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The Greek Herald Cup: A spectacle of Greek dancing, music and football rivalry

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Chants of ‘O-LYM-PIC, O-LYM-PIC’ and ‘Let’s go Hellas’ echoed loudly across Netstrata Jubilee Stadium at Kogarah, Sydney on Saturday, January 13 as close to 3,000 football fans packed the stadium for the inaugural The Greek Herald Cup.

The atmosphere was electric with live music, Greek dancing performances, and a football extravaganza as two iconic Greek heritage football clubs, Sydney Olympic FC and South Melbourne FC, came face to face in the historic clash.

the greek herald cup
*All photos copyright: The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos / Sydney Olympic FC.
greek herald cup
greek herald cup
the greek herald cup

The Greek Herald Cup represented a new chapter in the history of Sydney Olympic and South Melbourne, as they gear up for the 2025 National Second Tier (NST) competition. Both clubs were recently confirmed among the eight foundation clubs to participate in the NST, set to commence in March/April 2025.

The name of the cup was dedicated to The Greek Herald – a newspaper that has served as a main source of information, updates, and announcements for Sydney Olympic and South Melbourne throughout their illustrious histories. As the tournament’s namesake, The Greek Herald Cup paid homage to the newspaper’s unwavering support of both clubs and its pivotal role in connecting the Greek community.

the greek herald cup
Sydney Olympic FC.
the greek herald cup
South Melbourne FC.

On the day, the sun was shining as spectators of all ages – from young children to elderly and long-time supporters of both clubs – filled the stadium seats and settled in for some Greek cultural entertainment and a football match that lasted just over 90 minutes.

greek herald cup
greek herald cup
greek herald cup

Emcee Andy Paschalidis kick started the entertainment, introducing dancers from the Kalymnian Association of NSW and Pontoxeniteas NSW to perform a number of traditional and modern Greek dances. The performances of Zeibekiko, Hasaposerviko, Pendozali and a powerful Pontian medley drew loud applause from those watching from the stands.

greek herald cup
greek herald cup
greek herald cup

DJ Arthur Peios then turned up the Greek music as young football players created a Guard of Honour to welcome South Melbourne and Sydney Olympic’s senior men’s teams to the field for the match.

Despite the match being a ‘friendly,’ it was an intense clash between both teams, with fans waiting on tenterhooks to see which Greek side would come out on top.

greek herald cup
greek herald cup
greek herald cup
greek herald cup
greek herald cup

South Melbourne’s coach Esteban Quintas and Sydney Olympic’s coach Labinot Haliti also displayed extreme passion and determination, calling out advice and directions from the side lines. They were joined by Sydney Olympic’s Chairman Damon Hanlin and CEO Lawrie McKinna, as well as South Melbourne’s Chairman Bill Papastergiadis and Director Andrew Mesourouni, who watched on proudly and cheered as their teams came face to face.

greek herald cup
Sydney Olympic’s coach Labinot Haliti.
greek herald cup
South Melbourne’s coach Esteban Quintas.
the greek herald cup
the greek herald cup

Other official guests on the day included the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Ioannis Mallikourtis; Member for Canterbury and NSW Minister for Industrial Relations, Sophie Cotsis MP; Georges River Council Mayor Sam Elmir; and Football Australia Director Joseph Carrozzi AM.

greek herald cup
(L-R) Sydney Olympic’s Chairman Damon Hanlin, South Melbourne’s Chairman Bill Papastergiadis and Director Andrew Mesourouni.
greek herald cup
Sydney Olympic’s CEO Lawrie McKinna.
greek herald cup
George River Mayor Sam Elmir (left).

By half time, neither teams had scored a goal and so it was time for some more entertainment in the form of Sydney Olympic’s youth teams playing a few football matches, whilst Paschalidis held Question and Answer segments with the Sydney club’s “football legends.”

The legends included Peter Raskopoulos, Arthur Svinos, Chris Kalantzis, Elias Augerinos, Gary Meier, Peter Katholos, Norm Tome, Pablo Cardozo, Scott Baillie, Marshall Soper, Spiro Hatzis, Stephen Kamaz, Steve Kara, and Terry Patalis, just to name a few.

greek herald cup
the greek herald cup
Andy Paschalidis conducting a Q&A with one of the legends, Chris Kalantzis.

At the time, The Greek Herald also took the chance to speak with fans in the stands, with many sharing their joy at how the event was bringing the Greek football communities of Sydney and Melbourne together again for the first time in years. Others said it brought them a sense of nostalgia as they remembered “the good old days” when families would come out in full force to support their local Greek football club.

the greek herald cup
the greek herald cup

Ms Cotsis brought her husband Arthur and son George along to the match, and she said they had a “beautiful day.”

“The Greek Herald Cup opened up a sense of nostalgia which the next generation wants to be a part of. The atmosphere gave these kids something special that I experienced as a teenager,” Ms Cotsis said.

Their experience would only have intensified when the football match kicked off again and it became a nervous wait as Sydney Olympic and South Melbourne fought tooth-and-nail to score a goal.

the greek herald cup
the greek herald cup

Whispers floated across the crowd that a penalty shoot-out was eminent until the 75th minute when Jackson Bandiera from Sydney Olympic caught his rivals by surprise and scored a goal, securing a 1-0 victory for his team and winning the inaugural The Greek Herald Cup.

the greek herald cup
the greek herald cup
the greek herald cup

Cheers of ‘O-LYM-PIC, O-LYM-PIC’ erupted from the stadium and fans jumped up in pride, waving their Greek flags and Sydney Olympic signs as the win sunk in.

The match ended on a friendly note with both teams congratulating each other on a well played game, before Sydney Olympic were presented with The Greek Herald Cup by Ms Cotsis and Publisher of The Greek Herald, Dimitra Skalkos.

the greek herald cup
(L-R) Sophie Cotsis MP with The Greek Herald’s publisher, Dimitra Skalkos.
the greek herald cup

Sydney Olympic captain, Ziggy Gordon, told The Greek Herald after the match that he wanted to dedicate the trophy to the club’s supporters.

“It’s a great feeling [to win] but it’s only made possible because of the support. This [the trophy] doesn’t belong to me or to this team. It belongs to every Sydney Olympic supporter who came out today, who support us throughout the years, and I hope there’s a lot more silverware to come,” Ziggy said.

the greek herald cup
the greek herald cup
the greek herald cup

As with any event, official guests and football players had a chance to sit back and unwind at the end of the match during an official cocktail party at the stadium from 8pm.

Amongst plenty of mingling and eating delicious finger food, attendees enjoyed a number of speeches from Mr McKinna, Mr Hanlin and Mr Papastergiadis.

the greek herald cup
the greek herald cup

In his speech, Mr McKinna congratulated Sydney Olympic on their win and said The Greek Herald Cup was a warning for “what’s to come” for the NST competition.

“This is a warning to the A-League of what could happen… More than 2,500 people here over Christmas and New Year. Credit to the Sydney Olympic and South Melbourne boys for putting in a great effort, and especially in that first half as well with the sun,” he said.

Mr Hanlin thanked everyone for their support of event and extended his gratitude to the event’s namesake, The Greek Herald, for their continued support and sponsorship over many decades.

the greek herald cup

“The Greek Herald has long served as a platform to Greek and Cypriot Australians and has been a beacon of inspiration, promoting not only the sport of football but also the vibrant Greek and Cypriot communities that have contributed so much to the fabric of this nation. Their commitment to keeping the community informed and connected for over 95 years is truly commendable,” he said.

Mr Hanlin also stressed how important this match between Sydney Olympic and South Melbourne was for the future of both clubs.

“Today, we witnessed the power of unity, the beauty of the game, and the unbreakable spirit of these two remarkable clubs,” he said.

“Let us carry this inspiration with us as we eagerly anticipate the dawn of the National Second Division in 2025, where Hellas and Olympic will continue to make their mark on Australian football.”

Mr Papastergiadis spoke on behalf of South Melbourne and said despite their loss, The Greek Herald Cup was about something far greater.

the greek herald cup

“We extend our thank you to Mr Hanlin for building a terrific event for the purposes of uniting football across Australia and as an entry point into the B-League,” Mr Papastergiadis said.

“It may not have been our dream today, but it’s certainly been a significant pleasure on our behalf to participate in today’s event because it’s been an event which evokes a Greek word ‘philoxenia’ which is roughly translated to hospitality, and the hospitality that’s been shown to us at South Melbourne has been extraordinary.

“We felt that and we’re going to reciprocate next year and make sure we extend the same hospitality.”

Mr Papastergiadis then presented official plaques to Mr McKinna, Mr Hanlin and Ms Skalkos, recognising their contributions to the event and the Greek community as a whole.

the greek herald cup
the greek herald cup

For her part, Ms Skalkos said she hopes The Greek Herald Cup will inspire generations to come and continue to unite the Greek and Cypriot Australian community through the passion of football.

“The Greek Herald Cup signifies more than just a historic football match celebrating Sydney Olympic and South Melbourne being recently confirmed as foundation clubs for Australia’s NST competition; it epitomises the dedication of our publication towards these dynamic Greek heritage clubs,” Ms Skalkos said.

“The Greek Herald team take immense pride in honouring both clubs and the beautiful game they represent, as they have so for many decades.”

Ms Skalkos said the friendly match exceeded expectations.

“We would like to take the opportunity to formally congratulate both clubs on the new chapter they will embark on in 2025 in the NST and thank all the supporters that were present on the day,” she said.

“We anticipate The Greek Herald Cup will become an annual celebration of Greek football. Stay tuned, football fans.”

*All photos copyright: The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos / Sydney Olympic FC.

Sydney Olympic FC team:

  • Noah James
  • Peter Politis
  • Jackson Bandiera
  • George Timotheou
  • Ziggy Gordon
  • Jack Simmons
  • Jaden Casella
  • Sam Macllhatton
  • Oliver Puflett
  • Darcy Burgess
  • Adam Parkhouse
  • Michael Vakis
  • William Mutch
  • Josh Okan
  • Chris Parsons
  • Gianni De Pizio
  • Roy O’Donovan

South Melbourne FC team:

  • Lampard, Jordan
  • Jankovic, Marco
  • Cuba, Cyan
  • Lopez, Javier
  • Sawyer, Harrison
  • Bonada, Nahuel
  • Evans, Morgan
  • Peios, Emile
  • Inglese, Lucas
  • Tong, Bol
  • Painter Andrews, Jack
  • Marshall, Jake
  • Archibald, Ross
  • Barcia, Mario
  • Mikkolla, Max
  • Browne, Hayden
  • Brennan, Andrew
  • Paolilli, Justin
  • Jai Halfpenney, Cooper

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