Stevie’s crock, Kisel’s shot and Johnny’s hot

Matt King/Getty Images

I had waited all week for Sunday, 5pm to come.  A mouth-watering encounter between my beloved Sydney FC and our archenemy, Melbourne Victory beckoned.  Fellow diehards were tweeting all week, counting down the days, hours and minutes till kick-off.  This match was more than just a battle for the Premiers Plate, a spot in the Major Semi-Finals and AFC Champions League qualification.  It was a battle for bragging rights between the two cities, Sydney vs. Melbourne.  First past the post, team of the season, best city and so on…

The weather dampened the mood at the start, the crowd figure of 25,407 was great but it could have been around 30,000 had the sun come out.  Nevertheless, the supporters in The Cove were in fine form as were the prawn sandwich brigade, my vantage point being in this territory (Bay 12/Row N/Seat 19).  Looking over at the other end, it was a solid effort by the Victory fans travelling up to lend their support to their team’s cause.  All they needed was draw.

When I saw who the referee was, I knew we were going to win.  Matthew Breeze was the perfect choice, he’s never afraid to show a card or make a big decision.  I rate him, he’s got balls.  The billing for the occasion went to Steve Corica, our retiring captain, but he would pull his hamstring early and be forced from the field.  He was gutted, we all were!

Czech tactician, Vítězslav Lavička, made a smart move in changing Karol Kisel from the right of the midfield diamond to the point to suit the entry of Brendan Gan, a fit but inexperienced midfielder, who played on the right.  It was a masterstroke with Kisel scoring a bomb, lobbing young Mitch Langerak with the outside of his boot.  This was Kisel’s second goal of the season and honestly, he shoots a lot but rarely hits the target.  Lavička later said that he dreamt of Kisel scoring.

During the match the Victory fans let off flares and incited the wrath of the police.  To be fair, The Cove let off a flare or two of their own but it had no major impact on the atmosphere and didn’t deserve a media beat-up.

What angered me though was the berating of John Aloisi; chants of “what a waste of money” infuriated me, probably because I’d heard our own fans singing this last season.  When Johnny scored, I went nuts!  He put us into this glorious position with a wonderful winning header against Perth Glory the week before, then goes and unleashes hell on Langerak’s goal.  Did you see that Kosmina?  Crash and bash, hack!

When Breeze blew his whistle it was such a relief.  We’d done it!  Winners of the league, holding the Premiers Plate and going to play in Asia next year.  The Cove went ballistic in celebration!  The rain held out until the end but bucketed down during the post-match presentation.  Frank Lowy, Ben Buckley and Archie Fraser were grinning from ear-to-ear.  Lowy was standing right in front of me, Buckley sharing his umbrella with his master.

Pandemonium in the streets ensued, car horns beeping, fans chanting, mayhem and stupidity a certainty.  What a great advertisement for the A-League (sorry Miron, you’re not wanted in this town).  There’s still the matter of the Championship though and we need not get too carried away.  The Victory are a class-act, on and off the park.  But something just feels right about Stevie Corica getting his fairytale ending.  I do love a happy ending!


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