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Soccer

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Wanderer Duke pumped for Parramatta return

When Mitchell Duke debuted for Western Sydney last A-League season he realised just how much damage the club's three years away from home had done.

Born and raised in Western Sydney, Duke's memory of the Wanderers fans were of their vociferous and celebrated Red and Black Bloc.

That fan-driven atmosphere played a large part as the Wanderers claimed a premiership, reached three grand finals and won the 2014 Asian Champions League in their first four seasons of existence.

Forced to leave their spiritual home while Parramatta Stadium was rebuilt, the Wanderers have struggled to retain that unique spirit after relocation to Spotless and ANZ Stadiums.

"I definitely had that sense of it kind of was lost," Duke told AAP.

"I joined in January, halfway through the season and I left with the memory of it still being the crazy RBB; amazing, intimidating atmosphere.

"To come back to what was quite disappointing really, Spotless Stadium, ANZ, no crowd, no fanbase really. Nothing, no loud crazy supporters."

The Wanderers returned home in July when they hosted English Championship club Leeds United in a friendly at Bankwest Stadium.

The new venue will host its first A-League match on Saturday when Central Coast Mariners come to town and Duke believes it truly will be the start of a new era for the Wanderers.

"We had a taste of it against Leeds, they came back in numbers and they were chanting quite loud," Duke said.

"Hopefully that can only grow this season and get back to where we were at the beginning.

"We're at home, round one, new stadium, we've got to set our own standard ... hopefully it's going to be a good entertaining match but we take away the three points."

--End of article--

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