Two of Western Australia’s most historic football clubs, the Northern Redbacks and ECU Joondalup Soccer Club, recently announced a merger to form Perth RedStar – a club that will incorporate women’s, men’s and youth NPL football.
The Redbacks, Western Australia’s most successful female only club and the men’s ECU Joondalup side believe that this new venture will being major benefits to both entities in the long term.
NPL WA's Perth RedStar creation
- Northern Redbacks and ECU Joondalup have both produced a number of Matildas and Socceroos respectively.
- Perth RedStar believe that honouring both club’s glorious past is a key element in the new set up.
- Former Northern Redbacks player Morgan Aquino, now with Perth Glory in the Liberty A-League welcomes the merger.
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General manager of the newly merged club Simon Hicks spoke exclusively to FTBL and The Women’s Game about the joint venture.
“The Redbacks and ECU Joondalup are two huge WA clubs with a history of developing youth players.
"The name for the merged club takes inspiration from Red Star FC of Paris, founded by then FIFA President Jules Rimet, linking both clubs' association with the colour red and the new club's huge ambition for the future.
“Conversations began between the two clubs in 2021 with both parties having needs for improved facilities, Northern Redbacks more urgently than ECU Joondalup SC.
"The idea was for Northern Redbacks to come on board and immediately gain access to the NPL Women's-compliant venue currently hosting the men's club, while both clubs could then pool their resources to work towards the long-term vision of a new home.”
The Redbacks, formed in 1991 as Morley Windmills were the inaugural WNPL WA Grand Final winners in 2020 and the state’s most famous and successful female-only club.
Prior to the establishment of the Women’s NPL in the Western Australia, Northern Redbacks had won 15 Premier League Championships. Nine state league cups were also held aloft.
The Redbacks also had the outstanding achievement of winning the Inter-State Challenge Cup in 2013 by defeating Adelaide City.
The club have also produced three Matildas, Lisa De Vanna, Kim Carroll and Collette McCallum as well as several international players for Wales, Northern Ireland, and Zambia and a number of A-League Women Perth Glory players.
The Western Australian club have also always been about far more than its senior team.
They fielded a total of seven teams down to U14s and have experienced huge success. Age group league championships were won and a U16 side represented the club at the World Youth Cup in Sweden – the first WA-based team to ever do so.
ECU Joondalup likewise have a proud past since their formation in 1992 as Joondalup City. Within five years they made the top tier of WA state football and by 1999 had won the Premier League title with the NPL title lifted in 2020.
For their part, Joondalup have produced six Socceroos down the years, with Chris Herd, Shane Lowry, Brandon O’Neill, Adam Taggart, Rhys Williams and Ryan Williams all having worn the red shirt of the club in the past.
Hicks reflected on the challenges that were involved in pulling the merger off.
“There were numerous time-consuming governance pieces involved in the amalgamation including constitutional changes and approvals from various bodies, however this was understandable and a very important part of setting up Perth RedStar FC for future success.”
As both teams have strong histories, Hicks is mindful of the need to keep memories of those past glories alive.
“Preserving each clubs' history and the character that made each club such a huge success in their own right was something that we considered very carefully throughout the amalgamation process.
“The long history of players who have been developed through each clubs' youth ranks will always be a part of the RedStar story, as will all those honoured through Life Memberships and club milestones.
“We were also very keen to protect the value of the Northern Redbacks female-only environment which has been a huge part of their success, so making it clear in our constitution, values and structure that our men's and women's teams would receive the same resources and support was essential to our plans.”
Perth Glory A-League goalkeeper Morgan Aquino is a former Redbacks player who has fond memories of her time with the team and sees huge benefits in the merger.
“I am really excited. The girls deserve to be exposed more and with merging with a men’s club, it will bring that," Aquino told TWG and FTBL.
“I have so many fond memories from my time at the Redbacks. From the first season I was there, they welcomed me whole heartedly and accepted me for who I am.
"I have always been greeted by smiles and kind word. The camaraderie within the club is amazing every single person there is a good person.
“I’ll never forget when we won the Top Four final against Fremantle City on penalties. I think it was down to the fact that as a team we became really close and we gave ourselves the best opportunity to win and we did!
"It’s now an exciting time for the Redbacks with the opportunities the tie-up with Perth RedStar brings.”
The RedStar’s general manager recognises that gradual growth is the key to sustainability, but has big aims longer term.
“The immediate plans for the 2022 season are to launch the new brand of RedStar in terms of our new kits and a number of significant facilities upgrades funded by the club over the off-season period.
“We are also excited about the prospect of merging our two coaching and committee structures to facilitate as much sharing of expertise and resources as possible, which will be an ongoing process through the year.
“Longer term, the club's ambition is no secret and we ultimately want to be able to offer a development pathway to the very pinnacle of Australian football, and we are equally committed to achieving this across both the male and female teams at the club.”
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