John Margaritis took over and he was quick to add players to the squad, signing Branko Buljevic from Heidelberg and Vince Bannon from Frankston City. Arthur Xanthopoulos and Billy Rogers were lured out of retirement and although the team made the semi final of the AMPOL Cup, all eyes were on a massive improvement in the League. This occurred, with the club finishing a very respectable third, with Buljevic scoring 10 goals. Further highlights included a 5-0 win against Blacktown City and a 4-1 win over Marconi Fairfield, with Cummings netting a hat-trick. Margaritis’ efforts were recognised as he was crowned the NSL Coach of the Year.
South added Steven Wooddin to its list as it further improved its standing in the League, this time finishing in second place, four points behind Sydney City. The experienced Alun Evans, who had starred with Aston Villa and Liverpool previously, showed his worth by contributing with 14 League goals including a hat-trick in the 5-0 thrashing of West Adelaide Hellas. Other highlights included a 1-0 win over Wollongong and a 4-1 win against APIA Leichhardt. The League success did not carry on in the League Cup however, with South crashing out in the first round.
Final League Position:
Runners-up (out of 16 teams)
League Cup Placing:
First Round (0-2 against Heidelberg)
Top Goal Scorer (League):
Alun Evans (14)
John Margaritis (30 League games)
Striker Charlie Egan was signed from Frankston City and he showed his worth by scoring 21 League goals. After four consecutive losses, Margaritis was released and the controversial Tommy Docherty was lured from England to take charge for an eventful five months. After the club finished the League season in sixth place the Scotsman was sent packing. Despite the disappointment in the League, South won the AMPOL Cup and managed to record big wins against Brisbane City and Canberra City (4-0 in both matches).
Sixth out of 16 teams
First Round (0-0 against Heidelberg, 4-5 on penalties)
AMPOL Cup Placing:
Champions (2-1 against Heidelberg)
Charlie Egan (21)
Sam Papasavas and Leo Anezakis
John Margaritis (13 League games)Tommy Docherty (13 League games)Mick Watson (4 League games)
Former Socceroos coach Rale Rasic took over and he rebuilt the side, signing Oscar Crino, Ken Murphy, Doug Brown, Bobby Russell and John Yzendoorn. The newcomers, along with Alan Davidson, Steve Blair and Charlie Egan, were the foundations of a great side that was destined for success. Unfortunately, despite the enormous talent at Rasic’s disposal, off-field problems overflowed onto the field, with the team not settling as well as they should have. Thus after 13 rounds, Rasic was sacked. New coach Len McKendry came in and stabilised the side, lifting it to fourth on the ladder, only three points behind eventual champions St George Budapest. Highlights included Brown’s 16 goals (making him the League's top goal scorer) and Egan’s 12 goals, plus a 4-1 win against JUST, a 4-0 win against Preston and a 6-2 win over Canberra City. Crino won the Sam Papasavas Award for the NSL Under-21 Player of the Year. At season’s end, Buljevic, Campbell, Evans and Wooddin all departed from Middle Park.
Fourth out of 16 teams
Semi Finalist (1-3 against Heidelberg)
Semi Finalist (0-2 against Green Gully)
Doug Brown (16)
Rale Rasic (13 League games)Len McKendry (17 League games)
After seven attempts, South finally secured first position in the National League. However for the first time in the NSL, the top team was not declared the champion unless it also won a finals series. With its talented side, South powered through the NSL Southern Division finals series, defeating rivals Melbourne Croatia 3-2 in the semi final and Heidelberg United 4-2 in the final in front of a crowd of 15,000. This meant that to be declared Australian champions, South had to defeat Sydney Olympic (Northern Division winners) over two legs. South beat Olympic 2-1 in both legs for a 4-2 aggregate win and as a result was crowned National League champions for the first time. Further highlights included the introduction of youngster Ange Postecoglou into the senior team, winning the Buffalo Cup, Brown’s 22 League goals (making him the League's top goal scorer for a second consecutive season) and the 10,000+ crowds against Croatia, Heidelberg and Olympic throughout both the season and the finals series.
Champions (out of 12 teams)
Eliminated in the group stage
Buffalo Cup Placing:
Champions (3-1 against Melbourne Croatia)
Hellenic Cup Placing:
Champions (2-0 against Yarraville)
Doug Brown (22)
Len McKendry (32 League games)
Len McKendry continued as coach as South went chasing back-to-back championships. Like 1984, South powered through the regular season with its talented side and finished on top of the Southern Division, recording memorable wins in the process. This included a 4-2 win against West Adelaide Hellas, a 3-0 win against Preston and a 4-1 win over Brisbane City. However, consecutive defeats in the Southern Division finals series against Brunswick Juventus and Preston saw South denied a chance for a second successive Australian championship. Despite this enormous disappointment, Egan and Brown again were among the top goal scorers, with Egan scoring 21 goals (the League's top goal scorer) with Brown scoring 10. At season’s end Crino, captain Yzendoorn and coach McKendry all left the club. Crino departed for Anorthosis of Cyprus, whilst Yzendoorn and McKendry went to Brunswick Juventus.
Third out of 14 teams
First Round (0-1 against Preston)
Dockerty Cup Placing:
Third Round (1-2 against Morwell)
Leo Anezakis and Jim Diamantaris
Len McKendry (24 League games)
John Margaritis returned as coach but did not experience his past glory with the club like he had previously as a player and as a coach. Richard Miranda joined from Brunswick Juventus, Davidson returned from Nottingham Forrest in England and young gun Steve Tasios joined from Heidelberg. After the season began, Danny Crainie joined from Scotland. The team did not start the campaign well, crashing out in the early stages of most of the Cup competitions. To make matters worse, the team finished in seventh place in the League, South's lowest finish since 1979. Despite this, there were some memorable results throughout the season, including a 5-0 win over Green Gully and a 4-3 home win against Preston after being 1-3 down during the second half. Bobby Russell provided a further highlight by winning the Rothmans Medal for NSL Player of the Year.
Seventh out of 12 teams
Second Round (1-2 against Croydon City)
Third Round (2-3 against Caulfield City)
Runners-up (1-3 against Northcote City)
Danny Crainie (6)
Jim Diamantaris and Chris Christopher
John Margaritis (22 League games)
New coach Brian Garvey arrived at Middle Park from Heidelberg and he quickly set about bringing in players to help get South out of the mess of 1986. Paul Wade and Danny Wright arrived at the club and improved results occurred immediately as South reached the final of both the Buffalo Cup and the National League Cup. Whilst South improved its standing in the League from the previous season, it was only marginal as the club finished in a disappointing sixth position. Highlights from the campaign included Wade’s eight League goals, Egan’s five goals in the Buffalo Cup competition, as well as a 3-0 win against Sunshine George Cross and a 4-1 win against Marconi Fairfield.
Sixth out of 13 teams
Runners-up (0-1 against Sydney Croatia)
Quarter Finalist (0-2 against Melbourne Croatia)
Runners-up (0-2 against Melbourne Croatia)
Paul Wade (8)
Brian Garvey (24 League games)
Garvey adopted a youth policy and as a result recruited Paul Trimboli, Paul Foster, Peter Tsolakis, Bruce MacLaren and Harry Micheil whilst Charlie Egan, Stuart Stevenson, Danny Crainie, Richard Miranda and Garry McDowall all departed. This move worked a treat as the results improved enormously, with the side doing very well in every competition. South won both the AMPOL and Dockerty Cups and reached the semi final of the National League Cup. However the biggest improvement was in the League, where the youthful South side finished on equal points with Minor Premiers Wollongong but had to settle for third place due to an inferior goal difference. Inexperience cost the side in the finals series, with 2-1 defeats against Sydney Croatia and Marconi Fairfield knocking South out in straight sets. Despite this, the young side had every reason to be proud of its achievements throughout the season. The NSL recognised these efforts, with Paul Wade winning the Rothmans Medal as NSL Player of the Year, Garvey winning NSL Coach of the Year and Trimboli being awarded the Sam Papasavas Medal for being the Under-21 Player of the Year.
Third out of 14 teams
Semi Finalist (0-1 against Brunswick)
Champions (Forfeit by Melbourne Croatia)
Champions (3-1 against Preston)
Ange Postecoglou, Paul Trimboli (8 each)
Brian Garvey (28 League games)
South was expected to build from its good performances the previous season and achieve greater success. Despite keeping the same youthful side from the previous season, as well as adding the experienced Mike Petersen to the midfield, the club finished the League season in a very disappointing eighth place. However there were many positives in the Cup competitions, as South replicated its performances from the previous season by reaching the semi final of the National League Cup and winning both the AMPOL and Dockerty Cups. One of the highlights of the season was celebrating the club's 30th birthday by beating old rivals Heidelberg United 4-1 at Middle Park in front of 16,000 supporters. Paul Trimboli was crowned the Under-21 Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. At the conclusion of the season, Garvey was replaced as coach by world
footballing great Ferenc Puskas, who was entrusted with the
responsibility of guiding the club into the 1990s.
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