Saturday, December 22, 2007


The Greatest

It was, quite simply, the greatest night of football I've ever witnessed. No adjectives can do tonight's Central Coast v. Sydney game proper justice.

Not, please note, the best football I've ever seen (not by a long way). But the best overall experience, without a doubt.

All the elements were there:

Great goals

Mile Jedinak's thumping opener (with a bit of help from Robbie Middleby). John Aloisi's classic striker's finish for the Mariners' second. Adam Biddle's fine run and deft angled strike. Brendan Santalab's fulminating volley, which was in the net before most of us had realised he'd even hit it. Enough to please any connoisseur of solo goals.

Brilliant saves

Although Matthew Trott was painfully slow off his line for most of the evening, he pulled off two memorable saves to keep the Mariners in with a shot towards the close; a full-stretch tip-over from Ufuk Talay's sumptuous free-kick, followed by a superb point-blank stop from a Steve Corica shot.

Talking points

Although most referees would surely have sent Danny Vukovic off, there is still that nagging doubt as to whether the handling was intentional. The Mariners fans certainly experienced such doubts, and Matthew Breeze was subject to all sorts of abuse from the western stand (where I was sitting) throughout. God knows what the reaction from Bay 16 was like.

Then there were the two penalties, another red card, a yellow which might have been a was heady stuff.

The deus ex machina

It always adds spice to the story when a substitute enters the game and effects a vital breakthrough. And tonight it happened, not once, not twice, not three times...but four times. Matt Simon's surging run won the penalty that put the Mariners back into the lead at 3-2; the other outfield subs, Biddle, Santalab and Adam Kwasnik, all subsequently scored.

Unlikely heroes

Incredibly, four of Sydney's five scorers were yet to register their first goal this season. One can think of few less obvious heroes than the peripheral Terry McFlynn, Santalab the eternal substitute, or the frail-looking Biddle. Yet the night's honours belonged to them.


Again, not one but two instances of this: Iain Fyfe heading Sydney's opener before clumsily allowing Matt Simon through on goal to win the Mariners' spot kick, followed by Adam Kwasnik sliding home the equaliser at 4-4 before his fatal handball in the final minute of injury time.

Crowd participation

The Mariners' best-ever crowd were hanging on every pass, and the level of support for the home side was outstanding. The Cove, too, were in magnificent voice, coming fully to life after the dismissal of Danny Vukovic, when it became clear that a major comeback was on the cards. By the end, the exchanges between Bay 16 and the mass of sky blue in the south-eastern corner of the stadium made for a truly spine-tingling experience. 17,000 sounded like 45,000.

Two work colleagues of mine made their way up to Bluetongue tonight for their first ever A-League experience.

They will be back.

Mike, Mike

On my own I came to the conclusion that this was the best ever. And I was only watching on TV.

Wrote my piece and then read yours.

Sydney should do this more often.
Well it's the first non-Roar game I've watched for ages, but there was no other soccer this weekend, so Jacob and I went out to Richlands to watch, for lack of something to do.

No regrets. What a beauty.

Biddle's was the goal of the match for me. Never noticed him before but had already noticed him carving up the defense in a Kruse-type role on the right before he scored. The goal, flumoxing a defender before megging the keeper, was just precious. I'd love to see more of him, but not against Queensland thanks.
totally agree.

I took my two young sons to watch the game. As the game progressed a larger crowd developed.

What a game.

Okay it had bad defence but so what.

I would watch this over and over again.

Kossie knew more about playing a ten man team than Aussie Guus!!!
The defense was a joke though it has to be said, the positioning of the players was terrible.. honestly if you do that in a higher competition you are just gonna get run over..

Nevertheless a great game, very exciting for the fans... Biddle was excellent i thought, needs to show more of that stuff..

However The Reffing was shocking...

The amount of physical challenges that are allowed to pass is an absolute joke. No wonder our league is one of the dirtiest in the world....

Dean Heffernan was ruthless at times, i remember seeing him run in full force to make a sliding tackle.. i knew straight away it would be a foul.. but honestly it couldve been a straight red....

Unfortunately for him, he copped a broken leg as well... that was pretty bad i have to say...
let us be honest in the great games the defence is never flass purely because the attack is so outstanding.
Mike - a little birdie tells me that most referees on the Australia-wide referees forum (yes, they are geeks much like the rest of us) would have given Vuko a yellow. The Kwasnik one divides the forum a little more...

It is an open forum, but the trick is to know which of the users are refs... ANYWAY - hope everyone is having a safe and happy Christmas!
Hey Mikey,
That's the first game my dad has been at since Sweden played Germany in 1958. He enjoyed it ;-)
...Hey Mikey,
That's the first game my dad has been at since Sweden played Germany in 1958. He enjoyed it ;-)...

Good to hear it, Mags! Nice to meet your dad again, BTW.
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