A-League F3 derby needs to make a stand

janek.speight Roar Rookie

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    The A-League is in need of a spark for the upcoming season, and what better way to begin than with a transfer move to light up a fledgling football rivalry. Fred’s move to Melbourne Heart is a masterstroke.

    A grand final winner with Melbourne Victory in the 2006-07 season, his return to the ‘wrong’ half of Melbourne is fantastic news – if he can start where he left off.

    Yet we all know the Victorian capital is passionate about sport and we all know that this year-young rivalry will continue to grow over the next few years. It is to the north, in NSW, where I see the need for another injection of life.

    Step forth the F3 derby. Newcastle Jets versus Central Coast is arguably a passionate, fierce rivalry. Though it can also be argued that it is lagging and in need of a pick-me-up.

    As a Jets fan, I’m looking to Nathan Tinkler’s new regime to help kick-start a reinvigorated rivalry with our close neighbours.

    The hatred began even before an A-League ball had been kicked, albeit in the disgusting and avoidable actions of Nick Mrdja’s tackle on Andrew Durante in the pre-season cup competition of 2005.

    It was the perfect beginning, despite the horrible circumstances.

    Then came the James Holland saga, the heroic 2008 grand final… and then John Hutchinson in general. The fact that both sides think they live on the ‘right’ side of Swansea further gives rise to the rivalry.

    However, is it just me or is something still severely lacking? Crowds peaked in 2008-09, yet have continued to drop in the past two seasons.

    This can perhaps be linked to an overall decline in attendances, however surely the F3 derby can still be a match to draw in the masses?

    We need a boost. And I believe we have it in Newcastle’s ‘saviour’ Nathan Tinkler. Tinkler needs to turn the F3 derby into a more passionate affair with unashamed and ruthless marketing around Newcastle.

    A media campaign urging fans to the games as well as subliminal messages in all advertising could be an idea. I want to see more fans expressing hatred for the yellow and blue and visa-versa.

    What better way to do that than to make the Mariners supporters feel unwelcome on the right side of Swansea? One Mariners fan had the audacity to wear his beer-stained jersey to a university class in the aftermath of the 2010-11 grand final. What cheek… so I gave him a mouthful.

    I just hope every other Jets supporter did too. There is nothing I can’t abide more than seeing those dirty jerseys get around Newcastle.

    We need to start more fights – not physical mind you, I’m not suggesting we turn to Poland’s hooligan ways – but more banter cannot go astray.

    While the Melbourne duo are on their way to generating a fierce rivalry, the F3 derby needs to pick up its game. With a Western Sydney team looking less likely to eventuate over the next few years, it is the Jets and the Mariners who need to bring life to the A-League.

    Rivalries are what make us follow sport, we love to hate, as much as we love to love our own team. As it stands the Mariners have overtaken the Jets in bragging rights, with eight wins to seven.

    While the Jets still have an upper hand in terms of toilet seat victories, it is time for the proud sporting city of Newcastle to take back the mantle in the F3 derby.

    So Tinkler, here’s a pointer: Make an audacious bid for Mustafa Amini, produce a media campaign to incite hatred towards Mariners fans, and perhaps get Danny Tiatto out of retirement to scathe down the annoying John Hutchinson and avenge Durante’s horror break of 2005.

    Let’s get this derby up to new and exciting heights; we can’t have Melbourne residents claiming they have the only ‘real’ derby of the A-League.


    Janek is a freelance journalist based in Berlin. You can follow him on Twitter, @JanekSpeight