These two sides may not be separated by the geological divides of city boundaries, no one player jumping ship to stir up animosity, nor has there been one moment on the field that has long lasted in the minds of each fans but the rivalry that has brewed between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory has already become one of the leagues showcase events.
This is a rivalry built on the passion and underlying determination to win, from both the players on the field and the fans in the stands.
By most people’s beckoning, Wanderers and Victory have two of the league’s most passionate fans cheering on their every move. The colour and sound that is generated from the bleachers reverberates onto the field to ensure when Wanderers take on Victory a classic is only 90 minutes away.
More than anything this is a battle between the old supremacy and the new order.
Victory were top dogs in the formative years of the competition in every sense of the word; an unrivalled fan base, corporate support that was the envy of all and, importantly, the results on the field to back it all up. While the success may have dried up of late, the fan support never has.
The Blue and White Brigade was second to none post 2012, that was until the Red and Black Bloc arrived on the scene to stir things up.
The Wanderers have not only matched the Victory in all of these departments, they have managed to overtake them in others.
The Wanderers membership base is tracking right up to the Victory’s numbers and corporate dollar doesn’t lag much behind. While Victory are yet to have any glory on the continental front, the Wanderers have conquered Asia in their first attempt with the famous ACL triumph.
The AFC Champions League is the final frontier that Victory are yet to conquer, for the Wanderers to achieve that in just their first attempt only fuels the fire for Victory.
There have been seven meeting between these two sides and true to form, the record is even. Each side has three wins against the other with one draw between them, which was arguably the best game of the lot.
It all started with a gutsy 2-0 away win to Melbourne Victory back in November 2012 and inevitably grew from there. The Victory were forced to grind out a win after Sam Gallagher was sent off just 16 minutes into the game.
It may not have been a classic match but it set the tone for future encounter between the sides. It was the next match-up that made things interesting.
Buoyed by an impressive four match unbeaten run, Wanderers hosted Victory on New Year’s Day 2013 it what proved to be the impetus to the Wanderers stunning run to claim that season’s Premiers Plate.
A Shinji Ono master class shocked the Victory as the Japanese playmaker scored two fabulous goals to down the visitors, including one of the goals of the season as he fired a shot through the legs of Adrian Leijer en route to the Victory goal.
It was this intense battle that not only showed the rest of the league the Wanderers were not to be underestimated in their first year of existence but also highlighted what was to come between the two sides.
Despite going on to win six of their next seven games, still doubts remained over whether the Wanderers were the real deal in their first year. That all changed when these two next played off.
In their first venture down to the southern capital in their short existence the Wanderers showed Victory that there was a new kid in town, outplaying Victory on the pitch with a 2-1 win but also outplaying them at their own game; fan noise.
The traveling Wanderers fans out-sung the Victory for the entire 90 minutes, something which was previously unheard of, thanks to a massive traveling group of fans that made it down the Hume for what turned out to be the Wanderers finest early achievements.
From that moment the challenge was well and truly thrown down. A rivalry was established. While each sides city rivals may take top billing, this match-up has some extra spice to it.
Games between the Wanderers and Victory are not only battles on the park, but battles on the stands. Not only is one team trying to score more goals than the other, the fans are trying to out-sing and out-colour those on the other side of the stadium.
In just seven games between these sides we have seen some of the best spectacles the A-League has ever witnessed.
Tonight’s showdown at Pirtek Stadium will be no different. Western Sydney will be out to make amends for the embarrassing 4-0 loss Melbourne inflicted on them in Round 1 this year. With that still fresh on the minds of the Wanderers players, expect revenge to be on the menu along with another instalment of this engrossing rivalry.