Apollon Smyrnis F.C.

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Apollon Smyrnis Football Club (Greek: Απόλλων Σμύρνης) is a professional football club based in Athens, Greece, which competes in the Greek Gamma Ethniki.

Apollon Smyrnis
Full nameΑπόλλων Σμύρνης
(Apollon Smyrnis Football Club)
Nickname(s)Ελαφρά Ταξιαρχία (Light Brigade)
Κυανόλευκοι (Blue-Whites)
Founded1891; 133 years ago (1891)
GroundGeorgios Kamaras Stadium
ChairmanPanagiotis Katavelos
ManagerGiannis Georgaras
LeagueGamma Ethniki
2023–24Gamma Ethniki (Group 4), 12th (relegated)
WebsiteClub website

It is part of GS Apollon Smyrnis (Γυμναστικός Σύλλογος Απόλλων Σμύρνης), a sports society that was founded in Smyrna, Ottoman Empire, by Anatolian Greeks in 1891 and is one of the oldest Hellenic sports clubs.[1][2] Following the compulsory population exchange between Greece and Turkey the club was re-established in Athens in 1923 and is also known as Apollon Athens.

Apollon Smyrnis has also departments basketball, volleyball, water polo and other sports.[3]

History edit

Smyrna era (1891–1922) edit

Apollon Smyrnis in 1919
The football team in 1922

Apollon Smyrnis was founded in 1891 by former members of club Orpheus.[4] Orpheus (subsequently Panionios) had been founded one year earlier in 1890. Among the founders of Apollon were prominent residents of Smyrna such as Chrysostomos of Smyrna and Vasilis Samios.[1][2]

Roughly in the year 1893, the athletic department was organised. The first games of Smyrna took place in 1894, organized by the English sports fans of Bornova, a district in İzmir nowadays. In these games the athletes of Apollon achieved a lot of first victories. The person with the most wins was Theologos Anastasoglou, a glorious athlete who later became Olympic champion; he was most likely the best athlete from Apollon. The Games were always organized by English sports fans until 1903, with the attendance of the Gymnastic Association Apollon Smyrnis.[1][2]

The third anniversary of the foundation of Apollon was celebrated joyously. Chairman N. Koulmasis gave the speech of the day, while the famous S. Pittakis spoke of Delphi and recited the anthem to the god Apollo. There was a special pedestal on which had been set up an altar to praise the god Apollo, while eight youths dressed in chlamydes sang the Pindariko anthem to Apollo.[5]

In 1894, with the election of its new presiding board, Apollon adopted as its emblem three runners and at the same time it established an excursion department. Of the first excursions that were organized, one was to Ephesus and another to Aydın, in which the Russian scholar and historical Frigkol took part.[2]

In 1894, the council of the Gymnastic Association of Apollon (Apollon Sports Club) was composed of chairman Mathaios Provatopoulos and Th. Vatidi, Jakovos Koulampidis, Grig. Sofianopoulos, G. Oikonomidis, A. Koulampidis and C. Papadimitriou. During this season the team acquired a privately owned ground. Initially, only its members fought on these. Later, however, it organized games in which other associations could also take part.[1]

Apollon Smyrna's stadium edit

Apollon acquired its own stadium in 1894. At this point we should examine a little the background of the foundation of the first ground of Apollon. Fourteen years before, in 1880, Ioannis Damvergis with Apostolos Psaltof, Stefanos Papamihalis and I. Makroulidis, all students of the Evangelic Faculty of Smyrna, created an off-hand gym in some open space, known with the name "love arena". After they opened the ground, they set up a perimeter using ropes because of a lack of money. Then, with hard economising, they bought a horizontal bar and other gymnastic equipment. The youth of Smyrna exercised there paying a symbolic price. Makroulidis was made cashier. This primitive gym constituted the precursor of the gym of Apollo, but was also the fountain for the later great athletes of the association. For this reason, the creator of this gym, Apostolos Psaltof, was called the "grandfather'" of Apollon. Later the gymnastic association "Apollon Smyrnis" moved to a space opposite the Greek Orphanage where was then built a big and modern gym in the district of Saint Tryfon, near the famous theatre "Terpsithea".[1][5]

In 1901 Apollon organized the first boat races in Smyrna, with the attendance of the other big Smyrna association, "Panionios", which was founded in 1898 and came forth from the union of associations "Orpheus" and "Gymnasium".[2]

Apollonian Games edit

On 6 and 8 May 1904, the Apollon Stadium of Bornova organised the first Apollonian Games[6] with the attendance, not only of the organizers, the "Gymnastic Association Apollo Smyrnis" and the "Athletic Organization of Bornova", but also the "Athletic Union of Smyrni" as well. Remarkably, the making of these games was all under the supervision of prefect of Smyrni, Kiamil pasa, a measure of the huge scope and power of this association. The committee of the athletic games consisted of: Sokratis Solomonidis, Xristos Athanasoulas, Xenophon Dimas, Kostas Kotzias, Petros Mposkovik, A. Vanterze and Richard Whittes. The committee of ellanodikes was composed of Nikos Stavridis (chairman of Apollon), E. Fintao and D. Whittes. The opening ceremony for the first Apollonian Games started with a parade of all athletes under the sounds of music that was played by the orchestra of Apollon with director I. Magglis. The gymnastic association "Apollon Smyrnis" took part with 54 athletes. The biggest attraction was the 10 km run, won by L. Venizelos with a time of 34'43. Another popular game attraction was the sakodromies (small jumps), a race of 60 m, in which the runners were fully surrounded with cloth sacks up to their necks. Afterwards, at the end of the games, there was the handing-over of prizes and the athletes, followed by thousands of spectators and escorted by the orchestra of Apollo, walked to the railway station of Bornova, from where they took off to Smyrni by special train. From the railway station of Mpasmahane to the offices of the Apollon Gymnastic Association in the Bella Vista, a lampadidodromia (running with torches) took place. The "Apollonia" aka Apollonian Games were held in Smyrna, with exceptional success, ten times in total. In these games took part almost all athletic associations of Smyrna, Greek and foreign, except the Turkish clubs.[1]

Rivalry between Apollon and Panionios edit

This period is also the beginning of the great rivalry between Apollon and Panionios, which has continued until modern times, although without any extremes.[7] The point of contention was the claim of supremacy in the capital of Ionia. However, this antagonism was progressively blunted, since the men of Apollon were active mainly in football and went on to create one of the most powerful teams of Asia Minor and one of the three most important teams in Greek lands, whereas Panionios was focused on the track, producing some very important athletes. In 1904, Apollon took part in the Pan-Hellenic athletics that were organized in Athens. The city of Smyrna was represented by athletes from Panionios and Apollon. The athletes of the Gymnastic Association Apollon Smyrnis gained a lot of victories: Theologos Anastasoglou, Mathaios Despotopoulos, Kiros Alexiou, Dimitrios Mouratis and X. Lohner. Athenian man of letters, I. Damvergis, who represented Apollon in Athens, announced the news of the victories to Smyrna via telegraph. The chairman of Apollon answered: "We are grateful to you, give our congratulations to the champions." On May 1, 1905, the Apollon club celebrated with magnificence. With the music orchestra of Apollon at its head, the association organised a parade of all of the club athletes in the major streets of Smyrna. In 1906, common games were organized in Smyrna for the athletes of Apollon and Panionios. In these games victors for Apollon were the following athletes: Gounaris, Patestidis and K. Alexiou. In the same season, the Gymnastic Association Apollon Smyrnis suggested replacing the Apollonian and the Panionian Games of Smyrni with Pan Minor-Asian games. This effort, however, was not realised due to strong opposition from Panionios. In the same year (1906) Apollon took part in the Olympic Games of Athens (Middle Olympics). Its athletes Theologos Anastasoglou and Mathaios Despotopoulos were winners in pentathlon, writing yet another brilliant page in the history of the club.[1]

The football team edit

1910 was a very important year in the history of Apollon. During this year the football team of the club was founded, with swastika as its emblem – a cross which is an ancient Greek symbol. Apollon fans loved this sport in particular, giving it the first place in their hearts. To this contributed, of course, the club's soccer players with their fighting spirit and their high morals. The club competed in football matches with all the teams of Smyrna, as well as with teams of sailors on foreign navy ships that were harboured in the Ionian capital. In 1911, Apollon accomplished a victory over the most powerful soccer team of the season, the team of the Austrian warship "Wirintous"! It is notable that the Austrian admiral sent a congratulations telegram to the presiding board of Apollon. Important also is the victory achieved in 1918 against the almighty team of English warship "Minitor 19", the first warship that had sailed into the harbour of Smyrna, after the defeat of Turkey in the First World War. Successes began to come one after the other and before long Apollon became the leading football association of Ionia. Characteristically, it won the Championship of football games held in Smyrna continuously on the years between 1917 and 1922.

In the Olympic Games of Antwerp (1920) the footballers of Apollon, A. Gkillis, D. Gottis, I. Zaloumis and Fotiadis, took part in the Greece national football team. The final accomplishment of Apollon in Smyrna was in 1922 when it gained the title of champion. Thousands of Apollon fans celebrated this huge success, that was to be the last before the destruction of Smyrna. In the football team of Apollon that year were: Kajsaris, Koygjoyntogloy, Tsarls, Taloymis, Mayromma'tis (Haralampakis), Hrysoylis, Kampoyropoylos, Samjos, Papagjannis, Gottis, Gkjlis, Alevizakis, Domeniko, Viglatsis, Zaloumis, Kimitsopoulos, Magoulas, Marselos and the goalkeepers Fotiadis (main) and Zeimpekis (substitute). Two of them, Marselos and Hrysoulis, were captured and remained forever on Ionian soil. Also, in Smyrna remained as captives, A. and G. Kyrou, members of the council of Apollon, as well as champion of track Kr. Persis, the traces of whom were lost from then on. The council of Gymnastic Association Apollon Smyrnis, on the last year at Smyrna was composed of: D. Marselos (chairman), J. Garyfalos (general secretary), A. Kyrou (special secretary), and Hatzithomas (cashier).[1][8][9]

During the 2005/06 season Samuel Jolley was appointed interim manager, finishing in the top half of the table. Although the club did not continue his employment due to an obvious language barrier.

Apollon in Athens (1922–) edit

After the Greco-Turkish War and the expulsion of the Greeks from Asia Minor, Apollon moved to Athens.[10] The club's first home ground was located at a place near the Greek Parliament called "Stiles Olympiou Dios" (Pillars of Olympian Zeus). Apollon stayed there for about 25 years, and after World War II the club's house was again transferred to an Athens neighbourhood called "Rizoupoli" and a stadium was built there, Georgios Kamaras Stadium, named after club legend Georgios Kamaras. The club has four departments: the football department called "Apollon Smyrnis FC", a basketball club called "Apollon BC", a volleyball club and a fighting department. The best known (and probably the most successful) department is the football club. Apollon FC participated in the Alpha Ethniki championship for many years, with the exception of seasons 1969–70, 1972–73, 1974–75, 1986–87. The team won the local Athens Championship five times, on 1924, 1928, 1938, 1948 and 1958.

Seasons 1994–95 and 1995–96 are the club's most successful seasons: In 1994–95, Apollon qualified for the 1995–96 UEFA Cup (preliminary round) where they played against Olimpija Ljubljana. Georgios Kamaras Stadium was not suitable for the game, so Apollon played in AEK Athens' home ground, Nikos Goumas Stadium. Apollon won 1–0 in Athens in front of 10,000 fans but lost 3–1 in Ljubljana and was eliminated (Olimpia scored 2 goals in the last 15 minutes). In those matches, many people noticed a young striker (just 21 years old at the time) who would become European football Champion almost ten years after; his name was Demis Nikolaidis. The following season, 1995–96, Apollon under the coaching of Giannis Pathiakakis and thanks to Demis Nikolaidis' capital scoring performances, reached the Greek Cup final after an excellent season, where they lost 7–1 to AEK Athens.[11] In the same season, Apollon made one of the biggest victories in his history, defeating Olympiacos at Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium with 0–3, with an amazing goal of Demis Nikolaidis.[12][13] After these great seasons, Apollon's glory started to fade and as a result, in the 1999–00 season Apollon was relegated to Beta Ethniki.[14] Then, in 2005 it was relegated to Gamma Ethniki (South Group) and finally, in 2007, to Delta Ethniki (Group 8).

Apollon have gone since the 1930s under the nickname "The Light Brigade" (Greek: Ελαφρά Ταξιαρχία), named after the 1936 Hollywood movie The Charge of the Light Brigade, after winning the 1938 regional Athens championship.[15]

Alamanos era (1979–2005) edit

In 1979, with the Greek football turning professional, Kostas Alamanos became the major shareholder and president of the team and remained so until 2005.[16] He helped Apollon reach the UEFA Cup preliminary round in 1995 and the Greek Cup final in 1996, but after the departure of many of the team's best footballers, Apollon were unable to recover and in 2000 they were relegated.[17]

Today edit

Apollon managed to return to the First Division in the 2012–13 season,[18] with Stamatis Vellis,[19] a business shipping magnate, as the new owner.[20] On November 11, 2013, Apollon Smyrnis announced the signing of Northern Irish Lawrie Sanchez as head coach[21][22][23] and as assistant coach Stephen Constantine.[24] Their presence contributed to a significant harvesting of points in the second round of the championship, but it was not enough to keep Apollon in the Super League as it finished the penultimate and relegated.[25] In 2014, Vellis resigned from the presidency of Apollon.[26][27] He testified to the district attorney that the fate of the team depended on the actions of corrupt members of the Hellenic Football Federation,[28] naming a number of officials currently accused in the 2015 Greek football scandal.[29]

From 2015, Apollon Smyrnis is making a new effort with the Monemvasiotis family at the rudder.[30] On 4 June 2017, Apollon Smyrnis were promoted to Super League alongside 2nd placed Lamia.[31][32]

Stadium edit

In 1880, Ioannis Dammergis, along with Apostolos Psaltoff, Stefanos Papamichalis and I. Makroulidis, created a snapshot in an open space, known as the "love of talani". In this stadium, young people from all over Smyrna were hired paying a penny. Makroulidis was appointed a treasurer. This primitive gym (fenced with a cloth rope) was the precursor of Apollon's gymnasium, as well as the hive for the later great athletes of the club. That's why the creator of this gymnasium, I. Psalof, called him "grandfather" of Apollon. Later, Apollon Smyrnis gymnasium moved to a place in front of the Greek Orphanage and then built a large and modern gym in the area of Tryfonas, near the famous theater "Terpsithea". In 1904, Apollon Smyrnis took over the organization of the Bornova Sports Games. For sports needs, Apollon renovates the Bornova stadium under the architect B. Liti and acquires a 400-meter track and capacity for 6,000 spectators.

With the destruction of Smyrna, Apollon Smyrnis was uprooted and came to Athens. The first station of his Odyssey, the Columns of Olympian Zeus. In an existing stadium, the team first moved into the new home. There they were first seat. There they took the first EPSA champion. But it remained only until 1924.

The second station is Rouf. The seat of the team is transferred and stays there until 1946. The current municipal stadium testifies about the location of the then facilities. Though then the stadium was adjacent to the church of St. Vasilios, which stands out in the background of photography. At this headquarters they once again took an EPSA champion.

In 1946 the club's installations were expropriated by the Railway Company and Apollon moved to Rizoupoli, next to Columbia's facilities. The stadium is inaugurated on October 17, 1948. Initially, the stadium of the current officials was built. In 1962 the opposite stand with the gates 8,9 and 10 was "found". And in 1971–72, the horseshoe of the stadium was constructed. Today, the capacity of the Rizoupoli Stadium is 14,200 seated spectators.[33] And it now bears the name "Georgios Kamaras Stadium" in memory of one of the top footballers that the club has made.[34][35]

Trivia edit

  • Apollon have gone since the 1930s under the nickname "The Light Brigade" (Greek: Ελαφρά Ταξιαρχία), named after the 1938 Hollywood movie The Charge of the Light Brigade, after winning the 1938 regional Athens championship.
  • Since 1910 the team's badge was a swastika-like cross.[36] But after the Nazi invasion of Europe it was changed to Apollo's head for obvious reasons.
  • The last time an Apollon FC player was an active member of the Greece national football team was on May 8, 1996 (Demis Nikolaidis, Greece–Georgia 2–1). Since then, no Apollon FC player has been a member of the national team.
  • Georgios Kamaras Stadium was in bad shape during the 1990s, but it was renovated in 2002 by Olympiacos FC. Olympiacos used this stadium as their home ground until Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium was constructed in 2004.[37][38]
  • Kostas Alamanos was shareholder and team president from the late 1970s until 2005. He helped Apollon reach the UEFA Cup preliminary round and the Greek Cup final and for many years, was beloved by Apollon fans. But after these successful seasons, Alamanos became persona non grata for the fans, mainly because he sold many of the team's best footballers (Demis Nikolaidis, Blendar Kola and Theofilos Karasavvidis) and released most of the remaining team as free agents. The team was unable to recover from these losses, and in 2000 were relegated. That's why Apollon fans are calling Alamanos "The Unmentionable".
  • Still today Apollon is the 9th team with respect to number of appearances in the top league of Greece (37/53).

Crest and colours edit

The first emblem of the club, since 1894, was the three runners. In 1910, the football club's emblem becomes the ancient Greek conveyor, which will be removed even before World War II, given its already negative identification with National Socialism and Adolf Hitler. In the first post-war years, club jerseys simply write GSA (Gymnastics Association of Apollon). Later, the club's emblem is adopted with the bust of the god Apollo. The current crest depicts the head of Apollo Citharoedus (or Musagetes).[39] The colours of the club are cyan (light blue) and white.


1937–38 (A)
2014–15 (A)
2014–15 (A)

Honours edit

Notable former players edit

Managers edit

League statistics edit

Positioning in Greek league edit

1960s Position 1970s Position 1980s Position 1990s Position 2000s Position 2010s Position 2020s Position
1959–60 4th 1969–70 1st div.2 1979–80 17th 1989–90 15th 1999–00 17th 2009–10 1st div.4 2019–20 2nd div.2
1960–61 5th 1970–71 6th 1980–81 12th 1990–91 11th 2000–01 6th div.2 2010–11 6th div.3 2020–21 11th
1961–62 3rd 1971–72 17th 1981–82 15th 1991–92 5th 2001–02 12th div.2 2011–12 1st div.3 2021–22 14th
1962–63 8th 1972–73 1st div.2 1982–83 10th 1992–93 12th 2002–03 8th div.2 2012–13 1st div.2 2022–23 3rd div.2
1963–64 5th 1973–74 17th 1983–84 10th 1993–94 13th 2003–04 10th div.2 2013–14 17th 2023–24 12th div.3
1964–65 6th 1974–75 1st div.2 1984–85 11th 1994–95 4th 2004–05 14th div.2 2014–15 3rd div.2
1965–66 10th 1975–76 14th 1985–86 11th 1995–96 11th 2005–06 14th div.3 2015–16 4th div.2
1966–67 11th 1976–77 16th 1986–87 15th 1996–97 9th 2006–07 14th div.3 2016–17 1st div.2
1967–68 12th 1977–78 12th 1987–88 3rd div.2 1997–98 10th 2007–08 8th div.4 2017–18 14th
1968–69 14th 1978–79 10th 1988–89 13th 1998–99 14th 2008–09 2nd div.4 2018–19 16th

European matches edit

Season Competition Round Club Home Away
1995–96 UEFA Cup 1st Round   Olimpija Ljubljana 1–0 1–3

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Club Apollon Smyrna". Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e "History". fcapollon.gr. Archived from the original on 22 July 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  3. ^ "Amateur Apollon Smyrnis official website" (in Greek). apollongs.gr.
  4. ^ "Establishing statute" (in Greek). apollongs.gr.
  5. ^ a b "Η ίδρυση". apollongs.gr. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  6. ^ "Apollonian Games" (in Greek). encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com.
  7. ^ "Rivalry between Apollon and Panionios" (in Greek). /sport-retro.gr. 8 February 2017.
  8. ^ "Light Brigade's history until 1922" (in Greek). apollonistis.com. 18 January 2014.
  9. ^ "The Smyrna of Apollon" (in Greek). irafina.gr.
  10. ^ "After the National disaster" (in Greek). apollongs.gr.
  11. ^ "Biggest lose of Apollon" (in Greek). sport-retro.gr. 14 May 2017.
  12. ^ "When Apollon of Demis Nikolaidis disbanded Olympiacos" (in Greek). contra.gr.
  13. ^ "The triumph of Apollon at Karaiskakis Stadium" (in Greek). sport-retro.gr. 5 May 2017.
  14. ^ "When Panathinaikos said goodbye to Apollon Smyrnis from Alpha Ethniki" (in Greek). sport24.gr.
  15. ^ "The "Light Brigade" gallops again!!!" (in Greek). stokegeo.wordpress.com.
  16. ^ "Alamanos: "They have failed me in the difficult days"" (in Greek). sport-fm.gr.
  17. ^ "From bankruptcy to regeneration" (in Greek). tovima.gr. June 2013.
  18. ^ "Apollon Smyrnis in the Super League after 13 years" (in Greek). stokokkino.gr. Archived from the original on 7 August 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  19. ^ "Who is Stamatis Vellis" (in Greek). onsports.gr. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  20. ^ "The Prosecution of the Light Brigade" (in Greek). onsports.gr. 5 May 2011.
  21. ^ "Lawrie Sanchez, new head coach of Apollon Smyrnis" (in Greek). sport-fm.gr. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  22. ^ "It's official: Lawrie Sanchez is the new head coach of the Light Brigade" (in Greek). sport-fm.gr. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  23. ^ "Sanchez: "To make Apollon Smyrnis better"" (in Greek). sport-fm.gr. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  24. ^ "Constantine came and signed" (in Greek). sport-fm.gr. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  25. ^ "Defeat and relegation for Apollon" (in Greek). fcapollon.gr. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  26. ^ "Vellis left Apollon!" (in Greek). zougla.gr. Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  27. ^ "Vellis gives the shares to Amateur Apollon Smyrnis" (in Greek). naftemporiki.gr. 14 April 2014. Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  28. ^ "Stamatis Vellis controversies" (in Greek). gazzetta.gr. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  29. ^ Kαταγγελίες Βελλή
  30. ^ "Panagiotis Monemvasiotiss declared unity" (in Greek). apollongs.gr.
  31. ^ "Apollon Smyrnis and Lamia promoted to the Super League" (in Greek). contra.gr. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  32. ^ "Apollon Smyrnis: A refugee association, a great history" (in Greek). sport24.gr.
  33. ^ "And it was done Rizoupoli..." (in Greek). fcapollon.gr.
  34. ^ "The history Apollon Smyrnis Stadium thru the years" (in Greek). fcapollon.gr. Archived from the original on 2016-01-07. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  35. ^ "Historical retrograde of the stadiums of Apollon" (in Greek). apollongs.gr.
  36. ^ "Abbreviated symbol" (in Greek). yannisk.wordpress.com.
  37. ^ "Οlympiacos uses Rizoupoli Stadium as home ground" (in Greek). tanea.gr. 24 August 2002. Retrieved 24 August 2002.
  38. ^ "Rebuilding of Rizoupoli from Οlympiacos" (in Greek). redsagainsthemachine.gr.
  39. ^ "Apollon's crest history" (in Greek). apocalypsejohn.com.

External links edit

Official websites
News sites