‘We both like to get stuck in’: McGowan brothers set for fiery Sydney Derby battle
Football matches in the family backyard were always fiercely competitive between Ryan and Dylan McGowan during their younger days before their professional careers took off.
But on Saturday night that competitiveness is set to go to a whole new level when they square off for fierce rivals - Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC - in a blockbuster Sydney Derby at Bankwest Stadium.
As part of the Sky Blues' defence, Ryan will walk into a hostile atmosphere at Wanderland against younger brother Dylan, who was a key defensive signing by Markus Babbel in the off-season.
While the pair both started their careers alongside each other at Scottish side Hearts of Midlothian back in 2010, this is the first time they will face off against each other in a professional match.
“When we first signed we knew the derby was always going to be brother against brother and the media were going to pump it up a bit,” Dylan said when a-league.com.au caught up with the brothers at a driving range this week.
“But it’s back to training tomorrow and then the real stuff starts on Saturday and we’re looking forward to it.
“We’re relatively similar characters on the field. We play the same position so we’re quite good at talking, organising, quite vocal in the changing room,” Dylan added.
“I’d say we’d have a lot more similarities than differences in terms of personality on the field. We both like to get stuck in a little bit which should make for interesting telly on Saturday night.”
A family divided
The Sydney Derby has become one of the biggest fixtures on the Hyundai A-League calendar since the very first meeting back in 2012.
It's a clash that has always divided the Harbour City and this week - in the case of the McGowans - has divided a family.
But their club hostilities aside, the pair are very close.
In fact, they currently living next door to each other since signing for the two Sydney clubs ahead of the 2019/20 Season.
“We were pretty competitive growing up as kids. We’ve probably kept that,” said Ryan.
“We had a really good childhood. Our parents gave us everything they could, we played as much sport as we can and we enjoyed it.
“All our family is Scottish so everyone over there is passionate about football so from a young age that’s all that we’ve had and just loved it from as young as we can remember. And he’s [Dylan] just followed me about ever since.”
There will be a big McGowan contingent in the stands on Saturday night, with a few - including their parents - flying over from South Australia for the clash.
Sydney clubs set to dominate?
Both the Wanderers and Sydney FC have enjoyed 100% starts to the campaign, only adding to what is always a keenly-contested, feisty affair.
The Wanderers have beaten both Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory 2-1 - the first-ever time the club has won the first two games of a season - while the Sky Blues beat Adelaide United 3-2, with Ryan scoring the winning goal, and Wellington Phoenix 2-1.
It may still be early days but Ryan can see the two Sydney clubs battling for honours come the end of the season.
“If we finish above Wanderers [at the end of the season], then we’ll be there or thereabouts. I think they [the Wanderers] have improved a lot this year,” the 30-year-old said.
“It will be a good test for us on Saturday night. We want to be really successful this season.
“Both Sydney teams will be up there this season which is good. It’s healthy for the league when both teams are doing well.”
Dylan said of Sydney: “I watched both of their games on TV. They are a good team and made some good signings in the off season to make themselves stronger.
“They are the champions at the moment…but we’re going in confident after our start.
“We know we’ll have to be at our best but we’re looking forward to putting on a show for the fans on Saturday night.”
We couldn’t let the brothers go without getting their thoughts on how Saturday’s encounter would play out.
“2-0 Wanderers,” said Dylan.
“If he plays anything like his golf, I think we’ll be alright.”
Not surprisingly, Ryan expects the Sky Blues to prevail.
“It will be 3-1. We’ll score first, [then the Wanderers] will get an equaliser,” the 20-cap Caltex Socceroos defender said.
“We’ll score about 60, 65 minutes and then we’ll score right at the end because [the Wanderers] will be all out attack and we’ll get them on the counter.
3-1, thanks a lot, nine points, three from three.”