Today the 2013 A-League grand final kicks off between the Western Sydney Wanders and Central Coast Mariners.
When I reflect the last seven grand finals of the A-League, I look back at the moments that make our game great and believe our grand final is a showcase in which we show the people of Australia why we love our game so much.
So to look ahead of today’s most anticipation game I decided to gather my top five moments from the previous A-League grand finals that I feel that had an impact on me, as well as on fans of winning and losing teams and controversial moments that fans still talk until this day.
5: Tony Vidmar’s turnover
In the 2008 grand final, Central Coast came in as Premiers against the Newcastle Jets.
Two weeks later they face the Jets in the first F5 Derby grand final.
Central Coast had former Socceroos Tony Vidmar and John Aloisi, who returned from overseas and signed with the Mariners half way through the season.
The Mariners came in as red hot favourites against their enemies up the coast and in the 63rd minute a lack of concentration from Tony Vidmar, who lost control of a ball from Michael Bridge.
Bridge just had to run and beat another defender and took a shot outside the box and scored in the top right hand corner of the goal and took the lead 1-0.
A shellshocked Central Coast was not able to come back in that game. Danny Vukovic was also sent off by referee Mark Shields.
Unfortunately failing on the big stage was a habit for the Mariners. This was the Central Coast’s second grand final loss after losing to Sydney FC to the same score line two seasons ago. They repeated the dose in 2011, losing to the Roar.
You Tube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZt39L6Kb4s
4: Kevin Muscat missed a penalty in a shootout
In 2010 at Etihad, the grand final was the first True Blue Derby between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory, as both teams finished the season one and two. Sydney FC won the Premier’s plate that year after beating Victory at Sydney Football Stadium.
Victory booked the grand final after the semi-final legs and the grand final itself was a caging affair, until in the 61st minute Mark Bridge scored for Sydney FC after a minute, when Victory’s Rodrigo Vargas’ goal was disallowed for offside.
In the 81st minute Adrian Leijer headed a goal to equalise for Victory after a free kick from Kevin Muscat. The game was equal and was heading into extra time and penalties for the first time in the A-League’s history.
After Simon Colosimo converted the first penalty for Sydney FC, Kevin Muscat was the first penalty taker for Victory.
Muscat came into the penalty as the man who never misses a penalty.
Muscat kicked the ball, the ball hit the bottom left post and you can hear the bang of the post from your television, the silent sound from Victory supports and joy for the small Sydney FC fans.
After the shootout score was 3-2 Sydney FC’s way, all FC needed was a converted kick from Byun Sang-Hwan, which he delivered and gave Sydney FC their second A-League title.
If Mascat did convert the penalty kick would we had a different outcome?
3: Archie’s Massacre
Melbourne Victory had an unsuccessful inaugural season in which the Victory did not make the playoffs in 2006.
So 2007 then was their year of success on and off the field. They moved from Olympic Park after selling out most of their games early in the season and moved to Etihad Stadium.
Victory won the Premier’s plate and gained a rivalry over Adelaide United. The rivalry was best known for the infamous incident when Kevin Mascat pushed John Kosmina from his chair on the sideline.
The not so happy John Kosmina decided to take justice to his own hands and grab his hand over Mascat’s Throat.
At the grand final, Victory hosted the game at Etihad against Kosmina’s Adelaide United.
Adelaide United came into this game as the most consistent team over the last two years of the inception of the A-League and wanted to add the Championship trophy to the Premier’s Plate they won a season ago.
But it was not the case as Archie Thompson decided to have a massacre over United and scored five goals that night, which stunned the players for United, got United’s Ross Aloisi sent off from the referee due to the nature of how United was losing that match and his frustration towards the referee and created joyful moments for Victory fans.
Melbourne won the grand final 6-0 that night and claimed their first A-League Championship Trophy from one of the best individual performance of a player in the A-League grand final history.
2: Berisha’s penalty
In last year’s grand final Brisbane Roar hosted the Perth Glory at Suncorp Stadium to win back the back championships.
Perth came into this game as the in-form team and Brisbane Roar as the most consistent after they finished second behind the Mariners.
In yet another sold out crowd at Suncorp, Perth Glory opened the account in the 50th minute from a Billy Mehmet goal. Then the Roar equalised at the 83rd minute from a Besart Berisha header from a cross by Thomas Broich.
It looked like this game was going to be another grand final classic and it seemed that it was going into extra time. But in the 94th minute of the match and the last play, referee Jarred Gillett awarded a penalty to Besart Berisha.
For me the reply indicated there was touch from the Perth defender on Berisha. This is still the most talked about penalty in Australian football and it has divided football people on whether it was a penalty or not.
All it needed was Besart Berisha to score the penalty and claim Brisbane Roar’s second A-League title and the first club to win back to back in the A-League’s history.
1: Roar’s comeback
For me this was the best grand final in A-League history and will always be a vintage.
It was the 2011 grand final between the Brisbane Roar and the Central Coast Mariners at a sold out Suncorp Stadium.
The match was a tight affair in the first 90 minutes with not much action as both teams played a chess tactic.
The game went into extra time and in the first 15 minutes the Mariners scored two goals and looked like they have sealed their maiden championship.
What we were to witness in the last five minutes of extra time, was unexpected.
It all started when Henrique called the goal for the Roar, which gave them hope that can come somehow get into a shootout.
Then there was a corner of the last play in the game. From the sidelines Mariners’ coach Graham Arnold looked nervous watching on and his team was about to surrender a two-goal lead and head to extra time.
The Roar equalised thanks to a header from Erik Paartalu which drew the game at 2 all.
From then on the momentum changed Brisbane’s way. The Roar won the shootout to win the first championship after a dominating season in which they also won the Premier’s Plate.
This was a grand final to remember for a long time. It was a story you have to tell your grandchildren one day – it was like something from a Rocky movie.
It was awesome.
For today’s grand final match both teams play a similar style and both are even in the head to head.
Hopefully we will see another grand final classic and whoever wins it, they deserve it in their own right.
Enjoy your grand final and feel free to write down in the comments of your favourite grand final moment.