It doesn’t get much more on brand for the A-League than Melbourne City finally turning into a devastatingly destructive derby rival right when everyone has basically stopped watching.
You have to wonder how Melbourne Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro slept on Saturday night.
Grant Brebner was relieved of his duties in the wake of Victory’s astonishing 7-0 derby defeat, but it was Di Pietro who elevated him to the head coach’s role in the first place.
Just like it was Di Pietro who brought Drew Sherman to Melbourne as Victory’s technical director, and presumably signed off on recruiting a bunch of players who look like they’d struggle to dominate a game of park football.
The writing was on the wall for Brebner the second Adama Traore received a straight red in the 30th-minute at AAMI Park, although it’s worth pointing out it was still only 2-0 more than an hour in.
Not for the first time this season, Victory simply gave up for the final half-hour.
But we shouldn’t discount how well City played, with Jamie Maclaren going full beast mode in scoring five and taking his tally to 19 goals for the season from 16 games played.
City have to be favourites to win the whole thing, even if this remains the most unpredictable of A-League campaigns. And the home fans certainly enjoyed themselves on Saturday night, even if the attendance figure was never announced.
City’s derby win may have been the highlight, but has there been another A-League round this season boasting so many high-quality goals?
It started with an out-of-this-world pass from Joey Champness to Riku Danzaki on Friday and ended with Ben Waine, Joel Chianese and Jaush Sotirio all trading absolute rippers in Perth on Sunday night.
Wellington’s 3-1 win in the west was a reminder that you can’t write off the Wollongong-based Kiwis, especially with the ethereal Ulises Davila pulling the strings.
Coupled with Adelaide’s fightback from two goals down to force a 2-2 draw with Sydney FC at Leichhardt Oval and there’s little doubt we just witnessed one of the most compelling rounds of the season.
But does anyone care?
Just a week after the Parramatta Eels attracted more than 24,000 to their NRL clash with the St George Illawarra Dragons, around a third of that number filed through the gates at Bankwest Stadium to watch Western Sydney go down 2-1 to Brisbane Roar on Friday night.
And as much as this has been a well-worn theme in this column over the years, it’s worth mentioning again for a specific reason.
It goes something like this. Many of those who rattle away on keyboards across the internet to proclaim themselves diehard football fans do literally nothing else to support the game.
They don’t attend A-League matches. They don’t buy newspapers. They’ve cut the Foxtel cord.
Often they’re the same people who leave comments bemoaning the sort of media coverage the A-League attracts, complain endlessly about Foxtel’s commentary team and wonder why the Melbourne derby attendance figure is listed as TBA.
So where does this road of apathy take us? Where does football end up when the path of least resistance for so many has simply been to give up?
Well, with The World Game website shutting down, I reckon.
We can argue all we like about when it jumped the shark, but SBS merging its dedicated football website into a general sports page is another hammer blow for the beautiful game.
But does anyone care?
Any time I write a column like this – one that tries to shine a light on our own behaviour – I often see people in certain corners of the internet telling me to shut up.
But turning a blind eye solves nothing.
Losing a website as iconic as The World Game is what happens when not enough people care to convince those in charge it’s worth saving.
And given the current economic climate, it’s hard not to wonder what’s next.