Even Dave Wilson’s most ardent critics will surely allow him this moment in the sun.
The Olé Football Academy Chairman has had his knockers over the years, the reasons for which are varied and symptomatic of the political nature of club football.
Some of it is jealousy – Olé have a fair bit of coin to work with – some of it is based on past experiences with the academy, while others seem to take things to a personal level.
Whatever the case, it was with a fair amount of satisfaction that Wilson celebrated Western Suburbs – the club which Olé players and coaches represent – winning the Central League on Sunday.
“Over the 20 years we’ve been able to look at the academy and take it to another level. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you’re right to say there has been criticism coming through. So yes it is nice to see Declan’s young charges out there playing at that level.”
Their play this season has been outstanding. They’ve suffocated teams with their dominance of possession and high press, conceding just 13 goals in 16 league matches. They have lost just once, to Wairarapa United on April 14.
Such a season has been a long time in the making.
Edge was brought in as technical director of Olé five years ago, with Wests having not won the Central League since 2009.
Like Wilson, Edge has had more than his fair amount of critics, in part due to his abrasive touchline persona. Most would concede he was good at developing players, but apply the caveat that his teams were no good at winning.
Wilson said he was happy for Edge to have answered those people.
“Declan has been awesome, a lot of the criticism that has been thrown at Declan throughout the years is pretty ill-founded.”
The title win served to galvanise Wilson’s belief in their approach.
“The important thing for me is it’s a confidence booster for Olé. It’s given credibility to the way in which we’ve gone about providing a full-time environment with top quality coaches and facilities over a long period of time. It’s 20 years now of giving young players a football pathway and the ability to realise their personal dreams.
“So for me there’s really two things, that side of it, which, personally, starting the academy in ’97 to this year is an awesome feeling.
“Also, the result is awesome for Western Suburbs. I applaud their decision to allow Olé the freedom to coach their young players, because it’s a big responsibility for their football development.”
Wests’ season continues with a Chatham Cup quarterfinal against Auckland club Bay Olympic at Endeavour Park on Saturday.
Wilson said he would keep enjoying the ride for as long as it lasted.
“There’s no doubt about it that I could be accused today [Sunday] of walking around with a bit of a smile on my face. I enjoy every minute of it and next week is another week. It would be nice to do well in the Chatham Cup, but more importantly it’s about developing young boys into men through football.”