It was the perfect start to the Wanderers’ 2017/18 season, with a win at home in front of a united and buzzing crowd of over 12k.
We relive the match and atmosphere on a night where the Wanderers won their first game of the season for the first time in their history.
The Crowd – Reunited and it feels so good!
Arriving at the game I was concerned by what looked to be a rather empty stadium only an hour before kickoff. Thankfully it filled up to about half capacity. Not bad for a Sunday night game. However I was preparing myself for a possible flat atmosphere at, what many have dubbed, ‘Souless’ Stadium.
I was pleasantly surprised that we kicked off with real passion and noise (from my perspective in the RBB anyway). The only problem was the speakers playing LaBanda’s drums and almost drowning us out as well as throwing off timing.
All seemed ‘ok’ until about the 15th minute of the match. Then something remarkable happened. The RBB called to the WST to join in a ‘Who do we sing for?’. Not only did they respond strongly they then called to the RBB who responded in kind. It was an incredible symbol of unity. The side stands erupted in applause as the 2 supporter groups chanted together across the stadium (and to put in perspective is about the distance from Sydney to Wellington… ok maybe a bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea).
With the obvious relief and joy of the tension over the division being lifted, the stadium came to life again. All sections were once again singing and chanting for the team (including the non-active areas). It was a tingly feeling and amazing atmosphere not felt all of last season and possibly as far back as our season 2.
If that wasn’t enough of a show-stopper, the icing on the cake was WST ‘capo’, Fabz, appearing at the RBB. It then went beyond symbolic gestures and became so much more as Fabz addressed the RBB from the capo stand.
“Everything we do is for this club!
From this day forward, WST and RBB are brothers!!!”
The RBB went crazy at this (in the best way possible of course). There were handshakes, badge/chest slaps and hugs all ’round.
There’s no denying that we were a fractured bunch last season. Something had broken amogst us all (active and non-active). But mark that moment as the true reunification of the Wanderers’ supporters. The moment that what was seen as opposing groups, causing tension for all, joined together for the common and real purpose of it all, to support the club. While they may not sit together, they will sing together and the rest of the crowd will be better for it too. Things have changed for the better.
I had goosebumps at the time and the rest of the match had an amazing atmosphere (admittedly helped by winning 2-1).
The Football – what we were actually there for…
Speaking of the score, just going to not so subtlety segway into an actual match review for a bit, then return to some interesting talking points (I promise they will be at least mildy amusing – I hope – well to me anyway).
The Wanderers dominated almost all match but unlike previous years actually grabbed some goals to show for it!
With chances at both ends and some brilliant saves, Oriol Riera broke the deadlock with a cute finish. Followed shortly by Hamill assisting Jumpei for the second (no really). Hamill also scored in the second half but it was for Perth (oh you believe THAT one?).
In the end, it was one of our better performances ever. A truly dominant display of attack, control and defence. The only negative being that for all that we only won 2-1. But some great saves by Liam Reddy contributed to that. Either way, the important thing is that we did enough to get the 3 points, something very much lacking last season.
Jumpei and Hamill not only combined for our unlikely second goal, but both of the them also had a good game overall.
Many were not happy when we predicted Hamill’s inclusion and even less so when it was confirmed he’d be our starting right back on the night. However the out of favour defender had one of his better games since our ACL winning run. Not only did he assist for the goal but he was solid in defence and even provided some crosses into the box. While he did bag an own goal, this 1 unfortunate mistake should not completely overshadow he’s otherwise solid performance.
Similarly, Jumpei had probably his best game for WSW. He scored the goal and he was a constant threat all night. With a number of good runs, he provided an option for Bonevacia and took pressure off our front man in Riera. Jumpei showed tonight that he is a decent winger when the side around him is quality. In particular he needs the other winger to be quality, which Cejudo definitely is (having a great game, bagging an assist for the first goal and being awarded man of the match).
Other Performers – The other guys
As mentioned above, Cejudo had a great game. Riera continued to prove he is the man we were missing, continuing his pre-season form and scoring his first A League goal in his first A League match. Llorente was finally seen by the fans and he was also top quality; his pace, awareness and general skill were all on show.
For me though, Bonevacia was impressive, most impressive (but he’s not a jedi yet!). He showed why he should be our #10 and bossed that midfield, well, like a boss. He was central to everything we did on the ball and looked dangerous with every touch.
All in all, our new signings look brilliant. This is already proving to be our best season of signings and could even be our best season. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves after 1 game. Like the players did by doing a lap of honour after a round 1 win… we even had to chant to Santalab for him to hurry up and stop taking selfies so we could celebrate and leave before the last train out of Lidcombe was amost gone.. aw yeah…
Summary – a conclusion by any other name
WSW 2 (Riera, Jumpei) – Perth Glory 1 (Keogh/Hamill)
Crowd – 12,223