Sydney FC wrestle momentum back from the Wanderers

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    Del Piero has left Australia and headed to play in India. (Image: AFP)

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    With Sydney FC confirming yesterday they’ve moved their round four clash with Perth Glory to ANZ Stadium, there’s no doubt the club appear, at this stage, to be setting the Sydney agenda in the battle against the new kid on the block, the West Sydney Wanderers.

    While the A-League’s new western Sydney franchise has been all the talk over the past few months, as they held fan forums, announced their new colours and logo, played their first few games, and held a membership launch, suddenly the agenda has shifted to the east.

    By capturing the Italian great Alessandro Del Piero, Sydney FC have not only stepped up to the home plate, but right now appear to be slugging home runs every time they step up to bat.

    Suddenly things have gone a little more quiet out west.

    On Sunday, on the day Sydney FC were holding their fan day at Leichhardt, attracting a crowd of about 3,500 for a trial against the Newcastle Jets, the Wanderers made a far more modest home “debut” at Parramatta Stadium, playing a trial in front of just over 1000 fans.

    The Red and Black Bloc did their bit, not stopping for the full 90 minutes, but you couldn’t help but think that the recent negative headlines about crowd trouble and the Del Piero signing had had an early impact on the Wanderers “brand”.

    Sydney being Sydney, fickle and prone to following fads, it’s no huge surprise to find the momentum has shifted towards the bigger fish in town, particular in light of the capture of a player that appeals not only to those that love hype, but those that live football.

    There’s no doubt the Sydney FC team, led by new CEO Tony Pignata, seem hell bent on capturing as much of the early attention as possible, using Del Piero to create plenty of hype and momentum.

    While the decision to move the round four match away from Allianz has been forced upon them by the decision to resurface the stadium during the football season, strategically it appears to have been well thought out.

    In past seasons the corresponding game has been played at either Parramatta Stadium or Campbelltown, but Pignata and Co. are banking on a big start.

    With the club confident it can sell out the first home game, in round two against Newcastle, and the Sydney derby a week later at Parramatta likely to sell out, there’s hope of a crowd pushing 30,000 at ANZ on Sunday, 28th October.

    With a 5pm kick-off, the club will hope they can attract families as well as those that want to see Del Piero.

    Certainly, it’s a play right into an area the Wanderers would consider to be their own.

    Having said that, the new club made their own strategic decision earlier this week not to host the round two derby at ANZ, but keep it at Parramatta.

    No doubt this was a decision based on fan feedback, and Lyall Gorman and his team are to be applauded for listening to the fans.

    At the two fan forums I attended, the clear message was “no to ANZ”, and while it may have been tempting to cash-in by shifting to Homebush, it appears a decision that should create goodwill, a bumper atmosphere for the derby, and might create more demand later.

    Sydney FC had no such hesitation.

    Providing an affordable family ticket, no more than say $50, might be another way of targeting a demographic and market that the Wanderers would be hoping to capture.

    It’s all a fascinating side-show.

    At the very least, the Wanderers appear to have shaken their cross town rival out of a slumber, and for the sake of the A-League, that was much needed.

    The gauntlet, it seems, has been thrown down to the new kid in town.

    The Wanderers claim they will go about their own thing, and there’s certainly no big names or stars among the five foreign visa players or the rest of the squad assembled by Tony Popovic and Ante Milicic.

    Whether they respond with a big name of their own, or by building patiently, over time, remains to be seen, but what it is clear is that Sydney, the city, is in for a fascinating summer.

    Tony Tannous
    Tony Tannous

    Follow Tony on Twitter @TonyTannousTRBA

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    The Crowd Says (40)

    • September 14th 2012 @ 6:55am
      MV Dave said | September 14th 2012 @ 6:55am | ! Report

      You would hope with both clubs putting in an all out effort to woo the fans that it would be good for football in Sydenee…a chance for a real rivalry to develop. I believe the introduction of Heart in Melbourne gave MV a kick up the backside and the club now seems a little more receptive to fan experiences and concerns. MV also seem a little busier in the community which is a further step forward. The Melbourne Derby is the best football experience in Oz bar none…maybe SFC vs WSW can one day match that also.
      In any case it’s great for football in this country and l can’t wait until the real football season starts on Friday the 5th October at Etihad with 45,000 in attendance!

      • September 14th 2012 @ 10:29am
        Ian said | September 14th 2012 @ 10:29am | ! Report

        i’m stoked melbournians love your derby. if sydney and WSW develop a great derby that’s awesome. if the Brisbane Roar plays well and wins games, then i think there is no better experience. i love being involved with my club. fans of non sydney and melbourne teams have to ‘make do’ with that i suppose.

    • September 14th 2012 @ 7:38am
      NY said | September 14th 2012 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      “The Red and Black Bloc did their bit, not stopping for the full 90 minutes, but you couldn’t help but think that the recent negative headlines about crowd trouble and the Del Piero signing had had an early impact on the Wanderers “brand”.”

      That pretty much sums it up. We can thank Tom Smithies and the Daily Telegraph for totally exaggerating the situation. People have been inquiring whether or not it is dangerous to go to WSW games. I have heard this from someone who has been selling memberships. It just goes to show you people will believe whatever they read.

      It’s laughable to think we are dangerous hooligans. We just love our football and are proud to have grown up in the west of Sydney.Most of the RBB as well are just young men from the west who have made friends with people from other backgrounds and cultures for the first time.It is a good thing for them as it teaches them a lot about how to be tolerant of others. There are people from Penrith, Fairfield, Bankstown etc who are all conversing with eachother and having fun following the football. This is a rare thing in West Sydney, as the regions tend to be divided and no one really talks to anyone else. I am really happy to see this interraction as it eventually teaches tolerance and acceptance of others (which is important in such a diverse area as West Sydney).

      We will have to accept now that our crowds won’t be as big as anticpiated. But I have no doubt our games will have a better atmosphere than the Smurfs (SFC), even with a third of the crowd. We will be loud and we will be proud.

      • Columnist

        September 14th 2012 @ 11:14am
        Elisha Pearce said | September 14th 2012 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        Good post NY.
        I’m “this” close to jumping into the A-League for the first real time this year. And it’s WSW that have done it for me.
        One of things I’d be hoping to do is see the ethinic mix of the Western Sydney region converge on a single team. Should be fun!

        • September 14th 2012 @ 5:42pm
          Marc said | September 14th 2012 @ 5:42pm | ! Report

          hi Elisha

          Have enjoyed your insightful contributions on other tabs of ‘The Roar’. Welcome aboard, and hope you become a long-term fan.

        • September 17th 2012 @ 9:35am
          Simmo said | September 17th 2012 @ 9:35am | ! Report

          Um, SFC fanbase is as culturally diverse as the city itself. Wanderers are just following a path we’ve already paved.

      • September 14th 2012 @ 12:21pm
        AGO74 said | September 14th 2012 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

        A small crowd on sunday night for sure – but I don’t think it was even advertised unlike their previous matches. Maybe the point of sunday’s game wasn’t even about trying to get a crowd.

        I’m not overly concerned by a low turnout for WSW last sunday.

      • September 14th 2012 @ 5:38pm
        robfromtheriff said | September 14th 2012 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

        Well said NY. Im a foundation member and echo your thoughts. Very disappointed with the rubbish printed by the Daily Telegraph and its NRL agenda ( I was at that game), but I’ll be over it when the season starts and Im enjoying the home grown football with the my friends from western Sydney.

        I know it will be a harder task than anticipated but the long term future of the game looks good. The WSW will be the “icing on the cake” to go with our world of football including the EPL, Primera Liga, Champions League etc. Looking forward to the summer. Go the Wanderers!

    • September 14th 2012 @ 8:32am
      rob said | September 14th 2012 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      You shouldn’t talk down the wanders to tlak up Sydney at the end of the day they’ll need each other to be successful for them and the entire game.

    • September 14th 2012 @ 8:33am
      Bondy. said | September 14th 2012 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      I remember the lead up to the first Melbourne derby it was great ,cant wait for this one also. How the pendulum swings in Sydney it was all one way traffic for the Wanderers three weeks ago with no real headlines from Sydney FC .

      I think its great the Sydney clubs are trying to steal one anothers headlines its great for the sport in a real football cultured region.

    • September 14th 2012 @ 9:05am
      JAJI said | September 14th 2012 @ 9:05am | ! Report

      A very interesting piece doing the rounds this morning is that Sydney FC are very deep in talks with regards to TV rights with italian TV channel Rai and channels in Japan – which apparently are going to make the money earned from overseas rights dwarf any other code in this country ever

      A quote from someone high up in the food chain at Sydney FC is the reaction has been more than anyone ever expected

      I again repeat what I said yesterday. I cant believe I am saying this but I am much more looking forward to this season than watching the Socceroos at present – who thought I would have said that 1-2 years ago

    • September 14th 2012 @ 9:10am
      striker said | September 14th 2012 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      Definately the so called riots have affected the wanderers but i still think having ADP in the league will boost even the wanderers as without him the game would be in some troube this year with all the bad headlines with the riots.

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