The last time football went to Dunedin, Michael McGarry was facing the Socceroos, and the former All White says Phoenix need investment to be a success.
Former All White Michael McGarry can vividly remember the last time the New Zealand national team played in Dunedin.
The midfielder was heavily involved in a 2-1 loss to the Socceroos at the Old Caledonian Ground in 1988, the last time the team ventured to New Zealand's southernmost city.
McGarry scored on debut for New Zealand as a teenager in a 4-2 win over Fiji in 1986, four years after the hysteria of the country reaching the World Cup in Spain.
He went on to make 87 appearances for New Zealand, including 54 A-internationals with 12 goals, before he retired from the international arena in 1998.
He continues to play for Mosgiel in the Dunedin competition, where he steered his side to equal fourth overall behind the likes of powerhouses Caversham United and Dunedin Tech.
Like most people from the Otago region, McGarry is gearing up for the Wellington Phoenix's match against the Melbourne Heart at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Sunday, the third time the venue will host a Hyundai A-League match, and is predicting a rowdy night in Dunedin.
"I think with the scarfies (the local nickname for students) being back and if they price the tickets right, which I heard they have, then there should be a decent crowd," McGarry said.
The indoor stadium has played host to several sports codes, with each acknowledging the stadium's ability to create a strong atmosphere.
But it will be football that will get a chance at grabbing the enthusiasm and passion of Dunedin sports fans.
"The atmosphere is fantastic inside there," McGarry said. "You don't need to have it full to have a good atmosphere."
"We like good quality football so whoever comes down we're grateful."
Not that the Dunedin faithful would have too much optimism for a club whose head coach resigned suddenly on Tuesday, reportedly to focus on qualifying for the 2014 World Cup with the national side.
Under Ricki Herbert, Phoenix have been subjected to constant criticism of their style of play this season. Noting the recruitment of former Melbourne Victory star Carlos Hernandez, McGarry suggested the club's ownders need back the team financially, and invest in high-calibre players if they want to achieve the much-discussed evolution of style to a possession-based game.
"If they want to play beautiful football then they need to dip their hands in their pockets to buy players who can actually play that way," McGarry said.
But with Wellingon now likely to end the season as wooden-spooners, McGarry believes the club's lack of success has come down to a lack of depth in the squad.
"The Phoenix are one of those clubs that seem to promise a bit, but they don't seem to have the players," he said.
"The A-League is a tough league and you've got to have a squad of players to compete. I'm not sure they have the depth in quality to be competitive."