Missing real football? Well there’s no need to limit yourself to getting up in the middle of the night to catch Premier League matches, as Australia has its very own A-League. This year, new team Melbourne Heart has been added to the mix, meaning there’s now two Melbourne teams and the league’s first real derby. We called Hearts supporters group Red and White Unite for a chat…
How’s your first season going? It is early days still, but there are some good things to be taken out and some bad things. Some of our performances from home have been really strong. Some of the attacking displays we’ve had have been really good. On the other hand we’ve had a couple of really bad performances. I think we’re still finding out that part about what we stand for and how we are going to play week in and week out.
Were you a Melbourne Victory fan before Heart existed? Honestly I was never a Victory fan. I went to a couple of their matches, but I never had that passion or connection to them. When Heart came along, it was just the way they went about getting a coach who wanted to play attacking football and the players they were signing. It’s just a real football team. It’s about the ambition the club has, not just doing route one.
It’s the first time in the A-league that there is a genuine local derby… The A-League’s never had any real local rivalry before, maybe Central Coast versus Newcastle, or Gold Coast versus Brisbane, so for two clubs to be in the same city, it’s pretty exciting. I think a lot of the players are excited, to get that feeling that you win for your city.
You’re also a Liverpool fan. How high, honestly, is the A-League quality? I think in the first five years [of the league] things were just growing. The quality was probably equivalent to League 1. But this year the quality has improved greatly. So now I would say we are close to Championship. The movement, the pace, the passes, it’s a lot more technical and tactical. You can’t expect to see a match like Liverpool versus Man Utd, but we do have very high quality football here.
With all the football codes in Australia, can the A-League still grow? I think it can still get bigger then what it is now. It’s just a matter of decisions made at the top, how we expand the league, do we expand the league to certain areas, what’s the right decision footballing wise. More importantly if the football is of a high quality and the games are entertaining it’s just going to grow naturally. The important thing is that football stops looking over its shoulder at other sports.
A strength of the A-League seems to be that it is very unpredictable, for example with champions Sydney struggling this year? Having salary caps really helps. Having that makes the league unpredictable and ultimately means it depends on how the team gels and how the team goes with the style the coach wants to teach.
Do you have a matchday routine? Our pub is the Imperial Hotel (Bourke St). We rock up there every home and away match. It’s a home for our supporters, but we want it to be the home for everyone watching and supporting us, a place to go before the match, to start chants.
Is it true Jon Bon Jovi is a Heart fan? What happened is the club, through some connection, got Jon Bon Jovi to come on board. Obviously he wont get to too many games, but he bought four tickets that are given away each game to under privileged people.
Is he actually a football fan? I know he’s a sports fan. I don’t know how much he knows about football.
Hopes for your first season? I’d say finals is a definite aim. With the team we have we would be a bit disappointed if we didn’t make the top six. For me I’d like to win against Melbourne Victory three times. To get three out of three would be phenomenal.
How important is it to you that Victory don’t make the finals? When they’re not playing us, I’m not too fussed. I don’t harbour any ill feelings towards Victory. They’re just like any other team.
Yeah right… Visit www.melbourneheartfc.com.au for info on Melbourne Heart fixtures and tix. The next Melbourne Heart vs Victory derby is on Sat 11 Dec at AAMI Park.