Sydney FC will play its 100th Hyunda A-League match on the coming Holiday Monday and Joe Niutta is the only person at the club who has been there for every game.
The players at Sydney FC may be the public face, with names like Steve Corica, John Aloisi, Simon Colosimo and Alex Brosque all well-known sporting identities in the Harbour City but there-s a team behind the team, without whom the Sky Blues wouldn-t make it out on the pitch each week.
On Monday when the players run out on the field at the SFS to complete Sydney FC-s Century of Hyundai A-League appearances that milestone will be shared by one important member of the team who is the only person at the club that has been there for every encounter, both home and away.
Joe Niutta is the Equipment Manager at Sydney FC but is known by most as the kit man. He-s laid out the gear for every Sydney FC side since the opening game of the inaugural season and he spoke with the Sydney FC Media department during the week, ahead of his historic 100th match.
TA (Terry Aylett) As the only person at Sydney FC who-s been at all 100 games, it must be a proud moment for you Joe.
JN (Joe Niutta) It is a proud moment because you don-t put it into perspective until you reach it. It-s just a culmination of a lot of things but actually being there for every one of those games – it-s very special.
TA You must have some great memories from your time so far with Sydney FC. What are some of the special ones from the first 100 games?
JN There are a few that stand out. The Grand Final obviously; Round-16 (2007/08) against Newcastle when Steve Corica scored that last-minute goal; The second leg of the Semi Final against Adelaide, year one, at the (Sydney) Football Stadium when the players unveiled the banner to the crowd, that was special; Beating Central Coast 5-4 at Gosford; Also playing in the Club World Championship in Japan (2005), getting to see sides like Liverpool play and seeing the appreciation for Kazu (Miura) in Japan as well, and understanding how big a player he was over there – I had no idea until we went there. There have been other great memories as well but those are some that really stand out for me.
TA Who have been some of the real characters in the team during the first five years?
JN Obviously Dwight (Yorke), because of who he was; Alex Brosque; Justin Pasfield – he was another one; David Carney; Nikolai Topor-Stanley; (and) Sasho Petrovski – without a doubt he-s one of the biggest characters we-ve had here in the squad.
TA As someone who-s involved behind the scenes and works pretty closely with the players and coaching staff, what is it like to be part of Sydney FC?
JN It-s an honour, it always has been from the start because I get to do something that I love – to be part of a professional club day-in, day-out. Like any job it has its ups and downs (but) it-s great to be around the players because you get to experience what goes on behind the scenes, which most people don-t get to see – and the preparation: how players prepare themselves and so on.
TA Do you think the public really has an idea what goes into getting the team on the park each week?
JN No, I don-t think so. There-s quite a lot more than people see (in) the preparation of a professional team because you-ve got to make sure that you-ve covered all your bases and make sure that you don-t leave anything to chance.
TA You were there in the first year when Sydney won the championship. It-s difficult to draw comparisons between sides but do you see any similarities between that side and the 2009/10 team?
JN I think if anything you see similarities in the way it-s been coached. I think bringing in Vitja (Vitezslav Lavicka) and Michal (Zach) has been a step in the right direction (because) they-re very professional. They bring a lot of great ideas from Europe and also a lot of structure to the club.
TA You-re the only person who-s been at every game and you-re one of only a handful of people at the club who-s been here since the beginning. What-s it been like seeing so many people come and go over the seasons?
JN It-s hard because it-s a business and like in any business, people come and go, but there are a few of us who-ve been here from the beginning. I-ve worked closely with our club Physio, Stan (Ivancic), not only here, but previously for a period of 4-5 years. Angie Latty from our football department who was our original receptionist, and Brendan Renaud who now heads up the community department – they-ve both been here since the start of season-one as well. There-re also the players, Terry McFlynn, Clint Bolton and Steve Corica who-ve been here from day one. You go through the highs and lows together and the club becomes special to you. You have that affiliation with it because you do go through those highs and lows – together.
As he-s done 99 times before Joe will be at the SFS early on Monday making sure everything is in place for the team, ahead of Sydney FC-s historic clash with the Central Coast Mariners.
The Sky Blues- 100th Hyundai A-League outing will kick-off at 3pm on Monday (October 5) at the Sydney Football Stadium, following the Westfield W-League curtain-raiser.
CLICK HERE to pre-purchase your tickets for the historic Sydney FC double-header!