Football 3 years ago

Victory's A-League signing coup revealed

  • Victory's A-League signing coup revealed

The sneaky recruiting moves that set up Melbourne Victory for a decade of A-League dominance have been revealed for the first time.

Before the A-League was launched in 2005, Victory's foundation coach Ernie Merrick and football boss Gary Cole were charged with building a squad from scratch.

With high expectations around the league and original powerhouse club Sydney FC sucking up major talent, the pair needed a strategy to lure top-tier Australians back to a new competition.

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They quickly realised the way to bringing key players back to Melbourne was to appeal to their hearts, and not their wallets.

"We worked out that if Ernie called Europe at a certain time, the players would be off at training and most probably their wives, who were all Australian, would be at home," Cole said.

"So we'd talk about the lifestyle and the weather and how good it would be to be around their families.

"We got Archie Thompson out of these conversations, Danny Allsopp and Kevin Muscat as well."

The trio have since combined for 450 games and 159 goals, the club's first five best and fairest awards and won Victory three titles.

The revelation comes from a new book out this week; "A-League: The Inside Story of The Tumultuous First Decade" by John Stensholt and Shaun Mooney.

It's one of several behind-the-scenes revelations inside the book, which focuses on boardroom drama as much as on-field glory.

Launching the book in Melbourne on Wednesday, Postecoglou paid tribute to the ability of the league to promote Australian talent.

"We've got Mile Jedinak in the Premier League, we've got Matt Leckie, Robbie Kruse, Mitch Langerak in the Bundesliga, Mat Ryan in the Spanish league with Valencia, one of the biggest clubs in the world," he said.

"Seven years ago I was unemployable, no one really wanted to have a look at me, and without the A-League ... I probably wouldn't be where I am right now."

Postecoglou said he knew the league would help grow the sport in Australia when on the eve of the first season, he went to a Melbourne Victory season launch that gathered 1000 attendees.

"From the moment I walked in that room, I thought this is going to be big, I think it's going to surprise anyone," he said.

"It hasn't been without it's challenges, there's been some bitter rivalries, some major dummy spits and real controversies - and that's the off-field stuff."

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