Western Suburbs soccer club ensured its 50th anniversary year will be etched on to its honours roll after winning the State League NW title on Saturday with an emphatic 4-0 home win over Corio.
It’s the fifth State League title for the club founded in 1965 and the first since 2006.
For coach Terry Antoniadis, it’s proven to be the happiest of homecomings. This season marks his return to the club where he started as a junior player and went on to make his senior debut under a young fledgling coach by the name of Ang Postecoglou.
Antoniadis told Neos Kosmos “the scenes at the club were amazing. You wish you could bottle it, just recall it forever. I haven’t been able to wipe the smile off my face.”
The physical education teacher has strong family ties with the club, his dad being a long time member and volunteer and his brother and sister both having played for the club. “It’s a special club for us. And to win the title there in my first year back is obviously a great feeling.
“For such a small club, such a loyal group of people who have worked ever so hard to keep the club going all these years, for us to have achieved what we’ve done this year, is a great feeling and a credit to everyone involved.”
Antoniadis inherited about half of last season’s squad which finished mid-table and brought in a number of new faces. The squad gelled quickly around the strong leadership group of captain Dale Thompson, Andy Bourakis, William Texeira and Goran Petrovski of whom the coach said “They were very valuable because they really helped drive the group and everyone else followed. We’ve developed a real good culture on and off the park and I’ve got no doubt that that’s one of the key reasons for the success this year.”
On taking the reins in preseason, Antoniadis identified improving the defensive structure of the team as a priority. The team managed to find Carlos Espinoza, “a wonderful goal keeper with a wonderful pedigree having represented Chile at U20 level”.
Whilst pre-season form was indifferent, the team got off to a promising start, winning four of its first six matches. In private, the coach expressed confidence that the group could be title contenders. And so it turned out despite a couple of stutters towards the finish line.
Antoniadis says he’s benefited by having played under some wonderful coaches including Chris Taylor at Altona East and Sunshine George Cross, Peter Ollerton at a couple of clubs, and Mike Chatzitrifonas at Western Suburbs and Richmond. “I’m still in contact with Michael. He’s a wonderful mentor for me. Always very generous with his time.”
Western Suburbs president Stavros Kalaitzoglou was full of praise for the players and the coach when he spoke to Neos Kosmos.
“It means a lot for the club. A great achievement for the boys. They worked their butts off. They said they’d get it and they did. Terry has done an outstanding job with the boys. He’s put in a lot of time. He’s very well spoken, Terry. I think, just the way he communicates with his players. They listen to everything he tells them. They respect him, they look up to him, they love him. We couldn’t be happier with him.”
And of the club’s future ambitions, president Kalaitoglou said: “At the moment we’d like to push into the NPL. We’re thinking of merging with another club so we can meet the requirement to go to the NPL because we need more junior teams. We’re going to have a meeting next week and take it from there.”