History

 

North Geelong Croatia Soccer Club was formed around Christmas time in December 1967 by newly arrived Croatian migrants Mirko Hrkač, Ivan Sesar, Joe Radojević, Vinko Radojević and Aldo Siketa.

North Geelong’s first season saw it compete in Division 2 of the Ballarat and Geelong Districts Soccer Association (BGDSA) in 1968, finishing in fourth place of the ten team division. The club was promoted to BGDSA Division 1 for the following season.

In 1972, the Club competed in the Victorian Provisional League for the first time in its history. The season was marred by an incident involving an altercation with a referee in North Geelong’s Round 5 match against Werribee which saw the club immediately expelled from the Victorian Provisional League. The VSF disallowed the club from competing in any further matches that year.

North Geelong was accepted back into the BGDSA competition in 1973, where it was, for the majority of seasons, the dominant force in the league. Croatia won the BDGSA league in ’73, ’74, ’76 and ’77.

In 1979, North Geelong re-joined the Victorian Provisional League, run by the VSF, and was placed into Division Three. North finished in a very respectable third place. Also in 1979, North Geelong Croatia bought a block of land in Lara where its current home base on Gibbons Road now stands. The land cost a sum of $12,000.

North Geelong blasted its way to its first Provisional League championship in 1980, finished equal top of Division 3 with Shepparton City, but with a 14 goal greater goal difference. North made it back-to-back league championships and promotions when, in 1981, it took out the Victorian Provisional League Division Two title. Croatia added further silverware that year when it took out the Victorian Provisional League Cup.

In 1982, following its Provisional League Division Two title, North Geelong skipped promotion to Provisional League Division One, thanks to a league restructure, and entered the Victorian Metropolitan League Division Four, at the time the fifth tier of Victorian soccer, the highest rung the club had reached in its short history.

In 1983, the Geelong sides in the competition (Hamlyn Rangers, North Geelong, Corio and Geelong) completely dominated the Metro League Four. North Geelong and Hamlyn Rangers finished equal in top spot, Rangers edging North to the Championship.

Following yet another league restructure, Hamlyn Rangers were offered a place in Metropolitan Division Two, however the club deemed it was not prepared to enter the higher division and so the place was offered to North Geelong, who accepted and therefore skipped competing in Metropolitan Division Three. It was a big jump for North and almost one too big to handle as the club avoided relegation by just two points, barely clinging on to its Division Two status.

North Geelong made the move to Elcho Park in 1986, hosting the Geelong Pre-Season Cup in pre-season, winning the competition. The first competitive league game at the venue was a 3-3 draw between North Geelong and Essendon City on 29 March 1986.

After four consecutive top four finishes in Division Two, North Geelong finally achieved promotion when it took out the league championship in 1989.

North Geelong Croatia endured a very difficult start to life in Division One in 1990. After a shaky start, Branko Čulina was able to lead the club to a respectable seventh place finish.

In 1991, with the club run by a new committee headed by Steve Horvat Snr and the first team managed by Branko Čulina, North Geelong Croatia won the Division 1 title, finishing a point ahead of Knox City. and hence promotion to the Victorian Premier League (VPL), reaching the pinnacle of Victorian Soccer for the first time in the club’s history.

In its inaugural season in the VPL, the club surprised everyone finishing first and collecting the Minor Premiership. The club went on to make the Grand Final.  They faced former National Soccer League champions Brunswick Juventus at Middle Park. North Geelong’s George Karkaletsis opened the scoring on the 22nd minute.  Brunswick equalized 4 minutes later.  The match remained 1-1 at full-time, taking it into extra time. North Geelong ripped Brunswick apart scoring three unanswered goals from Adrian Cervinski, Robert Markovac and Robert Cosic.  It was an unprecedented event, the only time a newly promoted side had won the title in their first season, a record that still stands to this day.  Players in this championship side included Steve Horvat, Adrian Cervinski and David Cervinski.  All three players would become successful players in the National Soccer League.  All three were a part of the Melbourne Knights National Soccer League championship side of the mid 90s.

1993 was another successful season.  The club finished third in the regular season, making the finals for a second year in a row.  But this time their finals campaign did not prove to rewarding as in the previous season.  The club lost both its finals matches, including a heartbreaking loss in extra time to Sunshine George Cross.  The next three seasons saw the club miss out on finals action, finishing mid table.  But some joy came with the club producing another star player in Josip Skoko.

In 1994, North Geelong Croatia Soccer Club became North Geelong Warriors Soccer Club when the Victorian Soccer Federation banned ethnic names.

In 1997, North Geelong’s six-year stint in the top-flight came to an end as it endured relegation from the Premier League.

In 1999, the club was relegated once more, to the Victorian State League Two North-West. The Club remained in Division 2 for the next six season, with mixed results.

Throughout the the early 2000s, North Geelong battled away in the Victorian State League Division 2 North-West, finishing in mid-table each year for the period.

2004 marked the beginning of players returning home to North Geelong having left the club in the 90s for NSL and VPL opportunities. The Cervinski brothers, Mijo Trupković, Ante Deak and Greg Šarić were all players that returned to the club from 2004 onwards.

In 2005, with the introduction of new coach Robert Krajačić, North Geelong blazed its way to the State League Division Two North-West title, losing only 4 matches. North Geelong were subject to relegation in 2007, returning to State League 2 N/W.

In 2009, Vinko Buljubašić led the club back to State League 1, winning the league.

In the summer of 2011, Ante Skoko took over as manager with his brother, a recently retired professional footballer, Josip Skoko as his assistant.  At the end of the 2012 season, with the club just missing out on promotion, the Skoko brothers stepped down from their joint post as managers of the club.

In 2013, Mario Jurjevic replaced Ante Skoko with disastrous results, having just three points from 12 games and Skoko was brought back. Despite a late revival, North Geelong were relegated from State 1.

That was not to matter, though, as in 2014 the National Premier Leagues Victoria was introduced and North Geelong was accepted into the new competition, being placed into the second tier of the NPL, retaining the place it had on the Victorian Soccer pyramid it held in 2013. In 2014, North Geelong achieved promotion from the NPL1 and returned to the top flight for the first time since 1997.

Promotion to the NPLV in 2014
Promotion to the NPLV in 2014

North endured a difficult return to the top flight, managing just a few wins in the regular season, finishing in 12th place in the 14 team league. It subsequently qualified for the promotion-relegation playoff against Melbourne Victory Youth, losing 2-0 and returning to NPL2 for 2016.

However, in 2016, North Geelong managed an unlikely immediate return to the Premier League, finishing 2nd in NPL2 West before defeating both Dandenong Thunder and Richmond SC in the playoff series.

Promotion to the NPLV in 2016
Promotion to the NPLV in 2016