South Melbourne Hellas' first ever season of competition saw the club compete in the Victorian Metropolitan Division 1 North championship (the modern-day equivalent is State League 1). An outstanding season saw South winning the League with ease by winning every single match bar one, with that being a 3-3 draw against Corio. Some of the better players of that season included Jordan Ieremiadis, Stefanos Fortomanos and Bill Kourkoulakos.
South managed a credible fifth-placed finish in its first season of competing in the Victorian State League (now the Premier League). Len Young was initially appointed as coach but he was replaced during the season by Manny Poulakakis. Many players arrived from Greece to play for South, including John Margaritis, Savvas Salapasidis, Takis Mantarakis and Takis Xanthopoulos. Ted Smith also arrived at Middle Park and later became South's first Socceroo representative.
More players arrived from Greece, including Boulis Kambouropoulos. South's first appearance in the AMPOL Cup saw the team knocked out in the semi final. The club then lost its opening two League matches but bounced back in the third round to defeat Essendon Lions 3-1. This win kick-started the season, as South eventually finished two points ahead of Juventus to win the League championship for the first time. Crowd figures were exceptional, with many in excess of 10,000. South competed in the Australian Cup for the first time, but was knocked out when Sydney Yugal won at Olympic Park in front of 14,000 spectators.
Despite signing Tommy Anderson (George Cross), Peter Barbalias (Olympiakos), Panayiotis Tsitsos (Drama) and Jim Pyrgolios (Panathinaikos), South finished in a very disappointing sixth position in the League. However the side reached the final of the AMPOL Cup before losing to Polonia. Despite the poor League campaign, there were still many strong crowd figures, including 20,000 against both Polonia and JUST. The Polonia match was also memorable for Tsitsos getting involved in a clash against three Polonia players and subsequently being suspended for six matches by the Federation. This resulted in over 2,000 South supporters going on strike outside Olympic Park in the following match, in protest against the ruling.
More great players were recruited, including Andreas Roussis (Apollon), Jimmy Adam (Falkirk) and Ernie Ackerley (Manchester United and Barrow). Sam Kagioglou, Andreas Kosmopoulos and Harry Vamvakas all arrived from Greece. South pipped George Cross and JUST to win the League by a single point, as Michael Mandalis made himself a hero at Middle Park with 17 goals. Another highlight of the season was the first ever derby against Fitzroy Alexander (now Heidelberg United) that South won 2-1 thanks to a brace from George Papadopoulos.
The side was strengthened by the arrival of winger Leo Damianakos, who was finally granted a clearance from Kalamata after sitting on the South bench for the entire of 1964. Goalkeeper Sam Service joined from Alexander as Jordan Ieremiadis, Antonis Hatzieleftheriou and Manny Tsolakis all departed Middle Park. Despite these big losses, South again won the League, this time finishing two points ahead of George Cross. Ernie Ackerley scored 16 League goals, with Jim Pyrgolios netting 11 times. South fared better in the Australian Cup than in previous seasons but was knocked out by New South Wales outfit APIA Leichhardt over two legs.
Con Nestoridis was the greatest centre-forward Greece had produced since the war and he starred with the Greek national team and AEK Athens. When he joined South in 1966, the crowds flocked to watch him play. South won a third consecutive League championship, this time finishing two points clear of Slavia. Other highlights included a crowd of over 20,000 against Juventus, reaching the AMPOL Cup final and Ernie Ackerley's four goals in the 6-1 win against Hungaria. However Nestoridis was a clear standout, with his 21 League goals winning him the State League golden boot. He also netted five goals in the Cup competitions, bringing his overall goal scoring tally in 1966 to an outstanding 26 goals.
Despite the signing of David Kelly and the emergence of Ulysses Kokkinos, South finished fourth in the League. Whilst the side reached the final of the Dockerty Cup, it suffered a heavy defeat to Slavia. However there were highlights during the year, including the 7-3 win over Alexander, the 5-0 win over Essendon Lions (with Con Nestoridis netting a hat-trick) and the 6-1 win over Preston at Middle Park.
Lou Brocic was appointed coach and the club experimented by recruiting a large amount of players from Greece; however many failed to live up to expectations and were subsequently sent back. Other players signed included David High, Frank Micic, Nikos Malisianos, Andreas Tzarelas and Evangelos Drandakis, as South finished League season in third place. Midway through the season, Brocic left and was replaced by Ron Sawecki. For the second consecutive season, South reached the final of the Dockerty Cup but again fell short of the major prize. Following a 1-1 draw against Croatia in the final, South lost the replay in front of 18,000 spectators.
South finally won its first Cup competition when it defeated Croatia 2-1 in the AMPOL Cup final in front of 18,000 spectators. However this winning form did not extend into the League season, as South finished in a hugely disappointing seventh position. The club repeated the Greek import experiment of 1968 but it failed again. Highlights of the season included David Gorrie's 17 League goals and the 6-2 win over Polonia.
NPL Round 1South Melbourne FC vs Heidelberg UnitedThursday March 13thOlympic VillageSenior Kick-Off: 7.15pm