By Nick Creely
With the deadline nearing for the A-League expansion process, Socceroos legend Paul Wade – a Dandenong local – has signed on as a Team 11 ambassador.
As the sixth-most capped international in the country’s history, and a long time Australian captain, Wade is one of the most renowned figures to come out of the south-east corridor.
Wade was born in England and moved to Australia when he was 11, and went to high school at St John’s Regional College – just two kilometres from the site of Dandenong’s proposed rectangular stadium – and played junior football with Dandenong City and then Doveton.
The 56-year-old played as a midfielder for NSL powerhouse South Melbourne while playing for the Socceroos between 1986 and 1996, before moving to Sydney, where primarily travels the country as a public speaker with his Paul Wade Life Skills programs in schools, sports clubs and corporate settings.
But as the deadline for the A-League’s expansion process nears, Wade wants to bring an A-League club to his sentimental home – the south-east of Melbourne.
“I’m proud to tell people that I come from the south-east suburbs of Melbourne,” Wade said.
“I want everyone else to know who we are and what we stand for.
“Don’t be surprised if Team 11 wins the grand final with an average crowd of 20,000 fans – I sure won’t be.”
Wade joins good friend Theresa Deas – who he attended St John’s with – as well as Vince Grella, Debbie Nichols and Clint Bolton as official Team 11 ambassadors, strengthening the bid in the final stages of the process.
Current day players and coaches such as Jackson Irvine, Bailey Wright, Scott McDonald and John Hutchinson are among the increasing amount of south-east Victorian products to have publicly backed Team 11’s bid for A-League and W-League inclusion.
The Greater Dandenong, City of Casey and Cardinia Shire has the backing of a large amount of its local clubs, such as powerhouse clubs in Dandenong Thunder, Berwick City and Dandenong City.