SOUTH-EAST Melbourne’s greatest football product, Socceroos legend Vince Grella, has officially backed a push for an A-League club in the region.
The south-east’s bid to become Melbourne’s third A-League club further materialised on Thursday when three local councils signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding at Dandenong’s Harmony Square.
The Mayors of Greater Dandenong, City of Casey and Cardinia Shire formalised their partnership at the signing event, officially launching a push to bring an A-League/W-League club to their community.
Greater Dandenong wants to see a boutique stadium built within its borders, while the City of Casey is pushing for a soccer centre of excellence to be built at Casey Fields — which would become the prospective club’s training and administration base.
Grella, who was born in Keysborough and played for Springvale City before carving out a stellar international career, was unveiled as an official ambassador while the “super club” concept was endorsed by the seven biggest clubs in the area.
Grella said Melbourne’s south-east is Australian football’s best kept secret.
“This is a region that’s always produced a steady stream of Socceroos and professional players,” Grella said.
“I’m very passionate about this region and what it can do for Australian football and an A-League club would thrive. It has enormous potential. I’m serious, this club can be huge.
“There have been strong junior numbers here since I was a kid, and they are only getting stronger and there is massive community support.”
Dandenong Thunder, Dandenong City, Casey Comets, Springvale White Eagles, Berwick City, South Springvale and Pakenham United all brought senior officials and players to the MOU event.
The commitment from Greater Dandenong Mayor Jim Memeti, City of Casey Mayor Sam Aziz and Cardinia Shire Mayor Brett Owen formalised a working alliance that has been months in the planning.
Memeti said the south-east’s diverse and rapidly growing community was ripe for the picking.
“If Football Federation Australia’s preference is to locate a new team in a heavily populated centre — to ‘fish where the fish are’, if you like — then south-east Melbourne is the ideal place,” Memeti said.
“With that many people, a bigger base than Adelaide, we are one of the fastest growing populations in the country.”
Aziz said the W-League and youth team component of the push are just as important as the A-League team.
“Our aim is for our youth teams to be made up largely of players in our catchment area,” Aziz said.
Owen said local clubs are pushing the prospective A-League club’s cause, citing the professional pathway the team would then create for the region’s boys and girls.
“We have spoken to many of the local clubs and they all endorse the concept of a representative ‘Super Club’ and the opportunities this would create,” Owen said.