Bankwest Stadium will get the game it was made for. Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
Bankwest Stadium will get the game it was made for. Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Full house to ignite Sydney derby

If you build it, they will come.

And Bankwest Stadium is close to a full house for a top-of-the-table clash on Saturday promising a return to the Sydney derby glory days.

It's been nearly four years since Parramatta last hosted the A-League's premier fixture, and nearly three since one sold out.

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The "all full" sign used to be a given three times each season, when football fanatics transformed Pirtek and Allianz Stadiums into cauldrons to rival Europe's finest.

But not since January 2017 has every seat been snapped up.

That was a scoreless draw at Allianz to mark the start of a gradual decline coinciding with Western Sydney's three years wasting in the wilderness of Olympic Park and Sydney FC's underwhelming move to the oval-shaped SCG.

Last season the Wanderers' two home derbies drew 18,000 and 22,000 respectively to the 84,000-capacity ANZ Stadium.

Compare that to Bankwest's boutique bowl, built on the steepest allowable angle and with reverberating acoustics.


Empty seats at ANZ Stadium didn’t nothing for atmosphere. Photo: Matt King/Getty Images
Empty seats at ANZ Stadium didn’t nothing for atmosphere. Photo: Matt King/Getty Images



Fill it to the brim and Wanderers chief executive John Tsatsimas believes it will be just like the old days at Pirtek, the demolished 21,000-capacity ground once labelled "a little shed" by former Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold.

"We look forward to welcoming our blue rivals at our fantastic new shed," Tsatsimas told The Daily Telegraph.

"It's a fantastic setting for football at the A-League level, and fitting reward for Wanderers supporters."

The Red and Black Bloc are set to flood the active support section and use Australia's first safe-standing zone.

Sydney, too, will make their presence known.

All 2000 of Sydney's active and non-active allocation of tickets were sold almost as soon as they went on sale.



The “old tin shed” used to go off.
The “old tin shed” used to go off.


"And I'm expecting a great many more Sky Blues fans to have bought tickets in other parts of the stadium, so it will make for a brilliant atmosphere," Sky Blues chief executive Danny Townsend said.

"Thirty thousand fans packed into Bankwest Stadium, compared to the same number in one of the much larger stadiums, is a totally different and hugely exciting proposition.

"It's going to be very special, particularly with both clubs unbeaten at the top of the ladder."

Part of the anticipation is the renewed tension in an on-field rivalry dominated by Sydney in recent years.

The Sky Blues are unbeaten in 16 of the last 17 derbies, including 11 wins.

But the ledger has levelled somewhat, with both sides top of the table as the only to win two from two.




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"Both teams have started the season well so it's going to be a good game for the neutral," said Sydney and Socceroos right-back Rhyan Grant, who scored Sunday's winner against Wellington at a packed Leichhardt Oval.

"And the little suburban grounds and boutique stadiums are great for the A-League - like at Leichhardt there were only 12,000 but it felt like a lot more.

"This week will be even better. I haven't been to the new stadium but I've seen it on TV and heard great things about it.

"I'm sure it'll be sold out too so it's going to be a great atmosphere. It's back to the glory days of the big derbies."