Thursday, 10 November 2016

Sydney Olympic Off-Season Blog #3 – November

Well we are deep, smack bang in the middle of the off-season, with the First Grade squad only recently beginning pre-season training in the hope of a better campaign for Sydney Olympic in 2017.

First order of business is news on our coach. After 3 and a half seasons Grant Lee is no longer the coach of Sydney Olympic and from what I understand he will be fulfilling a different position for the Club.

His tenure as coach you’d have to say was a mixed bag. 2013 was a write-off when he arrived in difficult circumstances and he came in and steadied the ship. The next 2 seasons, both 2014 and 2015 we genuinely had good football teams, but unfortunately we were not capable of capitalising on the great opportunities and we came away empty-handed on the trophy front in both seasons. 2016 was a disaster which was not of his own doing, a late season surge was unfortunately not enough for us to seriously make a challenge.

Unfortunately and sadly, zero trophies is the main legacy during the last 3 and a half seasons.

Our new coach is an unknown quantity, Jaime Monroy Zamith, a Portuguese who allegedly has experience coaching in Barcelona’s youth programs. All Sydney Olympic Supporters are hoping he can deliver us to the top and of course we wish him well.

Onto the Sydney Olympic communications front, it has been virtually impossible to find out much about what is happening given there are no announcements anywhere, minimal Facebook activity, not much on Instagram and zero updates on the Club’s Twitter account for the past 4 months, (as I write this, they have made a Twitter post, a very significant one at that). Again I will say this needs to be rectified and soon.

As for news on the squad, to the best of my knowledge the following list of players is what I believe to be our current squad at this current moment. Obviously it is impossible to know for sure if it is 100% accurate. But here it goes:

Paul Henderson, Eoin Montford, Mitch Stamatellis, Jake de Marigny, Niko Tsattalios

Will Angel, Howard Fondyke, Yianni Spyrakis, Peter Makrillos, Jason Madonis, Hagi Gligor, Paul Katsetis, Nikita Andricopoulos

Jacob Boutoubia, Michael Gaitatzis, Evan Patramanis

From what I understand a few players from the 20s will be moving up. The club is also looking to sign 2 to 3 more players over the next bit of time, hearing a couple of Defenders and a Striker.

Onto the ground situation, according to everything I have been told, the Tempe Re-Development Project is the Club’s No.1 priority, as it should be. It is vital for the future of the Club and would be great if we can pull it off.

As for the present situation with Belmore, the Club is endeavouring to improve the relationship with the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Council which will see us be treated better and more fairly than we have in the past few years.

Finally on the AGM front, the new Board has followed through with its promise to sort through the clubs records and hold one this year.

The AGM will be on November 30 at 6:30pm at the Cyprus Club in Stanmore. All Life Members and Club Members are encouraged to be there.

Details here:

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Sydney Olympic Off-Season Blog #2 - October

Much talk has centred on the spruiking of the launch of a “new era” for Sydney Olympic and by all reports the Legends game and the end of season function was done well and went well.

But apart from a change in the Club Emblem, most things are as you were, especially on the communications front.

The Club either does not understand or does not have the resources to fill in a major role, and that is having someone who actively updates all of the Club’s social media channels; Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. 

It might not sound important but these are major avenues where supporters find out any information about the Club as well as Match Day details. For these channels not to be utilised is a shame. The Twitter account for example has not been active for 3 months, not good enough. Granted we are now in the off-season, but the point still stands.

It also couldn’t hurt to have someone who knows a little bit about Sydney Olympic running these channels.

It appears that the Club has appointed a CEO, John Boulous, who was formerly the CEO of Football Federation Tasmania. 

Up until recently he was CEO of the Parramatta Eels NRL Club. I’m not across the whole Parramatta Salary Cap story, as I’m a South Sydney man, but yes it is that John Boulous. As I said I’m not totally across what happened there but obviously that whole salary-cap debacle would have involved more than just one person and as we all know it all ended in tears there at the Eels.

What is interesting however, is that the Board and the Club felt the need to appoint a CEO, we’ll see how this pans out.

Obviously with the lack of official announcements or activity from the Club this list may not be 100% correct, but I am fairly certain the following players will be with Sydney Olympic for 2017:

Paul Henderson, William Angel, Niko Tsattalios, Mitchell Stamatellis, Jason Madonis, Hagi Gligor, Jacob Boutoubia, Jake De Marigny, Eoin Montford. Plus a few U20s players who will be part of the First Grade Squad from 2017.

Michael Gaitatzis, Yianni Spyrakis, Peter Makrillos are 3 players reportedly close to or have already signed on for 2017.

As for the departures it is looking fairly certain that the Green brothers, Oliver and Jack as well as Anthony Tomelic won’t be with us next season, all 3 are fine players and all the best to them if in fact they are no longer with us. Leigh Egger and Howard Fondyke may also be moving on.

It also looks likely that Brayden Sorge may not be with us for 2017, injuries have hampered this player for a while, which is disappointing as he has been fantastic for us and seemed to have a big future in front of him before his injuries.

Also confirmed as gone is Harris Gaitatzis, who for the past 3 seasons has been terrific for us and many times he’s been a lone wolf in what has been an ineffective Sydney Olympic attack. But how anyone can play for that disgraceful mob I will never understand, is it only about money? Who knows? But we wish him all the best, hopefully he scores every game but his new team loses every game.

And finally, there still has not been an announcement regarding the AGM.

Till next time…

Friday, 16 September 2016

Sydney Olympic Off-Season Blog #1 - September

Well it has been a month since our season ended and that time has been needed to get over the general disappointment of the 2016 season and the circumstances in which we missed the Finals.

Some good news has been the resurgence of our 20’s team which had been wallowing down near the bottom of the ladder, made a late season resurgence to sneak into the Top 5 and managed to go all the way and win their Grand Final against Manly United last Sunday, to be crowned Champions.

There is a good chance we will see a few of these players regularly in First Grade next season, hopefully for Sydney Olympic, with quite a few having had a taste of First Grade already.

Speaking of First Grade, a substantial amount of the squad which appeared this season should be re-signed by the Club for 2017, obviously the current situation and plans of these players are unknown at this time and as usual, the teams with the bigger budgets will be looking to swoop.

The Club as a priority should do everything possible to swiftly re-sign our main group of players, the likes of; Paul Henderson, Will Angel, Mitch Stamatellis, Harris Gaitatzis, Brayden Sorge, Jason Madonis. The ridiculous situation of last season of losing 10 First Grade players and not replacing them, must never be repeated again.

The re-signing of these core players should be only a start, obviously there have been other good performers this season, they should be seriously looked at, added with the growth and improvement of some of the 20s players and we should have a decent looking squad for 2017. Of course there are also some fine players at other clubs who are worth looking at.

There were some obvious problem areas in the team during season 2016, there are certain positions on the field that we must surely fix;

- The troublesome Left-Back position caused us issues all season, this must be resolved in the off-season, we must bring in a competent Left-Back.

- Another area which needs strengthening is the Centre-Back position, there were far too many defensive errors during pivotal moments of some very important matches. We need to bring in another quality Centre-Back.

- And what I believe to be the most glaring problem was the lack of a quality Centre-Forward. Not only was it evident in the statistics (the 3rd worst attack in the league). But also we went into several matches without a recognised No.9, something that is a necessity if you want to have any chance of having a successful season.

At this point of the year there are plenty of rumours floating around, but there is no concrete news on the signings front for Sydney Olympic.

One position which we’ve been well served in for many years now is that of goalkeeper, with Paul Henderson again having another outstanding season and again being awarded NPL Goalkeeper of the Year at the FNSW end-of-season awards. At 40 he’s still one of the best goalkeepers in Australia.

As you may or may not have heard already, Sunday September 25, will be a big day for the Club.

Starting at 2pm at Belmore Sports Ground there will be a Legends Match between the Sydney Olympic Legends and the NSL All-Stars. Many of the Greats of the Club and of Australian Football will be on hand, so make sure you come down and check it out.

Following this at 3pm, the Club will hold its end of season function next door under a marquee at Peter Moore Field. There will be plenty of Food and Drinks and plenty of entertainment and activities for everybody.

The Club will also unveil its new Emblem for 2017 and onwards, as it heads into its 60th anniversary next season.

Hopefully there is also some sort of an announcement and a date set for the long overdue AGM.

Until next time…

Monday, 15 August 2016

Season Review - Blacktown Spartans 1-0 Sydney Olympic

News from midweek was that we were stripped of 3 points for fielding an ineligible player in our win over Wollongong 2 weeks ago, essentially destroying our season. It seems to have been a real blow to the morale of the team, a blow that it could not overcome.

So onto our last match of the year, there was really not much to report
, you could sense that all the air had been let out of the season, the players were flat. That’s not to say that the players didn’t try, but there was a sense of resignation that there was not much to play for and it was not really a surprise to see us go down and end the season with a whimper, after it was looking like we had turned the corner during the last 6 weeks.

Overall for the expectations of Sydney Olympic, the 2016 season has been an un-mitigated disaster. A failure of epic proportions and most supporters saw it coming last November.

2013 need not be spoken about at length, but when Lee and Zorbas came in they had to sift through the rubble yet still we managed 8 wins and comfortably avoided relegation. In 2014 the team saw steady improvement, 10 wins, a 4th placed finish and a Grand Final appearance. In 2015 we had 13 wins, another 4th placed finish but a poor exit in the Finals, in both years we experienced decent Cup runs.

We have gone backwards in 2016, instability at Board level saw that uncertainty last the entire 2015 off-season which meant no heed was being paid to the needs of the team for the up-coming season, as a result we lost the services of 10 players. People like, Troy Danaskos, Petar Markovic, Brendan Hooper, Go Shirai, Taiga Soeda, Dimitri Hatzimouratis, Scott Balderson, Yianni Spyrakis, James Andrew and Ryan Keir.

The club responded by signing 3 players, 2 of which Mark CIndric and Chris Triantis offered very little and did not even last half a season, the 3rd was Mitchell Stamatellis, who arguably was our player of the year and a welcome sight back in the Sydney Olympic shirt.

With that many players not being replaced, it wouldn’t take an Einstein to figure out that we might struggle and struggle we did. We managed to win only 2 of our first 10 matches and dug a massive hole for ourselves. We did manage to turn the season around with a couple of good signings during mid-season and through the emergence of some younger players who all improved as the season progressed, which was one of the few highlights and positives for this season. But unfortunately by then it was too late and it left us too much to do to seriously challenge the top of the ladder. The bungling of yellow cards and not knowing how many certain players were on only added to the circus that was 2016, that bungle put the exclamation point on the season.

Sydney Olympic as a Club, should never have been in the position that it found itself in. We were chasing our tails it seemed during the whole season. I hope big lessons are learned so that it never happens again.

Of course off the park, big questions still remain in a number of areas and they will be talked about all off-season.

Ground Situation -
The relationship between Sydney Olympic and the Bulldogs seems to be at an all-time low, the bullying of the club by the Council backed Bulldogs has led to the club being frozen out of the entire Belmore Sports Ground precinct. Of course when the Bulldogs needed Sydney Olympic to claim millions in Council money they were Sydney Olympic’s best friend, it seems that since now the Bulldogs have gotten what they wanted, they want to on top of that oust Sydney Olympic from Belmore entirely. We could be in a situation where we might need to find an alternate venue for 2017.

There have been no further updates by the Club or Marrickville Council (or whatever name that Council goes by now) regarding the alleged Tempe project. With every passing week it seems like this project will go the way of so many others throughout the years.

Lack of Media -
I’ve been mentioning this for a long time; it is of vital importance for a Club like Sydney Olympic which finds itself in its current predicament. A predicament where there is no exposure or coverage of the League that it plays in, the supposed 2nd tier of Australia. The Club therefore should take the bull by the horns in this instance and make sure that its website is updated regularly, make sure places like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are always active and updated. The Club is failing to adequately inform the members and supporters on the goings on of the club. This must change.

The wait goes on for an Annual General Meeting, it has been a few years since the last one and we have been assured repeatedly that there will be one before the end of 2016, we wait with baited breath.

Over the off-season this blog will do its best to inform and update the Supporters on any news that might be around about the Club.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Sydney Olympic 0-2 Rockdale

Without some of our more important players we were in neutral territory last night to take on Rockdale, Football NSW’s favourite team. In a controversial match, we were defeated, ending our good recent run of form.

We started the match off very sluggishly I thought and it was a very disjointed display from Sydney Olympic throughout that first 45 minutes. As time and again we were repelling Rockdale attacks on our goal. On numerous occasions we were bailed out by the Great Paul Henderson, who pulled off some magnificent saves to keep the score at 0-0. As the First Half progressed we did start to look a bit better out there, we had one fantastic opportunity to score before half-time but we could not capitalise. We were lacking that real cutting edge and we could not break through for a goal. The supporters who had ventured out to Miranda had to settle for a 0-0 score-line at the half-time break.

The start to the Second Half was a slight improvement on how we started the First Half. We were passing and moving the ball more easily and it looked like we were the better side early on in that Second Half. Rockdale were always a threat breaking out from defense but we handled everything they were throwing at us quite easily. The game turned with about 15 minutes to go as we had a player sent off for a second yellow card, from the resulting free-kick we conceded to go 1-0 down. With 10 men we then took the game to Rockdale, we pushed hard to find an equaliser as we created some very good opportunities. It seemed right at the death that the pressure would pay off as we had a 100% penalty waved away by the referee who was doing his best impersonation of a blind person or even worse, purposely did not award the penalty. This seemed to deflate the team as Rockdale then went down the other end to make it 2-0 and it was effectively game over.

The board and the club needs to stop wasting time, money and resources on bringing in unheard of and untested players from God knows where, especially when there are better players running around in the 18s and 20s that could do a better job and for less money.

Once again Sydney Olympic Supporters were subjected to constant provocations and taunts from Rockdale’s barbaric followers, it seems to be getting worse with them every year. What makes it worse is they seem to be protected by the Federation and it seems they are allowed to do whatever it is they want. Sydney Olympic would be wise to in the future make these home matches against these hillbillies closed affairs to all away fans, for the safety of all Sydney Olympic Supporters.

Quickly on the club communications front, despite all the criticism received this year the club seems to have done nothing about it. The club’s Twitter account has been inactive for over a month, updates are very few and far between on Facebook as well and there is not much information available on the club website. If we are not going to publicise ourselves who will? The Greek papers? They’re too busy raving over the exploits of other teams to worry about the club that represents their constituency.

For the Club Championship, in the U20s we won 1-0, but in the U18s the match will be played this midweek. Add in our loss in First Grade and it was not great weekend.

Next Sunday, August 14, is the final round of the regular season against Blacktown Spartans at Blacktown Football Park, Rooty Hill, Kickoff is at 3pm.

Monday, 1 August 2016

On a Roll - Wollongong Wolves 1-2 Sydney Olympic

After 3 victories in succession, we went down to Wollongong hoping to make it 4 in a row. It’s never easy to play the Wolves down there and given their current predicament in the League it proved to be again, as Sydney Olympic had to fight hard to come away with the victory and the all-important 3 points to continue our great late-season form.

As in recent weeks we started the match off well and quickly got on top. We controlled the match for large portions of that First Half and created the majority of the chances. 20 minutes into the match and the pressure told, Hagi Gligor finishing off well from a nice cross from Jack Green to put us 1-0 up. After the opening goal we continued to dominate proceedings. Mitch Stamatellis had a chance to double our lead but his header smacked against the crossbar. Just before half-time we would grab our second, which again came through Hagi Gligor to get his First Half double. We had a few other chances throughout the First Half but we could not take advantage. Wollongong Wolves had a couple of half chances throughout the First Half but never really looked like scoring, at half-time we were the dominant team and went to the sheds leading 2-0.

As if realising the gravity of their current predicament, Wollongong came out hard in the Second Half in a bid to get back into the match. Within the first 5 minutes of the Second Half they had already pulled a goal back, via the penalty spot. The next 40 minutes would turn out to be some nail-biting stuff as Wollongong searched for another goal and us trying to hold on. Paul Henderson had another great match between the sticks as he made crucial saves down the stretch. Of course with Wollongong pushing hard looking for the equaliser it gave us a couple of opportunities to hit them on the break, all of which came to no avail. With time ticking down Wollongong gave it one last shot but our defense held firm and the relief was clear for all to see as the referee blew for full-time to give us a 2-1 victory, our fourth on the trot.

It was the classic “game of two halves” as the momentum swung from Sydney Olympic in the First Half to Wollongong Wolves in the Second Half, but we were good enough to hold on and bank another important 3 points. A Finals berth is within our reach, something that most would have though impossible earlier in the season. Well done to everybody on our recent form.

For the Club Championship, in the U18s we lost 4-0 and in the U20s we won 2-1. Combined with our 2-1 victory in First Grade this secured us 18 points towards the Club Championship. It’s been a big change from 6-8 weeks ago, where it looked like we would be involved in a relegation battle to now being comfortably inside the top half of the Club Championship.

Next weekend, Sunday August 7, is our last home game of the year, it will be a big day, so hopefully plenty of Sydney Olympic Supporters come down and support the club and help continue our late season form.

In what we hope will be an annual thing at every last home match of the season, the Sydney Olympic old boys will play against a team of NSL all-stars at 2pm, prior to the First Grade match.

There will be plenty of other things happening at Belmore Sports Ground on Sunday as the club will unveil its new logo for 2017 and beyond. Check the clubs website and official channels for further details.

First Grade Kickoff at Belmore Sports Ground for the match against Rockdale is 3pm. 

Monday, 25 July 2016

Sydney Olympic 4-3 Hakoah Sydney City-East

Olympic and Hakoah have been doing battle for over half a century (barring a 30 year period in there) and the last time we hosted a League match against them it would have been at Pratten Park sometime in the year 1986. Anyway, to the 4-3 result which flattered Hakoah, the result of the match should never have been in doubt and nor should it have been that close in the end. We were by far the better footballing team and should have put 6 or 7 passed them at least. Some dubious refereeing helped Hakoah out and helped keep them in the match, a match they realistically should have been out of by half-time.

We started the match on fire, you could tell that the Sydney Olympic boys were well and truly up for it and within the first 5 minutes we had opened the scoring via some good inter-play between Jason Madonis and Josh Gaspari, the former found the latter with a good pass and Gaspari coolly finished to give us an early 1-0 lead. Within the first 10 minutes we should have had a second goal, but Harris Gaitatzis who has been in good goal-scoring form of late, had his effort saved by the Hakoah goalkeeper. We only had to wait a few more minutes though for the second goal, which again came via Josh Gaspari who slotted his second goal of the afternoon with another expert finish, it was all Sydney Olympic at this point. Unfortunately Hakoah were allowed back into the match, after the referee awarded a penalty which they dispatched. This setback did not hinder our play or our confidence as we went right back on the attack, we dominated the rest of the First Half creating numerous chances, but we could not add to our score, including a shot which smacked the crossbar. With a bit more luck we could have gone to the half-time break 5-1 up, but as it was we had to settle for a 2-1 lead as the referee blew his whistle for half-time.

The first 15 minutes of the Second Half were fairly uneventful as both sides settled back into the game after the break. From then on we resumed our dominance of the match as we went close twice in the space of a couple of minutes to restoring our 2 goal lead, including another shot which hit the crossbar. With about 20 minutes to go that 2 goal lead would be restored as Jack Green sneaked into the box to receive the ball, he then smashed his shot pass the Hakoah goalkeeper to put Sydney Olympic 3-1 up. About 5 minutes later we came close to adding number 4 but it was not to be. It should have been plain sailing for us, but with 10 minutes to go Hakoah snatched a goal to make it 3-2 through Olympic old boy Adrian Vranic who was the only real Hakoah threat for the entire match. In the last minute of regulation time, the referee awarded another penalty for Hakoah, which they converted to make it 3-3. Unbelievably for the supporters the scores were level in a match we should have been leading comfortably, to say the swear words were flying is an under-statement. But deep into injury-time we found a winner through Josh Gaspari again who rounded out his hat-trick with a beautiful volley, the keeper had no chance. Seconds later the referee blew for full-time and victory was ours.

It was another good performance and more importantly another victory and another 3 points. This keeps us in the Top 5 and in a Finals position at the moment. The last 3 weeks of the regular season are going to be very interesting as games at this time of the season all have meaning and are never easy, whether you are coming up against the team coming First or Last.

Although the match was an exciting one, we really should have put Hakoah to the sword and put the game to bed before half-time. Another day and we would be ruing not winning.

Our Rwandan recruit Jean-Pierre Hakiri saw his first action for Sydney Olympic in a 20 minute cameo, who was solid.

For the Club Championship, in the U18s we lost 4-1 and in the U20s we won 5-1. Combined with our 4-3 victory in First Grade this secured us 18 points towards the Club Championship, a good haul.

Next weekend, Sunday July 31, we have another difficult match against a relegation-threatened and desperate Wollongong Wolves side down at WIN Stadium in Wollongong, Kickoff is at 5pm.