I’ve been to a lot of events, sporting and otherwise, and I have to say that I’ve never experienced any greater buzz than sitting in Parramatta Stadium watching the Hyundai A League’s new football team, the Western Sydney Wanderers, run around while their supporters literally go off for more than 90 minutes.
I went a couple of times with my family earlier this year and was amazed at the atmosphere that the Wanderers’ small band of followers – or RBB (Red & Black Bloc) as they call themselves – created. While I’ve never been to a football match in the UK or a big game in Europe I imagine the vibrancy is much the same.
The funny thing is that it’s not even the game being played that makes the experience so good. At the few Wanderers’ games I went to it was the theatre of the whole show that had me out of my seat on more than one occasion.
It’s no wonder this team has created interest around the world. And not because of the players’ skills, but because in its first season the team already has a phenomenal following. People are lining up to be members; jerseys, scarves and other paraphernalia are selling out faster than they can be made; and social media is already abuzz with what will be happening next season.
Special game-day chants can be watched and learnt on YouTube; Facebook pages are dedicated to the team where people can chat and share their views; and column inches in newspapers and magazines continue to run hot with the buzz that is the Western Sydney Wanderers.
And the funny thing is that while Football Federation Australia may take much of the credit for the success of the Wanderers in their first season (they finished second to the Central Coast Mariners if you didn’t know it), credit has to go to the amateur fans – the RBB – whose desperation to have a team they could call their own has led to one of the most carefully orchestrated strategies of support coupled with real passion, resulting in a following the likes of which have never been seen before in Australia in any sporting code.
I urge those working in the events industry to this year buy a ticket to one of their games even if you hate soccer just to see how big isn’t always beautiful (the intimacy of Parramatta Stadium is a clear catalyst for creating the ambience); and how a small group of keen and well-organised supporters can lift an entire stadium to greater heights.
And then, when you’re driving home asking yourself `Who do you sing for?’ (`We sing for Wanderers’), just imagine if you could take some of what you’d seen and heard and felt and could adapt it into your next event.
I welcome your feedback.
EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD
Gary Bender World Conference & Incentive Management • Ian Walsh G1 Productions • Linda Gaunt MEA • Annabel Norris Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre • Sharon Goldie MLC David Grant DG3 • Bryan Holliday ICMS Australasia Pty Ltd • Ruth Lilian L&R Contract Business Services • Ros McLeod arinex • Valerie Percival IBM Australia Limited • Elizabeth Rich Agenda Pty Ltd • Jeremy Garling Fourth Wall Events
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Elizabeth Bindon-Bonney BT Create • Anna Guillan Hayman & Mulpha Hotels Australia • Suzanne Hart SHE • Peter Kinnane MCI • David Hall David Hall & Associates • Sarah Markey-Hamm ICMS • Sarah Seddon Atlantic Group (V) • Anna Stewart Queensland Conventions & Incentives