A-League’s quality and crowds on the rise
On 22nd April 2012, Brisbane Roar won back to back championships defeating Perth Glory 2-1, bringing the A-League season 7 to a close!
Having to wait another 166 days until the commencement of A-League season 8 was long enough, but the wait was worth it.
With an A-League attendance overall record and round 1 record on the brink of being broken and mass hype surrounding the big three signings of Alessandro Del Piero, Heskey and Ono, the A-League was starting to attract the attention it needs.
Not to just get a rise in attendance, participation and a viewing audience but for the sport to be spoken about once again and through word of mouth be spread to a larger audience and make the game more attractive to viewers.
Round 1 kicked off with the Melbourne Derby, with Heart taking the spoils 2-1. So much expectation was on the Victory considering the poor season last year. Ange made his point clear; he wasn’t happy.
As for the Heart and Aloisi, congratulations! There’s still another 26 rounds to go though so both to sets of fans: don’t be disheartened and don’t get too cocky.
The greatest positive to come out of this match was the 42,000 strong crowd. Who would have thought? The A-League, a game nobody likes and could only be bothered to watch an EPL, La Liga or Serie A game showed their is strength within Football for Australia.
Our next match was Wellington Phoenix vs Sydney FC. Or the ADP show. Time will tell what sort of an influence he will have on the A-League, but considering an extra 4000 fans showed up for a game (Wellington would generally average 8600) is positive, let’s also not forget the horrible conditions.
These conditions didn’t finish there either. With the third game being played in Parramatta, the A-League’s new boys Western Sydney Wanderers would face minor premiers Central Coast Mariners.
Although dominated in passing and possession, as you would expect from a team who has been up there for the past two seasons with the Roar, WSW looked most threatening. Although the final result was a 0-0 draw I am sure the 10,000 that attended will be more than happy to go and watch another game.
Game 4, What can Emile do? That was probably the question on the most lips of A-League fans. As for the Jets, the 14,500 strong in attendance would have gone home disappointed after a 0-2 loss to Adelaide United. Dario Vidosic, son of Rado, could potentially push harder for selection for Australia; not only is he a great player but he will be important to Adelaide’s season.
Game 5, Grand Final Rematch. From the get go I had a feeling Perth would win this one. Brisbane Roar, although with the same squad, didn’t play their usual game. This was a very entertaining game, but I believe the Roar may need to look to play their usual style. The ball in this game was end to end but the Roar at times were forced to play the ball in the air.
Perth played this game well and with another 14,000 on hand the A-League was off to a flying start. A new record of 93,000 and the first three A-League matches pulling an average of 100,000 viewers on Foxports would clearly suggest the sport is growing.
It is only round 1 but teams will start to find their groove, that or the strong will rise above the weak. I believe this season could be one of the closest since the finish of the 2008 season in which the top 4 teams (Newcastle Jets, CCM, Roar and Sydney FC) were seperated by 4 points and CCM AND the Jets finished equal on competition points but not goal difference.
I would be very surprised if the Roar can go Back-to-Back-to-Back, Perth will feel last year’s loss hard and if they are there at season’s end I believe they will be my pick. The pressure could be too much to handle and unless Smeltz fires then they won’t rise to the occasion.
CCM I believe will be there once again with a few upsets to come from WSW. I can not pick a last or a definitive first. We will see within the next four to five weeks.
A wrap of next weeks A-League matches for Round 2 to follow! Fingers crossed.