Sydney derby gives fans reasons to rejoice
The Western Sydney Wanderers FC's Shinji Ono and Michael Beauchamp. AAP Image/Paul Miller
If last weekend was one of the most significant in Sydney club football history, what does that make tomorrow’s Sydney derby at Parramatta Stadium?
The clash between Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC is already sold out.
Around 3,000 away fans will be wedged into a sky blue-coloured corner, with the rest of the crowd expected to paint the Parramatta Stadium stands red and black.
Never before has there been such anticipation for a domestic club game in Sydney.
There’s symmetry between the two sides with former Sydney FC defender Tony Popovic now in charge of the Wanderers – who also signed Michael Beauchamp, Shannon Cole and Mark Bridge from the Sky Blues during the off-season.
Both sides are hungry for a win, with the Wanderers collecting a point from their first two A-League games, while Sydney FC have started the season with back-to-back defeats.
Last week Fox Sports’ ‘hero cam’ was tuned in on Alessandro Del Piero, this week it will focus on the Wanderers’ marquee man Shinji Ono.
Whichever way you look there are subplots and counterpoints, yet the most salient point of all is that supporters simply want to see a Sydney derby in the A-League.
Football fans in the harbour city have waited a long time for this and hopefully the game itself lives up to its star billing.
The build-up hasn’t been without its quirks, but then it would hardly be the A-League without them.
A Football Federation Australian online poll aimed at giving the clash an official moniker went down like a lead balloon with fans, who are clearly intent on simply calling the contest ‘the Sydney derby.’
More troubling though are the rumours security company Hatamoto is considering keeping Wanderers fan group the Red And Black Bloc inside the stadium upon completion of the match.
Hatamoto hasn’t exactly shown itself to be too football savvy in the past and they’ve surely got the wrong end of the stick with this one – since the accepted practice worldwide is to hold away fans inside the ground until the crowd has dispersed.
Hopefully there’s no real need to hold either set of fans inside the ground but if security measures are to be taken, let’s hope Hatamoto has some idea of what they’re doing.
The security group has of course developed a rather poor reputation from its handling of Melbourne Victory supporters, who will surely be out in force tonight for the clash with arch-rivals Adelaide United.
There may be two bona fide derbies taking place this weekend but the rivalry between Victory and the Reds is arguably the most rancourous in the league.
Victory are another side desperate to put consecutive defeats behind them, but wouldn’t Reds coach John Kosmina love to put one over another ex-NSL stalwart in Ange Postecoglou?
On the topic of derbies though, it would be remiss not to discuss in a bit more depth the F3 showdown between the Newcastle Jets and the Central Coast Mariners.
The Jets are expecting a big turnout at Hunter Stadium and they may well need it if Nathan Tinkler’s growing financial problems are anything to go by.
Hopefully Tinkler’s money woes don’t affect the squad, who should be buoyed by their dramatic 3-2 win over Sydney FC last Saturday.
But though the F3 derby is always a keenly anticipated affair, A-League fans could be forgiven for directing most of their attention towards Sydney’s west on Saturday night.
Melbourne led the way, but now it’s Sydney’s turn to revel in the drama of an intracity derby.
Twelve months ago this fixture seemed little more than a pipedream.
Now it’s here and it promises to be another enthralling chapter in what has been a dream start to the 2012-13 A-League campaign.
Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he has settled in Brisbane and has been a Roar columnist since December 2008. Follow Mike on twitter @Mike_Tuckerman