NSL Where Are They Now? – APIA Leichhardt

It’s time to kick off a new series! We’re going to look at the teams based in NSW that once competed in the NSL, and see where they are now. Some are playing NPL 1, others in the NPL 2 and some, well, are defunct.

APIA Leichhardt first started competing in the NSL in the 1979 season where they finished 8th out of 14 teams. It was this year that Marconi Fairfield (Stallions) were crowned champions whilst Sydney Olympic was relegated despite finishing 13th ahead of South Melbourne. This was due to the league deciding to cut the amount of teams from NSW.

It would be 9 years before Leichhardt would win their first title, winning the 1987 NSL season. It was in 1987 that the NSL reduced the competition from 2 conferences of 12 teams to a single league of 14 teams. The finals series was also scrapped in favour of first past the post. Notable players in that year include Charlie Yankos and Peter Katholos.

APIA won the competition with 35 points; 13 wins, 9 draws and 2 losses. Wins were worth only 2 points with a draw being worth 1. Also that year, Sydney City withdrew from the competition after round 1, which reduced the competition to 13 teams.

Their coach Rale Rasic won coach of the year unsurprisingly, whilst Marconi player Frank Farina would take out the golden boot award.

After their 1987 win, APIA would go on to compete in the 1988 NSL Cup, defeating Marconi 2-1, Sydney Olympic on 4-2 on penalties after a nil all contest, and Sydney Croatia 2-1 a.e.t. The cup final saw APIA face Brunswick Juventus, where the game ended nil all. They would eventually win the contest 5-3 on penalties, giving the club their second major title.

Unfortunately after the 1991/92 season, the club faced overwhelming financial difficulties, and after restructuring would play in the State League competition in NSW with the moniker ‘Tigers’.

Since leaving the NSL competition, the Tigers have won 2 major trophies at State Level. In 2003 they were the NSW State League Premiers, and most recently in 2013 they were the winners of the Waratah Cup.

The team still plays in the NSW NPL 1 competition, where they are serious contenders for the title this season, and they have qualified for the FFA Cup round of 32.

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