My money is on Melbourne Heart in the big derby
I love the smell of a derby in the morning. 30,000 fans seem to agree, with all tickets sold for tonight’s blockbuster Melbourne derby at AAMI Park. It’s the good news story the A-League has been crying out for, as newcomers Melbourne Heart host Melbourne Victory in what should be an epic encounter.
Melbourne Victory versus Sydney FC has plenty of sting, the F3 derby between the Mariners and the Newcastle Jets is a heated affair, and there’s no love lost between Brisbane Roar and interlopers Gold Coast United.
But A-League fans have been waiting for a true intracity derby for years, and tonight the curtain finally goes up on a match that could rapidly become a marquee fixture on the A-League calendar.
My money’s on Melbourne Heart to win it, although I’ve employed no empirical evidence whatsoever to come to that conclusion, I simply enjoy getting up the noses of Melbourne Victory fans.
Victory have been surprisingly quiet in the build-up to this clash – typical of taciturn coach Ernie Merrick – but the A-League heavyweights have plenty of big-match experience.
They don’t have Rutger Worm though, and perhaps the Dutchman’s dreadful start to his A-League career has all been a clever ruse, with the former NEC Nijmegen man ready to explode into life in a burst of competent football.
The fancy flicks into touch, the misplaced back passes and failures to find team-mates standing a mere five metres away; I think Worm has been cleverly deceiving us all along, just waiting for his big moment to launch himself into the spotlight.
One player who has been far more impressive is youngster Nick Kalmar, and after being plucked from Victorian Premier League side Oakleigh Cannons, the midfielder has just signed a new two-year deal with the Heart.
Kalmar is one of a number of success stories in this year’s A-League, and there’s a feeling that after so much negative publicity surrounding the start to the new campaign, the season could really kick off from here on in.
Here’s hoping nothing kicks off in the stands, and I’ll be interested to hear how Hatamoto and their cadre of security consultants handle affairs at the sold-out stadium.
Did anyone else notice the thousands of St. George-Illawarra fans who stood for the entirety of the NRL Grand Final at ANZ Stadium in Sydney?
They looked and sounded fantastic – chanting, singing and waving their assortment of banners – I vaguely recall ‘Gus’ Gould claiming the atmosphere reminded him of an English football match!
That’s precisely the kind of colourful atmosphere we want in the A-League, and it would be a real shame if overzealous security ruins it for the fans.
But whatever happens off the pitch, this match is bound to be an absorbing affair on it, as two teams struggling to make a mark on the current campaign look to overcome their stuttering starts.
It’s got all the hallmarks of a classic: two equally determined sides, flashes of individual talent and the kind of atmosphere many of us dream of when we watch European football on TV.
The countdown has ended. The long wait is finally over. For the first time in months, there’s a real buzz in the air.
So strap on your helmets, because the Melbourne derby is bound to be a cracker!
Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he has settled in Brisbane and has been a Roar columnist since December 2008. Follow Mike on twitter @Mike_Tuckerman
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