And wow, how times have changed. We no longer call it Soccer. It’s now Football. The world game’s name.
We have a new regional team as national champion’s ? Newcastle Jets, only the second regional team to ever win a national football championship. Only a back to back championship next season for the Jets will haul in the might of Wollongong’s proud history and their past feats be equaled.
Wollongong’s once proud traditions that now look like a distant memory.
The wind of change has swept through almost every part of Australia leaving Wollongong’s close knit town way off in the distance. But for how long?
It’s time to get on the road again.
Wollongong has a new approach from top to bottom and bottom to top and have reinforced their foundations that are being cemented by some of those past players that have once graced the fields of their wildest sporting dreams.
CEO ? Jock Morlando, Under 14’s coach – David Skeen, Technical Director of WFC Junior’s ? Glenn Fontana, Youth Coach ? Peter Willis, Assistant Youth ? Richard Lloyd, Club Goalkeeping Coach ? Warwick Young, sometime Youth Assistant ? Peter Kotamanidis just to name a few are just some of the seasoned professionals in their own right not to mention others involved in capacities of previous tenure that are guiding the newly named Wollongong FC into new ground.
The club has seen a new branding with the emphasis on Wollongong FC, encompassing ALL of the region and not just the former Wolves sponsors and supporters. There has been a shake up of the Junior’s set up, ensuring these former greats instill into the clubs future a sense of belonging and ownership to these kids who will down the track choose Wollongong as a necessity in their senior football and not as an option. Time will tell if the new direction will bear fruit and the club is in it for the long haul.
Off the field there is growth also. For some years since the club left it’s former home Brandon Park at Fairy Meadow there was a sense of loss for all football supporters in the area, but the club has invested along with Wollongong Olympic in not only a re-creation of the facilities that were shared at BP but an improvement on those facilities. The Lysaght’s Recreation Ground’s complex is rising from the ground with historical stature. The new 4-5,000 seat stand being built on the western side of the new grounds is just proof of the bigger and better plans that lie ahead for the once proud club’s. The former BP stand is engulfed by a full extension incorporating numerous new boxes on the top level as well as catering for office space and potential retail spaces not seen in the old stand. It is by far a much larger vision that the generous pioneers are setting out for Football in the Illawarra over there at the Figtree site.
The time has come to now prepare for the projected growth and not only grab back their past traditions but also encompass the Unified vision that the local game is striding towards and rally together to see this once proud region regain it’s title as the undisputed regional giant that it promised to be. This is only a small part in the Football Foundations of the Illawarra region and it is Wollongong FC’s charter to be the pathway to the future success. With the region’s A-League bid team working professionally and calculatedly in the background to ensure the pathway is complete, it is up to the fans now to get on their feet and vote with numbers not unlike the rest of our proud nation and prove once and for all that our code now deserves the respect that all of us have craved for.
Wollongong fans will once again be the pride of the league’s and it all starts here in the NSW State Premier League and with their opponents just kilometers up the road there is no excuse why their once proud band of supporters can again show their team and opposition fans that the Illawarra Region is the true home of football.
Here are some pictures of fans and their past interstate travels during our tenure in the National Soccer League which ended for Wollongong back in the 2003/2004 season.
The Illawarra region boasts the oldest existing Football Club in Australia ? Balgownie Rangers who were formed in 1883. The Illawarra Football Association Competition is also one of the oldest existing run competitions in Australia.
– Andrew Byron