Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Whittlesea Zebras FC (Australia)

Another of Australia's many Zebras, Wittlesea are a relatively new addition to the canon, having formed as recently as 2007, after a series of mergers between a number of teams from Melbourne's local Italian community. First of all in 1997, three clubs - Brunswick Juventus, Box Hill Inter and Bulleen Lions -  pooled resources to form a newer, stronger club, then ten years later, the fruit of that merger, the Bulleen Zebras, joined forces with the Whittlesea Stalions for create the footballing version of a zedonk Whittlesea Zebras FC.

Based in the suburb of Epping, some 15 miles out of the centre of town, they play their home matches at the surprisingly large Epping Stadium, which with a capacity of some 10,000 used to host the old Carlton SC's National Soccer League matches, as well as being the venue for the occasional pre-season game for the A-League's Melbourne Victory.

They currently play their football in the Victorian State League Division 1, after suffering relegation from the state premier league in the 2009/10 season. This was seen as quite the surprise locally, as they had won the more senior league in their previous incarnations in both 1998 and 2004. Their current home league is effectively the third tier of the Aussie game, although there is little chance of gaining upward mobility into the A-League - particularly as Melbourne already have a franchise at that level.

Despite their apparent lowly status, they've seen a good number of eventual Socceroos pass through their books. Lazio's World Cup star Mark Bresciano started his career here, as did the former Man City back Danny Tiatto, and former national captain and the second most highly capped player in Aussie history, Paul Wade, also put in a decent stint here in the mid-1980s. So keep any eye out at the younger players on their books, 'cos they might soon be wowing them on an international stage near you soon!

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