Avondale FC produced a season that won’t be replicated

This article was originally published by Football Victoria.

The Avengers claimed the Championship for the first time in their history on Sunday, September 10 at Olympic Village, in front of just over 3000 fans, defeating South Melbourne 4-0 in a fitting end to a dominant season.

Across the season, Avondale won a remarkable 21 matches, reaching 67 points for the season – breaking the record for the most points in a single NPLM season.

The Avengers’ only defeats for the calendar year came against South Melbourne in Round 12 (3-0) and in the preliminary stages of the Australia Cup against Heidelberg (1-0).

Avondale produced a season never before seen in the NPL Victoria, scoring 84 goals across all competitions (2.3 per game).

Stefan Zinni led all-comers with 14 goals for the season, while Liam Boland (11), Yusuf Ahmed (11) and Zander Guy (10) all reached double figures.

The even spread across this Avondale lineup was evident to see at the 2023 NPLM Gold Medal Night with four players making it into the top ten of the vote count.

23 votes Stefan Zinni (3rd)

21 votes George Mells (5th)

17 votes Kristian Trajceski (7th)

14 votes Zander Guy (Equal 10th)

Veteran Liam Boland ended his NPLM Victoria career on the best possible note, finishing with a Premiership and Championship in his final season along with becoming the all-time goal-scorer and first player to reach 100 goals.

Avondale’s success can be traced back to their connection and belief amongst the playing group, after threatening to claim their inaugural title in 2019, before COVID-19 halted all momentum.

In 2022, the NPLM resumed normal competition and fell two points out of the top six, and with the nucleus of the Championship winning side already at Avenger Park, the club got to work.

The club found the final pieces of the puzzle, recruiting captain Ayden Brice (Melbourne Knights), Zander Guy (St Albans), and shot-stopper Thomas Manos (Melbourne Knights) in the offseason, and mid-season they added experienced midfielder George Mells (Port Melbourne) and emerging forward George Ott (St Albans) to their lineup.

Both men played their role in Avondale securing silverware, with Mells finishing fifth in the NPLM Gold Medal and the latter scoring seven goals for the year.

George Ott’s form for the Avengers earned him a call-up for New Zealand’s U23 (OlyWhites) National Team OFC’s Men’s Olympic Qualifier Final in Auckland against Fiji on September 10.

The forward helped his nation secure qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympics, before heading to Olympic Village the following day, where he came on as a second-half substitute and assisted Liston Diaz’s stoppage time goal in the Grand Final victory.

Last Sunday’s victory completed the rise of Avondale, who was first promoted to the NPLM in 2015 following a remarkable rise through the ranks of Victorian football including only a 12-month stint in NPL2.

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