Maidstone United looking for happy ending to cup

SEPTEMBER 6, 2018 11:12 PM



After after a shocking start to 2018, including a poorly thought out pre-season strategy that threatened to literally decapitate his squad, the Maidstone United Over 35s coach didn’t lose his job mid-season. How? Why? As part of our insight series into the people that make local community sporting clubs tick, long term MUSC sponsor, FIT247 Footscray, investigates. 


*Names have been altered to protect the innocent. And guilty.


Going into his fourth season as Maidstone United Over 35s coach, George Vitzas* believes the seeds of many of his coaching philosophies were sown during his junior playing days, which began in the early 90’s.

“I had won the under 12s best and fairest, playing only four games, mainly off the bench. As soon as I heard “G Vitz” I stormed the stage and grabbed that trophy and wouldn’t let go. Although I couldn’t believe the amount of typos in my name on the plaque, I felt that the award vindicated all the hard work I’d put in that month.”

Other than the look of disbelief on the faces in the crowd, the thing he most distinctly remembers from that awards night was that, rather than celebrating a completely unexpected and, what many would argue, undeserved, honour, he found himself consoling a teammate.

“Gustave was sitting in the corner looking pretty despondent. I assured him that scoring 32 goals and making the junior national squad that season was an ok return, to keep his chin up, work hard, and that if he kept improving, who knows, maybe next year’s B&F trophy would have his name on it. Just like my trophy did.”

prezo night photos

GV accepting someone’s 2015 Clubsperson Of The Year award.


With such a deep and natural understanding of the player psyche, a coaching career naturally beckoned. Elaborating on which attributes led to George’s appointment, a committee spokesman mentioned his honesty.

“We asked him what he thought a coach should typically bring to a club. He covered every base. Deep tactical and technical knowledge, patience, an ability to manage, motivate, develop, interact, direct and lead, an uncanny ability to read the pulse of his squad and say the best possible thing at the best possible time, a deep emotional interest for every one of the players.

He then turned around and said, much like Graham Arnold, he was supremely confident that he could do the job without bringing a single one of those attributes or aspects of coaching to the table. “That kind of honesty stood out and was really refreshing. We just couldn’t look past him or his resume. Literally, we couldn’t – no-one else had applied.”



Unconfirmed CCTV footage of the committee appointment process which saw GV officially selected to take over from existing Over 35s coach and MUSC Life Member, Brenton Coles, who was moving overseas.

In terms of similarities with other coaches, Vitzas is quick to list Luke Beveridge.

“We’re both 5’8″ and love to see the Doggies win.”

That’s not to say that GV is a fan of all of Luke Beveridge’s policies. “Sure, he achieved the impossible, but I don’t think that this coach-must-care-about-his-players malarkey will catch on, to be honest.”

He does however note a parallel with the “run toward the fire” theme that Beveridge and the Bulldogs had as an overarching theme in 2016, with amazing success.

“I had implemented something quite similar for our 2017 pre-season, to prepare the squad to meet challenges head on and embrace a mentality of succeeding no matter the odds. “Run into the path of a speeding bus”.

Unfortunately a few of the boys don’t understand the concept of euphemisms – a week out from the season we were down to eight non-hospitalised players. It’s the reason the Over 35s no longer do pre-seasons. Or use public transport.

I guess those are the little things that separate a premiership coach and one who leads his squad to 5th. Some would probably see the nearly decapitating/not nearly decapitating half of the squad thing as an important distinction too.”



“I’m not the type of coach that gets carried away easily.” Probably because it looks like it’s a four man job.

Although his playing days are clearly, clearly behind him, asked what style of player he used to be, GV is quick to draw a comparison with a famous #10. “Towards the end of my career Leros/Maidstone United was playing in Greece during an end of season trip and I could hear the locals in the grandstands saying who I reminded them of.

“This guy plays like Kaka!” was uttered quite a few times, I think one fan couldn’t even tell the difference between me the real thing “He is Kaka!” he was yelling, uncontrollably. It was really humbling. And a touch confusing, given I was playing full back that day. More of a number 2 than 10″.

Asked what had changed the most since his playing career, George laments a fall in discipline levels as one of the unfortunate consequences of a much more technologically connected society.

“Back in my day a coach would take a group of players who were misbehaving or not following instructions to a remote cave system during wet-season or otherwise a national park, throw them out of the car on the side of a dirt track, a good five hour walk from the nearest source of water and food, and before speeding off, would yell “This’ll teach ya to play the way you face!”

“Sure it was a harsh, and sometimes dangerous, way of going about it – good news is that Gustave Fitzgerald’s health is looking on the up. Funny story actually – poor kid thought he heard his name but it was actually “Vitz” rather than “Fitz” they had called out for the punishment that day – I’m sure we’ll be able to look back and laugh about it over a beer one day. Well, once he’s out of the coma.

Anyhoo, the important thing is that those kids who survived without losing a leg or collapsing into a coma for almost 30 years learnt some valuable life lessons. One of those being that club’s insisting on Working With Children checks before appointing junior coaches is important.”

“These days, you try that exact same policy with the Over 35s team, and within 15-20 minutes they’re in an Uber on their way to a massage place in Footscray for a post game rub down. Discipline really shouldn’t finish with a happy ending.”


After a dramatic result reversal, the Over 35s are vying for the club’s first cup semi-final spot in over 30 years.

The Vicsoccer cup quarter final is against Albion Thunder, this Sunday, 9th September, kickoff at 10am. After 5 wins in a row to finish the season, the team is looking to create some history, come down to support the boys! 

It will cap off a bumper weekend, with Super Saturday@Scovell seeing the Reserves and Seniors playing their last home game of the year, kick offs at 1pm and 3pm, followed by Maidstone United’s annual Gentlemen’s Night, this Saturday 8th September, 8pm. $50 entry, food and entertainment included.

Maidstone United Over 35s are proudly sponsored by FIT247 Footscray. Gym Memberships available from an unbelievable $7 per week. 1300 FIT 247 | FIT247.COM.AU

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