How big can the Wanderers become?

Tony Tannous Columnist

By Tony Tannous, Tony Tannous is a Roar Expert

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    Shinji Ono helped the Wanderers to an inspiring 2-0 victory in the ACL. AAP Image/Paul Miller

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    Yes, they might be short of a final coat of lacquer and be sitting at the bottom of the table, but if the early signs are anything to go by, the A-League’s newest club, the Western Sydney Wanderers, could be anything.

    Indeed, while it’s still early days and the club is still trying to get the foundations in place, a process that will take a couple of years, it’s tempting to think they could one day rival the Melbourne Victory for the title of Australia’s biggest club.

    It’s a big call, but the early evidence is that there is genuine passion and support for the club, and knowledge about the game. 

    If there is one thing that resonated at the fan forums that followed the announcement of the new club, it’s that the people of Sydney’s west are proud of their roots and want a club that embodies the values they like to live by daily.

    They include hard work, honesty, respect and aspiration, and you can already see a few of these traits in the way Tony Popovic and his men have gone about their early work. 

    “Pride in the west” is an often used description, but there is evidence everywhere you look.

    One sign is that the fans appear to have instantly bought in to the club, purchasing and displaying their colours in incredible numbers. 

    That was evident even at the first game, against the Mariners, where the red-and-black hoops sold out well before kick-off.

    Again, at the derby on Saturday, the demand was greater than the availability. 

    Meanwhile, retail outlets like Rebel Sports have been struggling to keep up, across the west.

    And it’s not just the fans donning their colours which tells the tale.

    Walk around Parramatta Stadium on game-day any you see four digits on the back of a number of the fans shirts.

    “2770” was just one I spotted on Saturday. It represents the postcode of Mt Druitt.

    Other strips don the name of the suburb the fan is from. Two I saw on Saturday featured “Baulkham Hills” and “Blacktown”.

    They were worn like badges of honour. Tribalism at its best. 

    Another sign of the buy-in was the early clamour to sign up for foundation membership, and in lead up the derby it was reported the number of members has gone over 4000.

    While the shirts and numbers are one thing, it’s the passion with which the fans have jumped on board that tells the other story about the engagement.

    Leading the way have been the Red and Black Bloc, who, like any modern footballer, are all about movement, for the full 90 minutes.

    Even in the pre-season friendly against Parramatta FC, where just over 1000 fans showed up, the RBB were non-stop for the entire match.

    They’ve even introduced a couple of interesting routines, including the Poznan and one where the entire section goes berserk, bouncing about off each other. 

    While the focus in most parts has been on the early results and the lack of a goal, the fans have been a little more understanding, recognising that their team has been more than competitive.

    Indeed, in both home games Popovic’s men have managed to control large parts, thanks mainly to a compact structure and well organised forward transition.

    Against the Mariners they managed to stifle Tom Rogic, allowing very little room between the midfield and defensive lines, and rarely allowing the Mariners in behind.

    Against their cross-town rivals they were better at getting the ball into the final third, but lacked a player who could make the difference inside the box, as Alessandro Del Piero did to win and eventually convert the penalty.

    The work of the midfielder trio of Mateo Poljak, Aaron Mooy and Shinji Ono has been of a very good standard, while the back four have, apart from one moment in Adelaide, been rock-solid.

    Jerome Polenz even surpassed Mooy and Del Piero as man of the match on Saturday.

    Once Popovic finds a solution or two in the final third, which may involve giving Joey Gibbs an opportunity, and maybe playing Mooy higher, things should improve.

    It’s early days, but you can already see the base is there, with much potential.

    In many ways the early signs are similar to those in Melbourne in 2005/06, where the Victory built some incredible momentum and atmosphere out of Olympic Park.

    Now at AAMI Park, with 18,000 odd members, they remain the benchmark.

    If Lyall Gorman and his team continue to listen to their fans, and keep them at the core of everything they do, there’s no reason why they can’t aspire to be as big, one day not too far away.

    This might take a decade, or more, but if things go exceptionally well, the Wanderers might be there sooner.

    Tony Tannous
    Tony Tannous

    Follow Tony on Twitter @TonyTannousTRBA

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    The Crowd Says (165)

    • October 23rd 2012 @ 6:57am
      nearpost said | October 23rd 2012 @ 6:57am | ! Report

      Very interesting question Tony.

      The buy in has been significant and will surely only grow. All teams need some success, with the Wanderers unlikely to score many goals this year it will take some hard work to keep the fan base positive. Given they’ve already bought the shirt and turned up they probably know this.

      Like the Victory in season one fans turned up even though results were poor. And you get the feeling with the colours and passion on display this club could really build quickly over the next two or three years. Bigger than Melbourne Heart? Looks possible.

      Of course if the Daily Telly is on board that won’t hurt.

      • October 31st 2012 @ 10:10pm
        Commando said | October 31st 2012 @ 10:10pm | ! Report

        Tony are the Wanderers going to pick up local old boy Harry K ??????

        Wanderers will go off the charts in comparison to the West Syd Giants – A waste of AFL taxpayers money

    • October 23rd 2012 @ 7:27am
      MV Dave said | October 23rd 2012 @ 7:27am | ! Report

      Geez only 3 games in and about 6 months into their existence…long way to go yet. Hopefully they can build on the early promise and become one of the stronger clubs but time will tell. On the park a solid but unspectacular start. I recall going to Olympic Park for 3 consecutive home games where MV didn’t score, never mind win. The crowds kept on coming…lets see WSW attendances when they are struggling on the park as that will be the real test.

    • October 23rd 2012 @ 8:18am
      Punter said | October 23rd 2012 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      I was there on Saturday night as a SFC fan & was duly impressed with the crowd & the amount of WSW supporters in their colors, this was very impressive for a team that just did not exist 8 months ago.
      I know in time I will hate this club, but at present they are great for the A-League & I wish them all the best.
      Already looking forward to the Derby in Moore park in December.

      • October 23rd 2012 @ 9:31am
        AGO74 said | October 23rd 2012 @ 9:31am | ! Report

        +1

      • October 23rd 2012 @ 11:21pm
        Jupiter53 said | October 23rd 2012 @ 11:21pm | ! Report

        Same here!

    • October 23rd 2012 @ 8:24am
      Titus said | October 23rd 2012 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      Could WSW be the next Harry Kewell?

      • October 23rd 2012 @ 9:51am
        Punter said | October 23rd 2012 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        Lost me there Titus!!! Please explain!!!!

      • October 23rd 2012 @ 11:22am
        Titus said | October 23rd 2012 @ 11:22am | ! Report

        Just making fun of footballs ability to over hype things and place too much expectations on players, or in this case a team, that is yet to do anything.

        Lets not get ahead of ourselves, yes they had a good home-end but without the presense of SFC and Marinors fans they would be averaging less than 10 000.

        If they become the biggest club on the planet then great but as it stands the biggest club in Sydney is Sydney FC and long may it remain so.

        • October 23rd 2012 @ 11:40am
          striker said | October 23rd 2012 @ 11:40am | ! Report

          Titus your lucky Del piero signed or else sydney average crowd would be around the 12-13k probally less now that West Sydney are around so the 30+ crowd that Del piero has brang in, take away him and you will be back to 10k.

          • October 23rd 2012 @ 1:13pm
            Titus said | October 23rd 2012 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

            WSW are lucky SFC brought in Del Piero also.

          • Roar Rookie

            October 23rd 2012 @ 11:38pm
            David Jones said | October 23rd 2012 @ 11:38pm | ! Report

            SFC average home attendances 2012 = 35K, 2nd last on table
            Sydney Swans = 27K, AFL Premiers

            • October 24th 2012 @ 7:11am
              harry potter said | October 24th 2012 @ 7:11am | ! Report

              enough with the stupid comparisons…..lets see the average attendance at the end of the season as opposed to 3 matches.

            • October 24th 2012 @ 9:53am
              clipper said | October 24th 2012 @ 9:53am | ! Report

              Don’t forget to add that the Swans had the highest attendance of any Sydney club last year and that the SCG is being redeveloped so that the capacity is reduced. It is looking good for SFC attendance though.

            • May 2nd 2013 @ 2:09pm
              Taking Tiger Mountain said | May 2nd 2013 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

              I actually see 11,000 average with highest attendance 18k

              Source:

              http://www.ultimatealeague.com/records.php?type=att&season=2011-12

    • October 23rd 2012 @ 8:55am
      striker said | October 23rd 2012 @ 8:55am | ! Report

      Gotta agree im talking to alot of old supporters from the NSL who are going for the Wanderers, most of them dont like Sydney FC which is a good thing for future derbies, this club is what the supporters of West Sydney have been waiting for and i think its has more potential the Melbourne Victory.

    • October 23rd 2012 @ 9:06am
      Johnno said | October 23rd 2012 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      Bigger than Collingwood and the brisbane broncos you bet. They have had only 6 months to get ready. Give them a full off season , look out. West sydney is only a geographic area getting bigger. Is the real heartland of Aussy football not Melbourne. West sydney has produced more soccer’s than anywhere else in OZ. And such a big ethnic community where football is the no 1 sport in many of these people’s countries. Only going to get bigger.

      • Roar Guru

        October 23rd 2012 @ 1:52pm
        Redb said | October 23rd 2012 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

        Johhno,

        Bigger than Collingwood? – here’s your benchmark.

        70,000 members
        60,000 crowd average.
        $70+ million revenue ( that’s a guess)

        In 2005 when the A League started Collingwood had half that member number and a crowd average of 40,000. It has grown its crowd average by 20,000 in just 7 years.

        Collingwood has been around (unfortunately ) for 100+ years but also shared that landscape with 8 other VFL clubs.

        • October 23rd 2012 @ 2:09pm
          TC said | October 23rd 2012 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

          Redb
          I think we have to be open to the prospect of the Wanderers becoming a very big club, and even one day rivalling Collingwood.

          In fact, if the Wanderers could recruit the equivalent of Del Piero, Harry Kewell, Jorge Campos, Robbie Fowler and David Beckham, every year, year on year, for the next 100 years, then yes, I think it would happen.

          TC

          • October 23rd 2012 @ 2:17pm
            Kasey said | October 23rd 2012 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

            Why do you have to act like a twit TC?
            If you’d have said 10 years ago that ADP would be playing in the Australian domestic competition and that a crowd of 7,000 would be considered a disappointing effort. you’d have been considered certifiable, who is to say what will happen in another 10 years?
            MBV continue to grow, they can’t be too far off matching memberships and turnover of the smallest Melbourne based AFL club.

            • October 24th 2012 @ 6:23pm
              me, I like football said | October 24th 2012 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

              MVFC revenue = $13.1m
              NMFC revenue = $26.0m
              so about half
              And I suspect MVFC membership to be less then half of the Western Bulldogs of 30k

              • October 24th 2012 @ 7:22pm
                Breezy said | October 24th 2012 @ 7:22pm | ! Report

                I’ve over-estimated MVFC. I was under the impression that they were a big deal, but the reality is they are a minnow. Big for the A League, but tiny when compared to the serious players in the Australian sporting landscape.

            • Roar Guru

              October 24th 2012 @ 7:42pm
              Fussball ist unser leben said | October 24th 2012 @ 7:42pm | ! Report

              Oh dear, a couple of ARFers still measuring themselves in their 6 month off-season trying to determine if “mine’s bigger than yours”?

              This year with Ale in the A-League, it has highlighted just how insignificant the “carry ball (allegedly) indigenous sport” really is.

              30 years in Sydney, they’ve just won the biggest ARF competition in the world … and only 7.6k kids play ARF in the whole of Sydney. Senior player numbers have halved & u18 player numbers dropped by 67%.

              As those great poets from Merseyside wrote – nearly 1/2 century ago … “money can’t buy me love”!! 🙂

          • October 23rd 2012 @ 2:20pm
            Minister for Information for the Democratic People's Republic of Football said | October 23rd 2012 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

            Jorge Campos? Yes I remember him. Why do you? He was 5 foot-nothing Mexican goalkeeper who watched a lot balls go over his head.

            • Roar Guru

              October 23rd 2012 @ 2:58pm
              apaway said | October 23rd 2012 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

              …and wore goalkeeping gear that made him look like a traffic light.

        • October 23rd 2012 @ 2:18pm
          mahonjt said | October 23rd 2012 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

          A good chunk of those “memberhips” are of the 3-game variety – just stocking filler….

          • October 23rd 2012 @ 2:59pm
            TC said | October 23rd 2012 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

            That’s a myth and something AFL haters like to spread to make themselves feel good about their own low numbers.

            Collingwood makes decent coin out of its memberships, it’s a significant contributor to it’s $70 million per annum turnover.

            Their 5,000 legends members alone contribute around $8 million per annum – that’s 7% of their membership base.

            In other words, 7% of Collingwoods membership base alone gives them revenue in one year that is far, far in excess of what other sporting clubs make from all sources of revenue.

            TC

          • Roar Guru

            October 23rd 2012 @ 4:12pm
            Redb said | October 23rd 2012 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

            The crowd average of 60,000 is not so easily dismissed by glib remarks.

          • Roar Rookie

            October 23rd 2012 @ 11:41pm
            David Jones said | October 23rd 2012 @ 11:41pm | ! Report

            You can even buy AFL memberships for pets and deceased relatives.

            • October 24th 2012 @ 9:57am
              TC said | October 24th 2012 @ 9:57am | ! Report

              If it contributes to a club’s annual turnover of $70 million, good luck to them.

              The 10 A-League clubs in aggregate would be lucky to have an an annual turnover $50 million.

              Most would be thankful for any source of revenue, even death duties.

              Two different scales of operation.

              TC

        • October 23rd 2012 @ 2:46pm
          Bondy. said | October 23rd 2012 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

          Nearly as big as some of the big european clubs .

          • October 23rd 2012 @ 4:27pm
            pete4 said | October 23rd 2012 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

            Bondy – How many of those European clubs calculate their crowd average from only 11 home games a season?

            • October 23rd 2012 @ 4:37pm
              Bondy. said | October 23rd 2012 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

              Pete4 ,Good point I didnt realise .

        • October 23rd 2012 @ 4:29pm
          Bondy. said | October 23rd 2012 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

          What are the next four clubs like ,gates and members or just the one?.

          • October 23rd 2012 @ 5:04pm
            Nathan of Perth said | October 23rd 2012 @ 5:04pm | ! Report

            about 3/4-2/3 the size. Looking forward to seeing what the Eagles can do in 2018 with the new stadium

            But I digress.

            If the next stage after this of the nib redevelopment can happen soon, and if the West Coast Fever can move into the new Perth Arena and the Scorchers can move tot he new oval stadium, then in the space of 6 years we will have been able to move Perth’s sports teams from the scungiest grounds in the country to a series of absolutely top-flight facilities, which will be quite the achievement.

        • October 23rd 2012 @ 8:30pm
          Ian Whitchurch said | October 23rd 2012 @ 8:30pm | ! Report

          RedB,

          Theres one constant on this site – Johnno lies. About everything, all the time. If he says its a fact, it isnt.If he says its false, its probably true.

          Johnno lies. All the time. About everything.

          • October 24th 2012 @ 1:01am
            Nathan of Perth said | October 24th 2012 @ 1:01am | ! Report

            Second constant was that KPM always wants to wipe out league and will attempt to solve any problem with private ownership!

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