The Parade College Writing Workshop: The Melbourne Derby – Melbourne United v South East Melbourne Phoenix

By Connor Pike


It was the opening game of the 2019-20 NBL season and what a great way to start it off with the Melbourne derby. Melbourne United, last year’s runners up, was heavy favourite against the new expansion team, the South East Melbourne Phoenix.


I have supported Melbourne United ever since they were renamed from the Melbourne Tigers back in 2014. Before this, my parents supported the older Melbourne teams that have now all formed into one team, Melbourne United, the reason behind their name.


It was the 3rd of October and the start of a fresh season for the NBL. I was feeling nervous but had high expectations for the Melbourne derby. I was going to Melbourne Arena with nine other friends. The majority of them had little to no experience with the NBL, meaning that they would support a local team. Now, because there are two teams, my friends were split between which teams to support. Half went for Melbourne United and half went for South East Melbourne Phoenix.


As a group, we caught the train to Jolimont station then walked to Melbourne Arena. There was a bit of niggle in the group as we argued about who we thought was the better team. As we walked, we made our last minute decisions for our NBL fantasy team and decided who were the best players in the league. We walked into the stadium but it felt like a normal game as it was still Melbourne United’s home court.


We blitzed through security and moved through the stadium. Our group split in half as some of us went straight to our seats while the other half did pre-game activities. I was involved in the pre-game options with four other boys. These consisted of photos and mini-hoop dunking. There were funny moments throughout this time as we had some bloopers.


After the activities, we found our seats and sat down to watch the intense season opener. The minutes counted down and the energy in Melbourne Arena rose. The announcer hyped up the crowd and told everybody to “get up on your feet.”


The game started and South East Melbourne came out strong to lead 4-15. That didn’t last for long as Melbourne United captain Chris Goulding hit a couple 3s to help them lead by one at quarter time. The majority of the second quarter was a stalemate but a late run by South East Melbourne, led by star player Mitch Creek, helped them to a six point lead into half-time.


During the break, we did nothing out of the ordinary – we got some food and went to the toilet. While waiting, I contemplated whether we would come back and win or lose to a new expansion team? If we came back, who would get us over the hump?


The third quarter started and the tension rose, but Melbourne United didn’t rise to the occasion. Instead, they lost the quarter 17-20 and put themselves in a tough position as they found themselves down by nine. Melbourne United fans started to become worried. Are they still title favourites, even after being down to a new team by a comfortable margin?


The fourth quarters started and those doubts continued in Melbourne United fans’ minds. They found themselves down by 11 during the quarter but, due to a quick 15-4 run, they were able to tie the game with 1:18 to go, 84-84. South East Melbourne went to their star player Mitch Creek for an isolation. The defence gave him space and he hit three to give them the lead. This deflated Melbourne United fans. I heard my friends who support South East Melbourne yelling next to me as they thought they had the game won.


Melbourne called a timeout which gave us all a minute to realise what had just happened, to realise the greatness we were all witnessing, and to realise that we might all have to watch five more minutes of this great game.


Melbourne United was unable to make a shot but, due to their desperation, were able to generate multiple offensive rebounds which gave them more chances to score. Eventually, Melo Trimble was able to score a lay-up to make them down by one with 25 seconds to go. This left Melbourne United to foul in an attempt to get the ball back. Melbourne United was unable to hit a 3-pointer to tie the game and that resulted in them losing the game by three, 88-91.


This result was unexpected and considered an upset. The most annoying part was that my friends who supported South East Melbourne had bragging rights over me. Overall, I was angry with the result but, looking back on the day, it was still a good night.



You can read more stories from The Parade College Writing Workshop by clicking HERE.




  1. Vanessa Fox says

    A well written piece Connor! I guess you can’t win them all, but it’s good to know that even a loss can provide material for a really good story! ?

  2. Nice report, Connor.
    Good to see some basketball on the Almanac site.

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