Laverton Park not only took out the Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 5 west title this season – the club took its first steps on the path to a sustainable future.
The Reds were starting to become an irrelevance in the grand scheme, relegated to the state league’s bottom tier where the smaller clubs operate or the expansion clubs begin their journey.
Enough was enough for the Reds in 2017.
They appointed the well-credentialled and home-grown Alfonso Opazo to take over as coach, heralding an instant shift in expectations from the board down.
Opazo needed the committee to back his work in the transfer market and the players to buy into his philosophies.
The title – clinched with a 9-0 penultimate round win over Maidstone United – was the icing on the cake.
“That was a pretty special day,” Opazo said. “A big crowd came out that day and a lot of supporters that haven’t been to the club for years, which was good to see.
“That was the plan from day one, but to actually go out and do it is special.”
This was no ordinary mission for Opazo.
Not only did he want to see his junior club thriving once more, he also wanted to follow in the footsteps of his dad, Alfonso snr.
Alfonso snr won the title as a player with Laverton Park back in 1975 – the last time the Reds won a league title.
Laverton Park did it in style this season.
The entertaining Reds scored 69 goals, the most in the competition, and conceded 18, the best of any defence.
“One thing I pride my teams on is that attacking flair and scoring goals,” Opazo said.
“Being an attacking player when I played, I try to follow that same aggressive approach in regards to attacking and pressuring from
the front and putting teams on the back
“When we needed to defend, we all defended together.”
While Opazo delivered the title, it was the professionalism he instilled back into the club that will be his legacy should he move on.
Opazo is weighing up coaching offers from other clubs and needs to sit down with his family to discuss his future.
He has not ruled out a return to Laverton Park, but should that not eventuate, he is comfortable with the state of the club.
“To bring in a whole new side and win the title is great,” he said.
“But to bring the supporters back who were starving for their side to be competitive, the club hadn’t been competitive for years – that’s satisfying from my perspective.”