Experiencing the A-League
AAMI Park is the home to Melbourne’s Rugby League, Super Rugby, Women’s American Football and both Melbourne Heart and Victory football teams. That final use of football there is the British kind, as in soccer; the sport where you use your feet to kick the ball. Yeah, football. I happened to be in the very fortunate position of having friends in high places and managed to get my hand on a free ticket to see Melbourne Victory FC play Newcastle United Jets FC in the A-League.
After another barbecue on the Yarra in questionable conditions, sure it was warm but it’s summer now; intermittent rain is no longer permissible, I wandered over to AAMI Park with Sarah, Matt, and Matt’s Sister Bec. It’s thanks to Bec’s work that we were all able to attend for free and I think by the end of it all, we were mighty relived we hadn’t had to pay anything.
If I were a sports writer I would probably begin with some English bias and a terrible cliché. Maybe something along the lines of “Emile Heskey’s Jets snatch victory from the jaws of urm, er, Victory.” We took our seats high up in the stands where I was disappointed to find that Heskey would begin the match from the bench or would he lead from the bench? As the match kicked off I was unsure of who to support, the namesake of the team I claim to support in the UK or my home town in Australia. By the end I think I’d cheered for each goal and clapped play from both teams.
The first half started well for the Jets, a collision between their keeper and Victory captain Milligan led for almost the entire stadium to erupt in a call for a penalty. The ref decided he’d seen nothing in it and after both players had been checked over play continued for almost 40 minutes without incident. Nathan Burns then picked the best possible time to score; burying a goal at the keeper’s near post just before half time.
The game picked up pace in the second half with Victory applying the pressure and equalizing five minutes after the restart. A string of short passes freed James Troisi to fire low past the keeper. The home, and only fans, raised the roof. Chanting and dancing with their belief restored. Burns wasn’t having any of it and would appear again to spoil the party with another goal in the 66th minute. At this point I’m guessing the Jets manager though it was time for the big guns and brought on the main man himself Emile Heskey, who proved to still have a good touch for a big man.
Victory went looking for an equalizer and I feel that if any of them had bothered to look for the goal they might have got that and more. Now, I know I’m not a footballer and shouldn’t criticize but based on what I’d seen the kids who played on the pitch over half time seemed to have more confidence in front of goal than any of Victory’s attacking players.
The final whistle eventually blew with the points safely in the bag for Newcastle. Three goals and an Emile Heskey cameo was pretty good value for an afternoon out. Next up in my sporting calendar here in Melbourne will be the Australian Open next year where I may try my hand at some more sports writing!