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Time for Victory to meet Old Soccer again

Rusty Woodger Roar Pro

By Rusty Woodger, Rusty Woodger is a Roar Pro

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    Marco Rojas in action for Melbourne Victory. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

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    While most attention over the next week will centre on Melbourne Victory’s upcoming blockbuster clash with English giants Liverpool, it is some lesser-known local clubs which the A-League side is not playing that continues to leave some fans perplexed.

    Since its first game of competitive football more than eight years ago, Victory has only played off once against either of Melbourne’s former football heavyweights, South Melbourne and Melbourne Knights.

    The reason for the lack of fixtures stem from the Football Federation of Australia (FFA), who are hesitant to sign off on matches between Victory and the two historic clubs now battling it out in the Victorian Premier League.

    It is likely this reluctance is driven out of a fear for the potential outbreak of crowd trouble and consequently, the damaging of the game’s so-called ‘brand’.

    But, really, is this anxiety justified?

    The only previous history between these clubs suggests the FFA may be missing out on a grand opportunity to bridge the current divide between ‘Old Soccer’ and ‘New Football’.

    This Saturday will mark six years since that solitary occasion, when more than 9,000 turned out to witness former National Soccer League (NSL) powerhouses South Melbourne play host to the new boys in town, Victory.

    That’s right – 9,000 spectators.

    Oh, and did I mention it occurred at Bob Jane Stadium (now known as Lakeside Stadium) on a cold, wintry midweek evening?

    The excitement surrounding the game at the time was palpable.

    The queue to get in stretched dozens of metres outside. Articles about the game even surfaced in Melbourne’s major daily newspapers prior to kick-off.

    For a moment, it was easy to forget this was a mere practice match against a state side featuring a vastly-depleted line-up.

    Indeed, there were some minor disturbances on the evening that need mentioning: a scuffle began between some supporters that was quickly broken up by police; while a flare lobbed onto the pitch by Victory fans struck an unsuspecting South Melbourne defender in the back.

    Although these occurrences sound far from pleasant, they are easily preventable with simple and effective security measures.

    And if the authorities can get it right, what a spectacle we could be in for.

    Imagine the atmosphere from the inevitable thousands that would turn out if Victory were to travel to Somers Street to take on four-time NSL premiers Melbourne Knights.

    Moreover, envisage the cash that could be raised for these local Victorian clubs from gate and canteen sales.

    It is worth noting Knights has hosted A-League competition before when it twice faced off against Melbourne Heart – once in 2011 and once last year.

    A healthy crowd was attracted on both occasions, but it would be nothing on the turnout if the opponent was two-time A-League champions and the heavily-supported Victory.

    With the prospect of an FFA Cup mooted for 2014, and even a second-tier “B-League” competition in the coming years, it appears inevitable that Victory will take to the pitch against South Melbourne or Knights sooner or later.

    So, FFA, why not save us the hassle?

    The time has come to be brave and finally gift us football fanatics the fixtures we have patiently been waiting for over the last eight years.

    With the right planning, there should be little to worry about.

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    The Crowd Says (27)

    • July 16th 2013 @ 9:17am
      zizou said | July 16th 2013 @ 9:17am | ! Report

      Don’t worry the Victory will be playing South Melbourne soon enough. South Melbourne Heart that is.

    • July 16th 2013 @ 9:18am
      Towser said | July 16th 2013 @ 9:18am | ! Report

      At some point in time,(if indeed there is a fear at all from the FFA’s perspective) when an FFA cup is up & running the so called Old will meet the so called New. Personally I dislike the terms ,the history of football is one continuous evolving story in Australia & without a past you’ve got nothing to build on ,no matter how flawed it may have been.
      Sure Victory can play South Melbourne & Melbourne Knights in a friendly, but when the FFA cup is around they may play them in a competitive match.
      The question is asked “But, really, is this anxiety justified?”.
      Simple answer NO.
      Lets face it, how many “real riots” in comparison to Their European football counterparts have really happened in Australia since post war migration?
      Media beat ups in 90% of cases.
      If trouble does eventuate ,you(FFA) clamp down hard on any perpetrators.

    • July 16th 2013 @ 9:29am
      Franko said | July 16th 2013 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      Would love to see them play a select XI from the Gippsland league at the old Mobil Park, but I believe that is Heart country?

    • July 16th 2013 @ 9:31am
      mahonjt said | July 16th 2013 @ 9:31am | ! Report

      I was there that night. You recollection of it is the same as mine. I, however, take the view that such a match need be held in the context of a Cup, for points/progression (whatever the stage/format). All sides need to have the footballing incentive and disincentive to be on their best behaviour. Another reason this game bothers me is that I would be forced to take sides. To be frank I quite like year round football and supporting both sides in their respective leagues. I accept that for the greater benefit of the game that this is a luxury I will ultimately be denied.

    • July 16th 2013 @ 10:47am
      adrian said | July 16th 2013 @ 10:47am | ! Report

      My memories of the game are the long queue outside the ground, the cold winters night, the game was free entry and the opportunity to watch Ljubo Milicevic make his debut for Victory.

      • July 16th 2013 @ 12:02pm
        Alfred said | July 16th 2013 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

        The anxiety is well and truly justified! The Victory have been smart to distance themselves from “old soccer”. You need only look back to the myriad of incidence during that period. Perhaps passage of time has made some complacent.

        • July 16th 2013 @ 1:41pm
          Mazzalenko said | July 16th 2013 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

          Here Here Alfed obviously Rusty Woodger has got rose coloured glasses on and as you point out ppl have become complacent especially with all the good our game is receiving over the last 12 months.
          Victory has played so far in this preseason Bentleigh, Richmond and will be playing Port Melbourne tonite but of course Rusty Woodger thinks those clubs a pesky little pimples on the ass of the FFV and Victory should be taking on the so called giants being Hellas and Croatia (yes their own fans chant these names). My answer is get stuffed….why should my club which is not ethnically aligned play against two teams whose fans have been the biggest trouble makers in the history of football in this state and risk getting bad publicity from the press??? Is anyone actually serious with such a request? To answer your question Rusty the anxiety is well and truly justified….let South and Knights vanquish in VPL (hopefully both also get relegated to lower leagues which is what occured to those other problem clubs being Preston Makedonia and Alexandria Warriors).

          • Roar Pro

            July 16th 2013 @ 2:08pm
            Rusty Woodger said | July 16th 2013 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

            Heartwarming to see the respect you hold for two of the most successful and historic sides this nation has seen. You know, the A-League has also had some history of crowd disturbances, but is that acceptable because we are supposedly not “ethnic”? Come on … be real.

            • July 17th 2013 @ 1:46pm
              Mazzalenko said | July 17th 2013 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

              Rusty for the record I’m also of ethnic descent and being in my mid 30’s I grew up with NSL but those days are over and I do not feel either club should be anywhere near the A-League. A large part of this is quite frankly I’m sick of South thinking they have some ‘devine right’ to be in the A-League because of their supposed history.
              With all due respect please be real and realise that as a code we have come a long way from the NSL in terms of crowd and play, if you chose to be an NSL relic then thats your perogative, but I have moved on.

              • July 18th 2013 @ 9:17am
                c said | July 18th 2013 @ 9:17am | ! Report

                hey mazz would that be Italian ethnic descent ?

          • July 16th 2013 @ 6:52pm
            MelbCro said | July 16th 2013 @ 6:52pm | ! Report

            What a pathetic comment. A-League fans have caused more ‘hooliganism’ and bad press than my club has over the past decade.

            • July 17th 2013 @ 1:58pm
              Mazzalenko said | July 17th 2013 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

              A pathetic comment MelbCro? If you are the MelbCro who used to be on the MVFC forum or still post on that forum then you should take your own advice son.
              Didn’t realise so many NSL relics are getting touchy….for the record MelbCro, I saw footage recently on YouTube, of an NSL match in Sydney back in the 80’s where the crowd invaded the pitch and play had to be stopped now please tell me a moment where this has occured since 2005 when A-League started?
              Being a football fan why would you compare the ‘bad press’ between A-League and NSL in any event like your trying to justify CRO AZIA CRO AZIA coming bak into the fold? The trouble A-League fans have supposedly caused is NOTHING compared to the 27 year history of NSL so please dont go there!

        • July 18th 2013 @ 8:53am
          Kasey said | July 18th 2013 @ 8:53am | ! Report

          +1 combination of rose coloured rear-view glasses and complacency. The anti-sockah media types have been quiet recently, doesn’t mean they aren’t poised to leap on any hint of a reason to kick the game. They’ve had to swallow their bile as football has put some good runs on the board in recent times, but I don’t for one second think they’re ready to hang up the poison pen. I have anxiety for the FFA Cup.

    • July 16th 2013 @ 12:40pm
      Peter Care said | July 16th 2013 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

      Melbourne Victory has played Richmond SC (Richmond Alemania), over the years. Richmond SC are an “old soccer” VPL club who’s history goes back to the 1950’s. Richmond SC are an “historic club, ” and Victory played them only a couple of weeks ago.

      • Roar Pro

        July 16th 2013 @ 2:10pm
        Rusty Woodger said | July 16th 2013 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

        Thanks Peter, I am well aware of that, particularly as I was present at the match. Same with last week against Bentleigh and tonight against Port Melbourne.

        Despite the title of this piece, it is clearly directed towards the other, better-known “Old Soccer” clubs.

        Cheers.

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