Red and Black Duke relishing Wanderers’ Parramatta homecoming

When Western Sydney Wanderers played their first-ever Hyundai A-League match at the old Parramatta Stadium, there wasn’t much love for a certain Mitch Duke on that night back in October 2012.

Duke was wearing the colours of Central Coast Mariners on that occasion, as the Wanderers’ Hyundai A-League life began with a gritty 0-0 draw.

Fast forward seven years and Duke will again be involved in an historic clash as the make their long-awaited return to their spiritual home ground, the new Bankwest Stadium.

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While the Mariners will again be the opponents, Duke will this time be a firm fan-favourite as he steps out in the famous Red and Black kit.

"I remember that game well. It was crazy, it was loud, it was passionate and it was intimidating,” Duke recalled to the Wanderers website of that first game back in 2012.

“To play against it was unbelievable and now, to be on the other side playing with it behind me is so exciting.

"I hope it will be that same taste and feeling that it was all that time ago."

Mitchell Duke, playing for the Mariners, in the first-ever Wanderers game at Parramatta Stadium in 2012
Mitchell Duke, playing for the Mariners, in the first-ever Wanderers game at Parramatta Stadium in 2012

Markus Babbel’s troops got a taste of what life in their new home ground will be like in last month’s friendly against Leeds United.

“It was an unbelievable atmosphere, so there is a lot to look forward to for the fans being back home after such a long time away," said Duke.

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"What better way to do it than against the Mariners, who we played against in the first game here when I was actually on the other side.

“It's exciting and a massive moment for the club."

Duke is currently recovering from a knee injury suffered in a friendly clash against Gold Coast Knights last month.

The Caltex Socceroos attacker in unlikely to be fit for the club’s FFA Cup 2019 Round of 16 clash against Sydney United later this month, although he’s not believed to be in any doubt for the start of the 2019/20 Season.

The countdown is on to the Wanderers return to Parramatta