Monday, 26 February 2007 1:35 PM
By Petros Kosmopoulos
South Melbourne and Heidelberg share one of the fiercest rivalries in Australian soccer spanning 47 years. They have played some classics, including the 4-2 win South Melbourne recorded in the final of the Southern Division Championship in 1984. Crowds have flocked to these encounters irrespective of the two teams’ respective ladder positions.
It was quite appropriate that Heidelberg United, known in the 1960s as Fitzroy Alexander, provided South Melbourne with its first ever ‘hit-out’ as a club in January 1960, albeit a practice match a few weeks after the Middle Park club was formed. Alexander had been formed a couple of years earlier by the Clifton Hill Social Club, comprising of Greeks from the region of Macedonia, Northern Greece, but wasn’t playing in any official competition. On the day, Alexander ran out winners 3-2. It would take Alexander 13 years before it would defeat South Melbourne again. In that period South Melbourne dominated their league and cup encounters and even recorded thumping wins, including a 7-3 win in 1966 with Greek superstar and AEK Athens great Con Nestoridis as captain/coach and a 7-1 win in 1970.
In their 69 derby games between 1960 and 1992, South Melbourne defeated Heidelberg 35 times, lost on 19 occasions (those defeats were experienced primarily in the late 1970s and early 1980s) and they shared the points 15 times. In that period, they had only recorded a scoreless draw 4 times. Of the 213 goals scored, South Melbourne scored 122.
Their first official game in 1964 in the State League of Victoria as described by Sporting Globe:
Hellas scored first at 32 minutes, when Kosmopoulos, from the goal line, found a gap in the Alexander defence and passed to Papadopoulos in front who scored.
Alexander replied at 43 minutes when Mastrovasilis scored from a penalty.
One minute later the Kosmopoulos-Papadopoulos combination struck again for Hellas, when the small Greek inside right picked up a pass three yards out and scored.
Alexander put up a good fight in the second half but couldn’t break through the strong Hellas defence.
SM: Vamvakas, Kalogyrou, Mantarakis, T. Xanthopoulos, Ieremiadis, Pyrgolios, Papadopoulos, Adams, J. Anderson, Bedford, Kosmopoulos
ALEXANDER: Service, K. Xanthopoulos, Glennie, McLaughlin, Petridis, Gikas, Mangopoulos, Hasty, Spiridakos, Rakovalis, Mastrovasilis, Hatzigeorgiou.