A 90th minute Carl Recchia goal kept South Melbourne’s unbeaten streak intact at Bob Jane Stadium as South farewelled 15 years of Lakeside history yesterday before a bumper crowd.

Winless Heidelberg United almost spoiled the party, having led for most of the match, but Recchia’s late goal sparred South’s blushes.

Approximately 2500-3000 fans turned up for the occasion despite the very windy conditions and dark Melbourne skies.

Prior to the match, South Melbourne paraded its many junior teams on the field who formed an extended guard of honour as the two teams came out onto the pitch for what would be the final VPL match at Bob Jane Stadium ahead of the $50.3 million government sponsored upgrade.

But the VPL’s bottom placed side, Heidelberg, began the better of the two sides adjusting to the wind swept Lakeside pitch and putting immediate pressure on South’s defence.

Despite chasing the ball for extended periods, the best chance of the first half fell to South’s Gianni de Nittis, but he failed to convert his one-on-one attempt when he should have done better.

Heidelberg took a deserved lead in the 42nd minute of the match when Hamid Basma scored from close range. South custodian Peter Zois could only parry Craig Elvin’s long range shot, and Basma was there to tap the ball into the back of the net.

The second half began just as the opening period concluded, with scrappy football marring an expected exciting encounter.

South’s much-lauded midfield began to wrestle control of the match from then visitors, but the Berger’s defence marshalled by Elvin did not look like it would be breached.

Recchia, Yousef Yousef and Fernando de Moraes all failed to hit the target with long range efforts as it looked like Heidelberg would hold on to their first win of the season.

But it was Recchia who would have the final say, as he caught Heidelberg goal keeper Tilovski off his line looping a header into the back of the net just as the referee prepared to blow for full time.

South Melbourne is still unbeaten with two wins and four draws from its opening six matches. Heidelberg remains rooted to the foot of the table with three draws and three losses.

The weekend’s match was the final South Melbourne match at Bob Jane Stadium for an 18-month period, as the club makes way for the $50.3 million upgrade and refurbishment of the stadium.

In the interim, South will play at the Darebin International Sports Centre where Northocte City Iraklis also plays its home matches.

The Victorian Government has committed to build the new stadium that will house both football and athletics. The original cost of the refurbishment – $50.3 million – covered demolition and construction of new grandstands and a three-storey administration building as well as an Olympic standard track.

It was reported by The Age that an additional $5 million has been requested for additional upgrades including improved lighting and a full action scoreboard and screen

South Melbourne will remain in the Bob Jane-branded western-side grandstand and will return to play matches at the refurbished facility after an 18-month construction period.

The 14,000 capacity Bob Jane Stadium has seen hosted some historic teams over the past fifteen years, including the EURO 2000 winners France (in 2001), EURO 2004 winners Greece (in 2006) and the Socceroos (in 1997 before the Iran series, in 2001 before the French friendly and Uruguay series and in 2007 and 2008 before Melbourne Asian Cup and World Cup Qualifiers).

South Melbourne holds both major records at the stadium. The record crowd at the venue for an NSL fixture was 14,850 spectators, when South Melbourne beat Carlton Soccer Club 1-0 in the 1997/98 Major Semi Final second leg.

Despite BJS having held many VPL Grand Finals, the record crowd for a VPL fixture is 11,800, achieved in 2005 when South Melbourne hosted Heidelberg United. Interestingly, this figure is also the highest ever attendance recorded at a VPL match.

South Melbourne announced this week that a weekly half hour television program called SMFC TV will be screened on Channel 31 at 10 am every Saturday morning.

The program will commence on Saturday April 17th with the first episode focusing on the final traditional derby at Bob Jane Stadium, including full match coverage and special behind the scenes footage for all football fans to enjoy.

As the season progresses, SMFC TV will focus directly on bringing the latest news from the club, as well providing all South Melbourne FC and general football fans with a modern and fresh view of the club.

Head of Marketing, Corporate Sales, and Events George Triantos speaking to smfc.com.au said, “This is an another exciting move by the Club as we now have a full compliment of TV, print, radio, online and digital mediums to promote the Club. Three months of planning and discussions have seen the program become a reality, with the necessary capital investment in equipment to ensure the program is of a high quality.

I would like to thank all members of the Multimedia Subcommittee working together to achieve this fantastic outcome.”