There are derby games with a great history behind them in almost every country in the world where football is played. After the latest in the very short derby history of South Melbourne and Carlton - last year's Grand Finalists in Carlton's inaugural EC season - Melbourne is fashioning a credible derby tradition of its own.
At Bob Jane Stadium on Sunday, Carlton raced to a stunning two goal lead within eleven minutes. Joe Tricarico netted from close in at the fourth minute after Michael Petkovic could only tip an Andrew Marth chip attempt, and David Cervinski with a brave header just seven minutes later in play involving Tricarico, Alex Moriera, and Andy Vlahos following a corner.
South Melbourne was rocking, but drew on inner strengths to claw its way back into the match.
The signs were there. On the quarter-hour Goran Lozanovski placed a through ball for Vaughan Coveny who beat Dean Anastasiadis, but the Kiwi's shot rebounded from the far post into safety. Just a minute later South Melbourne had reduced the deficit when Lozanovski again set up play, launching a cross which Michael Curcija met with his head, outjumping Cervinski. The ball had gone over the goal-line after hitting the far post, but Paul Trimboli was there to make sure in case the referee had not seen it.
After taking so much responsibility for the supply, Lozanovski decided that he'd prefer taking the direct credit and found the ball at his feet in the six-yard box following Coveny's chip which Andrew Marth managed to get his head to, but only sufficiently to direct it Lozanovski's way.
It was now 2-2 and the game was not a quarter gone.
Fortune had now shifted strongly in South's favour. And South might thank fortune for the incident leading to the free kick that gave them the lead for the first time just on the half-hour. Sean Douglas was penalised for a handball 25 metres out that he would claim was not deliberate. Free kicks in this range had last season been the preserve of Con Boutsianis, now a Perth Glory player. But Lozanovski had always been a second option, and showed why. His free-kick found the top right corner of the goal leaving Anastasiadis grasping air.
Lubo Lapsanski equalised after 41 minutes and with a goal from greater range. Marco Bresciano had supplied a ball and Lapsanski saw he had the full width of the goal to aim at, launching a fierce drive from almost 30 metres. Michael Petkovic looked to have covered the expected line of flight but watched helplessly as it bounced in front of him, took an odd hop, and so bounced higher than the area he was covering.
This remarkable half was still not done. In added time, Coveny restored South's lead after accepting a pass from Tansel Baser who had taken an advanced position, twisted past the marking attentions of Cervinski and struck home from close to Anastasiadis.
The crowd, as well as the players, were entitled to regard half-time as break well earned.
By contrast, the second half was a less entertaining affair. It was as if both sets of players had returned to the pitch, looked at the scoreboard recording a seven goal first period, and been daunted by the prospect of living up to that reputation.
Carlton captain Marth was dismissed, not for the first time this season since crossing from Melbourne Knights and assuming the captaincy, for his second bookable offence in the 72nd minute. This left Carlton still a goal down, and now a player short.
But Carlton hearts didn't sink, and their reward was the final goal and equaliser after Vlahos scored from a move involving Cervinski and Bresciano with just five minutes left to play.