A FRAMED Newcastle Jets jersey hangs proudly on the wall at the Parramatta home of Western Sydney Wanderers general manager John Tsatsimas.
Tsatsimas was at the helm of the Jets for their crowning moment, a 1-0 triumph over arch rivals Central Coast Mariners in the 2008 grand final, bringing a championship to a proud but success-starved football region for the first time.
Recruited by then owner Con Constantine, Tsatsimas, the Jets former legal counsel, travelled every day from Parramatta to Newcastle and back.
Nowadays the commute is much more palatable.
While the seemingly endless hours on the F3 were tough, his Newcastle experience prepared Tsatsimas for his latest challenge.
"Sport provides you with a spectrum of experiences, both to the left and right," said Tsatsimas, who had more than his share of fires to put out at the Jets headquarters at The Store.
"It gave me a requisite understanding of what I believe works and doesn't work, and as a club collectively what our club should look like and should be doing."
A self-confessed football tragic, Tsatsimas will make the familiar trip north over the Hawkesbury to the Hunter on Friday.
This time, he hopes to return with the Premiers Plate in his possession.
Western Sydney need a point against the Jets to claim the prized piece of silverware, and put another notch on a season that knows no bounds.
"Newcastle holds a special place in my heart," Tsatsimas told the Herald this week.
"I met a lot of great people and made some great friends, who remain friends to this day. I had a lot of good times up there and it would be special from my end.
"Having said that, we are focusing on the three points, and whatever surfaces after that well and good."
Wanderers comprised of two - chairman Lyall Gorman and coach Tony Popovic - when Tsatsimas was recruited in June.
"We wanted to make a story, and make it a good story," he said. "When we did the blueprint we set out to be as successful as we could be.
"We were adamant we could achieve a finals spot. That was a realistic target.
"Moving down the track the boys and the club have done exceptionally well and we are proud of where we are."
There is a distinct Jets flavour to Wanderers.
Apart from Tsatsimas, players Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Adam D'Apuzzo, Mark Bridge, Ante Covic, Tarek Elrich and Labinot Haliti and strength and condition coach Adam Waterson now call Wanderland home.
D'Apuzzo, Bridge, Covic and Elrich were members of the 2008 championship side.
All have become central to Wanderers success.
Covic (26 games), Topor-Stanley (26) and D'Apuzzo (23) form two-thirds of the equal best defence in the league.
Bridge (24) is their leading goal-scorer with nine, plus four assists.
Elrich (8), who is the club captain, and Haliti (16) have had to bide their time to a degree, but both have made the most of recent chances.
Haliti has scored five goals in seven starts, including three in the past four games.
The fact Tsatsimas had worked with the players previously was part of the attraction, especially given the time constraints in assembling a squad.
"We were fortunate enough that we were able to source some players who a) had experience and b) had a lot to prove in their careers and were motivated enough to want to perform at a higher platform," Tsatsimas said.
"Not only were their football talents a prime consideration, but the ancillary aspects of a footballer came into play; their personality, their motivation, their understanding, their contribution to team chemistry.
"All those factors are paramount in recruiting a player.
"They have formed a valuable part of the fabric."
After helping the transition in ownership from the financially embattled Constantine to Nathan Tinkler and the Hunter Sports Group in September 2010, Tsatsimas resigned at the end of the season to spend more time with his family.
Although Wanderers are quickly becoming the biggest club in the country, Tsatsimas's opinion of Newcastle has not changed.
"I would not have swapped my four years in Newcastle for the world, " he said.
"I always said the best place to have a franchise was Newcastle. They are a very educated football public, they are very passionate about their team, and certainly very proud of the team that represents them.
"There was no better franchise in Australia and I was proud to be associated with that first hand. I wish the Newcastle Jets club the very best."
But for now his mind - and heart - are firmly in Western Sydney. 'This club is what football needed," he said.
"It is something that is close to my heart because I was born and bred in the area and never moved, even when I was travelling to Newcastle.
"I am very proud to have a team represent the area at an elite level. In saying that, the Newcastle jersey still adorns my wall at home."