When South Melbourne and Melbourne Knights take the field in Friday night’s FFV Community Shield, another chapter will be added to one of Australian football’s greatest rivalries.
While the ‘original’ Melbourne Derby may not hold the intensity it once did when both clubs were competing for national titles in the early 1990s, there is no doubt that this match is no ordinary football fixture.
There is nothing like a derby in football. They are matches which hold a greater significance than regular games, for intangible reasons, irrespective of where each team is on the table, or whether the game is even for points.
The two sides first met in 1960, a match South ran away 2-0 winners over a Melbourne Knights side that then went by the name ‘Preston Croatia’.
Both clubs enjoy a rich history, and have been bound together by both success and the changing landscape of football in this country.
Both have tasted the success of being national champions, whilst both have suffered the pitfalls of relegation back to the state leagues. It can also be said, that both sides harbour ambitions to compete again at the top level.
In 1984, the two sides met for the first time in the National Soccer League (NSL). South Melbourne enjoyed the majority of the success in the national league, with 54 matches against the Knights resulting in 25 victories, 16 draws and 13 defeats. However, five of these losses came in finals.
During the late eighties and early nineties, the sides clashed ten times in NSL finals matches. Many of these finals matches went to extra-time or penalties, and gave the fixture an added reputation.
There was the 1990/91 NSL Grand Final, where South Melbourne lifted the trophy after a 5-4 victory on penalties. Earlier, Joe Palatsides had equalised for South Melbourne with only seconds remaining in regular time.
The 1994/95 preliminary final will be remembered as the match which thrust Mark Viduka into the national spotlight, with the teenager scoring a hat-trick in a 3-2 victory to put Knights into the Grand Final at the expense of their rivals.
More recently, A Trent Rixon goal saw South upset the odds in 2012/13 with a 1-0 victory in the VPL semi-
final, after Melbourne Knights had gone into the game as firm favourites. The clash drew almost 5000 people through the gates.
Last season saw a mixture of emotions for South fans, with the Hellas winning both league clashes, but falling to Knights in the Dockerty Cup, missing qualification to the FFA Cup as a result.
The match will be the first time these famous clubs have clashed for silverware since the 1990/91 Grand Final. While the match is not for points, both sides will settle for nothing less than a victory.
Friday’s match kicks off at 7.30PM at Knights Stadium. Those who are unable to attend the match can follow live updates on the official South Melbourne FC Facebook page or alternatively through Twitter (@smfc, #MKvSM, #NPLVIC).