Moments etched in time
There are moments from finals series that will remain as perfect memories forever
Finals football affords the opportunity to create a memory that either induces sheer pleasure or endless heartache. Moments that, if occurring in any regular season game, would be mused upon for a week or two and then replaced.
Whether the superstar player, the fringe squad member or the precocious youth, an individual can write their name in the history books and earn the lifelong gratitude of the fans.
As I look forward to this weekend-s games and the drama that will unfold I took a moment to reflect on previous finals campaigns and some of the moments that are still etched in my mind.
I can still picture Dwight Yorke, Sydney FC-s architect supreme. He dribbled deep into the Mariners penalty area and drew three defenders toward him. With sure touch and absolutely no hint of panic he refused to blaze away and waited what seemed an eternity before rolling a perfectly waited pass into the path of a most appreciative Steve Corica who buried the ball in the bottom corner. It was the winning goal in the inaugural grand final; created by the only true marquee player to have graced the pitches of the Hyundai A-League.
And who could forget James Robinson, the striker who hadn-t scored all season? It was getting desperate for Victory as the away goals rule had them down and out. As a free kick was whipped in from the left he held his ground at the back of the six yard box as all those around him were drawn to the contest. As the ball flicked up off the challenge at the near post it was almost as if the play entered slow motion. Robinson-s looping header angled its way over a helpless Daniel Beltrame and nestled into the corner of the Adelaide goal. It was the 92nd minute and the moment that altered the destiny of the 2007 title.
Then the atmosphere at Energy Australia Stadium on preliminary final day 2008 was electric as Jets were out to win through to the grand final for the first time. Having conceded in the final minute to go to extra time it was Tarek Elrich defied mental and physical fatigue to seal the result with one of the great finals goals. The ball was moved elegantly through midfield via Song, Bridge and then Joel Griffiths. As Griffiths advanced on the tiring Roar defence he saw Elrich suddenly appear to his right. After almost two hours of football the fullback dug deep and sprinted an incredible 80 metres. Then with the composure of a seasoned goal scorer he took one touch and smashed the ball into the roof of the net past a flailing Liam Reddy, sending the Hunter club to their date with destiny.
So, as the competition becomes cutthroat and the pressure builds, who will step up and become cherished in the eyes of their fans? Who will, this year, become the image you will never shake?
There will be someone and they-ll be remembered forever. I can-t wait to find out…
Paul Trimboli, is a former Socceroo player and now commentates for Fox Sports on the Hyundai A-League and national teams and is a regular columnist for Australian Football Weekly. AFW is available every Thursday from your local newsagent or at any Hyundai A-League venue.