South Melbourne kicked-off its 50th Anniversary celebrations in absolute style last week, as the club officially launched season 2009 with a star studded invitation dinner.
The luxurious event held beneath the stars on the Albert Park club’s Lakeside stadium pitch attracted local dignitaries, media personalities and past greats of South Melbourne including multiple Championship winning captain and coach Ange Postecoglou, the inspirational Jimmy Armstrong, the legendary Jim Pyrgolios and former President George Donikian.
Upon arrival, guests were escorted onto the hallowed turf of Bob Jane Stadium to enjoy champagne and canapes prior to the commencement of proceedings. Guests mingled and shook hands with former Hellas players such as Takis Mandarakis, Jim Pyrgolios, Jimmy Armstrong, Dean Anastasidis, Ange Postecoglou, George Papadopoulos, Peter Tsolakis, Manny Anezakis, Giovanni Batticiotto, Marko Fode, Frank Micic, Peter Mandalis, Chris Kalafatidies and Ulysses Kokkinos amongst others.
Board member and the evening’s MC George Triantos gave a rousing speech, welcoming guests and naming each of the former players in attendance, who each received warm and generous applause.
Club President Leo Athanasakis also welcomed the 300 strong crowd and invited everyone to be a part of what will undoubtedly be a historic year for the South Melbourne Football Club.
Senior coach Michael Michalakopoulos then paid tribute to the senior squad who barely hours earlier had been crowned 2009 Hellenic Cup Champions after defeating Heidelberg United 3-0 in the final. Michalakopoulos told eager listeners that the club is aiming only for the 2009 Victorian Premier League championship to celebrate the club’s 50th year.
Ramazan Tavsancioglu was announced as the 2009 club captain with returning great Vaughan Coveny and defender Steven O’Dor honoured with vice captaincy roles. Fan favourite ‘Rama’, as he is affectionately known, also spoke of the player’s focus and desire for success in 2009.
The three members of the leadership group then removed their jackets, to reveal South Melbourne’s three strips for the 2009 season, much to the delight of the crowd on hand.
Three stunning heritage strips were unveiled, with the first two (by apparel sponsor Errea) representing two of the club’s foundation clubs which merged to form South Melbourne Hellas in 1959.
A striped blue and white shirt paying tribute to Hellenic was an immediate hit with the crowd, as was the more familiar white with red ‘v’ of South Melbourne United. These two strips will only be worn for the first two matches of the season, against Dandenong Thunder and in round two against Heidelberg.
The long awaited main playing strip by 2009 apparel sponsor Adidas, which will be won for the remainder of the season, was then unveiled with unanimous approval judging by the applause from the crowd.
South 2009 shirt sponsor was also announced. miRoamer, a company making massive in-roads in Europe with their internet radio technology, renewing their major sponsorship of the club.
Antenna Pacific, Coffex Coffee, Kinisi Live, and ABC Interiors who are sponsoring the back of the playing shirt, were also announced as sponsors.
Long-time South Melbourne fan and multimedia developer Paul Zaragiannis compiled a 13 minute tribute video which saw emotions running high after it was screened to the appreciative guests. The video which features photos and videos from South 50 year history is absolutely incredible and a “must-see” for all Hellas fans, young and old.
The night concluded with player auctions, a silent auction and a raffle – all of which raised large anounts of funds for South.
Another highlight was the impromptu speech by former President and Channel 10 news reader and media celebrity George Donikian who amused all with the story of his recent prime-time pro-South ‘propaganda’ on Triple M!
As the present players celebrated their Hellenic Cup triumph and guests mingled with the former greats, one could not help being captured by the atmosphere and the feeling that something great is brewing for South Melbourne in 2009, the club’s 50th year.
All football lovers are encouraged to join the club as members in 2009. Visit www.smfc.com.au.