Sunday, August 02, 2009
For the "favourites" in this season's state league, it was a miserable end to another season in which Olympic's legendary self-destructive capacities were in full bloom. It was the Greeks who invented drama, and Euripides, Sophocles and the like would surely have gone to town on the events of 2009 at Belmore.
The season began with the obligatory derby loss to the West Sydney Berries, who always lift against Olympic, according to the fans. There were a few hopeful signs in the succeeding rounds, but then the first act of the drama played itself out: Aytek Genc, a coach with an outstanding record at this level, departed the club after a fracas with fans over the non-inclusion of mediocre goalkeeper Sam Emmanouil. The situation was unfortunate, the details unsavoury.
In came another experienced coach in Nick Theodorakopoulos (a.k.a. Nicky Alphabet for many aficionados of Australian football, or Nick Copyandpaste for journos rushing to make a deadline). Switching to a back three, he oversaw a brief revival, with the club winning three on the trot; the rot set in again soon afterwards, though, with a long barren period in the middle rounds.
Sensation! The messiah arrives! Midway through the season, Olympic make probably the most stunning signing of the NSWPL's recent history, snapping up a once world-class keeper in Mark Bosnich (allowing Theodorakopoulos, in passing, to relegate the flapping Emmanouil to the bench).
But this was a Bosnich diminished by age and extra pounds, and despite a few magnificent saves, his performances were tinged with embarrassment...not least when he was caught a mile off his line by Sydney United's Peter Markovic in a crucial game late in the season, thus conceding a horror goal.
Last night, a pensive Theodorakopoulos provided one of the most interesting (impromptu) press conferences I've ever attended, full of intriguing observations about the game in general, and the state league in particular. "It's a semi-professional league," he observed, "and there are some semi-professional attitudes."
It was probably a veiled reference to another act in the drama, when Olympic's high-profile (and lucrative) friendly match against Sydney FC led to some grumbles from two senior players about payment. One subsequently parted ways with the club at a critical period, the other was to be found on the bench thereafter. Revolving doors.
Another pertinent remark that Theodorakopoulos made was that Olympic's massive effort in last week's game, in which (as he justly claimed) they had played the competition leaders off the park, had precipitated a depression for last night's no less crucial encounter. "They say don't change a winning formation, that's rubbish," he asserted. "But unfortunately, I don't have 28 players to call on."
Olympic are still capable of beating the best and losing to the worst. They still, perhaps more than any club in the NSWPL, embody the best and worst of the old NSL. And Theodorakopoulos, who enjoyed plenty of success in the old competition, was far too long in the tooth to be bitter and twisted after a season such as Olympic's in 2009. Instead, he showed impressive candour and grace.
Having said all that: congratulations to Sutherland, who have done well to shrug off a couple of heartbreaking mid-season results to make the finals once again. Theirs is a strong, cohesive team, and in their adroit little attacker Panny Nikas they possess a player of huge promise.
Really poor season after a 15 game unbeaten run pre-season (watch out SFC). To see WSB ahead with 1 round to go leaves me without words.
As they say there's always next year, but this time lets build from the back.
The politics that surrounds this club year in/out is both what keeps it alive and punishes it. The controversy at the very least it makes the competition interesting and keeps the journos busy. Its what the comp needs. I'd hate to see what the NSWPL would be without it.
A belated welcome back to the blogosphere BTW ;-)
Who were these 2 senior Olympic players? You can PM it to me on SFCU if you want.
Thought you already knew actually! What happened to my Well-Informed friend? ;-)
Anyway, a PM for you too.