Rivalries run deep in football, it’s what makes the beautiful game the best game of all. And at the pinnacle of rivalries is the local derby.
But the excitement is not limited to those on the field, it’s the fans that truly make a derby.
This is certainly the case at Cecil Hills High School in Liverpool where staff and students are either Sky Blue or Red & Black.
It’s no surprise that the students get involved in pre-match banter but pride is on the line for the teachers too and in the battle of the staff room it’s mathematics teacher Gianni Alfonsi leading the charge for Western Sydney and PDHPE teacher Ben Condon going into battle for the Sky Blues.
Born in Western Sydney and Wanderers supporter at inception Alfonsi says his allegiance is no secret.
“The kids know I’m a Wanderers fans so in-between classes they like to let me know that we’re gone this weekend,” Alfonsi said.
“But it’s Ben and I who are always having a go at each other.
“He’ll put forward that his team is bit higher on the table but I like to remind him that we’ve already got a trophy in the cabinet this year with the AFC Champions League.”
Sydney FC diehard Condon says in derby stakes it’s the Sky Blues that have the advantage after taking out the first Sydney Derby in Round 2.
“Leading up to a derby there is always a bit of banter between the teachers on the playground and in the staffroom,” Condon said.
“There’s a bit of light sledging and throwing a few comments at each other, all in good fun of course, and when the games on we’re certainly on the text messages giving it each other.
“I like to remind Gianni where he is on the table while we’re living the high life up in the top four and that it’s already 1-0 to us.”
Like any tragic both men are prepared to go to all lengths to show their colours.
In the first Sydney Derby last year Alfonsi won the right to have his Wanderers scarf displayed in Principal Sean Bowen’s office, who is a Sydney FC supporter no less.
“I told the Principal that if the Wanderers win he needs to display my scarf in his office for the day, I even took a photo of the scarf on display over his window,” Alfonsi said.
“In return I would have displayed a Sydney scarf in my classroom but I’m glad it didn’t come to that.”
However Condon got one back for the Sydney FC supporters recently when the Wanderers visited the school to celebrate Cecil Hills winning the Wanderers Schools Cup last year.
“Scheduling prevented the boys getting out here earlier but when they got here I was proudly wearing my Sydney FC jersey,” Condon said.
“When the Wanderers players came up on stage and saw me they were a bit confused.
“It added a bit more to the atmosphere and there was some light-hearted banter between myself, the crowd and a few of the boys.”
Like any good rivalry the battle is set to go on with Alfonsi thinking of having a student’s Wanderers vs Sydney FC match for future derby lead-ups.
“We did a lunchtime football tournament in the lead-up to the World Cup where all the students could compete,” Alfonsi said.
“I think we may need to start having a Wanderers vs Sydney match in the lead-up to derbies, that’s something I think we can play with after this weekend.”
Battle lines have been drawn for Saturdays match also with the losing teacher set to display the winners scarf in their classroom for a whole week.
But whatever the result Condon says the league and fans are the true winners on derby day.
“The Sydney Derby brings out the passion in the fans and divides the city for week leading up to the game,” Condon said.
“You’re either in one corner or the other and you want to get the upper hand in the city, until the next derby at least.”