Incredible scenes kick-off stunning new era
THE Western Sydney Wanderers have returned home with a bang, before a ball was even kicked to start their season.
The side was playing at Bankwest Stadium for the first time, after it was built on the land of the Parramatta Stadium.
While the Parramatta Eels were able to open the new stadium, the Wanderers have been chomping at the bit to make the new ground their own.
It has been three and a half seasons - or 1266 days - since the Wanderers left Parramatta Stadium, back after the 2016 A-League Finals.
And the supporter base was out in force as the Red and Black Bloc made their grand return to Parramatta, marching to the stadium with some incredible scenes.
The fans were back in force with the RBB flooding into the ground.
A crowd of 17,091 turned out for the game, short of the expected crowd of 20,000, , which was well short of the 29,047 that turned out for the Parramatta Eels' opening game at the stadium, it would be a strong turn out for a club who have been suck in the doldrums since moving away from their spiritual home.
Former Adelaide United and Sydney FC coach John Kosmina said the side had struggled to be away from home.
"It's difficult to be homeless," Kosmina said. "They were playing at ground that were empty, the fans lost interest in the club, the players almost lost interest in playing the game it looked that bad at times.
"But coming back to this, I was talking to Paul Lederer, the chairman, earlier and he said the players have come up to him today and said there are no excuses, we have to perform here, it's as simple as that. And them coming back here and if we can regenerate the feeling that was here three years ago, then that's not only going to be good for the Wanderers, it's going to be good for the game."
The last remaining Wanderers foundation player Tarek Elrich said it was great to see the Red and Black Bloc back out in force as the Wanderers look to return to the glory days.
"The last couple of years have been a bit hard without having a home but look at this stadium, one of the best in Australia," he said. "We're definitely looking forward to being home but that will mean nothing if we don't get the result."
Unfortunately Elrich was out of the game within 20 minutes with a right hamstring issue.
One of the big statistics the Wanderers will need to rectify at their new home ground is the win percentage.
The average across the league for home wins is 46.46 per cent, with the Wanderers previously winning 47.3 per cent at the former Parramatta Stadium.
But over the past three seasons between Spotless Stadium and ANZ Stadium, the side has won 35.3 per cent and 22.7 per cent respectively.
New Wanderers captain Mitch Duke said he was looking forward to the Wanderers turning a new leaf at the ground.
"It's amazing, been a long pre-season so I'm just happy that round one is ready to kick off,"
"I can feel it (the energy), it's just so good to be home.
It comes as the A-League reaches the "make-or-break" point of its history and was met with a big decline in membership numbers.
The Mariners threatened to spoil the party with a goal to Milan Djuric - the first A-League goal at Bankwest Stadium.
But Wanderers skipper Duke hit straight back to make it 1-all at the break.
While the Mariners went close to breaking Wanderers hearts, a controversial handball call allowed Duke to score the second from the spot to seal the victory.