Few matches in the Victorian NPL stir up the emotions in the respective camps than an Alexandros v Hellas derby clash. The use of the term Alexandros v Hellas is quite deliberate, because it’s always a passionate affair when these two Greek-backed heavyweights meet.
Ladder position and current form can be largely ignored, because although the winning team can statistically gain no more than the three points on offer, it’s an opportunity to grab the bragging rights over a storied old arch-rival. Fans of either club get to jibe their opposition counterparts on the terraces, at home or at their favourite coffee shop haunts in the various Greek precincts scattered around the Melbourne metropolitan area.
This Saturday at the Olympic Village sees that rivalry take centre stage once more, just as it has in the past half century. During the NPL era, the eleven meetings have produced five wins apiece and just one draw for either side in many memorable encounters.
Last year, in its Premier’s Plate-Grand Final double win, Heidelberg United managed to achieve the double over South Melbourne. In the original Round 9 match at the Olympic Village, the ‘Bergers unveiled the 60th anniversary ‘Heritage Jumper’ against its old rival, only for the game to be called off after just a quarter of an hour – following an horrific leg injury sustained by Heidelberg tyro Harry Noon.
In the Round 22 match at Lakeside, Noon had recovered sufficiently to be back playing, this time grabbing the limelight by sweeping home the ‘Bergers’ third goal in a 3-1 win. Just three weeks later, the catch up (replayed) Round 9 game saw the ‘Bergers seal the Premier’s Plate on the back of a stunning four-goal first half blitz, eventually finishing as 4-2 winners.
With this match set to round out the first half of the 2019 season, Heidelberg sits in second spot, having shaken off some early season malaise to perform with its customary strength and consistency. The ‘Bergers could consider themselves unlucky to be held to a 1-1 draw by Avondale last week and will be keen to keep up the pressure on the league leader with a win.
George Katsakis is only too aware of the task ahead of his charges.
“We just need to keep winning to maintain our second spot on the table, and hopefully if we keep consistent, in the second half of the season …… try to mount a real challenge for top stop. The derby games are always special, so we know we need to be at our best to get a result.”
South Melbourne has staged somewhat of a mini revival under new coach Esteban Quintas, who took the helm after the resignation of Con Tangalakis after Round 7. It has climbed to eighth spot on the table following its impressive 2-1 win away to Altona magic last week.
There’s sure to be many questions posed and perhaps answered in the clash at the Olympic Village on Saturday evening. The form book counts for next to nought when these two clubs square off against one another. As is customary, it promises to be another drama-filled, passionate Alexandros v Hellas derby replete with highlights, tension and talking points.
The action kicks off at 6:00pm on Saturday (May 18) – with the Under 20s kick off at 4:00pm.UFC TV will live stream the match from shortly before 6:00pm via the links at HUFC-TV