From its humble beginnings in 1957, Pan Hellenic became Sydney Olympic, a powerhouse of the former NSL, that produced over 60 Socceroos including Peter Katholos, Ned Zelic and Brett Emerton.
Many fans view the 1990 NSL Grand Final 2-0 victory over Marconi as its greatest moment, ending more than 20 years of disappointment after the heartbreak of losing the 1984, 1986 and 1989 deciders.
The joy and jubilation of the clubs’ first NSL title was too much for some Olympic fans, with the then record football crowd of 26,454 at Paramatta Stadium forcing part of the ground’s fence to collapse.
Olympic’s second Grand Final win in 2002, in front of another record football crowd of 42,735 in Perth, is also part of Olympic folklore, as was the time Liverpool legend Ian Rush played for the club in 1999.
Sydney Olympic CEO John Boulous is optimistic that its die-hard fans can relive the glory days again through a national second division which is underpinned to the A-League.
Boulous is a member of the Australian Association of Football Clubs (AAFC) – the organisation aiming to create a second tier and he is confident the Greek backed club would be a contender to join the imminent competition.
“Without a doubt, Sydney Olympic could add a lot of value to the league,” he told Neos Kosmos.
“The moment an opportunity comes up, fans are ready to support the club like they did at last year’s NSW NPL Grand Final which saw Olympic dominate the crowd against APIA with over 7,000 people. I am confident, when the time comes, that Sydney Olympic will be right up there expressing an interest and be a very strong contender to take one of those licenses.
Boulous, added, “I am also very positive that the AAFC committee is importantly working to ensure that Australian football has a second tier that it is not only going to be soemthing that the game should be proud of, but something that is sustainable.”
When FFA CEO Chris Nikou admitted in March that promotion and relegation wouldn’t come earlier than 2034 due to the current A-League clubs having a licence till then, there was an outcry.
This apparent slip-up led to many believing that the second division would also be on hold, but speaking to Neos Kosmos, Nikou revealed that plans for a second tier are full steam ahead.
“Regarding a second division, the theory or things that have to be addressed have been sent to the Board and then it’s as quickly as we can make it financially viable,” he said.
“We’ve made it pretty clear, despite what some people want to attribute, is that we need to get the A-League model right, get a second division up and running and (only) when you have those two things in place can you have a sensible discussion about promotion and relegation.”
Sydney CEO, Boulous, is adamant that a second division must happen sooner rather than later.
“The game needs it,” he said.
“We have limited number of clubs and limited number of players in each of those clubs. There are a lot of talented players and given the chance and the right environment they will have the opportunity to further their development. That is what the second tier should be about, giving more development in a more professional football environment to those that have the potential to move beyond. I am confident it will happen in the next couple of years.”
Moves towards a national second division has inspired Olympic club to improve its youth development with some of the clubs youth teams visiting Germany and Spain in March.
There, Sydney Olympic FC’s Under 11, 13 and 15 squads visited FC Schalke 04 headquarters and watched former Sydney Olympic player George Timotheou play for Schalke U-23’s squad.
After playing FC Schalke 04, the Olympic youngsters then travelled to Mallorca, Spain and played in a youth tournament against Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona youth teams.
Boulous believes these initiatives are helping the club’s youngsters ready themselves for the NPL and beyond and gave the example of George Timotheou who made his Bundesliga debut last weekend.
“That really is the indicator for us,” he said.
“Players that join our pathway have a number of options, from our junior pathway into our senior ranks. They can go overseas or progress to the A-League. So we see Olympic as a club that not only has the coaching and expertise within our club but the opportunities that exist with identification beyond our club. So players can fulfil whatever path and whatever dream they chose to go down, providing they are good enough and are committed.”