Western United’s football-specific facility is a milestone worth celebrating


Bottom club Western United’s 4-2 win over Macarthur on Saturday afternoon was a rare bright spark in a season in which just about everything has gone wrong in the A-League Men.

More than three years after they were first supposed to move into their own football-specific stadium, the team from Melbourne’s west finally played a game on their own patch of turf.

It may only have been at their training ground – which the green-and-blacks plan to use as their temporary home ground until Wyndham City Stadium is finally built – but the 3430 fans who turned up in Tarneit were rewarded with a piece of A-League history.

It certainly didn’t look like it was going to end up in celebrations for the home fans, after the visiting Bulls raced out to an early 2-0 lead courtesy of a penalty from Valere Germain and a second from newly re-signed talisman Ulises Davila.

And when Riku Danzaki had a first-half effort cancelled out after an offside Michael Ruhs blocked Macarthur goalkeeper Filip Kurto’s line of sight, it looked like it was going to be another frustrating day for John Aloisi’s men.

But the Japanese midfielder was not to be denied, and when he curled home the first Western United goal at their new home ground, the hosts suddenly cut loose.

Michael Ruhs added a second four minutes later before Matthew Grimaldi spun and fired the hosts into the lead.

Former Bulls striker Ruhs then bagged his second following a crazy passage of play that saw both Ben Garuccio and James Donachie hit the crossbar, only for the man from Horsley Park to end the game as a contest.

It was an exhilarating encounter made all the more watchable by the fact the pitch wasn’t cut up and blighted by line markings from rival codes.

Which makes the news that cash-strapped Super Rugby side Melbourne Rebels are looking to ground-share with Western United all the more frustrating.

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

No one wants to see sporting teams go out of business. That’s exactly what the Australian Professional Leagues are currently battling against.

But just when an A-League club finally gets its own facility, next minute comes the announcement they’ll probably have to share it with a rival code.

Sporting administrators in Australia just cannot seem to fathom that football needs a pristine playing surface compared to the rival rugby codes.

The pitch at McDonald Jones Stadium looked pretty ordinary on Sunday.

So too did Jets defender Phillip Cancar, who went down so theatrically you’d think he had a part in a Broadway play after Sydney FC winger Robbie Mak inadvertently struck him across the face.

Still, the Sydney FC winger should know better than to raise his arm – and his controversial sending off left the Sky Blues in a deep hole.

They may have pulled one goal back through a fabulous strike from Fabio Gomes, but the Jets were the better side and fully deserved their 3-1 win.

Whether they’re around for much longer is the question at hand, with US-based consortium FC32 reportedly dropping out of the race to buy the embattled outfit.

Whether that’s because other parties have submitted better bids remains to be seen, but it certainly feels like time is running out for the struggling Novocastrians.

There was a sparse crowd in attendance on Sunday for what used to be a marquee fixture, and we’ve seen nothing from the APL that suggests they have any idea how to win back fans next season.

At least Western United finally have a home ground – of sorts.

It isn’t exactly the stadium they promised when they first joined the league back in 2019.

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But as we’ve been reminded countless times this season, the football landscape has changed.

The Wyndham Regional Football Facility is something worth celebrating.

Now we just need the league to hold on long enough for Western United to build the stadium they intended.

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