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Every National Second Tier team and something worth knowing about them


National Second Tier, teams, clubs, NST

The FA has announced the eight foundation members of the National Second Tier.

Well, it’s finally here. Australian football’s long talked about national second division is set to kick off in early 2025, with Football Australia announcing the competition’s 8 foundations clubs.

Dubbed the National Second Tier, the competition has been on Australian football fans’ wish list for many years, with many viewing it as a panacea for the game’s current domestic woes.

With a spate of young Australian talent, including Nestory Irankunda, Garang Kuol, and Jordan Bos, making European moves having learnt footballs ropes in Australia, the Football Australia CEO James Johnson declared the competition “will be instrumental in nurturing talent, engaging communities, and elevating the overall quality of football across the country.”

His dream, and that of football fans across the country, has now been realised. Having begun the process of kicking the division off by welcoming expressions of interest from clubs across the country, the FA whittled their search down to eight foundation clubs, with an additional two-to-four sides to be added early next year.

So here’s the inaugural eight clubs that will get this concept going.

Every National Second Tier club and one thing you must know about them

APIA Leichhardt FC

Founded in 1954 by members of Sydney’s Italian-Australian community, APIA have long been one of the nation’s biggest clubs. Under the guidance of Rale Rasic, the first Australian coach to qualify for and compete at a World Cup, the club won the National Soccer League in 1987.

Notable former players: Clint Bolton, Ante Covic, Charlie Yankos, Jimmy Rooney

Avondale FC

This inner Melbourne club recently produced a rapid rise through the Victorian football leagues, going from the Provisional League Division 2 North-West to the NPL Victoria in 2015.

Notable former players: Massimo Murdocca

Marconi Stallions

A storied club from Sydney’s south-west, Marconi Stallions has produced 75 Socceroos, including 6 former captains. Former Juventus and Italian national football team striker Christian Vieri spent a year on the club’s books during his youth while his father played for the first time. With four titles, they are the equal-most successful club in NSL history.

Notable former players: Roberto Vieri, Alex Brosque, Steve Corica, Frank Farina, Craig Foster, Archie Thompson

Preston Lions FC

A club with supremely proud Macedonian roots, Preston Lions FC are a Victorian football powerhouse and four-time and final home of former Turkish international defender Ersan Gülüm’s illustrious career.

Notable former players: Sasa Ognenovski, Ersan Gülüm, John Markovski

South Melbourne FC

In 2010, South Melbourne was recognised by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics at the Oceania Club of the Century. Ferenc Puskás, three-time European Cup winner with Real Madrid and 1954 World Cup runner-up with his native Hungary, was the club’s manager for the 1989-90 NSL season. 

Notable former players: Ange Postecoglou, Paul Wade, Paul Trimboli, Eugene Galekovic, Kevin Muscat, Mitchell Langerak

Sydney Olympic FC

Based in Western Sydney’s Belmore, Sydney Olympic are a two-time NSL champion, marking them as one of the division’s most successful sides. Former Liverpool and Wales striker, Ian Rush, played three games and scored one goal for the club at the turn of the century.

Notable former players: Ian Rush, Andrew Durante, Jason Culina, John Kosmina, Ante Milicic

Sydney United 58 FC

A prominent producer of Socceroos stars, with 60 having spent parts of their career at the Edensor Park club, in 2022 Sydney United became the first non-A League side to compete in the Australia (FFA) Cup final.

Notable former players: Mark Bosnich, Graham Arnold, Zeljko Kalac, Mile Jedinak, Ned Zelic, Tony Popovic, Robbie Slater

Wollongong Wolves

Controversial TalkSport host and former Scottish international Alan Brazil featured 12 times for the club in 1988 when it was known as Wollongong City. In the same year, Trevor Francis. dual European Cup winner with Nottingham Forest in 1979 and 1980, played a trio of matches for the NSW south coast club. The club’s two NSL titles came in back-to-back seasons at the beginning of the 2000s.

Notable former players: Alan Brazil, Scott Chipperfield, Trevor Francis

More on FA’s National Second Tier

Speaking at the competition’s announcement back in February, Football Australia CEO, James Johnson, declared:

“Developing a national second-tier competition is a key component of our 15-year vision for the game and our efforts to reconnect and realign Australian football competitions.”

James Johnson, national second tier
FA CEO James Johnson believes the National Second Tier will elevate football to new heights

In his eyes, the National Second Tier is “more than just a competition; it’s a cornerstone in our mission to fortify the foundations of our sport.”

Discussing what ensured these eight clubs stood out against the rest, Mr Johnson explained they all “demonstrated not only their readiness in terms of operational and commercial elements but also their alignment with the strategic objectives of Australian football.”

When will the National Second Tier start?


While initially slated to kick off in March 2024, the competition’s start date has been pushed back by 12 months. This is due to the FA wanting to ‘ensure a solid foundation for the competition, accommodating comprehensive planning and development for all stakeholders.’

The FA’s announcement of the National Second Tier’s eight foundation sides included clarification around the competition’s two potential formats currently under consideration. These include:

  • A 10-team competition totalling 18 regular season matches plus a Finals Series
  • A 12-team competition with 22 regular season matches plus a Finals Series

There is still some time to go before the competition kicks off, but in the meantime here is one fact about every National Second Tier foundation club.

Picture of Kyle Robbins
Kyle Robbins
Kyle is a senior sports writer and producer at Only Sports who lives and breathes sport, with a particular burning passion for everything soccer, rugby league, and cricket. You’ll most commonly find him getting overly hopeful about the Bulldogs and Chelsea’s prospects. Find Kyle on LinkedIn.

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