The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Round 22 of the A-League

THE GOOD

– Having a pre-season game of Masters Footy in Collie this weekend meant I had to miss out on seeing the long awaited United v Victory game live. Yet, on the team bus of the ‘mighty’ Central Crocs heading back I noticed many A-League fans were guffawing over the excitement of the match with their limit of 140 characters on Twitter. Watching the replay yesterday I could see why. Like many other clashes between the two this match had everything and like many other clashes between the two it had United fans walking out of the ground cursing their team, their luck, and anything from the grand state of Victoria.

United were the better team in this clash but like many other times against Victory and other title challengers they didn’t take their chances. The game swung with massive momentum. United dominating before Victory would get one slender chance and make it cut to lead only for United to finally make it count right on half time through one of their Latin posse. Then they had the lead after sustained pressure in the second half that had Victory fans and players raging for a goal that was, according to the rules, not offside despite Jeggo looking like he almost jumped on to the pitch from the grandstand to join in the action.

United of course couldn’t hold it together and the chief tormentor of the Reds over the 10 years of the league, one Archibald Gerald Thompson, did it again with a supremely cool finish. The third biggest ever crowd at Hindmarsh were treated to a wonderfully skillful and dramatic game and added to a charged atmosphere that is a crown jewel for the league. Here’s hoping they will face each other in the finals at some stage with United’s Hawthorn V Geelong 2009-2013 like inability to beat the Victory when it matters being a major subplot. A rivalry that you could arguably say is unmatched in the league.

– This has absolutely nothing to do with the A-League and only maybe something to do with the Socceroos if they get drawn against each other in World Cup Qualifiers but Bhutan has to get a mention in some way. The country of around 700,000 or so has a national team that has about the same skill level and winning record as the Hutt River Province until the past couple of weeks. Now they’re a footballing dynamo doing away with Sri Lanka over two legs to reach the first proper round of qualification which means playing with the big boys in Asia for at least six games.

This is a monumental achievement for a team that has normally always been in the bottom five or so in the FIFA Rankings. They were also part of the documentary ‘The Other Final’ about a World Cup Final organised in 2002 by a Dutch ad agency to have the two worst possible teams on the planet play each other on the same day as the actual World Cup final in Japan between Brazil and Germany. This was organised by the agency seeing as Holland hadn’t qualified for the 2002 tournament and therefore there was less interest in what was going on in Asia. Bhutan’s opponents in this match to see who were the champions of who was the worst team in the world were the Caribbean minnows Montserrat.

 

 

If the Socceroos get them in the draw next month who’s up for an away trip? It’s only a county where they only allow a handful of westerners in each year to help keep the Bhutan’s unique society intact. I’ll doubt there would any trouble too. Ever heard of a Buddhist hooligan?

THE BAD

– The rumours circulating about SBS scaling back their coverage of football and offloading their A-League obligations is a worrying but not entirely unsurprising bit of news. A report in Fairfax also claimed that the ‘spiritual home’ of the sport may even offload their very valuable rights to the next two world cups after extensive audits of the station following funding cuts by the Federal Government. This means that coverage of the A-League on free to air TV may go to commercial television where it would probably go to digital channels and be given scant regard.

It also doesn’t help that the games that SBS have been receiving on Friday nights have been anything but blockbusters with Adelaide v Victory earlier in the season an exception. Fox Sports still have all the power and are adamant that derbies and the like get played on a Saturday night to link in with their Premier League coverage. This results in poorer ratings for Friday night coverage with the ‘product’ not being as valuable as it could be. Channel Seven will already be showing many of the major pre-season tours of clubs such as Liverpool and Tottenham so they may be keen. Then again Channel Seven purchased the rights to all Socceroos and NSL matches years ago as part of a Soccer Australia fire sale and deliberately put the coverage on their pissant pay tv station C7 in a bid to limit the coverage of sport as proven in an inquiry. It was great being a Glory supporter and having the team top of the league with games shown on a station that was in a total of four hotels/pubs in Western Australia.

Would they do some similar again or would Seven see worth in the sport now and make some kind of effort. SBS covered the sport for decades as it was a niche sport in this country with those on the station promiting and defending the game with a mix of pride, passion and tenacity that is only really appreciated by a wider audience now. With the success of the Asian Cup and continuing growth of the domestic league is it really that niche anymore? When does the time come that it outgrows SBS and their ever shrinking pool of funds to give the sport the coverage it deserves or does the station still have a place to show live games domestically?

– With FFA bigwigs like David ‘We’re bigger than Cricket now..honest’ Gallop in Gosford on the weekend the Mariners perhaps may have felt a little nervous with only just over 5,000 or so attending their game against Perth Glory. The crowd may have been a little expected. The club is going nowhere this season, rain on and off during the day, sacking their coach and playing against an interstate side but it’s very clear the community has lost faith in their one local side in a national sporting competition. The club will be staying in Gosford after signing a new deal with the local council to play all but two home games a season and it is now imperative that the club re-connects with its local roots to secure its long term future even though two games will be played elsewhere and the eye of the owner will always be looking South.


THE UGLY

– How about this weather? Another Roar game was hit by monsoon-like conditions during their game on Sunday and had to be called off when it did. Not only is Lang Park unplayable at the best of times even in dry conditions following the floods of 2011, but Sunday would end up in someone being seriously injured if it went on. The result stood according to the rules as Phoenix were leading at half time and that was that. Should the Roar coach and their fans be stamping their feet about getting a replay though? It was an important game, yes. Roar do finish well, yes, but it was clear it had to be stopped and the rules have been in place for a long time now. That petulance shown on Monday wouldn’t be really worth it if Luke Brattan or some other key player was put out for 12 months.

In most other places in the world the game would have to be played again but the rule is there in the league so most of the time cash strapped clubs don’t have to spend more money re-organising flights and other bookings to do it all again. There is also the issue of ground sharing with a venue such as Lang Park very busy at this time of the year with the Reds and Broncos both back in action. There is the counter point that Wanderers had to play in conditions much worse at the Club World Cup in December but then again FIFA organise that competition and FIFA, as we have seen with some decisions in recent times, are about as honest as Richard Nixon and useful as a marzipan dildo.

Roar have to move on though with a six-pointer against City this weekend. They have do it without Broich, Solorzano, Henrique, McKay, Donachie, Devere, Brown, Theo and North and will be hoping City will be more inconsistent than ever before following the Melbourne club’s upset win in Sydney last Friday.

– Every week there’s a baffling refereeing decision, but they have a week off this week with the linesman/referee’s assistant starring on Saturday afternoon’s clash at Parramatta Stadium with an almighty cock up. It’s hard enough to defend the offside rule to people that hardly follow the sport when stuff like this happens.

 

 

Not your best moment Sarah Ho.

 

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.

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