It’s one of the goals of the season… not that Tom King seemed overly excited about it!
It’s Round 24 of the A-League and with the whirlwind of the finals that is about to descend on the fortuitous top six, a much different prospect for the bottom four beckons.
For supporters of the Jets, Roar, Wanderers and Mariners, what awaits is an off season of quiet contemplation, tempered only by the annual post-season squad clean-out and renewal.
Except… there are still four rounds to go, which is still ample time to leave a mark on a season best forgotten with an upset over one of the high-flyers well on a merry jig to the big dance.
Nothing soothes the pain like a bit of giant slaying, so here are a few of the best of the worst who have proven more than just nuisance value in the lead up to the A-League finals.
Round 18, 2007 Newcastle Jets 2, Wellington Phoenix 3
It was Wellington Phoenix’s first season since they rose from the Ashes of the New Zealand Knights.
Despite failing to rise up the ladder any further than the Knights had the previous year, Wellington did manage five wins for the season and finished equal with Perth Glory on points.
Perhaps the most notable of their wins came against eventual champions, the Newcastle Jets, in Round 18.
Both sides traded first-half goals, with that season’s golden boot runner-up, Shane Smeltz, getting proceedings off on the right foot for Wellington.
After the break, however, the Phoenix put the afterburners on with Michael Ferrante and Kristian Rees, who later ran for the Australian senate with the Palmer United Party, both scoring their only goals for Wellington in quick succession after the resumption of play.
The Jets rallied with a late goal to make it 3-2, but the Phoenix held on to win.
Although the Jets would go on to beat Central Coast in the final, they would rue dropping three points to the Phoenix, which meant they finished the regular season second behind Central Coast on for and against.
After knocking over the Jets, the Phoenix then bowed out of their inaugural season with three straight losses.
Round 25, 2009-2010 Brisbane Roar 1, Sydney FC 0
Tumultuous would be an understatement for the Brisbane Roar’s fortunes for 2009-2010; after coach Frank Farina was unceremoniously sacked for a drink-driving charge a few months into the season, the Roar settled on Ange Postecoglou to steady the ship.
The Roar’s later success has overshadowed the earlier tensions surrounding Ange’s arrival, which saw mainstays Craig Moore, Danny Tiatto, Liam Reddy and Charlie Miller shown the door before the season was out.
Brisbane, however, savoured some satisfaction from the season, defeating the soon-to-be premiers and champions, Sydney FC, in Round 25.
In an evenly-fought clash, Sydney received a huge slice of luck when replays suggested keeper Clint Bolton had handled outside the box, averting a possible red card. With the introduction of Henrique the Roar surged later in the match, eventually finding a winner courtesy of an 87th minute tap-in to Sergio van Dijk.
The loss to the Roar proved a mere speed bump for Sydney FC as they powered to the title, while Brisbane finished its season with consecutive losses to find themselves languishing in second-last spot at season’s end.
Round 25, 2014-2015 Melbourne Victory 0, Newcastle Jets 1
Much like Brisbane Roar’s 2009-2010 season, Newcastle Jets’ 2014-2015 season was chock full of misadventure.
Capping a meagre record of three wins for the season, the Jets endured a player revolt following a 7-0 rout at the hands of Adelaide United, resulting in five players walking out mid-season before, crippled with debt, the club was temporarily stripped of its A-League licence to round out the season.
For all that, Round 25 provided some fleeting joy for Jets fans as they defeated the Melbourne Victory, who a few weeks later would go on to become A-League premiers and champions.
Victory controlled much of the proceedings, with Besart Berisha and Archie Thompson squandering a slew of chances on the Jets’ goal. After weathering the onslaught, in the 55th minute the ball fell to Ecuadorian import Edson Montano, thanks to weak attempted clearance from Nick Ansell.
Montano opportunely found a space through to goal, assisted by a further deflection from Ansell, silencing the exuberant Victory crowd.
Kevin Muscat no doubt had some choice words for his players after the match, as the Victory didn’t lose another match that season. Meanwhile, the Jets sealed the wooden spoon with a further two defeats and had to wait another three seasons before being led out of the A-League doldrums.
So there you have it – nothing beats knocking over one of the competition’s high-flyers on the way to some silverware to ease the pain of a sub-par season. May the bottom four stir up some mischief among this year’s title contenders in the weeks to come.