On Sunday, our derby woes continued as we faltered in the second half and lost 3-1 to our bitter rivals. However, while I’m frustrated by the result, it isn’t what concerns me the most. What concerns me is the lack of empathy and understanding that the FFA has of Australian football fans. They simply don’t get us, and they don’t appear as though they try to either. Every single game out of the seventeen derbies that preceded last night’s encounter was played on a Saturday night.
With games played at a mixture of Allianz Stadium, Pirtek (Parramatta) Stadium and ANZ Stadium, those 17 derbies averaged a crowd of over 33000 people. 8 derbies were held at Allianz prior to last night, with an average of 38000 – a figure brought down to approximately 36,700 after last night’s disappointing crowd of 25,211; the lowest crowd at a Sydney derby held at Allianz. You could easily blame the weather for such an appalling crowd for such a big game, but we know it was talked about for days before the game that we weren’t expecting as strong a crowd as we’re used to for these types of occasions.
Because you don’t go messing with a winning formula – and that winning formula proved to be having the Sydney derbies on Saturday nights at reasonable times.
The match, which was initially intended to begin at 7:00 pm was pushed forward to an incredible 6:30 pm kick-off with that extra half an hour clearly making a vital difference…
Fans don’t want to travel into the city on a Sunday night, they’ve got work, school, university, etc. in the morning. The traffic, especially in the weather of Sunday night was particularly painful as it can take a while to get home. However, despite the traction that the derby gathered from its Saturday night kick-offs – something the fans of both sides could actually agree on – it was clearly ignored by the FFA. This apathetic, ignorant, mismanagement of our game in this country is poor and it just showcases how little they know about the sport or the people who pay their hard-earned money to watch and support it.
Change is needed urgently to ensure the correct decisions are made in situations like this otherwise we’ll continue to see near-empty stadiums. Maybe it was the number of people ducking for shelter, but last night’s crowd certainly didn’t appear to be in the vicinity of 25,000.
On top of the issue of the crowd, isn’t it great to walk through the gates of Allianz Stadium and be faced with a dozen of cameras staring down on you? I am completely supportive of heightening security at any public event especially after numerous tragic events that have occurred across the world. However, I think this was a step too far. This entire derby has been portrayed as the home of unfathomable, non-stop hooliganism and this toxic representation of all of our fans is simply disgraceful.
The actions of a select few can’t and shouldn’t be used as a way to defame our fan-base and we’re getting tired of it. We’re tired of being called scum by people who don’t even watch football. Sunday night we witnessed a few flares lit and since then it’s all that’s spoken about. However, what about the Sydney fans who stormed into the RBB trying to start a fight? Why don’t we hear about this? Our fans don’t deserve to be treated like criminals because some people have got themselves into a mess in the past. The excessive surveillance does nothing to prevent any acts of ‘crime’ so why are they there, other than to alienate us and to try and demonstrate that our love, our passion, our support for the team and the game is part of a toxic culture.
Because if that’s what people believe then they’ve got the wrong idea and something needs to change that so we can be viewed in a positive light again.