Sydneysiders need to bridge the connection

Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

The harbour city is a busy place.  Entertainment and value seem to be intrinsically linked amidst the current economic climate; the A-League better take note.

The two new Queensland teams – the North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United – have got plenty of promise but poor gate numbers after just seven rounds.  For all Clive Palmer’s billions, the Gold Coast can barely muster 7,000 paying fans.  However, the league needed a kicker and the two new teams have certainly provided a boost for competitive balance.

But for Sydney FC the connection with the broader community has always been a challenge.  The fickle Sydney fanbase has left the club with much work to do.

The inaugural champions have brought in a foreign coach for a start – a Czech tactician by the name of Vítězslav Lavička – to mastermind a plan to reclaim some silverware.

Some impressive pre-season form and a respectable start to the 2009/10 competition have some talking about the title already.  An unimaginative 2-1 loss away to Gold Coast put that objective in perspective.  Another dose of reality hit when former Liverpool legend, Robbie Fowler, scored a belter for the Fury to leave with all three points last week.

The club’s administrators have tried various promotions to attract a crowd to the SFS.  The Beatnix (a bloody good Beatles cover band) and a red double-decker bus matched with a Saturday night kick-off made the Fury fixture fun; an Aloisi v ‘God’ billing not so.

It didn’t turn out well for the Sky Blues.  Fowler made Sydney look very ordinary and the crowd went from 16,699 to 10,357 in one week.

Admittedly, the Newcastle Jets are no big deal these days but today’s turnout was a major disappointment for a team that could and would be equal first with a victory.

Sydney looked more dynamic with a younger squad taking the field.  Some forced changes due to injuries and international duty gave some of the less experienced but evidently hungrier players a run.

An early penalty-save by Clint Bolton provided some excitement.  Italian import, Fabio Vignaroli, looked to have dived or at the very least gone down after the slightest pull on his shirt by the returning Stuart Musialik.

Hot-and-cold, Sydney striker Mark Bridge, unleashed a pigeon to put the home side into the lead only for Matt Thompson to level minutes later, redemption for his earlier penalty indiscretion.

Steve Corica would also get an opportunity to score from the penalty-spot in the second-half after Alex Brosque won his third penalty of the season from an oncoming goalkeeper.  Corica didn’t miss securing all three points for Sydney and an equal first standing on the ladder with Gold Coast.

There was even time for a red card to be awarded to Newcastle wing-back, Tarek Elrich, which looked a bit harsh to be fair and left the player bemused.  All-in-all it was a decent performance by both teams.  It was great to see Seb Ryall play his way back to full fitness after his off-season troubles.  He played a simple yet effective game.

Hopefully with another victory – and the end of the AFL and NRL seasons – the crowds will return.  But one thing’s for sure: Sydney has to do something inspirational to attract more support and fast.

Perhaps, the good people of the city need to show the game some more respect and understand that the bid for the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup will be judged on how much we love the game.  If we want the rest of the world to come play in our backyard, we better start moving our feet.


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