Dancing in the dark

On the occasion of my birthday, Sydney FC dimmed the lights and delivered a beautiful chorus of Bohemian Rhapsody from the Cove under the twinkling lights. It was all for me, I’m sure of it. Don’t spoil the moment. The only thing missing was a goal from Luke Ivanovic.

*Remember to swipe on the photos to see more shots

A Wednesday night game at Netstrata, not an easy one, and we had a 4.30pm start from Michelle‘s place. School holidays, so no rushing around as usual, but the traffic was insane. We didn’t get to Kogarah until maybe 5.50pm, but easily found a park and headed to our new favourite spot, the Kogarah Clubhouse. I don’t usually post pictures of food, but I reckon I made a cracking choice and with all the vouchers and stuff it was again as cheap as anything. Little did we know that an electrical storm was to push back kick off to 7.45pm, but we made our way to the stadium without a drop of rain and took our time at the Cove merch stall once the news was confirmed.

There was a decent crowd. Families were out in force with young kids. Just as we got in through Gate C and made our way pitch side, the heavens opened. Everyone without last year’s membership poncho made a dive for cover, and the Covid rules were on par with Macarthur away.

It was definitely a picture perfect night though, and once the rain eased and Chris had dropped off Rory who was doing the guard of honour, we made our way to our spot at the back of the kid-friendly and beer-friendly section next to the active support to enjoy the action. Steve and Ann-Marie made up our mini group.

Once the game finally kicked off, the opening exchanges involved Perth players flinging themselves to the floor and the referee brandishing yellow card after yellow card. Players made out they were poleaxed, only to miraculously bounce to their feet and carry on, not even feigning a false limp. The whistler didn’t seem to be watching the same game as us – the perfect away performance from Glory.

The Cove were going through a retro playlist of songs, which was great to hear; a bit of Belinda Carlisle added to the usual Bonnie Tyler classic and plenty of Melbourne barracking. The boisterous capo was in full voice, giving Michelle from TLL a run for her money after Monday’s top performance. There was a big shout for a penalty right in front of us that was waved away, while up the other end ex-Sydney shot stopper Liam Reddy launched himself to his right to push away a Bobo header from close range. There were plenty of scares for the Perth defence, and Reddy again made a couple of point blank saves amidst a big scramble in the box up the far end. At this point, there was a danger of Sydney reverting to the usual pattern of pretty play with no end product.

The second half was much better. There were chances at both ends. Luke Bratten didn’t have his shooting boots on, although one stinging shot through a crowd of players after a free kick looked on target until the defender blocked. The goal when it came was a simple move, neat play in the centre of the park leading to Kosta Barbarouses to break down the right and he shot quite early, the ball striking Reddy and bouncing under him and into the net. The Cove were in the middle of a chant and that was completely forgotten as the crowd went bezerk.

Bobo went close with another header that was brilliantly saved on the bounce, then we saw Milos Ninkovic and Bobo replaced, which brought Luke Ivanovic into the action. He was quickly on his game, going on a mazy run down the left to cut inside and slash his shot over the bar when it looked like his big chance had presented itself. Brattan ballooned one over harmlessly and Perth were hanging on. Ivanovic broke through again when *crack* a flash of lightning fizzed through the air and the majority of the lights on the stadium went out. It was quite a freaky moment. There was enough light for Ivanovic to score, but again he fluffed his lines and fired wide.

There was no hesitation as the thunder followed quickly, the referee guiding the players off the field with less than one minute on the clock. The lights then went fully out, evoking memories of shadiness from South Shields v Morpeth Town in the FA Vase in 2017 (look it up, controversial!), leaving only emergency lighting to lead the way. The referee them signalled the end of the game to a huge roar from the Cove. That’s when the fun started.

The Cove had been in full voice from the start, but when the celebratory Queen favourite came on through the P.A., everyone stopped and sang. Mobile phones provided the light. The main stand was lit up with shiny screens and it was truly a special moment. There was no chance of the players coming across to do the usual celebration, but it didn’t matter – this was a moment to savour in a concert-like atmosphere. The security guards came round and tried to wrap it up to shoo everyone away, but gave up when no one moved until the end of the song.

We just got out before the gate closed and made our way to the main gate to see who was around. Aurelia was in awe of Trixie Tagg, former Australia player and coach, a story of going several years unbeaten at club level at St George raising some eyebrows.

It was pretty late by now, so we made a swift exit, back to the car and out through the now deserted streets back to King Georges Road and up to base camp in Ryde. I have no idea what time it was when we eventually rolled in, but it was probably around 11pm. A great way to spend a special day watching my beloved Sydney FC. We’re now poised for an absolute blockbuster at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday. Bring it on!

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