SBS doco explains what went wrong in Western Sydney

If you haven’t had a chance to check out SBS’s recent release Came from Nowhere yet; A stunning piece of cinema focusing on the birth and early success of the Western Sydney Wanderers, you’ll be very pleased when you finally pick it up.

In what is an emotional, sometimes charming and mostly inspiring piece of television, the story of the first and still only Australian team to conquer Asia is told through the eyes of the people behind the club.

These people are at the center of the Wanderer’s story; the fans, the players, the coach and the people organizing what was a new A-League club in 2012, when there were just 186 days left until the start of a season that would begin in October of that year.

In the political context of Gold Coast United’s demise and the desperate need to quickly replenish a competition, with corporate dissatisfaction looming otherwise, Western Sydney became the obvious place with Tony Popovic as a wisely chosen coach.

Came from Nowhere expertly delves into the early fan forums, the involvement of the likes of Craig Foster and Mark Bosnich, as well as the foundation members who beat the first drums and built a fan culture never before seen in Australian Football .

Described in the program as something “halfway between violent revolution and carnival”, the story is one we know, but it is also worth retelling considering the clubs’ recent lack of success and the fractured support that is now half empty. the stands; reflecting the team’s failures on the field.

Former Western Sydney chief executive John Tsatsimas summed up what was a surprising rise for a club built on the dreams of people from a less affluent region of Sydney: “We’re the fk you club”, and the original fans didn’t want it otherwise. shape.

Marcelo and his Western Sydney Wanderers teammates thank their fans. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

However, that initial spirit would erode. Some fans of the club will naively suggest that excessive policing was the underlying reason, while Wanderers haters might point the finger directly at youths in balaclavas who intimidated other clubs’ fans and caused extensive damage to stadium facilities on the day. of the party.

The truth behind the Wanderers and the fall of what they once were and threatened to become probably lies somewhere in between those two divergent opinions.

After looking like they would change football in Australia forever, Western Sydney Wanderers have since become something of an A-League player, rarely threatening during finals and now attracting a comparatively paltry 10,000 fans per game in home at CommBank Stadium.

In just its second season of existence, more than 16,000 memberships were sold, doubling the 8,000 from its inaugural campaign, and the A-League’s descent into mediocrity has had many signs and incidents along the way.

Violent clashes with police, hammers brought into stadiums, the inability to ignore trash journalism that portrayed them as violent thugs, and a small group of idiots who ruined things for the majority all played a role in building the bad reputation that innocent Wanderers fans were forced to have. endure.

hobo fans

(Photo by Speed ​​Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

After three runners-up finishes in A-League grand finals during the club’s first four seasons, and a shock Asian Champions League victory that defied logic and all common sense, Tony Popovic’s departure in October 2017 triggered a period of decline from which the club has not bottomed out.

Only one finals appearance in the last six A-League seasons, a series of failed and sacked coaches and a group of supporters seemingly taking out their competitive frustration on the authorities rather than demanding that the playing group do so. better, it doesn’t put the Wanderers in a better place heading into 2024./25 than in recent years.

The SBS production focuses heavily on the good people of western Sydney who laid the club’s foundation; a lovely lady who provided throat lozenges to the active supporters group, presenter Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson and RBB members with bloodlines from around the world who wanted a team to support, in what can be a frustrating football landscape in Australia.

Their memories of the glory days are vivid and well told in the documentary, but much of it revolves around them, the songs, the confrontations with the police and their belief that the Western Sydney fans were attacked, intimidated and poorly represented by the powers of the moment. be.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

It could be argued that a club founded in the blink of an eye and suddenly achieving incredible success may have attracted a group of people that the Wanderers could well have done without.

However, that does not explain the mediocrity we have seen on the pitch and the administrative and technical arms of the club must be held accountable for failings in that area.

It’s a wonderful watch for football fans, but it also leaves a neutral wondering how such a force could have gotten things so wrong in such a short time.

In fact, Western Sydney came out of nowhere and ended up there only 12 years into its existence. Perhaps being built on nothing more than a dream is the core of your problems.

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