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South Melbourne FC
South Melbourne FC emblem
Full name South Melbourne
Football Club
Nickname(s) Hellas, Lakers, Gunners
Founded 1959
Ground Bob Jane Stadium
Albert Park, Victoria
(Capacity: 14,000[1])
Chairman Australia Nick Galatas
Manager New Zealand Vaughan Coveny
League Victorian Premier League
2009 5th
Home colours
Away colours
Current season
This page relates to the association football club known as South Melbourne FC. For the former Australian rules football club, see Sydney Swans.

South Melbourne Football Club is an Australian association football club based in South Melbourne, Victoria.

Considered the most successful association football club in Australia, they have 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.

According to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics, an international organization recognized by FIFA, South Melbourne were Oceania's best club of the 20th century.[2]




Formation in 1959

The club was formed in 1959 with the amalgamation of three struggling Melbourne football 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]. Theo Marmaras, initiator of the merger proposal and president of Hellenic, became the first president of the new club. 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 was that of South Melbourne United, which consisted of white with a red 'V' around the collar. 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.


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),[3] 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.[3]


In 1970, the club focussed its attention on recruiting local footballers. 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 and Bill Hasapis.[3] The club continued its successful run with the 1974 title,[6] second place in 1975[8], 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.[3]

National Soccer League foundation club

South Melbourne joined Mooroolbark, Heidelberg United, and Footscray JUST as Melbourne’s participants in the newly-formed National Soccer League (NSL) in 1977.[9] 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 McClaren 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.[3]


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 but it failed to make any significant impact. Some solid player signings (Oscar Crino, Doug Brown, Bobby Russell, 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. South Melbourne finished first on the league ladder in 1984[10], but in a newly-restructured NSL competition, it also had to win the finals series to win the title. South became 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.

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.[3]

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[11], it was knocked out of the finals series by local rivals Brunswick Juventus and Preston Lions[12]. 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.[3] 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[13].


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[14]. 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[15].

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[16]. South Melbourne was again eliminated during the finals series by Adelaide City and Marconi-Fairfield, the latter inflicting a 7-0 thrashing.[17] In 1993/94, the club finished second[18], but failed yet again to progress to the Grand Final, courtesy of Melbourne Croatia and their nemesis, Adelaide City[19]. 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 Bob Jane Stadium, on the site of the former Lake Oval. The club finished sixth on the ladder[20], but was eliminated again in the Preliminary Final by the Melbourne Knights[21]. Arok left the club after a disappointing 1995/96 season, which saw South miss the finals for the first time since 1989[22].

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 football 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[23] and eventually being eliminated by Sydney United in the Preliminary Final[24]. 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[25]. That win was followed up in 1999 by a come-from-behind 3-2 win against Sydney United in the Grand Final[26]. 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.[3]


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 football 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[27]. 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.[3] At the end of the 2000/01 home and away season, South had finished a comfortable 8 points clear of Wollongong[28], but lost both legs of its major semi final against the Wolves 2-1[29], 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,[29] but in the grand final put in a lackluster performance, once more losing 2-1.[29]

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[30], eventually being eliminated by eventual champions Olympic Sharks in the finals[31].

Krnčević was replaced by former player Danny Wright for the 2002/03 season, but the club failed to reach the finals by a point[32]. Stuart Munro took over as coach for the 2003/04 season, with the club finishing fifth[33], eventually being eliminated by a penalty deep into extra time against Adelaide United[34] 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

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[35]. 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[36], including a record 7-0 thrashing of old foe Melbourne Knights[37]. South eventually progressed to the final by defeating Green Gully and Altona Magic in successive weeks.[36] 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,[36] 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. 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.

2010/11 A-League Proposal

On 14 February 2007, South Melbourne announced their interest in becoming the second Victorian club in the A-League. In June 2008 South Melbourne FC sent a letter of interest to join the league along with ten other teams. In 2008, South Melbourne lodged an application for the 2nd Melbourne licence as part of the Southern Cross FC consortium. On 26 September 2008, the Football Federation Australia announced it was commencing exclusive negotiations with the rival 'Melbourne Heart Football Club' bid for the 2nd licence.


Traditional club rivalries

South Melbourne has, and has had, a variety of rivalries over the years. Its best known rivalry is with fellow Melbourne Greek-founded club Heidelberg United (known, traditionally, as the Greek Derby) , particularly from the mid 1970s until the mid 1980s, when both sides were near the top simultaneously. Heidelberg's decline from the mid 1980s onwards, and their eventual demotion from the NSL altogether, lessened the rivalry somewhat, as the clubs did not meet in a competitive match for ten years until South dropped down into the Victorian Premier League in 2005.

South also had rivalries with Sydney Olympic and West Adelaide Hellas, both Greek-founded teams from interstate. Though the latter rivalry was somewhat minor, the one with the former gained somewhat more significance over the years. South had defeated Olympic in the 1984 Grand Final, and coupled with Heidelberg's decline and eventual demotion, the two sides became clearly the two leading Greek-backed teams in the country, and fought for that unofficial mantle.

City rivalries

South's strongest city-based rivalry aside from Heidelberg, has been with the Melbourne Knights. Since the Knights entry into the NSL in 1984, the two sides have been the best performers of the Melbourne NSL teams, as well as for the final few seasons, the only two left from Melbourne. As well as playing numerous finals matches against each other, they also played in the 1990/91 Grand Final, which South won in dramatic cirumstances. The return to the VPL of both sides however has lessened the rivalry somewhat.

Though Carlton SC was a short-lived entity, games between the two sides generally drew good crowds as well as providing good contests on the field. The rivalry peaked in 1997/98, Carlton's debut year, when the teams finished in the top two spots on the table at the end of the home and away season, and going on to meet in the Grand Final, which South won with a controversial late goal.

A rivalry also exists between fans of South and those of the Preston Lions, fueled primarily not by football, but by the Macedonian issue. In more recent times contests between the two sides have been classified as "home club member only" games, after fans from both sides were involved in scuffles in 2005, their first competitive meeting for over a decade, as Preston had been relegated from the NSL 12 years earlier.

Other rivalries

As South has usually been at or near the top of the standings throughout its history, as well as in the past being one of the best supported clubs in the country, rivalries with other clubs from interstate also formed, though these tended to ebb and flow depending on the success and pulling power of the other sides. In the early to mid 1990's in particular, rivalries with Adelaide City and the Marconi Stallions were fairly strong. Later on, as these rivalries fell away, Perth Glory, with good crowds and generally good performances, came into play, with Perth's record non-finals crowd still being against South, and South getting numerous 10,000 plus crowds against the Glory. In the last season of the NSL the two teams battled out for the "Australian Day Cup", which South Melbourne retained after a 0-0 draw at home.




  • FIFA Club World Cup 2000 Finalists
  • Oceania Club Cup Winners 2000


  • National Soccer League Champions 1984, 1990/91, 1997/98, 1998/99
  • National Soccer League Minor Premiers 1984, 1985, 1992/93, 1997/98, 2000/01
  • National Soccer League Finalists 1989/1990, 1991/1992, 1993/1994, 1994/1995, 1996/1997, 2001/2002, 2003/2004
  • National Soccer League Cup Winners 1989/90, 1995/96


  • Victorian Premier League (State League) Champions 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1974, 1976, 2006
  • Victorian Premier League (State League) Finalists/Runners Up 1971, 1975, 2005
  • Victorian Division 1 North Champions 1960
  • Dockerty Cup Winners 1974, 1975, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995
  • Victorian Ampol Night Soccer Cup Winners 1969, 1970, 1976, 1982
  • Buffalo Cup Winners 1988
  • Hellenic Cup Winners 1984, 2007, 2009

Individual Honours [38]

Johnny Warren Medal/Player of the Year

Joe Marston Medal

Leading Goalscorer

Sam Papasavas Award (Under 21 NSL player of the year)

NSL Goalkeeper of the Year

NSL Coach of the Year

Bill Fleming Award

  • 1971 - Jim Pyrgolios
  • 1974 - Jimmy Armstrong

Victorian Premier League Top Goalscorer Award

Victorian Premier League Goalkeeper of the Year

Weinstein Medal

  • 1975 - Reno Lia

Jimmy Rooney Medal


Current squad

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

No. Position Player
-- Australia GK Peter Zois
-- Australia GK Stefan Sardellic
-- Australia DF Ramazan Tavsancioglu (Captain)
-- Australia DF Steven O'Dor (Vice Captain)
-- New Zealand DF Rhodri Payne
-- Australia DF James Stefanou
-- Australia DF Eddie Cetkin
-- Australia DF Stiven Mrkela
-- Australia DF Sam Torrens
-- Australia MF Fernando de Moraes
No.   Position Player
-- Australia MF Sebastian Petrovich
-- Australia MF Carl Recchia
-- Australia MF Daniel Vasilevski
-- England MF Joe Keenan
-- Australia MF Joseph Youssef
-- Australia MF Marinos Gasparis
-- Australia MF Yusef Yusef
-- Australia FW Gianni De Nittis
-- Australia FW Nathan Caldwell
-- Australia FW Ahmet Turer

off season player movements 2009/10


Peter Zois - Richmond SC

Marinos Gasparis - Heidelberg United

James Stefanou - Heidelberg United

Carl Recchia - Altona Magic

Daniel Vasilevski - Free Agent

Joe Keenan - Free Agent


Tommi Tomich - Altona Magic

Con Blatsis - Retired

Vaughan Coveny - Retired

Francesco Stella - A.S. Siena

Goran Zoric - Police United F.C.

Nick Curtis - released

Shane Nunes- released

Notable former players

Notable Former Coaches

South Melbourne FC Kit Evolution


External links


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Oceania's club of the Century". IFFHS official website. Retrieved 2009-10-13.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j South Melbourne FC
  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. ^ 1975 Victorian State League - Final Table
  9. ^ Hay, 2006, The World Game Downunder, pp 121-122
  10. ^ Australian Soccer
  11. ^ Australian Soccer
  12. ^ Australian Soccer
  13. ^ Dockerty Cup Winners
  14. ^ Australian Soccer
  15. ^ Australian Soccer
  16. ^ Australian Soccer
  17. ^
  18. ^ Australian Soccer
  19. ^ Australian Soccer
  20. ^ Australia - List of Final Tables
  21. ^ Australian Soccer
  22. ^ Australian Soccer
  23. ^ Australian Soccer
  24. ^ 1997 National Soccer League Playoff results
  25. ^ 1998 National Soccer League Playoff results
  26. ^ 1999 National Soccer League Playoff results
  27. ^ Australian Soccer
  28. ^ Australian Soccer
  29. ^ a b c 2001 National Soccer League Playoff results
  30. ^ Australian Soccer
  31. ^ 2002 National Soccer League Playoff results
  32. ^ Australian Soccer
  33. ^ <
  34. ^ 2004 National Soccer League Playoff results
  35. ^ 2005 Victorian Premier League - 2005 Season Results
  36. ^ a b c 2006 Victorian Premier League - Final Table
  37. ^ 2006 Vodafone Cup - 2006 Season Results
  38. ^ Australian Soccer
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k South Melbourne FC
  40. ^ 1960 Victorian Metropolitan League Division One North - Season Results
  41. ^ 1964 Victorian State League - Season Results
Preceded by
St George
NSL Champions
Succeeded by
Brunswick Juventus
Preceded by
Sydney Olympic
NSL Champions
Succeeded by
Adelaide City
Preceded by
Brisbane Strikers
NSL Champions
Succeeded by
Wollongong Wolves
 FIFA Oceania Club Championship 1999 Winners 
South Melbourne FC
First title


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