In their seven seasons in the Hyundai A-League, Western Sydney Wanderers have certainly lived up to their name and Keanu Baccus knows it better than most.
For the past three campaigns, the tireless midfielder has been covering every blade of grass from the Wanderers engine room, racking up 41 Hyundai A-League appearances since his first-team debut in 2016.
Before then, he was one of the red and black faithful, cheering from the sidelines as the club moved from the old Parramatta Stadium to play games at ANZ Stadium, at Spotless Stadium, in Campbelltown and Penrith.
But on Saturday 20 July, Western Sydney are coming home.
“It feels good to be back,” Baccus told a-league.com.au.
“I was in the crowd when Wanderers were in Parramatta back in the day.
“It was a great atmosphere in a smaller stadium so you felt closer to the pitch and the players.
“The atmosphere was very different to playing at ANZ or Spotless where you are that bit further back away from the action. That atmosphere was just amazing.”
“Just to play in the new stadium is going to be class. I can’t wait.”
Baccus used to attend matches at the old Parramatta Stadium with a group of school friends, ‘local boys’ as he refers to them.
The 21-year-old holds those memories of his youth dearly and he is dreaming of running out on the all-new hallowed turf to feel the same vibes as the old ‘Wanderland’.
“That’s what we’re hoping for this year,” he said.
“The size of it, the incline of the chairs, it’s amazing. We had a recovery session there, the facilities there are state of the art.
“It’s definitely exciting and I can’t wait for the season to start.”
The are no guarantees it is going to be a happy homecoming. Wanderers’ opponents, Leeds United, have a rich history of success in England and a strong pedigree, narrowly missing out on promotion to the Premier League last season.
“It’s going to be a tough challenge,” Baccus said.
“We’re both in pre-season, but it’s still going to be a challenge. They will be physically demanding, so we’ve got to be up for the fight.”
Over the off-season, head coach Markus Babbel has made major surgery to a squad which Baccus admits underachieved in last season’s eighth-place finish.
Personnel may have changed, but the German approach has not, according to Baccus.
“We’re a couple of weeks in, it’s been very good, a lot of positives,” Baccus added.
“We want to work around the same base: to work hard and to play as a team.
“We’ve got some new senior boys come in. The first impressions are very good, they are very professional guys. Hopefully we can learn from them.
“We’ve also got players who joined us midway through last season who are in their first pre-season with the team. Hopefully they all add something, do well for the team and get us going.”
After a couple of seasons without a trip to the Hyundai A-League Finals Series, a fresh start might be exactly what Western Sydney need to reach the promised land of the top six.
But Baccus insists the club who lifted the Hyundai A-League Championship in their maiden campaign have even more in their sights.
“There’s only a limited amount of teams in the A-League so everyone wants to make the top six regardless of who you are,” he added.
“We want success this year. Everyone wants to win the league and we want to aim for that target.”