In A League Of Its Own – Issue 6

Tom’s weekly outlook on the A-League

Crowds in the A-league are a worry. I’ll probably go on about this for most of the season, but they are getting to a near serious level. Last week, I went to AAMI Park, to see a popular, successful and attractive-to-watch team in Melbourne Victory, take on a team who had scored 5 goals in two games prior to the match in North Queensland Fury. Don’t get me wrong, but on a sunny Sunday afternoon where there was only one small AFL match on, you’d expect a good crowd, around 20,000 at least, to turn up? Wrong. A paltry attendance of just 13,000 ventured out at 3 o’clock to watch a brilliant match. I only touched on it last week, but some matches followed up like this as well on the weekend.

 

Suncorp Stadium was the venue for the first game of round 4, where Wellington Phoenix were looking to triumph in Brisbane for the first time in their history. After dominating the first half, former Phoenix player Costa Barbarouses scored the one and only goal of the match, and proved a point to his national coach Ricki Herbert, who refused to start or play Barbarouses for the All-Whites at the World Cup earlier this year.

Saturday’s first game was up at SFS, and after hitting the post 2 times in the opening half an hour, the Sydney fans would have been thinking that their team was going to grab their first win of the campaign. The first half finished scoreless and Sydney broke the deadlock just two minutes after the break with a Ryan Grant tap in, which followed a failed clearance by Central Coast in their 6 yard box. The Mariners introduced new marquee signing Patricio Perez into the game in the 53rd minute, and he made a big impact by scoring a penalty in the 71st minute. Sydney keeper Liam Reddy got sent off because of the foul, and the game ended 1-1 soon after. Perez though, is suspended for two weeks for a dive to win that penalty. I don’t know about you, but if it isn’t seen as a foul at the time, then why suspend him of no wrongdoings.

After I tipped North Queensland to not win a game this season and be kicked out of the A-League by the next, they’ve done considerably well. This week, they continued their goal scoring form, slotting another two. Unfortunately they were up against now top of the table Adelaide, who scored three for the second week running. Impressive youngster Isaka Cernak opened the scoring for the Fury in the seventh minute; however that was quickly cancelled out by a cracker of a goal by Marcos Flores, who chested it to his own advantage, volleying the ball in mid-air into the onion bag. Adelaide dominated the rest of the first half, but Fury’s Brett Studman, on debut no less, had a horror moment putting the ball into his own net in the 50th minute to put the Reds ahead. Adelaide made it three shortly after, when Daniel Mullen placed a headed shot from a corner kick. Fury got a consolation goal through David Williams 5 minutes before the end of the game, to make the final score 3-2.

Melbourne Victory registered their first scalp of the season with a hard fought 1-0 triumph over Gold Coast United at Robina. In a disappointing but physical match, Robbie Kruse opened the scoring in the 20th minute, eventually proving enough to get the Victory over the line. Gold Coast were peppering the Victory goal until late in the game, missing a few sitters in the process. Robson of Gold Coast somehow managed to nod it wide from 2 yards towards the end of the match. I can’t think of an easier opportunity to have gone begging, not sure if you could come up with any of your own?

Victory’s cross town rivals Heart hosted an in form Perth on Sunday afternoon at AAMI Park. I was there with 2 mates of mine, and we watched as Gerald Sibon converted the fourth penalty in two weeks at AAMI Park, to give Heart an early lead. Michael Marrone of Heart chested the ball into his own net soon after Perth’s first to level things up. Nick Kalmar scored a narrow curling shot from inside the area after Perth failed to clear from a Heart corner. Perth captain (and dog) Nathan Burns wanting to start a punch-on with Aziz Behich, turning into a push & shove involving nearly every player on the ground. Things turned even worse for all Heart supporters (including my two mates) and funny for most others (me included), when in the 94th minute Robbie Fowler (who else) converted from the pot after a dodgy penalty decision (like Patricio Perez, the man who went down in this case (Michael Baird) is also ousted for 2 weeks). This means Heart are still without a win, and as one of my friends said, if they don’t win soon, they might do a New Zealand Knights. Sadly, there was an awful crowd of 5,878 to watch this fantastic clash.

This week’s AAMI Park game is on Saturday at 5 pm between Melbourne Heart and North Queensland Fury. After 5 penalties, 8 goals and lot of excitement over two weeks, then I’d highly suggest that that sort of tradition might continue this weekend and I also recommend the stadium highly as well. After the game, head over the road to the Qualifying final at the MCG between the Bulldogs and Collingwood, but the A-League need the people more, so help lift the crowds, and get down there this Saturday evening.

About Tom Riordan

Tom Riordan is in his second year of a Bachelor of Journalism at Swinburne University. He loves all sports, and plays for Brunswick Cricket Club. He supports the Western Bulldogs and can be found on weekends among half a dozen others in Q38 on the top level of the MCC.

Comments

  1. i live in adelaide and the reds do get much more publicity than they used to and our home attendances have also improved but we will never be able to get the numbers for any sport than they do in victoria,much to our disgust.hindmarsh stadium has its issues,(parking)but it is a good facility and if the reds are winning more supporteres will come.

  2. Martin Reeves says:

    Tom – crowds should pick up but there are a few concerns at the moment. The attendance cap at Gold Coast games makes some financial sense, but will ensure the game won’t grow up there.

    Perth are tracking along OK, but need to keep winning, particularly at home. If they can remain in the top 2 or 3, and once AFL finals finish and the warmth returns, nib Stadium should fill up.

    Victory’s crowds will rise once the AFL finishes too. Some people can’t justify two major sporting events in one week. Interest levels at Victory may have waned because the same old squad is going around again. A rejuvenated squad could have piqued some new interest?

    As for the football I’ve witnessed so far on TV and at the games, I’ve been impressed. Keep patient and keep supporting.

  3. Heart are doing all they can to get established. Victory’s ticket prices are more expensive but they might have to respond to competition. Heart games are just $5 for kids in GA to an empty stadium with great seating options.
    The standard, Martin, has to be better than last year, which seemed a backwards leap. I only went to the lauded Victory game recently…dramatic but a pretty poor game.I’m not hurrying back, but I’ll agree that it is great to be away from that awful Docklands…now, if only AFL could leave there also?!

  4. Martin Reeves says:

    Crio – I’m no football purist and don’t mind the low standards of the HAL. I just enjoy competitive games, goals, atmosphere and some drama, and I find the HAL delivers enough of this to keep me coming back.

  5. That’s fair enough. I wasn’t trying to be a snob. I enjoy SANFL and VFL often more than AFL, and I’ve always reckoned 2nd Div in England offers better entertainment than the “top flight”.
    I just got worried at the backward step. Plenty of action this season already though, and i am glad they are trying to be tough on divers.
    I went with my son 2 weeks ago and he went with his mates last week. Both games have finished with the fans (and Tom’s already written on how few there are), abusing the ref and convinced that little techs cost the game.
    Good stadium. Want to like it. Will probably go again but am further back than 2 years ago.

  6. Tom,
    I posed the question earlier in the year. Is there a tipping point in Melbourne where there are too many sports and/or teams that stretch the local fans dollar too far, particulry given the costs associated with attending any game at major stadiums in Melbourne?
    cheers
    TR

  7. Definitely Tony, but the Heart prices are fantastic. Tom and his mates are going to AAMI Park and then over to the MCG on Saturday night.
    Before TV sport, especially FOX, we’d pretty much go to anything. Now, i reckon, we know what is top drawer and won’t often get fooled in to paying top dollar for otherwise. The second rate soccer tours and Aths meetings are good examples, as are International Basketball promos to kids who watch Shaq and co every week.

  8. yeah, i saw a photo of sa v wa sheff shield circa 72 the other day. Swear you and your brother were sitting on the fence. Then again may have been the forerunner of spotting you at cricket games you werent at….

  9. Tony #6 – You posed the question – How many sporting teams in Melbourne are too many?

    I was browsing the Australian Baseball League website the other day. They are re-launching in November almost a decade after their previous attempt at a national league(not including the re-packaged Claxton Shield of recent years)ended.

    The “Aces” are asking $140-$160 for an adult season ticket, which over 16 “gamedays” sounds reasonable. However the team is yet to finalise a home venue (home opener 26 November) and they play a number of their home games over the X-mas/New Year period.

    Tough gig, good luck fellas.

    MCR

  10. I’d have been there with my fritz and sauce sangas + raspberry cordial cheering Chappelli…not sure about the sibling.
    Back on the topic, Heart have to start winning and getting crowds or they’re in strife. It is a tough market place and too easy to just assume Melb people will turn up. that’s crap…look at North. look at the Shield! I doubt the Rebels are any threat but it is all contesting the same wallets and “hearts”.
    Most people are finding an A-League outing good value. I’ll give it another go some time. Tom and his buddies are fervent.

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