Baby we were born to run, or at least catch the train to Geelong thanks to a Bruce Springsteen concert at AAMI Park and the commencement of the AFL’s NAB Challenge at Etihad Stadium.
Saturday night Melbourne Victory was forced to call Kardinia Park home for ‘one night only’ as they took on Thai champions Muangthong United in an Asian Champions league play off. The night produced 90 minutes of entertainment in what was a relentless pressure cooker football. The visitors grabbed the lead but a Victory fight back saved some red faces and will see three Australian teams in the group stage of the ACL, something the A-League should celebrate.
Kevin Muscat has keeper Nathan Coe to thank, plus a favourable schedule that saw Muangthong United still in pre season mode, which became evident in the crucial last 15 minutes. A deflected 83rd minuted shot from the inspirational Leigh Broxham became the difference at the end of what was a historic night for the people of Geelong.
Supporting a blue and white football team isn’t something new for the people of Geelong; their cats have dominated the AFL for the last seven years and have become somewhat of a sporting juggernaut. Victory seems a natural fit for the region with Geelong residents having an appreciation and hunger for sport played at the highest level. Some would argue that the region is starved with AFL only scheduling seven games for the newly renovated stadium.
Victoria’s second largest city is the perfect fit for Victory, apart from sharing the same colours of the region, it’s a comfortable 50 minute V-Line journey from Melbourne. Whilst cross town rivals Heart have been bought by Premier league giants Manchester City, Melbourne Victory would be smart to take advantage of this almost accidental situation of taking an important match to Geelong.
Currently Victory hold approximately 75% (my estimate) of all Victorian fans and this match has only strengthened their support in the Geelong region. Some will argue that Victory should remain 100% in Melbourne but opportunities produced thanks to other activities booking out preferred stadiums can result in taking the game to new areas and attracting more fans to attend future Victory matches at Etihad or AAMI Park. Manchester United doesn’t only conduct preseason tours around the world to fill the coffers of their owners, but to spread their brand worldwide. Victory must do this on a much smaller scale.
Whilst the current Victory board have plenty on their current agenda’s with now an upcoming Asian champions league campaign and continual A-League campaign, not to mention their continual dispute with fan groups. The club could do far worse than call Kardinia Park home for an annual fixture.
Who knows, Geelong residents could see more Victory ‘glory days’ on a regular basis.Google+