Part Two is gone, now time for Part Three! Who takes the top prize?
5. Adelaide United 3-1 Western Sydney Wanderers – 2015/16
The ultimate ‘Battle of the Bridesmaids’. Two clubs that had heartbreak entrenched into the fabric of their clubs, with Asian success being the only source of satisfaction the fans could brag about. Both went in with two A-League runners up medals to their name, and with someone’s ‘0’ needing to go United finally had its day in the sun as they painted the town red in front of over 50,000 at Adelaide Oval. The win capped off what is statistically the most extraordinary comeback in the history of Australian sport, as United finished top and one the league despite being winless after 8 games. In contrast, the longest an eventual top-placed team has gone winless to start a season in the VFL/AFL is three games (Geelong in 1897 and Essendon in 1993) while in the NRL it is four games (Newtown in 1933). This final also two of the best Grand Final goals of all time. Scott Neville’s goal for the Wanderers was a thing of beauty, but it was Isaias’ picture perfect free-kick that prompted Simon Hill to utter the iconic phrase ‘Si Senor, Si’.
4. Melbourne Victory 1-1 (2-4 on pens) Sydney FC – 2009/10
If this final were an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, it would be called ‘The One Where Muscat Missed The Penalty’. An iconic moment where the ‘Professor of the Penalty Kick’ failed to hit the target, the clank of the ball hitting the post and silencing 44,560 fans at Docklands. During the game, Archie Thompson was substituted early with a knee injury before Mark Bridge became the first person to score in two A-League Grand Finals just seconds after Rodrigo Vargas had a goal disallowed. Adrian Leijer would eventually level the scores, before a young Aziz Behich famously missed a sitter in the 86th minute, bizarrely choosing to head the ball off the ground inside the six-yard box. He would forever become a villain for Victory fans (joining the Heart didn’t help), while Sydney Byun Sung-Hwan won the Sky Blues the championship with his last touch for the club.
3. Brisbane Roar 2-1 Perth Glory – 2011/12
Football at its devastatingly cruel best. In truth, for an hour this was incredibly dull game. But when Besart Berisha delivered the second most famous airswing in the history of Australian football (Harry Kewell will forever hold that title) and now Premier League referee Jarred Gillett put the whistle to his lips, Perth kissed its chance of Glory goodbye and etched this final into A-League folklore. Debate rumbles on to this day as to whether it was the correct decision, but the controversial call created a memorable moment that made Besart Berisha the A-League’s ultimate pantomime villain. He turned the game on its head on the big occasion, dragging the Roar to their second consecutive toilet seat with two goals in the final six minutes. Sorry Perth fans, it might have been heartbreaking at the time, but it’ll just make the day the Glory break their duck that much sweeter.
2. Melbourne Victory 6-0 Adelaide United – 2006/07
From injustice, to simply incredible. In 2007 the Victory set records that will be near impossible to match, battering the Reds – then unquestionably their biggest rivals – 6-0 in front of a packed Telstra Dome. While this wasn’t even close to being competitive, the sheer incredulousness of a team winning by six in a cut throat final puts this right near the top of this list. In the context of world football’s biggest finals, in the 66-year history of the Champions League no team has ever won by a six-goal margin, while it’s happened just twice in 141 FA Cup finals and never in a World Cup final. Highlighted by a five-star performance from Archie Thompson, Victory demolished the Reds while Adelaide capitulated on the biggest stage. Ask any South Australian – football fan or not – and they’ll remember it for all the wrong reasons. Not many games of football have that crossover appeal in Australia, and for that it ranks highly on this list.
- Brisbane Roar 2-2 (4-2 on pens) Central Coast Mariners – 2010/11
Could it have been anything else?
“Bozanic surely clinches the championship for the Central Coast Mariners” exclaimed Simon Hill when Central Coast went two in front after 102 minutes. And you could hardly blame him for thinking it was done, the Roar looked dead and buried after playing some of the best football ever seen in this country all season long. However. Ange Postecoglou’s side showed the courage that would become a trademark of his teams for years to come, ‘Roarcelona’ dragging it to a penalty shootout and making ‘the Slippery fish’ a Brisbane legend for years to come. One often forgotten detail of this that made it even more remarkable is that Brisbane did the same thing in Week 2 of the finals, coming back from two goals down against Central Coast with Henrique making it 2-2 in injury time. While this weekend’s final is one of the most hotly anticipated in years, it’ll take some doing to topple this one as the greatest in the competition’s history.