For former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler, it’s an awfully long way from this kind of adulation to toiling for the A-League’s North Queensland Fury. As When Saturday Comes’ Mike Ticher explains, the expansion Fury are based in Townsville, “a military base and tourism hub that barely qualifies as a football outpost even in Australia.”
Three defeats, including a 5-0 thumping by fellow newcomers Gold Coast United, were followed by a more encouraging 3-3 draw last Friday in Adelaide. Fowler is in honest, but lowly company “ his more well-travelled team-mates include the Netherlands Antilles striker Dyron Daal, formerly of St Johnstone and Ross County, and Daniel McBreen, whose long list of former clubs also takes in the Saints, as well as Romania™s Universitatea Craiova.
Fewer than 9,000 saw the Fury™s opening game, a 3-2 defeat against Sydney at Dairy Farmers Stadium, and the figure dropped to a worrying 6,500 for the second home match against Melbourne. Feeble crowds have been a notable feature of the season so far, as has a modest influx of journeymen from the English lower divisions “ among them Andy Todd (Perth), Lloyd Owusu (Adelaide) and the Wellington pair of Chris Greenacre, formerly of Tranmere, and Paul Ifill.
Greenacre has suggested the league™s profile is œgetting bigger all the time in Britain, though that will not last long if it keeps putting on games that draw barely 6,000 people to a 50,000-seat stadium, as Brisbane™s 1-0 win over Central Coast did at the weekend. If things do not improve after the rugby league and Australian rules seasons finish this month, the league may be urgently revisiting its plans for further expansion, which currently envisage a new team in Melbourne and possibly another in Sydney or Canberra.