It’s a case of back to the future for Australian Football with the announcement of the National* (*by national we mean New South Wales and Victory) Second Tier meaning some old favourites from NSL days gone by to take part in its inaugural season.
Along with that, the A-League is set to expand with a team from Auckland in 2024 meaning a Kiwi Derby is now on the cards.
Avid readers of the Ladbrokes blog would be aware of our world-famous list of defunct NBL Clubs so we thought we’d have a crack at making one with some of Australian Football/Soccer/The World Game that are gone and in the case of some of them, very much forgotten.
A quick Google search suggests that many of the NSL clubs are still kicking on in respective state leagues, have featured in the FFA/Australia Cup and some to join the National Second Tier in the coming years.
These are just some of the Aussie Soccer clubs that are gone to have graced the top-flight competitions in this country.
Gold Coast United
Backed by Clive Palmer, Gold Coast United played three seasons in the A-League before being booted out by the FFA after the 2011-12 season.
Gold Coast United was a strong team in their first two seasons in the A-League finishing in the top 4 and playing in the finals.
Crowds were low at their home games in Robina, averaging just under 5000 fans and at one stage, the club’s controversial owner Clive Palmer capped the stadium attendance as a form of “punshiment”
In what would be the clubs final season, Gold Coast United had a serious form slump with player, staff and coaching contracts all in dispute.
Clive Palmer was at war with the FFA and forced the team to wear “FREEDOM OF SPEECH” as a sponsor on their kits in their match against Melbourne Victory.
Four days later, the FFA booted Gold Coast United from the A-League and would replace them with a team from Western Sydney.
Gold Coast United was recently re-formed in 2017 and currently competes in the Queensland NPL.
New Zealand Football Kingz/Knights
A spin-off from the NSL’s Football Kingz (yes, that’s KingZ with a Z), when the NSL was replaced by the A-League in 2005, the team from across the ditch’s re-brand would be known as the New Zealand Knights.
The Knights struggled in their two A-League seasons with the FFA revoking the licence from the club owners with the team to play out the 2006-07 season.
They would be replaced by the Wellington Phoenix in time for the 2007-08 season.
It’s rumoured that the new Auckland A-League team could be taking on the Knights name and colours when they debut next year.
North Queensland Fury
Fury’s time in the A-League was very short-lived having only participated in just two seasons.
Most people remember the North Queensland Fury for having Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler play for them.
Like most defunct sporting teams, low attendance, an inability to attract sponsors, constant bad results both on and off the field and a major sporting body not willing to back them saw their licence being revoked by the FFA at the end of the 2010-11 season.
A spin-off of the North Queensland Fury – the Northern Fury was reformed in 2012 to play in the Queensland NPL and FFA Cup.
For the 2018 season, they rebranded as North Queensland United before folding once again at the conclusion of that campaign.
Given the old National Soccer League is defunct, many of the clubs that participated in its chequered and colourful history are not with most currently playing in state Leagues as the same entity, merged clubs or spin-offs.
The Wikipedia NSL page has this comprehensive family tree of where all the former NSL clubs are at:
A total of 42 clubs participated in the NSL era and many have re-appeared on the big stage during the FFA Cup with the likes of South Melbourne, Brisbane Strikers, Heidelberg, APIA Leichhardt, Marconi, Melbourne Knights and many others all participating.
These clubs are the heart and soul of the game, however, some have left never to return.
The Cosmos represented our nation’s capital from 1995 – 2001 in the NSL playing out of Bruce Stadium.
Plagued by financial problems, when Soccer Australia opted to reduce the NSL’s teams from 16 to 12 during the 2000-01 season, the Cosmos were booted out along with the Brisbane Strikers.
The move was deemed controversial with Soccer Australia changing their minds and allowing the Cosmos and Strikers to re-enter the NSL, however, the Canberra club’s financial problems were dire and the club folded just before the 2001-02 season would get underway.
The club, which was tied to the Carlton Blues AFL Club played home games at Princes Park and featured the likes of Mark Bresciano, Vinnie Grella, Josh Kennedy, Archie Thompson and Simon Colossimo.
Carlton was even somewhat successful, having made the Grand Final in their inaugural season finishing runner-up to South Melbourne in 1998 and playing in a preliminary final in 1999-2000.
While Carlton had the potential to be a powerhouse, it was the same old story, constantly plauged by low crowds and financial woes.
The Blues withdrew from the NSL after eight rounds of the 2000-01 season.
A joint venture between the Collingwood Magpies AFL Club and Heidelberg – the Collingwood Warriors played just one season in the NSL back in 1996-97.
The Warriors wore a black, white and yellow jersey and played their home games at the iconic Victoria Park, even attracting a crowd of 18,000 in their local derby against the Melbourne Knights.
Collingwood did win the 1996 NSL pre-season cup and went their first seven league matches without defeat.
However, it was a disaster with the Magpies and Heidelberg having serious differences of opinion regarding the control of the club.
Collingwood would boot the Warriors out two-thirds into the 1996-97 season wanting nothing to do with them.
The Breakers were formed five seasons after the collapse of KB United and particapted in the NSL from the 1991-92 season until 1999-2000.
The club failed to qualify for the finals in their nine seasons in the National Soccer League, however, this promo video for the Breakers that aired on local TV channel NBN has resurfaced on YouTube.
Featuring a montage of highlights backed by Ricky Martin’s France 1998 anthem “The Cup of Life” and makes for inspiring viewing.
Newcastle KB United
KB United would be Newcastle’s first team to play in Australia’s national domestic competition and the KB came from their major sponsor Tooth’s brewery – makers of KB Lager.
Newcastle KB United would draw big crowds in the early days of the NSL and even had the likes of Bobby Charlton and Craig Johnston play a cameo game for the club.
KB United collapsed in 1984 and their NSL licence was taken over by Adamstown Rosebuds, playing under the name of Newcastle Rosebud United before being excluded from the League in 1986.
Owned by the Parramatta Leagues Club – the Power were part of the Eels family playing out of Parramatta Stadium and played in the last NSL Grand Final in 2004 going down to Perth Glory as a result of a golden goal in extra time.
The club’s bid to join the A-League was rejected and Parramatta opted to fold its operations within the round-ball code.
Penrith City was an off-shoot of the Penrith Panthers and played only the two seasons in the NSL in 1984 and 1986.
The Western Sydney Wanderers website did a profile of the Penrith City stint in the top-flight of Australian Football back in 2015