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When Liverpool came to town

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Last night I was one of 95.446 people lucky enough to have been able to be at the Liverpool v Melbourne Victory friendly game at the MCG, normally the home of cricket and Aussie Rules Football. I say lucky because I almost missed out on getting tickets and was almost in tears at work trying to refresh the order screen, hoping more tickets would magically appear on the screen. I was so happy and excited when they did. The match sold out in around 30 minutes.

Fast forward to last night. I bought a ticket for my Mum as a birthday present. We were also lucky to get good seats on level 2A behind the goals so we had a great view up the pitch to the goals at the other end. There were many goosebump moments, especially when almost everyone stood up to sing You’ll Never Walk Alone.

It was a dream come true to watch my EPL team, Liverpool play against my Aussie team, Melbourne Victory. It was hard to decide who to go for. I was cheering both teams but was really proud of the way Victory stood up to Liverpool. It’s still around 10 weeks until the start of the A-League but Victory were still very well-prepared. That’s despite some of our best players playing for Australia, including my favourite player, Archie Thompson.

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The beginning of a 30 hour sporting adventure….Friday April 5

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Ever since AFL Grand Final Day in September last year, I’ve been looking forward to going to Sydney to see the unveiling of the Grand Final flag. Not long after the siren sounded on that magnificent, unforgettable day I committed to going to Sydney on this day. There was never a question of me not going. We were going to go for the weekend and do some sightseeing but circumstances made us change that to a day trip from Melbourne to Sydney. It’s only a one hour flight so why not?

Everything was booked and paid fairly close to the date. There was a risk that we wouldn’t be able to see Melbourne Victory play if we made it to the finals but I was prepared to sacrifice my beloved Victory for my even more beloved Sydney Swans. As it turned out Victory finished third on the ladder which entitled them to a home final on Friday 5th April. If all the planets had aligned in my favour I would have been able to go to the St Kilda v Richmond AFL game on the Friday night, Sydney Swans in Sydney and Melbourne Victory back in Melbourne on Sunday. Now THAT would have been a totally awesome weekend.

The soccer was boring in the first half after Perth got an early goal but towards the end of the game we got a goal. Being a final they had to play 30 mins extra time. Suddenly there was a lot of life in extra time but we got a goal early in extra time and managed to hold Perth off for a 2-1 win.

We weren’t expecting extra time so it meant that we were late checking in to our hotel in Tullamarine, just near the airport. Mum found a special 8 hour room rate so we didn’t have to drive back to our homes in south-east Melbourne then back to the airport. Our flight to Sydney was scheduled for 8.05am.

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A-League: Melbourne Heart v Melbourne Victory

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As far as Victorian’s are concerned this is the real derby despite there being a new derby in Sydney with the Western Sydney Warriors joining the competition this year. Archie Thompson later described “It was one of the best atmospheres in my whole time here.” It was his goal, off the crossbar, that sealed the win for the Victory fans. There were over 26,000 people at the ground (considered a sell-out due to the size of the ground) and it felt like most of them were Victory fans despite this being a Heart home game.

The first half was scoreless but a tough contest. After half time things really took off with around a dozen yellow cards and three goals with Victory winning 2-1 thanks to Thompson’s goal in the 92nd minute. All night it felt like Heart were going to take more advantage of their chances but luck was on our side and they missed nearly all of them. After he scored the goal he took off his shirt off and ran over to some Heart supporters who were giving him a hard time. For that he received a yellow card but who cares? The sight of Archie Thompson running around shirtless is enough to please any Victory fan. The fans nearly fooled him in to thinking the goal was disallowed. He put it back on but as soon as the ref blew the final whistle he took it off again and this time did a run up the wing to the cheers of Victory supporters. I’m sure all supporters were on a total high like I was.

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At half time a very skinny Santa took time out to show off his soccer skills before riding away on his sleigh to put the final touches to the Christmas presents.

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The celebrations for his goal occurred right in front of us, allowing me to take this photo. I’d have to say it was my favourite of the night.

A-League: Melbourne Victory v Brisbane Roar

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It was an often spiteful 1-1 draw on Saturday night at AAMI Park.  Brisbane got an early, and unexpected, goal against the run of play but then it was a tough, frustrating game for spectators and fans at the ground until we got our only goal.  Victory kept attacking and attacking but Brisbane goalie (and former Victory premiership player) Michael Theo made some fantastic saves to ensure each side got one point from the game.  Once again it is our defense that caused problems.  We thought Finkler had scored a brilliant goal to win the match late in the game but Theo pulled off another remarkable save to deny us.

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Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory

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This was our first game at our true home ground, AAMI Park after playing four games under an old contract with Etihad Stadium.  We have reserved seats here so don’t need to get to the ground until just before kick off if we want.  It certainly beats having to get to Etihad when the gates open 90 mins before kick off.

It was a good, hard game with Victory slowly getting on top.  With several missed chances for Victory to score, it began to look like it was going to be a tough, defensive nil all draw but suddenly a set play worked well and Marco Rojas ended up with a great goal.  Rojas is fast becoming a crowd favourite, especially with the Northern End supporters.

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Throughout the game we saw the stormy clouds rolling in from the west.  Sure enough, just as we were standing in the platform waiting for our train home, the thunder and lightning started.  It was awesome to watch but I was a little worried because we were a little exposed .

Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners

It was an exciting 2-2 draw in front of just under 20,000 mostly Melbourne Victory supporters.  The media and match day commentators have widely said that the first half was the best of the season so far.  It was a great contest and had everything you want from a game; goals, exciting contents, flair, and (unwanted) also one red card for each team which will have an impact for both sides in their next game.  I’ll admit to being totally biased but Victory had more opportunities to win the game.  The ball spent much of the second half at the Victory end and if we’d had players in front of goal at crucial moments we could have scored at least two more goals.

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celebrating a goal

A-League: Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix

It looks like things are finally starting to change and improve at Melbourne Victory.  Last night we played Wellington Phoenix at Etihad Stadium and beat them 3-2.  Although they were 3-0 with about 10 mins to the end of the game.  It made those final 10 mins very tense.  Even more annoying when a group of kids start hanging around the fence in front of us hoping to get the free soccer balls the players give out after the game.

Marco Rojas got 2 goals and Marcos Flores 1.  Archie Thompson got his usual off-sides but couldn’t buy a goal.  He was never quite in the right spot at the right second and could have scored a couple of goals.  He did have some great assists though.  The pace of the game was very fast and has shown that Ang Postocoglou has made the right decision in moving on some of the older, slower players.

The club also put on a tritbute to Danny Allsopp who retired two weeks ago.  It’s always sad to see one of the best players retire but I wish him all the best in the future.  He was presented with an award and walked a lap of honour, giving us all the chance to say goodbye.

Celebrating one of Rojas’ goals from an Archie Thompson assist