In eight years of following Sydney FC, I have often struggled to find a connection to the franchise. To me, nothing really stands out. Nothing the franchise has done in seven and a bit seasons has made me affectionate toward them.
In the first couple of seasons, the club brought in Manchester United legend Dwight Yorke, Japanese legend Kazu Muira and Benito Carbone. But one constant that has remained throughout its existence has been change. And not good change either.
There has almost been a new coach every season. Same goes for changes on the board and new chairmen. On top of that, there has been constant change in the playing ranks and the coaching staff. None of which has given the club any stability.
What is my point? Well, my point is that the franchise I follow has given me nothing to show it is a club. It has given me nothing that in return makes me love the club. I follow the franchise, yes. But I do not support it. And that is pretty sad. It is pretty sad that in 8 years Sydney FC has done nothing to make me love them. Nothing.
What’s that you say? They’ve won the A-League Championship twice, the Premiership once, played in the Asian Champions League and Club World Cup. My answer to that: so what?
For eight years Sydney FC has struggled to find a culture, an identity, a philosophy. They have struggled to find something that I associate with. I would argue with anyone that these are key factors which attract fans to the clubs they follow, whether it’s A-League club, an EPL club or an AFL club.
I look back at 7 years of Sydney FC trying to find something that pulls me closer towards loving them. As I write this I try to find what their culture is, what their identity is, what their philosophy. All I can come up with is a season’s worth of identity, when way back in season one, they were nicknamed ‘Bling FC’. Other than that, there is nothing.
I couldn’t tell you what Sydney’s culture was other than the fact that it seems to be toxic. Good players arrive and are sold (or released) a shadow of their former selves (see Scott Jamieson and Michael Beauchamp for examples). What is Sydney’s philosophy? Your guess is as good as mine.
Come to think of it, they don’t have anything that makes me want to be like them. Just thinking now, a person loves a club for a reason, culture, identity, philosophy or because it’s the family tradition. But sometimes it’s not always like that. Sometimes the club you want to love has qualities that you want to have to in yourself or better yourself with. Sydney have none of that.
I look across the city and to what is actually my backyard, metaphorically speaking. There lies Western Sydney Wanderers. A franchise created a little over six months ago as the backwash to Gold Coast United’s expulsion.
Here is a new franchise. I think it’s fair to say that the Wanderers were established hastily. But they did things that, to the best of my knowledge, no other club has done. They held forums with the community. They asked the people who they hoped would support the franchise what they wanted.
The people got to tell FFA what they wanted the name to of the franchise to be. They picked what colours they wanted for the jersey. They even got to pick the nickname ‘Wanderers’. Credit to the FFA, they went to every region which represented the name of the franchise and got everyone’s opinion. Hell, the RBB put themselves together just as quick.
Fast forward to now. 8 months on I would argue that, aside from Melbourne Victory, the Western Sydney Wanderers are a club and not just a franchise. They have a squad who know what they’re doing. They have a squad that understands what it means to play for their fans. They have a squad who know that their fans love them regardless and in return they love them back more. The fans of Western Sydney have an administration willing to listen to them. Most importantly, they have established a culture and an identity. They are also well on the way to creating their football philosophy.
Sydney FC has been around for 7 and a bit seasons. They are still so far away from any of this. I would argue that its administration, players and staff don’t know what their culture, identity and philosophy is. They used to have an identity: Bling FC. But that was quickly washed away. And now they are wandering (pun intended) around, trying to fit into Sydney’s fickle sporting landscape. This is why I refer to them as a franchise.
Meanwhile, in my backyard, Western Sydney is fast becoming the premier sporting attraction in Sydney. It’s hard not to admire what they’ve done in a short amount of time. They have become a club. In the not too distant future, if things keep going the way they are, they’ll be the premier sporting club/attraction in the country.
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