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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 13 April 2019
28 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 13 APRIL 2019 SPORT DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ISSN 1321-1676 9 771321 167062 Sotiris Patrinos, from the cover of Vasilis Vasilas book, ‘The Giant Who Never Awoke’. Soto giving a speech in his later years. Vale Sotiris Patrinos: Pan-Hellenic’s penalty king With the recent passing of former Pan-Hellenic football player, Sotiris Patrinos, Sydney historian, Vasilis Vasilas looks back on the charismatic player whose finesse and skillfulness on the field nicknamed him ‘μοδιστρούλα’ (seamstress) VASILIS VASILAS With the gradual passing of the post-World War II generation of Greek migrants, we often make references to the end of an era. Last week, the death of Sydney football legend, Sotiris 'Soto' Patrinos, who played for Pan-Hellenic Soccer Club over nine seasons (1960-69), brings back so many memories of a bygone era of the Greek community and Australian sport. As Australia was exiled from FIFA during the late 1950s and early 1960s, Sydney clubs used these unfortunate circumstances to promote the local game by importing more foreign players. With the influx of so many European migrants, football transformed from a popular recreational sport to teams representing old homelands and the maintenance of ethnicity in an adopted homeland. As a result, teams such as St George Budapest (Hungary), Sydney Hakoah (Israel), Polonia (Poland), APIA (Italy), Prague (Czechoslovakia) and Pan-Hellenic (Greece) resembled a Euro football competition rather than a Sydney one. Along with Theo Toussis, Patrinos was brought out to Sydney by Pan-Hellenic SC who were still in the NSW 2nd Division and needed to bolster the ranks of players and achieve promotion. Many players may have been later imported from Greece such George Yangou, Jim Hatzis, Angelo Mavropoulos, John Karayiannis and Chris Ambos, but it was Patrinos and Toussis' successful contribution to the team's progress - that is, promotion to 1st Division - that encouraged the 'patriotic' option of importing more Greek players. Having played for Atromitos Athens for six-and-a-half seasons, 'Soto' saw an advertisement in the Greek sports paper, Αθλητική Ηχώ, asking for any interested players to play for a Greek team in Sydney and he made contact with the club. One month later, Theo Toussis, made their long journey to the other side of the world to play football. Although the objective was to help Pan-Hellenic get promoted and return to Greece after six months, it was the Sydney Greek community's immediate warmth and care that changed his mind. He may have been initially disappointed with playing Sydney 2nd Division matches, which reminded him of 'neighbourhood football', the objectives represented an accomplishment not only for the team but for Greek community itself. He remembered playing the German team Concordia in the final round and the match was deep in the second half and it was 0-0; Pan-Hellenic was top of the 2nd Division ladder with Polonia one point behind. Pan-Hellenic was given a penalty; when no one would take it, he stepped up to the challenge. Looking up to the heav- ens and asking for his mother's support - she had passed away that year - he took the penalty and scored - and PanHellenic secured its promotion. Crazily celebrating the goal, he even kissed the referee and was subsequently redcarded. Patrinos would take the team's penalties over the years - he became known as the 'Penalty King' in the Australian media. 'Soto' had huge respect for his peers; the defensive 'rock', Comino Omeros, remained a ter scoring the second penalty, the fuming APIA players, led by Phillipo Bottalico, began chasing him around the park which 'reminded me of slapstick comedy. It was hilarious! The crowd lapped it all up and began booing the APIA players.' His most memorable penalty was against the touring Czechoslovakian team, Bratislava, which was a very good team and were expected to smash Pan-Hellenic. Losing 0-1, Pan-Hellenic was award- crowd erupted! On the final whistle, our supporters stormed onto the field and chaired me off; I had given them enormous joy. After Bratislava's officials were asked which Australian players they liked; they chose Les Scheinflug and myself, which was a real honour." Crazily celebrating the goal, he even kissed the referee and was subsequently red-carded. Patrinos would take the team’s penalties over the years - he became known as the ‘Penalty King’ in the Australian media. lifelong friend. He fondly remembered when Charlie Perkins played for the Club and he used to take to the Hellenic Club, as a friend, as he did not care if he was Greek or Aboriginal because 'he genuinely played for the shirt'. One of the memorable aspects of Patrinos' game was his cheekiness during a match where Pan-Hellenic beat APIA 3-2 and won two penalties: as the penalty king, he scored both! For both penalties, he was theatrical about being injured; af- ed a penalty with 10 minutes to go. As 'Soto' recalled, "Their goalkeeper was one of the finest in the world. When I placed the ball, I could hear the crowd chanting, 'The King! The King! Take it!' I gave him a stare and he was so ready for the spot kick I thought he wanted to eat the ball. I was not pressured in any way, as I thought to myself, 'If he is King of the Goalkeepers, I am King of Penalties'. He dived to the right, and I went left. It was a memorable goal; the Another major achievement in 'Sotos ‘career was playing for NSW and his teammate and friend, Comino Omeros, played in the same squad; it was not personal recognition, but Pan-Hellenic was recognised for producing quality players. With a break-away group of Pan-Hellenic members buying the Canterbury club, 'Soto' remained loyal to his club; he saw this rift within the Greek football community from a player's perspective, "I thought it was a great pity to witness the Greek fans also divided. I was not influenced by these developments because I loved Pan-Hellenic.” With the influx of British football-playing migrants, Patrinos, and several other Greek players, were pushed out of the team in 1965; for one season, he played for the Cypriot 2nd Division team, Granville AEK. Realising their mistake of exiling club stalwarts, Pan-Hellenic's Committee invited 'Soto' and Omeros back to the team and made him very happy to be back 'home'. Like most players with a great career, his end at Pan- Hellenic was disappointing,. "When the new coach, Mick Jones arrived at the Club, and began to change things according to what he wanted, it was like visiting a doctor with a sickness and being informed I was not going to make it. Life has its finality; everything comes to an end…" In 1969, a testimonial match, Pan-Hellenic versus Sydney, was organised for Patrinos' farewell and it was a hilarious 4-4 draw in front of 5,000 supporters. All the stars of Sydney's soccer turned out: Johnny Warren, Johnny Watkiss, Giacomo Giacometti, Philippo Bottalico. In a comical episode, Patrinos faked a free kick in which Karl Jaros told him to stay down; club officials ran onto the field and bandaged him up. 'Sotos' finally hung up his football boots after a successful stint at Darwin Olympic. He remained close to PanHellenic and Sydney Olympic, coaching junior teams, becoming a life member and playing in the old boys matches. Looking back on his career, 'Sotos' recalled, “I may not have made lots of money for playing football and I gained the warm support of our supporters, and that is priceless. So many of my life- long friendships have come from my playing days at Pan-Hellenic, and I am lucky for that.” *Vasilis Vasilas is the author of the book, 'The Giant Who Never Awoke,' which is a history of Pan-Hellenic Soccer Club (1957-68).
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