South Melbourne FC is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the club’s greats, Mr Ernie Ackerley (aged 73) on Thursday.
Mr Ackerley was born in Manchester, England and spent his youth career playing at Manchester United. He was also an England Under-21 international before arriving at Middle Park from Barrow in September 1964.
Mr Ackerley played for South Melbourne Hellas until 1971, scoring 58 league goals as a forward. He won the club’s top goal scorer award in 1965 and was twice runner-up, to Con Nestoridis (1966) and David Gorrie (1969). Mr Ackerley was the first player in SMFC history to score four goals in Victoria’s top division, with four goals in a 6-1 win against Melbourne Hungaria at Olympic Park in May 1966.
He achieved the following during his time at South Melbourne:
* Victorian State League Championships 1965, 1966;
* Club top goal scorer 1965 (16 league goals, 18 in all competitions);
* Ampol Cup wins 1969, 1970 (scored late in the 1970 final to force extra time);
* One of only nine players in SMFC history to score four goals in a league match;
* SMFC Hall of Fame member.
A few weeks prior to his passing, a small delegation from SMFC including current coach Chris Taylor and club greats Jim Armstrong, Michael Mandalis and Ulysses Kokkinos, visited Mr Ackerley in hospital to present him with a 2017 SMFC shirt. They spent the day chatting, reminiscing about their playing days and even phoned Greece for Ernie to briefly speak with the legendary Con Nestoridis, with the two players having played together up front for South in 1966 and 1967.
Mr Mandalis, a five-time championship winner with SMFC as a player, spoke to smfc.com.au about his great friend. “Ernie truly was one of the greatest players to wear our club’s shirt. For Con Nestoridis [who many supporters and former players consider the greatest South Melbourne player of all time] to still speak highly of Ernie shows how special he was. It really was brilliant seeing Ernie speaking with Nestoridis on the phone the other week.”
“We have lost a legend. I send my deepest condolences to Ernie’s wife Wendy and their children on this sad day.”
Vale Ernie Ackerley, 23 September 1943 to 1 June 2017.