That’s all we have time for tonight. We’ll include some thoughts from Aloisi in our match report, and in our analysis tomorrow and Monday. Thanks for joining us, it’s been a pleasure.
Risdon makes his captain’s speech.
“Firstly, I would like to thank Paddy and the City boys,” he begins. “We have had some tough competition all year and you guys have been a great side. We have had some good battles. I am sure we will see you guys here next year again.”
He goes on to thank the Australian Professional League for its support throughout Covid-19, then the sponsors, and lastly the members and fans.
“It is pretty incredible to see this amount of people for a club that is just three years old. We have got a lot of ambition at this club and we have only just started. Thanks again, guys. To all these people who are not here, and our families and partners and the sacrifices you have made, we could not be here without you guys.
“And to everyone at the club, all the background staff, the coaching staff, and everyone to all the way up the top. And lastly to all my brothers down here. I love you all. You are legends.”
Melbourne City’s players have made their procession across the stage one by one. As they do, a section of the crowd chants “fuck off, Sydney”. This is what happens when Melbourne rules the roost.
It’s United’s turn now to make their way up onto the stage and collect their medals.
The Joe Marston medal winner is ... Aleksandar Prijović! Want to see his goal again? Of course you do.
And this is what Prijovic had to say:
Here is Jamie Young, who played under Aloisi at Brisbane Roar and made the move to Victoria in the off-season.
“He said to me, ‘we’re going to go and win this thing’,” Young says. “He is a winner, he has done it as a player. I am so glad for him. He didn’t get the rub of the green previously, and he has good people around him so he can do what he does, and I’m so happy for him.”
Well deserved for Western United. They turned up to this match ready to go and never dropped for a moment, standing firm in defence and taking their chances when they arrived. This is really a moment for Aloisi, who was overlooked by numerous Australian clubs and almost took himself overseas before United finally came calling. Many wrote off this team – basically everyone except themselves.
Full-time! Melbourne City 0-2 Western United
They have done it. Western United have won their first A-League Men’s championship. In their third season. There’s a hell of a lot of emotion in the first few moments. Players drop to their knees. Others rush off the bench. Aloisi and Foxe embrace.
90+4 mins The United supporters are out-noising City fans by a mile. A real toilet seat is being hoisted above the active support stands as Kisnorbo paces with a look of (composed) despair on his face.
90+3 mins Nino Reis floats the ball forward. Leckie chests it down. United defend as if they’re lives depend on it. They kick it out of play. City go again.
90+2 mins Young takes another long kick. City sends it one way. United sends it another. City go route one – understandable at this point. They take another shot. Young makes another save.
90 mins Young has the ball and take his kick. Jamieson picks it up and pings it forward. The last touch is off City. Just before the throw-in Aloisi makes two more changes, bringing off Wales and Wenzel-Halls for Dylan Pierias and Rhys Bozinovski. Four minutes off stoppage-time.
87 mins Priojivoc takes a cheeky backheel, rather a little flick off the outside of his boot, just outside City’s area. United want a third goal before this is out. City clear their lines and progress back to the halfway line. Risdon and Tilio catch each other in a little tussle before Nabbout gets another sight on goal.
84 mins United are so close to that toilet seat of a trophy they can practically touch it. Aloisi is having hushed words with his assistant, Hayden Foxe, and he’s keeping his emotions in check. But not for long.
81 mins Save! That’s top drawer from Young, who tips Galloway’s bullet over the bar. He has been in fine fettle this season – again.
79 mins There’s another substition as Metcalfe takes his leave and 20-year-old Taras Gomulka makes his way onto the field. Some of the tension fizzles for a short time. Ten minutes to go.
76 mins Tilio is like a bird in a box, flapping about and ready to burst free at any moment. He’s alive to everything around him. Skotadis wins the ball with aplomb and Prijovic has a chance at City’s far post but it’s overcooked.
73 mins Nuno Reis guides the ball down the right flank and sends it off through the middle. United regain possession though and play in transition. Pain is attempting to slither through a gap between his opponent and the touchline goes down under a challenge.
70 mins At half-time this grand final was, for all intents and purposes, a done deal. Now it is in the balance. If City score soon anything can happen.
68 mins Tilio is finally subbed on, for Griffiths. Leckie moves further into the middle. The defending champions are making headway. Tilio threads the ball to Berenguer but his cross is not what is required and the team recycle before United clear. Risdon has had a bit of a slip on the surface but gets himself back up in time to stop some of Tilio’s sorcery.
63 mins I’m really not sure how United did not concede then. There’s been an alteration to the fabric of this contest. Another chance goes begging as Lustica makes way for Jerry Skotadis.
61 mins United have had their work cut out for them in the last 10 minutes or so. Their counterparts are probing. Pushing forward and asking questions. This attacking phase looks promising. Leckie has the ball and is closing in on goal. He’s sent off balance by a defender but recovers. Maclaren wants the ball but he won’t get it. City should score here, Young is off his line and the goal is beckoning. They do not.
58 mins City engage in some more passing at the back before hoiking a long ball all the way to the byline, where Nabbout attempts in vain to conjure something from it. It’s out for a corner. The substitutes are warming up and the call appears imminent.
55 mins City are on another raid as Metcalfe rushes into the box onto a Jamieson ball in from the left. His header sails over the crossbar.
53 mins Nabbout – City’s main attacking outlet this game – has possession in United’s defensive third and cuts inside, getting away a shot off his left boot that Young goes to ground to gather. Tilio is warming up. He was superb last grand final and could offer the spark City need.
50 mins City are playing with something resembling renewed vigour. Chasing a little more, playing out more quickly. Jamieson takes a corner and makes it a precise one. Prijovic and Dylan Wenzel-Halls are trying to clear their lines. They escape unscathed.
47 mins We’re back! Western United kick off proceedings and then cede possession soon thereafter. Risdon is still on the field and appears to be holding up well and things considering. Galloway has been brought on, as predicted. But Imai is front and centre here as he leaps practically onto the shoulders of Metcalfe. Beath thanks him by awarding City a free-kick.
I’ll leave you for a short drinks break but here’s the second goal in the meantime:
Kisnorbo could ring a change or two. Scott Galloway appeared to be warming up.
Risdon has an updated on his hip: “It is all right, just a bit of a knock. It feels like it is getting better, got to keep it warm ... I am doing everything I can to stay on.”
Half-time! Melbourne City 0-2 Western United
At this stage extra-time is looking unlikely. City need a rethink during the break because United have one hand on the trophy. But here’s a question ...
45+ 1 mins Referee Chris Beath has blown his whistle for a VAR check after some beef (or beath?) between Jenkinson and Pain. Pain instigates it with a shove but then Jekinson retaliates with what appears to be a headbutt. On the scale of headbutts is it not a strong one, but it surely warrants a look. The review passes and no action will be taken. Pain and Jekinson are patting each other on the back. All is well.
43 mins Wales is taking touches left, right and centre and tees up Lustica on the edge of the box, from where the latter barrels a shot far too high. That would have sealed the title had that gone in. Meanwhile, up the other end, Nabbout is doing stepovers before swiping towards United’s goal. He does not score.
40 mins There’s a sky blue scramble towards United’s goal. Through the middle they go and Maclaren is trying to get himself into position but he is suffering in a similar way to his French teammate and just can’t seem to get a footing. Rostyn Griffiths has a speculative poke at goal but Young simply punches the ball away.
36 mins Poor Berenguer is being cancelled out of this game. I would be telling my players to do that too if I was Aloisi. I guess the point is partly that for City’s league-leading attack they are ineffectual here. Most of them are Socceroos, and experienced ones at that, but United are defending with grunt and grit.
Goal! Melbourne City 0-2 Western United
30 mins Is it a goal? Pain dinks the ball into the box but it ricochets off a City defender, then off another, and pings pongs around for a bit before Priojovic puts it where he wants it. But the flag has gone up. The replays show the Serb was onside at the time of Pain’s ball and there seems to be questions around the nature of the rebound. After the review the decision is it will stand. This is a long way for City now.
28 mins Close! Connor Pain is on the move and Neil Kilkenny is looking for Prijovic, who is in the goal mouth and waiting, waiting, to nod it in. Curtis Good has other ideas and makes the vital intervention.
24 mins Possession stats can be misleading, but let’s go there anyway. City have 61%. They have zero shots. United have 39% and one shot. Does this mean anything? Probably not, because City are taking their time in transition. City have a corner – their first of the match. Jamieson will do the honours, and Leckie has a crack in the box to little effect.
20 mins Jamie Maclaren gets a look-in as Nabbout cuts in and delivers a through ball into the box. The former runs off the shoulder but, in the end, it’s miles in front of him. Well, not miles, but you know.
19 mins Garuccio swings in a cross and Risdon gets a touch on it but no dice. City pass it around the back, steadying themselves, readying for a foray up the left flank. United regain possession and send the ball safely back to Glover.
17 mins Scott Jamieson is on the move and he glances up towards the back post where Andrew Nabbout is lurking, but that was a regulation gather from Jamie Young.
15 mins Carl Jenkinson, meanwhile, pings a diagonal ball to Mat Leckie and they’re applying the pressure to keep things ticking over. Interestingly, this is the 21st time this season that United have scored the first goal in a game. In the previous 20 they won 14, drew five and lost once.
12 mins Josh Risdon has been on the ground and receiving medical treatment but is back on his feet. He’s returning from injury so will want to watch it. Will Aloisi make the move and take him off?
9 mins: Sorry this bit of action has slowed me down a little. The corner was lovely, pinpoint. And City have impetus to equalise now. They’ll want to do it soon before United have their tails up too much.
Nuno Reis had the final touch on that, and here’s a closer look.
Goal! Melbourne City 0-1 Western United
To be more accurate, Melbourne City look to have scored an own goal. But we hardly get to see the replay because ... Ten have cut to an ad break. As you do. This is not a new problem this season. We are being told to buy some kind of probiotic yoghurt. Has anyone heard of “kefir”?
If you missed it – and I wouldn’t blame you – that was the fastest ever A-League Men grand final goal.
2 min: Peep! The first all-Victorian grand final in the A-League era is under way. United are on the attack and have an early corner. Ben Garrucio is at the flag to take it, and bloody hell they’ve scored!
Some early reviews of the pre-match entertainment. Lucky for us, there is football to come.
The toilet seat is emerging from the tunnel in the arms of Andrew Durante and Thomas Sørensen, which means we are close to kick-off. And now here come the players to a fiery welcome – literally flames shooting into the air. Wurundjeri Elder, Uncle Bill Nicholson, is now giving the Welcome to Country.
Word is that about 22,000 tickets have been sold at the 30k-capacity AAMI Park. There’s definitely a crowd there. Shame it isn’t sold out. The entertainment is in full flight, with some youthful DJs and rappers. Joey Champness should be there. A massive hologram of that A-League logo is being beamed over the stadium.
A little more preview material from Joey Lynch.
By vanquishing one local rival to set up a meeting with another in the title decider, United’s football department has provided the best possible platform to establish their club as a true player in Melbourne’s ALM scene.
The ABC radio commentary types have been bird watching. They don’t have to now because the teams are midway through their warm-up.
Kisnorbo has said his piece now too on City’s great expectations.
“It is more the expectations of the hard-working performance,” he says. “The result is the bonus. But for a course it is hard work, consistency, sacrifice and performance in the end. The more times they can do it, the more chances you get like this.”
So we have expectations and underdogs. Are you down with the “narrative”?
Aloisi is on Channel 10 being asked about United’s underdog status.
“We focus on what we have to do and that is play our game,” he says. “We did that against Victory and we will do the same again tonight. We will try our best and take the game to city. We note they are a good side, they have been the benchmark for the last couple of seasons, but we can give them a good game and hopefully that is enough to win the game.”
Meanwhile, Alessandro Diamanti, who is not playing because he is still managing that knee injury, has apparently promised to “get nude” if City win. On a separate note, if you are not familiar with the Italian’s Instagram account I can highly recommend his stories.
David Squires have been at his prolific best again this week with a grand final preview also featuring ScoMo and Leigh Sales.
No start for Marco Tilio as Florin Berenguer gets the nod, The Frenchman has five goals and five assists this season and has created 44 chances.
One change for United as Steven Lustica starts for the first time in five games on his way back from a calf injury. But the real one to watch is Aleksandar Prijović, and how much service the Serbian striker gets will be key to this match.
Hello world! Hello Australia! Hello Melbourne! Not hello Tarneit! Yes, Western United still do not have a home after three (3) seasons playing in the A-League Men – it has been a bootless task this whole stadium-building caper. But don’t let anyone tell you the expansion club have a bootless team. For it is grand final day, and they are closer to the toilet seat than everyone except Melbourne City. And if last weekend’s 4-1 semi-final second-leg boilover defeat of Melbourne Victory is any indicator, John Aloisi’s lot will not make it easy for their bigger, shinier counterparts.
The City Football Group tend to own big, shiny clubs with big, shiny players. One of them has just won the English Premier League. This one is brimming with attacking talent befitting the team’s league-high 55 goals in the regular season. They only squeaked past Adelaide United in the semis, and are perhaps not at the peak of the powers we have seen, but it is pretty difficult to doubt them under Patrick Kisnorbo. They did the double last season and are one match away from being the first to go back to back.
Is there anymore to say? Of course there is! Shall we then? We shall.