Just like you, but different
That’s a pretty brave statement huh. Well I think it’s true (And well I did make that statement on Twitter recently)
The club as it exists does not have a history that pre-dates 19 March 2007. Even it’s name was decided by competition and public vote.
Barely 3 years in , late in 2011 financial strife meant that the Phoenix “Franchise” has to be bailed out by a bunch of businessmen keen to make sure that the club stayed in Wellington, thereby fluffing their own egos’ and so they could trumpet financial benefit to the region.
There is no history for the club, no “real” support for the club and one of the owners is imploring people to show up in numbers in excess of 10,00 each week to support a team transplanted / invented in Wellington. They can’t rely on fair-weather supporters, that’s not how it works. If you can only rely on 6-7,000 people each home match then that’s not going to be a sustainable business model, hectoring Wellingtonians to become life-long paying supporters for a team that has a roller-coaster performance standard, in a frankly second or third tier level of skill competition. And if your fanbase is one that decides that they are busy that day with something else, that it’s inconvenient, or they’re not sure who’s playing and when that’s not a fan base, that’s a potential audience not a fanbase.
New Zealanders have been brought up on a diet of success, we love it, and I’m referring to Rugby in particular, but also Sailing where we punch above our weight, and we’re quick to remind ourselves about Racehorses. We not big on backing a losing team for the long haul.
Having a team and then telling everyone that they are the real deal isn’t going to work. It might, but it’s not working right now. The sad state of the media means that they’ll need to supplant a rugby players groin story for anything like a positive coverage or game week mention.
For the Wellington Phoenix then it’s a long hard road ahead, that has not one guarantee of success. The A-League has it’s own problems with scheduling, financial viability and quality of players. You can put lipstick on a pig, but at the end of the day it’s still a pig. There is no rivalry, no cross town game, no player that jumps from one team to another, it’s a club without its own ground (it shares Wellington Stadium with other football codes), and no “Kop end” or similar that weaves its way into local lexicon, unless you think something like “Bay 11” counts.
It just isn’t like any other football club I know of, if you’re English or you follow football you’ll have a club you support, mine is Crystal Palace, and has been since the late ’70’s. It’s not about winning, it’s about the tribalism of the support pack, the supporters, the wanting to beat the other local team (in my case say Wimbledon, or Charlton, or Millwall). And I know that anywhere in the world I can bump into a Crystal Palace Supporter and get a high five and a quick chant, it’s like that. I couldn’t change from Crystal Palace to any other team, and yet with the Phoenix I’m expected to have changed from the Football Kingz, to the Wellington Phoenix as if nothing had happened, and to show some deep gratitude and loyalty.
Don’t get me wrong if I was called out and asked to declare my support then it’s be the Phoenix all the way, despite them being half a country away. My country is better than the other country anytime, and it’s not about the winning it’s about country.
And this opinion piece on Stuff is worth a read – “Phoenix crowd plea will fall on deaf ears”
The Wellington Phoenix, at home but not a home.