In mid 2004, South Melbourne FC – or South Melbourne Hellas to her fanatical devotees, both Greek and non-Greek – was on the brink of obliteration: financial administrators had been called in, its entire squad had left and most people thought the club was a lost cause.

Fast forward to 2009 however, and after overcoming several highs and lows, South Melbourne proudly celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, with a wide range of events remembering the club’s enormous achievements, but also with an eye towards the future.

The club is patiently negotiating with the Victorian Government in regards to Athletics Victoria’s and the Victorian Institute of Sport’s move to Lakeside from its current home at Olympic Park, being careful to avoid the mistakes of previous committees in signing long term contracts which end up costing the club serious money in the long run.

The redevelopment of the club’s home of Lakeside Stadium is crucial to not only the club’s survival, but also its future prosperity on and off the pitch.

After many years of failing to make the most of the venue’s commercial potential, South Melbourne has started reaping the benefits of the greatest asset at its disposal.

While the exact details of the proposed $74 million redevelopment remain mostly under wraps at this stage, the details that have emerged point towards South Melbourne entrenching its place in the local area, which it has called home for the past 50 years, and through the various mergers even back to the early days of Victorian soccer.

Beginning with several new pitches, including two with synthetic surfaces – situated near the pit lane buildings near the location of the club’s former home of Middle Park – as well as a new pavilion, the club will be able to bring back a local junior presence for the first time in over a decade, as well as expand and improve the quality of facilities for the club’s women’s division.

Closer to home, while the addition of a running track will lessen the viewing experience of what is still the state’s premier purpose built soccer venue (until the completion of the Swan Street Stadium), the possible addition of a new stand on the outer side and reconfiguring of the social club space will no doubt enhance the overall experience.

South Melbourne FC is one of the Greek-Australian community’s greatest achievements; from a neglected field in Middle Park; to multiple Australian and Victorian titles; and all the way to the Maracana in 50 years.

After surviving through the most difficult part of its history, the club appears reborn and reinvigorated, and ready to face the challenges that await it in the next 50 years.