It’s been a while between drinks for Melbourne Victory but under coach Jeff Hopkins they’ve returned to the W-League finals in style, taking out their first premiership only two seasons after finishing bottom of the table.

Their dramatic rise to power has taken place under Hopkins’ three-year tenure, and after beating fellow contenders Perth Glory 2-1 on Friday night Victory insured top spot in their first finals campaign since the 2014/15 season.

Reflecting on his side’s rise from obscurity to top of the league, Hopkins says it hasn’t happened overnight.

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“It’s been a three year process, really,” Hopkins said.

“You can’t just buy a team and put it out on the field, and pull it out of thin air.

“The club have been fantastic; they’ve backed me with everything I’ve asked for in every department, so credit to the club.”

Hopkins, in his third season at the club, has overseen Victory’s transformation into the title threat they are today, but his tenure didn’t start so smoothly.

“We finished bottom of the league two seasons ago,” he said.

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“Last year we made improvements in the playing staff, the playing style, and in the results.

“This year it’s all come together.”

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Victory have a catch-up game to play against Canberra on Tuesday where they will lift the premier’s plate, then their focus will turn back to Glory who they will face in round one of the finals.

Glory coach Bobby Despotovski praised his Melbourne rivals after their second 2-1 win over Perth this season, but is confident in his side’s ability to cause an upset when the teams go head-to-head again next weekend.

“Overall, they deserve to be top, that’s how I look at it,” Despotovski said.

“They had more intensity than everybody else, and they deserved to be on the top.

“There is no pressure on us, we go there as the underdogs.

“There are no second chances… we are going there to try and win the game.”

With finals on the horizon there is more drama yet to come and more work for Victory to do to turn their premiership into a championship.

But as his team jubilantly celebrated on the field after Friday night’s win Hopkins allowed time to reflect on what has been a terrific campaign for his much-improved playing group.

“You can see they’re all pretty happy,” he said.

“We’ve won some really good games this year and played some really great football.

“There have been times we’ve had to roll our sleeves up.

“The players were so relaxed in the change room before the game [tonight], I didn’t have to say too much.

“I never really have to motivate them, they’re a great bunch of players.

“Finals next week, I think they’ll take it in their stride.”

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Football nut, student journalist and firm believer that Berisha dived in the 2012 A-League Grand Final. Covering Perth Glory for the 2018/19 season.