Western Sydney Wanderers FC
|Full name||Western Sydney Wanderers Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||Wanderers, Red and Black|
|Founded||4 April 2012|
|Ground||Penrith Stadium (Some Matches)|
|Website||Club home page|
Western Sydney Wanderers Football Club (colloquially known as Western Sydney, or simply as Wanderers) is an Australian professional soccer club based in the western region of Sydney, New South Wales. It competes in the country's premier soccer competition, the A-League, under license from Football Federation Australia (FFA). The club has established itself as a major force in both Australia and Asia, having won one A-League Premiership and an AFC Champions League title in its short history. Through its success, the club has been described as "world football's fairytale".
Formed in April 2012 by FFA, Wanderers was established with a strong community focus. A series of community forums across Western Sydney helped choose the club's name and colours, as well as its culture and playing style. The club's record-breaking inaugural season won them an A-League premiership and saw the club reach the 2013 A-League Grand Final. The club followed that up by contesting the 2014 A-League Grand Final and securing second place in their second season of the league. The club was also crowned Asian Champions in their debut Champions League season, becoming the first Australian side to win the tournament.
The club is run from a facility based in Blacktown, and plays matches at Pirtek Stadium, a 21,487 seat multi-use venue in Parramatta. An affiliated youth team competes in the National Youth League and will compete in the National Premier Leagues NSW in 2016. A women's team competes in the W-League. The youth and women's matches are played at various locations across Western Sydney, including Marconi Stadium, Campbelltown Stadium and Cook Park. The club also has a Powerchair Football team which competes in the NSW Western Division Powerchair Football League, with matches played at Kevin Betts Stadium in Mt Druitt.
- 1 History
- 2 Colours and badge
- 3 Sponsorship
- 4 Club facilities
- 5 Support
- 6 Rivalries
- 7 Ownership
- 8 Players
- 9 Club officials
- 10 Records
- 11 Asia clubs ranking
- 12 Honours
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
The Western Sydney region 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. Though after winning the A-League licence, Football Federation Australia (FFA) 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. Frank Lowy’s son, David Lowy, was also installed as a major investor. 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. Football NSW stated its dislike of Lowy's autocratic style in establishing the club and the perceived lack of consultation on key club issues. An unsuccessful bid named "Sydney Blues", which had proposed to play at the Sydney Football Stadium was the only other Sydney-based bid. Sydney FC entered the A-League with a five-year city exclusivity deal as part of the league's "one-city, one-team" policy, preventing the establishment of another Sydney-based club until the deal expired.
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. FFA received 10 expressions of interest, two of which from potential Western Sydney based teams. Despite the unsuccessful attempt to establish a Western Sydney-based team in the form of Sydney Rovers (due to financial and technical reasons), FFA were still strongly committed in pursuing a club in the region.
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. 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.
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. The new club would be set up to compete in the 2012–13 season, though despite several attempts by 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. With the October deadline approaching, FFA decided to push through the club by taking on the ownership role themselves. This was helped by securing $4 million from the Australian Government in a grant for the creation and ongoing costs of the club.
As notable Australian soccer players Scott Chipperfield, Tim Cahill and Lucas Neill expressed their support for the Western Sydney-based club, so did the local soccer 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. Following the community forums, FFA launched an online survey to decide on various options for the new club. 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.
On 17 May 2012, former A-League head Lyall Gorman was appointed Chairman of the as yet unnamed club. 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. On 22 May 2012, Popovic's close friend Ante Milicic also joined the club as assistant coach.
On 25 June 2012, the official club name, logo and colours were formally announced. 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. The name 'Wanderers' had been an overwhelming favourite among fans and community groups, with it also paying homage to Wanderers F.C., the first registered soccer club in Australia, who played in the area in 1880.
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, Mateo Poljak, Youssouf Hersi, Iacopo La Rocca and Dino Kresinger. 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. 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.
A slow start into the team's first season soon turned positive as Western Sydney Wanderers quickly emerged as one of the leading soccer clubs in Australia. A historic 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. 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. The success of the club's first season was pitted on first-time coach Popovic who had built the team from its foundations in the space of only five months. Popovic was awarded A-League Coach of the Year and goalkeeper Ante Covic Goalkeeper of the Year. The club's inaugural success, both on and off the field, sparked much interest worldwide, though most notably within Australia, where soccer has often struggled to gain mainstream interest.
The clubs second season saw Brendon Šantalab and Australian international Matthew Špiranović join the team. 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. 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. Nevertheless, the team eventually finished top in their group to progress to the Round of 16. 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. 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, 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. 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.
Prior to the 2014–15 season, the club signed Brazilian midfielder Vitor Saba, as well as Seyi Adeleke, Dutch international Romeo Castelen and Australian international Nikita Rukavytsya. On 12 August 2014, Western Sydney Wanderers competed against Adelaide City in the first round of the inaugural season of the FFA Cup. The match ended 1–0 in favour to Adelaide City, with Wanderers becoming the first professional club to lose to a semi-professional side in the competition. The Cup loss was directly 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. The first match was won by Wanderers 1–0, and a 2–1 loss in the second leg was enough to see the club progress to the semi-finals, due to the away goals rule. The first leg of the semi-final clash against FC Seoul ended in a 0–0 draw. In the return leg, Wanderers defeated FC Seoul 2–0, courtesy to goals from Mateo Poljak and Shannon Cole, which advanced the club to the 2014 AFC Champions League Final. In the first leg of the Champions League final, Wanderers defeated Al-Hilal 1–0 at home, and on 1 November 2014, Western Sydney Wanderers won the AFC Champions League after managing a goalless draw in the second leg of the final against Al-Hilal, winning 1–0 on aggregate courtesy of Tomi Juric's goal. They became the first Australian team to be crowned Asian Champions, an achievement they reached in only their first attempt in the Asian tournament. Prior to the final match, Wanderers were criticised by the opposition coach in the media; after being crowned Asian Champions, Tony Popovic responded by saying, "We were called a small club yesterday - today we are the biggest in Asia". At the 2014 AFC Annual Awards, Western Sydney Wanderers was named Asian Club of the Year, and Tony Popovic Asian Coach of the Year.
The clubs Asian success however, was not replicated in the beginning of the A-League season, with the team managing only three draws out of the first nine matches. The teams poor domestic run was put on hold while the team travelled to Morocco for the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup, where Wanderers faced Mexican side Cruz Azul in a quarter-finals clash on 13 December 2014. After going down to 9-men, Wanderers failed to hold onto the lead late into the match; an unfavourable 3–1 scoreline in extra-time saw Wanderers matched-up against ES Sétif of Algeria in a fifth place play-off. A 2–2 draw led to a penalty shoot-out which finished 5–4 in favour of the African Champions, ending Wanderers' run in the tournament with the team finishing in sixth place. After returning home, the team finished the year at a loss in Wellington, in what was the team's 44th match in all competitions for the calendar year - a record for an Australian club. A short mid-season break gave Popovic the chance to organise the squad for the remainder of the season. This included the addition of Japanese internationals Yūsuke Tanaka and Yojiro Takahagi, as well as Australian-born Kerem Bulut among others as either injury replacements or squad replacements for Vitor Saba, Seyi Adeleke and foundation player Kwabena Appiah. As the season resumed, it became apparent that a heavy schedule would be the teams downfall. Wanderers had to manage entering into the 2015 AFC Champions League group-stage with the former season's rivals Guangzhou Evergrande and FC Seoul as well as rescheduled mid-week league fixtures. After a grueling three months the club ended their third season in the league in ninth position, whilst their Champions League seasons also ended unfavourably with the title-holders eliminated from the group stage, finishing third in their group.
Despite an unfavorable season prior, the beginning of the 2015–16 season saw Popovic extended his initial contract with the club for a further three seasons. The effects from the 2014–15 season were felt by the players, with Popovic turning-over a mass proportion of players in an attempted to rebuild the squad. The exodus of players leaving the club included Ante Covic, Iacopo La Rocca, Mateo Poljak, Labinot Haliti, Matthew Spiranovic, Yūsuke Tanaka, Yojiro Takahagi, Nikita Rukavytsya, Kerem Bulut and Tomi Juric, among others. In their place, Spaniards Dimas Delgado, Alberto Aguilar and Andreu Guerao were brought into the squad, as well as Italian striker Federico Piovaccari.
Colours and badge
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. The kit featured a red and black hoop jersey, white shorts and black socks. 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 home kit. The first away kit included a red and white jersey, black shorts and white socks. The team's current away kit features white and gray hoops with white shorts and 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. 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. Following their success at the 2014 AFC Champions League, the club announced that a star would be added to the top of the club's badge. The new addition was not yet worn by the team until a national standard regarding such symbols was introduced by FFA in January 2015. The new standard allowed the team to wear a gold star in perpetuity and in all competitions in recognition to the Asian title won.
American manufacturer Nike signed a five-year partnership deal to start in the new club's first season. NRMA Insurance signed a three-year partnership as the major sponsor and Westfield a two-year partnership deal to start in Wanderers first season. Mitsubishi Electric signed a multi-year partnership deal for the 2013–14 season and onwards. Visy Industries was announced as the club's major corporate partner for the 2014 AFC Champions League. On 28 November 2014, the club confirmed that NRMA Insurance extended its initial three-year sponsorship for a further three-years.
|Period||Kit manufacturer||Shirt partner|
|2012–2013||Nike||NRMA Insurance / Westfield|
|2013–||NRMA Insurance / Westfield / Mitsubishi Electric|
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. It was initially believed that the club's administration and training facilities would be based at 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.
In 2014, Western Sydney Wanderers proposed to build a centre of excellence, consisting of a training base, offices and a youth academy at Blacktown International Sportspark. As part of the multimillion-dollar elite training base and academy, purpose-built grass playing fields, administration facilities, medical rooms and offices on the southern side of the precinct would be built.
On 26 July 2012, it was officially announced that Parramatta Stadium would be the home ground of the club for all its home games. Lyall Gorman, the club's Chairman, acknowledged that the feedback he had received from the fan forums was in favour of a single home ground and that the club must be based in the Greater Western Sydney. Parramatta Stadium was seen as ideal compared to other alternatives at Sydney Olympic Park, Penrith or Campbelltown as its rectangular size is better suited for games, and it has a capacity of over 20,000.
With football being played year-round at Parramatta Stadium by Western Sydney Wanderers and the Parramatta Eels rugby league club, there is a greater potential for an upgrade and expansion of the stadium to be undertaken. Parramatta Stadium is considering potential expansion from the current capacity of 21,487 up to a capacity of 31,300 seats, by redeveloping the northern and southern ends of the complex. 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.
At the supporter forums held in Parramatta, Penrith, Campbelltown, Rooty Hill, Mount Pritchard, Castle Hill and Bankstown, during the club's formation, panel members and supporters in the audience raised the prospect of the club one day owning its own stadium.
The redevelopment of Fairfield Showground into a soccer-specific stadium for future use by Western Sydney Wanderers has also been brought up. The area has a history in developing national team players, and has supported many National Soccer League clubs as well as clubs still existing in the local New South Wales state leagues. It would also be in a location that is not served by local clubs from Australia's other major football leagues, or cricket's Big Bash League (which runs parallel to the A-League, unlike the other football leagues), allowing for the development of a truly soccer-specific stadium.
Western Sydney Wanderers is one of the A-League's most supported clubs. The main supporters' group for the club is the "Red and Black Bloc" (RBB). The independent group was established in June 2012, with its founding members connecting months before that on online forums and holding meetings at Parramatta's Woolpack Hotel. The group made its first appearance attending the club's first ever game on 25 July 2012, where Wanderers played Nepean FC at Cook Park. 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, whilst The Sydney Morning Herald described the group as "a noisy bunch on the northern hill".
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?". The RBB perform The Poznań at the 80 minute mark of matches, in recognition of the history associated with football in Parramatta as the first ever game of soccer in Australia was played there in the year 1880. 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.
On 2 October 2014, 5,000 Wanderers' supporters attended a live screening of the second leg of the 2014 AFC Champions League Final at Centenary Square, in the Parramatta CBD. The event was followed by thousands of fans turning up to welcome home the newly crowned champions of Asia at Sydney Airport.
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 club's 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. Action was also taken against several individuals, with police later charging three supporters involved in the incident within the following months.
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", 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.
Around the Bloc is the two-time FFDU Football Podcast of the Year winning supporters podcast of Western Sydney Wanderers. The weekly audio podcast includes match reviews, match previews, player interviews and general discussion of the club and other football matters. The first episode of the podcast was published on 25 November 2012.
By the end of their inaugural season Western Sydney Wanderers had grown its membership base to 7,500 people, with the club's total match attendance at home reaching 174,520, with an average of 12,466. By the beginning of their second season, club membership had grown twofold to a set cap of 16,100 members, with over 2,000 in waiting. In addition the second season saw a rise to 193,178 total and 14,860 average attendances to home games. By their third season the club had risen to 18,706 ticketed season members.
Western Sydney Wanderers local rivals are Sydney FC. The rivalry, regarded as the biggest in the A-League, is largely based upon the historical, cultural and geographical "East" versus "West" mentality that takes place throughout sport and life in Sydney. Though the rivalry between the two clubs also stems from the establishment and development of the A-League, which mirrored the pre-existing cultural and social divide of the city. The two clubs first met in Wanderers inaugural season during the first round of the league on 20 October 2012, with Wanderers losing the match 1–0 after a penalty scored by Alessandro Del Piero. 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. 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. In recent years, the derby has been played in front of sold-out crowds, and the support in which both clubs receive has produced an "unrivalled atmosphere and sense of occasion for a club match" in Australia.
Upon establishing Western Sydney Wanderers in April 2012, FFA attempted to find a backer to own and run the club. 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 club's existence with Lyall Gorman appointed Chairman.
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. Along with Lederer, Jefferson Cheng, Glenn Duncan and David Slade were part of the consortium of owners. The new ownership became effective as of 30 June 2014.
Australian squads are limited to 26 players in the league competition, five of whom may be without an Australian citizenship and three players must be under 20 years of age. The squad list includes only the principal nationality of each player; some players on the squad have dual citizenship with another country.
First team squad
- As of 4 July 2015
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
|Chief executive officer||John Tsatsimas|
|Head coach||Tony Popovic|
|Assistant Coach||Hayden Foxe|
|Assistant Coach||Andrés Carrasco|
|Goalkeeping coach||Zeljko Kalac|
|Assistant goalkeeping coach||Davide Del Giovine|
|Strength & conditioning coach||Scott Smith|
|Technical director||Ian Crook|
|Foxtel National Youth League Coach||Trevor Morgan|
|Equipment manager||Slavisla Djukic|
|2012–Present||Tony Popovic||A-League Premiers: 2012–13
A-League Coach of the Year: 2012–13
AFC Champions League: 2014
Asian Coach of the Year: 2014
Ante Čović currently holds the team record for number of total games played with 71 matches. Nikolai Topor-Stanley has the second most appearances for the club with 67 matches. Mark Bridge is the third most capped player with 64 matches.
Western Sydney Wanderers all-time highest goalscorer in all competitions is Mark Bridge with 20 goals. The players with the second most goals scored for Wanderers are Shinji Ono and Tomi Juric, who have both scored 11 goals for the club.
Wanderers highest home A-League attendance at Parramatta Stadium is 19,585 for a Sydney Derby match on 23 March 2013, whilst the club's highest attendance in any competition at Parramatta Stadium is 20,053, set in the 2014 AFC Champions League Final first leg against Al-Hilal FC. The highest home attendance at any stadium for Western Sydney Wanderers is 42,102 for the 2013 A-League Grand Final at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday 21 April 2013.
Asia clubs ranking
- As of September 1, 2015 
|34||Al Shabab (Dubai)||462,84|
|35||Western Sydney Wanderers FC||455,10|
|37||El Jaish SC||442,94|
- A-League Finals
- Winners (1): 2014
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