What started as a dream fast became much bigger.
There are few sporting clubs and sport-based companies that are doing more for National sport than Western United and Western Melbourne Group right now. To know the story of Western Melbourne Group one must first know the story of the A-League’s surprise package being Western United.
In April 2017, Socceroo Steve Horvat kick-started the conversation with Wyndham City Council about bringing a professional football team to the West of Melbourne. A year later, after the preliminary discussions with Wyndham City Council, Western Melbourne Group made an official bid that turned a dream into a reality. You see when it comes to football in Australia, there’s a rather large ‘do it yourself attitude’. Football simply doesn’t receive the same support AFL receives. There’s a reason the EPL and Champions League have become monoliths within football. Money, political support and financial freedom has allowed football to become the world game. While other countries have access to a lot more, Australia has never seemed to give the world game what it deserves.
Back to Western United. With a successful bid, the West was granted a football team. While Western United was born, it was born with no home, no supporters, and it had a mere three months to prepare for its shock entrance into the A-League. With no players, no coach, no ground and no supporters, three months may as well have been one week. Panagiotis Kone became Western United’s first player when he signed for the Club in February 2019, just two weeks before the name and colour announcement, officially turning the West green and black.
Western United’s first season was akin to something out of a movie. The ‘green and black’ made the finals in its first A-League appearance. Fans of the club and rival fans alike were given no choice but to respect the youngest member of the league, ‘the new kid on the block’. With no home ground, Western United built a club on a love for the great game of football. The response to a Melbourne team in the West spread like wildfire. Fans flocked to games sporting green and black, all to see United’s latest signing Alessandro Diamanti. If the name rings a bell its because Diamnti has a well-decorated football history. Diamanti, an Italian professional footballer who captains Western United as a midfielder previously played for Prato, Empoli, Fucecchio, Fiorentina, AlbinoLeffe, West Ham United, Brescia, Bologna, Guangzhou Evergrande, Watford, Atalanta, Palermo, Perugia and Livorno.
Western United in its second season showed flare, and played with a passion we come to expect from teams all around the world. There was something different in the air at Western United. Perhaps it was the ‘against all odds spirit’, everyone loves an underdog and Western United transitioned from underdog to top-contender. Clubs fear playing the green and black. The sound of the green and black army started as a whisper, and soon became a roar. With little under a year, Western Melbourne’s vision of creating football culture in the West had spread right through the A-League. While Western Melbourne’s vision for a team in the West had become a reality, there was still work to be done on a greater vision to help the sporting code on a National level.
That vision included a 15,000 seat football stadium designed to give a premium fan experience and the first fully soccer-owned senior stadium in Australia, with in-club accomodation, offices, training facilities and changing rooms. It’s hard to believe there isn’t a designated soccer stadium in our country, but that’s the sad fact. Aside from the fearless drive of the Wyndham City Council, Western Melbourne Group needed to manufacture this dream from nothing. While the stadium is the main citadel, it isn’t the only vision for the West’s new sporting arena.
“Western Melbourne Group’s vision is to develop a unique sports and events precinct that hosts a thriving commercial CBD, promoting a residential lifestyle with elite sporting facilities in Melbourne’s premiere growth area.”
What started as a hopeful quote became more than words today as Western United Chairman, Jason Sourasis spoke to the attendees as the Regional Football Facility in Tarneit officially began construction. From a dream to bring a team to the West became a dream to promote football on a National level. A dedicated football stadium and suburb unlike we have ever seen.
Construction arrives at a wondrous time for the West as Western United are placed second on the A-League table having drawn with Melbourne City last weekend. The new head coach and Australian icon John Aloisi has taken the green and black to another level in the hopes of claiming ultimate glory by the end of the 2022 season. From a global pandemic to being one of the newest kids on the block, Western United and Western Melbourne Group have manufactured something out of nothing, promoting the great game of football on a level we hope to see more of.