A Stitched Up Pitch Overshadows Sydney’s Win


It was the 49th edition of the Big Blue, the sky blues v the navy blues, Sydney v Melbourne, NSW v VIC. This particular Big Blue was played at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Where do I begin?

The pitch was terrible and I spent a lot of time within the first 15 minutes, very concerned about any strong challenges. There were different blocks of grass on the pitch which looked a little like those patchy blankets you knit in Home Ec class. The seats are so far away that the every spectator should just go join the active supports and jump around cos you can’t see anything anyway. Then you’ve got the weird camera angle which if I’m completely honest, I’m a total fan of cos it was very zoomed in for my poor strainy eyes. Then you had poor Simon Hill and Andy Harper in commentary, comicaly perched up in a random grandstand with not even a soul around them.

But the game. The Big Blue is one of the most exciting fixtures on the calendar. Players can’t wait to play this fixture. There were concerns prior to kick off that both teams may hold back due to the pitch and just play cautiously. Thankfully for this prime time fixture, both teams were playing for points.

The first 10 – 15 minutes were owned by Sydney FC like Sydney property is by Chinese investors. Brandon ‘bangers’ O’Neill stamped Sydney’s authority early in the game by banging in an absolute beauty from outside of the box to open the scoring.

However, Kosta Barbarouses only 10 minutes later, had enough of the sky blues’ shit and equalised after receiving a lovely ball from Honda. Kosta finds the back of the net easier than I find the bottom of a packet of chips.

Both teams were playing with as much enthusiasm as me when there’s a birthday cake in the office. There was an amazing amount of energy, even if it looked like crap on TV and probably from the stands. However it was crickets (pun intended) when compared with the last Big Blue at Jubilee Stadium which was practically a sellout, a pumping nearly 20k attendance revving up the lads.

The second half began about as slow as TLL trying to use a camera after a few bevs with the tempo and excitement of a Big Blue starting to drop.

Victory continued to create a lot of chances but unfortunately there was just far too many near misses.

In the 75th minute we saw Terry Antonis fall to the ground in absolute pain. Nobody around him. As you watch the replay you see him fall awkwardly right on the seem where the cricket pitch relay is. Honestly at this point, I got really pissed off. I thought that maybe this deep concern I was feeling for the first 10 minutes was due to my current state as I’m still recovering from injury. I could just feel the pain that could be caused by an uneven surface at this intensity. the thought was making me feel ill.

We watched Terry Antonis attempt to walk off the pitch with the help of the trainers in an excruciating amount of pain. Even when the camera panned over to him 5 minutes later, tears running down his face. It looked horrible. The most painful part is this could have been avoided. It’s disgusting players are forced to work under these conditions.

And to put the nail in the coffin for Victory, Milos Ninkovic sends home the winner in the 90th minute, deflecting off a Victory player. Yep.

This game ends with a very sour taste in football fans’ mouths. It doesn’t matter who you support, you never want to see ANYONE suffer that mount of pain, never mind the recovery, the mental, the physical pain you need to overcome. Any injury is terrible, but an injury that could’ve been avoided? That is disgusting.

I trust the PFA to look into this situation, especially given Alex Wilkinson (the President of PFA) was on the pitch.

By Rose Valente

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