He came across, grabbed the megaphone and screamed out at the top of his lungs “Who do we sing for?!”
“We sing for Wanderers!” the entire away end replied.
That was Ante Covic by the way, who seems to be loving winning in front of his fans and is always eager to get the megaphone and lead the Red and Black Bloc in a chant. He then proceeded to grab a flag and wave it around for all to see and soak in.
This is Western Sydney Wanderers and this is how you build a club culture. Every single person in the stadium wearing red and black did not leave until the players eagerly went around to them high fiving, shaking hands, kissing babies and taking photos. Win lose or draw, this happens all the time in Parramatta.
Rewind 10 hours and its 1pm on an extremely humid Sydney day. I jump on the T80 T-Way on the way to Parramatta with a large contingent of the RBB, breaking out into a chant every now and then in between conversations of Italian family tomato sauce making days and how many leaves of basil you have to put into the bottles of homemade sauce. No joke.
We arrive at the Woolpack and it’s filling out nicely. The security guards asked what time the game is on. Ummm 7:45 mate...at Moore Park. He gave us a quizzical look probably thinking “these guys are crazy.”
The beer garden is packed. Its like a home game atmosphere here. And its not even 2pm yet. The official transport schedule had been well communicated to every Wanderers member and fan and it seemed like most were on the same page. Catching up with people I hadn’t seen in weeks who did everything in their power to make this game was great. The Telegraph was getting passed around as an article I helped write was doing the rounds and everyone was praising me for the positive words I ensured were in there regarding WSW and the RBB.
“Alright, we march to the station....NOW!!”
Was the cry on the megaphone. We all stream out of the Woolpack and chant and sing to the train station. The outdoor multicultural food stores and customers didn’t know what was going on as a sea of red and black made their way past them. Camera phones were out, pictures taken, fireworks aplenty.
Parramatta station was not prepared for the tidal wave of red and black that unleashed itself upon the turnstiles and the one gate open for ticket holders which gave free public transport. Needless to say, many simply jumped the turnstiles as we’ve all done in the middle of the night when no one is around. The singing was amplified by the enclosed area and the decibel reading was hitting new heights. Casual commuters were stunned by this mass of people.
The platform was absolutely packed with everyone singing and jumping and awaiting CityRail’s fine services to arrive and take us into the city. The train arrives a few minutes later, the cheers go up and two young females are trying to exit the train. All chivalry is extended to them as the RBB create a safe walkway for them to exit their train and then all bets are off. We stream into the carriages, testing the weight limits of the trains as we all sing and chant and disturb people already on the train. It was only a little after 3pm at this stage.
An eventful train ride with chanting, silence to save our voices and then Central station is in sight. The chants begin again as all carriages begin chanting “Pa Pa Paranoia!!! The Wanderers are in the city!!”
One of our good friends is waiting in his WSW gear on the platform to meet us as we invade Central Station chanting and singing, the noise reverberating when we are inside. The everyday commuter didn’t know what hit them. Its safe to say that many of us take this train every day to work, but not like this. This was something else.
We are greeted by a large police escort as we make our way to the Bat & Ball Hotel which had been decided to be the pub for the day. We sing in the streets as a long stream of people make our presence felt by the locals. There were upwards of 600 of us at this stage. When we FINALLY reach the Bat & Ball we find out that it only holds 250 or so. Half of us break away and make our way to Moore Park and invade PJ Gallaghers (formally Fox & Lion).
I was lagging behind with a few other people and when were at the outdoor carpark we could hear singing already. When we arrived at PJ Gallaghers, it was packed to the rafters with red and black. We had invaded Moore Park. Or more accurately, it was surrendered to us.
Two hours of singing and chanting and seeing casual onlookers, some wearing sky blue, walk past in amazement at the throng of people at the pub. There was never silence. And then the other half of us made their way from the Bat & Ball and joined in the festivities. We basically just doubled our numbers instantly.
Everyone is eagerly anticipating the call to go to the stadium and when it comes we all formed up and marched together as one, as we always do at home. We sung, we chanted, and again we made our presence felt in Moore Park as a large number of Sydney FC fans watched in awe at the procession, their cameras out taking photos and videos of the “Westies” making a lot of noise.
When I finally got into the stadium, the away end was almost already full. I made my way to my usual spot at the front where I met up with all the friends I’ve made this year since the fan forums. This already was a glorious occasion and it was still an hour until kickoff. I look across the pitch and the home end is basically empty. I turn around and we are practically full and are singing at full voice already. We are the away team right?
The teams come out and warm up in front of us. Ante Covic is distracted many times as he looks up at the mass of people chanting and cheering and a cheeky smile creeps on his lips. I can see that he is loving this more and more every week. The rest of the team acknowledge us and we can tell they are ready this time.
Finally kick off is upon us and the teams come out to a huge reception of banners, streamers, confetti and flares from both ends. This is crazy and Australian sport has never seen anything like it before.
I didn’t see much of the game live (I later watched it on replay) but when Hersi broke the deadlock to say I didn’t jump around and hug my RBB mates like crazy would be an understatement. From what I saw, it appeared we were winning on the park and off it as well. The entire Western Sydney Wanderers family were making a statement. We had multiple chances during the game and could have been multiple goals up at half time.
When Dino came on in the second half, he got a resounding cheer from the away support and he acknowledged it with a fist pump. Yes! This is how you support your players through thick and thin and give them confidence.
When Beauchamp slotted home the second goal moments later - the captain and a true western Sydney product - we knew we had it in the bag and we screamed and hugged and danced even more than with the first goal.
The 84th minute arrives and on cue, I see Sydney FC fans start to leave to “beat the traffic” I guess. We weren’t going anywhere. Those in the main stands wearing red and black, weren’t going anywhere. The final whistle blows, we celebrate, the team makes its way to the away end celebrating with us, Dino gets a “Dino! Dino!” chant again which makes him smile widely, Covic leads a chant and dances and waves a flag with us.
We were singing in Moore Park, we had claimed victory and planted our flag right in the middle of enemy territory.
Sydney is definitely red and black.