Thursday, 12 November 2009 3:19 PM
By Paul Mavroudis
Picture – Paul Trimboli with 1984 Championship winner Con Kiakos
The rumours of something spectacular being planned for the 50th anniversary stretched back into November last year. Hints were being dropped as to the magnitude of the event, so as soon as the date was announced I knew this was something that I could not miss – I booked my place straight away. When the sold out sign went up, I was glad that I’d made up my mind that quickly, and the anticipation just built. On the day of the event I had supporters remarking that they regretted not booking their place.
It was great to mingle in the foyer with the past players and coaches of the club, as well as Les Murray, watching the legends of our club and our game catch up. The photo opportunities were endless, and the fans made the most of the opportunity. Upon entering the Palladium itself, I was stunned.
How could a club, which its detractors said was dead, buried and forgotten, sell out such a magnificent venue? Full credit must go to the board members and volunteers who obviously put the time and effort required to make the night a reality.
The video and photo montages brought back old memories and created new insights into the history of the club. As someone who started following the club in the early 1990s, it was quite an emotional experience to see the footage of a huge part of my life, in seeing the on field moments and remembering where I was at that time. Hearing players and coaches speak, and the families of those who could not be there, and recognising the effort that some had made to come, against the tyrannies of distance and age.
The interviews with the past players highlighted not just the great footballing contribution the club has made, but also the great social impact since its very beginning, the kind of thing that makes a club a club and not just a business opportunity – and the kind of thing that gives a club a sense of purpose and drive. I was pleased to see fellow fans of mine – people I’ve stood on the terraces with and consider good friends – be able to also put their side of the story forward. And I was pleased that the present and future were not ignored either. Current players were treated with the same respect as past champions.
The night summed up what the club is about. Great players and teams across many eras, but not only that; a club that is not just those teams, but is also the fans and volunteers. There was a legacy presented as well as a vision of the things to come. The phrase ‘best club in Australia’ gets bandied about a fair bit by South fans and by rivals. It’s mostly an impossible measure, one fraught with cliché and a form of hubris. Being in that room though, surrounded by the living history of the club, one didn’t just feel it; one knew it to be true.