WanderCity: The Crossover


Crossovers are a staple of any freestyle footballer’s playbook. Take our word for it – we once completed three consecutive keepy-uppies when nobody happened to be around and hence feel suitably qualified to discuss street skills.

It’s a delightful ability to possess, sure, but its frequency in competitive fixtures is about equal to its usefulness in them.
More evident today will be a legitimately valuable kind of crossover for both parties involved in the match – that of the squad DNA shared between Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City.
Despite being the Hyundai A-League’s two youngest clubs, Wanderers and City have still found time to establish an unofficial exchange program with several notable alumnus.
A recent beneficiary of the continued crossover, Nick Kalmar, scored against Friday’s opponents Melbourne Victory in his spell as an injury replacement player in Parramatta, while lively forward Golgol Mebrahtu remains at Wanderland following his January 2014 switch.
Two players have occupied more prominent roles for each, with Aaron Mooy and Brendan Hamill carving out careers at both clubs. The latter began his professional career at the then-Melbourne Heart in 2010 before earning a move abroad to K-League club Seongnam FC.
Hamill quickly gained the trust of Tony Popovic upon returning to Australia with Western Sydney, indicating an extended stay under the former defender’s guidance will relaunch his promising career.
Mooy, meanwhile, signed from Scotland as a foundation player with Wanderers, accruing two Grand Finals appearances and four goals in his 49 matches prior to departing for City in the off-season.
Recognising their efforts only serves to sharpen the focus on one person that has served the two clubs with the most distinction. That individual scored for neither side, nor kept an opposing forward from doing so. He succeeded in far more than that.
Ante Milicic spent two seasons as an assistant coach at the Victorian club before agreeing to join friend and former Socceroos teammate Tony Popovic to help sculpt the new Wanderers. The appointment was Milicic’s second at a start-up outfit in the space of two seasons. It paid off for all.
After assisting Popovic for two terms, the former prolific striker was last year called on by Ange Postecoglou to perform the same role for a national team he represented on six occasions. It hardly seems coincidental that Milicic’s arrival at his last two stops have yielded a domestic premiership and an AFC Asian Cup trophy.
If that sets the tone, the Australian football public will rightfully hope for more crossovers of the kind on show today.