Almanac Soccer – Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory: Rivals


By Peter Sweeney


The music died and the crowd cried with just minutes remaining in the contest at the multi-coded Adelaide Oval on Friday night.


Adelaide United were about to beat arch rival Melbourne Victory 2-1, win their first home game of the 2017-18 Hyundai A-League season, remain undefeated and send all bar a few hundred of the 19,416 spectators home happy.


Goulburn Valley born United midfielder Vince Lia – a foundation Victory player of 12 years ago and who was making his home A-League debut for United – firstly equalised for his team (23rd minute) and later (62nd) put them in front with thunderbolts from a long distance. The chants and cheering were out of control.


Such stopped as soon as visitor Mitchell Austin found the back of the net just eight minutes from regular time.


So it was 2-2 when the buzzer went. Adelaide didn’t get the win it expected; Melbourne went away with points for the first time this season. The ending, and the excitement of the enthralled fans, was totally contrary to the last Friday night football clash here of four weeks ago – when the Adelaide Crows walloped Geelong by 10 goals to win their way into the 2017 premiership play-off in the Australian Football League.


United and Victory affairs are regarded as close to a ‘Derby’ as you can get. And they are played accordingly.


On October 17, 2014, a record 33,126 supporters streamed through the gates of newly redeveloped Adelaide Oval to see Victory square the contest at one-all – with just a minute to play.


The matchday program for round three on Friday night featured a double page spread on the ‘Biggest villains of the original history’. Naturally, they were all Victory players.


And two of them – Kevin Muscat and Besart Berisha – figured again.


“Synonymous with controversy, Kevin Muscat was no doubt the most despised Victory player by Adelaide fans,” the program said.


“He would invariably be greeted by a deafening raucous of boos whenever his name was announced on the PA system or in possession of the ball.” Now coach, Muscat’s name didn’t have to be announced, and he wasn’t in possession of the ball, however, there were still plenty of boos whenever his face was shown on the screen as he patrolled from the sideline.


On Berisha, the program wrote: “His conspicuous passion, competitiveness and antics on the pitch have also caught the ire of Reds fans. His fiery temperament means he is an easy target for the Adelaide faithful to wind up in an attempt to put him off his game or see him booked.”


But it was Berisha who wound the crowd up on Friday night. They were baying for blood and wanted much more than the yellow card referee Shaun Evans waved at him after he tackled Red Jordan Elsey. To add insult to injury, he was the first scorer in the game, finding the back of the net at the 13th minute. It was his fifth goal in 20 games against United.


In the end, it was the few hundred faithful Victory fans who had crossed the border who headed home the happier.


Not so the locals, just as much over the venue as the result.


“This ground sucks, we should never leave Hindmarsh (Coopers Stadium),” Donna said.


She – and her side – will be back there next Saturday night, facing another Melbourne team, City, who downed Victory 2-1 last weekend in a true Derby.








  1. It was a cracking contest, Peter. Lia’s goals were simply amazing. I felt is was a very even game and a draw was a fair result for both teams. Bes’ header was spot on, thanks largely to a perfect cross from George. I was very happy with Austin to hit the score sheet, that will put the doubters off for another week or two.
    I look forward to seeing how both teams progress throughout the season.

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