As a huge football fan myself, I’m really mad at football. Aside from supporting Arsenal, I happen to follow other clubs like Barcelona and Dortmund. Call me an “addict” if you like. And I don’t care.
Recently, I started to follow Wellington Phoenix, like what Dan, Zach and Oliver does. While I’m still new to the A-League, here are a few things that I’ve observed as a Nix fan outside New Zealand.
“Wellington is wonderful.”
I’m talking about the atmosphere at the Westpac Stadium during matchdays and the “Yellow Fever” fanbase. To be honest, the Nix has one of the most loyal fanbases in the A-League and this deserves a round of applause.
For me, what makes Wellington Phoenix stand out as a football club isn’t just the fact that they’re the “only professional football club in New Zealand”, as their Twitter profile mentioned. It’s their fan culture.
The sense of community of the Nix fans is strong. Even though the club is the creation of 11 years ago, but they’re really supportive of their club. Real supporters who support the team through thick and thin in their hearts.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t live in Wellington, this was why I was envy of the FootyFans crew members living in NZ, who had a chance to watch the “Distance Derby” against Perth Glory live.
The “tradition” of the supporters taking off their kits when they’re winning (like Zac mentioned) amazed me.
You don’t get to see this in Hong Kong, the place where I live. Most teams here do have a supporter’s club (and their official songs), but most of them don’t have their distinctive cultures.
(You know that it’s a problem when a German third-tier side can have a better matchday experience than our so-called “Premier League”. A huge one. Just saying. No one cares, anyway.)
While it can be the by-product of the social environment in Hong Kong, to put it simply, both the clubs and the supporters fail to devote effort and time in creating a supportive environment to attract new fans.
Not even Kitchee, the reigning champions and biggest club in the “Hong Kong Premier League”, who are dubbed as the “Barça of Hong Kong” for their cooperation with FC Barcelona in the past (like 2007).
Most people in Hong Kong are too focused on football overseas (like the English Premier League) and what my experience with Wellington Phoenix reminds me is that the local football culture in Hong Kong isn’t good enough.
We did have some magical moments in the past, but it’s hard to replicate them without the support of the people of the city. How difficult is it? Well, almost impossible as there’s no local brand of football! And you get the idea.
Being a Wellington Phoenix supporter isn’t easy. They’re far from being the best team in the A-League. But honestly, as Jock Stein once said, “football is nothing without fans”.
Wait for me, Wellington and the Westpac Stadium. You’re really wonderful.