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South Melbourne FC

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

South Melbourne
South Melbourne FC logo.svg
Full nameSouth Melbourne Football Club
Founded1959; 63 years ago (1959)
GroundLakeside Stadium
Capacity12,000 (7,400 seated)[1]
CaptainBradley Norton
ChairmanBill Papastergiadis
CoachEstaban Quintas
LeagueNPL Victoria
2021season cancelled
(note 2020 season also cancelled)
WebsiteClub website

South Melbourne Football Club is an Australian semi-professional soccer club based in suburb of Albert Park, in Melbourne, Victoria. The club currently competes in the National Premier Leagues Victoria, with matches played at Lakeside Stadium.

The club was founded in 1959 by Greek migrants following World War 2 as South Melbourne Hellas, with a basis in the Greek community.

The club has won four Australian national championships, a string of Victorian State League titles, numerous Dockerty Cups 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 was chosen by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics as the Oceania team of the 20th century and as Australia's most successful club.[2]



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.[3][4] 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 Greek national flag. The first uniform consisted of jersey of white with a red 'V' around the collar, the was[clarification needed] 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.


South Melbourne won the Victorian First Division (North) championship of 1960,[5] 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.[6] With a number of astute signings—Scottish journeyman Tommy Anderson (George Cross), Ernie Ackerley (Manchester United), Leo Damianakos (Kalamata), Jim Pyrgolios (Panathinaikos) and Andreas Roussis, formerly of Panathinaikos and Apollon Athens[4]—the club won the division championship in 1962, 1964, and 1965.[7] In 1965, South Melbourne secured the services of 35-year-old former AEK Athens star, Kostas Nestoridis as player-coach. The result was a significant increase in crowd attendances and a fourth league title in 1966.[7] 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.[4]


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,[8] but with Armstrong scoring goals aplenty, South Melbourne went on to win the championship in 1972.[7] The season also saw coach Bill Curran consolidate the first team's strength by signing midfielder Peter Bourne (Burnley) and promoting highly skilled youngsters Giovanni Batticiotto, Fethon Ileris[4] and Bill Hasapis.[9] The club continued its successful run with the 1974 title,[7] second place in 1975,[10] 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.[4]

National Soccer League

South Melbourne joined Mooroolbark, Heidelberg United, and Footscray JUST as Melbourne's participants in the newly formed National Soccer League (NSL) in 1977 which was Australia's first sporting national competition.[11] 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 as South Melbourne finished at the bottom of the league table in 1979.[4]


The first club emblem.
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.[12] 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.[12] South Melbourne finished first on the league ladder in 1984,[13] 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.[4]

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,[14] it was knocked out of the finals series by local rivals Brunswick Juventus and Preston.[15] 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.[4] 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 Footballing icon 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.[16]

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 ongoing 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.


The club's change of fortune continued next season, with the club winning its second national championship, beating rivals Melbourne Croatia on penalties after a tense 1–1 score line in normal time with many describing it as one of Australian footballs best matches.[17] With Croatia dominating most of the proceedings, striker Joe Palatsides was put through on goal by Paul Trimboli who equalised with the last kick of the game.

The team boasted some of the finest Australian football talent in Paul Fernandes, 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.[18]

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.[19] South Melbourne was again eliminated during the finals series by Adelaide City and Marconi-Fairfield, the latter inflicting a 7–0 thrashing.[20][21] In 1993/94, the club finished second,[22] but failed yet again to progress to the Grand Final, courtesy of Melbourne Croatia and their nemesis, Adelaide City.[23] 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,[24] but was eliminated again in the Preliminary Final by the Melbourne Knights in a 3-2 thriller in the rain with a hattrick to Mark Viduka.[25] Arok left the club after a disappointing 1995/96 season, which saw South miss the finals for the first time since 1989.[26]

Name and emblem change

The club emblem during South Melbourne's brief appearance as the Lakers.
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 team, the L.A. Lakers, who threatened legal action.[27]

Under new coach and former captain Ange Postecoglou, the club bounced back in season 1996/97, finishing third on the table[28] and eventually being eliminated by Sydney United in the Preliminary Final.[29] 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 chip by Boutsianis sending the crowd into pandemonium.[30] That win was followed up in 1999 by a come-from-behind 3–2 win against Sydney United in the Grand Final which was the first time the club had gone back-to-back since the glory days of the 1960s. This win would be Hellas' 4th and final national championship.[31] 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.[4]

2000–04 Taking on the World

Grouped with Vasco Da Gama, Necaxa, and the treble-winning Manchester United in the 2000 FIFA Club World Championships, South Melbourne lost all three games. Despite the losses and being the only non-professional club at the tournament, 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.[32] 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 teammate Mike Petersen.[4] At the end of the 2000/01 home and away season, South had finished a comfortable 8 points clear of Wollongong,[33] but lost both legs of its major semi final against the Wolves 2–1,[9] meaning South would have to win the preliminary final in order to earn a rematch. South duly did so with a 2–0 victory over Sydney Olympic, but in the grand final put in a lacklustre performance, with a late revival not being enough once more losing 2–1.[9]

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 Krncevic struggled, occupying the bottom rungs of the table halfway through the season, before the return in controversial circumstances of Boutsianis sparked a major revival, which saw the club finish fifth in the standings,[34] eventually being eliminated by eventual champions Olympic Sharks in the finals.[35]

Krnčević was replaced by former player Danny Wright for the 2002/03 season, but the club failed to reach the finals by a point.[36] Stuart Munro took over as coach for the 2003/04 season, with the club finishing fifth,[37] eventually being eliminated by a penalty deep into extra time against Adelaide United[38] 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 licence for an 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

South Melbourne celebrate their 2006 VPL title
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.[39] 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,[40] including a record 7–0 thrashing of old foe Melbourne Knights.[41] South eventually progressed to the final by defeating Green Gully and Altona Magic in successive weeks.[40] 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,[40] 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-1990s 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 re-development 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.

In July 2013, Tsolakis resigned from his post after the board sacked five senior squad members without his consultation[42] and the club appointed former Sunshine George Cross FC, Melbourne Knights and Dandenong Thunder manager Chris Taylor on a two-year deal. South finished the season in fourth place.

In 2014, the club entered the National Premier Leagues Victoria competition, which replaced the old Victorian Premier League. South had a fantastic season, taking out their first league title since their 2000–01 NSL title. In the NPL National Finals Series, South Melbourne beat South Hobart FC 1–0 at South Hobart Ground,[43] but lost to North Eastern MetroStars SC in the semi-final 2–1.[44]

In 2015, the club retained the NPL Victoria premiership, but lost to rivals Bentleigh Greens SC in the Grand Final. South also won the Dockerty Cup, but lost to Palm Beach SC in the 2015 FFA Cup Round of 32.

South Melbourne then recruited the likes of Matthew Foschini, Matt Millar and Marcus Schroen for the following season.[45][46] South got season 2016 off on a bad note, losing the FFV Community Shield 3–0 to Bentleigh, but opened the NPL Victoria season on an emphatic note, beating traditional rivals Heidelberg United 6–0 in front of over 3,000 fans at Lakeside.[47] On 30 March 2016, South Melbourne announced that it had secured a 40-year lease of Lakeside Stadium, with the club now "able to commence building its new administrational offices, museum, futsal court and bistro / social room in its exclusive areas."[48] South bowed out of the 2016 FFA Cup Qualifying Rounds at the final qualifying round, losing 4–0 to rivals Bentleigh Greens.[49] The club finished in 3rd place in the league,[50] but went on to win the Championship through the finals series, beating Hume City 3-0 and then Oakleigh Cannons 3–2 in the grand final.[51] South Melbourne began construction on its exclusive areas at Lakeside Stadium in October 2016, with the development including the building of a new social club, futsal court and club offices.[52]

In 2017, South finished runners-up in the league behind traditional rivals Heidelberg United. In the finals series, Hellas lost to eventual champions Bentleigh Greens in a penalty shoot-out in the semi-final. After reaching the 2017 FFA Cup national stages, South Melbourne defeated Edgeworth, Sorrento and Gold Coast City to reach the semi-finals where they hosted Sydney at Lakeside Stadium, eventually going down 5–1 to the reigning A-League champions in front of almost 6,000 people.

On the eve of the 2018 season, manager Chris Taylor and the club parted ways after four and a half seasons.[53] He was replaced by South Melbourne's U-20 manager Saša Kolman.

In the off-season, South announced that Con Tangalakis had been appointed as the club's senior head coach on a permanent basis after guiding the club to survival while on an interim basis the season prior.[54] The club then farewelled three-time NPL Golden Boot and five-time club Golden Boot winner Milos Lujic after five years of service to the club.[55] After a start to the season which saw the club manage two wins, a draw and four losses, leaving South in 11th place, senior coach Con Tangalakis offered his resignation and to-date senior assistant coach Estaban Quintas was appointed in a caretaker role to see out the 2019 season.[56]


From its formation in 1959, Hellas played its home game at Middle Park Stadium. The ground with an 18,000 seat capacity was a fully enclosed venue by 1960, and a grandstand built by South Melbourne Hellas and Melbourne Hakoah, partly with funds lent to it by the Albert Park management authority was opened in the May 1961. The stadium saw many sellout crowds as South Melbourne made the jump to state league club to National league in 1977.

In 1993, the Victorian Government made a successful bid to bring the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix to Melbourne with the agreement that the running track would be in Albert Park. South Melbourne were forced to move from their home ground due to the installation of the track. On October 23, 1994, the final match at Middle Park was played as South Melbourne hosted traditional rivals Heidelberg Alexander beating them 4-1 in front of a sold out crowd.

South Melbourne moved to Lakeside Stadium in 1995. The stadium was built with a capacity of 14,000 people. A grandstand with an approximate capacity of 3,000 people was situated on one side, with a social club, reception centre and administrative facilities built in, while the other three sides of the ground consisted of open terraces with wooden seats. At one stage, a second two tiered stand for the outer side was proposed, but only preliminary plans were produced.

As well as being the home of South Melbourne FC, the venue also hosted games by the Socceroos, Young Socceroos, Australia's national women's team the Matildas, and grand finals and finals matches of the Victorian Premier League (now National Premier Leagues Victoria). It has also been a training base for the Greece national football team, France national football team and the Brazilian football national team.

In May 2008, the state government announced that Lakeside Stadium would undergo a major redevelopment, in order to accommodate an athletics track, as part of moving Athletics Victoria from Olympic Park. The Victorian Institute of Sport, Athletics Victoria and South Melbourne FC would share tenancy of the venue. Major Projects Victoria committed $60 million to the project. South Melbourne played its final match under the old Lakeside Stadium's in April 2010, and construction work on the remodelled venue began in June 2010. Under the remodelling, the old grandstand stand was refurbished to house the VIS and included a state of the art gym, swimming pool and clubrooms. A blue running track in reference to the home colour of the club was also constructed for the Athletics division.

Today, Lakeside Stadium is one of Australia's premiere stadiums.

A panorama of Lakeside Stadium before the 2021 FFA Cup match between South Melbourne and Melbourne City


Being one of the top placed sides since their inception, South have numerous rivalries stemming from their participation in the State Leagues, National Soccer League and VPL/NPL.


South Melbourne have traditionally been one of the most well supported Football clubs in Australia following them through countries and states. Their supporters have been noted for their vocal support and their dedication shown through banners and flags.

Currently the main supporter faction is known as the Clarendon Corner which has been present since the last few years of the NSL and place themselves in the corner of the stadium. Prior to that the 'Hellas fans' would traditionally place themselves behind the goal South was shooting at in large numbers.

A-League aspirations

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.[57] In June 2008 South Melbourne FC sent a letter of interest to join the league[58] 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[59] 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.[60] In April 2013, the club was revealed to have made several offers to take a 100 per cent stake in Melbourne Heart FC; however, these offers were rejected.[61] Melbourne Heart management subsequently accepted an offer from Manchester City F.C.

In November 2016, it was reported that South Melbourne intended to submit a bid for an A-League licence, with the club intending to continue playing home games at Lakeside Stadium, if the bid is successful.[62][63] Following this news, the club provisionally appointed Brazil and Real Madrid legend Roberto Carlos as the team's head coach should they be granted an expansion slot.[64]

South Melbourne submitted a bid to join the expanded A-League in September 2018;[65] however, were unsuccessful once again when, in December 2018, new consortium Western Melbourne FC was selected instead.

Current squad

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK Australia AUS Pierce Clark
2 DF Australia AUS Lirim Elmazi
3 DF Australia AUS Perry Lambropoulos
5 DF Australia AUS Jake Marshall
7 MF Australia AUS Chris Irwin
8 MF Australia AUS Luke Pavlou
9 FW Australia AUS Harry Sawyer
10 MF Australia AUS Marcus Schroen
11 DF Australia AUS Bradley Norton (Captain)
12 FW Australia AUS Freddie Sey
14 MF Australia AUS Josh Wallen
No. Pos. Nation Player
15 DF Australia AUS Marco Jankovic
20 MF Australia AUS Zac Bates
21 MF Australia AUS Matthew Loutrakis
22 MF Australia AUS Daniel Clark
24 DF Australia AUS Ben Djiba
26 FW Australia AUS Yianni Panakos
27 MF Turkey TUR Esad Saglam
33 MF Australia AUS Jayden Illiovski
36 DF Australia AUS Sasha Murphy
37 GK Australia AUS James Burgess
45 MF Australia AUS Gerry Sylaidos

Competition timeline

South Melbourne won 8 premierships, 2 Dockerty Cups, and 2 Ampol Cups before their entrance into the National Soccer League (NSL) in 1977. In the 1984 season they won their first NSL premiership and their first championship, defeating Sydney Olympic 4–2 over a 2-legged Grand Final. They won another 4 premierships and 3 championships, only in the 1997–98 season winning the double again, before the NSL folded in 2004. The club didn't enter the newly formed national competition, the A-League, due to the bidding process and 1 team for 1 state rule, and returned to playing at state level, entering the Victorian Premier League. Since then they've won 2 premierships and 2 championships, with the most recent being in 2016.





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External links

Preceded by NSL Champions
Succeeded by
Preceded by NSL Champions
Succeeded by
Preceded by NSL Champions
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Preceded by OFC Champions League Champions
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