Lots of sun, too few punters - Now what for 'Nix?

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 10/12/2012
Phoenix fans
Kent Blechynden/Fairfax NZ

HARD CORE: 7375 fans who turned out to watch the Phoenix lose to Sydney.

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The fine weather, concourse band and bouncy castles got a few more punters through the gate at Westpac Stadium yesterday.

But it's a moot point how many of the 7375 paying customers will be back on December 22, when the Wellington Phoenix host their next home match, against the Central Coast Mariners.

Just 5405 fans fronted for the team's previous home match, well down on the 10,000 required to break even.

That raised questions about why people don't turn up on game day, with the club adamant that weather was the determining factor and not the quality of the football.

Well, the sun shone bright for the 2-1 loss to Sydney FC, but the Phoenix's football was dull enough for even coach Ricki Herbert to express his disgust with it.

For most of the first 85 minutes the Phoenix were poor. Passes were either over or under-hit, there were precious few shots on Sydney's goal and two soft goals conceded.

Down 2-0 and with no goal in sight, a fair chunk of the 7375 had given up supporting their team for the day and were just looking forward to the final whistle.

But in the last five minutes, plus added time, the Phoenix could have won the match twice over, with chance after chance falling their way.

Jeremy Brockie eventually scored from the penalty spot, but might have had four goals in those frantic final minutes.

Having been mute, the crowd found their voice, adding credence to the suggestion that it's the product, not the climatic conditions, that dictates interest. Finally presented with something they could get enthused about, the fans did just that.

More people were always going to turn up yesterday than the previous Sunday, because that's the Phoenix way.

Whether the last few minutes convinces more to join them next time, or the preceding 85 puts plenty off, will be fascinating to see.

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- The Dominion Post

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