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Soccer fans adopt Docklands

01 Apr 2010

Soccer fans adopt Docklands Image

Sydney FC soccer fans liked drinking at Docklands’ Watermark Bar before the A-League grand final on March 20 so much that they say they’ll be back.

Under a heavy police presence, hundreds of excited fans descended on Victoria Harbour for several hours before the game.

A contingent of para-military police confronted a large group of Sydney fans on the corner of Bourke St and Harbour Esplanade several hours before the game started.  The police then shadowed the chanting group to Watermark Bar where festivities continued until about 6pm when they were escorted to Ethihad Stadium for the game.

Police say their response was appropriate and that they assess every event on gathered intelligence, which includes social media internet sites.  Melbourne and Sydney fans have clashed on previous occasions.

The person who claims to have “discovered” Watermark Bar on behalf of the Sydney fans, Shane Porter, said the large police presence was to protect his group from vicious Melbourne supporters.

Mr Porter said on previous match days, Sydney fans had gathered at hotels in the CBD but they were too small.  He said Watermark Bar was ideal as it offered space for 1000 fans and was very close to the ground.

He said its location made it less likely that Sydney fans would be “ambushed” on the way to the stadium.  “There’s no opportunity for them to hide in ambush,” he said.

Mr Porter said Victoria Police were more adept at preventing violence between Melbourne and Sydney fans than NSW police.  He said rogue Melbourne fans had recently bashed members of his group in Sydney.

Mr Porter said his group of 800 loved the sunny afternoon on the waterfront and was made to feel most welcome.  

He said Docklands was too far from the new soccer stadium in Swan St, Richmond, where Melbourne Victory and a new team Melbourne Heart would be soon located.

But he said Sydney fans hoped to return to Watermark Bar for future “blockbuster” games scheduled for Etihad Stadium.

Docklands Community Association president Roger Gardner acknowledged that there was no trouble on grand final day, but said he was concerned about the risk of violence in the future.

“They should drink within the stadium. Alternatively they should split up and go to a few different bars or change bars each time, Mr Gardner said.

Watermark Bar owner John Ahern said his staff worked closely with police and the Football Federation to ensure there was no trouble.

Watermark manager Simon Caruso said it was unlikely circumstances would again produce a Melbourne/Sydney clash of such scale in Docklands.

“It’s not something that you’ll see at Watermark every Saturday,” he said.  “It really was a one-off.  We’re not looking to become any sort of clubhouse.”

Mr Caruso estimated the crowd at between 400 and 450.

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Comments

  • Grant Muir at 8:19pm on 15/04/10

    Could you up the sensationalism a bit more please?

    Our supporters were not 'confronted' by police on the corner, the police were well aware of our plans, thanks to extensive liaison by the supporters group and the club with VicPol, who were both accommodating and well organised.
  • Grant Muir at 8:20pm on 15/04/10

    cont..

    Perhaps you should focus on the entirely trouble-free afternoon enjoyed by a very large group of football supporters in the Watermark, overseen by a very small police presence, there to proactively avoid any possibility of confrontation.
  • Grant Muir at 8:20pm on 15/04/10

    cont..

    The suggestions made by Roger Gardner demonstrates his lack of knowledge or experience in such matters, splitting up into smaller groups in multiple locations makes crowd control and policing far more difficult. Mr Gardner would be well advised to leave such activities to those who actually know what they are talking about.
  • tony at 9:03am on 01/06/10

    Its a well known fact that sydney fc fans are serial trouble makers. I have been on the receiving end of much of their abuse and antisocial behaviour. I sure hope most of them will net be heading to south africa to support our socceroos Team that would be embarrassing
  • grant muir at 12:20pm on 01/06/10

    Really Tony, times dates places?

    You're full of crap.

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