South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

South Melbourne FC – 2009 Season Review

South Melbourne FC – 2009 Season Review

Friday, 27 November 2009 12:13 PM

By John Kyrou

Click here to view the 2009 Season highlights courtesy of smfcTV

South Melbourne FC enjoyed a relatively successful 2009 season. With the club celebrating its 50th birthday and after consecutive seasons without a finals appearance, it was imperative that South Melbourne FC hit form again.

In preparing for the tough struggle that would be the Victorian Premier League season, South competed in the Hellenic Cup. South had won the competition twice previously (in 1984 against Yarraville and in 2007 against Oakleigh) but were embarrassed in the 2008 competition, crashing out with a 0-1 quarter final defeat against the then State League One outfit Bentleigh.

There were no such problems this time around, with South cruising through the group stages before overcoming Bentleigh 1-0 in the quarter final (Steve O’Dor with the winning goal). In the semi final, South comfortably established a 2-0 lead thanks to Fernando De Moraes and returning legend Vaughan Coveny. Oakleigh fought back to equalise but Coveny sent South through to the final with an extra time winner.

The final against Heidelberg was a non-event, with Coveny and Gianni De Nittis sending South 2-0 up before Fernando wrapped up the scoring with a wonderful curling effort from outside the area. The club celebrated the win long into the night on the pitch of Bob Jane Stadium in the 2009 season launch. Many of South’s past State League and National League championship players were in attendance to toast the past but also look forward to the oncoming season and the bright future of the club.

Despite the near-flawless pre-season, the opening two matches of the league season were a disaster, with newly-promoted Dandenong Thunder and old rivals Heidelberg both defeating South 1-0 at Bob Jane Stadium. Things looked to be going from bad to worse in round three when Preston opened the scoring at Connor Reserve. However O’Dor and new signing Joseph Youssef gave South a halftime lead before Goran Zoric stunned the crowd with four second half goals as South ran out 7-1 winners. Zoric’s effort meant he joined an exclusive club in being one of only eight players to have scored four goals in a league match for South Melbourne FC.

South then enjoyed a winning run, with a 2-1 derby win against the Melbourne Knights followed by a comfortable 3-1 victory against Whittlesea. In round six, league leaders Richmond arrived at Lakeside but were dismantled from the top of the table with a 3-0 hiding. In the process Coveny notched his 99th league goal for South with a thunderous shot from outside the box, with only the near post preventing him from bringing up his 100th goal a short time later.

Captain Rama Tavsancioglu celebrated 100 league matches for the club when South travelled to Green Gully Reserve in round seven. Fernando’s penalty was South’s first goal at the venue in 23 years, which was also the last time South won there. Gully equalised on half time then controversially went ahead in the second half after a clear foul on keeper Tommi Tomich. When all looked lost, Coveny laid the ball off for substitute De Nittis to net an injury-time equaliser and keep the unbeaten run going.

Coveny’s header against Hume elevated him alongside Paul Trimboli as the only two players to score 100 league goals for South Melbourne FC, simply an outstanding achievement for the veteran. Sebastian Petrovic scored his first for the season as South beat Hume 2-1 to win the inaugural ANZAC Day Cup. The undefeated run continued with a scoreless draw against Oakleigh, a 2-0 home win against Altona (in which Fernando celebrated his 100 league game milestone for the club) and a hard-fought 1-1 away draw with Sunshine George Cross.

In round twelve, South travelled to George Andrews Reserve for the first time to face the undefeated league leaders Dandenong. In a classic smash-and-grab performance, the away side fought back from deservedly being 2-0 down to pinch an unlikely 2-2 draw and could have stolen all three points had De Nittis’ quick turn and shot not been cleverly saved at the near post by Stuart Webster.

The unbeaten run came to an end at the Olympic Village as a ten-man South did everything but find the back of the net in a 1-0 defeat to Heidelberg. This was soon forgotten the next week when six goals were put in the back of the Preston goal as the side won 6-2. The following week South travelled to Somers Street to meet the struggling Melbourne Knights. Despite taking an early lead through Youssef, the away side failed to capitalise on many goal opportunities and as a result the Knights fought back for a deserved 1-1 draw.

South launched ‘Foundation Round’ in the round 16 home clash against Whittlesea and wore a white strip with the red V as a tribute to the original shirt worn by the great South Melbourne Hellas sides of the early 1960s. The day was a success thanks to an easy 4-0 demolition job on the hapless Whittlesea side. The winning form continued at Kevin Bartlett Reserve the following round, as South won 1-3 despite conceding a controversial early penalty.

Green Gully frustrated South for a second time in 2009 when they left Bob Jane Stadium with a point in round 18. A Tomich error led to Gully’s goal early in the second half before Petrovic equalised with a header. South were denied a winning goal with Coveny’s effort being ruled out for offside despite the referee initially awarding the goal before changing his mind. The frustration continued the following week when Hume inflicted South’s third home loss of the season with a snatch-and-grab 0-1 win.

South travelled to Jack Edwards Reserve desperately needing a win in order to hang into contention for second spot. In an end-to-end battle, Oakleigh took the lead before Coveny equalised in the second half for another frustrating draw. A win the following round was imperative away to Altona, a venue South had not picked up a single point at since returning to the VPL in 2005. This continued as Altona inflicted South’s worst defeat of the season with a 3-0 thumping.

Amazingly, South went into the final round with a mathematical possibility of finishing anywhere from second to seventh. Fernando saved his best for last by scoring one of the cheekiest and controversial goals seen in some time, which ended up being shown around the world via YouTube. Sunshine goalkeeper Martin John took too long to clear the ball after being thrown the ball by Fernando after an injury. Fernando snuck up and dispossessed John before netting an easy goal to send South into the finals. Other results meant that South finished the season in fifth place, meaning a cut-throat Elimination Final appearance against Hume City.

A windy Epping Stadium was where South’s topsy-turvy season ended, when early goals in each half were enough for Hume to advance thanks to a 2-0 win. South was extremely unlucky not to score several times on the day, but it epitomised what had been a frustrating second half of the season, with not enough goals scored from chances created and too many soft goals conceded.

South Melbourne FC farewelled the 2009 season and concluded its series of 50th year celebration events with the 50th Anniversary Gall Ball, held at the Palladium at Crown on Saturday, 7th November. The night was one of high nostalgia yet at the same time provided the 700 guests with a glimpse of what is sure to be a very bright and rewarding future for the club.

SBS Head of Sport Les Murray, known to many in this country as ‘Mr Football’, was the Master of Ceremonies. Mr Murray opened by recalling his first memories of South, that being in 1966 when the Con Nestoridis led side travelled to Sydney to play St George Budapest. Since then Mr Murray covered many South Melbourne NSL matches, which led him to mention how much he grew to strongly appreciate the exceptionally talented players that have played for the club over the decades.

Following the opening address, State Labor Member for Albert Park Mr Martin Foley, South president Leo Athanasakis and Chairman Nick Galatas all made brief speeches congulatulating the club on 50 wonderful years. All three gentlemen also touched on the new stadium deal at Lakeside and how it will have enormous benefits for the club. Messers Athanasakis and Galatas also praised the previous presidents of the club for their enormous contributions to South Melbourne FC.

From there and in chronological year order, the championship winning players of the State League and National League were called onto the stage where each player received an individual plaque as well as induction into the South Melbourne FC Hall of Fame. On stage to present these awards were former presidents (or relatives of deceased presidents) of South Melbourne FC.

Click here to view the 2009 Season highlights courtesy of smfcTV

Privacy Preference Center