It was a who’s who of past National Soccer League stars and Socceroo Legends as Lambert Park was the place to be on Sunday 30th of May as APIA Leichhardt hosted Sydney Olympic in the ‘Festival of Football’ weekend with the main attraction being centred around the ‘Legends’ clash.
The 4000 strong crowd was treated to some quality action seeing some familiar faces still loving the beautiful game as they turned back the clock in strutting their stuff in front of fans, family, and friends.
A tear-jerking moment was the arrival of one of Australia’s greatest ever coaches, the man himself, Rale Rasic, as he was paraded in front of the many supporters on an Audi in the middle of Lambert Park. The former Socceroo legendary coach was holding the fort in APIA’s den barking orders only he knew best as Head Coach and what a sight and sound that was.
Then you had ‘The Kat’, Peter Katholos enter the arena in yet another Audi. One of the slickest maestros who ever played the game, Katholos had the pleasure of playing for both APIA and Olympic but had head coaching duties for the Blues.
The dulcet tones of one of Australia’s most recognisable football personalities, Heartbeat of Football’s Andy Paschalidis was also something special. His 60 plus minutes of commentary was magnificent and only Andy could pull off, commentating the names he once proudly did so during his Golden SBS days.
Seeing stars such as Peter Katholos, Robbie Hooker, Pablo Cardozo, Norman Tome, Mark Byrnes, Grant Lee, Paul Dee, Rod Brown, Nick Plataniotis, Spiro Hantzis, Zlatko Nastevski, Nick Rizzo, Lawrie McKinna, John Buonavoglia, Robbie Younis and Greg Woodhouse to name a few do their thing was a marvel in itself.
You could tell that both sets of teams have not lost that special feeling this game truly gives us, the power to enjoy, to express and to entertain. Those thinking this match was a friendly match were told otherwise as both sets of players gave it their all as if it were back in their golden days.
If I’m not mistaken the coveted number 10 jersey was worn by a couple of APIA stars all of which that wowed and dazzled their faithful crowds of yesteryears, was yet another wonderful touch on a glorious day for football.
It wasn’t just a match for the Golden Oldies but it was also amazing to see the officials recognised. The five amigos of referee Con Diomis, assistants Sandro Petricarini and Jim Nicolaou, 4th Official Emmanuel Loupis and Assessor Robert Colombo asserted their authority as they did many years ago.
Although the match ended 2-2 apiece, the real winner was our beautiful game, football.
Kudos to APIA’s honorary President Tony Raciti, his board, and staff as well as Sydney Olympic for putting on such a special moment and memory that will be cherished by the many that attended the match.
It certainly brought back memories of the classic NSL days, nostalgia was certainly at its finest.
The smiles, hands shakes and stories that were relived and discussed on a day two iconic Australian Football teams celebrated the world game will never be forgotten.
Looking forward to this initiative getting bigger and better in 2022 and beyond.
Football NSW respecting the heritage and the clubs and footballers that brought the World Game to us.