Australian Soccer Kit History

A pictorial history of Soccer kits from Australia, New Zealand and Oceania.

South Melbourne

Home Kits

1959-64

1965

1966

1968

1975-76

1977

1978

1979

1980

1982

1983-84

1986

1989

1990

1994

1995-96

1997-98

1999

2001

2004

2008

2010

Away Kits

1997-984

Background

Formed 1959

The club was formed in 1959 with the amalgamation of three struggling Melbourne football clubs South Melbourne United, the oldest of the three clubs with a history dating back to the early 1900s, the Greek-backed Yarra Park Aiantas, and Hellenic. In recognition of the large Greek support base of Hellenic and Yarra Park, which were also the best-supported of the three clubs, the new club was named South Melbourne Hellas, the name by which it was to be known for the majority of its first 40 years. The first emblem reflected the colour scheme of the Flag of Greece. The first uniform was that of South Melbourne United, which consisted of white with a red 'V' around the collar. Later on they would adopt predominantly blue and white strips, with various designs throughout the seasons, with the most common being a predominantly royal blue strip.

South Melbourne won the Victorian First Division (North) championship of 1960, the clubs inaugural year of competition. The club was promoted to the Victorian State League First Division the following year, where it finished fifth in its first year. The club won the division championship in 1962, 1964, and 1965. In 1965 there was a significant increase in crowd attendances (more than double) and a fourth league title in 1966.

South Melbourne missed out on the title by a point in the 1971 season, edged out byFootscray JUST, but they went on to win the championship in 1972. The club continued its successful run with the 1974 title, second place in 1975, and capped off its final year in the Victorian State League by winning the 1976 championship.

South Melbourne joinedMooroolbark,Heidelberg United, andFootscray JUST as Melbournes participants in the newly-formedNational Soccer League (NSL) in 1977. A mass exodus of its best players (Armstrong, Bourne, Mackay, Walker), saw the team slump to 11th place in its inaugural year, but a recruiting drive by coach Dave McClaren gave the club a respectable third in 1978. It wasnt to last. South Melbourne finished at the bottom of the league table in 1979.

South Melbourne climbed theNSL ladder in the early part of the decade but it failed to make any significant impact. South Melbourne finished first on the league ladder in 1984, but in a newly-restructured NSL competition, it also had to win the finals series to win the title. The club powered past local rivalsHeidelberg United in the Southern Division play-offs, and edged outSydney Olympic in the Grand Final to win the 1984 national championship.

In 1985, South Melbourne could not repeat the success of the previous year. Despite finishing in first place, it was knocked out of the finals series by local rivalsBrunswick Juventus andPreston Lions. The team put in some memorable performances as the decade came to a close, finishing in the top half of the league table, but failed to win another championship. The club won the NSL Cup tournament in 1989-90, as well backing up their 1988Dockerty Cup win with victory in the 1989 tournament.

The club's change of fortune continued next season, with the club winning its second national championship, beating Melbourne Croatia on penalties after a tense 1-1 score line in normal time. The feat could not be repeated the next year as the club was eliminated by eventual premiersAdelaide City in a Preliminary Final.

The 1992/93 season saw the club finish first on the points table during the regular season. South Melbourne was again eliminated during the finals series by Adelaide City and Marconi-Fairfield, the latter inflicting a 7-0 thrashing. In 1993/94, the club finished second, but failed yet again to progress to the Grand Final, courtesy of Melbourne Croatia and their nemesis, Adelaide City. For the 1994/95 season the club finished sixth on the ladder, but was eliminated again in the Preliminary Final by the Melbourne Knights. The 1995/96 season saw South miss the finals for the first time since 1989.

In 1996, the club was required bySoccer Australia, along with clubs all over the country, to change its emblem and name in an attempt to move football into the Australian mainstream and away from direct club-level association with its migrant roots. As a consequence, South Melbourne Hellas reappeared as South Melbourne Lakers. Its new name and emblem was not well received by many of its Greek supporters. The club bounced back in season 1996/97, finishing third on the table and eventually being eliminated bySydney United in the Preliminary Final. The club capped off the end of the decade with impressive performances, becoming Australian champions in 1998 and 1999. In the 1998 Grand Final South defeated league newcomerCarlton 2-1. That win was followed up in 1999 by a come-from-behind 3-2 win against Sydney United in the Grand Final. By now, South Melbourne had dropped the Lakers moniker and become South Melbourne Soccer Club, and sported a new emblem - the current blue and white shield with stars (each star representing a national championship). They followed up their fourth domestic title with the1999 Oceania Club Championship, a win that qualified them for the2000 FIFA Club World Championship inBrazil.

Grouped withVasco Da Gama,Necaxa, andManchester United in the 2000 FIFA Club World Championships, South Melbourne lost all three games. Despite the losses, the club gained some respectability amongst its peers with its performance, as well as some much needed exposure on the world stage, something that had been severely lacking for Australian football clubs at the time.

On its return from Brazil, South Melbourne failed to make the finals in the 1999/2000 season, finishing well outside the top six finals spots. At the end of the 2000/01 home and away season, South had finished a comfortable 8 points clear ofWollongong, but lost both legs of its major semi final against the Wolves 2-1, meaning South would have to win the prelimanary final in order to earn a rematch. South duly did so with a 2-0 victory over Sydney Olympic, but in the grand final put in a lackluster performance, once more losing 2-1.

Prior to the start of the 2001/2002 season, South suffered a major blow as Petersen, along with several players including Boutsianis andAndy Vlahos left to join theFootball Kingz. The young squad that remained struggled, occupying the bottom rungs of the table half way through the season, before the return in controversial circumstances of Boutsianis sparked a major revival, which saw the club finish fifth in the standings, eventually being eliminated by eventual championsOlympic Sharks in the finals.

In the 2002/03 season the club failed to reach the finals by a point. The 2003/04 season saw the club finishing fifth, eventually being eliminated by a penalty deep into extra time againstAdelaide United in what turned out to be South's final game in the NSL.

Entering theVictorian Premier League in 2005 as South Melbourne Football Club the club reached the Preliminary Final of the VPL, going down to their old rivals Heidelberg United. In 2006, South finished third on the table courtesy of a strong home record, including a record 7-0 thrashing of old foe Melbourne Knights. South eventually progressed to the final by defeatingGreen Gully andAltona Magic in successive weeks. In the final itself, once more against Altona Magic, a second half goal by Gianni De Nittis was enough to see South win the game 1-0, and win their eighth Victorian championship, their first in 30 years and first since returning to the competition in 2005. In 2007 South Melbourne had a poor year finishing in 7th spot missing the finals. After a poor start in 2008 the team moved away from the relegation zone, but still missed the finals.