Who else has walked down any given street, wearing your clubs crest on your heart, just to hear those words; “No one cares about Soccer”?
As an A-League fan, I am certain you have a story similar to that. The god forsaken jokes and ridicule dealt out by those who don the idea that the AFL is the “greatest sport in the world”, just because we don’t pack our stadium every week.
If anything, that makes us special.
I have been a Melbourne Storm supporter since I was born. I grew up watching Billy Slater, I have signed books from various Rugby League legends in my bookshelf. I have attended numerous sold out, hard hitting, ear-ringing matches watching the boys in purple… but nothing like that compares to the 50% capacity atmosphere on Sunday night.
I brought a friend along that night. He’s one that has maybe been to 2 or 3 A-League games prior to this, mostly watching Southampton play in the early hours of the morning as his weekly digest of football. However, due to the passion, the singing, the quality of the boys on the pitch… I think we’ve made a fan for life.
In an intense match where the highest honour of Australian football was up for grabs, I have never heard a crowd that loud – that supportive of a club which the NSL diehards will call “fake”.
It is not fake. It can’t be. The overall intense passion, the tension, the love of Scott Jamieson as he took that penalty.
It is real.
My personal journey began as a 14-year-old moving to Melbourne from a town in country NSW, forgivingly not knowing a single thing about football. I had no clue who Harry Kewell was, who Melbourne Heart were, why Mariners fans were bringing toilet seats to the 2013 Grand Final.
The first A-League game I attended was the 5-2 loss against Victory, where Berisha and Archie Thompson scored for fun. I could have been one and done, “nope, City aren’t for me”. Instead, something more emotional took place, I had tears in my eyes for a club that I had never seen play before. I was already in love with the ex-Fulham man Damien Duff, the magician Aaron Mooy…
I was hooked.
Of course, we have had many more devastating moments than the former. One recently against Adelaide, I won’t dive into details but that one night in 2019, a chance at our second trophy – I will never forget. Pure agony. More so than when the Storm had their premierships taken off of them. More so than when they lost the Grand Final in 2016.
It was a cup. Not even the league. But it meant so much more than that, so much more than anything.
Throughout the years we have been given a pretty tough run at it; of course, those who believe the Cahill Conspiracy won’t believe it. Although we went out early in finals, gave up large leads at the drop of a hat, went through the hoof ball period that was Warren Joyce; it all lead to salvation.
It has been (and will be) talked about to death, but Patrick Kisnorbo really is the saviour that this club needed. He provides that final push that we have required all these years, to really step up and become the club our fans have known we can be.
Who knows, with these recent successes, maybe we can see the ‘Finals Fans’ rocking up to regular season matches too? Not that our City Terrace boys need any further help – they have cracked on with some tough times, expertly.
All that is needed to cure a tough day for me is to spend time with like-minded people on Twitter, to watch the replay of the coveted 7-0 derby, to go and kick the ball with mates. Trust me, it has worked a treat many times in the past.
This is a community.
This is heart.
This is my club.