Western Sydney Wanderers FC

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This article is about the men's association football team. For the women's association football club, see Western Sydney Wanderers FC W-League.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Logo of Western Sydney Wanderers FC.svg
Full name Western Sydney Wanderers Football Club
Nickname(s) Wanderers, WSW
Founded 4 April 2012
Ground Pirtek Stadium
Ground Capacity 21,500
Chairman Paul Lederer
Head Coach Tony Popovic
League A-League
2013–14 A-League, 2nd
Website Club home page
Current season

Western Sydney Wanderers FC is an Australian professional soccer club based in Western Sydney, New South Wales. It competes in the country's premier competition, the A-League, under license from Football Federation Australia (FFA).[1] Wanderers entered the competition in the 2012–13 season after its formation in April 2012, by FFA, who began the club's life with a series of community forums across Western Sydney. These forums helped choose the club's name and colours, as well as its culture and playing style. The club's record-breaking inaugural season saw them reach the 2013 A-League Grand Final and become reigning A-League Premiers, which gained the club direct qualification into the 2014 AFC Champions League group stage. The club followed up by contesting the 2014 A-League Grand Final and securing second place in their second season in the league.

The club is run from a facility based in Blacktown, and plays matches at Parramatta Stadium, a 21,500 seat multi-use venue in Parramatta. A youth squad competes in the National Youth League. A women's team competes in the W-League. The youth and women matches are played at various locations across Western Sydney, including Marconi Stadium, Campbelltown Stadium and Cook Park. A Powerchair Football team competes in the NSW Western Division Powerchair Football League, with matches played at Kevin Betts Stadium in Mt Druitt.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

Western Sydney continues to be an important region for FFA. It is the heartland of football in NSW, it is one of the most popular football regions in the country, and we've always said we've wanted to have an A-League team to represent the Western Sydney region.

FFA CEO Ben Buckley on the prospect of a club, September 2009.[2]

Western Sydney was regarded as a potential location for one of the founding A-League clubs in 2005, originally intended to be the base for Sydney FC. When Sydney FC put forward their bid to participate in the inaugural A-League season, Football NSW (which backed the bid) desired for the club's home ground to be Parramatta Stadium in Western Sydney.[3] Though after winning the A-League licence, Football Federation Australia Chairman Frank Lowy forced a number of changes to the bid. The main of these were in moving the club to Sydney Football Stadium in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney and simultaneously reducing Football NSW's involvement from 100 to 25 percent.[3] Frank Lowy’s son, David Lowy, was also installed as a major investor.[3] In response, Football NSW made the decision to pull out its involvement with Sydney FC amid claims the A-League club had become a "plaything" for Frank Lowy and his family.[3] Football NSW stated its dislike of Lowy's autocratic style in establishing the club and the perceived lack of consultation on key club issues.[3][4] An unsuccessful bid named "Sydney Blues", which had proposed to play at the Sydney Football Stadium was the only other Sydney-based bid.[5] Sydney FC entered the league with a five-year city exclusivity deal as part of the "one-city, one-team" philosophy, preventing the establishment of another Sydney-based club.[6]

By 2008, as the five-year deal wound to its conclusion, FFA announced its intention to expand the A-League with a second Sydney-based club a favourable option.[7] FFA received 10 expressions of interest, two of which from potential Western Sydney based teams.[8] Despite the unsuccessful attempt to establish a Western Sydney-based team in the form of Sydney Rovers (due to financial and technical reasons),[9] FFA were still strongly committed in pursuing a club in the region.[10]

Foundations[edit]

The catalyst for the formation of the Western Sydney Wanderers was FFA revoking Gold Coast United's A-League license on 29 February 2012. After a series of running battles between FFA and Clive Palmer - owner of Gold Coast United, over topics such as crowd control, stadium attendance capacities and breaches of A-League regulations.[11] The loss of Gold Coast United brought the league down to nine clubs, one fewer than what FFA needed for their upcoming television rights negotiations.[12]

On 4 April 2012, then FFA CEO Ben Buckley announced the creation of "New Sydney Club" based in the city's west to play in the A-League.[13] The new club would be set up to compete in the 2012–13 season, though despite several attempts by the FFA to find a backer to own and run the club no individual owner or consortium of owners decided to take on the new Sydney club.[14] With the October deadline approaching, FFA decided to push through the club by taking on the ownership role themselves.[15] This was helped by securing $4 million from the Australian Federal Gillard Government in a grant for the creation and ongoing costs of the club.[16]

As notable Australian football players Scott Chipperfield, Tim Cahill and Lucas Neill expressed their support for the Western Sydney-based football club,[17] so did the local football community, with FFA holding supporter forums in Mount Pritchard, Parramatta, Rooty Hill, Penrith, Castle Hill, Campbelltown and Bankstown, where community members discussed such topics as the club's values and culture, playing style, home ground, and proposed names and colours.[18][19] Following the community forums, FFA launched an online survey to decide on various options for the new club.[20] It covered similar aspects of culture, location, team colour and playing style. A final survey was later launched with a specific focus on the club's colours and name. Options for team colours were Black and Red, Black and White, and Red, White and Black. Options for the team name were Athletic, Wanderers, Wolves, Strikers and Rangers.[21]

The first three signed players (Mooy, Elrich and Appiah) at the club's launch

On 17 May 2012, former A-League head Lyall Gorman was appointed Chairman of the as yet unnamed club.[22] Tony Popovic was also announced as the inaugural head coach of the Western Sydney team. Popovic joined the club after requesting to be released from the final year of his contracted role as assistant coach of Crystal Palace, after ending talks with both A-League Sydney clubs and stating his desire to build a club from scratch as an opportunity he could not pass up. Popovic signed with the Western Sydney team to take the helm for four seasons.[23] On 22 May 2012, Popovic's close friend Ante Milicic also joined the club as assistant coach.[24]

On 25 June 2012, the official club name, logo and colours were formally announced.[25] The name "Western Sydney Wanderers FC" was officially released, as was the club logo, the home playing strip, the home ground (Parramatta Stadium) and the first three signed players: Aaron Mooy, Tarek Elrich and Kwabena Appiah.[26] The name 'Wanderers' had been an overwhelming favourite among fans and community groups, with it also paying homage to Wanderers, the first registered association football club in Australia, who played in the area in 1880.[27]

Popovic era[edit]

With the start of Western Sydney Wanderers' first season approaching, Tony Popovic was charged with putting together a competitive squad for the 2012–13 A-League, which would be the team's only competition of the season. The squad was made up of relative unknowns, though included former Japan international and Asian Footballer of the Year Shinji Ono, as well as Jérome Polenz, Youssouf Hersi, Iacopo La Rocca and Dino Kresinger.[28] On 6 October 2012, Western Sydney Wanderers played their first competitive match of any kind against reigning A-League Premiers Central Coast Mariners in the first round of the league. The match ended in a 0–0 draw.[29] It took the team a further three weeks, until the fourth round of the league to win their first competitive match of any kind; after two consecutive losses, one of which the first Sydney Derby, the encounter against reigning A-League Champions Brisbane Roar ended 0–1 in favour of Wanderers, with Mark Bridge netting the club's first competitive goal after the team failed to score in their opening three games.[30]

A slow start into the teams first season soon turned positive as Western Sydney Wanderers quickly emerged as one of the leading clubs in Australia.[31] A historical record-breaking season in the league saw the club break an all-time Australian national league record and win their first A-League Premiership after topping the A-League table through a record-undefeated streak, which included 10 straight wins.[32][33] This feat gained the club direct qualification into the 2014 AFC Champions League, as well as a place in the A-League finals series. A 2–0 win against Brisbane Roar in the semi-finals of the finals series lead the club to the 2013 A-League Grand Final, which on 21 April 2013, Wanderers eventually lost 0–2 to Central Coast Mariners at a sold out Sydney Football Stadium.[34] The club's season success was pitted on first-time coach Popovic who built the team from its foundations in only five months time.[35] Popovic was awarded A-League Coach of the Year and goalkeeper Ante Čović Goalkeeper of the Year.[36] The club's inaugural success, both on and off the field, sparked much interest worldwide, though most notably within Australia, where the sport had previously struggled to gain mainstream interest.[37]

The clubs second season saw Brendon Šantalab and Australian international Matthew Špiranović join the team.[38] Wanderers held second position behind Brisbane Roar throughout the majority of the season despite criticism over the team's squad rotation policy which Popovic implemented with consideration to the AFC Champions League and the short turnaround between matches.[39] On 26 February 2014, the club made their Champions League debut against Ulsan Hyundai. A goal within the first minute of the match by Šantalab was cancelled out as the South Korean side scored three unanswered goals to win the match.[40] The loss was no deterrent, with the team eventually finishing top in their group to progress to the Round of 16 in the Asian tournament.[41] After finishing runners-up in the 2013–14 A-League season, Wanderers secured direct qualification into the 2015 AFC Champions League, as well as a place in the A-League finals series. A 2–0 win against Central Coast Mariners in the semi-finals of the finals series on 26 April 2014, saw the team progress to their second A-League Grand Final in as many seasons.[42] On 4 May 2014, Western Sydney Wanderers competed against Brisbane Roar in the 2014 A-League Grand Final at a sold out Lang Park. 10,000 Wanderers supporters travelled north for the occasion,[43] but after taking the lead through a header from Špiranović the team failed to hold the lead late in the game, later letting slip the A-League Championship during extra time.[44] Following the loss, the team was forced a quick turnaround for their home and final leg of the Champions League Round of 16 - a home and away series against Japanese side Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Despite being down 3–1 on aggregate, the team managed to overturn the result and win 2–0 to progress to the quarter-finals in what was Ono's, Hersi's, Polenz's and inaugural captain Michael Beauchamp's final match for the club.[45]

Prior to the 2014–15 season, the club signed Brazilian midfielder Vitor Saba, as well as Seyi Adeleke and Dutch international Romeo Castelen.[46] On 12 August 2014, Western Sydney Wanderers competed against Adelaide City in the first round of the inaugural season of the FFA Cup.[47] The match ended 1–0 in favour to Adelaide City, seeing Wanderers eliminated from the tournament.[48] The Cup loss was followed by Wanderers continued campaign in the 2014 AFC Champions League; as due to the calendar format of the Asian tournament, the quarter-finals - a home and away series against Guangzhou Evergrande, resumed after a three month break.[49] The first match was won by Wanderers, 1–0.[50]

Colours and badge[edit]

Western Sydney Wanderers club colours are red and black. The club's colours as well as its inaugural season kit was announced on 25 June 2012, at a press conference held at Parramatta Stadium.[26] The kit featured a red and black hoop jersey, white shorts and black socks.[51] The red and black colour scheme was popular during the supporter forums, and the 'hoop design' emerged along with vertical stripes as the two most popular style choices. The club's second kit, worn when playing away from home, has the same hoop design as the first kit, with a red and white jersey, black shorts and white socks.

The club badge incorporates the key elements of the Western Sydney landscape; the mountains, valleys and winding river system that runs throughout the region.[52] The badge includes the name of the club in Futura typeface, with white writing and a stylised W, S and W pattern to represent the club's initials.[26]

Sponsorship[edit]

American manufacturer Nike signed a five-year partnership deal to start on the new club's first season.[51] NRMA Insurance signed a three-year partnership and Westfield a two-year partnership deal to start in the new club's first season.[53][54] Mitsubishi Electric signed a multi-year partnership deal for the 2013–14 season and onwards.[55] Visy Industries was announced as the clubs major corporate partner for the 2014 AFC Champions League.[56]

Period Kit manufacturer Major partner Minor partner
2012–2013 Nike NRMA Insurance Westfield
2013– Westfield, Mitsubishi Electric

Club facilities[edit]

The club's office and training facilities are located in the one location, Blacktown International Sportspark. This was done to foster a sense of belonging for all members of the staff no matter what position they hold at the club.[57] It was initially believed that the club's administration and training facilities would be based at the Football New South Wales headquarters at Valentine Park in Parklea but the facilities at the ground were not to the standard required. Parramatta Council as part of its bid to host the team in the city offered Council owned office space inside the Parramatta CBD but this was declined in favour of staying at Blacktown.[58]

Stadium[edit]

Parramatta Stadium, home ground of Wanderers

On 26 July 2012, it was officially announced that Parramatta Stadium would be the home ground of the club for all its home games.[59] Lyall Gorman, the club's Chairman, acknowledged that the feedback he had received from the fan forums was in favor of a single home ground and that the club must be based in the Greater Western Sydney.[60] Parramatta Stadium was seen as ideal compared to other alternatives at Homebush Bay, Penrith or Campbelltown as its rectangular size is better suited for games, and it has an appropriate capacity of over 20,000.[61]

With Western Sydney Wanderers and the Parramatta Eels rugby league club contracted to play at Parramatta Stadium, there is a greater potential for an upgrade and expansion of the stadium to be undertaken.[59] Parramatta Stadium is considering potential expansion from the current capacity of 21,500 up to a capacity of 31,300 seats, by redeveloping the northern and southern ends of the complex.[62] An upgraded stadium of this size could be an ideal long-term location for Western Sydney Wanderers due to its close proximity to the Parramatta CBD, public transport, and being more central to the Western Sydney region compared to other locations.[63]

At the supporter forums held in Parramatta, Penrith, Campbelltown, Rooty Hill, Mount Pritchard, Castle Hill and Bankstown, during the clubs formation, panel members and supporters in the audience raised the prospect of the club one day owning its own stadium.[64]

The redevelopment of Fairfield Showground into a football-specific stadium for future use by Western Sydney Wanderers has also been brought up.[65] The area has a history in developing national team players, and has supported many NSL clubs as well as clubs still existing in the local New South Wales state leagues.[65] It would also be a location that has no opposing NRL or AFL teams in the suburb itself, allowing for the development of a truly football-specific stadium.[65]

Support[edit]

Season Members Average attn. Total attn.
2012–13 7,500 12,466 174,520
2013–14 16,100 14,860 193,178

The main supporters' group for Western Sydney Wanderers is the "Red and Black Bloc" (RBB).[66] The independent group was established in June 2012, with its founding members attending the clubs first ever game on 25 July 2012, where the club played Nepean FC at Cook Park.[67] At the match, the group gathered at the northern end of the ground and were vocal in the support of the new team. The Daily Telegraph noted the impressive debut of the group,[68] whilst The Sydney Morning Herald described the group as "a noisy bunch on the northern hill".[69]

The RBB have received much praise and attention for the atmosphere and passion they produce, most notably their call-and-response chant "Who do we sing for?".[70][71] The RBB perform The Poznań in the 80th minute of matches, in recognition of the history associated with football in Parramatta as the first ever game of association football in Australia was played there in the year 1880.[72] The group is also active in local charitable causes. In the wake of the 2013 New South Wales bushfires disaster, the RBB raised $15,000 to assist the NSW Salvation Army Bushfire Appeal.[73]

On 28 December 2013, supporters of Western Sydney Wanderers were involved in an altercation with a group of Melbourne Victory supporters in a Melbourne street before a league match. The incident was followed by the clubs supporters igniting a flare during the match in Melbourne Rectangular Stadium. On 3 January 2014, FFA responded by charging both clubs with bringing the game into disrepute.[74] Action was also taken against several individuals, with police later charging three supporters involved in the incident within the following months.[75]

On 19 April 2013 Australian rock-pop band Exit Row (Andrew Torrisi, Nick Ferreri, Raf Lavorato, Jeremy Azzopardi and Aaron Tarasiewicz) released their debut single "Welcome To Our Wanderland",[76] a Western Sydney Wanderers-anthem. The song lyric was of the club, the RBB, and Western Sydney, with the RBB chant "Who do we sing for?" used in the chorus. The song reached 93 on the Australian iTunes chart.[77]

By the end of their inaugural season Western Sydney Wanderers had grown its membership base to 7,500 people,[78] with the club's total match attendance at home reaching 174,520, with an average of 12,466.[79] By the beginning of their second season, club membership had grown to the cap of 16,100 members, with over 2,000 in waiting.[80] In addition the second season saw a rise to 193,178 total and 14,860 average attendances to home games.[81]

Rivalries[edit]

Western Sydney Wanderers local rivals are Sydney FC. The rivalry is a part of the historic "East" versus "West" mentality that takes place throughout sport and life in Sydney.[82] The two clubs first met in Wanderers inaugural season during the first found of the league on 20 October 2012, with Wanderers losing the match 1–0 after a penalty scored by Alessandro Del Piero.[83] On 15 December 2012, in the following derby, Wanderers defeated Sydney FC 2–0 away from home with goals by Youssouf Hersi and Michael Beauchamp.[84] During their third encounter on 23 March 2012, the two teams went on to draw 1–1 at Wanderers' home ground. The match saw much drama with nine yellows and two red cards shown on the night.[85]

Ownership[edit]

Upon establishing Western Sydney Wanderers in April 2012, FFA attempted to find a backer to own and run the club.[14] Despite several attempts by FFA, no individual owner or consortium of owners decided to take on the new Sydney-based club, thus FFA assumed ownership of the club, taking on the role first two years of the clubs existence with Lyall Gorman appointed Chairman.[22][15]

In May 2014, it was confirmed that FFA had sold the club to a consortium headed by Australian businessman Paul Lederer, who was also appointed the role of Chairman, while John Tsatsimas took up the role of the club’s first CEO following his role as General Manager since the club’s inception.[86][87] Along with Lederer, Jefferson Chang, Glenn Duncan and David Slade were part of the consortium of owners. The new ownership became effective as of 30 June 2014.[88]

Current squad[edit]

As of 26 June 2014[89][90]

Senior squad[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Australia GK Ante Covic
2 Australia DF Shannon Cole
3 Australia DF Daniel Mullen
4 Australia DF Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Captain)
5 Australia DF Brendan Hamill
6 Australia DF Antony Golec
7 Australia FW Labinot Haliti
8 Croatia MF Mateo Poljak
9 Australia FW Tomi Jurić
10 Brazil MF Vitor Saba
11 Australia FW Brendon Šantalab
13 Australia DF Matthew Špiranović
No. Position Player
14 New Zealand FW Kwabena Appiah
15 Australia MF Yianni Perkatis
17 Netherlands FW Romeo Castelen
18 Italy MF Iacopo La Rocca
19 Australia FW Mark Bridge
20 Australia GK Dean Bouzanis
23 Australia MF Jason Trifiro
31 Australia MF Alusine Fofanah
32 Australia DF Daniel Alessi
34 Australia FW Golgol Mebrahtu
-- Nigeria DF Seyi Adeleke

Youth squad[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
Australia GK Thomas Manos
Australia GK Blake Tuxford
Australia DF James Baldacchino
Australia DF Shayne D'Cunha
Australia DF Brendan Hooper
Australia DF Matthew Stewart
No. Position Player
Australia DF Sean Symons
Australia MF Lawrance Hanna
Australia MF Martin Lo
Australia MF Jake McGing
Australia FW Mark Cindric
Australia FW Jaushua Sotirio

Club officials[edit]

Tony Popovic, current head coach of Wanderers
Management
Technical staff

Head coach[edit]

Period Name Honours
2012–Present Australia Tony Popovic A-League Premiers: 2012–13
A-League Coach of the Year: 2012–13

Records[edit]

Ante Čović currently holds the team record for number of total games played with 46 matches. Nikolai Topor-Stanley has the second most appearances for the club with 45 matches. Mark Bridge is the third most capped player with 42 matches.[92]

Western Sydney Wanderers' all-time highest goalscorer in all competitions is Mark Bridge with 15 goals. The player with the second most goals scored for wanderers is Shinji Ono with 9 goals. Youssouf Hersi has scored the third most goals for the club with 6.[92]

Wanderers' highest home attendance at Parramatta Stadium is 19,585 for a league Sydney Derby match on 23 March 2013.[93] The highest home attendance at any stadium is 42,102 for the 2013 A-League Grand Final at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday 21 April 2013.

Honours[edit]

Premiers (1): 2012–13
Runners-up (1): 2013–14
  • A-League Finals
Runners-up (2): 2013, 2014

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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