How the west was... founded

by Adam Peacock on Apr 06, 2012

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It was like Cliffy Young turned into Usain Bolt.

The shuffle, the slow, laborious marathon to get a west Sydney team all of a sudden got across the line with a lightning burst of speed.

Waiting, waiting, waiting, BANG! It’s here.

As it should be.

It had to happen.

Does the method really matter? If it’s a success, it will be forgotten. If it’s a failure, expect the glass half empty lynch mob to use it as the base of their argument.

But it had to happen.

All of a sudden, the best nursery in the country has a finishing school.

All of a sudden, we have another rivalry – what football, as much as any other sport – thrives on.

All of a sudden, the TV rights negotiation got a little less difficult for the FFA.

Now they’ve announced their going to build a house. Now the hard yakka to build the bloody thing.

First things first – take into account how Gold Coast United did things, and don’t do them.

They didn’t connect with the community. I was up there a few Australia Day’s ago, and there was this massive fair on at a local showground. Every single SE Queensland sporting organisation was there, with fun for the kids and info for the interested. Except one – Gold Coast United. Just a small example of the contempt it treated the local people, who are the lifeblood of any sporting body.

Sure, the FFA deserves some heat for its part in the demise but the front office of GCU was that recalcitrant in the way it wanted to do things, it made it impossible. They tried at the start of this season, working with the club to establish tickets prices, ensuring the stands were open, and opening the dialogue between the club and the grassroots club – giving them tickets for the games.

But it all drifted back to the depressing norm. The crowd cap came back. Excuses, not solutions.

Clive Palmer may have some valid points about the state of the sport. Words. But take into account how he ran his club. Action. Which one speaks louder again?

So back to western Sydney. The FFA has a huge amount of detail of how it all went wrong on the Gold Coast. And North Queensland, and so it finds out now if they have learnt a lesson.

The fascinating aspect is how Sydney FC react to it. What turf will it give up, if any. Will they basically cut Sydney in half, erect an imaginary wall, as say you have that half, we’ll have this half, and lets get it on?

What about things like community engagement?

For instance – there’s this amazing organisation you probably have heard of called Football United. If you haven’t, have a look.

As they put it Football United helps people in diverse areas that includes high proportions of refugee, migrant and indigenous children, youth and families integrate into society. How? Through football. Simple, effective.

They are a community partner with Sydney FC. Yet the majority of Football United’s work is based in the west of Sydney. They’d be an ideal partner to start a football club with. But they are with Sydney FC. Do they share? Hope so.

That community engagement is critical. Building a club can be done in 6 months. Building a fanbase, not so easy.

As for players – my hope is they don’t get outlandish, don’t get giddy in recruitment. People in the west of Sydney don’t do bullshit. They know their football. So get footballers, not marketing exercises. A player like Marcos Flores, who apparently wants out of China - how good would he be?

It’s exciting when you think of the possibilities of this concept, now a club.

Earlier I mentioned a West Sydney A League club – years in the making - finally got across the line with a sprint.

One thing I neglected to mention – that line crossed isn’t the finish. There’s a lap of the marathon to go.

This lap will be a sprint. And the FFA can’t afford to stumble.