The Roar
The Roar

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Football fans are a national living treasure

Football is only just getting started, and some in Australia are worried. (AAP Image/Martin Philbey)
Roar Guru
17th February, 2012
70
3686 Reads

The A-League history books will record that on February 17, 2012, Melbourne Heart defeated what was ostensibly the Gold Coast United Youth Team at AAMI Park by the margin of one goal to nil.

The unconvincing victory, courtesy of a late goal over their depleted opponents, snapped an eight game winless streak.

History will also record how the gallant young Gold Coast team went into the game riding a wave of bad publicity.

The eccentric choice by their billionaire owner to give the captaincy for this match to a 17 year old debutant, Mitch Cooper, led to the suspension of their manager and, yet again, cast into critical light the viability of the unloved, bottom placed team from Queensland.

With a stagnating Melbourne Heart team beset by self-doubt, the match itself did not promise much in terms of entertainment or at the box office. What it did promise was dread.

By half-time the crowd of 4972 had it by the bucket load.

I don’t recall much of what happened on the pitch during the first half. Heart’s play was so insipid and uninspiring that I switched off and spent most of the half discussing the relative merit of the Best Picture Oscar nominees with the film buff sitting next to me.

The second half began pretty much in the same way as the first. A season in danger of sliding into mediocrity, a crowd almost resigned to the prospect.

But something happened.

Advertisement
Advertisement

In the 53rd minute, the Melbourne Heart capo yelled out the chant:

“We Are Melbourne! And We Will Be! The Greatest Team! This City Has Seen!”

Prompted by the capo, the active fans repeated the chant. Considering what was happening on the pitch, any objective observer would have though the chant preposterous.

But this is football where the dynamics of the crowd can turn the ridiculous into the sublime and the collective experience of a season coalesces to produce an event of spontaneous mass consciousness.

And this was the moment when it all clicked. The Yarraside not only repeated the chant, they repeated it again and again and again.

“We Are Melbourne! And We Will Be! The Greatest Team! This City Has Seen!”

By the 60th minute it had become a full scale celebration. The chant now had a momentum that could not be stopped.

Well, actually it did for one minute, the 79thminute to be precise, when Eli Babalj and Matt Thompson came off the bench to combine for the winner.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The referee blew his whistle in the 94th minute to signal the end of the game.

However, the fans were still not finished.

“We Are Melbourne! And We Will Be! The Greatest Team! This City Has Seen!”

On the screen, Fred was named man of the match, but in the stadium everyone gave the award to the Yarraside for their phenomenal performance in the second half.

The A-League history books will not record the events I have recounted from last night. This alternate history does.

Yesterday, Gold Coast United owner and mining magnate Clive Palmer tweeted: “Last chance today to vote for 7 new National Living Treasures. I’m very honoured to be among nominees. Vote at http://www.womansday.com.au”

We don’t have to vote Mr. Palmer.

We know that our greatest National Living Treasures are our football fans.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Athas Zafiris is on Twitter @ArtSapphire