In A League Of Its Own- Derby Edition

Tom’s weekly outlook on the A-League

Ever since the A-League started, I have wanted to be able to realistically compare aspects of it to the English Premier League. Hopeful, yes, but although most is incomparable, one is now not. The standard of the games – incomparable, crowd figures – some teams yes, but on a whole, incomparable, reputation – far from comparable, quality & quantity of clubs – incomparable, a real cross-town derby – now, comparable. Thanks (grudgingly) to the inception of Melbourne Heart to the A-League, the City of Melbourne and the A-League have themselves a derby. But, typical Melbourne, the first ever derby had to be pushed back a week because of the drawn AFL Grand Final. So, last Friday night, the stage was set for the inaugural derby in the A-League.

Although it was a Heart home game, the support for both sides was strong yet even. Melbourne Heart started the game strongly, predominantly attacking the wings of Victory. This was a clever tactic, as Victory manager Ernie Merrick tends to opt for 3 central players at the back, with two wing-backs to vaguely help out. The Heart’s plan paid off just 10 minutes in, after Leigh Broxham lost the ball easily in central midfield and Heart spread wide where Alex Terra delivered perfectly to the run of John “I only score on landmark occasions” Aloisi, who nodded home for a 1-0 lead. It was then the Victory’s turn to attack for a while and on a surge forward, they won a free-kick 30 yards out. Everyone thought that Carlos Hernandez would shoot as he usually does, especially the Melbourne Heart defence, who were too busy setting up their wall and defence to realise that Kevin Muscat had played one of his cheeky quick free-kicks into the path of Robbie Kruse, who scored and levelled it all up.

After half-time, Melbourne Heart again put their best foot forward, exploiting the narrow Victory defence and delivering numerous balls into the 18 yard box from out wide. This again paid dividends when a high ball came over from the left, leaving both Gerald Sibon and Alex Terra free at the back post, the latter tapping in and handing Heart a 2-1 lead. There was still 30 minutes to play though, but Heart were all over Victory, the only worry was the amount of bookings they were receiving from the referee. The Victory sent in a nice ball of their own on a rare attack 25 minutes from time, but Carlos Hernandez headed the ball harmlessly over the bar from a mere 3 metres. Heart’s Aziz Behich had been in an ongoing tussle with Adrian Leijer all night, until Behich finally cracked it, tackling Leijer unnecessarily and picking up his second yellow to be sent off for an early bath. That provided a glimmer of hope for Victory, but they couldn’t make the most of it, unable to score any more goals in a disappointing performance. 2-1 Heart was the way it finished in apparently their best performance of the season so far. I might be a sore loser, but I thought that they won because the Victory were atrocious, yes they exploited a weakness well enough to score twice, but as I said, Victory were awful.

Even though there was just the one A-League match over the international break, there has been a couple of big stories that have broken out of North Queensland and Perth during the week. Fury manager Franz Stracka has been handed a touchline ban by FFA for dissent to officials, when he lashed out at the fourth official during their game with Central Coast last weekend. In the west, Glory manager Dave Mitchell has been given the flick, and replaced by newly promoted Ian Ferguson. Ferguson will now manage Robbie Fowler again, like he did last season at North Queensland Fury. I’m sure it will be a very awkward reunion for the two, as they had an alleged falling out at the end of last season, which led to many things, including Fowler moving to the Glory.

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.


  1. John Butler says

    Great work Tom

    In the wake of the successful derby, there’s been much debate as to whether this should have been the start of the A League season. The idea being to move from the shadows of the AFL/NRL seasons.

    What do the soccer officianados think of this proposition?

  2. John

    I don’t agree. For all sorts of reasons the season needs to be 30 or so games long and it would be a real error to have the finals after the footy season starts. We just have to treat the first part of the season as a kind of pre-season if that’s the way the punters want it. In any case there are enough soccer lovers in Melbourne to pack out AAMI if they think they will get something worth seeing even during the AFL finals.

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