Having watched a couple of games on TV and talked to a number of people my expectations were not particularly high for the quality of what I was about to encounter. But then that has been the case at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon for the last couple of years.
First things first - who to support. Melbourne has two teams in the A-league, (I would say Australia’s premier league but as far as I can tell it is effectively their only league), the well established Victory and then the Heart, newly established this year and straight into the A-league.
I had been told that the right thing for new people to Melbourne to do was to support the Heart and it was that in mind that I approached the new AAMI stadium for this evening’s game.
A general admission fee of AUD25 entitled me to a seat of my choosing anywhere in the stands behind either goal and having arrived early I was pleased to find that once inside free copies of the local Sunday newspaper were available (presumably for those bored by the game).
Having not been quite sure how long the walk to the ground would take I got in early and had a beer with the paper as I watched the ground fill up. Or sort of. Because the seats on the side of the pitch are more expensive the two side stands were pretty empty although the stands behind the goal were hardly bursting at the seams. A total crowd of 7,034 is by my reckoning 830 less than saw Chesterfield lose at home to Burton Albion on Saturday.
Anyway the game – I should probably have know what to expect when the Heart’s main striker was John Aloisi of Portsmouth and Coventry fame. A synopsis, the Heart dominated the first half and took a well deserved lead. However the match stuck to the old adage of being a game of two halves and Brisbane (who are top of the league) dominated the second half, first drawing level then having a penalty saved before finally scoring a last minute winner.
The quality – decidedly mixed. Some decent stuff going forward but an apparent unwillingness to put any pressure on the ball or make any defensive tackles from either side. Also frustrating (but a well known feeling at the KC) was a general aversion by the Heart players to just having a shot when in a decent position.
Things were livened up somewhat by the core supporters directly behind the goal who were being carefully co-ordinated by a bloke with a megaphone and another with a drum into some chants and scarf throwing. There were even some supporters who decided to take their shirts off in the style of hugely overweight, massively tattooed Geordies. Probably slightly warmer here than on the banks of the Tyne though.
Will I go again – it’s football isn’t it so of course I will (probably to the Melbourne derby on 11 December.)