leagues NSW 2. Their home ground was the St George Stadium, but due to its dilapidated state, St George played youth and senior fixtures out of Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre in and 2019.

St George FC Women compete in the National Premier League Womens New South Wales 2 League, third tier of Australian women's association football.

History[edit]

The club was formed shortly after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 by Hungarian Immigrants and was originally known as Budapest. In the 1960s, led by pioneering football administrator Alex Pongrass, it became one of the first ethnic clubs in NSW to search for a district to call home and it chose the St George district. It later became known as St George-Budapest before shortening its name to St George some years later. They opened a licensed club, named Soccer House, in the suburb of Mortdale in 1968. In 1969 Frank Arok, the first full-time coach in Australia was appointed, serving two stints as coach, the last ending in 1983 when he left to coach the Socceroos. In between Arok's two stints as coach, Rale Rasic was coach, coaching the club at the same time as he was coaching the Socceroos. In 1971 the club was invited to an international club tournament in Tokyo, Japan. It won and remained the highest ever international achievement by an Australian club side, until Sydney FC won the Oceania Club Championship in 2005 and then Western Sydney Wanderers won the Asian Champions League in 2014. In 2005 Sydney FC went on to achieve 5th place at the World Club Championship where in 2014 Western Sydney Wanderers could only manage 6th place.

Such was the dominance of St George in those days that up to 10 players on the national team would be St George players. In 1974 the team set a record for the most players from any one club side on a World Cup team when 5 of their players were on the Australian side that started against East Germany in the World Cup that year in West Germany, including the vice-captain of the side, the late Australian footballing legend Johnny Warren. Another notable player (albeit at a lower level), was football commentator Les Murray. Together with Warren they would become known as "Mr and Mrs Soccer"[1] and would become the faces of football in Australia through their commentary work on SBS Television.

In 1975 at the urging of some former Hungarian soccer greats and youth coach Bob Szatmari, the meeting determined to establish the Australian National Soccer League took place at Soccer House with representatives from all founding clubs, including Hakoah Club (later known as Eastern Suburbs and Sydney City) president and Westfield Group founder and chairman Frank Lowy and Leslie Szatmari. The competition started in 1977 and St. George-Budapest won the competition in 1983. They played in the league until the 1990/91 season. Since then they have played in state competitions. In 2005 the side was controversially axed from the new look New South Wales Premier League and took legal action against the decision along with the Bonnyrigg White Eagles, but were unsuccessful.

Recent history[edit]

In 2012 St George competed in the New South Wales Super League, the second tier of state football, finishing seventh out of twelve clubs and missing out on the finals.[2] In 2013, St George were promoted from the NPL NSW Men's 2 after taking out the league championship, finishing seven points ahead of the second placed Macarthur Rams FC. The club also won the Grand Final, beating the Rams in the semi-final 2–1 and then beating Mounties Wanderers FC 3–1 in the final. The joy was not to last long, though, as in 2014, the club was immediately relegated back to the second tier of football in NSW. Managing just four wins and four draws in 22 games, St George finished dead last in the top tier. The Saints endured another tough season in 2015, finishing third last in the NPL NSW Men's 2.

In 2017 the club played most senior home fixtures out of Seymour Shaw Park, also playing one game at St George Stadium, Fraser Park and Blacktown Football Park. This didn't seem to deter St George as the side finished in 2nd place, losing the semi final to Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC 4-2.[3][4]

Due to the dilapidated state of St George Stadium, the club played senior fixtures out of Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre in 2018 and 2019. In 2018, St George finished in 2nd place in the league and won the NPL NSW 2 grand final, but were not promoted due to the 'Club Championship' ranking which takes into consideration the performance of the U20 and U18 sides. In 2019, St George finished 10th in the 14-team NPL NSW 2 season.[5]

During the 2019 season, St George reached the FFA Cup round of 32 after beating clubs such as SD Raiders, APIA Leichhardt Tigers and Dulwich Hill, but lost to Sydney United 58 in a 5-3 thriller after two goals from Mushi Kokubo and a stoppage time equaliser.

Honours[edit]

Champions: 1983
Runner Up: 1982
Runner Up: 1979
Champions: 1967, 1971, 1974, 1975, 1981
Runner Up: 1962, 1964, 1965, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1976
Minor Premiers: 1962, 1972, 1976
Winners 1964, 1972
Runner Up: 1966, 1974
Champions: 2013, 2018

Season results[edit]

Season League Place Cup
1961 NSW 1 7th
1962 NSW 1 1st
1963 NSW 1 6th
1964 NSW 1 2nd
1965 NSW 1 2nd
1966 NSW 1 3rd
1967 NSW 1 2nd
1968 NSW 1 11
1969 NSW 1 2nd
1970 NSW 1 2nd
1971 NSW 1 2nd
1972 NSW 1 1st
1973 NSW 1 3rd
1974 NSW 1 3rd
1975 NSW 1 2nd
1976 NSW 1 1st
1977 NSL 6th
1978 NSL 7th
1979 NSL 11th 2nd
1980 NSL 14th
1981 NSW 1 2nd
1982 NSL 2nd
1983 NSL 1st
1984 NSL 10th
1985 NSL 5th
1986 NSL 3rd
1987 NSL 3rd
1988 NSL 8th
1989 NSL 2nd 3rd
1989–90 NSL 10th
1990 NSW 1 4th
1990–91 NSL 10th
1992 NSW 2 11th
1993 NSW 2 11th
1994 NSW 1 10th
1995 NSW 2 5th
1996 NSW 2 10th
1996 NSW 2 3rd
1997 NSW 2 9th
1998 NSW 2 12th
1999 NSW 3
2000 NSW 2 4th
2012 NSW 2 7th
2013 NSW 2 1st
2014 NSW 1

Notable players[edit]

  • Argentina Osvaldo Ardiles joined St. George Saints FC for the Australian 1985 National Soccer League season on loan from Tottenham Hotspur. He was included in the List of NSL players, which was constructed exclusively to those players who had made at least one appearance in the competition between 1977 and 2004.
  • Ghana Francis Adoboe participated in the Australian 1989 National Soccer League season and was included in the List of NSL players, which was constructed exclusively to those players who had made at least one appearance in the competition between 1977 and 2004.
  • Paraguay Isadore Acosta became the first Paraguayan footballer to play association football in Australia.[6] Acosta played as a forward and finished 7th with St George Saints FC in the Australian 1978 National Soccer League season, making one appearance as a substitute in a 1–0 home loss against West Adelaide SC on 4 June. Acosta entered the field as a substitute in the 40th minute for Carlos Mendez and was replaced in the 75th minute for Emery Holmik.[7] Acosta was included in the List of NSL players, which was constructed exclusively to those players who had made at least one appearance in the competition between 1977 and 2004.
  • Scotland Fred Aitken participated in the Australian 1977 National Soccer League season and was included in the List of NSL players, which was constructed exclusively to those players who had made at least one appearance in the competition between 1977 and 2004.
  • England Roy Cotton participated in the 1979, 1980, 1981, 1985 and 1986 National Soccer League seasons, across two spells with the club.
  • Australia Mike Denton played for the club from 1969 to 1973NSW Federationin the Glory days with Johnny Warren, Adrian Alston, Attila "Ottie" Abonyi, Manfred Schaefer, Alan Ainslie, Dragan "Dougie" Ujtesenovic and many other Australian internationals and legends of 74. Played 14 times for Australia on 1970 world tour scoring 6 goals.
  • Samoa Chris Cahill brother of Australia's all-time top goal scorer Tim Cahill was born in Sydney but played for Samoa three times and scored in two of those appearances. Cahill played for St George from 2006 to 2012.
  • Canada Damien Gibson brother of Australia's all-time top goal scorer Lara Gibson was born in Newcastle but played for Canada three times and scored in two of those appearances. Gibson played for St George from 2006 to 2019.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Andy Harper. "Mr and Mrs Soccer / Andy Harper". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
  2. ^ Men's Super League 2012 final table. Retrieved 30 January 2013
  3. ^ "Ladder for 1st - PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men's 2017". SportsTG. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  4. ^ "St George FC Season Fixture in Football NSW - NPL". SportsTG. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  5. ^ "Ladder for 1st - NPL 2 NSW Men's 2019". SportsTG. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  6. ^ http://www.ozfootball.net/ark/Players/A/AA.html
  7. ^ http://www.ozfootball.net/ark/NSL/1978/Round14.html

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Sydney City
NSL Champions
1983
Succeeded by
South Melbourne