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.

AGM -
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. 

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Bonnyrigg White Eagles 0-2 Sydney Olympic



As history has proven, Bonnyrigg has never been a happy hunting ground for Sydney Olympic since we’ve been back in the State League, having never won a League match there since we were thrown back into the State League in 2005. We did win there once in the Cup in 2011, but other than that it has been fairly slim pickings out there for us. All that changed on Saturday Night as we put in a great performance to come away with a victory and the all-important 3 points.

The match was a keenly fought one, with both sides knowing the importance of victory and the ramifications of defeat. After a circumspect opening 10 minutes from both sides, Bonnyrigg had the ascendancy for a lot of the First Half. They created the better of the opportunities but at the same time did not have many clear cut goal scoring opportunities; Paul Henderson was not troubled that much throughout the First Half despite Bonnyrigg being on top. For our Sydney Olympic, we were looking most threatening hitting them on the break through the likes of Will Angel down the Left and Josh Gaspari down the Right. We had a few half chances throughout that First Half but we could not find the back of the net either. After a tight and tense First Half, both sides had to settle for 0-0 at the half-time break.

At the start of the Second Half we looked a little more aggressive and assertive in our play. Bonnyrigg were also looking anxious and pushed hard in a bid to open the scoring. But it would be Sydney Olympic who would take the lead 10 minutes into the Second Half, after a quick break saw Jason Madonis end up with the ball in space, he dribbled the ball into the area and smashed his shot passed the Bonnyrigg goalkeeper to put us 1-0 up, a great finish. Bonnyrigg were now even more desperate to grab a goal, but Paul Henderson and our makeshift back 4 handled everything Bonnyrigg threw at them. With Bonnyrigg chasing goals and pushing up it left spaces for us to exploit and grab another goal and we had a few half chances to extend our lead but it was not to be. The opposition kept huffing and puffing but they could not blow our door down, we were solid defensively and held them out every time. With about 5 minutes left Harris Gaitatzis killed the game off for us with a smart finish to put us 2-0 up, which is how the score stayed at full-time, a much needed 3 points were ours.

So another good performance from the players and a huge win in the context of our season, which sees us stay in the hunt to make this year’s Finals Series. And it was done with almost a second string team, with many players unavailable for one reason or another.

For the Club Championship, in the U18s we lost 3-2 and in the U20s we lost 2-1. Our 2-0 victory in First Grade picked up the slack this week, securing 12 points towards the Club Championship.

In other news, out of nowhere, the Club through its Facebook page decided to announce a change in the Club Emblem for 2017, which would be welcomed by 100% of the supporters of that there is no doubt as the current Emblem was never loved.

Now I’m not sure about the protocols and procedures for these sorts of things but the members were not informed, were not asked and were not even made aware that there would be a change, the supporters to my knowledge were also not consulted at all. So the question has to be asked, who came up with it???



Some like it, others not so much. For me personally the design is a fine one, but the middle of it, with the soccer ball seems too generic and I and many others feel it does not represent anything to do with Sydney Olympic and should be replaced with a true Sydney Olympic identifier, the rings.



Plenty of members and supporters are rightly upset about not even being asked for their thoughts or opinions and any suggestions that were given in the last 3 years have been ignored. Fan engagement has been non-existent in this process. I suspect we have not heard the last of this.

All matches from now till the end of the season are now all “must win”. Next Sunday July 24, we are back at home at Belmore Sports Ground to take on Hakoah Sydney City-East, kickoff is at 3pm. 





Monday, 4 July 2016

Stayin’ Alive - Sydney Olympic 3-0 Parramatta FC

We have just about kept ourselves in the race to make the Top 5 and participate in this year’s Finals Series. After a fantastic showing on Sunday Afternoon which saw Sydney Olympic topple a resurgent Parramatta FC, who they themselves were harbouring aspirations of making the Top 5.

The play in the First Half from both teams was indicative of the importance both had placed on this match. With time running out to make the Top 5 and play Finals Football for 2016, both sides started cautiously. Although our best chance of the First Half did come early on, when Will Angel once again beat his defender and delivered a ball inside the box to Josh Gaspari, who disappointingly sent his shot straight at the goalkeeper. A Parramatta mistake in their own half soon after gifted us another opportunity, but unfortunately we could not capitalise. Both sides created half chances and threatened to score for the rest of the half, but there was no cutting edge from either side. Defense was the order of the day from both sides throughout that First Half, as any chances were quickly snuffed out and the score would remain 0-0 at the half-time break.

During the first few moments of the Second Half it was quite noticeable that there was an increase in the intensity from the Sydney Olympic players, which was a good sign from the supporters’ point of view. Within the first 5 minutes of the Second Half we opened the scoring, courtesy of a fantastic strike from Harris Gaitatzis, who made room for himself to have a shot from the edge of the box, which nestled into the corner of the Parramatta net. The match then see-sawed, with Parramatta going close to scoring an equaliser. With 20 minutes or so to go though, we got the all-important second goal via Harris Gaitatzis again, a beautiful piece of individual skill to get passed the defender was finished off with a brilliant chip over the Parramatta goalkeeper, it was another great finish. After this, Parramatta predictably then came out in a search for goals to put themselves back into the contest, this of course left acres of room for the Sydney Olympic players to exploit and deep into injury time, we grabbed our 3rd of the afternoon thanks to that man again, Harris Gaitatzis, who tapped in from close range after a quick goal-kick from Paul Henderson found Jason Madonis in the clear, who summed up the situation perfectly to deliver the pass for Harris to finish the game off with an easy tap-in 
and complete his hat-trick.

So obviously a very important win which keeps our Finals hopes alive. We now have two weeks to gather our thoughts, to get over any injuries and also with no Cup distractions we can fully focus on the last 5 matches of the season and make a run at the Top 5.

The German Rene Klingenburg did not play as he was hacked to pieces last week and missed yesterday’s win over Parramatta. Rwandan International, Jean-Baptiste Mugiraneza, who we have also signed for the remainder of the season did not get clearance in time to play yesterday. Hagi Gligor, who last played at Perth Glory was also signed in midweek and made his debut for us on Sunday and performed well. With the 2 weeks off, we have time to get our house in order so to speak, all Sydney Olympic Supporters hope that we haven’t left our run too late.

Also, a big congratulations goes out to Will Angel, who notched up 150 matches for Sydney Olympic on Sunday. Becoming only the 2nd player to reach this figure in the post NSL era and the 2nd player to achieve the milestone this season, following on from Paul Henderson who did it earlier this season.

For the Club Championship, it was a better week compared to the last few weeks. In the U18s we lost 2-1, in the U20s we picked up a 1-1 draw, adding in our 3-0 win in First Grade and we picked up a valuable 14 points towards the Club Championship.

As was mentioned earlier, next weekend is a bye round as the Waratah Cup Final between Manly United and Sydney United takes precedence, so we are not in League action. We are next in action on Saturday Night, July 16, away to the Bonnyrigg White Eagles, kickoff is at 7pm at the Bonnyrigg Sports Club.