South Melbourne FC is in mourning after learning that its first ever coach in 1960, Mr Christos Georgoussis, passed away on the night of Tuesday 2 December 2014.
Mr Chris Georgoussis was a star for Greek club Iraklis in the 1950s and was recognised not only as a legend of that club but also as a member of the Iraklis Team of the Century. His excellent playing career for Iraklis prompted an invitation to play for the Greek national side, however injury sadly prohibited his progress at international level.
Mr Georgoussis then made his way to Melbourne, where South Melbourne United, Yarra Park and Hellenic had merged to form South Melbourne Hellas in 1959. Mr Georgoussis was appointed as player-coach for South Melbourne Hellas’ first ever season of competition in the 1960 Victorian Metropolitan Division One North competition. This was the division below the old Victorian State League (which became the Victorian Premier League and is now known as NPL Victoria).
South Melbourne Hellas statistically enjoyed its best League season on record in that first year of 1960, winning 17 and drawing one of their 18 League matches. This easily won them promotion into the 1961 Victorian State League as League Champions and gave Mr Georgoussis an undefeated record as coach. Only Mick Watson in 1982 (albeit he only coached four games for two wins and two draws) can join Mr Georgoussis in being officially undefeated as a South Melbourne coach throughout the Club’s history. In 1961, Mr Georgoussis stepped down as South Melbourne coach but continued to play under Len Young and then Manny Poulakakis, who replaced Young during the State League season.
Although he was only at South Melbourne for two seasons, Mr Georgoussis had a profound impact on the Club and was behind the move to bring other great players over from Greece. He recommended to the committee of the time (which included the great Theo Marmaras) that players such as goalkeeper George Karpouzas (1960-1963), Jordan Ieremiadis (1960-1964), George Papadopoulos (1960-1966) and John Margaritis (also known as “Yianellos”, 1961-1967) come to Melbourne to play for South Melbourne. Those players – along with many others – combined to make South Melbourne a Victorian powerhouse in the 1960s, winning Victorian State League Championships in 1962, 1964, 1965 and 1966.
Mr Georgoussis is survived by his wife Katina, his family Steve Georgoussis, Greg and Jeannie Daglis and his grandchildren Nicholas, Christopher and Angelique.
Current South Melbourne FC President, Leo Athanasakis, expressed his deepest condolences to the Georgoussis family. “Everyone at the Club is very saddened to learn of Mr Christos Georgoussis’ passing. We have lost a man that was an enormous influence during the earliest days of South Melbourne in 1960. Mr Georgoussis was the man who guided our Club from Division One into the old State League on the first attempt and he helped bring players to the Club that guided us to four Victorian State League Championships throughout the 1960s. We are deeply indebted to Mr Georgoussis for all that he did for our great Club.”
The entire South Melbourne FC family extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr Christos Georgoussis.
Picture 1: South Melbourne Hellas players at the old South Melbourne cricket ground, 1960.
Back Row: George Papadopoulos, Jordan Ieremiadis, Leo Anezakis (Team Manager), Alekos Nanos, Christos Georgoussis.
Front Row: Stefanos Fortomanos.
Picture 2: South Melbourne Hellas players at the old Olympic Park, 1960
Back Row: Antonis Hatzieleftheriou, Alekos Nanos, ???, Chris Picoulas, Antonis Karagiannis, ???, Alexandros Malaxos, Bill Kourkoulakos, John Hatzigeorgiou, Harry Vamvakas (GK), Christos Georgoussis (Coach).
Front Row: George Karpouzas (GK), Stefanos Fortomanos, George Papadopoulos.