Meet the family divided by the Sydney Derby
The Sydney Derby is one of the biggest fixtures on the Hyundai A-League calendar, an epic battle which thrills the fans and divides the Harbour City.
And in the case of the Muscats from Sydney’s west, the Sydney Derby can also cause divided loyalty amongst family members.
Ahead of Saturday night’s massive clash at Allianz Stadium, www.a-league.com.au caught up with Melissa Muscat, a long-time Sydney FC fan in a huge family of Wanderers supporters.
Melissa’s family have lived out west for many years, spending time in Fairfield, Horsley Park and Mount Vernon.
“We’ve been heavily involved in soccer for many years. My dad [Charlie] loves it and my brother Alex also played with Michael Beauchamp and Mark Schwarzer’s brother,” Melissa explains.
“But what drew me to the A-League was Dwight Yorke. I thought that was huge so I followed Sydney FC.
“The season when the Wanderers came in was the same season that [Alessandro] Del Piero joined the A-League.
“It was decision time for me. Do I go with the new Western Sydney team that all your family go for and where you grew up, or are you going to stick with your original team?
“The deciding factor for me was Del Piero. When I saw that Sydney FC had signed Del Piero as marquee, that was massive.
“I thought it was wonderful for Australian football and I really wanted to support it. It was very exciting watching an Italian World Cup winner on home soil.”
By her count, Melissa is just one of three [along with a couple of cousins] from about 80 family members who cheer for the Sky Blues over the Wanderers.
As she puts it, it’s always made her somewhat of a ‘black sheep’ of the family.
Not that it worries her too much, although Derby game-day is always a little interesting.
“I do cop a lot of flak,” Melissa says with a laugh.
“A lot of my relatives and my dad have a crack and say ‘you’re forgetting where your roots are from’.
“All I’ve done is stay loyal to my first team. And I’ve also been living in the Sutherland Shire for 14 years now. The Wanderers came in well after I left the west so I think I have pretty valid reasons.
“I’ll often cop messages after the game,” Melissa added.
“If Sydney FC win I’ll get messages saying ‘you were very lucky’…there’s never any congratulations or anything like that.
“Dad will never admit to a good win, it’s always ‘you were very lucky and we should have won’.”
Melissa will be at Saturday night’s clash in her regular member’s seat at Allianz Stadium, hoping the Sky Blues can get the result and give her some more bragging rights over the rest of the Muscat clan.
And while Melissa believes Sydney FC will continue their unbeaten start to the campaign, she is a little wary of a former Sky Blues favourite now in Red and Black.
“I think Vedran Janjetovic is a wonderful keeper, he was actually one of my favourite Sydney FC players ever,” she said.
“And we’ve seen he can really turn it on against Sydney FC. He’s already a great keeper but I feel he rises in the derby.
“This is probably the most nervous I’ve been in a derby in years.”
Let’s see which side of the Muscat family will be cheering louder around 10pm on Saturday night. Bring it on!