The new millennium entered with the arrival of the newly restructured Division Two South/East. This change was well recieved, as it signalled the end of long away trips. Unfortunately though, the club’s pre-season planning was dealt a big blow with the departure of several key players. Apart from a small number of new inclusions the squad looked thin right across the park. With Rolleman having relinquished his coaching role Bill Podlewski was given the task of steering the side to safety, but an eleven match losing streak – the longest in the club’s history – proved an insurmountable barrier. Even the replacement of Podlewski with Brian Quigley could not prevent the club from suffering it’s most humiliating season performance ever. Relegated to Division Three South/East for the 2001 season, the club’s campaign began badly, and Quigley became an early casualty with striker Billy Zogogiannis handed a dual player/coach role by the club. The final standing of sixth was seen as a superb achievement, but unfortunately Ringwood’s run of good form did not carry on into the 2002 season. The departure of Zogogiannis early in 2002 did not help matters, but eventually the team began to pick up good results under the guidance of Rick van Duppen, and finished the season in a credible fourth spot on the ladder.
2003 marked the year of the club’s jubilee but, although this was indeed cause for celebration, the club’s relegation at season’s end certainly was not. Many key players had moved on since the last season, and the squad lacked the depth to compete at this level. So it was that, 50 years after its founding, Ringwood City (Wilhelmina) sank into the depths of the Provisional League for the first time. The bad news did not stop there. In 2004 Ringwood City (led now by coach Andy McCabe) again finished eleventh of the twelve teams, registering a mere two wins, five draws and sixteen losses – a performance only nominal better than the calamity of 2000.
2005 saw Dennis Georgakopoulos taking up the reins as head coach following his time at Ringwood as a player, and the mid-season recruitment of goalkeeper Lee Pongho straight out of the Queensland Premier League looked to be a good one. Pongho’s heroics in goal did indeed prove a defining factor, helping Ringwood City to it’s first win of the season 3-2 away to Noble Park in Round 12, but with such a poor run of early season form the club could not avoid finishing second last and being relegated for the third consecutive season. On the positive side, the season saw the continued emergence and development of youngsters Corey Munro, Luke van Gulik and Ben Brown, who all made major contributions in Ringwood’s ill-fated attempts to avoid relegation.
With Ringwood City starting the 2006 season in the Provisional League Division Three, it was almost a relief for the club to know that it could not be relegated for the fourth season in a row. With most of the 2005 squad remaining, Ringwood were regarded by insiders as being a red hot contender for the championship. But the quality of the players was not matched by their performance as a team and, despite good signs early in the campaign, a string of poor results led to Georgakopoulos being replaced as head coach by former Ringwood City striker Kenny Stewart. The arrival of striker Steven Campbell from Northern Ireland bolstered the squad but, although results began steadily to improve, the last three seasons had taken their toll on the club and the players’ confidence, and Ringwood finished a respectable – but unexciting – seventh.
The 2007 season proved a very mixed bag for Ringwood City. The departure of several important players – the van Gulik brothers (James and Luke), Jason Morks and Kon Kyranakis among them – meant that coach Kenny Stewart had his work cut out to meld the current group into a cohesive team. Despite some excellent performances, and a few good results, the team struggled with inconsistency throughout the season and had to be content with a meagre final placing of tenth out of eleven teams.
First Team – 2007. Back Row (left to right): Kenny Stewart, Peter Manolakos, Micah Demmert, Dave Stephens, Costa Saristavros, John Tomic, Chris Drews, Ben Brown (captain). Middle row: Zen Quigley, Kyle Stewart, Shaun McMahon, Sean Harrison, Corey Munro, Rowan McDermott. Front: Matt Winzenried.
2008 saw Ringwood City enter the developmental Metropolitan League after a failed application to remain in the Provisional League Division 3. The year started well with a solid pre-season and good early signs, but despite a hardworking leadership group the squad lacked the quality necessary to perform consistently. Ultimately team disciplinary problems and a poor end to the season saw City finish in 6th position and the club board opted to replace coach Kenny Stewart with a coaching team led by well-respected reserve coach Doug Hughes, and also including Mark Brown and Chris Chronis.
Season 2009 began with the acquisition of a number of quality players and the announcement of the Maroondah Council’s plans to demolish the current clubrooms and pitch and replace with new club and change rooms and a state of the art fully artificial playing surface. Buoyed by the prospect of change, the team produced a number of exciting battling wins at the beginning of the season and settled into first place on the table for most of the season. The only hiccup came late in the season when, after dropping two games, Ringwood conceded first place, only to defeat arch-rivals and fellow title contenders Parkmore 2-1 under lights mid-week to regain top spot. Ringwood went on to win the league by a single point, sealing the championship with a 3-0 win away at St Kevins on the last day of the season. The club’s forward combination of Tox Frans and Tolly Psimaris finished the season with 13 and 11 goals respectively.
2010 began with the long awaited official merger of Ringwood City ‘Wilhelmina’ Soccer Club and Ringwood City Junior Soccer Club, which had been operating as seperate clubs for the last decade. December 2009 also marked the beginning of construction of the club’s new $5M clubrooms and artifical pitch, as the old clubrooms were demolished to make way. With most of the squad from 2009 still at the club hopes were high, but a string of mediocre performances in the early part of the season hampered the team and they struggled to repeat the performance of last season, finishing sixth in the league.
2011 saw further delays to the opening of the Maroondah council’s $5M soccer facility, and heavy summer rain saw conditions at Manson Reserve deteriorate and the playing surface become inplayable. It was with great relief and joy to all senior and junior members of the club when the new clubrooms and artificial pitch were finally unveiled on August 6. The first team went on to finish the season in sixth place again, with a good late season run on the back of 18 goals from James van Gulik. The season end saw the departure of 2009 championship coach Doug Hughes, but after four successive unsuccessful promotion applications the club was finally promoted into the Provisional League for the start of the 2012 season.