It has been a long, arduous road back to the top of the state football pyramid for Hakoah Sydney City East, but now that they are back they are right where they along according to Phil Filler.
Filler has filled a number of roles over the years at the club.
“I don’t even know how many years it has been,” Filler said with a laugh.
“I remember going back to all the old grounds like Marconi and Wentworth Park in the 60s and 70s.
“I’ve been involved since those days until maybe two years ago when I was still managing the under-18 team.
“And to me it was always about the kids coming through the ranks, developing and getting off the streets and into a great sport.”
That philosophy has served the club well in recent years as the once foundation members of the old National Soccer League.
Hakoah was the original NSL champion in 1977, when they competed as Eastern Suburbs Hakoah.
In 1978 they became Sydney City and relocated to ES Marks Field and would win a total of four NSL championships before exiting the national competition in 1988.
Three consecutive promotions in three years has seen the club return to the top competition in the state, with the club proving more than competitive in its first season back in the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition.
And Filler says the crucial point was reinventing the club in the state leagues as a semi-professional club.
“The emphasis was on achieving two main goals, to climb the ranks – which is always important – and to give the kids we had the best facilities and the best coaching we could,” Filler said.
“I think it is fantastic that we are back. It gives the kids we have something to aspire to.”
And while this week is Heritage Round – and there is no shortage of heritage at Hakoah – Filler is most excited for the club’s future.
Maccabi-Hakoah announced plans to redevelop the old Tennis New South Wales headquarters in White City.
Filler played a big role in acquiring the land for the club, which will be redeveloped into – among other things – a new world class base for the football club.
“It’s a great club,” Filler said.
“I’m proud to say high on the agenda for Light City is a state of the art football field with surrounding club house and other features
“And the Hakoah social club Is looking at more. Futsal, basketball, swimming and a gym.
“They are developing a fantastic sports centre for the benefit of the community and it’s a great coup as far as I’m concerned.
“Ensuring the best surfaces for the players is important for the players.”
– By Matt Galea
Tickets are available at the gate of all venues this weekend. Attend your local Heritage Round fixture and use #NPLHeritageRound on social:
Heritage Round – Saturday 28 May 2016
6:30pm – Sutherland Sharks v Manly United – Seymour Shaw
7pm – Bonnyrigg WE v Rockdale City Suns – Bonnyrigg Sports Centre
7pm – Hakoah Sydney City East v Wollongong Wolves – Hensley Athletic Field
Heritage Round – Sunday 29 May 2016
3pm – Sydney Olympic v APIA Leichhardt Tigers – Belmore Sports Ground
3pm – Parramatta FC v Blacktown Spartans – Melita Stadium
4pm – Sydney United 58 v Blacktown City – Sydney United Sports Centre