They were just a goal away from last year's Illawarra Premier League grand final. Now, Albion Park have called in the big guns in a bid to go one step further in 2021.
The White Eagles have announced the signing of former A-League defender Pedj Bojic, who brings a wealth of experience to the club.
Bojic, 36, played more than 140 games for the Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC during his distinguished league career which spanned almost a decade.
Highlights included starting for the A-League All Stars in a friendly match in 2013 against Manchester United, a side that featured the likes of Ryan Giggs, Danny Welback and Robin van Persier.
Before his time in the A-League, Bojic gained experience playing football in England. The defender represented Northampton Town more than 100 times in the EFL League One.
"It's a massive signing for the club," White Eagles club treasurer Doug Burazor said.
"You can't buy that experience and professionalism that Pedj will bring. He will just step it up a notch. We're overwhelmed, mate."
It is a special homecoming for Bojic, whose football journey began in the Illawarra with Warilla Wanderers in the under-8s nearly three decades ago.
"Pedj is a local and he's of Serbian background as well, which will be big for the Serbian community here that follow the White Eagles," Burazor said.
"He will be big, not just for our club, but for the league."
He [Bojic] will just step it up a notch. He will be big, not just for our club, but for the league.- Doug Burazor
2020 was a roller coaster for the White Eagles. The season started on a difficult note, with head coach Jason Davkovski departing on the eve of round one.
Goran Tracjeski and Chris Peros stepped into fill the role but Albion Park were slow out of the blocks, losing three of their first four games. However, they found their groove in the back-end of the season to finish fifth and surge into the finals.
The side survived an epic penalty shootout to beat Tarrawanna in week one before claiming a 3-2 win over Bulli to advance to a preliminary final against Woonona.
Albion Park pushed the minor premiers all the way, before Jesse French's match-winner in the 90th minute fired the Sharks into the IPL grand final.
"It's never easy to lose like we did last year," Burazor said. "But the boys will learn from that and will benefit from the experience."
Bojic's signing continues a busy off-season for the White Eagles, who have retained plenty of their top talent.
Striker Cameron Morgan leads the re-signing list, alongside the likes of Chris Nathaniel, Cody Waller and Robbie Delbanco.
The club also brought in a new head coach, Rob Birkin. He is no stranger to the Illawarra competition, having previously been at the helm at Wollongong Olympic, Port Kembla, Dandaloo and Lysaght. Birkin will be joined by assistant coach Chad Bishop at Albion Park in 2021.
"Rob brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in the game," Burazor said.
"That will hold the boys in good stead as well this year."