This could only happen in Australia.
What other sporting nation would create a men’s Championship Trophy that looks like a metallic toilet seat? Probably none. It is a uniquely Antipodean endeavour, probably misunderstood by overseas fans, but cherished by A-League supporters.
Now Australian football has brazenly exceeded itself by releasing a new prize, celebrating the women’s F3 Derby.
Almost a year after the Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets men started playing for a trophy made up of a core drill sample of the M1 Motorway (formerly known as the F3, the highway connecting the two regions) it was announced that the women would play for a shiny guardrail.
Yes, a sliced portion of polished fence that was once used on the Motorway.
Talk about cultural cringe. As TV’s Kath & Kim would drolly say: “It’s nice, it’s different, it’s unusual.”
The silvery-looking award will be on hand to commemorate the rivalry between the Mariners and Jets in the standalone women’s round to kick off the season.
CEO of the Mariners Shaun Mielekamp notes that “The F3 Derby holds a special place in A-League folklore” – and he is not kidding.
The myth of both teams loathing each other is more than just stuff of legend. If you want proof, scroll through the Mariner’s fan forums, and you will discover a decade’s worth of wild conspiracy theories aimed squarely at the Jets.
To some Yellow and Blue diehards, a distance of over 90 kilometres between Industree Group Stadium and McDonald Jones Stadium is not far enough.
This new silverware is part of a new best-of-two series, taking into account goal difference, including precious away goals, especially if each side wins one game each.
It will add extra pressure on the Mariners strikers, including Chinese international, Wurigumula. Having only been signed in late September, the forward has limited time to prove her worth.
The 27-year-old goal scorer is a genuine threat, famously representing her country at the Tokyo Olympics. As of last week, Wurigumula had a 45-minute spell in the Asian Games, with China beating Uzbekistan 7-0.
After a lengthy break from the women’s league due to funding concerns, the Mariners finally return to the big time, playing 22 regular season matches, which is internationally standard.
The first week of the season is also special, as it is a standalone round, squarely putting the attention solely on the Liberty A-League. Surprisingly, a total of 14 World Cup stars have also been named to play.
As an extra incentive to watch history being made, all children 16 or under can enter matches for free, providing they have a Liberty A-League Pass.
So, the future of Australian football looks bright and shiny – for the Mariners, the girls will be hoping it is a sterling prized piece of barrier, taken from the side of the fabled road.