Derby day to highlight the season of Sydney

Joe Gorman Columnist

By Joe Gorman, Joe Gorman is a Roar Expert

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    Western Sydney Wanderers fans represent one half of the derby magic. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

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    This weekend the third edition of the Sydney derby will be played in front of a full house at Parramatta Stadium. With Western Sydney looking to win the minor premiership and Sydney FC eying off a finals spot, there is plenty to play for.

    Aside from the grand final, the derby is shaping up as the game of the season. It’s appropriate that it will involve both Sydney clubs.

    For decades there has been a simmering frustration in other states about the media’s so-called obsession with Sydney. In Melbourne especially, fans have alleged that the press gallery are biased towards Sydney clubs to the detriment of a rich football culture in Victoria.

    It’s a fair point. However, in the days of the NSL, Sydney was the engine that drove football, both on and off the field. The game’s administration was centred around the Harbour City, and Sydney clubs dominated on the field.

    In the A-League, however, it has been hard to make the same case. One-team, one-city meant that the success of Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar took much of the attention away from Sydney FC, who struggled to truly cement their identity due to constant off-field turmoil.

    The fact that Melbourne Heart came into the competition before a second Sydney side only reinforced the importance of Melbourne to the overall success of the A-League. This season, however, the city of Sydney has well and truly risen to the challenge. Indeed, both Sydney clubs have been integral to the current buzz surrounding the competition.

    The introduction and instant success of the Wanderers has been just one part of this turnaround. However, it is important to remember that before the Wanderers went on their unprecedented winning streak, it was Sydney FC’s audacious marquee signing that really put the spotlight on the A-League.

    Soon after, Newcastle and Western Sydney scrambled for their own marquee signings to match the benchmark set by Sydney FC. The Del Piero domino effect cut Lyall Gorman’s “no-marquee player” strategy to ribbons. He quickly went from talking down the marquee concept to having discussions with Michael Ballack and Shinji Ono.

    Indeed, both Ono and Emile Heskey admitted that their interest in coming to the A-League was piqued by Del Piero’s presence. Sydney FC’s two million dollar gamble changed the nature of the league in an instant.

    And despite the Sky Blues inconsistent form, Season Eight will likely be remembered as the season of Sydney. Can you imagine this A-League season without Del Piero? Or worse still, if the Wanderers had been just average?

    This is not to take anything away from Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Wellington, Central Coast and Newcastle. Indeed, one-team one-city and strong regional centres mean that these clubs are, and always will be, an integral part of the football family.

    However, for football to truly take off, the two major cities are crucial. You get the sense that the A-League now has the proper foundations to continue it’s rise. Further expansion is now a case of when, rather than if.

    In the run up to Saturday, these moments will only add to the drama of the occasion. For the fans of the Wanderers, there will be nothing sweeter than lifting the Premier’s Plate in front of their cross-town opponents. It may be just the sort of moment that turns a derby into a heated rivalry.

    It’s been a dream season for football fans right around the country. As the nation’s attention turns to Parramatta Stadium, it’s a good time to pay tribute to the active supporter groups the RBB and The Cove, and to the efforts of Lyall Gorman and Tony Pignata.

    Long may it continue!

    Joe Gorman
    Joe Gorman

    Joe Gorman is a football journalist with a particular interest in sports history. After completing his thesis on football in Australia, Joe started with The Roar in October 2012. He tweets from @JoeGorman_89.

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    The Crowd Says (23)

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2013 @ 6:22am
      Cameron Kellett said | March 20th 2013 @ 6:22am | ! Report

      Joe,

      Normally I don’t comment because I have nothing to add or someone has beat me too it, but for the last time – there is nothing minor about the premiership! The Wanderers this weekend are playing for the Premiers Plate and ACL qualification. That is not minor. It’s not rugby league or AFL. Can you and any other football writer get that right??

      And I whole heartedly disagree with you on the expansion front. Heard of Central Coast Mariners and their current difficulties in which we all hope are resolved? Well that is a cause for concern as ‘stability’ has not yet been found. Not to mention Heart and Wellington aren’t fulfilling their potential, and when I say potential I refer to attendances not being higher as there is evidence to suggest support can be garnered. It’s a matter of converting these fans, into regulars.

      Besides all that I look forward to the third instalment of the Sydney derby. And regardless of whether Sydney wins or not it will come down to how my team Brisbane preform against Heart that will aid in deciding their fait.

      I believe round 27 will decide everything, even Premiers plate winners.

      • March 20th 2013 @ 9:32am
        Towser said | March 20th 2013 @ 9:32am | ! Report

        kellett_1992

        Regarding the Premiers Plate & ACL qualification, its tiresome ,you are right ,if football writers have no respect for the correct monikers given to the 2 distinct & equally important titles in the A-League,who does.

        • March 20th 2013 @ 10:17am
          mahonjt said | March 20th 2013 @ 10:17am | ! Report

          Agree absolutely!

    • March 20th 2013 @ 7:09am
      Jojosydney said | March 20th 2013 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      Lads,
      I totally agree with what Kellet has written. The only thing i wil add is that, these other teams that are failng to convert attendances to supporters need to think outside the box and try something diffrent and not just ride the sydney/mlbourne wave.
      Its the old saying, you need to spend money to make more. Why not go out and find their own ‘Del Piero’ There are many players in Europe looking to finish their carrers in Australia , for the right price (and yes, 2 million should do it) but just imagine Frank Lampard linning up for central Coast or Francesco Totti in a melbourne heart jersey?
      There is something really wronge in the coast for a team that not only sold two of its best players mid year, and have had some great crowd attendances, where is all the money gone?

      Anyway, on a final note, Its amazing what the A-League is doing this year. Its the 4h round or the NRL and they are yet to match the cowds reached this year in the A-League.
      I cant wait to sit at paramatta stadium with a full crowd(which the eels hae not hd since 07) and watch Sydney Fc beat their crosstown rivals.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2013 @ 10:47am
        Cameron Kellett said | March 20th 2013 @ 10:47am | ! Report

        Jojosydney,

        I would also love to see some more money spent to attract these types of players but realistically it is not always going to be possible. Mariners current woes, hopefully will be sorted but the owners can only fork out so much money until it is not financially viable anymore.

        In Regards to NRL attendances not rivalling A-League?

        Besides the Victory matches versing Heart the NRL has done a fairly good job with a fair few 30,000+ crowds. The NRL is still averaging more than the A-League. Don’t get to far ahead of yourself.

        In regards to Parra stadium not having a full crowd since 2007, that’s wrong.

        2012, Round 8, Parramatta vs West Tigers: attendance 19,654.
        2012 Round 2, Wanderers vs Sydney FC: attendance 19,126.

        I support both League and A-League so I know a lot about both. I’m not trying to make NRL sound better, I’m being realistic.

        • March 20th 2013 @ 7:34pm
          Kickass Koala said | March 20th 2013 @ 7:34pm | ! Report

          I dont like these comparisons anyway, for one, many crowds the Wanderers get dont have a huge throng of away supporters turning up because its a Flight and accommodation deal to get to a game. Where as many away fans in sydney can just drive or catch a train to a rivals ground.

          I think its easy to try and make comparisons but so many factors contribute to crowds at any code.

          If we really wanted to twist the knife in, they would be better off comparing Wanderers and Syd FC crowds, to Waratahs crowds.

        • March 21st 2013 @ 6:38am
          jojosyney said | March 21st 2013 @ 6:38am | ! Report

          Kellet,
          I too am a Leage fan and funny enough, i am a wests tigers fan and was at that game in 2012. But, like Kickass below mentioned, A-league crowds will always suffer due to the distance in between. In the EPL for example, fans can travell by train to and from away stadiums. This is why, and please im not forgetting Melbourne, this is why we should compare the two things if we actually have to compare at all.. The Age is the second factor. The A-league is 8 years old. WSW is in its 1st year and The EELS or TIGERS have been around for decades. 2012, ‘Round 8, Parramatta vs West Tigers: attendance 19,654.
          2012 Round 2, Wanderers vs Sydney FC: attendance 19,126’, for the a-league to be acheiving this fan base after sch a short time, imagine, with the right dirrection (and money) where it could be in 100 like NRL.
          The injection of ADP this year has done two things. Made other players aware of the potential of the A-league in this beautiful country and also made foreign investors aware of the potential as well. As much as we hate to say it, but clubs like Melb Heart, Adelaide, newcastle, Wellington and perth could benefit from the injection of money from an overseas investors.
          Crowds in australia need to be pushed and this year we could finally see why. for the first time in A-League history, we had travelling fans commuting in bulk to away games especially in their own state. the teams in and around sydney are now growing fast. may need a couple more years of investment and guidance but they will grow.
          The melbourne teams should learn from this as all three are close enough to each other. if the A-League wanted to expand again, Canberra should be a realistic option as it is still close enough to both and could tie them in together.
          The reason why now other codes are begining to fear A-league is due to the rapid rise it has taken this year and the potential it has to grow. All this crap now involving drugs and cheating in other codes will not help too.
          Football (soccer) is the largest junior sport played in australia and the world. With all these activities happening, including more oportunities for our kids when they grow into teenagers and beyond, this will ignite more and more.
          Look out Australia. The A-league has only just begun..

          • Roar Guru

            March 22nd 2013 @ 12:50am
            Cameron Kellett said | March 22nd 2013 @ 12:50am | ! Report

            Jojo and Kickass,

            I absolutely love both sports and I don’t ever make comparisons. My aim was not to make a comparison it was to correct what you had said about Parra Eels not achieving such an attendance when they had. That was all. It’s only because I know a fair bit about both sports that I felt a need to jump in. Sorry if you thought I was comparing. Never would I even dare.

    • March 20th 2013 @ 7:12am
      MV Dave said | March 20th 2013 @ 7:12am | ! Report

      So SFC have ADP and WSW are taking the HAL by storm and yet…the 2 Melbourne clubs have greater aggregate attendance and there is little doubt when they had their best team on the park MV were playing by far, the most attractive brand of Football. Enjoy your moment in the sun Sydenee…next year it will be the turn of MV.
      “in the days of the NSL, Sydney was the engine that drove football, both on and off the field. The game’s administration was centred around the Harbour City, and Sydney clubs dominated on the field.” and people wonder why the NSL failed…there you have it in one short statement.

      • March 20th 2013 @ 10:17am
        Ken said | March 20th 2013 @ 10:17am | ! Report

        Umm…Dave? I think you need to look at things in perspective. Have a think about it and if you still can’t figure it out let me know and I’ll paint a picture for you.

      • March 21st 2013 @ 11:19am
        Ian said | March 21st 2013 @ 11:19am | ! Report

        the MV fan turns to the next year for success again. that was said at the beginning of this year, last year and the year before.

        if MV had our best team on the park…….(and no one was ever injured or got mental fatigue)

        if MV got all our goal scoring opportunities we would have won easily

        etc
        etc

    • March 20th 2013 @ 8:47am
      striker said | March 20th 2013 @ 8:47am | ! Report

      Without a successfull Sydney teams like there is now the A-League would never reach its potential, Melbourne Victory may have the biggest support base but you can see what the two sydney teams have done in bringing the A-League into being a major code, the sydney derby has taken alot of the back pages normaly saturated with league in sydney and is now the hottest ticket in town along with the NRL grand final.

      • March 20th 2013 @ 10:19am
        mahonjt said | March 20th 2013 @ 10:19am | ! Report

        Welsome to Football Sydney. Its terrific isnt it?

    • March 20th 2013 @ 11:36am
      striker said | March 20th 2013 @ 11:36am | ! Report

      Mahonjt i hope that the other clubs lift there game because the crowds are very average except Melbourne Victory.

      • March 20th 2013 @ 3:43pm
        Realfootball said | March 20th 2013 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

        Very true. Adelaide and Perth are a real worry. Wellington are a basket case and their future in the League must be in doubt; Heart, well, it really isn’t working but they are paying their bills. But Adelaide and Perth need to do better. That last Adelaide crowd was terrible for a Friday night.

        • March 21st 2013 @ 12:04pm
          7NA said | March 21st 2013 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

          Perth had half their stadium under construction this season. They were never going to get anything bigger than 10K a game.

    • March 20th 2013 @ 3:57pm
      striker said | March 20th 2013 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

      Yeah agree with all your points real football still penty to do before we become a major player come next TV deal.

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