Dandenong Thunder SC
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|Full name||Dandenong Thunder Soccer Club|
|Ground||George Andrews Reserve,
|League||National Premier Leagues Victoria|
|2014||Minor Premiers, Champions, State Knockout Cup Champions|
Dandenong Thunder SC is a soccer club from Dandenong, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. They are an Albanian Australian-backed club. In 2016, Thunder will compete in the National Premier Leagues Victoria 1 East.
In 2012, Dandenong claimed the famous treble of the Victorian Premier League Minor Premiership, the FFV State Knockout Cup & the VPL Championship Final.
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The club was founded in 1970 as South Dandenong by Albanian migrants. Even today the club is primarily backed and supported by Albanians and Albanian-Australians living in Melbourne. They started competing in the Victorian District League East Division, which was the eighth tier of football (soccer) in Victorian Football Pyramid. For decades they were playing in the lower divisions until the mid-1990s when they started to climb the entire Victorian pyramid. In 1994 they were playing in State League Division 3, and every year managed to get promotion to a higher level until they reached the Victorian Premier League in 1998.
After a successful 1997 season, when they became the champions of Victorian State League Division 1, South Dandenong played their first ever Victorian Premier League season in 1998. Being led by their player-coach Fadil Muriqi, the team managed to stay in the Victorian Premier League after finishing the season in 12th place. Same thing didn't happen in the following season and the team was relegated to Victorian State League Division 1.
They came back in Victorian Premier League in 2001 but were relegated again as the season ended.
At the end of the 2001 season, South Dandenong underwent a name change, becoming Dandenong Thunder. They spent the following seven seasons in the Victorian State League Division 1. The Club began spending more on players in 2007, bringing in Veton Korcari from Richmond SC and Louis Brain, a former A-League player for Adelaide United and were promoted from State League 1 in 2008.
Thunder surprised everyone in their return to the top flight, clinching the 2009 Victorian Premier League Minor Premiership with a lead of 12 points. Thunder managed to go undefeated for the first 15 rounds of the season, taking their running total to 31 games undefeated, stretching back to Round 5 of the 2008 season. Individual player achievements included youngster Jack Hingert being selected to play for A-League side North Queensland Fury and Joey Di Iorio winning the golden boot. Despite their season long domination, Thunder eventually lost the Grand Final to Altona Magic SC on penalties.
In the 2012 season, Thunder managed a famous treble, the first in their history. They won the Victorian State Knockout Cup, beating Port Melbourne Sharks in the Grand Final on penalties, the Minor Premiership and the Championship, beating Oakleigh Cannons 2–1 in the Grand Final at AAMI Park. This was their first ever VPL Championship.
There was a big black mark on the game though, as Dandenong Thunder fans let off a number of flares, one of which burned two girls. The club copped a $40,000 ban, the biggest in Victorian football history, and were forced to play their next 10 games without fans. Thunder placed seventh the following season.
National Premier Leagues Victoria
In late 2013, the club had their bid for a place in the National Premier Leagues Victoria accepted and competed in the top tier of the NPL Victoria in 2014. Thunder placed 9th in the 14 team league in 2014.
In 2015, the Club slashed its budget in an attempt to reduce club debt, and replaced many higher earners with young, inexperienced but talented players. Then manager Dean Hennessey also departed, joining Hume City FC as their technical director and the club brought in high profile Stuart Munro as the new head coach. The season didn't go to plan, though, with the team struggling to put together good performances. Relegation was confirmed in Round 25, when the side lost 3–0 to North Geelong Warriors FC.
The two home-grown talents so far to have tasted National Soccer League appearances are Xhezair Sulemani (Melbourne Knights 2000–2003) and Ibraim Ibraimi (South Melbourne 2001)and also Bailey Wright who plays regularly for Preston North End.
Dandenong Thunder are known to have one of the most passionate supporters groups in Victoria, with support coming mainly from the Albanian community in the area as well as support from sister club North Sunshine Eagles. Also Bay 13 (B13) is the most vocal in the league. The club averages 2,000 spectators at its home venue whilst also out-numbering the home side for support for away matches, with its great number of traveling fans (BAY 13 ROKDER) led by Ferman "Bundy" Zekiri and his accompanying sidekick Zani "Bush" Reshitovski.
- 2012– Victorian Premier League Premiers
- 2012– Victorian Premier League Minor Premiers
- 2012– Dockerty Cup Winners (FFV State Knockout Cup)
- 2009– Victorian Premier League Minor Premiers
- 2008– Victorian State League Division 1 Runners-Up
- 2000– Victorian State League Division 1 Champion
- 1997– Victorian State League Division 1 Champion
- 1996– Victorian State League Division 2 Runners-Up
- 1995– Victorian State League Division 3 Runners-Up
- 1991– Victorian State League Division 4 Runners-Up
- 1990– Victorian Provisional League 1 Champion
- 1989– Victorian Provisional League 2 Runners-Up
- 1988– Victorian Provisional League 3 Champion
- 2012– Jimmy Rooney Medalist: Nate Foster
- 2012– Jimmy McKay Medalist: Shane Rexhepi
- 2012– Victorian Premier League Goalkeeper of the Year: Stuart Webster
- 2012– Victorian Premier League Coach of the Year: Chris Taylor
- 2012– Victorian Premier League Leading Goal Scorer: Luke Sherbon
- 2012– Bill Fleming Media Award Player of the Year: Luke Sherbon
- 2009– Victorian Premier League Coach of the Year: Stuart Munro
- 2009– Victorian Premier League Leading Goal Scorer: Joe Di Iorio
- 2012– Luke Sherbon 21 goals (Awarded League Golden Boot)
- 2011– Luke Sherbon 14 goals
- 2010– Jamie Reed 6 Goals
- 2009– Joe Di Iorio 18 Goals (Awarded League Golden Boot)
- 2008– Ryan Davidson 11 Goals
- 2007– Veton Korcari 10 Goals (Runner up in the league)
- 2006– Ryan Davidson 9 Goals
- 2005– Leon Buhic 9 Goals
- 2004– Veton Korcari 9 Goals
- 2003– Miles Tidd, Joey Di Iorio 11 Goals
- 2002– Alfonso Opazo 10 Goals
- 2001– Boris Ovcin 4 Goals
- 2000– Victor Korkaric 17 Goals
- 1999– Nick Van Egmond, Billy Wright 7 Goals
- 1998– Pino Corallo, Reshat Mezensof 11 Goals
- 1997– Billy Wright 28 Goals (Top scorer in the league)
- 1996– Billy Wright 30 Goals (Top scorer in the league)
- 1995– Billy Wright 27 Goals (Joint Top scorer in the league)
- 1994– Billy Wright 22 Goals (Top scorer in the league)
Club Champion Award
- 2012 – Luke Sherbon
- 2011 – Shane Rexhepi
- 2010 – Levent Osman
- 2009 – Levent Osman
- 2008 – Levent Osman
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.