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Could the Wellington Phoenix be the Team for You?

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Are you searching for a new club to follow, maybe even one that has a bright future and competes in the top flight of domestic football? Well, in that case, the Wellington Phoenix might just be the club for you!

 

The Wellington Phoenix was founded in 2007 and has been in the process of building the foundations for a long and illustrious history. The club broke away from what was previously the ‘New Zealand Knights’, to become the saviour of the country’s domestic football.

The New Zealand-based club are the anomaly within their league, being the only professional club from the country to participate within the Australian A-League. Since being founded, the club spent eight years struggling to find their feet, finishing bottom of the league in two of those seasons. Due to their poor performances in the early years, and the failure to attract a large fan to games, the organisation questioned their legitimacy within the league. It was always going to be an uphill battle for the club, beyond being the only professional club in the country, they would also have to accept that cricket and rugby are the country’s most popular sports, with football often playing second or third fiddle. 

As a result, the club’s future had been in doubt. Uncertainty surrounding their long-term future became a key instigator for their growing popularity around the world, which would later convince the league to extend their license to continue participating in Australia’s top flight. 

In the following years since the fears for their future, the Wellington Phoenix have been making a steady rise both with their club reputation and as genuine competitors within the Australian professional game. As they rise up the ranks, YOU could be in and amongst the ‘Yellow-Fever’ fans as they achieve their first-ever domestic success. 

“The Wellington Phoenix are unlike any other club in the world”

As mentioned, the club is the only representative in the A-League from New Zealand. Whilst we see similarities with Welsh teams competing in England; Monaco battling it out in the French Ligue 1; and FC Andorra playing within the Spanish domestic ranks, the situation with the Wellington Phoenix is like none other. 

First and foremost, beyond the fact that the club is playing in a completely different confederation to their Oceania Football Confederation; the Phoenix have to play every away game overseas. With the other examples previously given, they all have a physical border that divides the two countries in question. However, this is not the case for this New Zealand club. The Wellington Phoenix truly carries the weight and expectation of a nation on its shoulders as the country is yet to form a professional league. As a result, the nation often pulls together in unison, supporting one singular club. 

“A proper community club”

Despite the ever-growing size and magnitude of the club, it still has a small-scale feel to it that makes it feel like a family. Much of this credit goes to their social media accounts. Whilst their owner Terry Serepisos openly shows his love for the club, that same love is shown through their social media accounts as they enjoy interacting with their fans on a daily basis. 

Most clubs, given their size, often struggle to interact with their fans in the same manner that this NZ club does! Through the club’s social media accounts, they value each fan, making sure that their opinions are heard and appreciated. In turn, the Wellington Phoenix manage to take the meaning of ‘a family club’ to a whole new level.

 

The fans

Having previously written about the River Plate Hinchas, the culture and reality surrounding Phoenix fans could not be more different if they tried. Nix fans are something unlike any other in the world! The Kiwi’s in nature are remarkably laid back in their culture, which comes across in the way that they follow their team. The fans are very appreciative to just have a professional team, meaning that they look to have a good time during the highs and lows. A culture that would be unheard of for most clubs around the world but Phoenix fans are even comfortable having a drink and enjoy watching games alongside opposing fans.

Home of the Wellington Phoenix.

The Sky Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand

When talking about supporting your club through the lows, there is nothing worse than seeing a set of fans distance themselves from a club when all starts to go wrong. However, in the early years of Phoenix’s history, the support only grew stronger during the tough times here. Despite only having a 13-year history, the loyalty and support from these fans have been remarkable and without them, it is likely that this club would cease to exist today. 

As previously mentioned, the club were incredibly close to losing their license to play in the A-League. As a result, a campaign was made called #SaveTheNix, a hashtag that went viral. The campaign via social media helped share the story of this club, raising the reputation and helping to rally worldwide support for this completely unique club as they fought for their club’s and country’s footballing future. 

 

#SaveTheNix Campaign 

The #SaveTheNix campaign was vital in protecting the club’s status. The fight to protect their legitimacy was also an immensely emotional and difficult period for the supporters. As mentioned, the hashtag went viral, globally. Football fans from all around the world were spreading awareness of what was an unjust attempt to remove the Phoenix from the league. Support for the campaign was even expressed by opposing fans, showcasing the universal love for the Nix as the Australian Football Association were forced to back down. 

The plan was to replace the Wellington Phoenix with an Australian club; however, the rallying support from other clubs in the league helped express how appreciated the club are. Saved by the support from the other teams in the division, it remains a beautiful story that will always love within the club. Without doubt, it is remarkable to witness the overwhelming support that the club received, despite not having decades of history and the fact that they are not from the same Confederation as the league in which they play in!

 

The special feel of away games

Every away game for these fans requires an overseas trip. Something that no other club will have in their domestic leagues. At the very most, some clubs will need to pass through border control, but for these fans, it requires flights to and from Australia. Whilst it can often be expensive for the average fan, it does provide a special feeling, something that seems only comparable to away games in the Champions League or Europa League for European club-supporting fans.

The Nix continuously gather a large following no matter where their away games are in Australia. To travel the miles and hours that these fans do on a regular basis requires dedication.

 

The club’s Prosperous Future

The New Zealand-based side are looking to build for an exciting future that you could be a part of. The club has announced their interest in building a women’s team, meaning that there will become even more opportunities to show your support for the club. 

The club plays its football at the Wellington Regional Stadium, with a capacity of 34,500 seats. The Phoenix have the third-largest stadium in the league, only behind the Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory. Given that they are such a newly formed team, it is a remarkable opportunity for the club. One of the worries in their early years has been their ability to attract fans, as their status continues to rise, as well as the status of the League as a whole, there will be growing opportunities for the club to fill out the ‘Ring of Fire’.

Universally, every club wants to see its own young talent emerge onto the scene. That is something that has become a growing opportunity here, as the club continues to invest financially into youth development. As the only professional club in the country, the Wellington Phoenix are the way forward for Kiwi football, with young talent having limited options, meaning that the club has a significantly large pool of talent at their disposal. 

The academy has already seen some exciting talent emerge from it. An example of that is through Marcos Rojas who came through the ranks at the club at the age of 18. Having been scouted and joined the club from semi-professional NZ side Waikato.  Rojas went on to highlight the potential for the Phoenix’s youth setup, having gone on to play for the likes of Melbourne Victory but also making the jump to European football, playing for Bundesliga side Stuttgart and SC Heerenveen, in the Netherlands. 

 

You could well help write this clubs history

When deciding which club(s) you want to follow or support, a daunting challenge you may face is that as a new fan, your knowledge of the club is going to be much less than that of the long-serving supporter. However, one of the appealing factors when considering this New Zealand club is due to their 14-year history. The club is on its way up and you will have plenty of time to jump on board as the club begins to challenge for their first-ever A-League title. 

Searching for their first A-League title, the Wellington Phoenix have shown to be making steady improvements in recent years, as they climb the Aussie table. From finishing 4th in the 2014/15 campaign to last season’s 6th placed finish, the club are starting to show that they have genuine potential to rise the ranks in the A-League. Surely it is only a matter of time before the club gets their hands on that A-League title?! 

 

Join a club that Represents United National Pride!

“If we did collapse it would be disastrous for the city but more so for the country”

It has been mentioned throughout but without the Wellington Phoenix, many believe that New Zealand’s chances of ever making the FIFA World Cup would be impossible. The club holds much more importance than any other in the world when it comes to their influence on the national team.

The club is much more than just the pride of a city but is the pride of a nation unlike any other, unlike Cardiff and Swansea; who compete in the English league. There are plenty of choices for Welsh football fans as Newport County and AFC Wrexham also feature in the lower ranks of English football. Whereas, the Nix are the saving grace for football fans of New Zealand, in regards to domestic football. The country does not even have a recognised professional football league!

 

The Nix are on the Rise!

In the first ten years of the club’s existence, the Wellington Phoenix were able to attract over one million football fans, which is an unbelievable fact. Given that the nation has always been a ‘rugby first nation, to have had that many fans rally in support for their club has been amazing! This is a club on the rise both on and off the pitch, given its rise in popularity. 

The uncertainty that the club faced off the pitch in the early years of their lifespan actually helped build the foundations for worldwide support. The sporting world sympathised with the situation that they were in and as a result, there was growing support to protect the future of this club. 

The Wellington Phoenix already have the foundations in place to become a household name in the ever-growing Australian A-League. With an exciting stadium ready to welcome their growing fan base, alongside their increasingly popular youth academy and a whole country supporting them already. The Nix are here to stay and with everything starting to fall into place, they are ready to become a powerhouse of Australia. 

 

The only question left is, when are YOU going to be a part of the Yellow-Fever?

 

We hope you enjoyed the article ‘Could the Wellington Phoenix be the Team for You?’ Are you a fan of A-League football? Let us know!

 

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Sam is an International Relations Graduate from the University of East Anglia. Since graduating, he has gone on to write for the likes of: Sporting Feret; The 72; and The Sporting Blog. His experience writing for Sporting Feret has provided the opportunity to join the media team at Vanarama National League side King's Lynn Town FC. In the role, he conducts player interviews, writes match previews/report,s and is heavily involved in the club's match programmes. To contact him, his email is: [email protected]

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