WHY is the south west such an elite team sport desert?
But before answering that question, let’s look at where the south west is: most people would agree it is made up of the Fairfield, Liverpool, Campbelltown, Camden and Wollondilly local government areas.
It is, by anyone’s estimate, a sizeable chunk of the great city of Sydney. Its combined population is easily more than half a million — not bad at all.
The next question is: which elite sports represent this massive region:
A-League soccer: Nil
Sydney club rugby: Nil
NRL - Wests Tigers, who play a paltry four of their NRL home matches at Campbelltown Stadium.
The region fares better during summer when Camden and Campbelltown are represented in Sydney grade cricket by the Ghosts, and Liverpool Fairfield by the Lions.
But the reality is that when it comes to both economic impact and political influence, the winter codes are where it’s at in Australia's greatest city.
Grade cricket is watched by the proverbial two men and a dog each Saturday morning, even though it’s where Australia’s Test stars begin their long journey to the top.
It’s fair to say the half a million people who call the south west region home deserve a lot better than the current reality.
Even the NRL presence of the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown is more the result of deals between members of the two sides who decided to merge in 1999 than some logical, planned move.
The truth is that if the Wests Tigers in 1999 had listened to the voices of reason who called for the establishment of a go ahead, pioneering, professional club - the Broncos of Sydney — instead of one formed with the aim to just share the spoils of the new entity between the Magpies and Balmain — they would be a powerhouse.
Not only it’s certain they would have won at least one more premiership than the arguably flukey win in 2005, they would be solely based in the south west of Sydney.
Had that been the case, the AFL, soccer and maybe even rugby union, would have had no option but to follow suit and I would not be writing this piece.
But that is just conjencture, which only explains why half a million people have to follow a team in other parts of Sydney — or even other parts of Australia.
In soccer, people in our region find it almost impossible to follow the inner city focused Sydney FC. Same for the Parramatta-Blacktown based Wanderers. And the south west has been soccer heartland for decades.
It’s not Aussie Rules heartland, but, boy, how can you follow the Giants from your Casula home, or Canley Vale or Ruse and Elderslie.
So it’s good to see that at least Liverpool Council is making a serious effort into setting up a third A-League club in its local government area.
I just wish that they would join forces with Fairfield, Campbelltown, Camden and Wollondilly, to make their bid that much more likely to succeed.
These council areas will never hear the regular calls to amalgamate into one huge council, but there's nothing to stop them working as one on the sport front. The rewards of success would be huge. If they failed, so what, they could start all over again.
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