An amazing year for the Hyundai A-League with some huge stories reported on www.a-league.com.au. Here are some of the biggest stories from this calendar year.
Cahill signs as Melbourne City's marquee
It was hailed as one of the most significant signings in Hyundai A-League history. And it’s hard to argue with that.
City enticed the Caltex Socceroos’ greatest-ever goal-scorer to return home after a long and glittering career in the EPL, MLS and China. And boy has the Aussie legend delivered, as we were soon to find out...
FFA's ground-breaking new TV deal
In a huge boost for the game, FFA announced a new six-year agreement with partners FOX SPORTS, Foxtel and News Corp Australia. Foxtel and FOX SPORTS will continue to broadcast all Hyundai A-League games live on Foxtel TV, Foxtel Go and Foxtel Play as well as Socceroos, Matildas, W-League and FFA Cup matches as they are currently shown today.
And, in a separate deal to be negotiated in the new year, for the first time ever a Hyundai A-League match will be also shown live on free to air television in primetime on Saturday nights.
Cahill’s cracker lights up Melbourne Derby
In his Hyundai A-League debut, all eyes were on Timmy to see what he would produce in the derby against crosstown rivals Melbourne Victory. And didn’t he deliver.
Cahill’s jaw-dropping half-volley from 35 metres out couldn’t have been hit any sweeter, whistling over keeper Lawrence Thomas’ head and into the top corner of the net. Take a bow Timmy, as another of your goal videos went viral.
Mariners fire coach
The pressure was on Tony Walmsley after the Mariners picked up the wooden spoon in the 2015/16 Season. The last thing he needed was an embarrassing loss to lower-league opposition in the Westfield FFA Cup.
But that’s exactly what happened as Liam Boland’s superb stoppage-time lob handed the Mariners a 2-1 loss against PS4 NPL Victorian side Green Gully. Soon after, Walmsley was gone with Paul Okon soon to be in charge in Gosford.
Scott Miller and the Jets part ways
With a solid first season under the belt, new owners and some exciting new signings, things were looking up for Miller in the Hunter.
But not long after the club returned from an unbeaten pre-season tour of China, Jets owners parted ways with Miller due to “differences related to football matters within the club”. Mark Jones took the hot seat for the 2016/17 Season.
Ernie exits stage right
Ernie Merrick might be the most successful coach in Hyundai A-League history – the only man to oversee 100 wins – but things didn’t work out the way he would have hoped in Wellington.
After the side managed just two wins from the opening nine games of this season, Merrick opted to re-sign with assistants Chris Greenacre and Des Buckingham taking the reins in the interim.
Sydney Derby sets crowd record
What a way to start the Hyundai A-League 2016/17 Season. The Derby between the Wanderers and Sydney FC set an A-League attendance record, with 61,880 fans on hand at ANZ Stadium to see the Sky Blues prevail 4-0.
The figure surpassed the previous record attendance of 55,436 from the 2006 Grand Final between Victory and Adelaide.
Adelaide snatch Premiership, then...
In one of the closest finishes to a regular season ever, four clubs could still win the Premiership heading into the final round.
Sitting second, the Reds did their bit on Friday night by beating Melbourne City 2-0 at AAMI Park, before Roar’s 0-0 draw with Victory at the same venue 24 hours later ensured Gui Amor’s men would finish on top.
An astonishing effort after going winless through the first eight rounds but they lost just once more in the next 19 matches to be worthy premiers.
.... Reds clinch Championship
In their third decider, Adelaide United finally secured that elusive championship by disposing of the Wanderers in the Hyundai A-League decider. More than 50,000 were on hand at Adelaide Oval as goals to Bruce Kamau, Isaias – with a sublime free-kick – and super sub Pablo Sanchez ensured a 3-1 win. Cue jubilant scenes and one massive party in the City of Churches.
Sensational Semi-Final comeback at Wanderland
It was the greatest comeback in Hyundai A-League history and will arguably go down as the best match in the competition’s history (there have been other nine goal matches but the fact this was a finals game gives it even more credibility as the greatest ever).
Brisbane Roar were seemingly on their way to the 2016 grand final after racing to a 3-0 lead midway through the first half only for the Wanderers to come storming back.
Buoyed on by a boisterous home crowd, Tony Popovic’s men won 5-4 in extra-time. Incredible stuff!
New Wanderland stadium plans unveiled
The new Western Sydney Stadium has been planned for some time but late this year the winning design was revealed. The new 30,000 seat stadium will boast the steepest stands of any venue in the country and a standing area when it opens in 2019.
Goals record broken by Fornaroli
The Uruguayan took the Hyundai A-League by storm in his first year at City, scoring the most goals in a single season by slamming home 25 in the 2015/16 campaign.
Panenka’s, headers, long-range stunners – Fornaroli can do it all. Now as City skipper, he’s showing no signs of slowing down, becoming the fastest-player to get to 30 goals in just 35 games, 10 games faster than the previous record held by Shane Smeltz.
Unbeaten Sky Blues record start
Graham Arnold has guided Sydney FC to the best-ever start to a Hyundai A-League campaign in the 2016/17 Season, usurping the Victory side from 10 years earlier.
They’ve done playing an exciting brand of football, scoring plenty of goals and not letting many in at the other end. Could the Sky Blues be the Hyundai A-League’s ‘Invincibles’?
Bes equals Archie's goals record
Given his phenomenal goal-scoring strike-rate since day one in the Hyundai A-League, it was only a matter of time before Berisha got to the top of the all-time scoring charts.
And the prolific Albanian got there in Round 11 of the 2016/17 Season, his winner in the Melbourne Derby drawing him level with Archie Thompson on 90 goals from just 140 appearances. A sensational effort. Bravo Bes!
Mooy snapped up by Manchester City
Hailed by Caltex Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou as the best player in the Hyundai A-League 2015/16 Season, Mooy’s talent wasn’t ignored by Melbourne City’s parent-club in Manchester.
The EPL giants signed Mooy on a three-year deal and has since loaned him out to Championship club Huddersfield Town, starring as the club chases promotion to England’s top flight.
New owners for Newcastle Jets
Chinese investment came into the Hyundai A-League for the first time in June with the announcement that Newcastle Jets were bought by Chinese company Ledman Group.
Ex-Mariners boss Lawrie McKinna was brought in as the club’s new CEO is a major coup for the club, looking for some stability to try and get back into the Finals Series for the first time since the 2009/10 Season.