It all comes down to this. Perth Glory hosting Sydney FC at the brand new Optus Stadium in front of a record 56,000+ spectators. Most spectators in attendance were used to around 200 goals per match. Boy were they in for a shock.
A quick recap, Perth Glory’s last match went all the way to penalty’s and Sydney annihilated Melbourne Victory with a 6-1 ‘victory’.
The city of Perth really turned it on in the lead up. With tickets flying out the doors, every journo and politician in town suddenly bought a Glory jersey and the town was pretty much painted purple. In the meantime Sydney FC fans spent all their latte money for the week getting themselves cross country on that 9 hour round trip to the city that does indeed sleep.
We also have the battle of the coaches. Steve Corica has been (slightly) criticised this season. Fans unsure about some of his decisions and post match reactions. Whereas there’s Tony Popovic who has acted as a God-like saviour for the Glory. Gone are the Kenny Lowe 5-a-side days and here comes silverware. Popa now reaching his fourth Grand Final but has never won one. Corica, first season in the A-League, first Grand Final.
I’m not sure if I may be alone in this prediction, but I was expecting a high scoring, fight til the death with 1 v 2. Especially given 1 had played such sexy football this season. Glory did hold a lot of possession but as we all know, it’s not about what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it. Unfortunately, the Glory did not do too much.
A great mini battle within the park was the fight for the dickiest hair cut. Jason Davidson and Rhyan Grant were in each others grill for the entire match. Possibly the most passion we were getting from anyone on the pitch. But what pissed off Perth fans the most is the fact that Grant did not receive a yellow at around the 5th dirty challenge, which then forced a ring of boo’s around the stadium every time Rhhhhyan touched the ball.
It only took until the 23rd minute for Shane Lowry to go in the book with a nasty elbow into Le Fondre. Oh goody, a little bit of excitement to spice up this dull affair. Boy, did I have no idea what was coming hey.
In the 28th minute Alex Brosque finds Michael Zullo making a run towards the left who is in a questionable offside position however the flag stays down. Brosquey plays to Zullo who sees Le Fondre waiting in a position in the box which is as well placed as I am when I see promotional freebies given away. Alfie slots home the first goal for the evening*.
Wait no. Ref, Shaun Evans, suddenly calls offside. Ok hun, some clarity thanks. Everyone cheered but no wait they all had to stop as it was border lining a Bulut re-enactment. As you’d imagine, KGJ and his useless men in the VAR checked it out. Now just to clarify, I believe the VAR check over every goal or potential offside goal. Happy to be corrected. The VAR confirms that this in fact stands as offside and no goal awarded as they didn’t find it an obvious enough error to overturn. So the VAR instead favoured the non-attacking team by going with an offside call when they weren’t entirely sure. Someone get me a rule book hey. But I’m not here to pass judgement, I’m merely telling a story. The image is below, you decide.
Amongst the controversy, Bimbi (Corica) has pulled a Kurz and utterly lost his shit on the sidelines. So what does a fourth official do when you’re being a whingey little shit? He books you. Corica in the books. Cheers official, still goal-less.
So we’re back to 0-0. Well let’s hope this fuckery has sparked the players enthusiasm towards this FINAL. I feel I must clarify as I’m unsure if anyone on the pitch is actually aware. I mean, the crowd sure as hell is. I’d like to see anyone try and find any remaining stock of purple face paint in Perth.
Perth continue their dominance with no sign of converting. They even tried short corners. Although I personally believe the hatred for short corners should be exempt if you have Dino Djulbic’s head on your side. Absolutely nobody can miss him in the area.
The first half ends at 0-0 with Alex Brosque crying victim. Would you have it any other way? Yeah I’d want some God damn goals.
Unfortunately for absolutely everybody, the second half is more of the same. Many people took to twitter to express how they think this match is fitting for the season that’s just been. While I agree, can it like, not?
The second half was so dull that de Jong was carded in the 55th minute for time wasting. Who the hell time wastes at 0-0? Both coaches started to prepare for extra time towards the middle of the second half. Substitutions were made for the likes of Manchester City’s finest, Anthony Caceres and Popa bringing on Andy Keogh, who we were all quite shocked to see benched initially.
Rhyan Grant continues to piss of Jason Davidson, Milos Ninkovic finds spaces like he’s playing Jenga, Dino Djulbic continues to have a hard head and Alex Brosque doesn’t stop bitching. It’s like deja vu from the first half.
Both teams see out the remaining minutes which were only slightly nerve racking as neither team really looked as though they were prepared to make the difference, and we were on to extra time.
Extra time starts. * repeat a combination of first two halves but squeezed into 15 minutes*. First half of extra time ends.
Second half of extra time starts. Okay, there was a little more energy here. We see Santalab come on for his last involvement in professional football. Juande, Brimmer and Castro for the Glory, attempting to find the winner but finding themselves unsuccessful. And with that, we’re going to penalty’s. For God sakes Perth Glory, what are you doing to your fans’ health!
* cue ‘here we go again’ from GTA meme*
For some (currently unknown) reason, the penalty’s were already decided they would be taken in front of the travelling Cove end. I would safely assume it’s in relation to camera positioning/broadcasting but who the hell knows. A little shitty for the home team but that’s modern football I guess.
Liam Reddy, you’re gonna have to work for this if you want to win your first Grand Final. First to step up is Sydney FC’s Le Fondre. As easy as can be, he puts it home. Juande follows making it 1-1. O’Neill with a goal next, however Keogh finds himself unsuccessful giving Sydney FC the lead. Grant has no problems putting it past Reddy which brings us to Santalab. Santa’s very last involvement in professional football. This kick, right here. Santa goes for the Panenka.. And Redmayne reads the room, makes the save. 3-1 to the sky blues. If Reza scores, that’s it, they can get the hell out of Perth. Ghoochannejhad goes far right, Reddy does not. Sydney FC have won! Sydney FC are once again the owners of the toilet seat!
Optus Stadium breaks out into a sea of sky blue confetti and music of their choice pumping from the speakers. Perth Glory fans know this feeling all too well as they watched their women’s team earlier in the season lose to Sydney FC. Fortunately for them (not the great people that travelled) at least they had the choice of turning off the TV.
The season ends with Popovic doing absolutely no favours to silence the rumours that he is the Grand Final cursed one. As well as other teams within the league with their heads down, possibly all the other teams within the league ending on a sour note. To be honest I would say Adelaide United are probably the only team that actually finished off better than they thought they would. All whilst Sydney FC are once again on top.
So we head into the worlds longest off-season. The A-League is over. I think we all needed a break, it’s not you, it’s the FFA. They’ve exhausted us.
However, The Ladies League isn’t stopping. We have this amazing thing called the Women’s World Cup in under a month! There’s also NPL, WNPL and FFA Cup games to attend. See you all there!
By Rose Valente