A goal to Youssouf Hersi in the first half, and one to captain Michael Beauchamp in the second half gave the Wanderers their first ever Sydney Derby victory 2 goals to 0 at the Sydney Football Stadium.
This was the first ever away Sydney Derby, incidentally it was the first major NSW away trip for the RBB. I feel it would be remiss not to include at least a summary and highlights of the "best trip, I've ever been on." After making my way to Parramatta via a couple of Westbus services I wandered over to our home pub, the Woolpack Hotel. The RBB were already in fine voice by 1pm, drinking and eating the lunch provided by the Woolpack. The pub filled up very nicely by the time we were leaving, perhaps more gathered than expectations, louder and rowdier as the time approached to leave.
As the train pulled in I can only imagine what the driver was thinking upon seeing the great horde of Red & Black. We packed out at least 3 carriages, and started a "Who do we sing for?" chant with separate carriages taking each line of the chant. Myself and JAR managed to fit in an impromptu Around The Bloc Podcast segment so stay tuned for that. Once we hit Central we poured down the staircase and initiated the Paranoia chant. The Wanderers were in the city. It seemed that we'd picked up even more numbers since leaving Parramatta and I would estimate the group numbered around 1,000 as we stretched a huge distance down Cleveland Street.
Hours later it was our time to arrive at the SFS. We gathered in the away bay around an hour from kick-off, preparing our tifos and chants for the evening. I ended up standing on the fence before the front row, along with Charonis, Erebus, JAR, Benched (making his long-awaited return) and Speccy, just to name a few. As Simon Hill said the RBB did not stop from the moment we arrived. As the players emerged we unveiled our tifo. A message banner saying "A Team For All Of Sydney To Be Proud Of", accompanied by dozens, if not hundreds, of small banners that various Sydney postcodes had been painted onto.
The first telling moment in this match fell for Hersi in the 25th minute. A tug of the shirt by Sydney in the Wanderers half lead to a sweeping team goal from the free kick, Topor-Stanley found La Rocca who chipped it forward, Gibbs knocking it down to Ono. Turning and striking a volley, he found Jerome Polenz in acres of space. With time to set himself the cross from Polenz created havoc in the 6 yard box as Gibbs drew Seb Ryall and Adam Griffiths into a challenge. The ball fell from the shoulder of Ryall into the path of Hersi, who turned neatly on the ball and from close range blasted his shot past Janjetovic. The entire away end roared a celebration to rival any heard in the 26 year history of the Sydney Football Stadium as the Wanderers took the lead with their first ever Sydney Derby goal.
With no substitutions at half time, the second half commenced as the first had gone, with the Wanderers in total control. Only a mistake by Covic when he failed to find a fellow Wanderer with his clearance allowed Blake Powell to attempt a long-range drive. Covic had regained his position and made a neat diving save. Sydney's only chances came from the set piece but nothing overtly dangerous for Covic resulted from them.
Ono nearly hit Topor-Stanley on the head, but Janjetovic punched it clear although only as far as Tahj Minniecon. Minniecon chested down and volleyed back to the wing where Ono waited, and after beating Emerton he delivered a low cross. Even with 5 defenders and their keeper up against Polenz, Dino and Beauchamp, the Sydney defence fell asleep and allowed the ball to run across the face of goal to the back post where Beauchamp made a run. The Wanderers captain couldn't miss from point blank with a near-open goal in front of him, even though the ball hit Janjetovic's desperate outstretched hand.
Viewing the replay at home I noted that in the 85th minute a lull in play gave the Fox Sports cameras the chance to focus on the crowd. They did so with a series of shots of our end, doing our "1, 2, 3 West!" chant, with the overhead clapping. The first panned across a small section of the supporters, showing maybe 40 or 50. The second was a wide angle. It showed the core central bay along with the bay to the right. The next was was low to the ground, from the home supporters end of the ground. It showed three of the bays clapping before switching to one last shot as the corner the Wanderers had won was taken.
It was a spine-tingling view of the entire away congregation clapping at the end of the chant, our noise reverberating around the ground.
The match ending whistle marked the start of a long post-game party for the travelling supporters as they waited for the crowd to disperse. The squad made their way over to the supporters bay, with Covic leading the RBB in a "Who do we sing for?" chant, and the entire team leading European style celebration.
This was the best performance for the club in our short history. This applies on the pitch for the players, on the sideline for manager Tony Popovic, and for the supporters in the away end. This was a night those in the RBB will never forget and one that Sydney FC fans will hope to forget but never will. The first derby was indicative of the new nature of the club and the supporters, nerves seized the players and the terrace was still introducing a lot of now-core members to active support for the first time. The second derby has put the entire league on notice.
Our initiation is over and the Wanderers are coming for you.
The Wanderers next match is against Adelaide United at Parramatta Stadium on Friday the 21st of December at 7:00pm Eastern Daylight Savings Time.