This article was written by Melissa Muscat.
I couldn’t follow two more contrasting sporting teams. Sydney FC and Parramatta Eels. One arguably the most successful A League team the competition has ever seen, the other holding the current record for longest NRL premiership drought.
This article is by no means bringing down my beloved Eels. I am such a passionate supporter, most people know me first and foremost for my love of Parra, but if I’m being real, and I am a realist, the Eels have certainly caused their fans a fair share of heartbreak in recent times. The Blue and Gold Army have been patiently waiting for a Premiership win since 1986…that is a long time in football years. The most painful part is they have come so close, winning two Minor Premierships since then, losing the unloseable Grand Final in 2001 and reaching the 2009 Grand Final, defeated by a Melbourne Storm outfit exceeding the salary cap. Unfortunately they just haven’t quite managed to deliver that trophy to the score of members and fans who are eagerly waiting.
Sydney on the other hand are just pure elation right now. Fortunate enough to be currently riding the Sydney FC wave, they are the Australian sporting team of the moment. Their form is red hot with only two losses in two seasons, a Minor Premiership and Premiership win in 2017, FFA Cup win in November, numerous records smashed in the 2016/2017 season (way too many to list) and currently sitting on 50 goals with seven regular season games to go. They have also scored 3 or more goals in 10 games this season and are unbeaten in 26 consecutive matches at Fortress Allianz. For those who are constantly criticising soccer, this is the team to tune into. Not too dissimilar to my favourite sportsman, Roger Federer, when things are this good, you almost feel sorry for the opponent and can sometimes take the wins for granted.
Sydney FC seriously make winning look easy, and anyone who knows anything about sport, knows winning and winning comfortably and consistently is definitely not easy. Milos Ninkovic, Adrian Mierzejewski and Bobo da Silva are quite possibly the best attacking combination the A League has ever seen. For me previously it had been Brisbane Roar’s Besart Berisha and Thomas Broich. Whilst these three players are magnificent in their own right I’m also a true believer of coaching/leadership playing a huge part in a team’s success. I believe this to be true in the teaching profession as well. A great leader can turn average to greatness. Sydney FC are living proof of this. I was critical of Bobo in the opening rounds this season and admittedly he has received some amazing service from Ninkovic and Mierzejewski, but his finishing has definitely improved and he is the current leading goal scorer in the competition, sitting on 20 goals in 20 games. Similarly with Goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne. His progress has improved leaps and bounds since joining Sydney FC. He received criticism whilst at Western Sydney but Graham Arnold, John Crawley and the coaching staff have turned things around quite dramatically with Redmayne holding a clean sheet for ten games so far this season. This has to be contributed somewhat to the coaching and strong leadership at the club. Whoever is also recruiting needs to be given a lifetime contract. Arnold and his team have done an amazing job in developing local talent and signing extremely talented internationals, not at the back end of their career.
Just like we can wait a lifetime for a Premiership (as has been the case for me with the Eels, I was too young to remember their last), we can also wait a lifetime witnessing such successful teams or sports people. I feel so fortunate to be witnessing a team like the current Sydney FC one. To be able to go to a game, watch your team and comfortably enjoy the match, rather than in angst and often despair, is a welcomed feeling. Hopefully something everyone can get to experience in their lifetime. I remain hopeful for the Eels. Given their current roster, anything less than a Premiership in the next two seasons, just won’t do, I know coach Brad Arthur would share that sentiment. The team is boasting with some serious talent and Arthur is one amazing and exceptionally driven footy coach. Hopefully Sydney FC can secure another Premiership in a few weeks time and the Eels can break the Premiership drought and ease some of the pressure off Parra fans heart’s.
You can’t win them all so I’ll definitely enjoy the current jubilation that is my soccer team Sydney FC, because as quickly as it can come around, it can also go. Nothing is permanent. It just takes one departure or injury for the dynamics of a team to change. I’ll continue to love and support my Eels, but I’m hoping they can ease some of the heart palpitations in the season 2018, starting in four weeks. If your team is not Sydney FC, either come on board, watch them anyway to know I am not being totally bias or wait patiently. If you only support a team like my beloved Eels, remember, tough times don’t last, tough people do.