Up 4-0 and cruising against the ten men of Adelaide United in the 2006/07 A-League Grand Final, Melbourne Victory's Roddy Vargas looked across in disbelief at his defensive partner Adrian Leijer.
The deafening noise of the crowd made it impossible for the pair to communicate verbally, but with a bewildered smile and a shrug they asked the same question of one another: "what's going on?"
A top of 38.5 degrees celsius hit Melbourne on that day in February, 2007. It was the fourth scorcher in a row in the Victorian capital as Vargas and the Victory prepared to host the Reds in the title decider.
On Grand Final day it rained, Vargas remembers. With the roof half-open at Docklands Stadium, Vargas watched on as Archie Thompson score his fourth of five goals for the game in the 56th minute, sending the vibrant home crowd into a daze as rain slashed across half of the ground left without cover.
"This Grand Final, I suppose you could say from a spectacle point of view, has turned into a bit of a damp squib," said Simon Hill, commentating his first A-League Grand Final for FOX Sports.
"Talking of damp, the rain continues to fall, and as play continues they’re closing the roof at Telstra Dome, which should increase the atmosphere even further."
“Well, for the neutral it might have turned a bit damp," Hill's commentary partner Robbie Slater replied. "But certainly not for the Melbourne fans.” And not for Vargas, either, who had the best seat in the house at the heart of his side's defence as Victory romped to a 6-0 win and the 2006/07 Championship.
BELOW: Gallery - Victory roll imploding Reds in 2007 Grand Final
The intense heat, the noise and colour of the crowd, the half-soaked stadium: these are the factors which Vargas may not have noticed in a tight contest, but everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong for the Reds on that day, allowing the Victory defender the opportunity to bask in the occasion as it unfolded around him.
"It was a surreal feeling," Vargas told a-league.com.au.
"There was one stage in the game, I remember the conditions were really hot and muggy - then it just started raining.
"Half of the roof was closed and half of it was open, and half of the field was getting hammered with rain and the other was dry.
"I remember turning and looking at (Leijer) and thinking what’s going on? we’re winning four, (then) five, (then) 6-0 and it’s raining, and it was boiling hot.
"Honestly, now looking back it was just enjoying the occasion," he added.
"You probably don’t hear it a lot, you’re still focussed and you’re up in a Grand Final, the opposition has got a man down, but I just remember enjoying the whole occasion and thinking ‘you know what? I’m going to enjoy this, because it might not happen again’.
"I think it may have been at 4-0 when I literally remember turning to (Leijer), looking at him and saying 'what’s going on? this is a Grand Final and it’s like a cakewalk at the moment’. Honestly, it was hard to hear. Basically we were motioning with each other, hands in the air... and laughing, because no one expected that.
The atmosphere was literally where you couldn’t hear each other. It was unbelievable.
"Really, really lapping it up and enjoying the atmosphere. Obviously you’re still concentrated because anything can happen, but I remember thinking ‘I’m going to really enjoy this and soak it up’."
Before the Grand Final carnage unfolded, however, Vargas remembers the pre-game anticipation and the nerve-jangling moments as he watched the fans fill the stands through the monitors in the tunnel as his side prepared to walk out onto the Marvel Stadium turf.
The Victory were expecting two things: a tough contest and a raucous crowd. The former never eventuated, but the latter sure did.
"I remember Ernie that week at training, he’d actually prepared us for it," Vargas said.
"We trained at the stadium and he had speakers and music on full blast just to give us an idea of what it was going to be like, because by then we knew it was going to be a sell-out.
"The atmosphere was unbelievable, and one I’ll probably never forget and play in front of again.’
"From Victory coming second last the previous year to making the Grand Final, and filling out a stadium, I think the hype around football in Melbourne just exploded.
"I hadn’t seen anything like it before. I grew up watching the NSL, but with the crowds and the chants and everything, it was fantastic.
Vargas added: "It was a really surreal experience because like I said we had some good battles (with Adelaide), we’d had a fantastic year, but no one ever goes into a Grand Final thinking - especially in football - that you’re going to win 6-0.
To win so emphatically was unbelievable. I’ve said it many times, i don’t think we’ll ever see a final like that again, so one-sided and dominant.
I think it was just meant to be, and I was one of the fortunate guys that was lucky enough to take part in it."
A-League Grand Final - Match Details
Melbourne City v Sydney FC
Sunday, June 27 2021
Venue: AAMI Park
Kick-off: 5.05pm AEST
Ways to watch
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