This Saturday afternoon, Allianz Stadium hosts one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the Sydney sporting calendar – an Hyundai A-League local derby between Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers.
On the pitch, there’s honour at stake as the Sky Blues face their hometown rivals for the third time this season.
In the stands, however, is where both teams have been making headlines recently, with the limelight falling on the supporters clubs.
Just last weekend, Wanderers’ active supporters club, the Red and Black Bloc, staged a silent protest during their team’s match against the Newcastle Jets.
The result of the match? Wanderers 0 – Newcastle 2.
The protest was in response to an email sent by the club to all supporters following the use of flares during Wanderers’ debut Asian Champions League match against Ulsan Hyundai. The Red and Black Bloc claimed that the email unfairly implied that all active supporters were responsible for the events at the ACL match.
But did the silent protest unfairly target the players, resulting in one of the strongest teams in the league losing to one of the lowest-placed teams on the ladder?
A few weeks ago, I attended the Sydney FC vs Adelaide United match. The active supporters in The Cove seemed to have lost their voices. A banner, in Russian (the native tongue of club owner David Traktovenko), was held up and quickly confiscated by security. At half-time, members of The Cove gathered outside the stadium, calling for the head of Sydney FC coach Frank Farina.
Full-time score? Sydney FC 0 – Adelaide 3.
The active supporter culture is a key attraction of the Hyundai A-League football and the sport has seen a surge in popularity since the addition of Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Heart to the league, bringing local derby action to two major cities.
Supporters clubs, especially the leaders, devote a lot of time and energy to creating the match-day atmosphere and uniting the club supporters; active supporters in turn deserve support and respect from club management.
One important point though should not be forgotten…the role of supporters at the match is to support their team!
All supporters want to see their beloved team win, so leave the politics outside the gates this match day and let the players hear you sing…