Australian football’s slow burn is finally set to ignite with Western United scheduled to play their first match in Tarneit on March 17, as their Women’s side host the Newcastle Jets at Wyndham’s Regional Football Facility.

The 5,000 capacity training venue will mercifully put paid to the Club’s years on the road, that has seen them stretch home matches from Ballarat to Geelong, Melbourne to Launceston. While the purpose-built, much discussed 15,000 seat venue is still some years away, the completion of the smaller venue means they can finally settle permanently in Melbourne’s west.

‘When we went for the licence we used the slogan ‘dream big’, and last week the dream became reality. This is only stage one of the development, but is really crucial in terms of trying to move away from playing in multiple venues in Victoria and Tasmania’, Western Director of Football Steve Horvat told Box2Box.

‘The last two years have been about getting many things ticked off: roads to be built, infrastructure, electricity, water, all those basic necessities we take for granted, we’ve had to spend the money to bring them to site. There’s no doubt we’d have liked to have been in a little earlier, but it’s great to finally be moving into that facility.

‘To take that step and go home, have a training facility and, at minimum, our 5,000 seat stadium that we can play at while we build the 15,000 seater, which we’ve already begun earthworks on, is important.’

The divergent paths charted by Western’s Men’s and Women’s sides this season are proving a reflection of just how important this stability may be. Despite winning the Championship two seasons ago the grind of life on the road seems to have caught up with John Alosi’s outfit, bottom with three wins to their name from seventeen.

Their Women’s side, in contrast, on Sunday moved top of their competition with a 3-0 win over Wellington at Caroline Springs, which has been an, although temporary, consistent home over their eighteen months. Manager Kat Smith has taken over seamlessly from Mark Torcaso, and the side are eying a return to the Grand Final stage that they reached last year.

‘We knew this was going to be the last season of moving around, being nomads, and a lot of our focus has been on finishing this facility, but we do always want to challenge. John continues to live our values at the Club; he’s our coach, we stand by him and push on.

‘The silver lining has seen nine players make their A-League debuts this season, and that will hold us in great stead in the future. It’s what we want to be as a football club: to promote youth from the region, and wider.’

There’s no denying the timeline to reach this point has caused derision among sections of Australia’s football community, jaded by slow progress and unfulfilled promises, particularly around stadia, in the game at large. On winning their licence in 2018 Western intended to play in Geelong for just two seasons before moving to Tarneit in 2021.

But those who bought into the Club are now set to reap a return on their patience, be they the active Western Service Crew or general matchday fan. Finally, they can go about embedding and enjoying matchday routine and ritual that they’ve been without to this point.

‘There’s no doubt it’s been difficult to build consistent crowd numbers, but the fans we have had have been there from day one. They’re not big in number but are incredibly passionate about this football club.

‘I was out at Caroline Springs [on Sunday] and the amount of people that came up to say they can’t wait for March 17… they’ve had to do it tough, they’ve had to travel, but I still see the same faces that I saw when we were bidding for the licence at the football fan forums in the west, so that’s heartening.’