South concentrated its funds on recruiting local players, with new arrivals at Middle Park including centre-back Steve Walker (Essendon Lions) and striker Jim Armstrong (St Kilda Hakoah). Both went on to become two of South’s all-time greats. Ulysses Kokkinos returned from Greece and goalkeeper Tim Auger, winger Geoff Gould and full-back Alan Rutherford were all imported from England. Brocic returned to lead the club to its second successive AMPOL Cup victory, but he quit soon afterwards and was replaced by Vic Janczyk. Despite the Cup success, the League belonged to Juventus and South had to settle with fifth spot. Highlights included the 5-2 win against Essendon Lions and the 4-0 win over George Cross, as well as the 7-1 annihilation of Alexander in the quarter final of the Dockerty Cup. Armstrong backed up his seven League goals a further eight goals in the Cup competitions.
South’s bid for the League championship was hampered by the loss of Kokkinos, who again returned to Greece halfway through the season. Many believed that his absence cost South the championship, as JUST eventually won the League by a single point. Ernie Ackerley made his return in the last four games after spending the majority of the season injured and he scored four valuable goals to almost win the title for South. Jim Armstrong continued to find the back of the net and he finished as the club's leading goal scorer. In the State League Cup, South reached the final before Croatia snatched a 3-2 win. In somewhat of a consolation, Jim Pyrgolios won the Bill Fleming Medal as the Victorian Player of the Year. Further highlights included the 3-2 win over JUST at Schintler Reserve and the 4-0 wins over George Cross and Essendon Lions
Two excellent young full-backs in Giovanni Batticciotto and Bill Hasapis were introduced into the team. Peter Bourne was imported from English club Burnley and linked up with Ian Marshall in the midfield. George Cross led the League for the majority of the season but with Jim Armstrong scoring goals galore, Bourne and Marshall controlling the midfield and John Bedford and Steve Walker rock-solid in defence, South eventually overtook them. In the final round, South could only manage a scoreless draw against Juventus, whilst George Cross beat Keilor Austria. This left both sides level on 35 points each but South were declared champions due to a superior goal difference. Armstrong was again the top goal scorer and Bourne finished runner-up in the Rothmans Medal voting. Further highlights included the 4-0 win against George Cross in front of 11,000 at Middle Park and the 7-0 win over Box Hill Inter.
Bill McIntyre switched from Croatia, following Croatia’s expulsion from the competition. He was joined by Nat Little, a promising young forward from Altona City. South crashed out of the AMPOL Cup and set about again challenging George Cross for the League championship. Both sides won their final match, finishing level on points with George Cross ahead only on goal difference. However JUST still had two games in hand, and by winning both of them ended up overtaking both South and George Cross to win the League by a point. Despite the disappointment of the third-placed finish, there were several highlights including Jim Armstrong topping the goal scoring charts for the fourth successive season. Further highlights included the 6-1 win over Box Hill Inter and the incredible 7-7 draw with Ringwood City Wilhelmina.
Andy Savage (Scotland) and Nick Nechvoglod (Adelaide) arrived at Middle Park, as South also welcomed back Ulysses Kokkinos. With young gun Arthur Xanthopoulos showing great form, South led the ladder for the majority of the season and comfortably won the League by finishing four points ahead of George Cross. Jim Armstrong's 22 League goals saw him finish as the State League's leading goal scorer and subsequently he was awarded the Bill Fleming Medal for Victorian Player of the Year. History was created when South beat Ringwood City Wilhelmina 4-1 to the clinch the Dockerty Cup for the first time. Further highlights included the 4-0 win over Mooroolbark, the 5-1 win over George Cross and the 4-0 win over Alexander.
Jimmy Mackay joined South from Sydney Hakoah and Kris Kalifatidis stepped up from the reserves to cement a place in defence. South reached the final of the AMPOL Cup before losing to JUST. Jim Armstrong's five goals in the competition made him the equal top goal scorer in the Cup. After the final, right-back Mike Pye transferred from Ringwood City Wilhelmina, whilst Howard Andrews arrived from South Africa. Paul Murphy (George Cross) was also recruited after a poor start to the League season. Murphy failed to reproduce his George Cross goal scoring form but South's results improved and the club eventually finished in second place, four points behind eventual champions Alexander. However there was some consolation as South won the Dockerty Cup for the second successive season. In another highlight, Reno Lia won the Weinstein Medal for Junior Player of the Year.
Peter Ollerton and Duncan Cummings were South’s star recruits. The strengthened team started the year well by beating JUST in the AMPOL Cup final, with Ollerton scoring three goals in the game. The forward bagged seven goals throughout the Cup, making him the leading goal scorer in the competition. Margaritis Hagegmanouel established himself as a left-back during a League season that South dominated, winning the championship by a massive nine points from second-placed JUST. Although the club missed out on Dockerty Cup and State League Cup success, it claimed an unofficial Australian championship after defeating New South Wales champion St George Budapest over two legs (1-1 in Sydney, 2-1 in Melbourne). The victory was inspired by the brilliance of Jimmy Mackay in the midfield.
The start of the National Soccer League saw South join Footscray JUST, Heidelberg United and Mooroolbark as the Victorian representatives in the 14 team competition. South lost Bourne and Mackay and transfer-listed champions Walker and Armstrong, claiming they were too old for the NSL. This took the back-bone out of the team and not even recruits of the calibre of Jack Reilly, Ian Gibson (both from Heidelberg), Billy Rogers (APIA), Chris Kent (Wilhelmina), Anton Dosen (Hakoah), John Gardiner (Croatia) and Graham French (Mooroolbark) could change that. As a result, the club had an average start to its NSL adventure, finishing the season in 11th place. Positives to the season included a 4-2 win against Mooroolbark and the 15,000-strong crowd against St George Budapest to watch guest player Malcolm McDonald.
In an effort to improve on the previous season, Dave MacLaren was appointed as coach, arriving at Middle Park from Sydney City. MacLaren went on a recruiting spree, signing goalkeeper John Hansen and centre-back Stuart Baxter (Sweden), Bertie Lutton (Sydney City), Sammy Wright (Wolves), George Campbell (Aberdeen) and Bobby McGuinness (Sydney City), as well as promoting George Christopoulos from the reserves. This resulted in a respectable third-placed finish in the League and a quarter final appearance in the League Cup. Further highlights included Cummings scoring 10 goals in the League, a 5-2 win over St George Budapest, a 4-0 win against Footscray JUST and a 5-0 win against Adelaide City. Big crowds flocked to the games, with 16,000 present for the derby against West Adelaide Hellas and 25,000 at the friendly against Olympiakos of Greece, which the Greek side won 2-1.
This was the lowest point in the club’s NSL history and arguably in its entire history. Four rounds into the season, the National Soccer League deducted three competition points from South after the club was found guilty of using new left-back Tony Turner in three League matches having still not being cleared to play by his former English club. Three coaches (Dave MacLaren, Duncan McKay and John Margaritis) all had stints throughout the course of the season but could not stop the club finishing in last place. There were real fears that South would not be re-admitted into the League the following season; however the club kept its place in the top flight as Sydney Olympic were relegated instead. Positives for the season included the 3-0 win over Brisbane Lions and the emergence of a young Alan Davidson to the senior team after he was recruited from Altona City.
NPL Round 1South Melbourne FC vs Heidelberg UnitedThursday March 13thOlympic VillageSenior Kick-Off: 7.15pm