My ideas for regional teams in the A-Leagues

The current map of A-Leagues Men teams

I truly believe that the A-League needs to expand, both in terms of mens and womens leagues. The issue of promotion and relegation is being explored, which is fantastic. However, that’s not what I am going to talk about today.

What I want to put out here is my idea for potential team names for rural and regional team names across Australia and New Zealand if they were to enter an expanded league system.

Before everyone starts complaining about the existing teams, etc – this is a fantasy exercise. I’m not trying to denigrate teams or clubs that already exist in these cities. This is me having a bit of fun with potential team/club names, in line with the traditional “franchise” model.

I have leaned towards the prefix/suffix model while also leaning towards traditional names where possible. I’ve also spent some time looking at the history of the towns, or alliterating when I can.

So here goes. I generally assumed that urban areas of about fifty thousand people, where towns might share populations. Some of those areas might lean a bit smaller, but go with me.

Australian Capital Territory

Canberra (465k) – Canberra Athletic (playing at Bruce Stadium or a new stadium, club colours are green and white)

This would include the Queanbeyean area, potentially heading up to Goulburn. There’s a natural rivalry against Sydney and Wellington – the latter being called the Capital Derby. There’s a chance that Wagga Wagga would consider them a rival.

New South Wales

Albury (48k) – Albury Young Boys (playing at an upgraded Greenfield Park, club colours are grey and blue)

It should be noted that Albury has the Victorian town of Wodonga connected to it, with both cities combining for a population of about 93k. That would result in a rivalry against Wodonga that would generate a decent crowd. They would also have a rivalry with Wagga Wagga.

Bathurst (34k) – Bathurst Miners (playing at an upgraded Carrington Park, club colours are claret and blue)

There should be a natural rivalry against Orange – believe it or not, these two towns hate each other.

Bowral-Nowra (79k) – Bowral-Nowra Vale (playing at an upgraded Shoalhaven Rugby Park, club colours are forest green and aqua)

Bowral and Mittagong are largely together, and close to Nowra & Bomaderry. With that in mind, I have combined these two areas into one “team.” They could probably represent the south coast extremely well, while representing an excellent road trip for Canberra.

Coffs Harbour (48k) – Coffs Harbour Lumberjacks (playing at Coffs Harbour International Sports Stadium, club colours are yellow and red)

There should be a natural rivalry against Port Macquarie.

Dubbo (34k) – Dubbo Wiradjuri (playing at an upgraded Apex Oval, club colours are ochre and red)

Dubbo and Tamworth may form a rivalry, based on their geography.

Lismore (28k) – Lismore Ferriers (playing at a new stadium near Lismore Turf Club, club colours are dark green and timber brown)

If you include Byron Bay and Ballina into the population count, the population passes 60k. Rivalries pop up against Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and the Gold Coast

Orange (41k) – Orange Scholars (playing at Wade Park, or a new stadium near Towac Park Racecourse, club colours are orange and white)

There should be a natural rivalry against Bathurst – believe it or not, these two towns hate each other.

Port Macquarie (50k) – Port Macquarie Academicals (playing at an upgraded Port Macquarie Regional Stadium, club colours are bright yellow and koala grey)

There should be a natural rivalry against Coffs Harbour.

Tamworth (43k) – Tamworth Electric (playing at an upgraded Scully Park, club colours are gold and black)

Dubbo and Tamworth may form a rivalry, based on their geography.

Wagga Wagga (48k) – Wagga Wagga Old Boys (playing at an upgraded McDonalds Park, club colours are light green and aqua blue)

Wagga Wagga would have natural rivalries with Albury and Canberra, based purely on geography.

Wollongong (262k) – Wollongong Wolves (playing at WIN Stadium, club colours are red and black)

There is already a team in Wollongong that is extremely well-regarded. There has been a significant push by many to bring it into the A-League and I’d be happy to see them there. They would have rivalries with Perth Glory, Canberra, Sydney FC and any team on the South Coast of New South Wales.

New Zealand – North Island

Auckland (1.47 m) – Auckland City (playing at Eden Park, club colours are navy blue and white)

Auckland City would naturally form a rivalry with Wellington, due to the nature of big cities. Every team in the country would want to beat Auckland City, given their enormous profile.

Hamilton (177k) – Hamilton Wanderers (playing at FMG Stadium, club colours are black and sky blue)

Aside from the obvious need to beat Auckland on every occasion, their closest geographical rival will be Tauranga-Rotorua.

Napier (66k) – Napier Technical (playing at McLean Park, club colours are ocean blue and grape)

Aside from the obvious need to beat Auckland on every occasion, their closest geographical rival is Palmerston North.

New Plymouth (58k) – Sporting Club New Plymouth (playing at Yarrow Stadium, club colours are black and white)

Aside from the obvious need to beat Auckland on every occasion, their closest geographic rival is Palmerston North.

Palmerston North (81k) – Palmerston North End Rovers (playing at Central Energy Trust Arena, club colours are green and red)

Aside from the obvious need to beat Auckland on every occasion, their closest geographical rivals are Napier and New Plymouth.

Tauranga-Rotorua (210k) – Tauranga-Rotorua Ihenga (playing at Trustpower Baypark Stadium, club colours are kiwifruit colours – inside and out)

Aside from the obvious need to beat Auckland on every occasion, their closest geographical rival will be Hamilton.

Whangarei (54k) – Whangarei Hapu (playing at Semenoff Stadium, club colours are limestone white and red)

Auckland City is the closest geographic rival to Whangarei.

New Zealand – South Island

Christchurch (383k) – Christchurch United (playing at Orangetheory Stadium, club colours are claret and blue)

Aside from the obvious need to beat Auckland on every occasion, Christ Church and Dunedin will create an instant rivalry in line with the traditional Canterbury-Otago rivalry.

Dunedin (106k) – Dunedin Royals (playing at Forsyth Barr Stadium, club colours are green and white)

Aside from the obvious need to beat Auckland on every occasion, Christ Church and Dunedin will create an instant rivalry in line with the traditional Canterbury-Otago rivalry.

Invercargill (50k) – Invercargill South End (playing at Rugby Park Stadium, club colours are aurora australis green and ochre)

Aside from the obvious need to beat Auckland on every occasion, Dunedin Royals will be the closest geographical rival, in what would be dubbed “The Battle for the South.”

Nelson (51k) – Nelson County (playing at Trafalgar Park, club colours are blue and white)

Aside from the obvious need to beat Auckland on every occasion, an excellent rival for Nelson would be Wellington Phoenix. Such a derby could be titled around the Cook Strait or the ferries that regularly cross between the North and South Islands.

Northern Territory

Darwin (133k) – Darwin Australis (playing at an upgraded Territory Rugby League Stadium, club colours are sunset orange and black)

Darwin does not have any nearby rivals to justify a geographic rivalry. However, political issues can generate rivalries, so I can foresee a rivalry between Darwin Australis and Canberra Athletic.

Queensland

Betoota (???) – Betoota Peacocks (playing in a new stadium inside the Betoota Race Club, club colours are red and white)

There are not enough clubs playing within inland Queensland, so Betoota remains a prime candidate for such a club. The Betoota Advocate would be a wonderful sponsor for them and would provide an inspiring insight into the club. Their closest rivals would be Brisbane Roar, Gold Coast Palace and Adelaide United.

Bundaberg (72k) – Bundaberg Runners (playing at a new stadium next to Salter Oval, club colours are black and white)

When I think about Bundaberg, I primarily think about rum and the tradition of “rum runners.” I felt that runners would be the best name for them, and it would not surprise me if Bundaberg Rum or one of their affiliated products wound up sponsoring the club. Their closest rivals would be Gladstone and Hervey Bay. The Gladstone-Bundaberg rivalry comes about from 2017, when the Bundaberg mayor called Gladstone “a one trick town.”

Cairns (155k) – Cairns North End (playing at a renovated Barlow Park, club colours are orange and light blue)

Given that Cairns is one of the most northern cities in the country, North End is a logical suffix for the team. They would have a natural derby against Townsville. Cairns North End should seek partnerships with the Cairns Taipans, to minimize administration costs. This rivalry has existed for many years due to both cities seeking to be called the capital of Far North Queensland.

Gladstone (46k) – Gladstone Orient (playing at an upgraded Marley Brown Oval, club colours are gold and silver)

Their natural rivals are Rockhampton, further up the coast from them, and Bundaberg, further south. The Gladstone-Bundaberg rivalry comes about from 2017, when the Bundaberg mayor called Gladstone “a one trick town.”

Gold Coast (710k) – Gold Coast Palace (playing at Cbus Super Stadium, club colours are yellow and blue)

Brisbane is the natural rival to Gold Coast Palace. Lismore may also challenge Gold Coast in the Influencer Trophy.

Hervey Bay (56k) – Heart of Hervey Bay (playing at a new stadium at Ralph Stafford Park – ideally a multi-sports complex through the whole block, club colours are pink and grey)

Obvious rivals are Bundaberg and the Sunshine Coast.

Mackay (81k) – Mackay Pioneers (playing at an upgraded BB Print Stadium, club colours are white and light brown)

Mackay’s rivals would be Rockhampton and Townsville, although Townsville would not consider them a major rival.

Rockhampton (79k) – Rockhampton Red Imps (playing at an upgraded Browne Park, club colours are red and white)

Leaning into the name of the highly successful team from Gibraltar, I can see Rockhampton rocking the name with great glee. Their natural rivals are Gladstone, further down the coast from them, and Mackay, further north.

Sunshine Coast (348k) – Sunshine Coast Diamonds (playing at an upgraded Sunshine Coast Stadium, club colours are sunshine yellow and red)

The closest rivals are Hervey Bay and Brisbane Roar.

Toowoomba (140k) – Toowoomba Rangers (playing at an upgraded Clive Berghofer Stadium, club colours are claret and blue)

Toowoomba’s primary rival would be Brisbane, given that they would be considered the forgotten stepchild of southern Queensland

Townsville (183k) – Sporting Townsville (playing at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, club colours are green and blue)

They would have a natural derby against Townsville. Giving them the name “Sporting” opens up opportunities for ownership collaborations with the North Queensland Cowboys. This rivalry has existed for many years due to both cities seeking to be called the capital of Far North Queensland.

Tasmania

Devonport (28k) – Northwest Fusilliers (playing at a significantly upgraded Valley Road, club colours are red)

By incorporating Burnie, Ulverstone and other northwest/northern towns of Tasmania into this club, the population catchment expands to 73k. Such a catchment area creates a three way derby in line with the Cascadia Cup in MLS.

Hobart (219k) – Hobart City (playing at an upgraded Domain Athletic Centre, club colours are burnham green and yellow)

There has been a long push for a team into Tasmania, and Hobart seems to be the most logical place for it as the largest city. Hobart City would isolate other areas of the state, but that encourages investment in other clubs across the state. Such a catchment area creates a three way derby in line with the Cascadia Cup in MLS.

Launceston (89k) – Launceston Town (playing at a new stadium next to the North Tasmania Junior Soccer Association, club colours are blue and apple red)

Launceston theoretically has a metropolitan catchment of over 110k, which supports their potential justification for a team. Such a catchment area creates a three way derby in line with the Cascadia Cup in MLS.

Victoria

Ballarat (110k) – Royal Ballarat (playing at an upgraded Morshead Park Stadium, club colours are black and white)

Ballarat and Bendigo have a centuries-old rivalry that dates back to the Gold Rush times of the 19th century. Those rivalries have continued due to economic and political similarities, so there is no reason for them to stop now.

Bendigo (102k) – Real Bendigo (playing at an upgraded Tom Flood Sports Centre, club colours are claret and blue)

Ballarat and Bendigo have a centuries-old rivalry that dates back to the Gold Rush times of the 19th century. Those rivalries have continued due to economic and political similarities, so there is no reason for them to stop now.

Geelong (282k) – Geelong Albion (playing at a new stadium on Belmont Common, club colours are navy blue and white)

Geelong Albion’s instant rivals are Western United and Melton Town, both due to geography.

Melton (76k) – Melton Town (playing at a new stadium south of the Melton City Council and west of Hannah Watts Park, near Melton Recreation Reserve, club colours are brown and wool white)

Melton Town’s instant rivals are Western United and Geelong Albion, both due to geography. Melton would also have a rivalry with Royal Ballarat.

Mildura (52k) – Mildura County (playing at a new stadium in Quandong Park, club colours are orange and purple)

Mildura will have a rivalry with Adelaide United. This comes about because of the traditional South Australia-Victoria rivalry that has always existed, as well as being the closest geographical rival. However, Adelaide United is unlikely to consider them a rival.

Shepparton (53k) – Shepparton Shepherds (playing at an upgraded stadium within Shepparton Sports City, club colours are white and blue)

Shepparton’s closest rival will be Real Bendigo.

Traralgon (42k) – Traralgon Dalakine, La Trobe Victoria (playing at an upgraded Latrobe City Stadium, club colours are maroon and black)

Traralgon could take in Morwell, Moe and other cities throughout the La Trobe valley for a significant catchment. While this might cause some tension between some fan groups based in certain towns, taking a more unified club name that incorporates the region could settle some of those issues. While it would have no immediate geographic rivals, it would probably lend itself towards Melbourne City, given their relocation to the southeastern suburbs of Melbourne.

Warrnambool (41k) – Warrnambool Nomads (playing at a new stadium near Reid Oval, club colours are ocean blue)

Warrnambool Nomads’ closest rival will be Royal Ballarat.

Wodonga (35k) – Wodonga Old Boys (playing in a new stadium at Willow Park, club colours are red and black)

It should be noted that Wodonga has the New South Welsh town of Albury connected to it, with both cities combining for a population of about 93k. That would result in a rivalry against Albury that would generate a decent crowd.

Western Australia

Albany (35k) – Albany New Saints (playing in a new stadium east of Retravision Stadium, club colours are violet and white)

Albany could potentially call on other cities east of it for a fan base. While Esperance might be a bit far, there are towns in the nearby area that might choose to support it. Their closest rivals would be Busselton, Bunbury and possibly Kalgoorlie.

Bunbury (75k) – Bunbury City (playing at a specific stadium as part of the Hay Park Sports Complex, club colours are navy and blue)

Bunbury and Busselton would have an instant derby between them, given their links to each other.

Busselton (40k) – Busselton Forest (playing at a new stadium near Bovell Oval, preferably facing Bussell Highway, club colours are forest green)

Busselton could potentially call on other cities in the southwest for a fan base. In some regards, it would compete with Albany for fans, due to how close they could be to each other. It would create an interesting derby between both clubs.

Geraldton (37k) – Geraldton Argyle (playing in a new stadium between the Geraldton Golf Club and the Geraldton Turf Club on bush land, club colours are wheat yellow and light green)

Geraldton does not have any nearby rivals in this situation, but can call on many nearby regional areas for fans if it is smart. Perth Glory makes an obvious rival for Geraldton (along with all the other regional towns), but it’s hard to work out who else would make for a logical rival for a derby.

Kalgoorlie (29k) – Kalgoorlie Rovers (playing in a new stadium inside the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Racing Club, club colours are claret and blue)

Kalgoorlie would make for an interesting choice, and I would suggest that their closest geographic rival would be Perth. At a regional level, Albany and Geraldton could be close, but Perth Glory is the closest physically.

So what do you think? What town do you think deserves a team, what would you call it, what are their colours and who are their natural rivals? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.