Victory v Mariners

Cup report by Talia Cerritelli
Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners

More than 4,500 spectators filed into Olympic Park last Saturday night to witness Hyundai A-League contenders, Melbourne Victory, in their triumphant pre-season win over Perth Glory; a result that marked much more than a first season, a first home game, or even a first win for this newly amalgamated team. Rather, it marked the beginning of victory for football in Australia.

For a pre-season game that many labeled merely a 'glorified practice match,' one with little or no advertising and no free tickets, to generate the kind of electric charged and passion driven audience whose cries of "Melbourne, Melbourne" drowned out the entire stadium, meant just as much as Archie Thompson's 60th minute goal that earned Victory the lead.

At this early stage, whilst we are in the midst of a new competition set to revolutionize the Australian football world, it is very much a case of getting supporters through the gates that fairs a far greater accomplishment then getting balls in the back of the net.

And if the turnout thus far at pre-season matches nationwide says anything at all, it most certainly sets a precedent for what we can expect for the upcoming A-League season. One has only to look at the 8,362 strong crowd that the Central Coast Mariners drew for their pre-season clash against Sydney FC for further confirmation.

Adversaries of the A-League may have written off the new consortium as a 'plastic league' lacking any passion or history, but it is precisely those elements within the game that have seen Australians nationwide turn out in droves to spur on the new competition.

Perhaps the teams as a whole lack history, but it is the history that they are making that is of far greater importance. And no one can dispute the history that the players themselves bring to the new league with the likes of Kevin Muscat and Ned Zelic in the competition.

Meanwhile, the youngsters stir an element of passion into the mix, as the demise of the NSL forced many of the up and coming players to delve into State Premier League competitions for a season, such as rising stars Carl Recchia and Vince Lia with their move from South Melbourne to Fawkner-Whittlesea, resulting in a gain for football through extended local support.

If anything can be ascertained from the pre-season competition thus fur, it is most certainly this; there is a new era of football on the horizon, and Australians have embraced the game in their country and the league in their hearts.