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Chapter 26: Love, well promotion, is in the air

The Bees were still buzzing at they entered February, the month of love. For Basil, the only love he was craving was nine points from the three games that Werribee were to play. Well there was no chance of Jessica Miesel was there? With just three points sharing the top four, Basil knew all too well that a loss could really set the Bees back. Not only would it ruin the unbeaten record but also conceivably send them out of the promotion spots which the team had worked so hard to be in all season.

Basil knew if they could make these three home games count then quite possibly, the P word could be thought of more seriously. It had been banned until now just in case it allowed complacency to creep in; and Basil certainly wouldn't allow that at all.

Matchday 14: Werribee City 3 - 2 Moreland City

The first game in February saw Werribee take on a mid table Moreland City side that had parted with long standing manager Adrian Mathers just a week before. Mathers had been in charge for six years at Moreland and played for them for nine before deciding to take up the manager's role at Altona Magic in the division above. For the game, Basil made a couple of changes from his last line-up. Lisandro Paz was given a well deserved rest with Omar Ammache taking his place on the right wing; and Brandon Zaffina was swapped for Jamie Gorgovski in central midfield.

The Bees took the lead in the 24th minute and what a goal it was. Ammache dispossessed Christopher Cristaldo with one touch and then with his next, played a superb 50 yard pass onto the bootlaces of Alec Goodwin who smashed it over the head of the advancing keeper and into the top corner for the striker's eighth of the season. And that's how it remained until the 52nd minute when it led to three goals in eight minutes. City drew level when Cristaldo's free-kick had Alex Baird flapping at and Conor Rafferty headed in his first career goal unchallenged. Then four minutes later, the visitors led. Tom Lakic backed off Cristaldo a touch, and that was all the former Werribee man needed to create himself a chance which ended up with an arrowed finish into Baird's bottom left hand corner from the edge of the area.

Inspired by harsh words from Brush on the touchline, Werribee were level on the hour. A long range effort from Matteo Ballan was charged down by City's Tobias Haegele but the rebound was fortunate to land at the feet of Michael Holden who took one touch before placing it past the stranded keeper. Could either side find a winner? Yes they could, and it was Werribee. With six minutes to go; Ballan planted a free-kick into the penalty area and central defender Julyan Collett got his head onto it first to plant a header beyond Kieron McDowell to clinch all three points for Werribee City and make it 14 unbeaten.

Team: Baird; Lakic, Collett ©, Petrov, Bavcar; Pistininzi (Parkinson 71); Ballan, Gorgovski (Murray 68); Ammache (Paz 76), Holden; Goodwin. Unused Substitutes: Elasi, Dunn, Davies, Kessie.
Booked: Goodwin
Man of the Match: Alec Goodwin
Attendance: 465
Position After Game: 1st

https://i.postimg.cc/1tXksCz5/Michael-Holden.jpg
Michael Holden: Three goals in three games for Werribee

Matchday 15: Werribee City 2 - 0 Goulburn Valley Suns

Bottom placed Goldburn Valley Suns arrived at leaders Werribee City hoping to pull off the surprise result of the season on the day after the day of love. However, there was no love shown by the home side as they strolled to yet another win and make it 15 unbeaten. Wingers Paz and Holden were on target with first half strikes and the Suns had no response. The opening goal came in the 26th minute when a high and deep cross from Nicholas Bavcar wasn't claimed by Declan Maiorano in the Suns goal but landed at the feet of the recalled Paz who drove home his fifth of the season from the acutest of acute angles.

The second and decisive goal came in first half injury time. Another deep cross from Bavcar which had the Suns all at sea, and Holden (rested from the start but on as a substitute for an injured Ammache) drove a low effort across Maiorano and into the bottom corner for his fifth of the campaign. Potential banana skin well and truly avoided.

Team: Baird; Lakic, Collett ©, Petrov, Bavcar; Pistininzi (Murray 72); Gorgovski, Ballan; Paz, Ammache (Holden 32); Goodwin (Elasi 64). Unused Substitutes: Parkinson, Dunn, Kessie, Davies.
Man of the Match: Nicholas Bavcar
Attendance: 224
Position After Game: 1st

Matchday 16: Werribee City 3 - 0 FC Bulleen Lions

Werribee City finished their three game home stand with a comprehensive defeat of a FC Bulleen Lions side that have slipped down the table considerably. The Lions were surprise leaders after three games but now find themselves potentially being drawn into a relegation scrap whilst the Bees continue their incredible season at the top. Werribee made three changes from the side that saw off Goulburn Valley Suns in their last game with Holden, Zaffina and Nathan Elasi came into the starting eleven; Ammache, Gorgovski and top scorer Goodwin making way.

Three goals in 14 minutes proved to be the difference; and with results going their way, the Bees now hold a six point lead at the top of the table. That opening goal came in the 32nd minute when Paz clipped in a cross to the far post where Holden headed in his sixth of the season and third in as many games. The others arrived either side of half time. Goal number two came from another header; this time powerfully headed in by defender Collett for his second of the season following a Ballan corner. Lions keeper Wyatt Chant hadn't covered himself in glory in trying to save those but he stood no chance when the Bees scored their third 50 seconds after the restart. Paz scampered away down the right and his pinpoint cross found Goodwin, on for the injured Elasi, and the striker headed in his ninth of the campaign.

It just seems to get better and better for Basil and his Bees...

Team: Baird; Lakic, Collett ©, Petrov, Bavcar (Parkinson 63); Pistininzi; Ballan (Gorgovski 74), Zaffina; Paz, Holden; Elasi (Goodwin 31). Unused Substitutes: Ammache, Dunn, Kessie, Murray.
Booked: Pistininzi, Ballan
Man of the Match: Lisandro Paz
Attendance: 670
Position After Game: 1st

With six matches left, these are the standings:

https://i.postimg.cc/xCR14TdN/Werribee-1920-Table-End-Feb.png
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Chapter 27: In within touching distance

Everything was rosy in the Werribee City garden so to speak as the team entered March. The unbeaten run had stretched to a remarkable 16 games, and to go on a sequence like this: it takes some doing regardless at whatever level you play at. With the gap being eight points between the Bees and third placed Langwarrin, Basil was starting to think that something special was unfolding.

Those pundits who had written Werribee at the start of the season, and in December, were starting to be served with a large portion of humble pie and served cold too. Basil opened the latest edition of the Herald Sun, the local newspaper, and saw the following:

Bees stinging rivals

"IF you mention the name Werribee City to most of the Melbourne population, you could be excused for the reply being "Who?" back. But the Bees of Werribee are stinging their rivals in the NPL - Victoria 2 division with an incredible season so far. The Bees have taken the proverbial bull by the horns and ran with it.

Unfortunately none of their opponents can keep up with them.

The Bees have just six games to play this season, the latest next Friday night, and they're in within touching distance of something that has never been seen in Australian football whatsoever: an unbeaten season. Werribee have yet to lose a game in 16 so far, and it's all down to their new Head Coach: a former English professional called Basil Brush. Brush, 38, is making sounds in the suburbs of Werribee and considering it's his first ever Head Coach role: those sounds are positive.

So get yourself down to watch this incredible team."

Talk about high praise indeed in a few paragraphs. A sudden glow appeared on Basil's face, and maybe a wry smile too. A few moments later, the predictable email came from John Waddell.

From: John Waddell

To: Basil Brush

Date: 6 March 2020, 10:00

Subject: March

Hi Basil.

Don't know if you've seen the local rag lately mate. We've got a rare mention. You should be proud with what you've achieved so far here, you've definitely changed the club's fortunes around and it's been reflected in our crowds.

I know though you won't rest on your laurels though, as you're a bit of a level headed guy. Anyway here's the March fixture list, only a couple of games but both away from home. Win these and I can start to smell glory coming our way.

https://i.postimg.cc/9FysqGVW/Werribee-Mar20-Games.png

See you next Friday.

Best,

John W.

John's words really hit a point with Basil; it was like he knew what Basil would be like even before that first ever meeting last July. But Basil knew, and he consistently stressed it when floating ideas with John, it was purely a team effort that had gotten Werribee where they are at the moment and always would be. Because of the way Werribee had progressed, this was probably why Kyren (Harrison) had been poached to become the new Preston Lions Head Coach and John himself was also attracting attention elsewhere. Basil knew he wouldn't stand in John's way should he want to become a manager in his own right but if he stayed put then it would be just grand.

Basil looked to the skies, knowing whatever would happen next would happen for a reason as always. Football had always been a cut-throat industry, Basil had seen managers come and go a plenty, now he had to continually prove that he was not going to be labelled a one season wonder but there might be a time when Werribee had been taken as far as they can. But that could wait, for now.
HockeyBhoy
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Hoping to have some updates soon on here, can Basil finish his début managerial season with silverware?
HockeyBhoy
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Finishing the ninth season of the FM19 save first, Basil will return afterwards. Watch this space!
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Chapter 28: Beware the Ides of March

Said the soothsayer to Julius Caesar in the Shakespearian play of the very same name. Therefore lo and behold, Basil saw a lady dressed in rags whilst walking through the centre of Melbourne a few days before the next game. The lady gave the impression that she was some kind of gypsy, and told Basil to be wary for challenges ahead.

Werribee's next match was at struggling Pascoe Vale, a team needing points to survive the drop. Vale had improved since the two sides had met in November but they were far from out of danger. Could this be Basil's Ides of March? No need to take things easy and assume it was a foregone conclusion.

Matchday 17: Pascoe Vale 1 - 2 Werribee City

Lisandro Paz had been the two goal hero when Werribee defeated their hosts in the previous encounter, and the winger would prove to be a hero again at the CB Smith Reserve with another brace which inched the Bees closer and closer to the title. Werribee were unchanged from their last game which meant Nathan Elasi was given another chance to impress as the sole striker; top scorer Alec Goodwin remained on the bench. Not a bad replacement to have on hand, and proof of the strength in depth that Basil had his disposal.

The Bees immediately took the game to their hosts, and were rewarded with the lead after just nine minutes. Winger Michael Holden sped past Gonzalo Muñoz as if the Chilean wasn't there before lifting a cross deep into the penalty area. The cross was met by a looping header from fellow winger Paz over Luke Gavalas and send the 248 away supporters dancing with delight. It took Pascoe Vale 26 minutes to create their first chance but Alex Baird produced a superb fingertip save to deny Atilia Ofli the equaliser.

Vale did get an equaliser and it came on the hour when Joseph Youssef sent Dimitri Hatzimouratis clear of the Bees defence. The midfielder, who had been pushed up front in a Vale reshuffle, took a couple of touches before bearing down on Baird. He then drilled a low shot beyond the custodian and into the far corner to restore parity. Basil was far from pleased, and shortly afterwards replaced the ineffective Elasi with Goodwin: demanding more out of his side. Then just as Pascoe had had thoughts of a point off the unbeaten league leaders; Paz and Werribee broke their hearts with a 84th minute winner. That came when a free-kick from Matteo Ballan was met by another Paz header that found the net via the crossbar. 17 games unbeaten now for the Bees!

Team: Baird; Lakic, Collett ©, Petrov, Bavcar; Pistininzi (Murray 78); Ballan, Zaffina (Gorgovski 69); Paz, Holden; Elasi (Goodwin 64). Unused Substitutes: Ammache, Dunn, Parkinson, Davies.
Booked: Pistininzi
Man of the Match: Lisandro Paz
Attendance: 373
Position After Game: 1st

That booking against Pascoe Vale proved to be a financial hit for Mark Pistininzi as it was the defensive midfielder's fourth booking of the season. Under the league rules it meant the former Pascoe Vale player would now have to serve a one match suspension. It also meant he would be fined a day's wages under the Bees Code of Conduct.

https://i.postimg.cc/CKTBLNFx/Pistininzi.png
Mark Pistininzi: Will sit out the Kingston game after accumulating too many yellow cards

Now attention was switched to yet another away game, this time at promotion rivals Kingston City. A win there would really put the Bees into the proverbial driving seat as regards the P-word which Basil had banned all talk of the dressing room. Five games left to play, and maybe just maybe dreams could come true.

Matchday 18: Kingston City 1 - 2 Werribee City

Werribee's promotion charge continued with their 11th win of the season and 6th away from home. The win put a massive in Kingston City's own hopes it pushed them three points outside the second promotion slot. The unbeaten Bees made two changes to the side that won 2-1 at Pascoe Vale 15 days ago, and it was an enforced one at that. Mark Pistininzi was suspended for a single game under the yellow card totting up procedure; Bradley Murray came into the starting eleven to replace him. In the other change, top scorer Alec Goodwin was restored in place of Nathan Elasi.

Kingston took the lead midway through the first half, Werribee switching off at a set piece play and allowing central defender Simo Jovanovic to tuck home his first goal of the season from close range. But the Bees were not behind for long as they equalised just a minute later. Good work by Holden down the left saw him tee up Goodwin around the penalty spot and the striker pouched his 10th of the season with a confident finish beyond Dowisha.

The winner came nine minutes from half time, and what a goal it was. Nicholas Bavcar's throw in was headed out to Brandon Zaffina at the edge of the penalty area, and the midfielder took two touches before unleashing an unstoppable effort that just whizzed into the far corner. Some way to open your goalscoring account for the Club, eh? There were no further goals after that but the Bees now go to 18 unbeaten and just need four points from their remaining four games to send those champagne corks a popping.

Team: Baird; Lakic (Parkinson 73), Collett ©, Petrov, Bavcar; Murray; Ballan (Gorgovski 67), Zaffina; Paz (Ammache 81), Holden; Goodwin. Unused Substitutes: Elasi, Dunn, Govedarica, Davies.
Booked: Petrov
Man of the Match: Brandon Zaffina
Attendance: 627
Position After Game: 1st

So with four games to go, this is how the table stands:

https://i.postimg.cc/yYSyvTPm/Werribee-1920-Table-End-Mar.png
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Chapter 29: Don't want to be an April Fool

Four games that's all that remained in Basil Brush's maiden season as a football manager.

The title was within reach, just four points needed. But Basil had been a winner all his life so he set himself a new goal, finish the season unbeaten. That would be some achievement indeed. Even "The Gaffer" had never gone through an entire season unbeaten so this would be one thing that Basil might have over his mentor.

Yet keeping his size seven's firmly planted on the ground and not assuming anything was a given would be just as important as taking three points from an opponent. He opened his emails and there was the fixture one from John:

From: John Waddell

To: Basil Brush

Date: 1 April 2020:, 10:00

Subject: April's Games

Hi Basil,

John here as usual. Inching closer to silverware, four points will do it. Then we can take the champagne out of the fridge and start popping some serious corkage.

You've done a remarkable job it has to be said, even more remarkable considering you had no managerial experience when you came in. I've been so proud to work alongside you and see this Club set record after record. You deserve so much credit for it even though you're not the kind of person that likes to brag about achievements.

Anyway here are April's games:

https://i.postimg.cc/mDsdKJ7F/Werribee-1920-Apr20-Games.png

Both games at home and a chance to lift the trophy in front of our own supporters. It doesn't sound any better than that, does it?

Yours in football as always,

John W.

So that was the stark reality. Should both Moreland Zebras and Brunswick City fail to take maximum points and Werribee did this month then as John said, the champagne could come out of the fridge and corks a popping. Time to finish the job once and for all then plan for 2020-21, but would that be in Werribee still? That would have to wait for now...winning those remaining games was the objective for the Club!
bigmattb28
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Good read mate keep it up

HockeyBhoy
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By bigmattb28 26 May 2021 - 05:18 AM UTC

Good read mate keep it up


Thanks mate, hoping to have some updates on this career in the next week or two.
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Chapter 30: Crack open the bubbly!

It was the penultimate month of the season and it had all the elements needed to spark a celebration in the Melbourne suburb of Werribee. The Bees were on the verge of securing promotion to the third tier of Australian football under their rookie coach Basil Brush. Brush knew it, the players knew it, the fans knew it. Could they finish the job with games in hand?

The team had been unbeaten all season, an invincible season beckoned: the first time ever in Australian football. History books were there to be re-written.

Matchday 19: Werribee City 3 - 0 North Geelong Warriors

The first of back to back home games in April saw a then in-form North Geelong make the trip to the Galvin Park Reserve, could they stop the Bees making it 19 games unbeaten? Werribee showed a couple of changes from the side that defeated Kingston City in their last game, back came Mark Pistininzi after his one game suspension and club captain David Parkinson appeared in central defence. The Warriors had the worst beginning possible when they were reduced to ten men after just six minutes; midfielder Damien Rastocic being showed a straight red by referee Rob Eedy for a late and dangerous challenge on Michael Holden. It was the right decision looking at replays over and over again.

Encouraged by Brush's words, the Bees took the game to their numerically disadvantaged opponents. Yet it took 25 minutes after that red card for the deadlock to be broken. A quick throw-in from Nicholas Bavcar found Alec Goodwin in a pocket of space and the striker crossed for Brandon Zaffina to nod home his second goal of the season from just outside the six yard box. Werribee doubled their lead 40 seconds into the second half when another Goodwin cross was this time headed out by Warriors' Shaun Montagner but straight to the feet of Tom Lakic who took a couple of touches before blasting the ball into the roof of the net for his maiden Bees goal.

The win was sealed four minutes from time, and with another landmark goal. Substitute Omar Ammache showed great persistence to get in his cross from the left wing despite being tightly marked; and there was Nathan Elasi on hand to poke home his first ever Werribee goal of the season at the seventh time of asking. That result confirmed a ninth clean sheet of the season for Alex Baird, and with results going their way: promotion for Werribee.

Team: Baird; Lakic, Collett, Parkinson ©, Bavcar (Davies 79); Pistininzi; Zaffina, Ballan; Paz, Holden (Ammache 63); Goodwin (Elasi 74). Unused Substitutes: Petrov, Dunn, Gorgovski, Murray.
Man of the Match: Lisandro Paz
Attendance: 245
Position After Game: 1st

https://i.postimg.cc/1XthTncq/Nathan-Elasi.jpg
Nathan Elasi: Finally on the scoresheet...at last!

With promotion secured, Brush's next objective was to secure the title. Then the champagne could really be taken out of the fridge and celebrations could begin. Ever since the media had been talking about Werribee and their title aspirations at the end of the first half of the season, chairman Angus Brown had put a case of the finest Möet Chandon aside; chilling away in a fridge in the boardroom. Now it was just a case when it could be used so to speak. With another home game to come to finish off April, maybe sooner rather than later right?

Matchday 20: Werribee City 3 - 1 Northcote City

Brush and Werribee knew one thing going into this game, avoid defeat and the title was theirs despite whatever everyone else did. It was as simple as an equation as that. So in a surprise move, Brush made one change from the team that had won 3-0 against North Geelong a fortnight prior, Elasi started in place of top scorer Goodwin. Visitors Northcote City and their outspoken new manager Stephen Downes, who played for Grimsby Town and York City, were keen to upset the proverbial applecart.

It was a tense game but eventually the Bees exerted their influence and took the lead in the 23rd minute when Harry Johnson tripped Lakic as the full back charged into the penalty area. Up stepped midfielder Matteo Ballan, who Brush is desperate to tie down on a new deal, and he sent Petrovski the wrong way from twelve yards. The celebrations went up a further notch when the Bees scored their second ten minutes before half time. This time Ballan was the architect as usual with a free-kick deep into the penalty area and Elasi looped a header over Petrovski for his second in as many games. Proper bus syndrome as Brush alluded to.

The champagne was certainly out of the fridge when Werribee scored their third 14 minutes from the end. Zaffina was afforded so much room to measure and pick out a cross which was easily headed in at the far post by substitute Ammache; his first for his new club. Joseph Louey scored his first ever goal for Northcote in the final throes but by then the game was long gone: resulting in this:

https://i.postimg.cc/Nfm7bkHN/Werribee-1920-Champions.png
Werribee City: NPL - Victoria 2 Champions 2019-20!

Team: Baird; Lakic, Collett, Parkinson ©, Bavcar (Davies 67); Pistininzi; Zaffina, Ballan; Paz, Holden (Ammache 74), Elasi (Goodwin 74). Unused Substitutes: Petrov, Dunn, Murray, Weaver.
Booked: Bavcar
Man of the Match: Matteo Ballan
Attendance: 479
Position After Game: 1st

So with just two games to go, this is how we stand:

https://i.postimg.cc/tTsF63bN/Werribee-1920-Table-End-Apr.png
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Chapter 31: A busy final few weeks

A weary Basil staggered into his hotel suite after the NPL - Victoria 2 title had been secured. The party was something else indeed as players and staff celebrated as one in one of the most memorable days in the 50 year history of Werribee City. Fearing he would be pulled for a DUI, Basil hailed a taxi to get him back to the hotel but even that proved a tad problematic. Well...

The fans were so ecstatic about the title win, they were partying themselves in the Galvin Park Reserve car park and making hard for vehicles to enter and exit it. Who could begrudge them though? The last time Werribee had won this honour was way back in 1993, so long overdue indeed. Yet the work was far from done.

A few days before the Northcote game, Werribee had announced that Peter Haynes had been recruited as the Club's first ever Director of Football. Basil had been pursuing this matter all season, and finally the Bees had found someone to fill the role. Haynes, 38, who had a more than decent playing career of 72 goals in just 167 games had been acquired from Goulburn Valley Suns where he was fulfilling a similar role. Then just 24 hours after the celebration, Werribee welcomed another new face to the Galvin Park Reserve. Coming in as the new Youths Manager was four times capped former Croatian internationalist Joey Didulica. Didulica, who had spells at Ajax Amsterdam and AZ Alkmaar in his playing career as well as winning the Austrian league title with FK Austria Vienna, was the standout applicant and Brush was keen to work with him.

Brush was still trying to secure a new deal for star midfielder Matteo Ballan but at the calendar flipped into May, no deal had been agreed with the demands of the player being higher than what the board could afford to pay. Shades of Alec Goodwin earlier in the season, eh? But newly formed Macarthur FC monitoring proceedings, there was a distinct worry that the new Victoria - 2 champions could lose such an influential player whose creativity was second to none. Yet Brush hoped he could persuade the midfielder to stay...

That new month meant one more thing, John's fixtures email, the final one of the season.
From: John Waddell

To: Basil Brush

Date: 1 May 2020, 08:30

Subject: May

Hi Basil,

Hope the hangover has subsided now after an amazing last few days. We actually did it fella, we actually did it. I still have to pinch myself that this is all a dream, don't know about your feelings.

Really happy also that we're building something special in bringing Peter and Joey to the Club. To have a former internationalist working with our youth team is a masterstroke. Hopefully it will take the team to the next level in building its reputation. But I know you're ambitious too and if something better comes up then you'd better considering taking it if I was you.

Anyway here are the final two fixtures of the season:

https://i.postimg.cc/Kv8QcMkQ/Werribee-1920-May20-Games.png

Hopefully we can finish the season with a bang, and unbeaten too! Perhaps that'll be enough to try and get Ballan to sign a new deal with us and tell those at Macarthur where to stick it!

Yours always in football,

John W.

Two games from immortality, that's what remained. Basil was more determined as ever to finish this rookie season in the best way possible and that meant one thing, remain unbeaten and create history. Nobody had done it before in Australia, and Basil had never experienced it as a player either so it would be doubly sweet. Time to finish the job!
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Chapter 32: History is made!

Basil and Werribee City entered the final month of the season on the cusp of making more history. Never before in Australian football had a team finished the season without a league defeat. Now the Bees and the rookie Pom Manager stood on the verge of immortality. The task was simple, avoid defeat in the final two games of the 2019-20 season and Brush's name could go alongside Brendan Rogers (Celtic 2016-17), Arsène Wenger (Arsenal, 2003-04), Antonio Conte (Juventus 2011-12) to name just three modern day campaigns but who could forget the original Preston North End invincibles of 1888-89.

Everyone was suggesting they could do it but Brush being Brush, he wasn't getting too carried away with two very hard games to finish with: one which was away to second placed Brunswick City. Brunswick themselves had eyes on a prize, bagging that second promotion spot behind the Bees and a place in next season's NPL Victoria league: two tiers behind the A-League.

Matchday 21: Brunswick City 0 - 4 Werribee City

It was billed as the biggest test for Werribee in their bid to go through the season unbeaten. It ended up being the biggest win of the season for the visitors as they swatted their hosts aside with ruthless finishing. Brush opted to make two changes from the side that appeared in the Bees last game with Cameron Davies and Daniel Petrov coming in for Julyan Collett (surprisingly dropped) and Nicholas Bavcar (injured but also suspended).

Despite the changes, it took Werribee just six minutes to open the scoring. Tom Lakic swung in a cross from the right and Michael Holden planted a header beyond Sebastian Mattei for the left winger's seventh of the season. The lead was doubled in the 27th minute and it certainly sent the 266 visiting supporters dancing with delight. A beautiful through ball from Matteo Ballan sent in-form striker Nathan Elasi racing clear and he slipped the ball under Mattei into the gaping goal.

Two goals in the final stages sealed the comprehensive win. In the 87th minute, James Jones was adjudged to have blocked off debutant Amanze Kessie illegally in the penalty area; Ballan stepped up to ram home the resultant penalty into the bottom corner. It was the midfield playmaker's fourth of the season. Then in time added-on, Werribee completed the coup de grace with a fourth goal to really rub salt into the proverbial wounds. Jamie Gorgovski's cross was headed goalwards by Holden but Mattei could only palm it into his own net to add yet misery to the goalkeeper's miserable day.

Team: Baird; Lakic, Petrov, Davies, Parkinson ©; Pistininzi; Zaffina (Gorgovski 69), Ballan; Paz (Kessie 69), Holden; Elasi (Goodwin 80). Unused Substitutes: Collett, Dunn, Williams, Ammache.
Man of the Match: Matteo Ballan
Attendance: 569
Position After Game: 1st

Matchday 22: Werribee City 2 - 1 Moreland Zebras

History was made at the Galvin Park Reserve as Werribee City completed an incredible season by remaining unbeaten in all 22 league games, the first time in Australian football history. It capped an amazing season for the Bees and their rookie manager Basil Brush who was only appointed last July. For Brush, it represents a remarkable first ever campaign and leave Werribee with a possible fight on their hands to keep him.

Werribee took to the field in front of their largest crowd of the season, and there were two surprise selection choices from Brush. Second choice goalkeeper Thomas Dunn was rewarded with his first start of the season in place of Alex Baird whilst Gorgovski replaced Brandon Zaffina in central midfield. Two goals in nine minutes had them celebrating more on the day that the Champions flag was unfurled in the Melbourne suburb. The first came in the 21st minute, and it was a fourth goal in four games for Elasi. Holden provided a delicious cross from the left and the striker powered home a header from ten yards past Stephen Hatzikourtis.

The second came directly on the half hour and what a goal it was. Lisandro Paz picked up a throw-in from Lakic and fed it duly onto Gorgovski who took a couple of touches before unleashing an unstoppable shot from outside the penalty area that whizzed in the far bottom corner; Hatzikourtis given no chance whatsoever. Despite playing in a kit that reminded those present of Juventus, the visitors were far from being their lookalikes as Werribee controlled matters. However, the clean sheet for Dunn was taken away from him when Nick Niagioran headed in with just three minutes left. Yet the Zebras would finish the game with ten men as central midfielder Jake Barker-Daish was sent off for two yellow cards as the game entered injury time.

All hail the Werribee Invincibles!

Team: Dunn; Lakic, Petrov, Davies, Parkinson ©; Pistininzi (Collett 73); Gorgovski, Ballan; Paz, Holden (Ammache 65); Elasi (Goodwin 81). Unused Substitutes: Zaffina, Baird, Williams, Kessie.
Man of the Match: Jamie Gorgovski
Attendance: 688
Position After Game: 1st
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Chapter 33: End of season celebrations

It was with a very sore head that Basil woke up with the day after the final game of the season. The party had gone well into the night at the Galvin Park Reserve as the team celebrated an incredible achievement. Beer cans cast aside all over the dressing room, or as "the shed" as the players referred to it as, and bottles of champagne equally cast asunder.

Even Basil, normally a reserved character, allowed himself to go wild for a bit and embrace he and his squad had actually performed in the last eight months or so.

The following day, it was the Club's end of season shindig which meant yet party celebrations and more alcohol to consume. The team awards would be handed out, who would be the lucky recipients? For players, fans and management alike the tension could be cut with a razor sharp knife. Therefore at 7:00pm that Sunday evening, Basil stepped into the cab that the reception had called for him and headed to the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) where the Club had decided to hold the event...no expense spared by Angus Brown!

It was a proper black tie and tuxedo event, Basil thought he looked more like a penguin than a football manager, with players, fans, the fourth estate and dignitaries sat around tables of ten in the main conference centre. Following an impressive meal, it was time to present the awards with local comedian Tom Gleeson acting as both Master of Ceremonies and entertainment for the evening.

https://i.postimg.cc/qByZ84vK/Werribee-1920-Club-Awards1.png


The first award was the prestigious Fans Player of the Season. It was a hard fought award but midfield playmaker Matteo Ballan came out on top in the end. The 31 year old took the award ahead of winger Lisandro Paz with top scorer Alec Goodwin rounding out the top three. When asked by Gleeson if he was going to sign a new deal and snub Macarthur FC, Ballan was coy with his response: "Guess, we will have to wait and see.": Brush knew in the next few days, this would be his immediate task in hand before he headed back to England for a two week break to see his family.

Ballan's midfield partner Brandon Zaffina was next to take to the stage: his game winning strike at Kingston City being voted as the Goal of the Season. It was a fabulous strike on the day, and when it was replayed on the big screen: everyone was stood up and applauding how impressive it really it was. Award number three was the Signing of the Season, and taking this one was left winger Michael Holden who marked his second spell at the Galvin Park Reserve with some brilliant performances and justifying why Brush was so keen to bring him back home so to speak.

The penultimate award was the Young Player of the Season: winning this was 24 year old striker Goodwin. Before the season had kicked off, he had been in a contract stand off with the Club (similar to Ballan now), but terms were thrashed out just before the big-kick off and the striker rewarded his new boss' persistence with a double figure goal haul despite being out of the team for certain periods of time.

The final award was the Fans Team of the Season based on the 21 players who played for the Bees this season. In Brush's favoured 4-1-2-2-1 formation, the side was as follows:

https://i.postimg.cc/TYhLzY5L/Werribee-1920-Club-Awards2.png
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Chapter 34: We're going through changes

After the party, it was about time to plan for the new season. One of those issues that it was time to tell certain players that they were not needed next season and as a result they would be released on free transfers.

All in all, Basil had to tell seven players they were no longer needed. Those were as follows:

Nemanja Govedarica
Cameron Williams
Shaun Weaver
Bradley Murray
Cameron Davies
Damian Hodgson
Jani Lah


That meant Basil had to find a couple of goalies for his youth team and hope they develop, two new central defenders, a central midfielder and a striker. But with a bit of time on his hands this time, Basil was sure he could find the right pegs to fit in the right holes. There was to be a surprise before Basil boarded the flight back to GB though. Angus Brown called his manager into the office.

"Basil, I know you've got your flight back home on your mind but there's something I need you to know."
"Yeah sure, what is it?" Basil enquired
"Well I'm taking a back seat Basil."
"You what? You can't. I mean..."
"I've decided to cut back on my football commitments Basil. You've brought great pleasure to me and this football club but the time is right to do this."

Basil gulped.

"So what does this mean for me?"
"Nothing is different for you Basil. The Club is possibly being taken over, I've had two very good offers made and need to deliberate which is best for Werribee City. This explains why I haven't been able to sanction any transfers for you. Now you get on that big bird, and go and see that family of yours. We'll stay in touch with developments."
"Oh right, OK."

Four days later, Basil was sat in a country pub with the sun beating down, when his phone rang. It was an unknown number, one that wasn't stored. Sceptically thinking it was a scammer, Basil answered with trepidation.

"Basil? Basil Brush?"
"Erm, yeah that's me. Who is this?"
"Basil, my name is Craig Adam and.."
"Sorry Craig, I'm on holiday and I'm not interested in buying anything."
"No Basil, I'm not trying to sell you anything."
"So OK, how did you get my number?"
"From Angus, y'know Angus Brown. I've just bought Werribee City from him. So I thought I'd give you a quick call and introduce myself."
"Right..am sorry for the misunderstanding."
"Sure no worries big guy, you enjoy the break with the folks. I'll see you back in Melbourne when you're back, me and my chauffeur will pick you up from the airport."
"Yeah OK."

With that in mind, the call ended and Basil messaged his faithful lieutenant: John Waddell. "Start the player recruitment John" was the short and sharp message. The brief was to build a side capable of staying in the NPL Victoria Division, and not being drawn into a relegation scrap. Basil also knew with this being the second year of his two year deal, agreed with the former Chairman, all eyes would be on him. The invincible season that made him a possible wanted man.
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Chapter 35: New faces arrive

Despite being in England for the first couple of weeks, Basil was still very much hands on with his recruitment drive for the new season. Regular Zoom conversations were being held between him and John Waddell. Waddell would come up with a recommendation and then send all the details over to Basil complete with a video of the player in action for the manager to peruse over.

Once Basil had completed his due diligence, Basil and John would then convene and a decision whether or not to offer that player a contract. That process brought the Bees four new players as the calendar ticked over to July 2020. Having released seven at the end of the season, Basil knew he had to bring some new faces to provide healthy competition to those currently at his disposal. Those new faces were as follows:

Jordan Wilkes - D R: Free Transfer
https://i.postimg.cc/qMY4rcs3/Werribee-2021-Jordan-Wilkes.png
Despite being only 25 years of age, Jordan has accumulated over 150 appearances since debuting for Heidelberg United in the 2013-14 season. Last season wasn't a good season for the defender though as he failed to tally a single outing for St. Albans Saints after joining them from Altona Magic. Predominantly a right back by trade, Wilkes can fill in as a central defender should circumstances call on him to do so.

Jordan Thurtell - GK: Free Transfer
https://i.postimg.cc/DznD3mMG/Werribee-2021-Jordan-Thurtell.png
Signed to provide extra competition to both Alex Baird and Thomas Dunn, Thurtell came through the Australian Institute of Sport programme before being snapped up by Perth Glory. Although he failed to make a single appearance for the Glory, there seems to be some untapped potential there which Brush is keen to take advantage of. Whether he displaces Baird as first choice is uncertain at present.

Oskar Dillon - D C: On loan from Western United
https://i.postimg.cc/mDM8csJ4/Werribee-2021-Oskar-Dillon.png
If at first you don't succeed then try, try again. Well that's true of the third Werribee signing for the 2020-21 season. Dillon was a target for Brush last season, but opted then to sign on loan for Oakleigh Cannons where he missed just one league game. Western United were keen for their young prospect to gain more experience and this time Brush and Werribee succeeded. Could he be the steal of the season?

Michael Cole - ST C: Free Transfer
https://i.postimg.cc/yYNctKjN/Werribee-2021-Michael-Cole.png
With Shaun Weaver leaving the Club, there was a vacancy in the striking department that needed to be filled. Although, Cole is just 19, and unproven: there's something that Brush seemed to like in the former FC Bulleen Lions striker. It will be very interesting indeed to see what role he plays in the season ahead although he will be possibly a starter for the youths.

Added to that, there has been a further boost for the season ahead. Midfield playmaker Matteo Ballan has agreed terms on a new one year deal which will take him past his 32nd birthday on its conclusion. Brush had been keen to get his midfield maestro under contract and hopefully will be rewarded with more stellar performances as the Bees plan for life in the next level.
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Chapter 36: On the move?

Basil knew that the first season had done wonders for him. He was no longer seen as an unknown; taking on a role which he had no experience of whatsoever. Although it was just that one season, it had been a productive one and one that some media pundits tipping big things to happen next for him.

The success had even hit back home in the UK; and especially in Basil's native North East. "Local boy done well" was the headline of the Hartlepool Mail as they ran a story on Basil's success at Werribee. And his name was being linked with vacancies albeit some of them not massive. Geosonic Lowland League side Vale of Leithen had reputedly been interested in acquiring Basil but nothing came of it: Werribee had apparently asked for a compensation figure but the Vale baulked and pulled out. Then one day....

Basil was relaxing in between player searches when his mobile rang, once more it was a number that he didn't recognise.

"Hello?"
"Hi, is that Basil Brush?"
"Erm, yeah speaking. Who is this?"
"The name is Lederer, Paul Lederer. I'm the Chairman of Western Sydney Wanderers Football Club."
"Right..."
"I just wondered if you could pop over to Sydney today. I'll get a flight booked for you as you don't want to be driving for nine hours..."
"Um, yeah. What time's the flight?"
"Couple of hours from now."
"OK."
"We will look forward to meeting you then, I'll be in a car parked outside whilst my chauffeur will be in the meeting hall holding a board with your name on. Just follow him from there on, please. Oh, and thank you."
"Thank you."

Basil quickly showered, changed into his suit and hopped into his car. Thirty minutes later, he was all checked in at the airport and waited for the call for the flight to Sydney. Whilst sitting in the departure lounge, he decided to do some research. Wanderers were a Hyundai A-League side which represented a massive step up in class from Werribee. The PDF email that Paul Lederer had sent showed that Wanderers were financially sound which meant, if appointed, Basil wouldn't be raiding the bargain basement. Former Liverpool and Germany defender Markus Babbel had been a previous manager for a short spell before being succeeded by Ernie Merrick. Merrick had decided to retire from the game at the end of the season hence Lederer was keen to fill a role.

As he boarded the Airbus A319, Basil knew he was on a possible winner if he impressed Lederer enough. He could improve on their 11th position in the 2019-20 season, after all nobody had expected him to do what he did when he took over at Werribee did they?

A shade over four hours later, Basil brushed through security to be met by the chauffeur and led to a jet black limousine where Lederer was sat in the rear. The car then sped its way, its two passengers sharing a few jokes here and there in the back, to the Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta: 24 km west of Sydney City Centre but a shorter hop of 25 minutes from the airport. Once at the Stadium, Lederer ushered Basil to the board room and the two men talked in earnest for a good hour or so.

The chauffeur returned to whisk Basil back to the airport, and as he eventually took his seat on the return flight, Basil smiled to himself. "I think I did alright," Basil muttered to himself. "What will be, will be." Until he knew otherwise, Basil Brush would honour that second year at Werribee but if a new challenge presented itself to him then he'd take it with open arms. In the world of football management, Basil knew that was oh so true.

But was this too big a jump? Especially for a manager with very little experience.
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Chapter 37: A knock back leads to looking forwards

Basil sat in the hotel bar, laptop open and drinking a soda as the world passed him by. He was thinking about the Western Sydney Wanderers position he had just been interviewed for a couple of days previous. To be courted already by a Hyundai A-League side despite only having one full season's managerial experience represented a feather in the proverbial cap for Basil. Obviously the invincible season had done wonders for the Werribee manager.

Brush called "The Gaffer" (Sir Alex).

"Hello Basil," came the warm and welcoming Glaswegian tone.
"Hi Gaffer, how's things? Still enjoying that retirement?"
"Of course, been tending to some plants in the garden. What can I do for you?"
"Gaffer, I've had an interview for another managerial post."
"That's good son, you thinking about leaving Werribee after one season then?"
"Well not really.."
"Would it be a step up the managerial ladder then?"
"Yeah, Western Sydney Wanderers in the A-League."
"That's the pinnacle of Australian league football right?"
"Yup."
"How do you think you did?"
"Well, I thought I came across well to them."
"That's alright then. Just don't take it to heart if they turn you down, you've still got Werribee."
"Thanks Gaffer, you're the best."
"Haha, anyway I need to walk the dog. Let me know if you need anything else."
"No problems."

The call had only just finished when Basil received an email in his inbox. He opened it immediately.

From: Paul Lederer, Chairman

To: Basil Brush

Date: 8 July 2020, 16:43

Subject: Wanderers

Hi Basil,

Many thanks for taking the time to come to Bankwest and speak to me about the vacant managerial position here.

I really liked your enthusiasm for the game and what you want to achieve. You strike me as a manager that really wants to go places in football. However, I regret to advise you that you haven't been successful in your application. The Club have gone with another applicant whose experience in Australian football slightly edged it for him.

That's not to say you're not good enough, I am sure you will land a big job soon. Just keep believing in yourself and your abilities.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Lederer
Chairman - Western Sydney Wanderers Football Club


The first managerial knock back of his fledgling managerial career. Basil sighed and took a further gulp of the soda until it was well and truly empty, crushed the can, and composed himself. Werribee were his focus now, time to finish off the two year plan and then re-evaluate at the season's end. He had hardly time to compose himself when a second email arrived, this time from a more known source: John Waddell.

From: John Waddell

To: Basil Brush

Date: 8 July 2020, 17:00

Subject: Pre-Season 2020-21

Hey bud,

Good work on the transfer front so far, still think we need a few more acquisitions though. I've enclosed the pre-season schedule that I've been busy putting together. The Melbourne Victory game is obviously the stand out, it'll be a good test for us against the big boys like we did with Western United last season.

https://i.postimg.cc/fyLpRksq/Werribee-2021-Pre-Season.png

I never read much in these results though, it's the league that matters and now we have a new chairman: a new face to try and impress. Don't think we can expect to have a season like last but if we finish top half then that'll be a real statement.

I'll see you at the Reserve tomorrow for the first team meeting with the players of the new season. They're itching to see what you have planned.

Yours in football,

John W.

Time to kick on, and prepare notes for that meeting. Basil was sure that the players were gonna be moaning about something, but he had no idea what. He would soon find out in a matter of hours.

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