History of UTS Olympic

History of UTS Olympic

by Andrew Howe

In 1958, the Pan-Hellenic soccer club, later to become UTS Olympic, was born. It took the club only five years to establish itself at the top level of domestic football at this time - the NSW first division. In these pre-national league years, Pan-Hellenic made the grand final of the NSW first division once - in 1968 - losing 2-4 to Sydney City.

Coinciding with a name change to 'Sydney Olympic', the club board in 1976 decided to become a foundation member of the then called Philips Soccer League (PSL). Commencing in 1977, the PSL was Australia's first truly national football competition.

Olympic had a fairly slow beginning to the national league, not finishing above halfway on the final ladder until 1982. In fact, in finishing second last in the PSL in 1979, Olympic was relegated back to NSW first division. But not for long. A grand final victory in NSW over Parramatta Eagles in 1980 paved the way for a hasty return to the top flight in 1981. They have been there ever since.

In stark contrast to its first four years in national competition, Olympic finished in the top half of every final table competition ladder from 1982 to 1992. Highlights of this extended halcyon period included grand final losses in 1984 (to South Melbourne), 1986 (Adelaide City) and 1989 (where Marconi scored the single winning goal in the 91st minute). Olympic's long awaited moment of glory did finally arrive, on 20 May 1990. Buoyed on by the majority of a packed Parramatta Stadium audience of 26,353, Olympic resoundingly beat Marconi in the grand final 2-0.

Despite great expectations, the early 1990s was a relatively tough time for Olympic. They have reached the finals three times in the last six years, but have yet to record a finals series victory since 1990. One solitary statistic reflects the downturn in Olympic's fortune over recent years. The home gate in their game against Adelaide City in March 1995 - a measly 871 - was by far the lowest ever recorded by Olympic in the national league.

Olympic redeemed themselves in 1995-96 by finishing near the top of the league. Their fans also returned. Olympic's 1995-96 average home crowd of 6,317 was the largest average home crowd for any national league club since the old Newcastle KB United days. Newcastle attracted 6400 per game in 1980.

Seen by many as being lucky to survive the 1995 off-season culling of several clubs from the Ericsson Cup, Olympic is back with a vengeance. In 1995-96 a prosperous partnership with the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) was formed. At the same time, the club secured the services of reputable NSW state coach David Ratcliffe, and also appointed high-profile general manager Lydia Dowse.

For the 1996-97 season a long-awaited move to the more traditional heartland of Olympic occurred. Hopefully the club, so long considered the eternal nomads of the league, will settle in for a long-term tenure at Belmore Sports Ground - the traditional home of fellow blue and whites, the Canterbury Bankstown rugby league club. These recent, positive off and on field achievements indicate that UTS Olympic could very soon again be one of the flagships of Australian soccer.

Statistical summary of UTS Olympic in the national league

league season
Final ladder
National knock-
out cup placing
home crowd
1977 12th (14 teams) =8th (14 teams) 3700
1978 8th (12 teams) =9th (32 teams) 3800
1979 13th (14 teams) =9th (32 teams) 3100
1981 9th (16 teams) =9th (36 teams) 5400
1982 8th (16 teams) =9th (16 teams) 6200
1983 7th (16 teams) 1st (16 teams) 4600
1984^ 2nd (12 teams) Last (24 teams) 3600
1985^ 4th (12 teams) 1st (32 teams) 4200
1986^ 2nd (12 teams) =5th (32 teams) 4700
1987 7th (13 teams) =9th (13 teams) 4100
1988 5th (14 teams) =5th (14 teams) 3500
1989 3rd (14 teams) 2nd (14 teams) 3600
1989-90 5th* (14 teams) 2nd (14 teams) 3400
1990-91 6th (14 teams) =9th (14 teams) 4500
1991-92 2nd (14 teams) =8th (14 teams) 4600
1992-93 9th (14 teams) =9th (14 teams) 3500
1993-94 6th (14 teams) =8th (14 teams) 4800
1994-95 9th (13 teams) =3rd (14 teams) 2900
1995-96 3rd (12 teams) =5th (14 teams) 6300
* grand final winner/champion.
^ national league divided into two conferences. Olympic in northern conference.