Patrick Wood’s missed open goal for Sydney FC was just one of the weekend’s Peak A-League moments from football.Photo: Steven Markham/AAP
After all these years, it seems Australian football is no closer to determining where the top of the “Peak A-League” lies. Nor finding out whether, if you stare at Peak A-League for too long, Peak A-League will stare back at you; coping and humor that mask mischief and incompetence, until you forget what it’s like to be normal or, say, competent.
Because the competitions, men’s and women’s, were back in action this week, causing a series of calamities and setbacks that could only happen at Australia’s highest level.
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First, kit drama. Wellington’s men’s match with Western United was postponed after the latter arrived in town wearing only their green and black kits, requiring a mad dash to collect the yellow shirts from the Nix. Secondly, a stadium saga. The bus driver insisted on taking the Sydney women’s team for their match against Melbourne City to an empty field in Bundoora instead of the City Football Academy more than 60 kilometers away – despite protests from players.
Then Sydney’s Patrick Wood somehow managed to miss an open goal, and Western Sydney ended up with nine men in their 3-3 draw against Newcastle, paving the way for coach Marko Rudan to end his feud with football authorities and officials.
To celebrate a heady weekend of peak moments in the A-League, here are eight of the best from the competition’s history.
Chaos on New Year’s Eve, 2018
The scene was set for this bizarre evening when Tomislav Mrcela crashed into the post and broke it after scoring a soon-to-be disallowed goal, forcing the Mariners v Glory match to be delayed 40 minutes as a substitute goal was arranged. The delay was then extended even further as the referees looked for a second substitute goal for the other side. Then the delay caused the pre-timed New Year’s fireworks to go off halfway through the game. Then a kid with a toy gun in the stands caused even more confusion. And since this was Gosford, there was probably an osprey somewhere. To top it all off, an announcer and former Mariner, Daniel McBreen, was caught on a hot mic taking a succinct bow: “Can I say this is representative of the Mariners these days? Damn dog shit.”
Impenetrable borders, 2020
The ALM scrambled to keep the season alive as Covid descended on Australia, with the potential consequences of a significant existential postponement. Amid the chaos, Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City and Western United players were taken from their homes and given little information as they attempted to cross the border into New South Wales, only for fog to prevent their charter flight from departing . The next evening they tried again, but the plug was pulled while their plane was on the tarmac.
An almighty choke, 2006
Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory have always had a fierce rivalry, an example of this being the confrontation between John Kosmina and Kevin Muscat in the 2006-2007 season. Then-Adelaide coach Kosmina grabbed the then-Victory skipper by the throat after he was knocked over by Muscat’s somewhat unnecessarily enthusiastic attempts to retrieve a ball that had rolled under his seat.
The VAR is broken! 2018
In the ninth minute of the ALM grand final, Kosta Barbarouses scored to put Melbourne Victory 1–0, a margin by which they would eventually beat the Newcastle Jets to secure a fourth title. The problem was that the goal should have been disallowed because the replays showed offside in the build-up. The VAR would have picked this up… if it had worked at the time. Instead, the Novocastrians continued to dream of a world with functioning technology for their only finals appearance in the past 13 years.
The numbers disappear, 2018
It may have happened in the Asian Champions League, but because an A-League team was playing there, it still counts. During a 3-2 loss to Ceres-Negros of the Philippines in a preliminary match, the numbers on the backs of Roar players Eric Bautheac, Jamie Young and Ivan Franjic started to peel off. The club was forced to make a desperate and unhelpful repair with tape. Roar even went so far as to apologize for the embarrassing incident.
A silent rule change, 2023
At some point during the last off-season, someone at the Australian Professional Leagues decided that goal difference would be replaced as the favored tiebreaker on the total wins ladder. While it’s not an ideal change, it’s not a major problem either; it can easily be changed again next season. The problem is that whoever made the change apparently forgot to tell anyone. Not to the clubs, the players, the media, the fans or even other people who work in the APL. It ultimately came down to one eagle-eyed fan speaking out about the competition’s regulations in an attempt to keep his Wellington at the top of the league, which alerted the wider public to the change.
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The Tuba Man, 2021
One of the most enduring memes in the A-Leagues, Tuba Guy was the name given to a man who suddenly appeared on screen when the feed cut out during an ALW match between Adelaide and Victory. He sat in his bedroom clicking away, oblivious to his newfound fame, with a tuba playing in the background. Perhaps one of the purest expressions of Peak A-League’s masking frenzy, it came after a series of broadcast errors by then broadcaster Fox Sports during women’s matches, including poor quality picture and sound and a giant hexagon symbol placed over the footage.
A pissed off city, 2009
There have been a few infamous press conferences over the years – Rudan is currently doing his best to add to the legacy – but none have had the lasting power of Aurelio Vidmar’s infamous spray towards his own club and city after Adelaide United were beaten 4 -0 was defeated. by rivals Victory. “That 4-0 result tonight was political, nothing else. Whether you are directly or indirectly involved, you have an effect. It has an effect on everyone. Because of this dirty city, this club will never win anything until you get rid of that nonsense.”