On Australia Day, Western United hosted Adelaide United at the Whitten Oval.
The match was an instant classic, with seven goals being scored as the Reds eventually won 4-3, thanks to a late goal from Nathan Konstandopoulos.
The Reds scored three in the first 18 minutes before Mark Rudan’s side turned it around to have it at 3-3 early in the second half.
The Whitten Oval was praised for its competency to host an A-League fixture, with many fans and industry experts pleading that they begin playing there more regularly.
On paper, that makes perfect sense.
It’s in the heart of the western suburbs of Melbourne, it has a boutique stadium feel and fans can begin identifying with the location for fixtures here on out.
First game at the Whitten Oval for Western United. Just play all the games here in future. Closer to pitch than Geelong, fans can be coralled into an area that can create atmosphere..easy for everyone in the west to get to. No brainer
— Michael Lynch (@MickLynch_Age) January 26, 2020
First thoughts on Whitten Oval for Football?
Not horrible. Seen much worse. Closer to the action than Marvel or GMHBA, on the grandstand side at least.
— Aussie Groundhopper (@OzGroundHop) January 26, 2020
However, despite all of this, there is still a large contingent of people who believe Western United could utilise someplace else and to better effect.
For anyone who followed the NSL or currently follows the NPL in Victoria, Somers Street would sound awfully familiar and for good reason.
Knights Stadium is one of the most prestigious stadiums across all NPL leagues in Australia. It can hold 15,000 people and it also sits in the heart of western Melbourne.
The ground is in pristine condition all year round and to this day, it remains one of the most historic soccer grounds in Melbourne.
— Steven Skinner (@skinnerx76) January 29, 2020
Many soccer fans online are lobbying for Western to play A-League fixtures at the home of the Melbourne Knights as their brand new stadium nears completion.
So far, Western have used three Australian Rules football grounds as their home grounds in A-League games, with the Whitten Oval the most recent.
Mars Stadium in Ballarat and GMHBA Stadium in Geelong are the other two, with opinion split on whether those locations have been successful thus far.
This divisiveness has led to many feeling change is needed in the short term, prior to that new stadium. The Whitten Oval certainly did a fine job of hosting the Australia Day clash and the partnership between Western United and AFL club the Western Bulldogs could certainly continue if the ground endures sustained success.
Knights Stadium could provide a similar, if not better experience for Western United and their fans should the club play there.
But there are two factors which may potentially be leaving them a little indecisive.
Firstly, utilising public transport to get to Knights Stadium is rather challenging. Driving to get to and from the ground would be the best bet for anyone attending.
But for those who perhaps don’t have licenses or who are too young to drive, it’s much different.
For example, for Flinders Street Station, it’s at best, one hour through two different forms of transport and then a healthy walk to the ground.
Then, there’s also the simple fact that the ground is in Sunshine North.
The western suburbs of Melbourne have garnered a rather unfair reputation of being notoriously dangerous, especially at night. Granted, they’re not perfect, but many fans will not want to be venturing to the ground on their own.
Despite being smack bang in the middle of the western suburbs, the general location of Knights Stadium is probably what is stopping Western United from playing matches there.
The problem with Knights stadium is a lack of public transport. I live a 10-15 min drive from there but if I was to get PT would take me close to an hour with 2 buses and a long walk.
— PREMIER LEAGUE 🏆 (@JakePorritt) January 26, 2020
The Whitten Oval and its accessibility are infinitely better.
Transport to the ground is very easy, with only a 20 minute train ride from Flinders Street Station followed by a five minute walk to the ground in a populated area.
For comparison, the walk from Jolimont Station to the MCG, something that is done regularly by AFL fans during the AFL season, is also five minutes and in a populated area.
I think it’s a better size than GMHBA, and probably a better location. Obvs Ovals aren’t ideal, but in the interim it’s not a bad solution. Quite honestly, I’d prefer the Knights Stadium, but not sure if that’s a possibility..
— simonhill1894 (@simonhill1894) January 26, 2020
What are your thoughts on the use of the Whitten Oval for Western United games? Are you for or against it?
Do you feel that Knights Stadium would be a better fit for Mark Rudan’s side? Let us know on Twitter @Soccersceneau and get in on the conversation.