Preston Lions FC
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|File:Logo club preston 006.jpg|
|Full name||Preston Lions Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||Lions, Makedonia, Lavovi, Reds|
|Ground||B.T. Connor Reserve,
|Capacity||8,000 Includes 1,000 seating approx|
|Owner||Preston Lions Supporters Trust Est 2012|
|League||Victorian State League 1 N/W|
The Preston Lions Football Club (formerly Preston Makedonia Soccer Club) is a soccer club from Preston, a northern suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The club was formed in 1947 and currently plays in the Victorian State League 1, but did play in the Victorian Premier League up until 2009, of which they were champions of the 2002 and 2007 season.
- 1 History
- 2 Former Players
- 3 Honours
- 4 Individual awards
- 5 Representative Football
- 6 Current squad
- 7 Notable former coaches
- 8 Records
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The club was founded in 1947 and was affiliated with the Victorian Soccer Federation (now Football Federation Victoria) in 1959. Based in the suburb of Preston, Victoria, the Macedonia Soccer Club was originally created as a focal point for the newly immigrated Macedonian community to gather and socialise, and to provide the then youth with the opportunity to learn and play the ‘world game’ that was so popular back in their homeland of Macedonia.
Transformation of the club and affiliation to VSF
In 1959 the club established itself from an amateur club to a semi-professional club, and a change of name to the Preston Makedonia Soccer Club with promotion to the Victorian Division Two (South Competition). Preston Makedonia moved forward in leaps and bounds to become champions of the Victorian Metropolitan League Division One in 1966, and as a result, was promoted to the state’s top competition, the Victorian State League in 1967.
The club first experienced championship success at the state’s top level in 1975 and again in 1980. As Victorian champions, Preston competed in a play-off against other state champions and in 1981 they were promoted to the then National Soccer League (NSL) competition.
During this significant period of growth the need for much larger facilities became apparent and the club consequently moved from its home base of T.A. Cochrane Reserve in Collier Street, Preston, to its current home ground at B.T. Connor Reserve in nearby Reservoir. The Preston Makedonia Social Club was also established around the same time and is located directly opposite the ground.
National Soccer League
Preston continued to compete successfully in the NSL for the next 13 years, achieving their best finish in 1987 as runner-up in the Southern Division Championship. In 1992 Preston took out the prestigious Dockerty Cup in a thrilling penalty shootout against arch rivals South Melbourne. However financial difficulties led to poor performances and in 1993 Preston played their last match in the NSL.
Victorian Premier League
Relegated to the Victorian Premier League, Preston were once again crowned Victorian champions in 1994. Around this time, Soccer Australia forced VPL clubs to abolish any ethnicity associated with their club names. Preston Makedonia Soccer Club was renamed the Preston Lions Soccer Club. The club has since adopted the title of the Preston Lions Football Club, following the lead set by the sports’ governing body and keeping in line with how the game is known in the UK and countries where people don't speak English–as “football”.
The club experienced a disastrous campaign in 1995, being relegated to the Victorian State League Division 1 after finishing bottom of the Premier League. Championship winning coach Peter Ollerton was sacked after five games with a record of 1 win, 1 draw and 3 losses to start the '95 campaign. Sean Lane came in on the 2nd of April but lasted just 13 games with a 3–5–5 record. Norrie Pate oversaw the rest of the campaign as head manager but was unable to avoid the drop. Preston bounced straight back to the Premier League, winning promotion with their 2nd-place finish in the '96 State League 1.
Makedonia would once again become Victorian Premier League champions in both 2002 and 2007, adding to its already impressive collection of trophies. Preston had 3 points deducted at the start of the 2007 season, making the feat all the more impressive. The 2007 grand final at Bob Jane Stadium against Whittlesea Zebras was attended by an estimated 4,500 people.
In season 2009, in the club's 50 year anniversary, Preston finished the season in 12th place and were relegated, just two seasons after being crowned VPL Champions. Makedonia managed just 7 points all season in what was one of the worst ever VPL seasons recorded. Preston narrowly avoided relegation in 2010, finishing one point above the relegated FC Clifton Hill, qualifying to the relegation playoff against State League 2 side Diamond Valley United, winning the encounter 1–0 through a Robert Najdovski goal.
Preston's fall from grace was continued in the 2011 State League One season, where the club was not able to avoid relegation, finishing bottom of the table. Makedonia experienced many heavy defeats in the 2011 season, finished with 56 goals conceded, 17 more than any other side in the competition.
Preston Lions, playing in the third tier of football in Victoria for the first time in over 30 years, had a disappointing 2012 season, finishing mid-table. 2013 was more of the same for the historic outfit, placing 7th in the regionalised Victorian State League 2 North-West.
After the inception of the National Premier Leagues Victoria, Preston were "promoted" to the Victorian State League 1 North-West, but as the Premier League was split into two divisions, Preston remained at essentially the same tier, the third, as they were before in the Victorian football pyramid.
The 2014 season saw the Lions manage a 2nd-place finish in the league, missing out on top spot and a State League 1 NW championship by just three points. The club parted ways with head manager Josip Biskic in May and replaced him with Englishman Andy O'Dell. When O'Dell came in after Round 7, Preston were at the bottom end of the ladder. The Lions then went on an incredible run under their new coach, not losing a game for the rest of the season. A landmark moment was achieved when in August 2014, Preston were able to announce that they had eradicated their ATO debt in full, with acknowledgement arriving form the ATO in September 2014. President Zoran Trajceski resigned at the end of 2014.
The Lions followed up their 2nd-place finish in 2014 with a 4th-place finish in 2015. In June 2015, Andy O’Dell was sacked as head manager following poor results and was replaced by former player Željko Popović. Popović was initially brought in on an interim basis, but the good results he achieved until the end of the 2015 season saw him reappointed for the 2016 season.
Over the years, the Preston Lions FC have produced many champion players who have represented their countries at youth and senior level such as Charlie Everywhere, Warren Spink, George Campbell for Scotland, Graham Heys for England, Robbie Dunn, Phil Traianedes, George Jolevski, Andrew Zinni, Oscar Crino, Peter Ollerton, Gary Cole, John Markovski, Kris Trajanovski, Goran Lozanovski, John Sapazovski, who captained the Victorian State Team on their tour to China in 2005, and Sasa Ognenovski was crowned Asian player of the year in 2010. Ex Galatasaray Superstar Ibrahim Yattara also plays for Preston Lions in their Metropolitan team
- National Soccer League Premiers 1987
- Victorian Premier League (Southern Division) Runner-Up: 1985
- National Soccer League Third Place: 1983
- National Soccer League Cup Runner-Up: 1985, 1990/91
- National Soccer League Finalists: 1985, 1989
- Victorian Premier League Champions: 1980, 1994, 2002, 2007
- Victorian Premier League Minor Premiers: 1994, 2003, 2007
- Victorian Premier League Runners Up: 1978
- Victorian Premier League Finalists: 1994, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008
- Victorian Division One Champions: 1966, 1975
- Victorian Division One Runner-Up: 1964, 1965, 1996, 2014
- Victorian Division Two Champions: 1961, 1973
- Dockerty Cup Winners: 1992
- Dockerty Cup Runner-Up: 1985, 1986
- Victoria Cup: 1980
- Federation Cup Winners: 1973, 1975, 1996
- Federation Cup Runner-Up: 1963
Victorian Premier League Gold Medal – Metropolitan Player of the Year
- 2015 Ibrahim Yattara
Victorian Premier League Gold Medal – VPL Player of the Year
- 2001–Chris Emsovski
- 2003–Chris Emsovski
- 2005–Anthony Magnacca
Bill Fleming Medal – Media voted VPL Player of the Year
- 1994–Adrian Pender
- 2006–Anthony Magnacca
- 2007–Tony Sterjovski
Victorian Premier League Coach of the Year
- 2007–Goran Lozanovski
Victorian Premier League Top Goalscorer
- 1979–Gary Ward
Victorian Premier League Goalkeeper of the Year
- 1999–Lou Acevski
Victorian Premier League Under 21 Player of the Year
- 2005–Serkan Oksuz
Jimmy Rooney Medal – VPL Grand Final Man of the Match
- 1994–Chris Sterjovski
- 2002–John Spazaovski
- 2007–Zoran Petrevski
Weinstein Medal Junior Player of the Year
- 1989–Robert Spastic
Australian Representatives – Senior Level
- Doug Brown
- Billy Celeski
- Gary Cole
- Oscar Crino
- Robbie Dunn
- David Jones
- John Little
- George Jolevski
- Goran Lozanovski
- John Markovski
- Zarko Odzakov
- Sasa Ognenovski
- Peter Ollerton
- Con Opasinis
- George Slifkas
- Warren Spink
- Phil Traianedes
- Kris Trajanovski
- Andrew Zinni
National Representatives – Youth Team
- John Little (AUS)
- Warren Spink (AUS)
- John Markovski (AUS)
- Naum Sekulovski (AUS)
- Kris Trajanovski (AUS)
- Goran Lozanovski (AUS)
- Vasco Trpcevski (AUS)
- Bill Tijuelo (AUS)
- Daniel Miller (AUS)
- George Campbell (SCO)
- Graham Heys (ENG)
Victorian State Representatives – Senior Level
- George Campbell
- John Sapazovski
- Anthony Magnacca
- Pece Siveski
- Serkan Oksuz
- Jonathan Munoz
- Steve Jackson
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Notable former coaches
- Most Games: Chris Emsovski 158, John Sapazovski 123, Sasa Ognenovski 110
- Most Finals Games: Chris Emsovski 8
- Most Career Goals: John Sapazovski 40
- Most Season Goals: Saso Markovski 19 (1998)
Note: These statistics include Victorian Premier League matches and finals played for Preston Lions between 1991 and 2005.
- "CLUB ANNOUNCEMENT". Preston Lions F.C. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
- Twomey, Liam. "Cairnlea coach has a point to prove". Star Weekly. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
- "Debt Demolished!!!". Preston Lions F.C. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
- "Presidents Report 2014". Preston Lions F.C. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
- "COACHING ANNOUNCEMENT". Preston Lions F.C. Retrieved 11 June 2015.