What the Western Sydney Wanderers club have done in two years is nothing short of amazing.
In April 2012, the Football Federation Australia and the Federal Government put up the money to start the club from scratch.
There was also talk that a new western Sydney team would enter the A-league. But it wasn’t expected to until 2014 or 2015.
In two years they have made two A-League grand finals.
In their debut season under coach Tony Popovic they won the premiership and lost the grand final to the Central Coast Mariners.
On the weekend they confront premiership winners and hot favourite Brisbane Roar who are shooting for a third title in the A-League’s nine year history.
Popovic knows the culture and the psyche of the players and that has been a key factor in their success.
Now, 40, he grew up in Fairfield and enjoyed a successful playing career with Sydney United and Australia.
His understanding of the culture of the western Sydney communities, how soccer was played and supported by blue collar workers and grass roots people are its glue.
Popovic has quickly built the Wanderers into a highly competitive unit. Their success has been built on hard work, discipline, teamwork, moulding the talent at his disposal but also the mantra that the team comes first.
There is no ‘‘I’’ in team and the Wanderers’ epitomise this.
It’s rare indeed for newly formed sporting teams to have almost immediate success.
If you don’t conform to the Wanderers’ hard work ethic and do what is needed for the team, you are out the door.
Popovic demands excellence, attention to detail and effort from every player.
And the other big factor in the club’s rise in two seasons is the extraordinary support from their fans.
The fans travel to all home and away games decked out in the club colours.
The singing, chanting, electric atmosphere and support they generate can only inspire their players.
The club is also well run with a slick administration team, top marketing and media relations unit and a merchandising operation which rivals any code.
The AFL and NRL can learn plenty from the Wanderers who have captured the hearts, souls and minds of the people in the west.
Regardless of the result in the grand final the Wanderers’ blueprint and model is the way to go for future sporting clubs.
Go the Wanderers.