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The ten most noticeable people in the A-League

Stuart Thomas Columnist

By Stuart Thomas, Stuart Thomas is a Roar Expert

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    A far cry from ten years ago, there are now plenty of household names in football in Australia. Here are ten of the most noticeable ones.

    #10 Graham Arnold
    Arnold is a better coach now than he has ever been. Building the Mariners from the ground up with youth and club spirit was remarkable and something that led to many of his protégés taking up opportunities elsewhere, both around the country and the globe.

    After a tough 2015-16 with Sydney FC, as he reworked his roster, Arnold seemed to strengthen his approach and raise his expectations. Being at a so-called ‘big club’ is often cited as the reasoning behind his demeanour, yet it has been more of a natural evolution of a coach, as he learns from mistakes of the past and refines his approach.

    No doubt, the Socceroo question will be raised in the future and his previous experience as assistant in the role might inform his level of interest in the position.

    #9 Besart Berisha
    Like it or not, we are witnessing history through the actions of the newly capped Kosovo striker. Ninety-nine and counting and at age thirty-one there is scope for at least another thirty or forty, one would think.

    A polarising figure at times, Berisha wears his heart on his sleeve and has grown into a more settled player, father and man. His comfort in Australia should hopefully see him play out much of the remainder of his career in Australia.

    It would be nice to see the end of the story completed on our shores after having witnessed so many great moments that he has provided.

    #8 Kevin Muscat
    I know I’ve said it before, but he fascinates me. I want to know what is wrong with him. I think of Kevin every time RUOK day comes around.

    Like George Costanza, Muscat appears to have grown into adulthood with that much baggage and so many chips on his shoulder, that anger is the natural manifestation.

    Always good for a loaded line in interviews or a flat out verbal spray when moved, Muscat is one of the most curious and egotistical people in our game.

    #7 Jamie Maclaren
    In the short term future, the Brisbane striker will have to live with the ‘is he or isn’t he question’ draped around his neck.

    Australia’s search for general play goals is much discussed and despite moments where we seem to get it right, the general belief is that a talisman up front is required to secure our goal scoring future.

    Maclaren could be the one and if the case, Tim Cahill’s exit might not cause as much pain as some feel it will. With a fit Tommy Rogic, Massimo Luongo and Aaron Mooy servicing Maclaren, the Socceroos might just have a chance.

    #6 Milos Ninkovic
    Could someone tell this guy to stop? The Serbian has been a class above everyone else for the entire regular season with no disrespect intended, he is just that good.

    To play the game with a smile and such a clear sense of joie de vivre, as Ninkovic does, is refreshing and without the letters M. Ninkovic signed on a contract, Graham Arnold’s Asian Champions League campaign will look less than promising. Please stay Milos.


    #5 The RBB
    The collective that is known as the RBB went too far at ANZ Stadium earlier this year and the fallout was considerable. There is a core element in this organisation who aren’t remotely interested in watching football or the plight of the Wanderers. Violence and vitriol seem more their cup of tea.

    Once weeded out, the Western Sydney fans will have a supporters group of which to be proud, at the moment, the RBB is a polarising beast that negatively affects broad perceptions of the game from those who only see snap and grab headlines of poor behaviour.

    #4 David Gallop
    Depending on who you speak to, Gallop is either a shrewd operator overseeing the growth of football in the country or the captain of a sinking ship that goes down under the weight of his ignorance of the nuanced intricacies of football in Australia.

    Personally, I look at him as one of the luckiest bastards I have ever seen. As football numbers boom and the game starts to impact the broader market in this country, Gallop sits at the helm and despite any errors he happens to make, growth is assured. Something any CEO would be ecstatic to have.

    #3 Craig Foster and Les Murray
    I have put these two legends of our game together because every image of them recently has been a two-shot. Their southern expansion proposal and the work they are currently undergoing, is a huge step for the A-League.

    While not an article about expansion itself, the next three years will be significant in terms of developing the A-League product to a point where the next decade is a settled one and one where the game can experience slow, yet natural growth.

    Foster and Murray have the smarts to get this right and let’s hope they and the A-League do the right thing for football in Australia.

    Craig Foster and Les Murray

    #2 Tara Rushton
    Have to be a little careful discussing Tara. There might be some who see male praise of her work as some sort of misogynistic ogling at an attractive woman on television. I can assure you that is not the case.

    As other codes seek the magic formula in their on-air talent, Foxtel pulled a masterstroke by placing her at the helm of Shootout, having her preview matches live from the venue and using her in pre and post-match interviews.

    Rushton lights up a screen, is never annoying and speaks with a passion and enthusiasm from which all presenters could potentially learn much. She is fun and she makes football fun.

    Cooper Cronk’s decision to join her in Sydney has elevated them to celebrity couple status and where her next move will be in Foxtel’s structure is unclear, yet I hope she stays in football.

    #1 Tim Cahill
    Exactly when the old man plans to call time on his career has somewhat disappeared from discussion over the last two years. It appears that Russia 2018 was still achievable in Cahill’s mind and his fitness and self-belief now make that a realistic possibility.

    Having him in Australia has been a treat for us all and he has not let anyone down. While not providing Del Piero like boosts to crowds, Australia’s greatest modern goal scorer has done enough to remind us all just how good he really is.

    Tim Cahill Australia Football Socceroos 2016

    I’m sure there are a few other names that might usurp one or two on this list and if I have missed something, I apologise.

    Overall, it is good to see characters, talent and passion in our local game, they are three ingredients that we so desperately need to continue to grow.

    Enough of that for now though, bring on the finals!

    Stuart Thomas
    Stuart Thomas

    Stuart Thomas is a sports writer and educator who made the jump from Roar Guru to Expert in 2017. An ex-trainee professional golfer, his sporting passions are broad with particular interests in football, AFL and rugby league. His love of sport is only matched by his passion for gardening and self-sustainability. Follow him on Twitter @stuartthomas72.

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    The Crowd Says (20)

    • April 14th 2017 @ 7:56am
      jamesb said | April 14th 2017 @ 7:56am | ! Report

      If Les and Foz are on the list, then surely Bozza should be there as well. And in the last week or so, Tara “Yoko Ono” Rushton has become more of an NRL identity. Bring back Mel.

      • Columnist

        April 14th 2017 @ 8:54am
        Stuart Thomas said | April 14th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

        Bozza was a consideration. Larger than life character. I like his serious face when he takes on a big issue.

    • April 14th 2017 @ 8:28am
      Buddy said | April 14th 2017 @ 8:28am | ! Report

      10 noticeable people and you include the RBB Stuart? I kind of get it though. However, there has been a breakaway this season with another very active group setting up shop at the opposite end of Spotless and at the last home game at ANZ last week they were tucked up in the corner of the same end but how they made themselves heard – completely drowning out the RBB for some considerable time.
      Apart from the issues you alluded to, my personal objection is that the leadership group appears to believe that it is all about their group and not the club/team. You get rows of either shirtless men/youths or they wear a non descript black t shirt as they cannot be seen wearing club colours as that obviously isn’t cool or doesn’t fit the image. The breakaways are no different. WSW away games get quite a following at times including non designated RBB games which means Adelaide and beyond for the most part. Supporters are often treated with great suspicion and hostility though, mainly due to reports in the media relating to WSW fans = RBB. Last season there were around 400-500 in Wellington and many of us met up with supporters from the host club and swapped stories, memories, bought drinks and had a good time. Same story in Perth this time but first job we have to do is convince the locals we have not come to steal their first born!
      Bit of a tangent I know, but you included them on the list which only adds credence.

      • Columnist

        April 14th 2017 @ 8:57am
        Stuart Thomas said | April 14th 2017 @ 8:57am | ! Report

        One thing is undeniable, they are noticeable. Has been improved since the incident earlier in the year. Sounds like things are heading in the right direction. Good news. I heard some comments from lay people recently that made me cringe. Awful generalisations and commercial tv driven comments without substance or basis. But football fans have to help themselves first.

    • April 14th 2017 @ 8:46am
      Waz said | April 14th 2017 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      #1 ????

      Meh, did anyone notice we spent a huge amount of the HALs marketing budget on him and crowds didn’t improve. Epic Fail.

      • Columnist

        April 14th 2017 @ 10:34am
        Stuart Thomas said | April 14th 2017 @ 10:34am | ! Report

        Agreed Waz, as I tried to point out, there certainly wasn’t the bump in crowds some might have expected. More of a blip then a bump. Still great to see him here, very noticeable and if we forget the numbers and investment, which I know is hard to do, great to see him play. If people are silly enough not to go and watch him I guess that is their fault. A true Aussie icon with a little more class and dignity than some of the others the public put on very wobbly pedestals. Have a cracker long weekend mate.

        • April 14th 2017 @ 11:52am
          punter said | April 14th 2017 @ 11:52am | ! Report

          With you on Timmy. Great socceroo, great ambassador for our game. Talked himself up a bit prior to coming & lost some respect from some footballing people.

          But just see him after the games, he is great, not to mention his work with Socceroos.

          Was never going to pull crowds like ADP, one is footballing God, the other Socceroos God.

    • Roar Rookie

      April 14th 2017 @ 10:16am
      At work said | April 14th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report

      Can’t believe you’d have the RBB on this list, as if they don’t already see themselves as more important than they really are.

      I’d remove Gallop and Tara too.
      Where’s Ange?

      • Columnist

        April 14th 2017 @ 10:29am
        Stuart Thomas said | April 14th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

        Fair point At work. Perhaps I have given some of them another bit of fuel to stoke their ego’s a little more. I didn’t include Ange as he technically isn’t an A-League personality, although I can also see the argument that he probably watches more A-League than most and oversees the whole competition from afar.

        Gallop fascinates me. Tara is a star.

    • April 14th 2017 @ 12:02pm
      punter said | April 14th 2017 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

      As usual Stuart, love your article, yes missing Bozza but hard to find who to leave out.

      Hate Musky & Bes, but so much good for the A-League love to hate them, same with Arnold for non SFC fans.

      Foster, much maligned, but like Murray loves the game here.

      RBB just great & this from SFC fan.

      McClaren, don’t see the hype, but the goals are there

      Love Tara, looks, knowledge, fun loving, not easy hosting a football show with 3 ex socceroos & Australian footballing superstars.

      Gallop, ummm, not enough vision to take game forward.

      Timmy, all I see is him just scoring goal after goal for us at world cups.

      Ninkovic, I bow to his greatness!!!!! SFC for ever.

    • April 14th 2017 @ 1:24pm
      Josh said | April 14th 2017 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

      Pretty offensive stating that there are a few in the RBB who aren’t interested in football.

      • Columnist

        April 14th 2017 @ 10:11pm
        Stuart Thomas said | April 14th 2017 @ 10:11pm | ! Report

        Not sure what you mean josh, clarify?

        • April 15th 2017 @ 12:53pm
          Josh said | April 15th 2017 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

          The fans represent the area, if people mistake that for being more interested in causing trouble than supporting the team then unfortunately they’re wrong.

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