A-League Christmas wish list: Common sense, Socceroos success and packed grounds
On the back of what has already been a bumper round of festive fixtures, it’s time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and share your wishes for the New Year.
How good was it to see almost 26,000 fans pack into AAMI Park for the annual pre-Christmas Melbourne Derby?
Sure, it was more spiteful than scintillating – despite plenty of goalmouth action – but it was just great to see the stands packed once again for a fixture with real meaning.
I wish we could see a bit more of it between now and the end of the season.
And since I’m in such a festive mood, I thought I’d share my top five wishes while I’m here.
5. Perth Glory to sort out their ownership issues
I’ll come right out and say it – I’ve been a huge fan of Perth Glory since their National Soccer League days.
I love their stadium, I love their ‘West versus the Rest’ attitude, I love the fact that at any given point of a season, you can guarantee Glory will put some east coast high-flyers in their place with a ridiculous come-from-behind victory – see Saturday’s 3-2 win over Macarthur as a case in point.
I rate Alen Stajcic as a coach, and I’d love to see the Glory put their ongoing ownership issues behind them and emerge as a genuine contender once again.
4. Football in Queensland to find a permanent home
Nine league games in and Ross Aloisi has already left Brisbane Roar. The former assistant coach was always fighting with one hand tied behind his back, with rumours abounding that he had no say in transfers and never had the backing of the club’s latest administrators.
With that sort of a backdrop for professional football in the city, you can almost forgive local politicians for feeling like the game is a basket case. Almost.
The simple reality is that football fans have been treated as second-class citizens by the state’s politicians for years now, and that Perry Park – not the impossible-to-get-to Ballymore – should be the home of football in Brisbane.
But it needs some vision from politicians and a united front to make it happen.
3. The Socceroos to win the Asian Cup in Qatar
Rightly or wrongly, Australia has always had a difficult relationship with Asia. And I’m not sure that Graham Arnold – with all his ‘fight to win’ mantras – is necessarily the diplomat to smooth things over.
But when it comes to the national team, I’d rather see them do well than make friends.
It’s worth remembering the Asian Football Confederation makes plenty of dodgy decisions of their own – their latest being the absolutely rank decision to sell off AFC Champions League Final hosting rights to Saudi Arabia (Danny Townsend must feel right at home).
There’s no way the Socceroos go into next month’s Asian Cup as favourites to win it.
But if Australian sport is littered with underdog stories, I’d love nothing more than to see Arnie’s men write another one and win the Asian Cup against the odds.
2. Some common sense from the Australian Professional Leagues
It wouldn’t have been a proper Melbourne Derby without some comical pre-game shenanigans, and we got it in spades when the Yarra End Collective put out a tweet claiming the APL had “banned” their planned tifo.
You’d think the APL would have better things to do trying to run a football league – not something they’ve had a terrible amount of success with lately – but in the end the Melbourne City fans unfurled their “We Are Melbourne” banner regardless and remarkably, the whole world didn’t stop turning.
We’ve already had one recent win with the APL agreeing to push back mid-summer kick-off times to 5pm AEDT.
Here’s hoping the trend remains well into the new year and they continue to display even more common sense.
1. Fans to start returning to A-League Men games
We can’t keep staying away forever.
Yes, the APL should have the book thrown at them for making Mr Bean look like a reasonable option as their newest chief executive.
But as ridiculous as many aspects of the A-Leagues’ administration has been, it’s also incumbent upon fans to play their part.
In most leagues across the world, fans don’t give administrators a second thought.
And with close to 26,000 fans turning up at Saturday’s derby, my No.1 Christmas wish is for fans to continue turning up – in Melbourne and Sydney, but also in Brisbane and Perth, and Newcastle and Adelaide and Wellington – to actually support the league.
It may not be perfect. But at least it’s ours.
And with that, I’d like to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Don’t forget to share your wishes in the comments.
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