A classic rivalry: Wanderers v Mariners

The Wanderers are gearing up to face the reigning champions Central Coast Mariners in an important A-League Men’s match this weekend, and with the third placed Wanderers coming up against a resurgent Mariners side, it could be a classic like many of their clashes down the years.

Get your tickets to the fixture this Saturday night here.

In the Wanderers’ formative years, the two sides played off in some historic and memorable matches, after all the Wanderers’ first ever A-League match came against Central Coast back in 2012.

On a rainy night at the old Parramatta Stadium, the action on the pitch failed to live up to the historic nature of the match, with the game ending in a 0-0 draw in front of 10,458 fans.

Whilst many didn’t expect it at the time, the two sides would be the best teams in the competition, and their next two clashes would see huge crowds watch two top teams battle for top spot in the league.

The Mariners won the next clash at Parramatta Stadium in January, but the Wanderers would lay down their marker for their eventual charge to the minor premiership in March, when they stole a 1-0 win thanks to a memorable Labinot Haliti goal, which sparked major scenes of celebration from the 6,000 Wanderers fans that made the journey north.

GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 02: Wanderers team members Mark Bridge and Youssouf Hersi celebrate with Labinot Haliti after scoring a goal during the round 23 A-League match between the Central Coast Mariners and the Western Sydney Wanderers at Bluetongue Stadium on March 2, 2013 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

The teams would finish first and second on the ladder, and fittingly met in the Grand Final at Allianz Stadium. 42,102 fans – many decked out in Red and Black – made a brilliant noise as the Wanderers looked to cap a fairytale first season with a championship, but the Mariners’ experience shone through as they won 2-0 and dashed the Wanderers dream.

But the seeds were sown for what was already a marquee fixture in the league after just four matches between the sides, and the opening game of the 2013-14 season saw the sides lock horns at a sold-out Central Coast Stadium – including around 10,000 travelling fans.

GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 12: Western Sydney Wanderers players celebrate Tomi Juric’s goal during the round one A-League match between the Central Coast Mariners and the Western Sydney Wanderers at Bluetongue Stadium on October 12, 2013 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

The matches that season were closely fought, with each side winning once and drawing the other game, and they would once again meet in the finals series, though this time in the preliminary finals at Parramatta.

In front of a capacity crowd of over 19,000, the Wanderers got their revenge as they dispatched the Mariners 2-0, qualifying for their second grand final in a row.

Over the following years, both teams experienced periods of rebuilding and struggles, meaning the clash decreased in relevance and in feeling, but last season saw both sides once again fighting at the top end of the table for the whole season.

The Wanderers were going through a revolution under Marko Rudan and were fighting for a return to the finals, whilst Nick Montgomery was taking a side of talented youngsters and previously unheralded players to great heights.

The first clash of the season was a forgettable one for the Wanderers; after going into halftime locked at 0-0, they fell away in the second half and lost 3-0.

Their next clash at Industree Group Stadium at the end of January would be one of the most entertaining clashes of the season. Despite the Wanderers starting well they fell behind thanks to a Sam Silvera strike, though they hit back quickly through Yeni N’Gbakoto.

Get your tickets to the fixture this Saturday night here.

GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 28: Brandon Borello of Western Sydney celebrates his goal (with Referee in frame) during the round 14 A-League Men’s match between Central Coast Mariners and Western Sydney Wanderers at Central Coast Stadium, on January 28, 2023, in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Man in form Brandon Borrello put the Wanderers in front on the hour mark, before Jason Cummings got the meerest of touches on a Nectar Triantis shot to direct it into the goal and ensure the points would be shared despite each side having chances at the end.

It was a game played with passion and intensity, with the A-League All Access cameras detailing the tense duel between Cummings and Wanderers captain Marcelo.

The Wanderers would win the final match of the season with a strong 2-0 win in another fiery affair that saw each team have a man sent off.

Both sides finished in the top four and the Mariners would pull off an upset Grand Final win, and with both sides fighting for similar honours once again, there is a great chance the next instalment of this storied fixture could be one spoken about for years to come.

Get your tickets to the fixture this Saturday night here.