Friday, 7 December 2018

South Melbourne soccer club timeline pottering (2018)

While you're all waiting to find out whether South will secure an A-League licence and arguing about the matter with Twitter randoms, I'm going in the opposite direction and making a quick historical post.

The other day Socceroo and South Melbourne Hellas championship player Ted Smith asked for a timeline of all clubs which have ever borne the name 'South Melbourne', and after shooting off the email I kind of realised it'd be nice to post it here for all to enjoy and have as a handy reference. It may also act as an incentive for me to renew my efforts to do some more research on these clubs, and might be something I update each year around this time.

Timeline of soccer clubs which have borne the name 'South Melbourne'.
  • South Melbourne (1884-1890). This team played in Melbourne's first soccer competitions - such as the Beaney Cup, and the George and George Cup - under the auspices of the Anglo-Australian Football Association, and lasted until the end of the 1890 season. I haven't been able to find anything after that date for this team. It is not known whether any people involved with this club became involved in Victorian soccer once the game officially reformed in 1908.
  • South Melbourne (1908-1909). In 1908, when organised soccer in Victoria re-emerged from its long slumber during the 1890s and early 1900s, a South Melbourne team was one of the clubs that was involved. The only references to this club's existence - and the term 'club' should be used with caution here - are a scheduled match against Prahran in September 1908, and a scratch match on the South Melbourne Cricket Ground in April 1909. The result of the match against Prahran does not appear to have been reported in any media outlets of the day. At this stage it is unknown why South Melbourne failed to take part in the subsequent league and Dockerty Cup competitions, whether any of its players or officials moved across to the other clubs, or whether the club changed its name before the start of the 1909 season.
  • South Melbourne (1910-1911). Possibly the same club as the previous entry, but I'm uncertain - I've only recently come across this club in Mark Boric's statistical history work. This club played two seasons in the Victorian Amateur British Football Association's Amateur League (which was above the second tier 'Junior' league), and finished bottom of the table in both seasons.
  • South Melbourne (1927-1940). This club appears in 1927, which was the year Victorian soccer split into two competing organising bodies. It appears that this South Melbourne remained loyal to the original soccer body during this dispute. I have a hypothesis, as yet untested, that this South Melbourne is a re-badged Albert Park, but I need to do more research to confirm that theory. Albert Park had played in the post-war competition from 1919-1926, and an Albert Park club - possibly related to the post-war outfit - had also played before the war. At any rate, this South Melbourne does not seem to go beyond 1940, nor does it re-emerge after the Second World War. 
  • South Melbourne United (1937-1960). The exact origins of South Melbourne United are unclear;Soccer News article from 1953 claims that the origins of the club date back to 1932 in the guise of a club called 'South Melbourne Juniors', formed when members of the Middle Park Schoolboys' Soccer Club changed names, and that later on this junior club merged with the pre-existing South Melbourne senior club to form South Melbourne United (I have my doubts on this though - it is worth noting that the 1927 South Melbourne and South Melbourne United did play against each other in the late 1930s). Contemporary (and probably more reliable) sources seem to locate United's official founding to 1936 as a junior club formed by former pupils of the Middle Park School and the South Melbourne Technical School. By early 1937, South Melbourne United had decided to field senior teams in the local competition. It is unclear if this team played in the 1943 season, but it certainly competed in every other season from its foundation up until the point it helped form South Melbourne Hellas. Occasionally in the record books - principally in the early 1950s - the club is sometimes referred simply as 'South Melbourne' without the 'United' name. In 1946, some younger players split from South Melbourne United to form Park Rangers.
  • South Melbourne Hellas/Lakers/FC (1959/1960 - present). In August/September 1959, two local Greek clubs - Hellenic and Yarra Park - merge to form Hellas. In early 1960, the newly formed Hellas amalgamates with South Melbourne United. The club decided to use 1959 as its foundation date, but more correctly, the true foundation year is 1960.


  1. But was 1960 tied in with 1959? Was it all part of a big plan?

    1. That is a very good question, to which I don't have the answer. I suspect that the merger of the Greek teams, after several failed attempts to merge them beforehand, was the important thing.

  2. If I do update this next year, I should add the two (or three or four?) distinct phases of women's soccer under the South Melbourne banner.


A few notes on comments.

We've had a lot of fun over the years with my freewheeling comments policy, but all good things must come to an end. Therefore I will no longer be approving comments that contain personal abuse of any sort.

Still, if your post doesn't get approved straight away, it's probably because I haven't seen it yet.

As usual, publication of a comment does not mean endorsement of its content.