By Max Grieve
Del Piero scored a free kick. It was really good.
Given that there is no definitive ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ in space, as far as we can tell, Australia isn’t really ‘down under’, is it? Of course, that doesn’t stop the headline writers referring to the country as though it’s clinging on to the underside of the Earth for dear life, or otherwise exists as a land mostly occupied by red dirt and kangaroos – and it is – and is altogether otherworldly.
Perhaps it is, because on Saturday afternoon in Sydney, Alessandro Del Piero scored a free kick , and Emile Heskey a volley (think 5% Balotelli v. Ireland in the Euros, 95% typical Heskey) in the very same match, on the very same stretch of grass. After a opening weekend that drew 42,000 people to the Melbourne derby between the Victory and the Heart, but disappointed when people looked to the stars, this was what the A-League was waiting for.
Those watching at home could split the screen and watch ‘Hero Cam’, a live homage to Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait; taking in 85 minutes of impish, darting movements, and five minutes of celebration and grace as the Italian scored in jet black boots – you know it makes sense – then went about being the King of Charm and Poise as Sydney chased the game. Heskey did as Heskey does; and spent his time on the field rampaging towards goal, rampaging towards the far post, rampaging along the sideline, and eventually rampaging – well, trudging slowly – towards the bench.
Did I mention that Del Piero scored a free kick?
It’s altogether likely that your interest in Australian football doesn’t go far beyond what Del Piero and Heskey are up to, but there are other teams, too. Japanese star Shinji Ono signed for the newborn Western Sydney Wanderers (a club with a brilliant crest and a Flamengo-esque kit), and will take part in the very first Sydney city derby next weekend. Strange as it might seem, WSW already enjoy an intense community support, and a sellout crowd is expected. Elsewhere, the Victory let in five against the champions Brisbane Roar, as current Melbourne ex-Brisbane coach Ange Postecoglou claimed his side had been ‘beaten by the better team’, the team in question being the one he took to the title last season.
The rest of the league is going along as it always has. What the majority of the A-League lacks in star quality and world class skill, it more than makes up for with a natural tendency to be violent within the rules, and an inevitable ten minute frenzy at the end of every match.
Also, Del Piero scored a free kick. It was glorious.