On the 5th of the April 2015, the Wellington Phoenix went into Westpac Stadium for a top of the table clash against Melbourne Victory, with the Kiwis atop of the A-League table. Following a 3-0 humiliating, the Phoenix have never returned to the coveted first place.

So, what has happened to the side that got bollocked that Sunday evening? Well, with my research, I think I now know.

Goalie: Glen Moss

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The Phoenix keeper was always a reliable presence between the sticks for the Wellington outfit, winning both the Huawei player of the year and the player’s player of the year in 2015-16. ‘Mossy’ would end up following then coach Ernie Merrick to the Newcastle Jets in 2017-18, where he continues to be a rock solid goalie.

Left Back: Manny Muscat

The 2013-14 All Star pick would end up spending the final of his eight years in Wellington the following season, before moving to Melbourne City. He’d then spend two seasons at City, making 37 appearances before being released at the end of the 2017/18 season. He played for Green Gully in the NPL before announcing his retirement this week.

Centre Back: Andrew Durante

One of only four survivors from this team, Andrew Durante is still the face of the the Phoenix, and, remarkably, is still a consistent pick in the starting 11. Now, at the age of 37, he’s mulling retirement over, but is still has a decent shout at playing into his 38th year. When he does retire, however, he will be the first player in the A-League for his shirt to be retired, as his iconic 22 will never have another wearer for the Nix. Regardless, when he does hang up the boots, it will be as the A-League all time appearance record holder, and as someone who has given everything for the Nix on and off the field. Legend.

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Centre Back: Michael Boxall

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Normally, this spot at the time would have been occupied by Durante’s regular partner and fellow legend, Ben Sigmund. However, for whatever reason he didn’t appear in this game, and Boxall, like always, performed a solid job. He would leave at the end of the season (something that would disappoint me considering that he was a consistent and solid performer), and would spend two years at SuperSport United in South Africa before joining Minnesota United in the MLS.

Right Back: Louis Fenton

Fenton burst on the scene with the Wellington Phoenix, scoring a spectacular diving header on his debut, but it all went downhill from there. Injuries hampered his career so much, that in 2017-18 he wasn’t even re-signed and played semi professional football. However, he was picked up again by Mark Rudan in 2018-19 and became an integral part of this years successful Phoenix side, with his late season injury a contributor to the Nix’s end season struggles.

Centre Mid: Michael McGlinchey

Like Fenton, McGlinchey was another Phoenix player who started brightly but went downhill. Three goals in his first three games with the Phoenix was the best that the Nix fans ever saw of him, and the next four seasons that he spent in Wellington would be remarkable for his underachievement. He left at the end of the 2017-18 season and went from one (then) dumpster fire to another, joining the Mariners.

Centre Mid: Alex Rodriguez

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Rodriguez’s career appears to be still on the up, two years after leaving the Nix. He would spend a further two seasons after 2015 at the Nix before leaving, an underrated yet integral part of the Phoenix midfield. He’s had spells in Portugal and Romania, and is currently playing for Motherwell in the Scottish premiership. Recently, he has been linked with multiple championship sides such as Bristol and Millwall. Amazingly, he’s only 25, meaning he *still* hasn’t peaked.

Centre Mid: Roly Bonevacia

Bonevacia would go on to be one of the Phoenix’s shining lights over the next few seasons, a key creative ingredient that made him a handful for opposition teams to deal with. At the end of the 2014/15 A-League season, he would also sign a new contract with the Nix, stating that he wouldn’t leave until he had won the league. Two years later, he departed to Western Sydney, where he continued to shine, despite having left Wellington before he had won the league. He left the Wanderers at the end of this A-League campaign, and recently joined Saudi club Al Faisaly.

Left Wing: Roy Krishna

In late 2013/14, the Nix needed an injury replacement striker, and man, what a gem they found. Six seasons later, and Roy Krishna, the flying Fijian, is easily the Phoenix’s all time top goal scorer, with 51 goals for the Nix, as well as one of the best players to ever play for the Phoenix. Hell, for that matter, he’s one of the best to play in the A-League. And, fresh in all of our memories, in 2018/19, he won both the golden boot and Johnny Warren medal. His future however, at the time of writing, is unknown, with Krishna reportedly mulling over offers from both Wellington and other A-League clubs.

Centre Forward: Nathan Burns

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What happened to Nathan Burns? The Nathan Burns that lined up against the Victory was at the peak of his powers. He was in the season where he would score 13 goals and pick up the Johnny Warren medal. At the end of 2014/15 he would join FC Tokyo in Japan before later Sanfrecce Hiroshima, and would finally rejoin the Phoenix in January 2018. The catch? He hasn’t scored a goal since 2016 in over 33 hours of professional football. Very unlikely he will still be at Wellington next season.

Right Wing: Joel Griffiths

It would be this very game against the Victory, in fact, that would seal Joel Griffiths’s fate. The Australian would suffer a serious knee injury, and the now 39 year old hasn’t played a game of professional football since. He’s still going at semi-professional level, however, and has returned to Newcastle to play with the Lambton Jaffas at an NPL level.

Head coach: Ernie Merrick

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At the time, the Phoenix were in the midst of their best ever A-League season, and at one point looked favourites to win it all, even though they eventually finished fourth. However, in a story that will be all too familiar for Jets fans, Merrick and the Nix would suffer second season syndrome and finish 9th in 2015/16. The high profile acquisitions of Kosta Barbarouses and Gui Finkler in 2016/17 made it look as if brighter skies were on the horizon. But things didn’t go to plan, and after nine games in 2016/17 with the Nix bottom of the league, Merrick would resign. The following season he would end up in Newcastle, and the rest is history.

Despite how good they were in 2014/15, that really was peak Phoenix for four years. The next four years would be filled of mediocrity, as Ernie Merrick, Des Buckingham, and Darjie Kalezic all tried to drag the Phoenix out of the hole they were in. None would succeed, until a certain Mark Rudan came along. But with no Mark Rudan in the immediate future, can the Nix retain their current upward trajectory?

Featured image credit: Cameron McIntosh

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The Football Sack's resident teen kiwi football nut. Loves everything football except defeats.