Western United kick-start new era with Angus Thurgate coup: ‘I’m buzzing’

Western United’s rebuild is underway for the 2023-24 Isuzu UTE A-League season, signing star midfielder Angus Thurgate – who was once nicknamed the ‘Port Macquarie Pele’.

Thurgate is Western’s first major signing on a three-year contract after they failed to reach the 2022-23 Finals Series.

Western’s unsuccessful title defence has prompted a shake-up of the playing squad, with Leo Lacroix, Jamie Young, Neil Kilkenny, Tongo Doumbia and James Troisi among the departures, while foundation player Dylan Pierias has also farewelled the 2021-22 champions.

Now, Thurgate arrives after six seasons at Newcastle Jets and kick-starts a new era for John Aloisi’s side.

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“I’m buzzing to start a new challenge with Western United, I’m really looking forward to creating some history for this club and getting to work,” the 23-year-old said.

“Speaking with John (Aloisi) and Mal (Impiombato) and listening to the vision and plans for the
coming seasons really enticed me to want to join and add some more success to this club.

“I’m really excited to get down to Melbourne and get to work with the lads.”

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Thurgate debuted for the Jets as a 17-year-old in 2018, and has since gone on to amass 116 Isuzu UTE A-League appearances, scoring 11 goals.

In 2019, then-Jets boss Ernie Merrick said: “He gets embarrassed because he’s from Port Macquarie and they call him the ‘Port Macquarie Pele’ which is a slight exaggeration.”

An Olyroo in 2021 and last year’s Isuzu UTE A-League Young Player of the Year, he scored two goals in 26 matches as the Jets finished six points short of the top six, while Western were three points outside the finals positions.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to bring a player of Angus’ calibre to our squad and to our club,” Aloisi said.

“Angus has been a regular first-team player from a young age and he will add significant quality into our midfield with his physicality, intelligence and his ability on the ball.

“As well as his talent, Angus has a fantastic character and will fit seamlessly into the culture of our club. I’m looking forward to seeing him join up with the squad as we strive to meet our goals next season.”

How did Newcastle react to losing Thurgate?

When Thurgate’s departure was confirmed on May 6, Newcastle Jets executive chairman Shane Mattiske expressed his disappointment, claiming an offer was tabled to the central midfielder which would have seen him become “one of the club’s highest earners.”

“Having worked hard to ensure he stays at this club,” Mattiske said.

“We felt that we made a very strong offer to Angus to stay here at the Jets. Our offer would have seen him become one of the club’s highest earners, however, we understand that his focus is on international opportunities, and if these don’t come in the short term, the ability to experience living in one of Australia’s big cities.

“Ultimately, we have to respect his decision.”