Hurstville City Minotaurs ‘Flea’ chasing Champion of Champions glory

Peter Papoythis also known to his many close peers as ‘flea’ and most of his Hurstville City Minotaurs over-45 team-mates are no strangers to winning.

But winning is not their only motivation when they step over that white line and onto the pitch.

These days, it is as much about keeping friendships strong on the park where they started all those years ago.

Papoythis captains perhaps New South Wales’ – maybe even Australia’s – most impressive team of over-45 players.

A couple of decades ago, names like Papoythis, Spiros Hantzis, Nick Plataniotis, Louis Dounis, Manny Spanoudakis, Terry Palapanis, David Barrett and George Kalogeras were all names you were more likely to find on the team sheets of Sydney Olympic FC, APIA Leichardt Tigers FC, Sydney United 58 FC or Heidelberg United FC in the now defunct National Soccer League than in district football.

Papoythis even reckons his team boasts the world’s best 58-year-old in Billy Pilovski.

“I have a running joke – and it might actually be true – that he is the best 58-year-old playing in the world,” Papoythis said.

“Every week I go and give him a hug because I can’t believe how good he is. He runs better than the rest of us!”

The talent in the squad is obvious and it shows on the pitch. The Minotaurs went undefeated in the St. George Football Association over-45 division this season and have scored eight goals between the PUMA Champions of Champions quarter and semi-finals.

Now, they have to take on Epping Eastwood in the final and Papoythis cannot wait to get back out onto the field with some of his best mates.

“We are a new team. We’re only two years since we started playing together,” he said.

“But most of us played with or against each other when we were younger. We had an over-35s team at another club as well but we wanted to try and keep it together.

“We all played at the Minotaurs when we were younger so we got around the club and put the team together.”

But it is not just about the guys who have played at the highest level.

“Our coach Peter Sarikakis is a great guy then there are guys like Steve Karavatakis who have been at the club for years,” Papoythis said.

“Those guys make you proud to play for the club and pull on the shirt.”

As for the upcoming final against Epping Eastwood from the Gladesville-Hornsby Football Association, Papoythis is expecting a tough competition.

“They have a strong history in the competition and they have won a few over-35 titles,” he said.

“If they are in the final they must be a great team, but our blokes are up for it and hopefully we can go and get the win.”

-By Matt Galea

Source: www.footballnsw.com.au