The Wellington Phoenix wishes to extend a heartful thank you to all the fans who helped make the Club’s homecoming last month a special one.
After being based in Wollongong, New South Wales since last November due to Covid and not being able to play a match on New Zealand soil for 433 days, the Phoenix returned to Sky Stadium on Saturday 22 May – defeating rivals Western United 3-0 in front of a record-breaking 24,105 raucous Wellington fans.
The following Sunday, the Phoenix travelled to Auckland’s Eden Park for an encounter with Perth Glory; drawing another 22,233 Kiwi fans who braved the weather to see the ‘Nix pick up a 2-2 draw and remain unbeaten at this venue.
Wellington Phoenix General Manager David Dome says that both these games will go down in the history books as one of the Club’s most memorable achievements.
“The fans were incredible in our return; the players and staff have missed the feeling of being at home in front of an energised crowd like this, so to have the opportunity to play back in New Zealand this season is a great feeling,” said Dome.
“To have over 45,000 people combined, supporting us over these two matches is an unbelievable achievement; it shows that our sacrifices this season weren’t in vain.
“And to have set the two single-biggest attendance records this A-League season, as well as the two largest sporting crowds in Aotearoa in 2021, leaves no doubt in my mind that New Zealand is behind our Club and its journey through these Covid times.”
Wellington Phoenix defender Steven Taylor says that the crowd support was both humbling and inspiring for the players – especially after being away for so long.
“A huge thank you to everyone who turned out to our matches; after all the sacrifices that the players, the staff and everybody has had to make this season – and then to come back, and for [the fans] to turn out in the numbers they did – was amazing,” said Taylor.
“I think you can see what it did for the players, having over 24,000 fans there [in Wellington], the energy around the stadium was phenomenal from the start of the game to the end – the support was incredible in Auckland as well.
“And it was probably a lot of people’s first time [attending a Phoenix match], hopefully now it’ll give them the buzz to want to come back and support us some more – we hope next year we can smash a few more records.
“So a massive thank you to everyone from the players and staff at the Wellington Phoenix.”
Dome says that the plan is for things to go back to ‘relatively normal’ next season for the Club.
“The expectations are that we’ll be back in Wellington next season, with big crowds watching us play at Sky Stadium, season memberships on offer and the players back out in the community – all things that we won’t take for granted after a season away from home.”