Saturday’s Sydney Derby marks a very special milestone in the Wanderers’ short history as the Red & Black take to the field for their 100th Hyundai A-League fixture.The stars have made a habit of aligning themselves quite neatly over Western Sydney, so when the fixture list for the 2015/16 campaign was released there was an air of inevitability around this historic 100th Wanderers game in the Hyundai A-League.
TICKETS: If you haven’t got tickets for the Sydney Derby you can still get in by clicking here to purchase a discounted White Membership.
You couldn’t have timed it better. What a fixture and what an occasion. What a chance to pen yet another special evening into a history book brimming with unforgettable memories. What a way to chart a phenomenal rise to the summit of Australian football.
But as Tony Popovic would surely agree, there’s little time for sentimentality over the course of the next 90 minutes. Winning is all that matters.
Yet, as scores of fans depart Wanderland tonight, hopefully after carrying the side to another Sydney Derby win, it would be pertinent to consider how we arrived here, to celebrate a century of A-Hyundai League football and to look forward to a future with as much promise and excitement as the first three seasons.
The Wanderers held humble origins – not least in paying homage to the Parramatta-based Wanderers FC team of 1880, the first registered football club in Australia. This would set the tone for the club’s foremost founding principle: the community, and the belief that this community is the pride of the club.
You don’t have to go far to see how proud the region are of their team and how clearly this is shown in the normalities of everyday life. A Wanderers jersey on every street corner is as common a sight you will see and cars emblazoned with red and black membership stickers flash past constantly to remind you of the region’s beating heart.
Shaped in Popovic’s image, the other foundations would soon follow. Aspirations of grandeur were firmly cast in iron and the founding ideals were established with the purpose of transforming the club into a world class footballing institute.
Discipline, hard work, hunger and winning mentality – ultimately the lifeblood of the Western Sydney region and the lifeblood of the team. And it’s the fourth founding cornerstone – a winning mentality – that has developed into something of a mantra for Popovic and has undoubtedly been the driving force in the development of an unbeatable footballing culture.
These foundations laid the platform for success – and there has been no shortage of it in little over three years of existence. A premier’s plate and grand final appearance in the debut season exceeded even the most wild expectations and was followed up strongly by another grand final showing and an astonishing AFC Champions League win that is almost unrivalled in its status as modern football’s greatest fairy-tale.
This is a magical club that continues to make a heartfelt difference in the community and defy all odds on the field. They’ve left more of a mark on Australian football in 100 games than their Sky Blue compatriots have in eleven years.
Here’s to 100 more.