Welcome to football’s biggest week of the year and the countdown to the Hyundai A-League’s major day of history and heroes – the Grand Final.
Welcome to football-s biggest week of the year and the countdown to the Hyundai A-League-s major day of history and heroes – the Grand Final.
Everyone is talking about the Wanderers and the Mariners. Everyone has an opinion about who or what will decide the result. Everyone in town wants a ticket, but the “sold out” sign is up.
That-s another sign of the buzz around the Hyundai A-League in this breakthrough Season 8.
Each Grand Final is a story in its own right. As football fans, we keep vivid memories of Grand Finals when the rest of the season can become a blur. The reason is pretty simple. It-s not just another game. It-s intense, dramatic and pulsating. It-s the championship game.
In this respect, the A-League is building on the great traditions of Australian football that go back more than 50 years.
In scanning the footballaustralia.com.au website this week, I-ve enjoyed reading about classic Grand Finals of the past.
Canterbury-s success in the 1960 Grand Final at Hensen Park was a marvellous snapshot of a by-gone era. Johnny Warren-s farewell game in the 1974 NSW Grand Final between his St George and Hakoah was a stand out. The 1988 Grand Final was a star-studded affair with the likes of Graham Arnold, Robbie Slater and Frank Farina on show in a match decided in a penalty shoot out.
The past is a true pointer to Sunday. We can be sure that someone will emerge as the hero with a winning goal or a match-saving moment. There will be unbridled joy for the winners, bitter disappointment for the runners up. It will live in our memories for ages.
The Grand Final bestows the title of undisputed and worthy champion of Australia. It all happens in front of the season-s biggest crowd and TV audience. It-s our biggest annual showcase.
With this in mind, I must admit to being a little curious about the debate over first-past-the-post. Who would want to forego the buzz of Grand Final week and the exhilarating drama of the Grand Final?
I understand there are those with a view that what happens in European football is what matters in world football.
First-past-the-post is the way Europe-s domestic leagues decide their champions, but the “Grand Final” concept is not alien to Europe. The European Champions League final is basically a Grand Final. Same with the Europa League final.
On a global scale, the FIFA World Cup, Euros and the AFC Asian Cup are all down to one, sudden death match. Just like the A-League-s showpiece on Sunday.
My point is not to devalue the Premier-s Plate that-s awarded to the top team after the regular season, but clearly it-s the minor prize of the two on offer each season.
The stature and importance of the Hyundai A-League Grand Final should be enhanced at every opportunity. Sunday is our major day on the football calendar.
If you aren-t among the fortunate 40,000 or so holding a ticket, make sure you catch the live and exclusive coverage on Fox Sports.
I wish all the best to Tony Popovic and the Wanderers and Graham Arnold and the Mariners. Whatever the result, it-s a game that will long live in the memory.