The Perfect Storm Ends Tonight

Western Sydney Wanderers v Kashima Antlers
Asian Champions League Group Stage
Parramatta Stadium
21st April 2015

The weather event in Sydney is reflective of the short history of the Wanderers. It came from seemingly nowhere, quickly building in strength capturing the lives of all those cast in its spell.

A premiership in the inaugural season, consecutive Grand Final appearances and Asian Champions at the start of season three, it was a perfect storm.

Entering into this season Tony Popovic said the ACL would not be used as a crux if A-league results weren’t up to standard this year. At the season launch he said “to be a successful club we have to play 40 games a year. It means playing A-League Finals, going deep into the new FFA Cup and progressing past the group stage of the ACL.”

So what’s happened between seasons two and three for the Wanderers?

The capital investment came from the FFA and as such they were the owners of the franchise.

The first recruitment coups came in the building of the front office with the appointment of Lyall Gorman as CEO and Popovic as head coach.

The on field recruitment was equally impressive, building a style of play around Shinji Ono, Mark Bridge and Youssuf Hersi, while defence built on Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Michael Beauchamp and Ante Covic in goal.

But after the 2nd season, as planned, the FFA divested themselves from the ownership of the club and then took their time approving the new ownership model.

In the meantime transfer windows came and went. Without the certainty of new ownership, whoever they were going to be, Gorman and Popovic didn’t have any money to play with. Ono, Hersi, surprise packet Aaron Mooy and Jerome Polenz signed deals with clubs that had their money guaranteed.

The squad hadn’t been finalised by the time the new ownership took charge and they were knocked out by Adelaide City in their first game of the FFA Cup.

The signing of Romeo Castelan and Nikita Ruykavitsa was so delayed they were ineligible to play in the ACL.

As the team headed off for the World Club Challenge in Morocco it emerged the players were in dispute with the new owners as to how prize money was to be distributed. Never a good sign.

Between September and December they had done return trips to United Arab Emirates, China, Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Not even Kevin Rudd in his time as Foreign Minister racked up that sort of mileage.

Lyall Gorman has since gone off to fix the basket case that is the Cronulla Sharks.

Before you know it the A-League almost over and Wanderers have only won four games in the A-League. The ACL is all we’ve got to play for now.

The stadium surface is remarkable considering the conditions and running into the strong southerly gale the Wanderers have had a good flow of the play and deserve their goal to Ruykavitsa in the 25th minute. The Japanese seem out of sorts.

The second half is a different game with the Antlers dominating and it was only a matter of time before they equalised.

Three minutes of time added on and against the recent run of play the visitors score again. The Wanderers wretched season is now over.

The pressure is now on the board and their CEO to build a new chapter in the short history of this club.

The storm has passed. The foundations are still solid. Let’s see what the new owners can build with a proper preparation for season four.  I’ll still be singing.

Western Sydney Wanderers 1. Rukavytsya 24′
Kashima Antlers 2. Doi 66′ Kanazaki 91′

Crowd 5,221

About Wayne Ball

Tragic fan of the Australian and NSW cricket teams (for those of you outside NSW, there is a difference, despite what David Hookes said). Not a fan of T20. Penrith Panthers are the only club of decency and all which is good in Rugby League, the Waratah's were once the national team of Rugby Union, the first non Victorian team in the VFL/AFL is the Sydney Swans, and they all enjoy my passionate support. Sings for Wanderers. Internationally, I have been to see the Oakland Athletics and Green Bay Packers play. One day, I'll see Norwich City play for the FA Cup at Wembley.


  1. The Philby says

    I’ll be damned if the weather tonight hasn’t been a metaphor for the last year at Wanderland! It’s been a hell of a ride…

    Very much the result that was expected. And in a sense, the best possible result for a very tired club right now. Another grand ACL tilt would have been too much.

    Reflection is badly required and thankfully, the Wanderers will have that over winter. I look forward to seeing how the club and the squad can (hopefully) bounce back, come Spring.

  2. Peter Fuller says

    Thanks Wayne for this useful context to the Wanderers’ circumstances this season. I think of myself as taking a passing interest in A-League clubs other than my own – I support Melbourne (Heart of the) City, as I characterise them. However until I read your post, I hadn’t been aware of the ownership machinations that had afflicted your team. I’m very grateful it coughed up Aaron Mooy for us, though, as he has been terrific.

    Bad luck tonight, and best wishes for a revival in 2105-16. The Wanderers still seem to have the pre-conditions for longer term competitiveness – good coach, a reasonable list and passionate support (provided that is maintained during this less successful period).

  3. Dennis Gedling says

    Great stuff Wayne. I’ve felt (like others) that the true test for Wanderers and their fans is this season as it has been a ye test of faith on and off the pitch. So long as they still have the hearts and minds of the greater Western Sydney community and they’ve learned from this season hopefully it will be okay. Would gladly swap Sage for your owners if you’re keen.

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