Lamia’s long run to the Superleague

Lamia’s long run to the Superleague

Lamia are set to make their debut in the Superleague and AGONAsport brings you Lamia’s promotion run to the first division from the Football League.

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This season will be the first time in Lamia’s 53-year history that the club from Fthiotida will be competing in the Greek Superleague. Lamia gained promotion to the first division after finishing second in last year’s Greek Football League, finishing ahead of the likes of Aris and OFI who were favored to gain promotion at the beginning of last season. 

The football club from Lamia only have a few historic moments that fans can remember including triumphs over AEK twice (1972, 1984), Olympiacos (1985), PAOK (1972) and Panathinaikos (1968) in the Greek Cup. As for modern day history, moments that stand out for Lamia were wins against teams in the Superleague (Panserraikos, Ionikos) during their Greek Cup encounters.

The long journey to the Superleague all started when Panourgias Papaioannou bought the club. Up until then, Lamia were a team that would go back and forth between the Delta and Gamma Ethniki (3rd and 4th Divisions) and had even reached the point of dissolution due to financial problems during the 2008-2009 season (did not compete in any league that year). However, with Papaioannou as the club’s strong man, the dream for a stable football club started to take shape. 

Lamia’s stadium began to fill up with fans when they competed in the Gamma Ethniki, which was the beginning of their long journey to the Superleague. Even when promotion to the Football League seemed an impossible task, promotion to the Football League was the club’s goal which was accomplished during the 2013/14 season. That season, they finished the Gamma Ethniki with 66 points, leaving behind Achilleas Neokesareias with 64 points.

Their first season in the Football League (2014-2015) was a successful one as Lamia fought for a spot in the promotion playoffs, however they just missed out finishing behind Iraklis, Larisa, and Olympiacos Volou. An appearance of an ineligible player in a match against Anagennisi Karditsas proved costly for Lamia leaving them out of the promotion playoffs, two points behind Olympiacos Volou. 

In their second season in the Football League, Lamia put together a worthy run but Larissa and Kerkyra led the way for promotion. The two teams were near perfect throughout the year and both moved up to the Superleague while Lamia finished fifth with 59 points. 

Going into their third season in the Football League, two historic Greek clubs, Aris and OFI, were the favorites to gain promotion to the Superleague while the likes of Apollon Smyrnis and Trikala were also in the hunt for a ticket to the first division. As a result, the team from Lamia were counted as the fifth favorite to earn promotion to the SuperLeague at the beginning of last season.

Although Lamia began the season with a disappointing draw against Aiginiakos, the club bounced back to record five straight victories. The club’s good form continued as the season went on and despite an unexpected loss to Panegialios, the team from Fthiotida began to run away in the standings with two big derby wins over OFI and Aris. A loss to Apollon Smyrnis kept them away from the top of the table, but Lamia kept control of second place, ahead of Aris, and the final ticket to the Superleague for most of the season. 

With Lamia conformably ahead of Aris in the standings, a draw against the Thessaloniki club at the Kleanthis Vikelidis stadium was the icing on the cake as the result mathematically ensured promotion to the 2017/18 Greek Superleague.

Lamia’s key to success was their intimidating home stadium. Only two teams left Lamia without tasting defeat, OFI and the league winners Apollon Smyrnis. Their stubborn defense played a key role on the pitch as Lamia only conceded 10 goals in 33 matches to finish with the best defense in the Football League. 

Behind every success lies hard work and Babis Tennes took a talented team that was eager to work hard and the 63-year old manager did what he knows best, promote Lamia to the SuperLeague for the first time in club history.

by Dimitris Spiridakos
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