Sunday, 16 December 2018

Sydney Olympic Off-Season – December

It’s that time of the year where not that much is going on. The club has already gone in early on their signings and re-signings and it appears that at this stage, the squad is pretty much settled for 2019:

Paul Henderson, William Angel, Jason Madonis, Niko Tsattalios, Alejandro Sanchez, Radovan Pavicevic, Hagi Gligor, Jinya An, Thomas Whiteside, Nicola Kuleski, Riley Woodcock, Zach Mackenzie, Ezequiel Consoni, Jake de Marigny, Stephen Athanaseris Billy Patramanis, Mitch Stamatellis, Troy Danaskos, Harris Gaitatzis, Michael Gaitatzis.

Darcy Burgess has returned from his overseas trial and has re-joined the squad.

We will just wait and see whether anyone else is added, but at this stage that’s how the squad is looking.

The squad has all gotten together and have done a few sessions of pre-season work. They will break for the Christmas and New Year period and by mid-January, preparations for 2019 should be in full swing. By then, the start of the new season will be just around the corner and who knows, maybe Football NSW will have released the Draw for the 2019 season.

Of course, the other big issue which is pre-occupying the minds of a lot of Sydney Olympic Supporters. is this situation with Tempe Reserve.

It has been nearly 5 years since this was first announced by the Club and mentioned in media circles prominently, by the late Mike Cockerill.

In that time, there has been a change at Board level at Sydney Olympic and the Marrickville Council, which gave its backing and in-principle support to Sydney Olympic to redevelop parts of Tempe Reserve, no longer exists.

The newly amalgamated Inner West Council, which took a while to get its affairs in order and get going, finally decided that it would move forward with the tender process with the Club. Discussions resumed and they were on-going as of mid-2018.

Two weeks ago it was reported in The Greek Herald, that the Club had met with the Council for further consultations, any news from this meeting or decisions coming out of it, has been hard to come by, nobody is saying a lot.

Given Sydney Olympic’s track record in this type of thing, it is very easy to be pessimistic or just plain negative about it all. If not by the end of this year, definitely by early 2019, we should have some idea of what is going on.

Until then, Merry Christmas to everyone and see you next year.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Sydney Olympic Off-Season – November

A fair bit has happened since the last blog. Sydney Olympic has announced the re-signing of 16 players from the 2018 squad:

Paul Henderson, William Angel, Jason Madonis, Niko Tsattalios, Alejandro Sanchez, Radovan Pavicevic, Hagi Gligor, Jinya An, Thomas Whiteside, Nicola Kuleski, Riley Woodcock, Zach Mackenzie, Ezequiel Consoni, Jake de Marigny, Billy Patramanis and also Darcy Burgess.

But like his brother Max, it appears Darcy is off and is heading to Europe to try his luck, specifically with Spanish 3rd tier club, Unionistas of Salamanca. So, we will have to wait and see what comes of that.


Apart from those re-signings, the club also announced a few more signings for 2019, with some interesting names returning to the club.

Mitchell Stamatellis is back at Sydney Olympic after his 1 season sabbatical at Hakoah. A good player and a good character who can cover several positions, so he is a welcome addition to the squad for 2019.

Troy Danaskos, who last played for us in 2015 before having a crack at the a-league, is back via a couple of detours in Bonnyrigg and Marconi. He did not set the comp on fire at either of those 2 clubs, so it will be interesting to see what he dishes up for us in 2019.

Harris Gaitatzis, who chased some coin (and good on him) over at the un-named for the past 2 seasons is back. He seems to be a direct replacement for Max Burgess in the No. 10 role and he should have some good football left in him and no doubt, he likes the idea of having the chance to win some silverware at Sydney Olympic.

Michael Gaitatzis has also returned after scoring for fun in the NPL 3 competition last season. In his previous life at the club, he managed to score some big goals for Sydney Olympic. Who could forget the one night when we all froze our nuts off down in Gungahlin in the FFA Cup that year.

Although the club has re-signed Sanchez and Pavicevic, you never know what will happen as anybody from anywhere, can now swoop in and take whichever player they want, that is the nature of the sport these days. But if we manage to hold on to both of those forwards, it’s going to be interesting to see where Michael Gaitatzis fits in to Abbas Saad’s plans.

From what I understand, all the players and coaches caught up only a few days ago for a get together and will soon ease their way into pre-season over the next few weeks, before they break for the Christmas/New Year period.

On the Tempe Reserve re-development situation, we will continue to wait to see what happens on that front. Negotiations are apparently continuing and by the New Year we should know either way, whether it is going ahead or not.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Sydney Olympic Off-Season – October

It has been a month since our season ended disappointingly in Adelaide at the Semi-Final stage of the NPL National Finals Series. We will just have to make do with the 2018 NSW NPL Minor Premiership-Championship Double.

And now, we settle in for one hell of a long and boring off-season.

Looking ahead at 2019, being Defending Champions next season will certainly bring its own difficulties and challenges. Every season Sydney Olympic is the hunted, no matter who, when and where we are playing, but that will be ratcheted up big time next year, given we will be the Defending Champions.

With that fact in mind, our players will be and already have been, the target of other clubs. Money and all sorts of other promises will be thrown at them, to lure them away from Belmore.

When it comes to recruitment, currently it is all fairly quiet on that front. There are a few rumours and whispers floating around about the possible return to Sydney Olympic of Mitchell Stamatellis, Michael Gaitatzis and others, but nothing has been announced by the Club as of yet, so that is merely wishful thinking for now.

On the departures side of things, it was made public last week, that Max Burgess had left the Club and has decided to take up an offer to play in the a-league with the Wellington Phoenix for the upcoming season. He was outstanding for us in 2018 and fully deserves this opportunity, so good luck to him.

But with our main concern here obviously being Sydney Olympic, the loss of Max Burgess is a heavy blow and will have a huge impact on our ability to defend our Title. It will be a very difficult task to try and replace him.

Onto the Tempe Reserve redevelopment, it is as you were in regards to that issue, with Sydney Olympic and the Inner-West Council remaining locked in negotiations over the future of the project. It’s all pretty hush-hush at the moment, but we should definitely know come the end of 2018 or by early 2019, which way it goes.

Finally, very sad news this month was the passing of ever-present supporter Steve Argyros, if you didn’t know him, you definitely heard him every week. Going to matches next year and not hearing Big Steve is going to take some getting used to. Condolences to his family and friends.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Season Review – Campbelltown City 2-1 Sydney Olympic

Sydney Olympic’s season ended in Adelaide on Saturday Afternoon, after going down 2-1 to Campbelltown City in the NPL National Semi-Final, eliminating us from the tournament and kissing goodbye the chance to automatically qualify for the 2019 FFA Cup Round of 32. Meaning we will have to do it the hard way, something which we have not been able to accomplish since 2015.

The match itself, we completely dominated the first-half and scored very early thanks to a Max Burgess long-range bomb, we should have been 5 or 6 up at the half-time break, we were the far better side, but we butchered numerous chances. Right on half-time, we dropped our guard and allowed them back into the match as they equalised, to bring the score to 1-1 at the break.

In the second-half, both sides created several opportunities and we were well in the contest, but as time ticked on, it looked increasingly likely that we were heading for extra-time. Unfortunately, a dubious penalty decision was given against us deep into injury-time, which cost us the game. Former Sydney Olympic defender Iain Fyfe, made no mistake to put us out 2-1.

Disappointing way to end the season obviously.

Below is a review of the squad for 2018:

- Paul Henderson – Had another outstanding season, but at 42, how much longer can he go on for, will be the big question.
- Tom Whiteside – Improved massively in 2018, had a great season.
- Jake de Marigny – Has missed 2 years of football now, no idea what’s happening with his injuries or what his situation is at the club.
- George Timotheou – Was a gun for us until he left for Schalke. What could have been a disaster and massive loss for our campaign was somehow salvaged, as we scrambled together a good enough defensive unit to hold steady and win the Championship.
- Rafa Jimenez – Was touted as a good signing, but only lasted a couple of games before he was gone, not sure what happened there.
- James Demetriou – Mid-season signing, good player, but let down the club and left us in the lurch for the trip to Adelaide and had he been there, it could have been a different story on Saturday.
- Nikola Kuleski – Good season and the type of bulldog most teams need in the middle of the park, if they are going to be successful.
- William Angel – Another consistent year from Will, always ready and willing to do whatever the team needs.
- Jason Madonis – Another good season from the skipper, firmly cementing himself to becoming a club legend.
- Radovan Pavicevic – Had a much better year than last season, was more comfortable in the 2nd striker/wide forward role and was a good foil for Alex Sanchez.
- Max Burgess – One of our best this season and unbelievably consistent for us for the entire campaign. Look forward to seeing him get even better.
- Jinya An – Ran all day, did whatever was needed by Abbas this season, played in various positions and didn’t disappoint anyone. Good season.
- Zac Mackenzie – Mid-season signing from APIA and after the departure of Timotheou, he slotted in seamlessly into the CB position and helped us to the Premiership and Championship.
- Alex Sanchez – What more needs to be said about this guy? The exact type of player Sydney Olympic Supporters have been screaming out for, for years. Someone to consistently put away our opportunities and score the goals, and boy didn’t he do that. A revelation.
- Brendan Hooper – Returned to the club midway through the season, adding some much-needed depth to the squad. Was ultimately used in a substitute role in the back end of the season.
- Darcy Burgess – Much improved player and an important cog in the Sydney Olympic machine in 2018.
- Ezequiel Consoni – Limited game time.
- Stephen Athanaseris – Limited game time.
- Riley Woodcock – Was a much-needed signing for us and proved to be invaluable for us down the left flank, had a great season.
- Hagi Gligor – Disappointingly missed the entire season for us after being hacked by a Hakoah grub earlier in the year. Good to see him ease his way back into the side these last few matches, should be ready and raring to go in 2019.
- Niko Tsattalios – Generally used as a super-sub throughout the season, he always added something and looked dangerous whenever on the park.
- Paul Katsetis – Another one who missed most of the season through injury, not sure of his situation at the club for next season.
- Youngsters like, Billy Patramanis, Callum Fitzpatrick, Ben Morrison, Adam Hristodoulou, Lachlan Watson, also appeared for us at various stages throughout the year.

I would say, without knowing 100%, that most of the players will be with us for 2019, but even still, it will not be enough, we must also strengthen and not rest on our laurels.

The last few Champions, Bonnyrigg, Blacktown City and Manly United, have all fallen in a heap recently. We must stay vigilant so as to not suffer the same fate. There are some good players out there that we should be going after and hopefully the club is on top of all of that and we see a couple of additions for next season.

Despite the disappointing end to the season, no one can be disappointed in the effort and accomplishments of the team this season. We are Premiers and Champions and nobody expected it. Congratulations to everybody who had anything to do with it, it was a collective effort and a well deserved reward for everyone’s efforts and was an amazing ride for the Sydney Olympic Supporters.

I will keep it short for the Tempe Reserve saga:

After hearing and talking about this for nearly 5 years, 2018 is the last year of the exclusive negotiating period with the Marrickville now Inner-West Council and Sydney Olympic, meaning by the end of 2018 or the start of 2019, we will know either way whether there is a green light for this project to begin or once again, the club will be shafted. We will wait and see.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Sydney Olympic 1-0 Perth SC

Sydney Olympic has begun its National NPL Finals Series with a hard-fought victory over the Western Australian Premiers, Perth SC, at Lambert Park on Sunday Afternoon.

Any talk of a potential Grand Final hangover coming into this match was put to rest, at least early on in the contest, as we started off well enough and within the first 5 minutes of the game, we had been awarded a penalty. Some nice bit of play down the right-hand side saw William Angel make his way into the box, where he was then fouled by a Perth defender. Jason Madonis stepped up and made no mistake with the spot-kick, to put us 1-0 ahead. Perth SC were a willing opponent and did not drop their heads as they got themselves back into the game. Even still, we had the better of the first-half and created a host of opportunities and we most certainly should have been in front by more than 1, as we headed to the half-time break. But, some poor finishing by us, left the door ajar for the opposition instead of killing the game off by half-time.

At the start of the second-half, Perth were the more desperate of the two teams and it showed, flying in with some dreadful challenges, all going unchecked by the referee as usual. We looked threatening enough in the early stages of the second-half but could not find the 2nd goal. The longer it stayed at 1-0, the confidence of Perth grew more and more, aware that we could not put them away. As a result, they started to play some football and had a couple of really good chances to punish us, but luckily for us they could not take advantage. After weathering this storm midway through the second-half, we gained a foot-hold back into the game and with Perth pushing on, it left them exposed at the back for us to counter-attack and we did we thought successfully, as we thought we had scored through Alejandro Sanchez, only for it to be disallowed for some reason. After a frantic last 10 or so minutes, the relief was evident as the referee blew for full-time, seeing us come away 1-0 victors.

It was a game where we rode our luck at stages and it is always difficult playing against an opposition you know nearly nothing about, but we did well enough and got the desired result.

It was good to see Hagi Gligor back on the field of play on Sunday after several months out, after suffering a serious leg injury via a horrific challenge in the home match with Hakoah back in April. Welcome back.

With Paul Henderson on a well-deserved break, Ezequiel Consoni got his chance in goals once again on Sunday. He looked shaky I must say early on, but a couple of excellent saves to keep Perth at bay, would have done his confidence the world of good as he ended up having a good game in goals.

No doubt it has been a long season for the boys, but with only 2 weeks to go potentially, they should be putting everything into these next matches, stay focused and win this tournament and then enjoy the off-season.

Sydney Olympic is back in action this Saturday, September 22, in the National NPL Semi-Final, against South Australian Premiers, Campbelltown City, at Steve Woodcock Sports Centre, Newton, South Australia, Kick-Off is at 3.30pm Sydney time.

Back to last week’s Grand Final, it was great to see so many old Sydney Olympic shirts around Leichhardt Oval, and it got me thinking at least, that some of these should be re-made by the club for supporters to purchase. The Sydney Winter, doesn’t make it easy to wear short sleeves, but it would be great to see people wearing these retro jerseys out and about throughout the Summer. God knows I would have no problem wearing one.
(L – R):
1960, 1967, 1979, 1983
1984, 1986, 1990, 1994
1995, 1996, 2000, 2002

Monday, 10 September 2018

We are the Champions – Sydney Olympic 3-1 APIA Leichhardt

After what feels like 7 very long years, Sydney Olympic are once again Champions after claiming the NSW Championship, defeating old rivals APIA Leichhardt 3-1 at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.

We set the tone very early on in this Grand Final, taking the lead only a few minutes into the contest. A beautiful ball over the top found a free running Alejandro Sanchez, who’s pinpoint cross found an unmarked Radovan Pavicevic at the back post and his diving header, put us 1-0 up and sent the Sydney Olympic Supporters into early ecstasy. We continued to dominate proceedings, but very soon after this good early spell, APIA Leichhardt gained a foot-hold back into the match and began to play their own game. The contest ebbed and flowed and APIA did create a couple of opportunities to equalise during this period, but we defended brilliantly, a theme which would be repeated throughout the entirety of the day. But it would be us who would add to our lead, another great through ball once again found Alejandro Sanchez, who beat the offside trap and then rounded the APIA goalkeeper to finish expertly and put us 2-0 up, a fantastic goal. Both teams created chances leading up to half-time but at the half-time break, Sydney Olympic took a deserved 2-0 lead into the sheds.

It was a much more subdued beginning to the second-half. But as if realising the gravity of their own situation, APIA soon sprung back into life and pushed forward looking to get back into the match. They put us under pressure and got themselves into good enough positions to maybe score, but they never really threatened with any actual clear-cut chances, as our defence pretty much snuffed out every attack. After weathering this assault, we created several more opportunities and had it not been for APIA’s goalkeeper, we might have found ourselves with a 4 or 5 goal lead. With 15 minutes to go, we hammered the final blow into the 2018 Grand Final, as Alejandro Sanchez once again popped up to score his 2nd goal of the afternoon and extended our lead to 3-0, as O-LYM-PIC, O-LYM-PIC, O-LYM-PIC rang around Leichhardt Oval just like in the old days, it really was turning into a special day. A late controversial penalty awarded against us in injury-time, somewhat dampened the mood for a minute or 2, before that was all quickly forgotten as the referee blew for full-time and we could celebrate another Championship.

It was a truly magnificent afternoon to see so many Sydney Olympic Supporters come out to support the players and the club, the sighting of many a classic Sydney Olympic shirt being worn by many people around the ground also was brilliant to see.

When Abbas Saad was drafted in to coach the side a week before the start of the season, if anybody had said we would go on to claim the Minor Premiership and win the Grand Final, I would have advised them to go seek some medical help immediately.

But it has become a reality and Abbas Saad must take a lot of the credit for these accomplishments and must also take a lot of credit for convincing Alejandro Sanchez to stick around at the club after the departure of Gorka Etxeberria, who was the one who initially brought Alejandro to the club.

Just quickly on APIA, commiserations to them, they have had a big last 2 seasons, deep runs in the Waratah Cup, FFA Cup, Minor Premiership race as well as back-to-back Grand Finals. The loss of one of their most important players at the back end of this season hurt them and they definitely looked a fatigued side there on Sunday at Leichhardt Oval. Best of luck to them in the FFA Cup.

Of course, the season is not quite over yet for Sydney Olympic either, as we have the National NPL Finals Series to look forward to. A competition which involves the 8 other Minor Premiers of the other State Federations. The winner of this particular tournament earns a spot in the 2019 FFA Cup Round of 32, avoiding the need to play the 4 or so midweek qualifiers next season.

It all gets under way this coming Sunday Afternoon, September 16th. as we host WA Premiers, Perth SC at Lambert Park, Kick-Off is at 3.30pm

Monday, 27 August 2018

Into the Grand Final – Sydney Olympic 4-0 Sydney United

Sydney Olympic is the first team into the 2018 NSW NPL Grand Final, after seeing off Sydney United in the Major Semi-Final on Sunday Night. A hat-trick from Alejandro Sanchez and 1 from Jason Madonis did the damage for the Blues.

Despite the score-line and what appears to be an easy, straight-forward victory, it was anything but in the opening stages of the first-half. We were under the pump early on and could well have gone behind inside the first 10 minutes. The opposition had a couple of good chances to take the lead, but fortunately for us we were able to dodge these bullets. We were looking a little rattled, before we finally composed ourselves and got ourselves into the match. Somewhat against the run of play, we managed to hit them with a dagger after a great poacher’s goal from Alejandro Sanchez. Mid-way through the first-half Sydney Olympic found itself in front. From this point on, we dominated the rest of the first-half, we capitalised on this dominance by getting our 2nd goal of the game via a Sydney United error, and Jason Madonis was on hand to take full advantage to put us 2-0 up. Not even 60 seconds later we had our 3rd and Alejandro Sanchez grabbed a double, as he was found with a good pass before doing the rest to smash his shot home and put us 3-0 up. It was the opposition who now found themselves shell-shocked. We had chances to extend our lead in the closing stages of the first-half, but at the half-time break we had to settle for our 3-0 lead.

As expected, Sydney United came out the hungrier at the start of the second-half, looking to claw back the deficit. To their credit, they did create a few opportunities, but some good defending by us kept them at bay and kept our clean sheet. Just as they were looking to get on top, 20 or so minutes into the second-half, we hit them with the sucker-punch as Alejandro Sanchez broke free, beat his defender and then finished with a plomb for his hat-trick and put us into an unassailable 4-0 lead. We were on fire and could have quite easily made it 5 or 6, but we just lacked that little bit of composure, maybe we were too excited. The last 15 or so minutes of the match were end-to-end, as the opposition went searching for a miracle and for some quick goals, but they left themselves open at the back for counter-attacks. We easily could have scored a few more goals, but everybody was satisfied enough at the full-time whistle with the 4-0 victory and securing a spot in the Grand Final.

We were the better side overall and deserved the victory. Form is all about timing, and we are playing very well at the right time of the season, led of course up front by the revelation that has been Alejandro Sanchez.

We here and most Sydney Olympic Supporters have been saying for some time now, that we have had a good enough XI, all be it with a lack of squad depth, but in this league, you need a quality striker who can make the difference in the important matches, and we definitely have that this season.

The Grand Final this year will be held at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday September 9th. We will now wait to see who we face from the Winner of the Preliminary Final this coming weekend, APIA Leichhardt or Sydney United.

Whoever it might be, all Sydney Olympic Supporters should be at the Grand Final to push the team to victory, see some good football and to salute the players on what has been a fantastic season up to this point.

Obviously beyond the Grand Final, we are also involved in the end-of-season National NPL Finals Series. The draw which has already been done, sees us host Perth SC (Azzuri), the Western Australian Minor Premiers in an Elimination Final on the weekend of the 15th/16th of September.