There’s no bigger game in the A-League than the Sydney derby

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By , Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    The Sydney derby is one of the best and brightest games in Australian sport – a fact Football Federation Australia should be shouting from the rooftops.

    The majority of the largest attendances in Allianz Stadium history have been A-League games.

    Of the seven previous Sydney derby fixtures played at the venue, only one has attracted fewer than 40,000 fans – and that was for just the second meeting between the two sides.

    A similar-sized crowd will descend upon Moore Park tomorrow night, where Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers will play out not only one of the most colourful spectacles in Australian sport, but also one of the biggest derbies in Asian football.

    New Sydney FC chairman Danny Townsend should highlight that fact and New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian would do well to remember it, because in all the political point-scoring over Sydney stadia, the A-League seems to finish a distant second in the conversation to an NRL which draws noticeably smaller crowds.

    The same should be said for the Wanderers, who were promised a safe standing terrace at the rebuilt Parramatta Stadium which rarely seems to feature in discussions about the new ground.

    On the pitch, the two sides hardly need any more reasons to dislike each other, although Western Sydney defender Brendan Hamill poured fuel on the fire by claiming that tomorrow night’s clash is “a home game” for the Wanderers and that “60 per cent” of the crowd will be wearing red.

    His comments are unlikely to worry a Sydney FC outfit that would have gone through last season undefeated, were it not for a controversial 1-0 derby defeat at ANZ Stadium the last time these two sides met.

    And they could meet again in next month’s FFA Cup final, although the Wanderers will first have to get past a strong Adelaide United side in their semi-final.

    The Wanderers now look a much more free-flowing outfit than they did under Tony Popovic, and with Roly Bonevacia pulling the strings and their trio of Spaniards all looking like decent additions, the visitors could fancy their chances of springing an upset against a Sky Blues side winning few admirers for relentlessly grinding opponents down.

    If the Sydney derby takes centre stage this weekend, then one of the A-League’s original rivalries deserves at least second billing – even if Adelaide United have made a mistake in taking their game against Melbourne Victory to the Adelaide Oval.

    michael-zullo-sydney-fc-a-league-sydney-derby-2016-football

    (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

    You can understand the logic – the Reds’ hierarchy invariably hopes some 30,000 fans turn out to help boost the bottom line, but it never happens and they end up with an inferior atmosphere to what they’d get at Coopers Stadium.

    That in turn affects the players, and in the end the whole exercise of moving the game away from United’s regular home ground ends up being a total waste of time and money.

    Still, at least there’ll be some semblance of atmosphere in Adelaide. But what kind of reception will Brisbane Roar run out to on Sunday?

    It always feels like whenever one crisis is resolved in the A-League, another one pops up just around the corner. So perhaps it’s apt that the Roar are hosting a resurgent Newcastle Jets.

    The Roar’s sacking of managing director Mark Kingsman earlier this week wasn’t exactly one to pencil in for the club’s authorised biography, and of the times I spoke to Kingsman, no one defended The Bakrie Group more vehemently than him.

    Nevertheless the Roar’s owners have now turned to a familiar face in the form of David Pourre to try and steady the ship as the latest managing director, and as a resident of the city, I sincerely hope he succeeds.

    There are some great people working at Brisbane Roar, and just like the fans, they too would give anything to see their team become a genuine A-League force once again.

    The Bakries have already said they plan to turn Brisbane Roar into the biggest club in Australia. Sound familiar?

    Here’s hoping the third time’s the charm.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.

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