South Melbourne FC enjoyed a relatively successful 2009 season, on and off the field.
With the club celebrating its 50th birthday and after consecutive seasons without a finals appearance, it was imperative that South Melbourne FC hit form again.
Behind the scenes, South’s board not only pulled off an incredible 50th Anniversary celebration, but have secured the club’s long-term future with a new stadium deal.
South opened the season by competing in, and winning, the Hellenic Cup.
The final against Heidelberg was a non-event, with Vaughan Coveny and Gianni De Nittis sending South 2-0 up before Fernando De Moraes wrapped up the scoring with a wonderful curling effort from outside the area.
The club celebrated the win long into the night on the pitch of Bob Jane Stadium in the 2009 season launch.
Despite the near-flawless pre-season, the opening two matches of the league season were a disaster, with newly-promoted Dandenong Thunder and old rivals Heidelberg both defeating South 1-0 at Bob Jane Stadium.
Things looked to be going from bad to worse in round three when Preston opened the scoring at Connor Reserve. However O’Dor and new signing Joseph Youssef gave South a halftime lead before Goran Zoric stunned the crowd with four second half goals as South ran out 7-1 winners.
Zoric’s effort meant he joined an exclusive club in being one of only eight players to have scored four goals in a league match for South Melbourne FC.
Captain Rama Tavsancioglu celebrated 100 league matches for the club when South travelled to Green Gully Reserve in round seven. Fernando’s penalty was South’s first goal at the venue in 23 years, which was also the last time South won there.
Coveny’s header against Hume elevated him alongside Paul Trimboli as the only two players to score 100 league goals for South Melbourne FC, simply an outstanding achievement for the veteran.
Sebastian Petrovic scored his first for the season as South beat Hume 2-1 to win the inaugural ANZAC Day Cup.
The undefeated run continued with a scoreless draw against Oakleigh, a 2-0 home win against Altona (in which Fernando celebrated his 100 league game milestone for the club) and a hard-fought 1-1 away draw with Sunshine George Cross.
In round twelve, South travelled to George Andrews Reserve for the first time to face the undefeated league leaders Dandenong. In a classic smash-and-grab performance, the away side fought back from deservedly being 2-0 down to pinch an unlikely 2-2 draw.
The unbeaten run came to an end at the Olympic Village as a ten-man South did everything but find the back of the net in a 1-0 defeat to Heidelberg.
This was soon forgotten the next week when six goals were put in the back of the Preston goal as the side won 6-2.
South launched ‘Foundation Round’ in the round 16 home clash against Whittlesea and wore a white strip with the red V as a tribute to the original shirt worn by the great South Melbourne Hellas sides of the early 1960s.
Amazingly, South went into the final round with a mathematical possibility of finishing anywhere from second to seventh.
Fernando saved his best for last by scoring one of the cheekiest and controversial goals seen in some time, which ended up being shown around the world via YouTube.
A windy Epping Stadium was where South’s topsy-turvy season ended, when early goals in each half were enough for Hume to advance thanks to a 2-0 win.
South Melbourne FC farewelled the 2009 season and concluded its series of 50th year celebration events with the 50th Anniversary Gall Ball, held at the Palladium at Crown on Saturday, 7th November.
The night was one of high nostalgia yet at the same time provided the 700 guests with a glimpse of what is sure to be a very bright and rewarding future for the club. SBS Head of Sport Les Murray, known to many in this country as ‘Mr Football’, was the Master of Ceremonies.
The championship winning players of the State League and National League were called onto the stage where each player received an individual plaque as well as induction into the South Melbourne FC Hall of Fame. On stage to present these awards were former presidents (or relatives of deceased presidents) of South Melbourne FC.
In reviewing 2009, departing coach Michael Michalakopoulos can be proud of his efforts in building his own side and achieving a finals position as well as the Hellenic Cup triumph.