Sydney FC are A-League champions, just as they deserve to be

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By , Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    The beautiful game can be cruel sometimes, as an A-League grand final for the ages was settled by a couple of missed penalty kicks.

    All the wash-up from the A-League grand final
    » Five talking points from the match
    » Player ratings: Melbourne Victory
    » Player ratings: Sydney FC
    » Georgievski wins Joe Marston Medal
    » Full match report
    » Re-live the live blog

    One thing critics of football always get wrong is claiming that a lack of goals makes the game boring.

    It’s as though some people simply can’t sit through a contest between two evenly-matched sides and enjoy the highs and lows, ebbs and flows and sheer pageantry of a sport that wrings every lost drop of competitive tension out of its very existence.

    Yet you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t enjoy the 2017 A-League grand final – even if Melbourne Victory fans have every right to be disappointed.

    In the end, the coveted ‘toilet seat’ trophy ended up where everyone thought it would, in the hands of Sydney FC skipper Alex Brosque.

    But could the Sky Blues have picked a more roundabout way to win it?

    Kevin Muscat and his pugnacious Victory side deserve a huge dose of credit for taking the game to their arch rivals – and then some – as the visitors threw absolutely everything at their hosts.

    Victory almost snatched a pulsating winner when James Troisi was on the end of a ricochet in the second half of extra-time, only for his arcing volley to come clattering back off the inside of the post.

    Had that gone in, Victory would surely have held on against a Sydney FC side that had expended an incredible amount of energy just to get back into the contest.

    Instead, the game went to a penalty shoot-out and even then, Victory still held the upper hand when Alex Wilkinson sent his spot-kick skidding wide.

    But they didn’t count on the width of the crossbar – not to mention their former goalkeeper – on dashing their title dreams.

    Danny Vukovic may have been beaten by a Besart Berisha wonder goal in normal time, but his shoot-out save from Marco Rojas effectively won Sydney FC the title.

    And as impressive as Daniel Georgievski was throughout – although he was fortunate not to give away a penalty in extra-time – the Victory defender probably benefited from an off night from the Sydney FC attack in winning the Joe Marston Medal.

    What was up with the Sky Blues? They looked rattled by Victory’s dominant start, and were it not for Rhyan Grant following up on the rebound, we might be talking about one of most unexpected grand final results in A-League history.

    Justice eventually prevailed for the first-past-the-post purists – just – in what was a truly gripping game of football.

    Sydney FC A-League 2017 Grand Final

    We learned a few other things on the day, including the fact that more than 41,500 fans were willing to stump up sizeable sums of cash to sell out the grand final.

    Where are all these fans for the rest of Sydney FC’s home fixtures?

    As much as Allianz Stadium looked a treat decked out in both team’s colours, it should be said the stadium experience is a largely forgettable one for supporters.

    There were long queues to get into the ground, as well as to use the facilities, and not for the first time an A-League venue simply shuttered most of its food and beverage outlets well before extra-time even approached.

    Meanwhile, there were plenty of signs around the ground advertising the Sunday Telegraph, yet the newspaper contained just two pages of A-League coverage on the day, sandwiched between an incredible ten pages of rugby league news on a weekend when there were no NRL games.

    Make no mistake. Much of mainstream Australia still wishes the A-League would simply disappear, with the passionate fans and raucous atmospheres pushing the status quo well beyond its comfort zone.

    However the A-League is not going anywhere.

    And on a night when the world game served up another unforgettable slice of unscripted drama, it was Sydney FC who were crowned 2016-17 A-League champions.

    Few would argue they don’t deserve it.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.