Broadcast legend and Mudgee local Ken Sutcliffe opens up on his experiences with the Western Sydney Wanderers and what it means to finally have a Hyundai A-League match in his hometown.
Back in 2014, I travelled with the Wanderers to their historic AFC Champions League Final match as well as going on tour with them to their Club World Cup campaign.
The Wanderers were a terrific club to deal with from the very beginning and the players were always so accommodating. It was a very difficult tour, particularly travelling to Riyadh, which isn't necessarily the first destination you would ever want to go to when travelling overseas.
Riyadh was difficult and very intimidating, but the Red & Black played really well and played with a big heart.
Al-Hilal were coached by a very confident Romanian with millions of petrodollars behind him and he threw everything at the Wanderers. Before and even after the game he was quite arrogant which made the result for the Wanderers even more special.
The Saudi's had shot after shot on goal but they were just repelled. They probably should have won five or six nil, but the match didn't go that way.
The Wanderers showed plenty of resilience and for me, the atmosphere was intimidating, so I can only imagine what it was like for the players.
Since then I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for the Wanderers as they are a real people’s team, they engage.
They understand what their responsibilities are to the game and to the people of Western Sydney, and I think that’s good.
Sometimes you can come across this sort of thing, like players and club officials who give you short shift, but I never got that from the Wanderers. They understood what they were trying to do, they respected their fans and from my media point of view, they made my life very easy. They were just a bunch of good blokes.
The club even views itself as the people’s team. It was a ‘them against us’ mentality. They were good to work with and they play good football, they entertain and their fans appreciate it.
This weekend they are taking the very first Hyundai A-League match to my hometown of Mudgee and Mudgee needs it.
It’s important to have these high profile games in the town as we have invested a lot of money into an incredible sporting complex that is the envy of everything west of the Blue Mountains.
The ground is the Wembley of the West and I mean it, every coach or player that has played at the top level all walk away thinking that.
It wouldn’t be out of place in a Sydney Grand Final and that’s how good it is. It’s purpose built and it’s a beautiful ground in a beautiful venue in a beautiful ground of Australia.
We’re in a bit of a green drought at the moment in Mudgee and our community is in some tough times.
So this match is damn good for people in the district.
It will be lovely for those who love the beautiful game to sample something that we haven’t seen west of the Mountains at all, we’ve seen other codes but we’ve never seen a top-flight Hyundai A-League team.
Right now, as far as standards go, the Hyundai A-League is terrific. It’s entertaining and it’s skilful.
I see kids in the area booting a football, dribbling around, getting exciting and there are Wanderers posters all over the place.
I believe the Wanderers and not just Mudgee will get a lot out of this match and I can’t wait to see the Red & Black give the people of Mudgee an experience to remember.