DISAPPOINTMENT is part of the theatre that makes sport so compelling. For every winner, there must also be someone robbed of that glory. Sadly, it is a lesson Newcastle is facing again after FIFA confirmed the venues for the 2023 Women's World Cup.
Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Dunedin, Hamilton, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Wellington will host matches during the tournament, the first time it has reached the southern hemisphere. Newcastle joined Christchurch and Launceston on the list of venues included in the bid but left out of the fixtures despite Sam Kerr's famed backflip at Turton Road featuring in many TV bulletins on the announcement.
With due respect, the Hunter's sporting credentials should have kept it in the conversation. The past week's sporting calendar in Newcastle speaks for itself. On Wednesday boxer Tim Tszyu staked his claim for a world title challenge at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre. On Thursday the first heats of the World Surf League's Newcastle Cup hit the waves at Merewether. On Sunday more than 20,000 people watched the Wests Tigers spoil Knights halfback Mitchell Pearce's 300-game party.
The Hunter's credentials as a region full of sport supporters is firmly established at this point. Its commitment to football is equally strong, having set records for crowds at Matildas' fixtures and hosted the Socceroos in their Asian Cup clash with United Arab Emirates in 2015. Newcastle is also the only regional city to have hosted the A-League grand final, which it did in 2018.
Given its pedigree serving as the big stage, City of Newcastle in June last year said McDonald Jones Stadium was "expected" to be a match venue. In March last year, Matildas vice-captain Steph Catley said the team had an affinity with the Hunter after strong crowds in 2017 and 2018.
"I'm a biased Melbourne girl but this is probably one of my favourite places to play other than Melbourne," she said. "I feel like we always get a good crowd here and they're so invested. They're all wearing Matildas shirts and there's young boys, young girls, such a variety in the crowd. And they're all so interested in everything that we're doing, even when we're walking around the city, they want to have a chat and say good luck."
Support for the side mustn't be dependent on where games are played, but the region deserves more support from administrators after years backing the game.