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Apr 21, 2013

Wanderers fans reign supreme in defeat

When the chairman's wife spurns the comforts of the directors' box to join the fans on the terraces, you just know there's something special about the Western Sydney Wanderers supporters.

That's what Lyall Gorman's wife Liana has been doing through the debut club's magical first season.

"She puts on the war paint and away she goes to the Red and Black Bloc (RBB)," said Gorman.

Clearly, the club's supporters have become a force in their own right, all in one year, but not even that was enough to get Tony Popovic's team across the line in the grand final.

If the A-League showdown was settled in the grandstands, the Wanderers would have won 3-1.

Out on the pitch they lost 2-0.

The Wanderers fans can still look back on a magical season in which they outnumbered NRL team Parramatta's gate at the stadium they share, averaging over 12,000 a match and occasionally filling it to its 19,500 capacity.

They were the reason behind Sunday's 42,100 public sell-out grand final, and the goosebumps atmosphere that prevailed.

Their chant of "Who do we sing for? We sing for Wanderers" echoed around the stadium for the entire match.

They even managed the choreographed jig called the Poznan with 10 minutes left and a painful loss looming.

And they stayed behind to cheer their heroes in defeat.

Even Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold had conceded they were "like having a 12th man on the park".

One of the Mariners' chief supporters, Simon Fisher, admitted: "You'd have to say the RBB are the benchmark. It's fantastic, really."

A-League chief executive Damien de Bohun said: "We've never seen anything like it in Australian sport before."

"Players and coaches and people like me will come and go," said chairman Lyall Gorman, "but as a group the fans will be here forever."

Wanderers captain Michael Beauchamp paid tribute later to the support which had kept growing throughout the year.

But he was candid enough to admit: "It doesn't take away from the pain at the moment."

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