Tuesday, 12 July 2005 11:00 PM
One year on… and 12 July 2004 will be etched in the history of South Melbourne FC forever.
It was the day the club raised $450,000 and freed itself from the constraints of Voluntary Administration, which very nearly saw it fold.
South Melbourne avoided following the footsteps of previous NSL clubs, like Sydney City Hakoah, West Adelaide Hellas and Brunswick Juventus, to disappear from football competitions and only to be remembered as references in football history books.
The hard work of many, has seen South live to fight another day and more importantly stay in the hands of its true custodians – you the members.
As a consequence, a new Board of Directors was endorsed by members to help take the club into a new era, free from the shackles of old debt and some practices of previous administrations.
The Board’s first priority, was to begin recruiting players and coaching staff that would enable it to compete in the 2005 Victorian Premier League.
Club legend John Anastasiadis was formally appointed as head coach and South embarked on a player recruiting drive, after being left with no players on its roster, following the shutting down of the former National Soccer League.
With just a few months from its first game, John and his assistants, had to find a young group of players and re-build.
In addition, the club established the best football set up in Victoria, with an experienced medical team, assistant coach, fitness advisor and goalkeeping coach.
Experienced and familiar faces like Vaughan Coveny, Con Blatsis and Dean Anastasiadis and former Parramatta Power player Kosta Salapasidis, were signed by the club to provide the core for a new generation of SMFC players.
Many “up and coming” players were recruited, which the club believes will provide a foundation for the years to come.
Off the park, frantic work was also undertaken to prepare Bob Jane Stadium, which had fallen into a state of disrepair. Everything had to be ready for the teams first home game in the new VPL, against our long time cross town rivals Heidelberg.
On the field, the club has experienced varying fortunes. To be perfectly honest, the new team has fared extremely well. So much so, we are currently placed third on the ladder after leading the competition for much of the season.
We have encountered a series of highs and lows, but along the way, we have unearthed new talent, young men like Steven O’Dor, Ramazan, Sam DeVito, Fernando and a number of others.
In addition, the recent signing of the NSW Premier League ‘Gold Medal’ Player of the Year, Robbie Cattanach, should hold the club in good stead for the upcoming finals and beyond.
Financially though, 2005 has been a tough year.
With fewer opportunities to use the media, the realities of playing VPL football have seen a dramatic drop in numbers. Add to this the unsavory scenes at the Preston fixture, have left the club facing many new challenges in the future as it continues to deal with the harsh responsibilities that govern all VPL clubs.
Off the field, the new Board has been dealing with many issues and a series of contracts that continue to weigh heavily against the club. Contracts entered in the past which still impact and constrain the club’s day to day running, remain to be resolved.
Thankfully, we have had the support of many long time sponsors like Eddy Bithavas and Louis Vetouladitis from Rocket Batteries, and members like Tony Toumbourou and Chris Christopher, who must be commended for their loyalty and dedication to the cause of the Blue and Whites. I also take this opportunity to pay tribute to all our current sponsors and corporates for their continued backing of SMFC.
Make no mistake, the future will be a very difficult time for South Melbourne, as we battle to restructure the club for its future sustainability.
The Board is committed to riding out the storm and bringing commercial viability, stability and sustained strength to this proud club.
But we can only do this, with the continued support of the blue and white faithful, whose loyalty is paramount for the ongoing survival and success of Australia’s most famous football club.
I urge you all, to think long and hard… do you want the South Melbourne brand to remain strong and a symbol for the future?
If so… you need to keep up your support, loyalty and belief in OUR club, as we strive to ensure that South Melbourne continues to exist and moves forward to prosper.
Only then can we aspire to be the best and play with the best.
We need you to stay true to the Blue and White.
South Melbourne FC