|Full name||West Adelaide Soccer Club|
|Ground||Kilburn Sports Complex|
|Capacity||5000 (1300 seated)|
|League||South Australian State League 1|
West Adelaide Soccer Club is an Australian soccer club currently playing in the South Australian State League 1. Traditionally named Hellas, the club was founded by members of the Greek community of Adelaide. West Adelaide became a founding member of the National Soccer League in 1977 and a year later became the first Adelaide team of any football code to be crowned national champion when it won the 1978 National Soccer League after a 1-1 draw with Adelaide City in the local derby.
One of the most successful clubs in South Australia, West Adelaide competed in the national league for 19 seasons, interrupted briefly by two short periods in which it was relegated back to state competition. In the late 1990s, the club renamed itself the Adelaide Sharks in an effort to attract support beyond its traditional base in the Greek community. At the end of the 1998-99 National Soccer League season, the club was overcome by financial turmoil and entered administration. West withdrew from the national competition and its senior arm declared bankruptcy while the club's juniors legally separated from the club and remained afloat.
In 2007, West Adelaide fielding senior teams in the South Australian competition once again. West gained promotion to the second tier in 2012 and returned to the top tier a year later, winning its first South Australian championship in 2015.
West Adelaide's history dates back to 1936, when a small group of early Greek migrants to Adelaide founded the city's first Greek-backed soccer club, simply called Hellenic. The team often played informally at Adelaide High School, paid referees using their own money and, because most Greeks were yet to migrate to Australia, crowds rarely exceeded 100 people.
In 1945, the Greeks founded their club officially under the name Olympic but within 15 years, the South Australian Soccer Federation suspended the club from competition due to crowd violence. The club reformed a year later and re-entered the state league as the Hellenic Athletic and Soccer Club. In 1962, the Greek club merged with the old West Adelaide Soccer Club, which had formed in 1910 and, until that point, did not have ties to the Greek community. The new club, West Adelaide Hellas quickly won promotion to the top tier of South Australian football and became a powerhouse.
In its first 13 years, the club largely competed with Adelaide Juventus for supremacy in the local competition. The clubs shared nine titles between them in 10 years and matches between the two quickly became the major derby of the city.
In 1977, West Adelaide became founding members of the National Soccer League, Australia's first national competition for any football code. The club had the honour of scoring the NSL's first goal on 2 April 1977. The goal scorer was Socceroo striker John Kosmina, whom the club had signed for the national league from rival state league club Polonia Adelaide just days earlier. Kosmina's goal in the first ever national league game came against Canberra City at Manuka Oval. West won the game 3-1 in front of a modest crowd of 1700 people. Kosmina, then 20 years old, scored the goal having played two 1978 FIFA World Cup qualification matches for Australia against New Zealand, scoring in one, as well as a cup final for his former club, Polonia.
The greatest moment in West Adelaide's history came the following season, when it became the first football club of any code from Adelaide to be crowned national champion. West had finished the inaugural NSL season in seventh place, 11 points behind champions Eastern Suburbs, later renamed Sydney City. The New South Wales side would again be one of the strongest in 1978 although Hellas improved markedly. The team included star players such as goalkeeper Martyn Crook and sweeper Neil McGachey. John Margaritis began the year as coach but left after 10 rounds to be replaced first by player-coach McGachey and later by Jim Adam, a coach from Victoria.
Remarkably, the title was secured in a fashion West Adelaide fans could only dream about - at home in an Adelaide derby match against Adelaide City in the final round of the season. Needing a point to secure the title ahead of Eastern Suburbs, national team midfielder John Perin put City ahead with a 30 yard strike in the first half. With five minutes of normal time remaining, Vic Bozanic looped a ball over the goalkeeper to seal a 1-1 draw, and the championship, sending the 16,000-strong Hindmarsh Stadium crowd into raptures. The 1978 National Soccer League came 13 years before any South Australian side competed in the Australian Football League.
A long lean spell followed West Adelaide's successful early years in the national league. The club narrowly avoided relegation in the early 1980s and was eventually sent back to the state league after the 1986 season, when the league scrapped the conference system it had used for three seasons. The club spent four of the next five seasons in the relative limbo of the South Australian competition, interrupted by a brief return to the national flight in 1989-90.
West Adelaide was invited back to the national league for the 1991-92 season. However, the club finished second last in its first season back in the top tier. New coach Raul Blanco then led Hellas to the playoffs in 1992-93 and 1994-95.
In a bid to attract support beyond its traditional base in the Greek community, the club adopted a new name in the mid-1990s - the West Adelaide Sharks. However, the new moniker largely failed to grow the club's membership and a series of unfortunate incidents pushed the club towards a permanent exit from the national league. On 9 June 1998 fire destroyed the Sharks' change rooms and some administrative offices at their new Thebarton Oval base. The damage bill was expected to reach $150,000.
At a general meeting in September 1998, Sharks members backed the privatisation of the club, endorsing prominent Adelaide Greek Australian businessman Con Makris as its new owner with a 51 per cent share of the Sharks. However, the club was to last just one more year in the National Soccer League. Its final hurrah was a 1-0 Adelaide derby win over City - the last time the two clubs would face off in the competition. The Sharks withdrew from the league just before the 1999-2000 season was due to kick-off, debts having mounted.
The club lived on through its junior arm, which was legally separated from the senior club during the messy bankruptcy. The juniors joined with state league club Adelaide Olympic and competed in the South Australian competition from 2000 to 2007. In 2008, West Adelaide and once again fielded its own senior sides in the state league, beginning in the third tier. Its juniors had returned to their original name as West Adelaide a year earlier. The club won promotion to the second tier in 2012 and a year later secured a berth in the top tier, where it had not played since 1999.
Friday 21 February 2014 was a proud day for the club, as it returned to the top tier of South Australian soccer after nine seasons. The Adelaide derby match against Adelaide City, which finished in a 1-1 draw attracted one of the largest attendances (2900 people) in South Australian soccer for many years.
That season, West Adelaide also reached the final of the Federation Cup ; with a place in the round of 32 of the inaugural FFA Cup on offer to the winner. West faced its traditional rival Adelaide City in a derby final but lost 4-1 at Hindmarsh Stadium, with City going on to defeat A-League club Western Sydney Wanderers and become the first state league side to eliminate a professional club in that competition.
West did not have to wait long to taste glory again. Coached by former Sharks NSL defender Paul Pezos, the club won the 2015 South Australian premiership and championship. Its title was sealed with a 4-2 grand final win over Adelaide Blue Eagles.
Since its foundation in the early 1960s, West Adelaide has maintained clear visual links to its Greek heritage - notably its white and blue striped playing strips. The club's emblem today remains near identical to the badge it wore in the first ever NSL season in 1977. The lone star represents the club's 1978 national championship while the Olympic torch reflects the club's heritage as the original Olympic club from the 1940s.
The club's nickname of Hellas remains in use today, despite efforts by Soccer Australia officials' efforts in the 1990s to force clubs to abolish their ethnic identity or face expulsion from the national league. The Hellas name remains on the club badge and its playing strips. The Sharks nickname adopted by the club during the mid to late-1990s has since fallen out of use.
When the club's senior teams reformed in 2008, they found themselves in search of a permanent home and have played home games at the Adelaide Shores Football Centre at West Beach and at Rushworth Reserve, former home of the now-defunct Enfield City Falcons.
In 2019, the club expects to move into its new permanent home ground in the inner northern Adelaide suburb of Kilburn. The Kilburn Sportsplex an estimated $15 million investment boasts a total capacity of 5000 people. The Sportsplex was built to include a full-size sports pitch, club offices, a multi-purpose function centre with a capacity for 500 people, undercover spectator seating for 750 people; a photographers' room; press box and media facilities; club dressing rooms for four teams, match official rooms, anti-doping control room; seminar room, café and catering facilities and a physiotherapy suite.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.