With the exit of Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC from the Asian Championship there is now pause to review the season just passed. The standard of the A-League continues to improve and Adelaide United’s fantastic win at a red adorned and packed Adelaide Oval would suggest all is he well with the A-League crowds. It is, of course, a chimera. Home and away crowds remain poor given the millions of alleged soccer supporters in this country.
Visiting EPL and European club sides will draw massive crowds playing inconsequential exhibition games yet large vacant gaps mark the stands at most A-League games. As a Victory fan and one who has been to most home games since Season 2 I am continually disappointed by the small turnouts and, yes, 20,000 in a 29,000 seat stadium is a poor turnout when the MCG draws 50,000 + watching a game of AFL. 11,000 to Archie Thompson’s last appearance in the Big V was a bummer – even for a Tuesday night.
A highlights reel of the A-League will reveal it as every bit as exciting as any foreign competitions even if not as technically proficient. Yet I have met Australian Liverpool fans who crammed into the MCG, who left beaming and gave glowing accounts of the atmosphere and when asked if they attend A-League games responded with a sneering “Why would I watch that shit?”
I’ve met young blokes with not an ounce of Spanish blood claim they are Barcelona supporters. “Why don’t you go to an A-League game?” “I’d rather watch Messi on TV”.
Tens of thousands of Greeks will flood Ethiad Stadium in a few weeks but few of them attend the A-League and they certainly don’t go to South Melbourne games!
I have watched the Australian national team play early World cup qualifiers to near empty houses because the Australian sporting and soccer public don’t rate the games unless there is an immediate pending outcome.
I’ve met people who say they go to the Melbourne derby match because of the atmosphere but not other games. Here’s the thing. The only thing that makes the derby atmosphere exceptional is the stadium is full with Melbourne Victory supporters. If those supporters turned up every week the atmosphere would be electric at all games.
I’ve heard alleged soccer supporters say that soccer will take over as the number one sport in this country. To that I can only say, “And pigs will fly” because until those supporters get their apathetic arses off the couch and onto A-League seats the game here is going nowhere.