Kids come free to massive match

WELLINGTON Phoenix are hoping for a bumper crowd at Friday night’s match against the Central Coast Mariners, with children able to attend the big showdown for free.

WELLINGTON Phoenix are hoping for a bumper crowd at Friday night-s match against the Central Coast Mariners, with children able to attend the big showdown for free.

The Phoenix, in conjunction with Westpac Stadium and the Wellington City Council, will throw the gates of their home fortress open to kids in a bid to achieve a record crowd for Friday night-s already historic match.

Having already qualified for the Hyundai A-League playoffs for the first time, a win on Friday night will secure a home semifinal for the hosts.

The Phoenix hit a new crowd record of 19,258 in their 1-0 win against Adelaide United at AMI Stadium in Christchurch recently but would dearly love to better that figure at Westpac Stadium - where they are unbeaten in 16 matches dating back to October 2008.

Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said a big crowd had already been already anticipated on Friday. The support of Westpac Stadium and the Wellington City Council would swell numbers even further.

“We-ve arranged with Westpac Stadium and the council to let kids come to the match for free as a way of thanking the fans for all their support throughout what has been a fantastic season.

“We want to try and generate a huge crowd and great support for what could be a historic night for the club.”

The big crowd in their “second home” of Christchurch bettered the Phoenix-s previous record of 18,345, set in Wellington in the 2007/08 season, and the challenge has now be laid down to fans to bring that record back to the capital city.

“Wellington held the record and that-s now gone to Christchurch. But I-m sure the fans would love to get it back in Wellington - the home of the Phoenix,” said Pignata. “Whatever happens, it-s going to be a bumper crowd.”

The carrot for the Phoenix on Friday night will be the right to host a home semifinal.

“To achieve a home semifinal would be just sensational and we-d expect a big crowd for that one should we pull off a win on Friday night.”

Pignata said the crowd always played a huge role in driving the team on to success.

“The atmosphere at Christchurch was incredible - 20,000 people spurring the boys on. They walked off the pitch absolutely flabbergasted by the support and if we can generate that sort of big, vocal crowd in Friday night I-m sure it-ll get the Phoenix home with a roar.”

Each paying adult will be permitted to bring up to three children (16 years and under) to Friday night-s game free of charge. Each child will require a ticket to enter the venue. Tickets can be secured through Ticketek on (04) 384 2457 or from the Wellington Phoenix club store on the ground floor of the ASB Bank Tower on Hunter St in the city.

People who have already purchased tickets will be able to secure their additional free children-s passes by contacting Ticketek on (04) 384 2457. Friday night-s match at Westpac Stadium kicks off at 7.30pm.