It’s been an amazing fortnight for City fans and there’s no doubt we’ll be remembering and talking about the events of it for years to come.
So now as we sit here as the 2020/21 A-League Premiers and Champions, we thought it was a good time to look back at what has been a truly unforgettable fortnight.
Backs to the wall
It was an odd build up to Semi Final week with City’s preparation far from a normal lead-in to such a huge game.
The usual weekend off for the Premiers was virtually non-existent due to a catch-up game that needed to be played against Newcastle, with things only getting trickier from there.
As Patrick Kisnorbo prepared his squad out on the training pitch on Thursday morning, word filtered through that no crowds would be permitted at AAMI Park for our home Semi Final against Macarthur. Hours later, Australian Professional Leagues announced the game would be shifted to Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in New South Wales, around half an hour away from our opposition’s home ground.
With everything seemingly going against us, your City boys adopted an ‘Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime.’ mentality leading into the fixture.
Nuno’s huge clearance
City controlled most of the first half against Macarthur but struggled to create many genuine goalscoring opportunities in the final third.
Charles M’Mombwa found some space in behind the City defence and got himself one-on-one with Tom Glover, sliding the ball past the shot-stopper and seemingly destined for the back of the net.
Enter Nuno Reis. Our Portuguese centre-back pulled off a moment of brilliance that defenders anywhere in the world would be proud of, getting himself in the perfect position and sliding at full stretch to deny the "away" team what would’ve certainly been the opener.
We’ll never know if we’d still be where we are right now as Champions had Nuno not been there to make that clearance, but one thing for sure is it was an absolutely massive moment in the game.
Young guns stand up
With the game still deadlocked following the interval, somebody needed to stand up, and City had two youngsters do just that.
19-year-old Marco Tilio whipped an inch-perfect ball into the box for 21-year-old Stefan Colakovski, who got himself into a Jamie Maclaren-esque position in between defenders and made no mistake from point blank range.
The roles were reversed just 90 seconds later when Nathaniel Atkinson won the ball back directly from kick off and lifted it over the top for Colakovski. Having just scored himself, he went on a barnstorming run towards goal and turned Mark Milligan inside out, before teeing up Tilio who buried home City’s second. With both players having large family contingents in the crowd, no doubt plenty of noise and emotion flooded Jubilee Stadium when those goals hit the back of the net.
Welcome to Thornbury erupts
A home game being moved interstate just days before the fixture was due to be played threw virtually all plans out the window and left City staff with a very short amount of time to pull something together for the fans.
With COVID restrictions also proving to be a challenge, an extraordinary amount of work was done behind the scenes to create a live site at ‘Welcome to Thornbury’ for City fans to gather and cheer on their team.
The event sold out and there were great vibes around all night, with the place going crazy after both goals, and of course, the full-time whistle.
City had secured a home Grand Final, although at this point no venue had been locked in, but then Wednesday morning saw the start of a great day for the Club.
It was announced early in the morning that star striker Jamie Maclaren had re-committed to the Club, signing on through until the end of the 2023/24 season, despite already having a season remaining on his current deal.
City’s number nine has banged in 50 goals over the last two campaigns and no doubt City fans were absolutely ecstatic that he’ll be here for a long time to come.
With Jamie Maclaren, Mathew Leckie and Andrew Nabbout all signed up long-term, now it’s your turn! Click here to sign up as a City Member for season 2020/21!
A first home Grand Final is confirmed
As mentioned above, last Wednesday truly was a great day for the Club.
Mere hours after the announcement of Maclaren’s re-signing, the Victorian Government announced it would permit crowds of up to 50% for the weekend’s sporting events.
Not long after, APL confirmed we would host the A-League 2021 Grand Final, with up to 15,000 spectators able to be there to see it live.
After being denied a home Semi Final, and with the unfortunate situation of Greater Sydney being in lockdown, a large number of City fans snapped up their tickets, resulting in a sell-out.
Young guns combine to equalise after Sydney strike first
Despite City starting the game the faster of the two, a Kosta Barbarouses strike from outside of the box momentarily silenced the raucous City crowd – coming completely against the run of play. Never a team to drop their heads, Patrick Kisnorbo’s squad quickly struck back, and as it was a little over a week earlier, it was the kids who came up big.
Colakovski received the ball in his own half and then, following a quick one-two with Tilio, went on a storming run through the Sydney defence. He teed up Atkinson who took a couple of touches and found himself an angle to shoot with a subtle feint, before firing home past the keeper.
A second yellow card to former City man, Luke Brattan, saw the Sydney FC midfielder leave the pitch not long after; the match swinging further in our favour.
The Captain stands up
Adrian Luna was brought down in the box on the stroke of half time, with referee, Chris Beath, rightly pointing to the spot.
With the Club’s usual penalty taker stuck in a hotel room quarantining, somebody had to take the responsibility and step up to take the kick that could give us our first ever A-League Grand Final lead.
That person was our Captain, Scott Jamieson, who showed no hesitation in picking up the ball and placing it on the spot. The skipper smashed it into the corner, thumping the armband in celebration asa reminder to those who had previously doubted his leadership.
Scotty seals it
Although we did lead by just one goal, our opponents dropped back in the second half and didn’t really threaten Tom Glover’s goal at all – evidenced well by the final shot (26-3) and pass (692-301) totals.
It always seemed like City were destined to take home the Championship in the second half, but as all football fans know, it just takes one moment for everything to come unstuck as Kisnorbo urged his men on from the sidelines.
AAMI Park was sent into a state of elation in stoppage time, Scott Galloway driving home a strike from outside the box and into the bottom corner to make it 3-1 and all but seal our maiden A-League Championship.
Good takes out Player of the Year
Mad celebrations followed the victory and City’s season was officially wrapped up at Tuesday night’s Player of the Year awards.
A rock in the heart of our defence until he departed on Socceroos duty, Curtis Good took out the top honour as our Player of the Year.
Maclaren added another couple of his awards to his personal trophy cabinet, while Scott Jamieson went back-to-back as our Clubman of the Year and Marco Tilio was named our Rising Star.