An article in The Australian this week praised the Sydney Kings and the NBL for getting a record-breaking crowd of 17,514 to the Sydney Superdome on Sunday.
After the Wanderers’ inception in 2011, it’s hard to comprehend this blockbuster fixture has already been contested 18 times.
This Saturday will bear witness to the mega derby of all derbies in Australian Football. With such importance placed on the Sydney FFA Cup semi-final, moreso than any other previous derby fixture.
Regardless, if it’s Sydney 5-0 demolition job or the Wanderers ending the Sky Blues’ invincible run, the importance has clearly been placed on this Saturday’s game and the emphasis is causing such tension, the nervousness can be cut with a knife.
In previous years, we would have heard several sly remarks made by Graham Arnold and the mind games would have commenced but this derby already looks, sounds and feels different.
The build-up has been quiet and not much has been made of the fixture. In fact, one could be forgiven if they didn’t even know it was on. I guess the FFA governance issues, expansion and the Media Watch frenzy on Usain Bolt, has put this once in a lifetime derby fixture on the back burner.
The derby is now playing second or even third fiddle to other matters.
We may not see this fixture again for many years. In fact, we may never ever see a Wanderers vs Sydney FC, semi or final FFA Cup fixture ever again.
We can look to the future with the FIFA Congress and be all optimistic about the potential of our game, but what’s the point if we’re not focusing on the present?
I hate to sound all preachy and philosophical but, as the old saying goes, and I’m not sure who originally said it; ‘the past is history, the future is a mystery but today is the present and that’s why it’s a gift’. Despite how corny that may sound, its truth is self-evident.
Is the football community letting ideal opportunities fly by to settle old debts and revenge? With previous derbies, the media coverage would be in full swing, banter would be going back and forth, the fans would be buzzing, and certain media agencies would be on ‘Hooligan Alert’.
Where is that hype now?
As Simon Hill said last week, if the attention or centrepiece of Australian Football is to be the A-League, then surely this derby should be one FFA’s top agendas – or do the FFA consider the derby to be a joke? Could this Saturday be a missed opportunity to progress our beloved game?
Will internal governance rivalries overcome the rivalry on the pitch? We can only tune in to the spectacle that is the Sydney Derby and find out.