Firstly let me remind you that we are the only Football club in Tasmania in any code which has a strong Greek Heritage. This fact makes us a very proud club with great support. So it is with great pleasure that I write without reservation that 2015 was the greatest 8 months of football our club has played in 55 years. We are a proud club with enormous success in our infant years but with a huge gap of success for the latter years. Yes we did pick up the odd trophy over the past 2 decades including a hard fought Premiership title in 1996. However that was a different time with AFL style rules. We finished 4th that year in the home and away games and won the title via a final four series. This was not the traditional finish on top of the table premiership that is unique to our game. That being said the record books show Olympia F C as State Premiership winners in 1996. Nineteen years later we once again reached the pinnacle of football in our State being crowned State Champions. Along with this historic title came the preseason Summer Cup in March and the end of season Victory League Cup. Even though we had a number of key players injured and on suspension we crafted out a very convincing win over our arch rival Zebras 3-1. The 2015 Tasmanian football season was finally over but our 2015 season was not.
A week later we were off to Melbourne to represent the League in the NPL national championships. Our opponent was none other than our Greek sister club South Melbourne Hellas. They arrived at this game by virtue of being crowned Victorian NPL champions. The game was a foregone conclusion with South Melbourne being rated huge favorites which suggested that Olympia had about a 3% chance of winning. Well sometimes things for some do not go as planned. Internally we rated ourselves as a very good chance. Our squad was match fit pumped after winning the Tasmanian title and ready for any challenge put before them.
After some pre match nerves and some medical attention to one of our players who “bravely took one for the team” the game kicked off. I was in the stands along with about 100 other Olympia FC supporters. It was an amazing experience with all of us on edge supporting our boys and wanting victory. The South Melbourne supporters were very confident and were talking about the next game being the semifinal. On the pitch the game was ebbing and flowing back and forth. As we internally thought our players were more than competitive. Much more. Half time came and we were 2-0 up. The South Melbourne supporters were anxious and now very nervous. The chatter around the ground was can this really be happening? Can this mob from Tasmania really beat the odds and as a result beat us?
Well the second half started and we managed to defend stoutly. Midway through disaster struck. Our key midfielder Shae Hickey received his second yellow and got his marching orders from the ground. Olympia was down to 10 players. Things got very tough from there. South Melbourne took the game by the scruff of the neck and soon scored a goal. This put the game at 2-1. Now back in it with 11 vs 10 home ground advantage and players which were contracted for over a Million dollars in payroll South Melbourne quite rightly played like the favorites they were. In short the team had woken up. What we saw from that point on was attack and more attack and even more attack. It was relentless. We struggled and played 9 at the back. We had no option. There were many close moments with our side defending wonderfully well.
Finally after many anxious minutes with a ball cleared off the line a few wonderful saves and players putting their bodies on the line to defend our goal the final whistle was blown.
Olympia F C Warriors 2 defeated South Melbourne Hellas 1. Amazing. The biggest win by any Tasmanian football club in history. The Victorian giant had been beaten by the Tasmanian minnow. It was proud day for our club. To be the President and humble servant of this great club that day was an honor. I will never forget the moment when the final whistle blew. It was hugs all round with some time passing before the enormity of what had just transpired sunk in. The Coaching staff, players and supporters were wonderful and may I say there were tears. We gathered around the team and well as the old saying goes “what happens in Melbourne when you win a game on the National Football Stage stays in Melbourne”!
The next game the following week was the semifinal. After hearing the results of the other games we learned that we would be heading to Perth Western Australia to play their NPL Champions. The club we played Bayswater City is an Italian based club. The weather was hot and the trip long and arduous. Our club had reached heights higher than ever imagined. Here we were in Perth us Olympia FC playing off in the Semi Final of the Australian National Championships. Again a surreal moment. However as fate would have it the day was not good.
It was very evident to us all that we were out matched and out classed by the WA team. We missed a few chances early and never really applied any pressure. By games end we had conceded 6 and lost convincingly. We had been beaten by a far better side with everything going against us. Travelling was a big factor as was the foreign ground and heat. We had no complaints and no excuses. Our run in the 2015 National Championships had come to an end. We were all tired but very proud of our achievements. I cannot put into words the sum total of the whole NPL Championship experience only to say that I want to do it all again. It was a magnificent 2 weeks for myself and everyone involved.
A lot of thanks must go to all of our great people who worked hard in 2015. To all of our Senior Social and Junior players the club thanks you for the success and dedication you all have achieved and displayed throughout the season. To our coaches and staff thank you for marshalling our troops through 2015 both during the week and on game days. It is such a joy for me to go to Warrior Park on any day and see the facility full of players all trying their hardest to improve their football for themselves and for our club. To our members and supporters a big thanks. Without your ongoing support we would struggle to achieve the great success we have seen at all levels of the game over recent times. It is important for us to acknowledge those quiet achievers who do so much behind the scenes. This could be a simple task such as dropping of your son or daughter to training and the games. This little act is a huge part of the big picture and success of the club.
We are much honored to have many businesses who offer assistance and sponsorship dollars to the club. This is something which is critical to the clubs survival year in year out. I have no doubt you know who they are. Please support when the opportunity arises. In some instances mentioning Olympia FC Warriors may get you a better deal!
Lastly I thank the OFCW Board for its continued service and support to myself and Olympia FC. Our board work very hard to provide for you the best club experience on offer in Tasmania. We acknowledge that sometimes things go wrong and mistakes are made. But there is no doubting we work towards Olympia FC being the best club in Tasmania year in year out.
If you are wondering what you can do the first and easiest thing is to buy a club membership. This is an easy way for you to supports us and something which will indicate your willingness to help your club. Seek out a Board member and buy your membership today. I remind you that we have a Facebook page which updates club games in real time and gives you information you will need to know become a friend when viewing it.
We also have a new APP specifically designed for Olympia FC. Search for it and down load it today and get updates on club events, view sponsors and breaking Olympia FC news throughout the season. Know what is going on at Olympia F C before anyone else does!
With sponsors, members, players, staff, mums and dads continued involvement within the club we will thrive and be prosperous for years to come.
See you at Warrior Park very soon!