As we rapidly approach the beginning of a new A-League season and the exciting prospect of more achievement from the Western Sydney Wanderers, I think it’s only proper to take a look back at what marked out the special nature of the first full season of the Wanderers. To that end I have been posting what I consider to be the Top 100 highlights for the Wanderers over the 2012/13 season on my Twitter feed (@thoughtsofAGM), and will be continuing this right up to the kick-off at Blue Tongue Stadium in Gosford at 5.30PM on Saturday 12th October, when the team and supporters will be looking for some degree of revenge over the Central Coast Mariners.
Please feel free to comment or query these selections, and I am happy to admit that all these entries are very subjective (and to be honest could be in a different order that I have listed below). Today I am looking at those highlights ranked 100 to 91:
100: Mateo Poljak’s first goal for the Wanderers, against Adelaide United in Round 19
As one of the foreign players recruited to the Wanderers Matteo Poljak formed a significant part of the midfield defence during 2012/13, however he wasn’t always satisfied with stopping the opposition’s goals. As shown in the third match against AUFC during 2012/13, and the second away game for WSW at Hindmarsh Stadium Poljak was a deft hand when it came to getting forward and helping with the attack. In what was another drubbing for the Reds at the hands of the Wanderers Poljak’s goal took the game out of the home side’s reach, with the final score 4-2.
99. The RBB’s Tifos at the second Sydney Derby
In a stark reminder of the neglect that Sydney FC had shown towards the western suburbs during the pre-Wanderers era of the A-League the Red & Black Bloc eloquently yet simply reminded everyone of where the supporters for the new team came from.
98. Yianni Perkatis makes his senior Wanderers debut against Newcastle Jets, Round 27
With the Wanderers under the pump in terms of injuries and suspensions, the final match of teh regular A-League season saw the team travel to the Jets home ground without Aaron Mooy and his nominal replacement Iacopo La Rocca. Coach Tony Popovic elevated WSW National Youth League midfielder Yianni Perkatis into the starting line-up and the 19 year old showed great potential in his debut. Though slight of frame his stamina and speed was up to the task, and at times he showed that in future years he can regularly slot into the Wanderers’ senior team.
97. Jerome Polenz’s goal-saving tackle against Melbourne Victory, Round 21
During the amazing 11 game winning streak for the Wanderers the backbone of this achievement was the back four of D’Apuzzo, Topor-Stanley, Beauchamp and Polenz. If ever these four defenders earned their salary it was in the away game down at AAMI Stadium against the Melbourne Victory in round 21. Time and again Ange’s men probed at the goal and in what was one of the most freakish defensive achievements of the game and season German right back Jerome Polenz denied Andrew Nabbout a certain score with a sliding tackle that cleanly took the ball within mere microseconds from beating goalie Antie Covic. Polenz came away from this 2-1 victory for the Wanderers a much deserved man of the match For more on this moment (which on reflection deserves to be much higher) visit http://redandblackgif.com/
96. Kwabena Appiah-Kubi comes back to the western suburbs and joins the Wanderers
As one of numerous young football players cultivated by the junior ranks of western Sydney, fleet-footed right wing player Kwabena Appiah-Kubi was one of the first to be signed to the Wanderers. By season’s end he had become a very useful back-up for his senior colleague Youssouf Hersi.
95. The B-Team and their Nikolai Topor-Stanley skit
Probably the funniest moment off-field for the Wanderers during 2012/13 was this clever take on NTS and his booming clearances:
94. The first ever a-League away game for the Western Sydney Wanderers, Round 2
As early as this game against Adelaide at Hindmarsh the Wanderers defence demonstrated that it would frustrate more fancied teams in 2012/13. Although the Reds won 1-0 the game showed portents of future solidity within Tony Popovic’s defensive structures.
93. Julia Gillard visits the Wanderers
When considering the birth of the Western Sydney Wanderers hopefully someone will accord the Adelaide raised and Melbourne based Labor PM the honour of being one of the most crucial midwives for the club. Without Julia Gillard’s agreement to the initial funding proposal for the Wanderers in conjunction with the FFA it would have been well nigh impossible for the Wanderers to have been launched when and how they were. During her March 2013 campaign to woo the voters of western Sydney (prior to her dumping as PM) Gillard came to a Wanderers training session (and figured in one of the funniest photos of the season):
92. Kevin Sheedy loses the plot and floats the conspiracy theory against the Wanderers
If ever two sports clubs were utterly different in terms of core values, community connection and success the Western Sydney Wanderers and the AFL’s ‘frankenstein’ imposition of the ill-named GWS Giants are the most powerful examples of such a contrast. As the Wanderers debut season earned plaudits, garnered major success on and off the field and became without doubt the best Australian sports story of the the last two years, the self-promoting Melburnian Kevin Sheedy was reduced to railing against the migrant background of the very area he was trying to win over (and failing to do so) with his impotent franchise. the manner in which Lyall Gorman and the club responded to the thinly veiled xenophobia of Sheedy and the rejection of what he and his club represented to western Sydney was a stark reminder of how powerful football passions were in favour of the Wanderers’ first season.
91. Tony Popovic knocks back Michael Ballack
Much of the gossip pre-season regarding the Wanderers debut marquee player featured on German star and ex-EPL and Bundesliga player Michael Ballack. Whilst many people (including the author of this post) were keen to see Ballack come down under and don the red and black Tony Popovic and the club decided in the end that Ballack was not who was needed, and instead the Japanese legend Shinjo Ono was brought to WSW. In terms of Ballack’s response to this decision (his almost immediate retirement) and the achievements of Ono both on and off teh field, there can be no doubt that Popa and the Wanderers’ management got this major decision 100% correct.