Dave’s Origin Story: Game One, 2015

Not bad seats, hey?

Not bad seats, hey?

If you were born on the East Coast of Australia, anywhere more northerly than Albury, there’s a chance you’ve embraced the State of Origin concept at some time in your life. An interest in sport helps – but without one there’s little chance you’d be reading this anyway.

Growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney during the early 90s, rugby league took centre stage. The Sydney Swans were a joke team in the AFL and the Western Sydney Wanderers wouldn’t exist for another 20 years. When Origin time rolled around, club preferences were put aside and we all united behind the State.

The early years were spent on the lounge room floor of the family home, watching some of the historic names of the game – Langer, Fittler, and even my personal favourites Brad Mackay, Rod Wishart and the Chief. I was awestruck by the spectacle of a game that both united and divided, and nearly always delivered an exciting match (that NSW typically won).

As the teenage years came around the Origin spectacle remained, but instead of being with the family at home it was time to watch it with mates, indulging in pizza and booze, cracking up while listening to Roy & HGs The Call on the radio.

Then came my 20’s, where much time was spent working in hospitality. Origin nights were quiet in the restaurant, but there was always work to be done, and my investment in the series seemed to correlate to NSWs chances of winning, which grew smaller and smaller each year.

I love Origin, I embrace it when I can – but I had never actually been to a game. Ha! And I call myself a New South Welshman!

All that changed this year. Continue reading

Arnie Wrongly Flagged Offside

263135-389351b6-5a87-11e4-9622-df312bf171adAs a general rule of thumb I don’t like to feel sympathy for people. It makes it harder to call them names and use my inner monologue to say scathing things about everything from their integrity to their haircut.

When I consider this, it’s a bit strange that I find myself feeling so sorry for Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold. Continue reading

Don’t Go Hoarse Over Horses

horse-bettingSo the Melbourne Cup was yesterday, and people are outraged. Not because of the billions of hard-earned dollars the TAB takes from problem gamblers and drunken idiots every day, not because of the photos of those munted chicks passed out on the grass, but because two horses died.

It’s sad. I can openly admit that two of the saddest moments I’ve ever experienced in my life were the death of my dogs. Sure, family members and friends were more than sad, but I love animals. Not in a Corey Bernadi kind of way, but something much more wholesome.

Horses broke their legs, and were shot as a result. Or maybe one of them had a heart attack – they jury’s still out. I’m not sure where, but perhaps someone should call them back in. Animal rights activists are jumping around like mad, which I personally find insulting to the horse. Continue reading

Wanderers take on ACL Final Boss Level

234476-J1

As the Wanderers head into this Saturday’s Asian Champions League final, things could be better.

Two bad losses – a 4-1 hammering and a 3-2 loss after being 2-0 up – have already got people writing them off, but that’s OK.

And it’s not just the same people who have enjoyed watching them lose two A-League grand finals in a row, the same people who sit there going ‘tut-tut’ at the rapture of the RBB while sitting stagnantly in their seat filming free kicks on their fucking iPhone. There is concern, and it’s not unwarranted.

There is an unfathomable degree of hatred towards the Red and Black in this country. Yes, Essendon are drug-taking schoolgirl-molesters, yes, the North Sydney Bears don’t exactly exist anymore and I’m not sure how to fit them into this, but I digress.


Or do I? It really shits me, you know? If Brisbane Roar, or Melbourne Victory, or even those fucking smurfs from Sydney FC were in the final of Asia’s biggest club competition, I, as a lover and supporter of Australian football, would wish them all the best.

Would I watch the game? I can’t honestly tell you, and that’s not important. What I would do is wish them well and understand what winning the tournament would mean for an Australian team. If they lost, I certainly wouldn’t revel in laughing at my fellow supporters. I wouldn’t spend all my time actively rooting against them – and there are many out there in the Australian football community who desperately want the Wanderers to lose. I’m calling Tony Abbott because YOU’RE NOT A PART OF TEAM AUSTRALIA YOU KENT!

Anyway I could go on and on in a rant-like fashion about why we’re the most hated club in the league, but it’s not going to stop a whole bunch of you cynical people hoping against hope that the Wanderers lose this weekend and next.

You might ask “why care what other people think?” – to which I would respond with “why actively support a team to lose? Is your life that empty that you have to take some footballing schadenfreude from the Wanderers because they’ve experienced more success in three years than most A-League clubs have in the last 10? Is your life so miserable that you have….”

Anyway I’m ranting when I said I wouldn’t. Ironically enough, we’re getting just as much support from Saudi’s with the same mentality towards Al-Hilal as the Australian anti-fans I’ve just criticised so… I dunno.

Western Sydney Wanderers player Cole is surrounded by teammates as they celebrate after he scored a goal during the Asian Champions League soccer semi-final game against FC Seoul at Parramatta Stadium

BUT TO THE GAME

First and foremost, I hereby revoke everything positive I said about Allianz Stadium the other week. Not because the capacity changed or because it’s any less practical, but getting in and out of the stadium and surrounds last weekend reminded me of every other game I’ve gone to that stadium for, and what a fucking nightmare it is. Fuck Allianz, Parramatta all the way. 10 minute walk down the road or a transport cluster fuck 40 minutes drive away? I was wrong. Well, I wasn’t really, but I’m now lazy and annoyed. Yes, the packed 40,000 atmosphere is spectacular, but I genuinely cannot be fucked going through all that again.

And now some largely irrelevant random statistics.

The last two A-League seasons have seen pretty slow starts. Last year the Wanderers didn’t get our first win until Round 3 – the same round it would be this weekend if they didn’t have the ACL final. Sadly I don’t think this helps much – they’ve conceded 7 in the last 2 games, previously unheard of in Wanderers history.

Then again, they’ve been in two finals and lost them both so maybe the script is going to change in that regard too. Specious reasoning at best, I know.

Wanderers haven’t conceded at home in FUCKING AGES.

Throughout the entire knockout stages of the ACL, where they’ve faced quality opposition multiple times, they haven’t conceded a single goal in their home legs. This is incredibly advantageous and what you really need in knockout football, and entirely contrary to recent form where they’ve actually been able to use our ACL back 4 in the A-League, or even that first 3-1 loss to Ulsan back at the start of the competition.

But it’s the same back 4 that have quickly had heads down when things have gone wrong in the A-League. If they lose their perfect record with a mentally-fragile defense and concede an away goal, Wanderers could be in trouble. Concede two and it’s over. Poppa will know this.

Al-Hilal aren’t going that great either

By their own illustrious standards, Al-Hilal aren’t having a great season at the moment either. 7 games in and they’re fourth on the ladder, having also lost on the weekend to rival opposition of comparable quality. I’m not writing them off by any means – they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t a good side – but they haven’t been crushing it, undefeated with 5-0 domestic wins all season either.

They’re not coming last, like the Wanderers currently are, but combined with massive wealth distribution in the Saudi league, it’s not particularly intimidating.

Win or lose, who really cares?

This has been an incredible journey for a little Australian club, and facing off against a team with a ridiculously large budget and royal patronage, in our diminutive multicultural/bogan home in ‘farken Parra’ illustrates the contrast perfectly.

I barely expected us to make it out of the group first time around, and while I haven’t gone to subsequent games with a pessimistic mindset I’ve just been happy to be there.

By contrast, the Wanderers have shown that they’re not just happy to be there anymore. They’ve beaten some of the best teams in Asia and there’s every chance they can continue to do so, and lift their first ever trophy. What’s the point of coming this far if you don’t believe you can take that final step?

Even if they’re the ones sitting on that dry Riyadh turf, heads in their hands after losing next Saturday, and the joy swimming through the veins of Wanderers haters on social media is enough to make one sick, I won’t be disappointed.

Win or lose, the Wanderers have taken fans on one hell of a ride since they arrive. Just like all good roller-coasters, it’s far better being on it.

If you don’t like roller-coasters, stop complaining and LEAVE THE FUCKING THEME PARK.

By which I mean, watch the Melbourne Derby instead. Just in case you’re stupid.

ACL Stadium Decision Far From Pirtek

What the hell, guys?

What the hell, guys?

I’d tell you how I became a Wanderers member, but I’ve been over it before.

As you might know, we’ve made it through to the final of the Asian Champion’s League – an absolutely massive feat not just in our club history but in that of Australian football.

We’re up against Al-Hilal, a giant club from Saudi Arabia, with a 60,000 seat stadium, a vocal following, lots of money and the hefty support of the Saudi royal family.

By contrast we’re a team that was started by the league and is now financed by a consortium, does NOT have lots of money, and only a 20,000 seat stadium.

What we do have is the vocal support, and the supporters are a massive part of the club. The club wants them to feel included, so they asked all members to vote on where they would like us to play our leg of the Asian Champion’s League final. We were given a few options, and as much as I wanted to select Parramatta Stadium (it’s seriously just down the road, we walk to home games) I went with Allianz in Sydney. Continue reading

Life Stories: Wander No More

While I don’t think I’d ever stuck to one previously, in the last three years I’ve managed to make and deliver on three life-changing New Years Resolutions. 

art-svWANDERERS-620x349

In 2012, that resolution was to quit hospitality. It got to early November and I still hadn’t really made any inroads on developing my career, but I’d had enough and thought ‘why not?’ I quit, with no real back-up plan besides another facet of hospitality. Within two weeks I’d found another job doing something awesome, and I’ve never looked back.

This year it was, as I’m sure you’re aware if you’re one of the few who reads regularly, to quit smoking. It was another great decision that changed my life.

2013, though, was life-changing for another reason. Continue reading

Brazil Nuts – Javid’s World Cup Review

JAAAAA!!

JAAAAA!!

Well that’s it, 171 goals in 64 matches over the course of a month and every football-lover east of Europe is wondering how they hell they’ll ever manage to get back to a regular sleeping pattern.

In the wake of civil unrest and financial inequality, many said the big question at the end of the tournament would be “was it worth it?”

Now, I have a decent salary and comfortable living conditions, I don’t experience the extreme social volatility and insecurity that comes from living in a Favela, I don’t have a national government that spent billions on an international event while letting local people suffer – and because of all these things my answer to the above question is “FUCK YEAH IT WAS! BEST WORLD CUP EVER!”. Continue reading