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

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, 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 since December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (115)

    • October 20th 2017 @ 7:24am
      Midfielder said | October 20th 2017 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      Should be a great game…

      I hope the Drive By’s take this one..

      • October 20th 2017 @ 7:45am
        punter said | October 20th 2017 @ 7:45am | ! Report

        Boo hiss Middy!!!!

      • Columnist

        October 20th 2017 @ 7:59am
        Stuart Thomas said | October 20th 2017 @ 7:59am | ! Report

        Sydney has awoken to appalling weather. Soggy pitch tomorrow at this rate.

        • October 20th 2017 @ 8:07am
          chris said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:07am | ! Report

          I think it will be fine Stuart. This rain apparently will disappear by Saturday.
          The pitch will be perfect.

          • Columnist

            October 20th 2017 @ 8:49am
            Stuart Thomas said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:49am | ! Report

            You might be right Chris, just heard an update suggesting we might get a little tomorrow but mostly dry, good news.

            • Roar Guru

              October 20th 2017 @ 9:07am
              spruce moose said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

              Should be a dry night tomorrow.

              Besides, they over water the pitch immediately before kick off anyway…

      • October 20th 2017 @ 8:22am
        Post_hoc said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

        Always knew I liked you for a reason Midfielder

    • October 20th 2017 @ 7:47am
      Franko said | October 20th 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      Believe this is the last year of the three-year deal to play Victory and finals matches at Adelaide Oval.

      I think we all want the games returned to Hindmarsh but saying that, I don’t believe the crowd at AO has ever been under 18k (Hindmarsh capacity), so there is an argument it will continue.

      Big question tonight will be which Victory player escapes a red card, you can be sure there will be one it is a Kevin Muscat team afterall.

    • October 20th 2017 @ 8:01am
      Stephen Chen said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:01am | ! Report

      Code waaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrr!

    • October 20th 2017 @ 8:04am
      Fadida said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      I’m not sure how the loss of a managing director would effect a crowd? I know they are a peculiar lot in Qld but surely the arrival of their new Frenchman, who has a great resume, will offset this? Or maybe the players will wear black armbands….

      • October 20th 2017 @ 8:09am
        punter said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:09am | ! Report

        Haha, Queenslander!!!!

      • October 20th 2017 @ 8:20am
        Waz said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

        I don’t think this weeks events will affect the crowd to be honest, and fans are still trying to work out what’s really going on at Ballymore any way? Kingsman or Pourre doesn’t matter, what matters is the Bakries and this week offers little comfort that they have changed or understand the consequence of their actions. It’s rinse and repeat time, those that can endure the merry go-round do and turn up, and those that can’t stopped turning up regularly ages ago anyway.

      • October 20th 2017 @ 11:37am
        Betty B said | October 20th 2017 @ 11:37am | ! Report

        Eric Bautheac hasn’t played for quite a while, and he’s never played with any of his new team mates at Roar or under Aloisi, so as much as I’d love him to feature and feature well at that, he only arrived Tuesday so I think it fair that we allow at least a few weeks of grace before our expectations rise.
        As to the fans and MD, it’s not about the personalities involved, it’s the Bakrie’s methods as Waz says. No black arm bands needed, both men are highly popular with fans. As to the game – last year the Jets won 4-0 I recall, and have often been a banana peel for Roar, and they’ve improved this year. Roar are improving, let’s hope enough improved by Sunday for the jet to suffer an engine loss, hey. Failing that, we can all enjoy the many ex Roar players doing well in other teams.

        • October 20th 2017 @ 11:41am
          Post_hoc said | October 20th 2017 @ 11:41am | ! Report

          Great video footage put out by the club of him arriving at training. Not a Roar fan, but I thought great idea, good engagement piece. Well done

          • October 20th 2017 @ 11:56am
            Betty B said | October 20th 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

            Did not see the video, but did read that he will wear 22. That was Thomas Broich’s shirt, so he has a lot to live up to.

            • October 20th 2017 @ 12:28pm
              Waz said | October 20th 2017 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

              #22 is the best way to do it …. “here’s your number kid, there’s a lot to live up to, now go do it ….”. We can do the same with the No. 9 and No. 1 shirt and that’s the way it should be.

              • October 20th 2017 @ 2:11pm
                Betty B said | October 20th 2017 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

                Eric did say he preferred 11 but is happy with the double. But I do agree, 22 is an appropriate number for him and I disagree with the party-pooper fans who called for the shirt to be retired. I think we will all love him.

        • October 20th 2017 @ 12:29pm
          Fadida said | October 20th 2017 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

          Betty, I, and many others, find it hard to understand why fans are turned off going to games when on field Roar have had sustained success for years. Championships, finals campaigns, great players. Even this year while there may be questions about Maccarone the Jets got Jardel.

          Jets attendances feel away in the Tinkler years not because they were managed by a charlatan who wouldn’t pay his staff, but because the team were appalling. Even then fans turn up at the start of each season, gradually staying away when they realise another wooden spoon is inevitable.

          I’m not a Novocastrian, so no bias, but there is such a difference in the attitudes of the respective fans. If the Bakkries ran the Jets noone would care if the football was good and the team was winning. They would be thrilled to have had the last 7 years the Roar have had. Crowds would average 15-20k, amazing for a city of 300k

          • October 20th 2017 @ 2:32pm
            Betty B said | October 20th 2017 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

            oh I don’t think Roar is any different to any other club. I don’t know the numbers but Roar generally holds its own in the comparisons I’ve seen, and betters most clubs. Are they expecting a fall off? I hope not.
            I do know that Roar fans have high expectations. Third is not good enough. Roar has had a lot of negative publicity, not this year so much or last, but bad impressions do stick around. Competition is hot in Brisbane too, from the other codes and the weather. They do suffer a little from a lack of exposure in the media, but that seems to be improving and is the same at all clubs.
            I think the lack of sponsorship $ is more worrying than attendance numbers. Oh for those squandered sponsorship $$ that Tinkler ripped from Qld soils and threw at Hunter sports.

            • October 21st 2017 @ 12:24pm
              j,binnie said | October 21st 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

              Betty – Actually Roar increased their average gate last year from 12,850 per match to 13,890 per match.That despite playing what many pundits would describe as “positive football” without the desired end result.
              Result – a faraway third to Sydney FC’s record season.
              So I don’t think there is any doubt that there is a market out there for Roar if certain things take place, and it is in this area that the identity ,Brisbane Roar, has struggled since day 1 of the HAL, that of a “backroom”, or perhaps we should call it an administration, that appears to have lurched from one crisis to another ,be it financial or otherwise.
              As others have pointed out here that factor has seemingly not affected the playing staff who have been one of the most successful playing sides in the HAL.
              So there is little doubt that on the playing field Roar have definitely “delivered” to the thousands who have watched them over the years.
              However in the administration area of operation it is a different story
              In 13 years we have experienced an almost constant changing of Ownerships,Chairmen,CEO’s, Coaches.and ancillary staff ,so it is quite obvious that something is not right at the franchise,and it is in this area, much investigation has to take place.if improvement is to be made. where it matters most
              This latest episode of ” hiring and firing” appears to have at it’s core the inability to gain recognition among potential commercial sponsorships and to anyone with an ounce of common sense this would not surprise when it is appreciated that before committing to a sponsorship, any worthwhile business would do it’s due diligence, and it is in this area the spotlight would surely focus on the aforementioned administration and it’s performance over the years. In this latest episode the lack of funds again appears to have raised it’s head with the exiting chairman claiming he has paid wages out of his own pocket.!
              So, much as it is easy for fans to ignore the backroom shenanigans, I feel it is in this area that improvement is needed before the Roar can take it’s true position in the HAL hierarchy, for bad publicity is bad publicity from wherever it emanates.

          • October 20th 2017 @ 2:46pm
            Waz said | October 20th 2017 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

            Fad – SFC are a good example proving winning football doesn’t guarantee growth in crowds. There’s a slight modulation when you win regularly or lose but overall no successfull team grows crowds that much. That means there’s more in play than just winning

            • October 20th 2017 @ 3:55pm
              Fadida said | October 20th 2017 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

              The Sydney market is just odd. If Beckham came out of retirement to play for them they’d get bigger crowds even if results were poor, than for the current side, who are excellent

            • Roar Guru

              October 20th 2017 @ 7:30pm
              Cousin Claudio said | October 20th 2017 @ 7:30pm | ! Report

              Sydney memberships continue to grow and already ahead of last season when they won the double. Now heading for over 15K so there is no evidence to support your claim that Sydney FC crowds are dwindling despite them winning
              The Wellington game always gets the smallest attendance.

              Also for the non-believers
              https://www.myfootball.com.au/news/hyundai-a-league-201718-season-goes-truly-global

              Over 10 million people a week all around the world tune in to our own little A-League. Its global growth is phenominal. Not surprising when you play the world’s most popular sport.

              • October 20th 2017 @ 9:20pm
                chris said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:20pm | ! Report

                With the difference in time zones lots of our games will be beamed around lunch times on the weekend in Europe. Great exposure during those cold winter days there.

              • October 22nd 2017 @ 1:00am
                Phil said | October 22nd 2017 @ 1:00am | ! Report

                They have games live on BT Sport here in the UK. Nice to watch a game over breakfast on the weekend.

    • October 20th 2017 @ 8:06am
      Franko said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

      3 year deal at Adelaide Oval ends this year, have they ever played to less than Hindmarsh capacity? I don’t think so.

    • October 20th 2017 @ 8:08am
      punter said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:08am | ! Report

      Thanks for a good summary on some of this weekends games, definitely the big one is the Sydney Derby.
      Very excited & nervous about this match as is all Derby games.

      It is a huge event, speak to many of the punters after the game & there are those who only attend this 1 football game a year & they say it’s such a wonderful occasion.

      May the best team Sydney FC win!!!!!

      • October 20th 2017 @ 8:14am
        Buddy said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

        No, may the better team win!

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