So right off the bat, we have to disclose that in terms of football quality, the A-League is not as good as their counterparts in Europe – which makes sense as the A-League is only 19 years old compared to the leagues in Europe, which are over a hundred years old. The A-League is ridiculously young, and there is not much money available to attract the best players. Top-end Aussie clubs on the value spectrum are worth around $12 million, which is peanuts compared to other clubs around the world, such as Manchester United and Real Madrid, both worth over $6 billion.
But when it comes to entertainment value and the content that gets created from the league, it is well and truly one of the best in the world. Where else can you get a goal scored in a relatively small city like Newcastle nominated for the Puskas Award (FIFA’s Goal of the Year). Meanwhile, in the same season, a team’s MasterFoods barbecue sauce mascot gave opposition fans the bird?
It’s peak A-League and there is plenty of more moments like this.
The Injured Streaker
Back in December 2018, there was a pause in the Central Coast Mariners vs Sydney FC for a one-legged pitch invader; somehow, a man who had a full moon boot and crutches was able to sneak past security and get on the field for several minutes while the security, who already were feeling pretty silly for missing him coming on the field, tried to escort him off the field. Whilst the Central Coast Mariners brass band played throughout the whole thing – yes, that exists.
This adds to the whole idea of the Mariners being bad in between winning titles. Although many claim to support them, their recent match attendance has been lacklustre compared to their last season A-League title run. No, I am not bitter that the Newcastle Jets are mid.
Tim Cahill Seeing Red
Tim Cahill is arguably Australia’s best football player ever, with a career that took him to England and the United States. It wasn’t until the 2016/17 season that he would finally play in the A-League for Melbourne City, where he won the Football Federation Australia (FFA) Cup.
But his most (in)famous achievement is something completely different that took place against Melbourne Victory in the Melbourne Derby. After Victory went ahead following a controversial offside call, Tim Cahill was on the sideline waiting to be subbed in, where he voiced his disapproval of the refereeing and proceeded to swear at the sideline official, Chris Beath. Straight away, the official gave Cahill a red card before he was even on the field.
The football veteran was not allowed to play in the match and the City went on to lose the match.
Possibly the greatest moment in league history took place in the biggest game of the year. The 2014/15 Grand Final between Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC was a match that would be dominated by Victory who would win 3-0 and secure the title. But this isn’t what got the football world talking.
As FFA chairman Frank Lowy was about to present the trophy to Victory captain Mark Milligan, Lowy proceeded to lose his footing and take a massive fall off the stage onto the pitch. Though it looked bad, he was fine as the title celebrations kicked off for Melbourne Victory – but the tumble is a moment that lives on from that night.
The Greatest Offside Celebration
Finally, the greatest celebration of all time occurred in the 2016/17 season match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City. In a battle of attrition, the score was locked at 0-0.
That’s when Wanderers cult hero Kerem Bulut would slip past City’s defensive offside trap and put it past the keeper to put the Wanderers in the lead. In his celebration, he ran straight to the ground-level supporters for passionate celebrations with the fans. However, after 30 seconds, he turned back to the pitch to discover in sheer horror that the sideline official disallowed the goal for offside.
It’s something that needs to be experienced in video form. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1r_2rp4sDI)
The A-League is the best league in the world. Yes, it doesn’t have the money or football quality like other leagues in the world, but from all the craziness that happens here, it’s certainly the most entertaining.