Pride on the Line

Everything is on the line in the Sydney Derby as we show the world that We Run This Town

East versus West. Red and Black versus Sky Blue. The RBB versus the Cove. Pride and Passion with bragging rights on the line.

Even at fifteen months old the match-up between NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC stirs the emotions of those participating and watching like no other in the Hyundai A-League. Despite its relative youth as a fixture it feels like it has always been this way with the enmity between the teams and emanating from the stands almost visible.

For pure theatre nothing matches the Sydney set-to as nothing comes close to the visceral emotions on display when the Sydney boys meet.

For the supporters it-s not just about the football. Ever since Sydney FC snubbed the West by moving from its intended location of Parramatta Stadium to the Sydney Football Stadium the die-hard and loyal fans in the West have felt alienated towards their Sky Blue cousins. But not until the formation of the Wanderers was there an opportunity for this hurt to manifest itself into a support that eclipsed that of not just their local rivals but of any club in the competition.

A massive crowd of 19,126 packed Pirtek Stadium to almost breaking point for the first ever meeting between the clubs on 20 October 2012. The Wanderers entered the match, only the third in their history, still searching for an elusive first Hyundai A-League goal having drawn their inaugural match with the Mariners and losing narrowly away to Adelaide United. The Sky Blues meanwhile had surprisingly gone down in both their opening matches; losing comically to Wellington Phoenix before being out-gunned in a five-goal thriller by the Jets.

At the end of an absorbing ninety minutes it was Sydney FC celebrating a maiden Derby success. The goal, as if the script hadn-t demanded it, netted in the 54th minute by star recruit Alessandro Del Piero from the penalty spot. Referee Strebre Delovski hardly endeared himself to the RBB by awarding the spot-kick which the Italian maestro knocked in at the second attempt after his first effort had been chalked off for encroachment.

By the time the pair met again the two team-s respective campaigns were heading in polar opposite directions. After winning at Parramatta, Sydney had claimed only seven points out of a possible 21 including suffering a humiliating 2-7 hammering from a gleeful and ruthless Mariners. In the same period the Wanderers had racked up four wins and looked in good shape heading into the encounter.

Another bumper crowd was eagerly anticipating the start of proceedings with 26,176 at Allianz Stadium as referee Chris Beath got the action under way. And revenge was a dish best served cold for the Wanderers who came away from the fixture with a deserved 2-0 win that in reality could have been many more. Sydney FC, struggling at the foot of the Hyundai A-League ladder, could not match the purpose and poise of the Wanderers much to the delight of the travelling support.

Youssouf Hersi opened the scoring for the Wanderers midway through the first half capitalising on a mistake by Sky Blues defender Seb Ryall who failed to deal properly Jerome Polenz-s swinging cross from which Hersi took advantage, controlling and turning to score from close range. The points were secured thirteen minutes from time when slack Sydney defence was again punished. Shinji Ono created the chance with another cross into the danger area and the ball eventually found its way to the back post where Michael Beauchamp fairly welted into it in the roof of the net as the visiting masses danced in delirium.

Perhaps fittingly the first season of the Sydney Derby ended with honours even. One win apiece and a draw in the third match up in Round 26. Heading towards the Premiers Plate and hunting an eleventh straight win in the competition the Wanderers were hot favourites in front of a raucous home crowd of 19,585 who were desperate to wrap up the silverware against their bitter rivals.

Del Piero did the damage once more for the visitors as he seized on an errant pass to surge into the Wanderers penalty area and bludgeon a left-footed finish past the outstretched palm of Ante Covic. However, the dismissal of Brett Emerton eleven minutes into the second half, the Socceroo international seeing red for an agricultural studs-high lunge on Shannon Cole, swung the momentum back in the hosts favour.

Cole was to gain his revenge in the 70th minute earning a priceless point that laid the foundation for the following week-s win and the title. Adam Griffiths fouled the hard-working Dino Kresinger outside the area and Cole exacted the perfect punishment with a curling shot that flew past Ivan Necevski in the Sydney goal.

To bring the story up to date we need only cast our minds back to October last year and another Red and Black raid on Allianz Stadium. A massive 40,388 showcased what the derby meant to the City as the Wanderers arrived en masse to celebrate a comfortable 2-0 victory achieved through first half goals from Iacopo La Rocca and the irrepressible Ono.

Can we expect more of the same on Saturday afternoon? You bet we can. That and more as another chapter in what is already a storied rivalry commences.