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Canberra vs The Local Derby

Local Derby sporting contests are a main event on many teams’ calendars during a season, yet it seems the Canberra teams lack a true rivalry, and the thrill of these games.

In the AFL, Kevin Sheedy saw the value of the local rivalry recently, when he coined the term “Battle of the Bridge” when his Greater Western Sydney Giants took on the Sydney Swans, the bridge referring to the ANZAC bridge that splits East and West Sydney.

As reported in The Australian, Kevin Sheedy said “We’ve got to build a ferocious and competitive spirit between the Giants and the [Sydney] Swans– and why not?”

This spirit could be seen in the Carlton v Collingwood game in round 2 of the AFL, when Carlton created a Twitter hash tag for the game that read #wehatecollingwood, with Collingwood soon returning the favour.

Sheedy understands this rivalry, and the tension and the passion it creates. Fans learn to hate the other team, and want to be there to see their side victorious of the arch enemy. It is why the crowd figures jump each time compared to other season games, which is clearly seen in the below table.

Match Local Derby? Attendance Total
Carlton v Collingwood Yes 84 247
Collingwood v Hawthorn No 72 254

This crowd increase creates revenue for the clubs involved. These games are vital to the sporting landscape. So why don’t Canberra have a rivalry like this?

The main reason is simple. The geographic location of Canberra compared to other clubs means they don’t have a natural rival of their own.

Sydney clubs have each other, as do big Melbourne clubs and Brisbane sides rival with each other. Canberra, in a territory of its own, does not have this.

Like Sheedy is doing in Sydney to make sure their rivalry is strong, Canberra must forge a competitor. Like Collingwood and Carlton do, they must fuel their fans passion against a club, to create

The University of Canberra Brumbies come the closest out of Canberra sporting codes to having a rivalry in place. As the tornado electronic cigarette super rugby tournaments are international, the games against Australian teams attract a local derby like advertisement and crowd.

This has been seen in the crowd figures at Canberra Stadium this year as outlined in the below graphic.

Match Local Derby Attendance Total
Brumbies v NSW Waratahs Yes 20 027
Brumbies v The Kings (South Africa) No 12 063

There are many ticket deals around this game to continue the drive to get people to the ground for these more local games, and this is dealt with well by the Brumbies, though the rivalry could be built on more via social media, to get the ground closer to capacity.

While the contests go a long way to determining which Australian team will make the finals this year, they are talked about as an Australian clash, rather than an intense rivalry. Further investment into building emotion around the game will bring the crowds in even greater numbers.

If they can achieve this, they will find the stands will fill to capacity.

The other major sporting team in Canberra, National Rugby League side (NRL) Canberra Raiders, don’t have anyone that they could call a rivalry, and unless finals time, crowd figures stay around the 9-12,000 mark (10, 669 fans turned out for their game against the Sydney Roosters).

The Melbourne Storm are the loan team from Victoria, and the two teams often battle it out in a preseason contest as well as regular season fixtures. This sets the game up for rivalry potential, if the Raiders are willing to forge this competition in to something more than just a normal game.

With success, their crowd figures and their clubs revenue will increase.

The figures prove that the crowds are going to be larger at a local derby, at the atmosphere far greater. While Canberra does not have the proximity to create a natural hated opponent for extra spice, they must locate a team to begin to antagonise to get the fans further involved, particularly in the NRL.

It is time for Canberra to feel the passion of local derby games.

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