The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Round 10 of the A-League

THE GOOD

-The A-League love promoting a rivalry that’s manufactured and ‘The Big Blue’ is probably the biggest clash still going around since the first edition at Olympic Park in 2005. Both clubs have been there from day dot and both two times champions. Victory and FC also battle over who can be guffawed over the most by the East coast loving SBS and Fox commentators. While the first clash of the season between the two was worse than genocide the second game on the weekend was pure gold. There were 6 goals, a cracking atmosphere despite the seats not being pushed in at Etihad and refereeing controversies ahoy (see bad).

The biggest stand out in the game though was the two old chargers both taking turns to take the game by the scruff of the neck and prove that they weren’t quite finished yet. For Sydney FC it was the Kiwi International and league mercenary Shane Smeltz. The 33 year old has been prolific to say the least in his time in the A-League until the last couple of seasons where he spent more time hanging out in Leederville cafes injured rather than putting them away for Perth Glory. Glory dumped Smeltz and got in Andy Keogh in the offseason which led to him being taken in by Sydney FC in what was his last chance at this level.

He, again, was injured at the start of the season but has finally found his feet with aplomb on Saturday by setting up Sydney’s first goal with a lovely (possibly offside) flick then scoring the second with a strong header from a corner that was backed up with a wonderful typically Smeltz finish just inside the area to put Sydney FC in front. He may be getting on a bit now and still have a haircut that was hip in 2001 but a handy player to have if fit. The headlines should have really been about his return to form after looking seemingly finished. Like during many years of the league though anything Smeltz could do Archie could do better.

The evergreen patron saint of the Melbourne Victory is now 36 and again showed he was star of the show on the Docklands. His first goal was lovely poaching after a saved Berisha shot fell to his feet. The second was a wonderful finish from the right and the hattrick goal was the best with Berisha holding off three defenders before slipping the ball to Archie who outpaced his much younger marker and finished well. What also made this so fantastic was his comments after the game that it didn’t feel like a hattrick when you don’t win and: “Age is a number. I don’t feel 36 and I certainly hope I’m not playing like a 36-year-old. For me it’s important that the team does well and wins trophies.”

It seems as though corner flags will be questionably molested by the #10 for a little while longer yet. Someone who is any fan of any club in the league can’t help but admire the way Archie has set the league alight since the start.

THE BAD -Whilst it was an exciting match there was still room for the now sadly obligatory referee clusterf*ck. There was the first Sydney FC goal that really should’ve been called offside as good as Smeltz’s flick on to Janko was but that was nothing compared to what was to happen 10 minutes after this goal. On 24 minutes Mark Milligan ran through young Sydney FC star Terry Antonis as the latter waited for the ball to bounce up in the middle of the park.

The referee blew for a foul but took no further action despite Antonis immediately going to ground bleeding from his face. Replays showed Milligan had led in with an elbow and cracked the 21 year old on the cheek that would get a few weeks in that other sport played at Etihad. Amazingly Peter Green didn’t even book Milligan despite being in full view of the incident. For all the whining Graeme Arnold does he was more than justified this time around in sticking up for Antonis. This incident will now test to see what the MRP will do seeing as no card being awarded meant the panel have a right to dish out their own punishment.

Surely at least two matches will be the ban for the Victory captain but then again that loses him game time before the Asian Cup (of which he will no doubt be in the starting XI for Australia). Another incident involving poor officiating which the league doesn’t need. -Another incident from the big clash on Saturday was in the final seconds that resulted in veteran attacking midfielder Nick Carle injuring his ACL and thus putting him out for a year. While never the big star he had the potential to be he was an exceptional talent and now the Latin Freddie Mercury lookalike is probably done as an A-League player. His initial brilliance in the final days of the NSL unfortunately never transcended to the Socceroos post-2006 with Carle deciding to go to the more rough and tumble English championship rather than somewhere on the continent that could’ve embraced his flamboyant skill. A sad end.

THE UGLY -When you think of Morocco you don’t really think of rain unless that’s who Toto were on about in one their smooth FM classics ‘Africa’. Western Sydney Wanderers probably didn’t know this either but a torrential downpour pretty much ruined another appearance on the world stage for Wanderers representing those of us back home. In 99% of the time anywhere else in the world the game would’ve been called off but with a TV contracts signed and a tight schedule FIFA did no such thing with the game being a complete farce.

Wanderers got within minutes of going through to the semi finals to face Real Madrid but had their dreams dashed by a late penalty, poor officiating and quite simply running out of the luck that saw them make history a couple of months ago. Popovic was right to criticise the fact the refereeing was like someone work experience but now has to get his team back in to the groove that has made them so successful thus far. Since the ACL win he’s pointed at that as an excuse for their poor A-League form and that can only go so far.
-Whilst I love the world Tolkien created I even had admiration for the bastardised version of The Hobbit that Peter Jackson had done.

Yet, the cross-promotion in Auckland between the movie studio and the Wellington Phoenix was nothing short of abominable when it came to the shirt Phoenix wore on Saturday afternoon for their game with Central Coast. Whilst I can’t really talk supporting a club that originally had purple and orange as its colours it was like the Phoenix almost deserved to drop points against the Mariners for wearing something that looks like you’d find in Vinnies Shop 6 months from now and the words ‘darts club’ embroidered or printed somewhere. Another crass move in the A-League by a club looking for a quick buck. Good thing the opposition didn’t have their hot pink third strip on.

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Comments

  1. Great stuff Dennis.

    I thought Peter Green’s officiating on Friday night was beyond terrible. I’d reckon there was only four people out the 25,000 at the game who didn’t see Milligan whack Antonis. Sadly they were the only four people who count. How none of them saw the contact is still beyond me… (and I’m a Victory fan, FWIW).

    And nothing good ever happens in one-off promotional kits – as Wellington learnt on Sunday.

  2. Enjoying your pieces, pal.

    Good to get a perspective from across the Nullabor for a change…

    Also, I noticed Simon Hill trekked it over to Perth for a game the other week to make a right mockery of your ‘East coast loving SBS and Fox commentators’ remark.

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