Western Suburbs ready for new challenge

New recruit John Herron (left) and coach Harry Matkovic. (Western Suburbs)

Oliver Lees

Western Suburbs has used the off-season to bring in plenty of experience ahead of its first season back in the FV state league 1 north-west division.

The side finished second in the standings last year in the FV state league 2 north-west division, allowing them to earn promotion after five years.

Headlining the list of recruits is Scottish veteran John Herron.

Herron represented Scotland at an under-15s and and under-21s level and went on to play with powerhouse side Celtic in European competition.

The 30-year-old midfielder will be joined by ex-Stoke City and Brisbane Roar forward Peter Skapetis and Peter Koufidis from Altona East.

Other additions include Lucas Muscat from Hoppers Crossing and Christian Bedoya from overseas.

Western Suburbs board member Sasha Pete said the team is ready to hit the ground running.

“We have recruited some fantastic players and we’re very excited about the prospect of playing in state one again,” he said.

“We’ve played in state one for pretty much all of our existence, so it was disappointing to get related a few years back.

“I think it’s a credit to our club that we’re able to attract such quality.”

The club had its first major hit out of the year in the knockout Australia Cup tournament on March 12.

After going up 2-0 in the 84th minute, South Springvale was able to level the match with goals in the 89th and 97th minute.

The match ultimately went to penalties, with Western Suburbs winning the shootout 4-2.

Pete said it was good to have an early test like that and he’s confident his team will rise to the challenge throughout the season.

“I actually don’t think it’s a massive jump in class [from state league 2 to state league 1],” he said.

“We feel we deserve to be here.”

As well as the new signings, Western Suburbs will hope Ugochukwu Obi Moneke can have another damaging season in front of goals.

Moneke finished last season as the second most prolific scorer in the competition, netting a total of 21 goals in as many games.

This included four hat tricks.

“He’s a sensational player, a very class striker,” he said.

Western Suburbs’ first match of the season will be against Whittlesea United on Saturday, March 23 at Ralph Reserve.

In other opening round matches, Brimbank Stallions hosts Strathmore, Sydenham Park is at home to Clifton Hill and Westgate is on the road against Geelong.