Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Just Reward

From a neutral perspective, it was great to see a crowd of 32,000 turn out for the always tense Melbourne v. Adelaide clash on Sunday. But what was even more pleasing was that, for once, a bumper A-League crowd got the match it deserved.

Last year’s Grand Final, with its live audience of over forty thousand, was not a great advertisement for the quality of the league, in all honesty. Nor was the Melbourne v. Sydney game earlier this season, which, despite its undoubted drama and its five goals, was largely a display of footballing mediocrity.

Not so the match on Sunday. It was an absolute beauty.

The individual battles – Allsopp versus Rees, Petta versus Storey, Fred versus Costanzo – were fascinating. The contrast of styles, Adelaide’s thoughtful use of the wide areas versus Melbourne’s quick-release utilization of Thompson and Allsopp, was intriguing. The eventual winning goal was of the highest quality.

There were other memorable features about the game, too.

Robert Bajic was superbly defiant in the final half-hour, constantly blunting the Melbourne breakaways at the crucial moment.

Alessandro, for once, showed glimpses of his undoubted quality, causing Adelaide considerable concern on the left wing during his brief cameo.

Angelo Costanzo again showed why he is rated so highly by many long-term followers of Australian football. His unhurried, commanding display in the centre of the park could almost be judged the decisive factor in the contest.

Simon Storey, one of the A-League’s more under-rated players, provided a textbook display of the full-back role.

Not even the unsavoury Aloisi-Brebner and Muscat-Kosmina incidents could spoil the occasion. It was, as Simon Hill aptly commented, one for the purists – an enthralling battle, and one worthy of such an impressive turnout.

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