Wigan vs Hull Super League: world's eyes on Wollongong for historic match

Decked out in white with black or cherry red, an unusually large number of English football fans have packed onto trains from Sydney and into Wollongong's hotels and streets as the clock counts down to Saturday's Super League clash between Wigan and Hull.

Hailing from Yorkshire or Manchester (except for the Sydney expats), where the current temperatures are sitting at either 0 or 1 degrees, many of the fans have taken to social media to post pictures of Illawarra beaches and the gleaming beachside stadium where tonight's game will be played.

In England, many fans will be opening their local newspapers today to see those same images, as the game puts Wollongong - a place probably unheard of by many - in the spotlight.

According to the Guardian, Wollongong is: "... all hot chips and seagulls, mining and steel. It is pre-fabricated bungalows and “sports clubs” which hold more poker machines than Las Vegas casinos. And it is rugby league land."

The publication's league writer Matt Cleary wrote staging a game in such a place is a "bold move... but a smart one too".

"The three-match tour is part of a tourism and destination partnership with the NSW government. Destination NSW and Destination Wollongong effectively bank-rolled the clubs’ attendance to entice an estimated 5,000 fans to come from the UK and interstate. That’s a lot of beds and beers and doner kebabs. It’s win-win at WIN. 

"According to the club it’s the “biggest single commercial initiative in the history of the club”. It’s why “Sydney.com” will appear on Wigan’s jumpers for all of 2018. It’s why live pictures of WIN Stadium on the beach will be beamed onto the big screen at Wigan’s DW Stadium where at kick-off at 8:45am GMT it will be approximately zero degrees.

The Yorkshire Post - where Hull supporters are likely to get their daily news - says:

"[Wollongong] is such a good fit for showcasing Super League, not least as it is held at surely one of the most aesthetically pleasing grounds in all of sport."

"... There are hopes of a crowd of around 15,000 here on Saturday, which, with Hull and Wigan fans in such brilliant voice, would create a great atmosphere in that arena." 

Here's how our city looks from the outside: