Saturday, October 03, 2009

Ramshackle Rovers

Ray Gatt and his team at the Weekend Australian have done some great work and uncovered that FFA registered Sydney Rovers FC name, colours and trademark some weeks before saying that this Sydney bid had the 12th license. Ooops. Of course the other bidders are cheesed off. The Sydney Rovers bid seems to have been given the inside track and has a real paradise club feel.

My issue is that a head guy who was an advertising executive should have spotted the obvious problem. People who live in Sydney's west don't see themselves as living in Sydney! They are anti-Sydney in more ways than one.

Sure Sydney FC has failed to win the so-called grass routes, but just by using the name Sydney you are going head-to-head for fans. This does not create a derby. It will be negative and end up like Gold Coast's impact on the Roar - Gold Coast's fans appear to be disaffected Roar supporters and has had no impact on growing the game.

Has the FFA read about Australian sporting history? It is the Fibros v Silvertails which is 'Sydney's' greatest sporting rivalry. The names of these rugby league teams were 'Western Suburb's Magpies' and 'Manly Sea Eagles' - it came to head in the 1978 final. This was rugby league at its peak and perhaps one of the world's great derbies. David v Goliath. Rich v Poor. In a code where people from lower socio-economic conditions had a fighting chance against the rich.

Set up Sydney v Sydney. Rich v expensive and technically excellent (which would be which? I don't know). And you get yawn, rugby union, no I mean no fan interest and buy in.

No the western Sydney team can not be called Sydney. Do you want the AFL to walk over us, laughing? It has got to be Fibros, or legs eleven, or even - why not - just Rovers or Western Rovers.

'Some of the associated video footage is simply startling - all in brawls, cheap shots, head-high tackles. Toss in claims of corruption, and amongst it all there is some great tries and footy action too.

The Fibros and the Silvertails follows Wests and Manly through the 1978 season, culminating in the semi-finals - a series that is also infamous for the "7 tackels try" by Manly against Parramatta and the controversy surrounding the refereeing of Greg Hartley.

When Wests and Manly face off in the 1978 preliminary final at the SCG, the tension between the two teams again boils over. The "hit" by Manly's Terry Randall on Wests prop John Donnelly is simply breath-taking.

The Fibros and the Silvertails opens a doorway into arguably one of the most dramatic and interesting periods in Australian sport and society, not just Sydney rugby league.' from 'News, Reviews & Opinion' - by Sean Fagan -

The NRL has been trying to re-establish this derby ever since.


Anonymous said...

who knows how this is all gonna play out, but one interesting point to remember about the fibros - silvertails derby ... it died off.

the magpies and the tigers were "restructured" - cos they couldn`t make it in the modern sporting world.

despite how great that derby once was ... in the end western suburbs magpies didn`t have the fanbase to survive.

good luck to the rovers, they are gonna need it.


john said...

I take your point Clayton
The teams are gone but the ideas remain.

My point is that the A-League isn't being more popular because of the actions of the FFA not despite them.

orangecrush said...

Western Drovers or (in keeping with A-League naming trends) how about the Western Sprawl.

Just call them Wests FC aka 'the Westys'. Emblem and sponsor should be 'Big W'.

john said...

Yep I agree orangecrush.
Fox Sports encouraging the Sydney angle is bizarre. Perhaps their ratings is telling them something.

Anonymous said...

funnily enough, it's the labelling of "western sydney" that gets up "westies" noses more than anything else. They feel that the real sydney is the diverse place that takes up most of the city, and not just the strip along the beaches, the leafy north shore and some fashionable innercity terraces... calling it "western sydney" as if it was one stigmatised place would have turned these people away.

john said...

Could be. Its demographics have changed in 20 years. It is still a tough tough world and you gotta be tough in it...

orangecrush said...

How about they rename FC to Sydney City. Then the new team can be Sydney United.

I've heard the City vs United thing has worked elsewhere .....

john said...

Maybe Orangecrush
city v united will the fans pretend they are Manchester? Plenty of Australians do I guess. But maybe it would be better to name actual rivalries here in Australia? Nepean v Sydney? Do Penrith people want to be seen as Sydney? I doubt it. If they did they would be following Sydney FC.