Club of the Year - Melbourne Heart
Melbourne Heart have made all the right moves in their second year on and off the pitch and have learned from the mistakes of their first year.
With the end of the season comes the time to give out the awards for best player, best keeper, Golden Boot and the like, but I wish to give out my own award and that is for Club of the Year.
And for me that goes to Melbourne Heart.
The main reason is that they have done everything right on and off the field and that-s why they have won my vote.
In part this may be a result of having come from Gold Coast United, where everything was done the wrong way.
I would compare it to someone coming from a broken family and then looking at the lovely family of the next-door neighbour. Melbourne Heart are that lovely family.
The Heart get my vote mainly because of the way they present themselves as an A-League club and the fact they have had success on and off the pitch in just their second year.
Off the pitch you never hear of any internal disputes within the football department or the board, or even between the two and in fact they gave their football department the means to succeed.
There has never been a problem with wages or equipment or facilities, they got what they needed.
And they did so whilst promoting a great image of themselves in the public eye and are well-liked among all the other clubs (with the exception of Melbourne Victory fans).
The Heart also did everything the right way by the FFA, which for me is important because I have been on the other side of the fence during my time at Gold Coast United.
Arguably most importantly though, while some might argue that they haven-t captured the imagination of the crowd, which is reflected in crowd numbers - I would say they have, because the crowds have improved year upon year.
The Heart are winning fans by making all the right moves and that is reflected in their support base growing and them attracting more fans to games. This is a true measure of success, especially given they entered into the toughest market in Australia - one which is dominated by Melbourne Victory.
The Heart also showed they have learned to overcome their mistakes from year one and have shown their strength as a thinking club and I believe the Heart improved in all areas from year one to year two.
On the field I have to admit I-m a bit less impressed and not because of what they achieved; but for me...in a 10 team competition, to finish in the top four is an achievement, to finish fifth or sixth... it-s nice to make the finals, but I wouldn-t count it as a great achievement, because if you look at the teams in those positions their wins and losses are almost equal.
If your amount of failure and success is even you can-t be a success!
Having said that, I do support the idea of a six team finals series at this stage of the A-League-s development, having a final six is important to attract fans to the games while the NRL and AFL is starting, we need it and as was seen last weekend every game mattered, when it came to deciding places at the end of the season.
I look at the regular season and the finals as two different competitions. The Premiers are the team who are best in the long endurance run and prove they are the best. This year that is the Mariners and I congratulate them.
The finals though are like a knockout competition, like the FA Cup. For instance no one would say a Division One team, if they won the FA Cup were the best team in England, and I think it-s the same with the A-League finals, but the finals create interest and if Sydney or Melbourne Heart can win it from their positions, then it makes for a great story.
As for the finals I can-t see any other result than for Brisbane to play Central Coast in the grand final and that would be justice, because they are the best teams in the competition, between them though I would find it hard to pick a winner.
Right now I think it-s a unique situation in that the teams in third and fourth are both known for their home success and that-s why I predict they will both win in the first round, which means the lukewarm performance of the Phoenix in the last two weeks will cost them dearly when they have to travel to Perth.
And for the same reason, though Perth-s away form was relatively good this year they will not win at Bluetongue or in Brisbane, so we will have the top two teams playing off again in the grand final.