Have the Wanderers achieved anything yet?

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    Western Sydney Wanderers win the Premiers Plate (Image: Dean Lewis/AAP)

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    When Archie Thompson slammed home the winner for Melbourne Victory yesterday, he put the gloss on a stunning end to what was arguably the best regular season campaign of the A-League to date.

    Victory’s 3-2 win over the plucky Wellington Phoenix was surprisingly enthralling stuff, as the visitors fought to stay above Adelaide United in the standings while the Phoenix aimed to give retiring goalkeeper Mark Paston a fitting send-off.

    Phoenix striker Jeremy Brockie was also chasing Mariners veteran Daniel McBreen in the race for the Golden Boot and when Brockie finished a Paul Ifill cross to level the scores at 2-2, he appeared to have set up a grandstand finish.

    That Thompson put paid to Wellington’s hopes of lifting themselves off the bottom of the table with a fabulously worked set piece was ultimately a moot point.

    Victory will still need to battle their way through the finals – starting with a home clash against a resurgent Perth Glory – while the Phoenix must clearly rebuild over the off-season.

    But the fact is Victory’s final-day win says much about the quality of the 27 rounds of football we have witnessed this season.

    The coup de grace was a spectacular final round which featured dramatic victories, big crowds, stunning saves and some special goals.

    It started with Brisbane Roar’s comfortable 3-1 win over Sydney FC on Thursday night, a result which lifted Mike Mulvey’s side into the finals.

    That left Sky Blues fans in the uncomfortable position of hoping cross-town rivals Western Sydney beat the Jets in Newcastle to extend Sydney FC’s campaign – at least for 24 hours.

    The Wanderers duly delivered, collecting the Premiers’ Plate with an emphatic 3-0 win and sparking wild celebrations among their travelling support.

    Central Coast Mariners then wrapped up second spot in the standings with a 2-1 win over Melbourne Heart which saw 35-year-old McBreen finish the season on top of the goal-scoring charts.

    Meanwhile, a spectacular Danny Vukovic save from the last kick of the game against Adelaide United ensured it was Perth Glory – and not Sydney FC – who wrapped up the sixth and final playoff position, as the Glory drew 1-1 with the Reds in front of a big crowd at NIB Stadium.

    Both Perth and Brisbane’s respective late-season comebacks were noteworthy, but of course the real story is the inaugural season form of Western Sydney.

    Tipped by most pundits to struggle, the Wanderers instead finished top of the table after mounting an outstanding second half to the campaign.

    Somewhat farcically the Wanderers weren’t actually presented with the Premiers’ Plate at Hunter Stadium, which conjures the question of whether they’ve actually accomplished anything yet?

    Take nothing away from Tony Popovic’s side – the Wanderers are clearly the story of the A-League season to date – but if they fail to win the championship, have they really won anything at all?

    This debate seems to be as old as the A-League itself but instead of looking towards other footballing nations, it’s hard to understand why we don’t just look towards our other domestic codes.

    I doubt Hawthorn fans could care less that their team finish top of the table in the AFL last year given that the Hawks ultimately lost the grand final to the Sydney Swans, and I should imagine that’s how the level-headed Popovic will feel should Western Sydney fail to be crowned champions.

    It’s disconcerting to see so many supposedly informed football fans claiming that other Asian Football Confederation member nations don’t host finals football when the reality is that until relatively recently, both the J. League and the K-League were enthusiastic proponents of playoff football.

    At any rate, the Wanderers deserve wholehearted congratulations for the monumental accomplishment of finishing top of the table.

    They’ve won fans everywhere as the A-League’s fairytale team – now the question is whether they can finish the story by lifting the championship trophy.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (62)

    • April 1st 2013 @ 7:32am
      Mwm said | April 1st 2013 @ 7:32am | ! Report

      Well it’s obvious they have won the Premiers plate…. So there’s that.

      I love finals football and I know it might sound sacrilege to football fans , but I only recognise the champions ie; those who have won the final.

      I couldn’t really care less what other nations do, this is how we do it.

    • April 1st 2013 @ 7:38am
      Johnno said | April 1st 2013 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      AFC champion’s league qualification
      The Premier’s plate
      Big crowds
      Passionate fans

      Maybe nothing long term, but achieved more than the Nix, ever have.
      Defiantley get a rookie of the year gong to add to there achievements

    • Roar Guru

      April 1st 2013 @ 8:13am
      Cameron Kellett said | April 1st 2013 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      For the traditionalists the Wanderers have won the greatest prize – Premiers Plate. It rewards consistency throughout 27 rounds of A-league action in which they overcame more than 2 obstacles (knock-out games).
      This is essence can also be deemed a true champion but the job isn’t done and Popovic has already recognised this by saying its not over yet and we want to win the grand final for more football or soccer followers place more significance on this, prestigious day.

      As much as I love and appreciate the Premiers plate its the Grand Final I look forward to the most.
      Now that their is once again a chance to qualify for ACL the significance of this trophy is just as important.

      It may be upsetting to those more traditional football followers if anyone besides the top two win the championship, but that is what separates a more logical, conservative and consistent approach to a more battle harded approach where, one mistake can be the difference.

      Both play an important role in the A-league and Wanderers have definitely achieved something but to show that little bit extra and win the finals is the icing on the cake.

      Go Brisbane Roar.

      I personally think Wanderers, victory or Roar will win the finals.

      • Roar Guru

        April 1st 2013 @ 3:05pm
        apaway said | April 1st 2013 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

        The traditionalists? Kellet, I’ve played football in this country at a variety of levels for more than 40 years and have NEVER played in a league where the champions were decided by the team that finished first at the end of the home and away rounds.

        • Roar Guru

          April 1st 2013 @ 5:30pm
          Cameron Kellett said | April 1st 2013 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

          Apaway,

          Traditionalists? Those who place more value on premiers plate and not Grand Final.
          Me? I’m on the fence and value both but enjoy the championship more.

        • April 1st 2013 @ 5:56pm
          The Bear said | April 1st 2013 @ 5:56pm | ! Report

          Apaway.. many if not most, footballing (ie the World Game) traditions in the “world” place first past the post as THE achievement. Let’s not quibble about the name this is called …

          • Roar Guru

            April 1st 2013 @ 6:08pm
            apaway said | April 1st 2013 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

            The Bear

            I’m not quibbling about the name and take Kellet’s point. However, while it might be “traditional” for a football champion to be decided by the first-past-the-post method in Europe, it certainly isn’t in Australia. I think that while the A-League champions are decreed to be the Grand Final winner, just as it has been in the national competition since 1988, that teams “thinking” they are the champions because they finish first seems counter-productive.

            • Roar Guru

              April 1st 2013 @ 6:16pm
              Cameron Kellett said | April 1st 2013 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

              Apaway,

              Do you think I regard the premiers as champions? I said in essence. I regard Roar as the current champions.

            • April 1st 2013 @ 6:48pm
              Qantas supports Australian Football said | April 1st 2013 @ 6:48pm | ! Report

              As a SFC supporter .. I think most football purists would accept first past the post are the real champions—even tho we have it arse up in Australia.. I count the days when we finally get it right here, it can’t come soon enough.

              • April 1st 2013 @ 7:01pm
                Bondy said | April 1st 2013 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

                Q,

                Whats difficult to is that Australian supporters like myself have been watching the F.A. Cup “and the concept of it ” national doemstic cup knockout for thirty years,something no other sport in Australia has, an exclusive cup comp that includes every sporting club in the country that contests the sport.

                Most dont dislike the finals series its just getting past the post first throughout the domestic season is of greater value to some than say Brisbane Roar winning the G.F. again this season,which can happen.

              • April 1st 2013 @ 10:38pm
                Ian said | April 1st 2013 @ 10:38pm | ! Report

                don’t see any problem with Brisbane winning the GF, if we do, again. Premiers in 2011 and finished 2nd by 2 points in 2012 while we were on the rise and CCM on the slide. Hardly a trend of coming from 5th position to win it.

                Don’t see an issue with calling the first past the post winner the Premiers and the Grand Final winner the Champions.
                Though I disagree with any football fan who calls the Premiers the Minor Premiers. The MP term is for league, and afl.

    • April 1st 2013 @ 8:52am
      Black&Gold said | April 1st 2013 @ 8:52am | ! Report

      Like Johnno said, Asian champions league. I’m even thinking the Wanderers supporters (although quite small) will travel to Asia which would be unprecedented.
      If the GF is at Parramatta, it will have an electric atmosphere, and this might get the Wanderers over the line.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/the-roar/id327174726?mt=8].

      • April 1st 2013 @ 8:59am
        MV Dave said | April 1st 2013 @ 8:59am | ! Report

        Grand Final, if WSW make it, will be at SFS…it has already been decided.

        • Roar Pro

          April 1st 2013 @ 10:25pm
          West said | April 1st 2013 @ 10:25pm | ! Report

          ANZ Stadium is still an option.

          • April 1st 2013 @ 10:34pm
            Ian said | April 1st 2013 @ 10:34pm | ! Report

            ANZ stadium has a two day music festival to my knowledge on April 20 and April 21. with Van Halen playing with David Lee Roth. They should do a proper tour.

      • April 1st 2013 @ 9:38am
        Punter said | April 1st 2013 @ 9:38am | ! Report

        I am thinking the Wanderers supporters will take to the ACL like no other. This is exciting.

    • April 1st 2013 @ 9:11am
      MV Dave said | April 1st 2013 @ 9:11am | ! Report

      Yep Wanderers have achieved plenty….first and foremost they are the Premier team in the biggest, and arguably best, season in the short history of HAL. However it would seem to me the most important aspect of the Wanderers impact on the HAL has been the connection they have brought between a Football heartland and the National competition. Not only have they brought a connection but they seem, at this stage, to have united the tribes out West. Long may it continue because the potential is massive, if the administrators of the club continue to work for the benefit of both the team and the fans…whose impact cannot be understated.
      Hopefully my Victory can reach the Grand Final and play the Wanderers…now that could be huge!

      • April 1st 2013 @ 10:43pm
        Ian said | April 1st 2013 @ 10:43pm | ! Report

        the game will be sold out no matter what teams make the grand final. if its in Melbourne you can only play at AAMI Park, as Etihad has AFL games on April 21. In Sydney only the 40,000 SFS is available. If Roar and Glory make it its at Suncorp with 50,000 plus.

        Let’s make it at Suncorp.

    • April 1st 2013 @ 9:18am
      Bondy said | April 1st 2013 @ 9:18am | ! Report

      It could be seen as an insult for anyone to suggest the Wanderers haven’t acheived by not winning the G.F., what is the regular season for ? why play for points at all throughout the season if its not seen as worthy or of residual worth by football supporters and clubs?.

      Knockout football is ok its fine, but ultimately you dont genuinely find the ‘true” heroes of your league in this fashion.

      Every HA.L game on the weekend had something in it results wise technically there was no dead rubber not even the last match between The Nix and The Victory, Victory reamined third The Nix take the wooden spoon and Heart just avoid it.

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