A first half hour of outrageous profligacy from Sydney FC followed by a game-changing referee decision signalled the end of summer at Kogarah Oval on Sunday. The football spectacle didn’t end the way we wanted, but the day out was another cracker in the hot sunshine. Remember, scroll left and right through the photos on your phone.
Fitting in Sydney FC and other football commitments is getting harder as the start of the NPL and local seasons draws closer. This should be a message to those in charge. A summer season makes sense. We don’t want to clash with any more football than we already do. Getting in late from a trial game at Christie Park it was a quick turnaround to seek Michelle just before 2pm. The magic of Google Maps had us in Carlton by 2.30pm, and in a prime car spot right by the Royal Hotel opposite the station. That’s where we met Bruno and Anna to sample the deep fried delicacies, a quick lunch and a pre-match brew before heading to the stadium down the hill.
We eventually made it in after being turned away at gate B, and armed with cans of vodka, lime and soda, we found a good spot. We’d been cooking in the sun all morning and it was bastard hot, so a shady spot a few bays to the right of the Cove was our vantage point for the day. The active bays were going off, there were a few Bulls in up the far end singing the same songs with the name Macarthur swapped for Sydney FC. The scene was set for a classic derby encounter.
As has been the case in almost every game this season, the pretty play wasn’t matched with devastating finishing. We had loads of chances, Kosta Barabarouses was played through but the ball was slightly behind him, and his shot was just wide, Alex Baumjohann smashed one against the bar, but to top it all was a chance for Paddy Wood, clean through with the whole goal to hit and he chose the goalkeeper instead. Just as we were scratching our heads at how this was still goalless, Macarthur won a corner. It was half cleared and some trickery on the byline teed up a simple chance for Derbyshire to drill home from close range.
What came next was complete confusion. Paulo Retre seemed to pull out of a challenge but caught his man with his studs. The rather picky ref instantly brandished a red to the shock of everyone present. Corica was carded. It was chaos. Sydney still pressed and should have equalised, but they were again guilty of fashioning great positions but lacking bite where it mattered. Half time and a shabby 0-1 scoreline.
Half time was entertaining. There were obviously a few Macarthur buffoons out in the street behind the Cove who were giving as good as they got, although declining the invitation to come and have a go. The dreaded sprinkler again interrupted the half time miniroos players, blasting into action as the youngsters ran for cover. A miniature Sydney FC fan in full kit then showed the fans how to finish, it was quite a busy break.
The second half was exactly how you would expect. Macarthur showed little prowess going forward after hitting the bar early in the half, and they were content with the single goal. Until Bobo came on, there was very little to cheer for the home fans, and once Milos Ninkovic was withdrawn late on, our fate appeared to be sealed.
The whistle was greeted with apathy. It had been a tough watch, but no one had left early just in case there was a late development. From then on, we had to make the best of the situation and try and turn our frowns upside down. No problem! Once we’d had a chat with Sydney FC’s membership king Shane, bedecked in his Bobo shirt, and unsuccessfully tried to get photos with the remaining players at the edge of the field, we wandered outside to see what was happening. Given the mood at half time, it wouldn’t have surprised me to see running battles down Jubilee Avenue. Instead it was a convivial atmosphere, a few fans standing around chatting, the Macarthur bus waiting for the players and the Sydney FC WAGs milling around for their beaus to appear.
The first players out were the ones who didn’t play or left the field early (stand up Mr Retre), Bratts was giving all the women waiting the feels by playing with baby, while Alex forgot his shoes and had to wear his trainers (only joking, sir!).
We had a chat with CEO Danny, talk of keys and ignition giving us lots of hope, while Aurelia was keen to get up close and personal with the dreamy Rhyan Grant, our number 23 consistently her favourite player and a top bloke too.
That put a spring in our step, and the day was rescued. By now there was no traffic whatsoever. We got to the car and with a quick U-turn were out and on the road back to base camp. A bit of a late night trying to catch up with all the things we were meant to do on Sunday, homework and the likes, but a thoroughly enjoyable experience. A dilemma for the next game. We’ve got a direct clash with a refereeing course. Something creative will need to occur to make that one. Stay tuned.