A-League finally creating its own history

apaway Roar Guru

By apaway, apaway is a Roar Guru

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    Italian soccer player Alessandro Del Piero makes his way through a small group of fans following a press conference - Del Piero arrived in Australia yesterday to play for Sydney FC in the A-League.

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    Del Piero. Hesky. Ballack? Western Sydney Wanderers. Ange at the Victory. You could go on with the talking points but the point is, people are talking.

    Last season’s Harry Kewell-inspired pre-season frenzy built the anticipation for the start of Season 7 and it looked like Season 8 would, in comparison, have what smart alecky marketeers in pin stripe suit coats and designer T-shirts would call a “soft launch.”

    Yet here we are, on the eve of the NRL and AFL Preliminary finals, and those two August codes are sharing the media spotlight with the A-League.

    Who’d have thought?

    The signing of Alessandro Del Piero by Sydney FC kicked off the attention and his airport arrival last Sunday was without doubt one of the most memorable off-field events in the sport’s history in Australia.

    At almost any other time, the signing of Emile Heskey by the Newcastle Jets would have been major news, no matter what the general opinion is of the fromer EPL and England striker. But it was a mere southerly change compared to the cyclone that is ADP mania.

    It seems that the A-League is growing up. As we stare down the barrel of Season Eight, the league is now making its own history. The league has now got enough mileage in its young legs to be able to reflect on its history and ponder a bright future. A history that includes:

    50,333

    That’s a crowd figure many would have had trouble imagining for ANY kind of football match in Australia a decade ago. But that was the number of people that went to Docklands to see Melbourne Victory take on Sydney FC in a regular season game on December the 8th 2006. While the match ended in a disappointing scoreless draw, the much-maligned captain of the Victory that day Kevin Muscat made the salient point that none of the Aussie players competing in Europe on that weekend would have played in front of a crowd of that size.

    All Night-Dwight

    The quintessential Bling FC boy Dwight Yorke helped Sydney FC to the inaugural A-League title in 2006. The Sydney Morning Herald then ran a story that tracked Yorke’s week-long celebration of the victory, as he went from bar to night club to club function to bar to night club to… well, you get the idea.

    The Nine Goal Thriller

    In a re-scheduled game on the 22nd of December, 2007, Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC played what is possibly the most memorable regular season match in the league’s history. Sydney ended up winning 5-4 with a 95th minute winner from the penalty spot by Ufuk Talay.

    The Mariners were 2-0 up when keeper Danny Vukovic was sent off. Sydney clawed it back to 2-2, the Mariners went ahead again, then Sydney scored twice to lead 4-3 and that would have satisfied most fans. But Adam Kwasnick scored an 89th minute equaliser before the final cruel twist.

    Archie Sinks The Reds

    In front of the biggest crowd in Australian club history, Archie Thompson scored five goals in Melbourne Victory’s first A-League triumph, as they thrashed Adelaide 6-0. Five goals? In a final? Where else has THAT happened?

    The neutral venue Grand Final

    Way back in 1980, the NSL Grand Final was played between Heidelberg United and Sydney City in neutral Canberra. It was the first match ever televised live by fledgling broadcaster Channel 0-28, who we now all know and love as SBS.

    Twenty eight years later, the A-League went neutral when the Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners drew nigh on 40,000 to the Sydney Football Stadium for Season Three’s Grand Final, and the footballing cradle of Newcastle finally won that elusive national title.

    The first away Grand Final victory

    In 2010, Melbourne Victory had already claimed the prize as first multiple A-League winner, with victory in the 2009 Grand Final against Adelaide.

    But they were now attempting back-to-back titles, only to be denied by their other arch-nemesis, Sydney FC.

    In winning the final, Sydney became the first and so far only club to win the Grand Final on their opponent’s turf. It was also the first Grand Final in which both teams scored, and the first to go to penalties.

    Best match in A-League history?

    What more could be said about the classic 2011 A-League Grand Final between Brisbane Roar and Central Coast Mariners? A full house at the best football ground in the country, a scintillating match, a four goal extra time, including the Roar’s two goals in the last three minutes, and Michael Theoklitos’ two penalty saves in the shootout. Football at its theatrical and dramatic best.

    The Streak and back-to-back premierships

    The Roar and their coach Ange Postecoglou re-defined the football style in this country. It was thrilling to watch and was rewarded with an Australian record unbeaten streak for any code of 36 games.

    Although the streak was ended by Sydney FC in December 2011, the Roar would create the history denied the Victory two seasons earlier, by being the first club to successfully defend their premiership by beating Perth Glory 2-1 in the Season Seven decider, in front of the biggest crowd to ever watch a football match in Queensland.

    With Season Eight a mere fortnight away, the league will continue to write its own history.

    The first Sydney club derby since the NSL days looms in round 3.

    Sydney FC’s first home game against Newcastle is, if the hype is correct, heading for a sellout at Allianz Stadium, which would be a first for a regular season game in the harbour city.

    Sydney FC will become the first club to have paraded two former World Cup winners when Del Piero takes to the pitch in Wellington.

    Brisbane will be looking to claim an unprecedented hat trick of titles in Season Eight and thus equal their AFL namesakes, who were the last team of any code to achieve three titles in a row from 2001 to 2003.

    The Mariners will be hoping to avoid unwanted history as four-time runners-up, but if the unthinkable happens, at least they won’t be comparable to the NFL’s Buffalo Bills who lost four successive Superbowl finals from 1991 to 1994.

    Or perhaps Ange Postecoglou will be looking to create a personal hat-trick, and become the first coach to lead two different clubs to championships in the A-League.

    The hype has been great. The season now awaits.

    Have Your Say



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    The Crowd Says (84)

    • September 22nd 2012 @ 1:23am
      Johnno said | September 22nd 2012 @ 1:23am | ! Report

      It has created some history and you are only mentioning the positives, what about the infamous history with sokah in australia, and the A-league. The failed soccer Australia had to be revamped, the riots at west sydney wanderers matches, the failed QLD clubs the fury and gold coast united under clive plumbers ownership and his dramatic falling out with fellow billionaire frank low. Perth glory’s financial struggles, central coasts financial struggles, sydney f.c udnerperforming since that top german coach left. And the terry butcher appointment, . More bad news for soccer in australia , the nathan tinklier problems up at newcastle which have now been resolved.
      The john kosmina and kevin muscat push and shove was also an embarrassment for the game. i have never seen that in AFL, rugby , or rugby league, or cricket. kosmina and muscat would of been banned for life if that happened in any other sport but sokah.

      Also the euro snobs problem, and also the war old football vs new football in australia still seems to be going on as shown by those riots at west sydney wanderers matches. Also brisbane roar struggled massively under blliberg and were in big trouble then age saved them.

      Victory have had problems with there coaching issues some mistakes, frances and mehmet didn’t reach there potential. Also i hope victory can still offered to pay there massive stadium deal at docklands that must be hurting australia’s premier a-league club.

      Johnny aloisi the great striker failed to live up to his potential from his glory days, as he dint set the world on fire especially at sydney f.c his goal drought wasn’t good for the A-leagues image. Hero against uruguay , struggling for sydney F.C. Interesting times for the A-league. The A-league also desperately need to win an asian champions league final title. A title would be much needed revenue and tv ratings im sure the A-league are not happy about no asian title yet. A lot of work for sokah still int his country to go.

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 6:11am
        Kasey said | September 22nd 2012 @ 6:11am | ! Report

        Wait. What?? There was a riot???

        A proper riot like in London 2010, and what’s happening at American consulates the world over? I’m sure I would have heard something about that if it happened in Australia! Your trolling would be so much more effective if I didn’t have to guess what every second misspelled word was.

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 7:37am
        pete4 said | September 22nd 2012 @ 7:37am | ! Report

        Johnno – seriously mate which code here hasn’t had financial issues in their history? Look at the [ insert off-field incident here ] issues the other codes have had which have been an embarrassment for their game? West Sydney Wanderers riot… your having a laugh if you define that as a riot

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 9:09am
        Minister for Information for the Democratic People's Republic of Football said | September 22nd 2012 @ 9:09am | ! Report

        Well,well,well….Our serial pest Johnno strikes again. Here’s a thought. Why don’t you put together an article about what’s wrong with your beloved Rugby Union at the moment?
        Anything less than 1500 words wouldn’t quite do it justice though so it should be quite an assignment for you.
        Clearly you face a lot of challenges in life. One of those must be that no one wants to chat with you anymore in the Rah Rah section hence we find you over here a lot.
        But please, be our guest. We’re a very charitable bunch over here.

        • September 22nd 2012 @ 9:21am
          Brick Tamlin of the Pants Party said | September 22nd 2012 @ 9:21am | ! Report

          The Domestic Union sides and the Wallabies are performing outstandingly at the moment Minister what are you talking about πŸ˜‰

          • September 22nd 2012 @ 9:28am
            Minister for Information for the Democratic People's Republic of Football said | September 22nd 2012 @ 9:28am | ! Report

            And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for this chronically sick game.

          • September 22nd 2012 @ 9:47am
            Kasey said | September 22nd 2012 @ 9:47am | ! Report

            The same Wallabies that turned turtle mere seconds after the ABs completed the haka? If we were talking football, beating Argentina would be worth patting yourself on the back over, but unfortunately the wallabies are a bit like the Simpsons – going great guns in the 1990s but not much chop in this millennium:(
            As for the domestic unions, remind me again about the depth in player numbers coming through the bigger unions of NSWPOLICE and QLD. How many coaches have the flowers churned through in the last 7 years? 5? Face it, rugby peaked in Oz directly after hosting the 2003 RWC, it’s been on a slight downward trend ever since. Pity, of the 2 rugbies, union is the one I have most time for.

            Now to ‘Johnno-ise’ that post I should go back and remove random letters;)

        • September 22nd 2012 @ 10:10am
          BigAl said | September 22nd 2012 @ 10:10am | ! Report

          “Anything less than 1500 words …”

          no, no, nooooooooooo !!! – please ?

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 10:32am
        Rusty0256 said | September 22nd 2012 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        Johnno, you really need to slow down your fingers that were clearly out of sync with your brain (how else to explain your total inability to either capitalise or punctuate).

        It must be very sad for you that you seem to exist in a life that only ever views the glass as being half full (or in your case a quarter full) and the bile you continuously spew forth perhaps reflects a life that is lacking the sort of joy and pleasure that we football supporters feel for our game; how very sad for you.

        To quote a very old expression Johnno, you really do need to have a Bex and a good lie down.

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 11:33am
        Roger said | September 22nd 2012 @ 11:33am | ! Report

        “the riots at west sydney wanderers matches”

        You are truly delusional. Are you talking about the fire cracker or the rock? Also, what about those riots at the AFL hey? You know, the riots were that kid was assaulted by that guy. Those were bad riots.

        Here’s a suggestion, if you hate the game so much, stick with your handball game, where guys kick balls and hope for the best, where no one outside of Victoria actually cares about it, where you get points for hitting the post, and missing goals. And, when you actually kick a goal, well, we’ll just times that by 6!! Awesome game.

        • September 22nd 2012 @ 12:05pm
          Nathan of Perth said | September 22nd 2012 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

          Abusing the wrong code there; Johnno is Union through and through.

          Not that the Wallabies don’t seem to be just kicking and hoping for the best anyway…

          • September 22nd 2012 @ 12:08pm
            Roger said | September 22nd 2012 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

            Ah. Woops, oh well. My point still stands about the “riots” though πŸ˜‰

            • September 22nd 2012 @ 3:28pm
              Ian Whitchurch said | September 22nd 2012 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

              Nahh, Johnno isnt a rugby union fan. He’s just a serial liar.

              I’d be interested in which club rugby game he’d imagine to have got a 50 000 crowd though, even if it was only done once.

        • September 22nd 2012 @ 3:43pm
          Johnno said | September 22nd 2012 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

          I like soccer a lot but there are critical problems right now in soccer. Just as there are in rugby. Soccer fans have to accept there game is not perfect rugby’s is not either. We have had so many problems with the wallabies i don’t know where to start. But AFL and soccer fans always seem to think there are so many haters, and whenever anyone from another code criticises it , it gets annoyed, where as a rugby fan i can accept there are major problems with rugby in Australia that need fixing. The A-league is far from rosy i would hate ot burst your bubble soccer fans. And i want the A-league to flourish but it has still many problems at present i’d hate to burst your bubble. Stop looking at things through roses tinted glasses and thinking your game is immuned to criticism it is not.

          • September 22nd 2012 @ 4:52pm
            c said | September 22nd 2012 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

            roses tinted glasses – bwaahahahaaahaa, are you sure this guy isnt a sokkah fan

            • September 22nd 2012 @ 5:21pm
              Johnno said | September 22nd 2012 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

              c i am a sokkah fan lol but i do have to admit “sokkah” as many call out hehe doe shave problems in OZ. But all codes do i have to admit including rugby not just sokkah lol.

              • September 23rd 2012 @ 11:49am
                Minister for Information for the Democratic People's Republic of Football said | September 23rd 2012 @ 11:49am | ! Report

                This is like watching a car crash. Even though it’s bad for my head I feel compellled to check up on “Johnno’s latest”.
                Wow!…..just Wow!

          • September 23rd 2012 @ 9:42am
            Kasey said | September 23rd 2012 @ 9:42am | ! Report

            Rather than your false “I really do care crocodile tears for football I think you should concentrate your efforts on asking why exactly Rugby hasn’t kicked on from the huge boost it received in hosting the RWC. There is no doubt in my mind that that sport has gone backwards in most key metrics since 2003.

            Football s on an upswing, granted the curve upwards isn’t as steep as we football fans would like it to be(football fans are a notoriously hard-marking lot in this country) , but since when has anyone described what football is attempting to do = go from niche marginalised sport to one of the big boys. as easy?

          • September 23rd 2012 @ 10:21am
            Roger said | September 23rd 2012 @ 10:21am | ! Report

            No one is saying that there aren’t problems Johnno. I think people are saying despite everything, when you do a stock take of our young league, there are a lot of positives to look back and reflect on.

            It seems to me, that you would rather focus on the negatives. And even then, rather than look realistically on the actual reality of the issues, you would rather make the negatives seem far worse than they are (WSW riots… hahaha, I still chuckle at your comment).

            So excuse me if I call “garbage” on your “comment”.

            • September 23rd 2012 @ 11:06am
              Kasey said | September 23rd 2012 @ 11:06am | ! Report

              exactly Roger, our game has copped it from pillar to post for decades, Johnno should forgive us if we football fans occasionally take time to take stock and enjoy the great strides forward the game has made.

              We don’t need him to point out the deficiencies; football fans are more than capable of being critical(some would say too much) For me I am just reveling in a period of sustained good news for the domestic game only sullied this year (IMO) by recent poor performances of the National team πŸ™ As for inventing negatives(riots etc) welI I guess you could say that sadly we are used to that sort of behavior from trolls and the Mainstream media

      • September 23rd 2012 @ 10:50pm
        hoolifan said | September 23rd 2012 @ 10:50pm | ! Report

        Victory gets Etihad for free. great stadium deal actually.

        Oz soccer takes its lumps, but it continues to stagger on.

        agree the eurosnobs do suck, but a lot of the rest of your comment is a little exaggerated.

      • September 24th 2012 @ 10:18am
        Ian said | September 24th 2012 @ 10:18am | ! Report

        so what if there are negatives? every sport has negatives.

        those positives above are remarkable.

        i didn’t even know all of them above. great reading.

        riots in soccer? what about parents bashing the opposition team in the under 18 brisbane grand finals for league two weeks ago? probably didn’t hear about that one. i’m going to use that one and get heaps of mileage out of it.

        • September 24th 2012 @ 10:29am
          Kasey said | September 24th 2012 @ 10:29am | ! Report

          Or the fans of an SA footy team bashing an umpire in a country footy game over the last weekend? The umpire was quoted as saying

          ” I’m lucky to be alive”
          Of course the News(very) Limited press is quick to point out that it is an ‘ isolated incident and not a systematic problem of the sport of Aussie Rules….the double standards are breathtaking. any incident at a football game no matter the size is reported as “Football’s shame!” and OMG SOCCER RIOTS!!

    • Roar Guru

      September 22nd 2012 @ 3:10am
      asanchez said | September 22nd 2012 @ 3:10am | ! Report

      Good work Johnno, now get back in your box son! Not sure why I’m wasting my time replying to your post TBH.
      This is for people who actually like the sport and want to see it keep growing.
      If people aren’t genuinely excited about the upcoming A-league season, then they’re just not football fans.
      There’s been many mistakes made up to now, in the last 7 seasons, but we’ve also started to now see a lot of positives going around the league as well. The current set of owners of the clubs are the most stable they’ve ever been. The headlines made and publicity created for the league both here and worldwide, are the biggest they’ve ever been. The upcoming TV rights deal, which is probably the true mainstream measure of the sport, no matter what the figure is, will be the highest its ever been. Even if it’s to be the mooted $40m per year plus some FTA coverage, it’ll get the sport moving forward in the right direction.
      The clubs in the A-league today are the right 10 clubs, in the right markets, with maybe 2 more clubs in 3-5 years time coming in for expansion of the league with markets such as Wollongong, Tasmania, NZ, Townsville and Geelong all in the mix.
      An APL comp starting soon, to strengthen the second tier of football in Australia.
      A-league clubs now planning for academies and having teams from under 6’s, playing in local and state competitions, all the way up to A-league level.
      And no doubt, with all the recent news and media hype, this will be the most attended and watched A-league season to date.
      It’s pretty hard not to be excited at the moment, the season can’t come quick enough.

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 6:51am
        Kasey said | September 22nd 2012 @ 6:51am | ! Report

        I couldn’t be more pumped for this new season to kick off. I’m expecting everything to go up another level and the positives will far outweigh any negatives/speed bumps that pop up during the season.

    • September 22nd 2012 @ 6:25am
      MV Dave said | September 22nd 2012 @ 6:25am | ! Report

      Great work apaway…a terrific scene setter for season 8. This surely has to be the biggest lead in to a season since the very first one.
      In terms of great games l have seen plenty live including all bar two of MVs home/finals/ACL games…however for pure excitement and drama the game between CCM and SFC in Gosford, which l watched on TV, was a ripper with a 4-5 result and 19,000 in attendance about 5 seasons ago.
      I just hope in future that we don’t have to wait so long in between seasons. Only 2 weeks now until the Melbourne Derby and hopefully 45,000 fans enjoying a great MV win. πŸ™‚

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 10:36am
        Rusty0256 said | September 22nd 2012 @ 10:36am | ! Report

        So that means a 48,000 attendance then πŸ™‚

        • September 22nd 2012 @ 10:40am
          Kasey said | September 22nd 2012 @ 10:40am | ! Report

          The SFC CEO has tweeted today that all of the premium and premium plus seats for the visit of Newcastle. Should be a bumper crowd that day. Just hope the sky blues turn around a recent season run of playing poorly in front of big home crowds.

        • September 23rd 2012 @ 10:06am
          Kasey said | September 23rd 2012 @ 10:06am | ! Report

          I’m not sure what he record is for attendance in a single HAL round? but the opening round of season 2012-13 could easily exceed 95k (cue predictable “we get that to one game” mocking from ARFers)

          *MVC v MHT derby @ docklands could be~ 35k+
          *WPX v SFC@ caketin 1st competitive game for ADP. WPX have already indicated ticket sales are a factor of ten above the same game last year. ~15k
          *WSW v CCM@ Parra the real unknown, but I expect a lot of interest for this teams first HAL game~15-18k
          *PG v BR@ Subi already being marketed heavily in WA by Glory as a chance to barrack Berisha for 90 minutes;) ~15-20k
          *NJ v ADL@ Hunter Stadium debut of Heskey ~12-15k
          total roughly 95k-100k

          If the Kewell example is followed, the other 9 teams will record their season best crowds for the visit of SFC.

          For those mongs who only care about the crowd figure, the dismissal of GCU its replacement by WSW will likely reduce your ‘enjoyment’ of this season;)

          It won’t be long( I guess about 5 years) before this little league of ours regularly records 2million spectators per season. Not bad given the criminal/some would say deliberate lack of coverage from the mainstream media.

          • September 23rd 2012 @ 10:17am
            MV Dave said | September 23rd 2012 @ 10:17am | ! Report

            What a great start to the season with 100,000 plus attending a round of HAL games….so many unknowns… PG at Subiaco, WSW first game, Del Piero and Hesky effects? To be even contemplating it is such a positive sign for the future after all the negativity in recent seasons.

          • September 23rd 2012 @ 10:17am
            MV Dave said | September 23rd 2012 @ 10:17am | ! Report

    • September 22nd 2012 @ 6:58am
      Stevo said | September 22nd 2012 @ 6:58am | ! Report

      Thanks for the summary apaway and thanks to Johnno for, ah well nothing! Agree that the HAL is building it’s own history but again, the HAL is simply a continuation of the evolution of football in Australia starting with the immigrants to this country way back when. Also have a look at this web site which has been created by a Heart supporter to document the history of the club in pictures. Some pretty good ones too. http://www.thehistoryofmelbourneheart.blogspot.com.au/

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 7:21am
        Kasey said | September 22nd 2012 @ 7:21am | ! Report

        Steve, the game existed in Australia well before the post WWII migration boom. In fact given the off field struggles of the game in the last 3 decades, one has to wonder if in the great ledger if the game was truly better off. ie does the recent golden generation of Socceroos( overwhelmingly the byproduct of the offspring of migrants) put more positives on the board than the negatives( the image of the game being one of ethnic ‘riots’) that still dog our game( I doubt we will ever completely change the image of the game into a fully positive one. The inertia of the negative forces aligned against the game just seems so large.

        • September 23rd 2012 @ 8:03pm
          Evan Askew said | September 23rd 2012 @ 8:03pm | ! Report

          It is my opinion that the ethnic clubs were 100% better for the game. They introduced a degree of professionalism that we didn’t have before and never would have had if the clubs that were predominant at that stage had had their way. Despite the negative perception of rioting which I’m sure was a beat up a lot of the time, the clubs in the NSL era while never lifting us to the level of Leauge and Australian rules, at least ensured we were a more major sport than hockey or basketball.

    • September 22nd 2012 @ 9:38am
      rob said | September 22nd 2012 @ 9:38am | ! Report

      The best way to create history is for the pepole to get off their ass and go to the games.

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 10:05am
        Punter said | September 22nd 2012 @ 10:05am | ! Report

        Exactly!!!! I have booked my season tickets for SFC & also got tickets to 2 away games @ Parramatta & central coast, yes I know not really that far, but hey, I’m getting off my behind & helping the A-League & & I’m taking extras along as well.

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 12:08pm
        Nathan of Perth said | September 22nd 2012 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

        Glory Home End Silver member – cometh the season, cometh the man (with a lot of rowdy mates!)

      • Roar Guru

        September 22nd 2012 @ 2:40pm
        langou said | September 22nd 2012 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

        Glory fan living in Melbourne but I plan to do my bit, like I have the last few years, by going to a few Heart games as a neutral.

        • September 22nd 2012 @ 2:54pm
          MV Dave said | September 22nd 2012 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

          Is that why their games are so quiet. πŸ™‚

          • Roar Guru

            September 23rd 2012 @ 12:04pm
            langou said | September 23rd 2012 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

            Don’t underestimate how loud I can be when sportingly clapping the good play from both sides

    • September 22nd 2012 @ 10:09am
      nordster said | September 22nd 2012 @ 10:09am | ! Report

      Back to back prems for BR? Someone is confusing premierships and grand cup finals. Mariners have two leagues, runners up in the cup title in fact… πŸ™‚

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 12:10pm
        Nathan of Perth said | September 22nd 2012 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

        Important distinctions that still aren’t quite filtering through the supporter base πŸ™‚

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