It’s not out of the ordinary for a teenage Australian to sign for a big European club. What is unusual is that two A-League clubs had Cristian Volpato in their youth systems and both came to the same conclusion: he wasn’t good enough.
The Western Sydney Wanderers have topped the average crowd count at the completion of the 2020-21 A-League home-and-away season.
Despite their team having a roller coaster season, the red and black faithful still turned up in decent numbers, which saw them finish eighth and miss out on finals action for a fourth consecutive season.
A total of 104,801 fans turned up at the Wanderers’ 13 home games at Bankwest Stadium, giving an average of 8061. Sydney FC finished second with 7813, while the league average was 5660.
Western United finished bottom of the crowd count, averaging only 3290 fans in a season that saw them play at four different home grounds. New kids on the block Macarthur FC averaged 3532.
The Wanderers were expected to challenge for post-season action this season, but a lean patch in the middle of the season – which saw them go six games without a win – put paid to that.
The Wanderers have finished in the top four in terms of average crowds for all but one of the nine seasons they have been in the A-League, and that was 2018-19, their final season at Olympic Park.
The Wanderers’ final membership tally in 2020-21 was well over 18,000 with more than 10,000 ticketed members.
Their biggest crowd was 20,336 in the Round 19 derby against the Sky Blues, with the Wanderers pulling off a stirring 3-2 win.
Carl Robinson has promised a shake-up of the playing roster during the off-season, with the club looking at bringing in new players as well as promoting their highly regarded youth products.
The likes of Ali Auglah, Alessandro Lopane and Reuben Awaritefe have all come through the club’s academy program this year and have scored 22 goals between them in NSW NPL2. Auglah has 12 in 14 games with the Wanderers’ youth team sitting in second spot, halfway through the current NPL2 season.
The club’s policy of building from within has bore rich dividends in an otherwise disappointing A-League campaign. Mark Natta, Thomas Aquilina and Tate Russell have regularly been among the team’s best each week.
Another youth product in Keanu Baccus, the 2018-19 Wanderers Player of the Year, is expected to make a big money move to Ferencvaros in Hungary, with Western Sydney expected to receive a six-figure sum for his transfer.
The money is expected to be used to bring in some more talent to bolster the squad, who finished eighth this season.
The Wanderers will celebrate their tenth anniversary next season, with the club set to reward their loyal fans with a number of initiatives to thank them for their support.