Thursday night’s western sydney derby between the Parramatta Eels and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs is in jeopardy of drawing its smallest crowd within 20 years.
The 2018 season hasn’t been kind to both clubs, with fans finally saying enough is enough as crowd figures for the two clubs have dropped over the past few weeks.
Officials are fearing a possible four figure crowd number given the two clubs’ poor form, and also the time slot at ANZ stadium on a Thursday night.
The lowest modern-day crowd attendance for the derby was 9541 fans back in 1998 who saw the Eels win by one-point at the Belmore Sports ground.
Eels CEO Bernie Gurr told Fairfax Media the Thursday night games are difficult for people in Sydney to get to, especially families.
“It’s good for ratings on TV but it’s difficult getting people to the game. It’s a bit like the 6pm Friday timeslot for certain venues in Sydney,” Gurr said.
“But typically there is a passionate rivalry between these two clubs, a traditional rivalry with some great clashes in big games. We’re not doing well this year but even before I was at Parramatta, the games against the Bulldogs were always special.”
The Bulldogs will be looking to record their fifth win for the season, while Parramatta will be chasing their fourth win in what as been labelled the “Spoon Bowl” match.
Canterbury coach Dean Pay, who has represented both clubs, knows just how passionate and loyal both sets of fans are.
“When you’re sitting down the bottom, nobody appear enjoys their team losing,” Pay said.
“I feel for both sets of fans at the moment, especially ours because it’s well documented what we’re going through [with the salary cap].
“The last few weeks we’ve been playing positive footy with some younger blokes, so that’s where we’re at. They [Parramatta] have been playing some good footy, they’ve been a bit unlucky like us and if they take their chances they win a lot more games.”