Sydney City back in the game

One of the biggest names of the NSL made a quiet return last month, as Sydney City played their first game in the NSW state league in 25 years.

One of the biggest names of the National Soccer League made a quiet return last month, as Sydney City played their first game in the NSW state league in 25 years.

The now renamed Hakoah Sydney City East (HSCE) lost their first State League 1, in the third tier of the NSW competition, game 2-3, to Gladesville Ryde Magic - but for many, the result wasn-t important. What matters is one of the greats of “old soccer” finally marking its return.

Of course, a lot has changed since Sydney City-s glory days, when the club dominated the NSL, winning four titles, three back-to-back in the early 1980s.

While the Hakoah Club that once backed the team is currently indisposed while developing new facilities at Sydney-s White City, Maccabi Hakoah, the club that runs a range of sporting teams, is still involved in keeping the famous name alive.

It's not a comeback as such but it's a move that will still warm the hearts of those who remember Sydney City's glory days.

“The old club hasn-t been reborn,” explains HSCE chairman Jon Marcuson. “We are not a Maccabi club but we-re under their brand and take input from them and continue to promote their brand.

“But the same people are now involved with HSCE, there-s plenty of crossover but it-s pretty much a new club with a new direction. The ambition might be to go as high as possible but it-s not to take over an A-League club or apply for a licence at this point in time.

“There is no Hakoah club backing it, as in the late 80s when they used to fund Sydney City. I think people are confusing it because Frank Lowy was involved with Hakoah, so is he the one making this comeback? Unfortunately no.”

After a slightly convoluted but successful recent history, the club were promoted to NSW State League 1 this season, rather than the recently formed Premier League. Marcuson admits it was frustrating to start in the third tier but says it has allowed the club to define its goals as part of a five-year strategy.

“We couldn-t jump two divisions and get into Super League. So it-s not a rebirth but we-re a good club with some good people, we play out of some fantastic stadiums in Hensley down in east gardens, and we have a professional line-up of coaches - Mark and Alex Robertson, Neil Jablonksi, Brad Maloney, all ex-Sydney City players - and we are putting in place a pathway which will go from 9s to opens.

“Part of our plan is to get promoted into the next tier where we can run youth programs and competitive games. That-s the goal, where we can start producing our own players for our open teams and that-s the only way you can sustain a viable club.

“We still have the vision in place and we have brought good people into the club. We do have a plan to get into Super League and then we-ll take the next step one at a time.”