What’s in a name? A lot, it would seem, when it comes to naming a new club arising from a merger of two older clubs, each with their own identities.
A proposed merger between State League 4 club Waverley Wanderers FC and Monash City has fallen over at the last hurdle following a rejection of City’s proposal of the new name by senior members of the Waverley committee.
The merger would have seen Monash City FC with its strong junior base but no seniors teams, join forces with Waverley Wanderers which has senior teams at State League Division 4 level, but only two registered junior teams.
The potential benefits of the merger to both clubs appealed to the members at their respective AGMs.
Waverley Wanderers (also known as Waverley AEK) has spent much of its existence in the lower divisions of the state leagues. The merger with Monash would have meant an expansion of its junior teams, a source of young players for its mens and womens teams, and a strong growth in membership. For Monash, a senior team representation would provide its junior players with a pathway to develop from junior right through to senior level, and allow the club the opportunity to retain talented junior and youth players.
In a letter to Monash City members prior to its AGM, club president Angelo Zissis prefaced the merger proposal by stressing the importance of “protecting our club ethos, culture and reputation. We needed to ensure Monash City FC did not lose its identity or our standing within the community”.
Monash City proposed that the name of the newly merged club would be ‘Monash City Wanderers FC’. And this, according to outgoing Waverley Wanderers president Paul Aravanis (who is a strong supporter of the merger), was a major sticking point for senior members of the Waverley Wanderers committee, himself excluded.
“The Waverley people thought the name would disappear in a couple of years, the name of AEK,” Aravanis told Neos Kosmos.
“They were scared the identity would disappear in a couple of years because Monash are the stronger club – with a very strong junior base – and they felt threatened, so basically that was it. They’ve pulled out and they’re going to go it alone. It’s disappointing because it would have meant the local council would’ve backed us 100 per cent, no questions asked, because you would have had a seniors, reserves, masters, thirds and 300 juniors under your belt.
“It’s disappointing because if the merger went ahead, Waverley would have had a hell of a future. I’m gutted because I really wanted it to happen. I didn’t care about the names – in terms of Greek aspects – because it’s an ethnic thing. You can’t keep ethnic names.
“The Monash City people are really upset and I really feel for them, because they’re very genuine people.”
Monash City president Angelo Zissis also told Neos Kosmos of his disappointment in the outcome.
“Unfortunately, Waverley Wanderers, with the work that we put in over the last six months, even though they voted at their AGM to proceed, it’s disappointing that some of their committee members withdrew their support.”
According to Zissis, his club satisfied the Wanderers’ criteria.
“The senior team would be wearing the Wanderers colours. Their logo would be on the senior shirt next to our logo and the Wanderers’ name would be part of the corporation. We satisfied their criteria. Unfortunately for us, after the AGM they changed their mind for whatever reason …
“For us it was all about securing our future for the club. Unfortunately, for the Waverley Wanderers committee, they’ve got no clear vision for the club, because the entity would have been a very strong entity with some really good senior and junior representation. It would’ve become a very strong community-based club within the area.
“They decided to go back on their own, which is surprising. We’ll stick to plan A, which will be to go through with seniors and reserves next year. We’ll proceed with that process without them, without the merger. That ship has sailed. We won’t be entertaining any future negotiations with them.”
Waverley Wanderers’ outgoing president Aravanis says the Wanderers will also go it alone after the failure of the merger talks.
“They’re going to try and set up their own way. Try and get in a proper junior coordinator to oversee the junior development. There are two fully-registered junior teams. They’re going to try and have five or six teams. I personally think it’s hard, because of being in the same catchment area of Kingston, Bentleigh, Oakleigh. I think it’s very, very hard.”
Conflict of interest disclosure: The reporter played for Waverley Wanderers from 1999-2001, but has had no affiliation with the club since.