It wasn’t the case last year, but thank God for the A-League for helping we footy tragics get through the off season.
The countdown has started to the kick off of the 2013 NRL and AFL season - the major winter/football codes in this wide brown land - but to me at least it feels like there isn’t the sense of urgency to get to week one.
And it’s all down to some incredible Australian club soccer in the A-League.
More specifically, the excitement has been created , mainly, by new chums Western Sydney Wanderers, whose fans are something else. It may not have actually helped deliver more wins at Parramatta Stadium, but emotionally, the passion and enthusiasm of the Wanderers black and red army has surely fortified their players during the first 17 rounds of the A-League. It’s part of the reason they are in fourth place and tipped to earn a home final.
I played a bit sport in my younger days and I remember how even a small but vocal crowd would lift us, especially if we were behind on the scoreboard. I am talking about a few hundred mildly enthusiastic supporters, whereas the Wanderers players have the benefit of close to 10,000 fans being very, very vocal through the entire 90 minutes.
Other A-League highlights so far have been the rise and rise of Melbourne Victory, who play a beautiful style of football and will surely threaten for the title in May.
Individuals who are a joy to watch are Tomas Rogic, who at 19 reminds me of a young Harry Kewell, but hugely more talented. Unfortunately, Rogic is off to sunny Glasgow to put on the Celtic jumper in the Scottish Premier League. Wrong move in my opinion. He is good enough for one of the top ten clubs in the English Premier League and his people should have insisted on that or nothing. Staying at the Central Coast Mariners until the end of this season would not have hurt either. The Mariners coach, former Socceroo Graham Arnold, along with Victory’s Ange Postecoglou, are world class soccer managers who will coach our national team before long, they are that good.
So while the NRL is my number one club competition, thank you to everyone in the A-League for making the off season so enjoyable.
So enjoyable I have no doubt soccer will be on my ‘‘must watch’’schedule in the years to come.
I HAVE also enjoyed the cricket this year, the first time in many years, but maybe it was the rotation policy which grabbed my attention almost as much as David Warner’s exhilarating batting. I’d pay to watch Warner, but I can’t say that of too many other cricketers.
I even enjoyed the one dayers, but mostly that was down to anticipation of Warner being involved, so you can imagine how disappointed a lot of people were when he was rested for the first two matches against Sri Lanka.
FINALLY, the Australian Open, where the highlight for me was discovering what an insightful bloke is Lleyton Hewitt.
No, not on the court, as he was bundled out in the first round, but in the Channel 7 commentary box with Jim Courier and Bruce McAvaney.
What a revelation! Thoughtful, humourus, c’mon, you name it he had it. A real good bloke. Wonders will never cease.
The tennis itself was also of a high standard, including our last man standing, teenager Bernard Tomic, who is bound for bigger and better things if he works he backside off. No hard work, no reward, Bernie. Yes, that’s the other thing, he’s gotta change his name from Bernard to Bernie, with apologies to anyone lumbered with such a poncy sounding name.