North Geelong Warriors FC
North Geelong Warriors|
|Nickname(s)||North, Warriors, Croatia, Croacija|
|Ground||Australian–Croatian Sporting Centre, Elcho Park, Lara|
|Capacity||5,000 (200 Seating Capacity)|
|2017||14th in NPL (relegated)|
North Geelong Warriors Football Club, formerly known as North Geelong Croatia, is an Australian semi-professional soccer club from the regional Victorian city of Geelong. The club currently competes in the National Premier Leagues Victoria, Australia's joint second division in the country's league system. The club was founded in 1967 by a large contingent of ethnic Croatians in the city of Geelong and is a regular participant in the Australian-Croatian Soccer Tournament, which it has hosted four times and won for the first time in 2014. North Geelong's home base is Elcho Park in the northern Geelong suburb of Lara, Victoria. The club's biggest achievement is winning the 1992 Victorian Premier League title – becoming the first promoted side to ever achieve such a feat.
- 1 History
- 2 Notable coaches
- 3 Players
- 4 Current squad
- 5 Presidential History
- 6 Managerial History
- 7 Honours
- 8 Divisional History
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
North Geelong Croatia Soccer Club was formed around Christmas time in December 1967 by newly arrived Croatian migrants Mirko Hrkač, Ivan Sesar, Joe Radojević, Vinko Radojević and Aldo Siketa. North Geelong’s first season saw it compete in Division 2 of the Ballarat, Geelong and Districts Soccer Association (BGDSA) in 1968, finishing in fourth place of the ten team division. The following year, North competed in Division 1 and a reserve side was formed. In 1970, the club fielded its first junior side, which competed under the name North United.
In 1972, the Club competed in the Victorian Provisional League for the first time in its history. The season was marred by an incident involving an altercation with a referee in North Geelong’s Round 6 match against Werribee which saw the club immediately expelled from the Victorian Provisional League. The VSF disallowed the club from competing in any further matches that year.
North Geelong was accepted back into the BGDSA competition in 1973, where it was, for the majority of seasons, the dominant force in the league. Croatia won the BDGSA league in ’73, ’74, ’76, ’77 and '78
Return to State Competition
In 1979, North Geelong re-joined the Victorian Provisional League, run by the VSF, and was placed into Division Three. North finished in a very respectable third place. Also in 1979, North Geelong Croatia bought a block of land in Lara where its current home base on Gibbons Road now stands. The land cost a sum of $12,000.
Rise Through the Ranks
Croatia then won back-to-back premierships in 1980, and 1981. In 1982, following its Provisional League Division Two title, North Geelong skipped promotion to Provisional League Division One, thanks to a league restructure, and entered the Victorian Metropolitan League Division Four, at the time the fifth tier of Victorian soccer, the highest rung the club had reached in its short history.
North Geelong made the move to Elcho Park in 1986, hosting the Geelong Pre-Season Cup in pre-season, winning the competition. The first competitive league game at the venue was a 3-3 draw between North Geelong and Essendon City on 29 March 1986.
After four consecutive top four finishes in Division Two, North Geelong finally achieved promotion when it took out the league championship in 1989. North Geelong Croatia endured a difficult start to life in Division One in 1990. After a shaky start, Branko Čulina was able to lead the club to a respectable seventh-place finish.
Victorian Premier League Era
In 1991, with the club run by a new committee headed by Steve Horvat Senior and the first team managed by Čulina, North Geelong Croatia won the Division 1 title, finishing a point ahead of Knox City. and hence promotion to the Victorian Premier League (VPL), reaching the pinnacle of Victorian soccer for the first time in the club’s history.
In its inaugural season in the VPL, the club surprised everyone finishing first and collecting the Minor Premiership. The club went on to make the Grand Final. They faced former National Soccer League champions Brunswick Juventus at Middle Park. North Geelong’s George Karkaletsis opened the scoring on the 22nd minute. Brunswick equalized 4 minutes later. The match remained 1-1 at full-time, taking it into extra time. North Geelong ripped Brunswick apart scoring three unanswered goals from Adrian Cervinski, Robert Markovac and Robert Cosic. It was an unprecedented event, the only time a newly promoted side had won the title in their first season, a record that still stands to this day. Players in this championship side included Steve Horvat, Adrian Cervinski and David Cervinski. All three players would become successful players in the National Soccer League. All three were a part of the Melbourne Croatia NSL championship side of the mid 90s.
1993 was another successful season. The club finished third in the regular season, making the finals for a second year in a row. But this time their finals campaign did not prove to rewarding as in the previous season. The club lost both its finals matches, including a heartbreaking loss in extra time to Sunshine George Cross. The next three seasons saw the club miss out on finals action, finishing mid table. But some joy came with the club producing club legend Richard O'Sullivian and future star player and future socceroo in Josip Skoko.
In 1994, North Geelong Croatia Soccer Club became North Geelong Warriors Soccer Club when the Victorian Soccer Federation banned ethnic names.
In 1997, North Geelong’s six-year stint in the top-flight came to an end as it endured relegation from the Premier League.
In 1999, the club was relegated once more, to the Victorian State League Two North-West. The Club remained in Division 2 for the next six season, with mixed results.
Throughout the early 2000s, North Geelong battled away in the Victorian State League Division 2 North-West, finishing in mid-table each year for the period.
2004 marked the beginning of players returning home to North Geelong having left the club in the 90s for NSL and VPL opportunities. The Cervinski brothers, Mijo Trupković, Ante Deak and Greg Šarić were all players that returned to the club from 2004 onwards.
In 2005, with the introduction of new coach Robert Krajačić, North Geelong blazed its way to the State League Division Two North-West title, losing only 4 matches. North Geelong were subject to relegation in 2007, returning to State League 2 N/W.
In 2009, Vinko Buljubašić led the club back to State League 1, winning State League 2 North-West.
After an inconsistent 2010 season, the club finished in 8th spot in the Victorian State League Division One, well clear of relegation, but also lower than expectations. In the summer of 2011, Vinko Buljubasic was relieved of his duties as manager and replaced by Ante Skoko with his brother, a recently retired professional footballer, Josip Skoko, as his assistant. North Geelong finished in 6th place in State League One in 2011.
At the end of the 2012 season, with the club just missing out on promotion, the Skoko brothers stepped down from their joint post as managers of the club.
In 2013, Mario Jurjevic replaced Ante Skoko with disastrous results, having just three points from 12 games and Skoko was brought back. Despite a late revival, North Geelong were relegated from State 1.
National Premier Leagues Victoria (2014-Present)
After a restructuring of soccer in Victoria in 2014, North Geelong found their bid for a place in the National Premier Leagues accepted, therefore avoiding relegation and remaining in the second tier of soccer in Victoria, now known as the National Premier Leagues Victoria 1. In North Geelong's first ever NPL1 contest, the club came away with a 2–1 away victory over sister club Dandenong City SC. Ante Skoko resigned from his post three months into the new season, with the club in 11th place in the new 14 team league. Former St Albans Saints SC manager Micky Čolina took over. The club sealed promotion to the top division on 13 September 2014, with a 1–0 win over rivals St. Albans, ending the season in second place, three points adrift of league champions Avondale Heights SC. The club also won the Geelong Pre-Season Cup, Victorian Croatian Cup and won the Australian-Croatian Soccer Tournament for the first time in early October.
Ahead of the 2015 season, the club re-signed head manager Čolina to a two-year deal and retained the core of the promoted 2014 squad. The season started with a 0–2 loss to eventual champions Bentleigh Greens at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex, followed up by a 0–3 loss to eventual premiers South Melbourne FC at Elcho Park, but Round 3 saw the Warriors record their first points of the season with a 6–1 victory over Green Gully SC, with winger Robbie Zadworny scoring a hattrick. However, after 14 rounds of the 2015 NPL Victoria season, the club were in last place with just five points. The Reds managed to turn it around, though, securing 16 points in the last 11 rounds of the season, including two wins in the last two games of the season against Dandenong Thunder SC and Werribee City FC, with both of the wins confirming relegation for its opponents. The club finished in 12th place and qualified for the NPL promotion / relegation playoff against Melbourne Victory FC Youth. North Geelong lost 2–0 in front of over 1,000 at J L Murphy Reserve in Port Melbourne, confirming relegation to NPL2 for the 2016 season.
During the off-season there were a number of departures. The club signed Kene Eze, an American striker who previously turned out for Pittsburgh Riverhounds. North Geelong announced that a partnership had been formed with NPL South Australia side Adelaide Raiders, a fellow Croatian-Australian founded soccer side. North Geelong travelled to Gepps Cross and, on 6 February, won the first ever Friendship Cup against Adelaide Raiders by a score of 2-1. The league competition started with a trip to sister-club St Albans Saints SC which finished in a 1-1 draw. North Geelong moved into outright top spot of the NPL2 West ladder after a 1-0 win over Brunswick City SC, a match in which Nicholas Jurčić tapped in a 93rd-minute winner. A tough run of results followed, with the Warriors winning just one of the next seven games in the league, slipping to fourth position on the ladder. North exited the 2016 FFA Cup at the hands of South Melbourne FC in Round 6 with a 0-2 loss at bogey ground JL Murphy Reserve. The Warriors went undefeated in the last ten games of the season, pushing the title race to the last day. St Albans took out the NPL2 West title and automatic promotion on the final match-day with a 1-0 win over Whittlesea Ranges FC while North Geelong took second place and a spot in the NPL2 promotion playoff against NPL2 East runner-up Dandenong Thunder SC. The Warriors produced a mercurial performance in the NPL2 promotion playoff, defeating the fancied Thunder 4-1, with Michael Anderson grabbing a hattrick. North then faced Richmond SC in the NPL promotion / relegation playoff and confirmed a return to the top fight of Victorian soccer with a 4-0 win, Matt Thorne scoring twice with Michael Anderson and Michael Simms adding singles in another emphatic win.
Returning to the top-flight, the Warriors signed Andrew Doig from Moreland City FC, Bobby Vidanoski and Marko Stevanja from Werribee City, Ivan Grgić from Melbourne Knights and Henry Durr from Perth Glory Youth. Taking out the first Friendship Cup at Elcho Park with a 4-1 win over Adelaide Raiders in pre-season, North Geelong went into Round 1 high on confidence and took a point from CB Smith Reserve in a 1-1 draw against Pascoe Vale FC. North managed just one more point in the following seven rounds and were thumped 8-0 at Olympic Village by a ten-man Heidelberg United FC. A mini mid-season revival ensued, where the Warriors went one win, four draws and one loss in six games, but nine consecutive losses following confirmed another relegation back to NPL2 for 2018. Following the relegation, Čolina and North Geelong agreed to part ways and the coach left after three and a half seasons at the helm.
North Geelong began its rebuild for the 2018 season by appointing former A-League assistant coach Luciano Trani as its senior head coach. The appointment was billed as one of its biggest coups in recent history for the club. Trani oversaw a huge turnover in the playing ranks, with just two players, Michael Anderson and Marko Stevanja, from the 2017 side remaining. Long-time servants like Daniel Zilic (10 years), Darren Lewis and Matthew Townley (6 years), and Vito Cichello (5 years) all ended their association with the club. North and Trani turned to local talent and youth to build the squad. Former players Michael Boyar, Anthony Banovac, Hamish Flavell and Nicholas Anderson returned to Elcho Park, while former junior players Jamie Noggler and Thomas Hidic ensured a strong club-grown feel to the crop. 11 games into the 2018 season, with the club sitting in fourth place, head coach Trani handed in his resignation. On 1 June 2018, North Geelong named James Coutts as the new senior head coach of the club, confirming also that he would be taking over in a player-coach capacity.
- Branko Čulina
- Eddie Krnčević (2007)
- Vinko Buljubašić
- Josip Skoko (assistant)
- Luciano Trani
- James Coutts
- Francis Awaritefe – Australia national team (1993–1996).
- Steve Horvat – Australia U17 (1987), Australia U20 (1989), Australia U23 (1996), Australia national team (1994–2002).
- Josip Skoko – Australia U20 (1993–1995), Australia U23 (2000), Australia (1997–2007).
- Adrian Cervinski – Australia U23 (1994)
- Joey Didulica – Croatia national team (2004–2006)
- Matthew Spiranovic – Australia U17 (2004–2005), Australia U20 (2006), Australia U23 (2007–2008), Australia (since 2008).
- Ante Cicak – Australia national team U20 (2007)
- 2018– James Coutts
- 2018 Luciano Trani
- 2014–2017 Micky Čolina
- 2014 Ante Skoko
- 2014 Ante Šarčević
- 2013 Ante Skoko
- 2013 Mario Jurjević
- 2011–2012 Ante Skoko
- 2008–2010 Vinko Buljubašić
- 2007 Eddie Krnčević
- 2007 Ian Williamson
- 2005–2006 Robert Krajacic
- 2000–2004 Robert Noggler
- 1998-1999 Unknown
- 1997 Adrian Beggs
- 1997 Mate Božić
- 1996 Steve Radojević
- 1995 Eddie Kovačević
- 1994 Bogdan Bonk
- 1993 Tony Vrzina
- 1990–1992 Branko Čulina
- 1989-1990 Andrija Albert
- 1970-71 Steve Horvat
- 1969 Pajo Drenovac
- 1968 Andrija Macokatić
- Victorian Premier League Champions 1992
- Victorian Premier League Minor Premiers 1992
- Victorian Premier League Finalists (Playoffs) 1992, 1993
- Victorian State League Division 1 Champions 1991
- National Premier Leagues Victoria Promotion Relegation Playoff Winners 2016
- National Premier Leagues Victoria 2 West Runners-Up 2016
- National Premier Leagues Victoria 2 Runner-Up 2014
- Victorian State League Division 2 Champions (3): 1989, 2005, 2009
- Metropolitan League Division 4 Runner-Up 1983
- Victorian Provisional League Division 2 Champions 1981
- Victorian Provisional League Division 3 Champions 1980
- Victorian State League Cup Runner-Up 1991
- Victorian Provisional League Cup Champions 1981
- Ballarat, Geelong and Districts Soccer Association/Western Victoria Soccer Association Champions (5): 1973,1974,1976,1977,1978
- Geelong Advertiser Cup/City of Greater Geelong Cup Champions (20): 1985, 1986, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
- Geelong Advertiser Cup/City of Greater Geelong Cup Runner-Up (5): 1988, 1990, 1998, 2000, 2002
- Australian-Croatian Soccer Tournament Champions 2014
- Victorian Croatian Cup Champions (3): 2009, 2014, 2015
Victorian Premier League Gold Medal – VPL Player of the Year
- 1992 – Bogdan Bonk
- 1994 – Josip Skoko
Bill Fleming Medal – Media voted VPL Player of the Year
- 1993 – David Cervinski
Victorian Premier league Coach of the Year
- 1992 – Branko Culina
Victorian Premier League Under 21 Player of the Year
- 1994 – Josip Skoko
Victorian Premier League Jim Rooney Medal – Grand Final Man of the Match
- 1992 – David Cervinski
Weinstein Medal Junior Player of the Year
- National Premier Leagues Victoria 2 2018–
- National Premier Leagues Victoria 2017
- National Premier Leagues Victoria 2 2016
- National Premier Leagues Victoria 2015
- National Premier Leagues Victoria 2 2014
- Victorian State League Division 1 2010–2013
- Victorian State League 2 N/W 2008–2009
- Victorian State League Division 1 2006–2007
- Victorian State League 2 N/W 2000–2005
- Victorian State League Division 1 1998–1999
- Victorian Premier League 1992–1997
- Victorian State League Division 1 1990–1991
- Victorian State League 2 1984–1989
- Metropolitan League Division 4 1982–1983
- Victorian Provisional League 2 1981
- Victorian Provisional League 3 1979–1980
- Western Victoria Soccer Association 1975–1978
- Ballarat, Geelong and Districts Soccer Association 1973–1974
- Victorian Provisional League 1972
- Ballarat, Geelong and Districts Soccer Association 1968–71
- Australian football (soccer) league system
- Geelong Regional Football Association
- List of Croatian football clubs in Australia
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