There is still some hope that Floreat Athena will retain the services of the Treble winning coach Jim Prygolios. After the Cup Final win Prygolios made a speech at the clubroom celebrations, saying " Today is the happiest moment of my life for two years " he also went on to say "The club has a great future with joungsters like George (Tiniakos), and Peter (Coci)" . As indicated in the West Australian today, if he did stay it would be for 3 years. I believe that the club to keep him would have to also bring over Prygolios's family from Melbourne and the period of 3 years could be for higher ambitions such as the second coach of the Perth Glory. With the heart of Glory being at Floreat Athena ( Paul Afkos is a major supporter of the club with his 2 sons playing here as does Nick Tana's two sons Peter Tana in the reserves and Vince in the First team) Prygolios would be the next replacement if a vacancy did arrise at the Glory for some reason or another.
After a wait of 8 years we have also added the Divella Cup (nee Dorsogna Cup) to our trophy cabinet thus making a clean sweep of all the titles for 1997. The 2-0 win over arch nemesis the Stirling Lions was the first knockout cup win for the club since winning three in a row in the years of 1987, 1988, 1989. Goals came from Jason Smith and Peter Coci. For the supporters relief and there is no doubt who was the best team this season.
The club awards were held on Saturday Night with all players who played in season 1997 getting some sort of medalion. The first team fairest and best (which was a contentious one) went to Midfielder and Perth Glory squad member James Afkos, with runner-up going to the leagues top scorer Michael Roki.
In the Reserves the Award went to Costas Socratous who in time will
eventually become a National League Player, at the age of 17 he easilly
was our best player this season and he does not get flustered on the ball
no matter who the opponent is. The runner-up went to Manuel Arapis who
had an excellent season in a defensive stopper/marking role.
In the Under 18's the award went to Anthony Jones who at 16 years of age has the same future as Socratous with the runner-up going to Michel Ludwig.
Emotional scenes were the order of the day two weeks ago when we finally clinched the premiership after 8 years without a championship title. The win over the Stirling lions in the last game of the season clinched the title after only a draw was needed to hold off the challenge from a close finishing Fremantle led by Stuart Kamasz. The first goal just before half time by Peter Coci thrilled the crowd after smashing the ball home from all of 10 yards. After the break Athena could of had made the score 6 or 7 nill after long range attempts by Smith, Coci, and Roki all went either wide or were well saved by trianedies the Lions keeper.
In the end a penalty and a class volley by the evergreen Michael Roki capped off a memorable day and the beers were flying in the clubrooms after the match. A mention must also go out to the retiring president Andreas Pakioufakis who has done a great job in getting Athena to this stage after the club was in the bottom half two years ago.
After winning the league, I have decided that the jinx this page created on the first team can be said over.
The league championship is now wide open after Athena drew 1-1 with the Western Knights and Sorrento and Fremantle had crushing victories over their opponents. The gap is now 3 points over Sorrento and 6 over Fremantle (see league tables) but the interesting fact is that Sorrento is guaranteed a 3-0 win next week over the now defunct Morley, which would see it level on points with Athena. The match of the round next week is Floreat Athena vs Fremantle City. If Fremantle win this they would only be 3 points back with 2 rounds to play.
Should Athena win next week the gap would remain 3 points and 1 win from the last 2 games would ensure the championship. Out of the final 3 games against Fremantle, Perth Italia and the final game against Stirling Lions the simple equation is that 2 must be won to clinch our first league in 9 years.
Should Athena lose the title they have only themselves to blame after being up to 8 points ahead only a few weeks ago. With major injuries to Star player Michael Roki and influencial Defender Alan Armstrong, players such as James Afkos Troy Bernard and Jason Smith must now stand up and be counted if Athena is to have any success. Over the past 3-4 rounds these players as well as Peter Coci have not performed to their potential and with the exception of Bernard and Smith have been deadweights that the team does not need.
On a brighter note the reserves are currently in 4th place on 50 pts only 1pt less than league leader Sorrento and the Reserve grade can mathematically be won by any of the top 5 sides.
Tommorows Quarter Final Divella Cup tie against Bayswater City Panthers is a do or die game. A win tommorow would place Athena in a strong position to win the Treble, as we have already won the Night Series, 5 points ahead in the league with 4 games to go and now in the quarters of the cup. If this is done it would be a memorable season for the club.
The Game kicks off at 8:15pm with the reserves also playing. One and a half weeks ago the result was a 2-2 draw in the league with a 2-1 win to Floreats Reserves. Both teams are expected to win.
The question that now must be asked is whether or not Floreat Athena are getting League Leader jitters at this crucial time in the championship race. 2 succsesive draws against teams which are placed at 8th and 9th place on the ladder is a worrying sign with just 5 rounds to go. At the moment looks like 2 wins and 2 draws would do it or at most assuming that Sorrento drop one to two games. 3 wins and one draw is the minimum, because if Sorrento won all of their remaining games the league would finish tied and at the moment Athena's Goal difference of +36 is 17 goals above Sorrento's +19. As long as this target is met the championship should not slip out of our hands.
Another weekend of league action sees Floreat Athenas lead diminished
from 7 points to 5 points after Athena drew
2-2 with the Bayswater City Panthers, and in other games Sorrento thumped Kingsway Olympic 4-1. Athena was saved two minutes into injury time by a Peter Coci tap in. For all the info on this game go to the Match report.
In other news striker Michael Roki has been approached by the Perth
Glory and 4 to 5 other National League Clubs.
The 32 year old Floreat Player is still to decide but if the money is not put up for a player of Roki's quality, Other NSL clubs will not hesitate to snap up a great player. Neverthless the Glory probably has the front running as with Vas Kalogeracos having left and reserve striker Alan Mackenzie being discarded firepower will be needed for the coming season.
This weeks training has been not that physical. Tuesdays training was some sprints and sharpness work, then a game. Wednesdays Session was a game between the Reserves and the first team, whilst last night the first team and reserves were split up into 4 teams of 6, and 6-a-side was played all night. This could be a bad thing as the slack atmosphere at training could cause the first team to drop more points and let the chasing bunch catch up to them.
In other news the first team almost has a full team to pick from with both Sean Lynch (Groin?) and Vince Tana (ankle) both training all week. In the reserves Goalkeeper Alex Lackovic will not play due to personal commitments so Under 18's first choice kepper James Alviani will fill in, in his absence. With the team sitting 5 points off the top and with Bayswater only 1 point behind Floreat, This match must be won to finish in a respectable top four finish.
The first team has had its gap at the top of the premier league extended from 7 to 8 points over the weekend without playing a competitive match. The scheduled match against Morley resulted in a 3-0 default result and with the Western Knights, Spearwood and Sorrento not winning, Athena has the chance to top the league for the first time since 1991. With 7 Games remaining, 5 Games must be won to hold off any challenge.
The run home - Joondalup (A)
Swan I.C. (H) Win
Bayswater City Panthers (H) Win
Western Knights (A) ?
Fremantle City (H) ?
Perth Italia (A) ?
Stirling Macedonia (H) Win
As Floreat had the bye this weekend due to Morley's withdrawal from the competion, a training match was held at the Lake Monger Velodrome, starting at 10.00am. With many players of the first team not competing the reserves and under 18's filled in some spots. Notable exceptions were Goalkeepers Johnny Xigas and RGK Alex Lackovic, while also not playing were Sean Lynch, Doug Ithier, Alan Armstrong, Jason Smith, Vince Tana and Peter Coci. Of the players who did play well were John Carbone who scored 2 goals after defence splitting runs, Michael Roki who gave some great balls to the strikers, and Troy Bernard and James Afkos who also put on a good show.
Next weeks game is against the Joondalup Falcons at the Arena Joondalup.