Tuesday, 15 April 2008 9:28 AM
By John Kyrou
This week the segment takes us back 45 years ago to 1963. South Melbourne was only in its fourth year of existence but had already achieved championship success twice. Firstly, the club went through the 1960 Metropolitan League 1 North season undefeated, destroying opposition teams along the way (including a 9-0 win against Corio and a 10-1 win against Moonee Ponds) and ensured promotion into the Victorian State League (now known as the Foxtel Cup). The second success was enjoyed in 1962, when South Melbourne became State League champions for the first time, winning the league by 2 points over Juventus.
South entered the 1963 season keen on building on the success achieved in 1962, where even though it had won the league, it had not fared as well in the Cup competitions. The club failed to get out of the sectional rounds of the Docherty Cup but put up a much stronger effort in the AMPOL Cup, eventually being knocked out in the semi finals 0-1 by Croatia. How the big South Melbourne supporter base would have loved for their team to do the triple and claim all the competitions on offer the following season.
Although South failed to get out of the sectional rounds of the Docherty Cup once again in 1963, the club managed to make the final of the AMPOL Cup, improving on the previous season’s effort. Unfortunately, Maribyrnong Polonia were too strong in the final and won the Cup by a solitary goal in front of approximately 17,000 spectators. Nevertheless, the opportunity to go back-to-back in the league was still on offer.
Disappointingly however, South started the season slowly and continued to produce mixed results throughout the year. Heading into the round 16 match against Polonia, South needed to record a win to try and kick-start a winning run that would take it further up the table. The match was also an opportunity to gain revenge on the Polonia side that had denied the club Cup glory (in fact South would have to wait until 1969 to win the AMPOL Cup for the first time).
Approximately 20,000 spectators were present at Olympic Park to witness the grudge match. John Margaritis opened South’s account but the boys from Middle Park were powerless to stop Mikolaj Mroczkowski and Eddie Jankowski from scoring to give Polonia a 1-2 win. The match however was marred by a confrontation between South goal keeper Panayiotis Tsitsos (pictured right), left half Jordan Ieremiadis and Polonia players Marian Gasior, Vic Janczyk and Ziggy Gross. Tsitsos ran the length of the field to become involved in the clash and as a result received a six match suspension by the Federation.
Disgusted by the result and by the lengthy suspension imposed on Tsitsos by the Federation, the South supporters decided to take a stance on the issue by staging a protest. As a result, the next match (against Richmond Alemannia at Olympic Park) saw around 2000 South supporters stand outside the ground to protest the Federation’s decision, with many more protesting by not coming at all. The match finished 2-2 and the crowd inside the ground was recorded as 3000, a significant drop from the 20,000 against Polonia. Considering the next match South played at Olympic Park (a 1-1 draw with Footscray JUST) attracted close to 20,000 people again, the South army had shown just how powerful it was when united about an issue concerning their club.
South continued with mixed results and ended the season in a disappointing 6th place. However the disappointment was not to last long as the South family celebrated three championship seasons in 1964, 1965 and 1966.
Round 16, 1963
Sunday, July 21, 1963
Venue: Olympic Park, Melbourne
SOUTH MELBOURNE 1-2 MARIBYRNONG POLONIA
(Margaritis) (Mroczkowski, Jankowski)
Line-up included: Panayiotis Tsitsos, Takis Xanthopoulos, Takis Mantarakis, Tommy Anderson, Jordan Ieremiadis, Minelis Tsolakis, Antonis Hatzieleftheriou, John Margaritis and Ted Smith. Coach: Manny Poulakakis.
Line-up included: Bruno Putkowski, Marian Gasior, Vic Janczyk, Ziggy Gross, Lolly Vella, Eddie Jankowski, Mikolaj Mroczkowski, Eddie Zientara (Roch Dronia) and Mike Jurecki.