Sydney FC: The banter and boo boys are back

On a hot October climate change spring day I arrived at Kingsgrove Station.

Decked out in my Sydney FC season two away replica jersey and new membership hat (sometimes I wish I was a full kit wanker in replica shirt, shorts, socks and boots), I was ready to embark on the football train to Central to watch the Sky Blues take on Westpac FC (Melbourne Heart City) when I spotted three other Sydney FC fans on the platform.

This random meeting brought the chance of some pre-game football banter. As I approached the group which was made up of a male and female couple and probably the father of one of the two, the older member remarked, “This guy looks excited”.

 I took the football banter baton and replied, “We should put a few goals past these guys today!”

The older guy responded: “I think we would be happy if we could just put one past them. One would be enough,” he laughed.

And just like that he shut my banter down.

He dropped the banter baton and moved along. He left me hanging in the banter wilderness alone and questioning myself. Is he right? Is one goal enough? Did I ask for too much? Was my banter too over the top? I was confused. He said I looked excited so I gave him some excitable banter.

In hindsight he was wrong. With the score ending at one all putting one past them wasn’t enough was it.

When I got off the football train at Central I met up with my brother George and our friend Michael for a pre-game meal and some drinks at the Olympic Hotel just opposite the stadium.

 I relayed the story of the banter shutdown. My brother said I was looking into it too much but Michael who could see I was visibly upset said, “I agree with you mate, that guy is a banter bulldozer!”

So we ate our meal and drank our drinks  while we praised the  beautiful female Israeli bartender’s hospitality skills and short skirt and then made our way into the stadium.

As we walked into the SFS we saw the Melbourne City away contingent   doing the customary away fans march and chant into the ground or, as some anti-football media like to call it, The March of the Hooligans.

Melbourne City fans look like any modern day football fan – more hipster than hooligan, more interested in joining Tumblr than a hooligan football firm.

My prediction that the disgruntled Heart fans, that didn’t like the fact that  Manchester City bought  Melbourne Heart, would only support City when they played away because the away  jersey was the same as the old Heart home strip came to fruition.

Not many new Manchester City (sorry Melbourne City) home strips in that hipster conga line but  lots of  red and white.

It was good to be in the Cove again. It had been a while for me as illness and other factors limited my appearances last season. But this season I’m fully fit and raring to go.

The pre-game tifo was impressive. Being among the frenetic flag waving was fun and, as Sydney attacked the away end, it was good to rediscover that familiar squint trying to follow what was doing. The Cove has the dichotomy of the best atmosphere in the ground but also the worst view when the team is attacking the away end.

Michael made a pre-game bet that Gameiro was going to be first goal scorer, upon my advice of course.

So to the game…

The first half was old Sydney FC, slow and laborious with echoes of the Farina era. Mind you almost half the team was missing - no Janko, Ibini, Gligor, Naumoff and Abbas. The important Sydney FC quintet were all away on international duty.

My Aus Football Podcast buddy Rob Toddler quipped during the game that up front Sydney FC strike force sounded like a team of lawyers - Gameiro and Blackwood.

The second half was better on the pitch when Peter Triantis came on for Blackwood and Terry Antonis moved up higher.

Sydney started producing much more chances and Gameiro’s opening goal was a screamer, lovely build up play and a nice curling finish. Plus Michael’s bet came in.

The Cove booed David Villa when he came on so it was no surprise  the  World Cup, Euros, La Liga and Champions League winner now has an opening round A-League goal to add to his list of  memorable football exploits.

You could hear him yell out “Vamos” as he found the target – as growing up in the Northern Spanish town of Tuilla, scoring in the A-League was a boyhood dream.

The Cove doesn’t always get the booing thing right. Maybe next time a World Cup winning striker comes on the field, a polite golf clap or some dignified silence could be the alternative response.

Anyway we should have saved all that booing energy for the visit of the Western Sydney Wanderers this Saturday night.

Con Stamocostas is a football writer check out episode one of his Australian football podcast with co- host Rob Toddler