RPGs and game psychology are not the only things that weigh on my mind! For about 4 years I have been a fan of the Western Sydney Wanderers, a relatively new team to the Australian A-League.
Now, I don’t live in Western Sydney, but when I became re-interested in football (and signed up to play for the first time since I was a kid) I looked around my home city for the options, and there was a clear choice for me. There is nothing wrong with Sydney FC (besides their fans ; ) but when the Wanderers kicked off they deliberately tried to re-introduce the more ‘tribal’ culture that had (necessarily at the time) departed from football in this country.
The ‘Red-and-Black-Blok’ as they are called have a deserved reputation as the most passionate fan base in the country; in fact their aim is the be the most passionate supporter group in the world! A lofty goal, and what makes it heaps of fun to go to a home game!
Also, because the Wanderers started as financially smaller that Sydney FC, and they started with a smaller home ground. The Wanderers stadium only holds about 25,000, compared to Sydney’s stadium which holds over 100,000. The difference is what I love – Wanderers games are up-close and personal. Pirtek stadium was designed for NRL (dont bother googling it!) so the seats are right along the boundary line, and you will never get a seat that is too far back. Also, they do NOT serve alcohol, and as a dad with kids who like to see the games this is a BIG plus in my books!
For years the Wanderers played ‘fightball’ – what we in Australia degradingly call the very physical, low in technique, high on endurance style of playing. That did serve them well for a few years, and added to the passion of the crowd when they did well, but in recent years the A-League teams that have switched to a Spanish-style of possession based football have started to dominate (as they have all over the world). So, after a cellar-dwelling season last year, the Wanderers have switched up their game and playing style too!
However, this has come at a huge cost in terms of familiar faces – there are only two starting players (two!) who were in the team last year. Kind of leaves me wondering who I am cheering for… the players? The team? The club? My kids and the other supporters? The sport itself?
Of course that would all disappear if/when the team starts scoring goals, and we start hearing the names of the play-makers being mentioned. But, two games into the new season, it hasn’t happened yet.
Which brings me to the conundrum of this coming weekend’s local derby against Sydney FC. I guess the only thing I can say at the moment is ‘Come on…. Team? Wanderers? Ah, just kick a goal will you!!!’