Monthly Archives: May 2015

HANDBALL – Melbourne, Australia

Beefy & Rob headed out to have a look at the State of Origin Handball match-up between Victoria and South Australia.

The Australian Women’s team were also playing a warm up game before they head off to their World Championship qualifying tournament in Kazakhstan.

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FOOTBALL – May 17th – A-League Grand Final – Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC

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After the first game of the season I boldly proclaimed that Melbourne Victory would not just win the league but the whole damn thing. That was on October 10th. The final was 1st vs 2nd, and as the larger Etihad Stadium was pre-booked (can you believe it?) AAMI Park’s 30,000 capacity guaranteed sell-out and an hour before kick-off the scalpers were taking $ 300+ a ticket. It was a glorious Autumnal day, touching 23 degrees without a cloud in the sky. The atmosphere was building and the Victory fans made their procession from a local pub to to the ground en masse. This created quite a media stir too, who just love to blow football crowds out of all proportions.

The Victory’s recruitment in the off-season was unparalleled in Australian domestic history, but Kevin Muscat (the world’s dirtiest player) was still at the helm. They signed Albanian goal poacher Besart Berisha from Brisbane Roar, former French U/21 captain Matthieu DelPierre, veteran Socceroo Carl Valeri, Macedonian International Daniel Georgievski AND €5 million man, Tunisian captain Fahid Ben Khalfallah. In the end Muscat’s influence would count for little. The players won this Championship as in 29 games, I still can’t recall a game where Muscat had any direct influence on, or during a game.

What struck me during this game was the atmosphere. One thing about having the biggest game of the season at the smaller, rectangular venue is that the crowd’s noise will fill and bounce round the stadium. The noise was continuous too, right from when the players walked on to the field, right until they finally left it, half an hour after the game ended. The Sydney fans were a credit too. Even though they had little to shout about they were non-stop for 90+ minutes. There was a time midway through the second half where for 10-15 seconds the Sydney fans could be heard loud and proud. Within seconds, three and a half sides of the stadium sang as one and near enough blasted the roof off. Truly phenomenal. It is an atmosphere that the AFL just cannot recreate.

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Sydney were the form team over the last 2 months of the season, in fact they hadn’t lost away from home all year, but from the kick off their game plan was clear. A clattering foul in the first 5 seconds set the tone for the first 15 minutes. Sydney were intent to disrupt by any means possible, but that proved detrimental in as much as they forgot about any possession and allowed Melbourne to dictate. When Jacques “Lip Up” Faty injured himself after only 17 minutes, he really wasn’t adequately replaced which allowed Victory captain Milligan to run the game unchallenged. The breakthrough came through a familiar source, but in a very non-A-League manner. Absolute quality from the Albanian;

Sydney mustered only one shot in the half and that was literally with the last kick. Victory were in total control. The second half started and panned out as the first finished. Barbarouses could and should have made it 2-0 within only 60 seconds of the restart. Melbourne asserted their dominance for the next 40 minutes without really being challenged at the other end. On the 75 minute mark Janko had a header well saved, which accounted for Sydney’s second and final shot on goal. Graham Arnold and the Sky Blues had no answers and in the last 8 minutes of the match the final nails in the coffin were hammered home.

Barbarouses has been outstanding all season, only really outshone by Khalfallah, and deserved a goal in the big one. Broxham is at best a bit-part player who is lucky to be on an A-League roster. He is incredibly limited in ability but is versatile and every now and again makes you drop your jaw eat your words by doing something that he really shouldn’t be capable of! 3-0 was a fair result in the end and to win both of their finals’ games by the same scoreline truly reflects how dominant Melbourne really were in the competition.

The Victory take home the Golden Toilet Seat for the third time. And the excitement wasn’t finished or even confined to the match itself. The trophy presentation proved even more entertaining:

Luckily his wallet broke his fall!!!! Frank Lowy is 85, chairman of the Hyundai A-League and is Mr. Westfield, amongst other companies. It could have been so much worse and I’m glad it wasn’t. Lowy has saved and re-built football in Australia near enough single-handedly. Moral to the story being – don’t build fancy presentation stages with dodgy curved steps!

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Kevin Muscat will be lauded until he fails which could be a few years yet. Money coupled with reputation will attract very good players. Players will win the majority of games for your club. The A-League is not that strong a competition and it has proved to be firepower that has been the deciding factor over the years. Berisha is a proven Championship winner. However, the Victory have unearthed quite possibly the most valuable player to play in the A-League’s history. French central defender Mathieu DelPierre is absolute quality, in fact he’s a different class. I am positive that his performances will provide the blueprint for teams in the league to build their teams around in the future.

It was a great day, and one which is probably the highlight of my first 10 years following this club.

HYUNDAI A-LEAGUE

MELBOURNE VICTORY 3 – 0 SYDNEY FC

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