Western Sydney Wanderers are the best supported club in the A-League. Not in terms of sheer numbers, but in the vociferous way their partisan fans get behind the team.
Yesterday some 16,387 fans turned out at Parramatta Stadium (aka Wanderland) for the showdown between the Wanderers and league leaders Central Coast Mariners.
On television the sight of thousands of jersey-clad supporters chanting non-stop in unison was an impressive one and the fanatical support is clearly helping to inspire the Wanderers on home turf.
They were a tad unlucky to lose 2-0 to the Mariners on a sunny afternoon in Parramatta, though it must be said in-form Mariners striker Daniel McBreen took both his goals extremely well.
But it was the packed stands which left an indelible mark on the match and if the Wanderers can maintain a semblance of form away in Wellington and Brisbane in their next two matches, they should go close to selling out Parramatta Stadium for the Australia Day clash against Melbourne Heart.
It has taken a while for the Wanderers to generate the sort of crowd figures many assumed would be automatic in Sydney’s west, but the Wanderers have discovered the secret ingredient to keeping the turnstiles clicking over – winning.
They’d have come closer yesterday had some crucial refereeing decisions not gone against them, though midfielder Jason Trifiro deserved to be sent off and his dismissal made it doubly hard for the Wanderers to get back into the match.
Mariners coach Graham Arnold will be relieved to have taken all three points, though one wonders why the club are so keen to let goalkeeper Mat Ryan head to Scotland for a purported 10-day ‘trial’ with Rangers.
For one thing the A-League is virtually a better standard than the Scottish Premier League – let alone the Third Division – and Ryan will miss key games for Central Coast at a crucial time of the season.
It seems like a harebrained idea from all concerned, though the Mariners have got a more than handy replacement goalkeeper in the form of Justin Pasfield.
They’ll have a harder time replacing Tom Rogic should he jet off to English club Reading, and while Ryan’s potential move to Rangers seems short-sighted at best, Rogic is better placed when it comes to his next career move.
He’ll hope Reading don’t suffer relegation from the top flight but even if they do, the Championship is still a significant step up from his current level.
Should Ryan and Rogic both leave the club it could lead to a similar situation to last season when the Mariners fell in a heap and missed qualifying for the Grand Final after both Matt Simon and Rostyn Griffiths left midway through the campaign.
That’s something Cental Coast will be desperate to avoid a repeat of, however it’s a fact of life for the A-League that European clubs are always going to look to sign reinforcements during the January transfer window.
But for the time being it’s the Wanderers’ European-style atmosphere which deserves praise and fans in Western Sydney are leading the way in terms of active support.
Melbourne Victory might have the largest crowds but as it stands the Wanderers have thrown down the gauntlet when it comes to being the loudest and most passionate fans in the A-League.