Our fan blog this week takes a look at Melbourne Heart FC's connection to their fans through the Club's alternative strip design.
From the Heart
There aren-t many clubs around the world that would let their fans design one of the team-s official kits, but for the second year running that is exactly the opportunity that Melbourne Heart have offered their fans.
Richard Garcia looked rather slick in his new all black hoops at yesterday-s media opportunity as the club revealed the winning design by Sam Hernandez on the 12th of the 12th 2012, a date purposefully picked to commemorate the 12th man at Melbourne Heart, the club-s fans.
The response to the kit has been overwhelmingly positive, and is a personal favourite of mine, following on from the wonderful third kit designed by Steve Forbes last season, which was also tremendously popular and can still be seen around AAMI Park on matchday today.
The competition is just another reminder of the club-s commitment to engaging its fans and keeping them involved in everything the club does. I can-t imagine that there would be much that could top the honour of watching your club-s players take to the pitch in a kit you designed, or seeing your fellow fans donning the kit themselves in the years to come.
That the club, its away kit sponsor Match Works and its kit manufacturer Kappa have joined forces to offer the club-s fans this incredibly unique opportunity is something that should not be taken for granted, and I-m sure I am joined by all fans of the club when I reiterate Sam-s thanks to the club for making the opportunity possible.
Returning Roos to make a big impact
I was excited to see the club-s fan-made third kit revealed yesterday, but I am just as excited to see the man who wore it back on the pitch tomorrow night against the Central Coast Mariners.
Richie Garcia returned to first team training, as did fellow Socceroos Aziz Behich and Michael Marrone, after a successful qualification tournament for the East Asia games.
All three managed to score goals in the qualifiying tournament and managed to impress, whilst Heart took care of business at home, managing four points from the two games they had to play without three of their best.
Last week-s last-minute win over Perth Glory would have proven particularly good for morale, and to have players of the calibre of Garcia, Behich and Marrone returning for what promises to be a difficult clash on the Central Coast against the Mariners will provide an even greater mental boost.
I have already spoken through my columns about how impressive Garcia has been, and whilst the Heart-s youth came to the fore once more in the full back positions with Sam Mitchinson and Jeremy Walker both impressing in the absence of Heart-s two international full-backs, it will be great to see Behich and Marrone take to the field for Melbourne once more come tomorrow evening.
The timing couldn-t be any better too. Central Coast are leading the league at the moment, and Heart will have to be at their best if they plan on knocking the Mariners off their perch this weekend, taking another step towards finals football in the process.
The returning trio certainly gives the side every chance of achieving a positive result, and John Aloisi certainly has an unenviable task in terms of ensuring he selects the best side for the job.
Garcia spoke yesterday of the intensity of competition for starting places in this Melbourne Heart squad, and whilst that might provide Aloisi with a little bit of a headache, it is certainly a good problem to have going into tomorrow night-s game with the league leaders.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mg91