Pitch incursions, arrests, bans and club sanctions - Melbourne City reigns
If you follow the A-League in Australia, you would no doubt know all about the now famous pitch incursion during the A-League Men’s Derby match between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory on the 17th December last year.
It was amid the Australian Professional Leagues’ controversial decision to sell off grand final hosting rights to Sydney for the next three years and the fans were livid. Many had large banners, some had arranged a mass walk out and if I’m honest, I don’t blame them. As an A-League photographer, the prospect of having to travel to Sydney for a 1.5 hour game is something I’m not thrilled about.
Unfortunately, everyone was on a short fuse and it wouldn’t take much to light it.
Some in the stadium had brought flares in and a few morons decided it would be fun to toss lit flares onto the field.
A flare was thrown onto the pitch, Melbourne City’s Goalkeeper, Tom Glover threw it to the boundary for security to extinguish it, however he misjudged and it landed in the Victory stands and that started an avalanche of fans pouring onto the field, throwing buckets and attacking camera operators, players and security.
The match was abandoned, arrests were made, Victory members were banned for the remainder of the season and Melbourne Victory themselves were sanctioned.
It was a mess.
Re-match - April 5, 2023
After almost 5 months, Melbourne City rising to the top of the ladder and Melbourne Victory having a horror of a season, the day came that the Derby was to be re-played.
This time to a smaller crowd and the fan section closed, the two rival teams met again for a showdown.
City headed into the resumption leading 1-0 thanks to O’Neill’s brilliant goal back in December last year, and the clash got back underway with a drop-ball to Tom Glover with the clock on 21:00
O’Neill continued to go from strength to strength, tracking back as hard as ever to win the ball back and save his team on a number of occasions, while again showing the new string to his bow in getting forward.
Both of those facets of his game were on full show in the 57th minute as City doubled its advantage – a whole 110 days later.
A casual back-pass from Victory defender Roderick Miranda opened the door for the always-alert O’Neill to win the ball back, before playing a neat 1-2 with Berisha then smashing home what was technically his second of the game.
The two sides traded the momentum for much of the remainder of the contest, although neither would really create any clear goalscoring chances.
That was until the 88th minute when Nishan Velupillay finished a Bruce Kamau cutback to pull it back to 2-1.
While pretty well everyone at AAMI Park and watching at home would’ve spent stoppage time on the edge of their seats, it was a professional end to the contest from your City boys to see out the all-important three points.
A great close to one of Soccer’s lowest points. Let’s hope we never see it again.
Dave shoots for Speed Media Image Agency, a professional photo agency providing coverage of all sports, events and photojournalism. We photograph for international, national and local media agents, including Getty Images, Icon Sportswire, AP, News Corp, The Times, ESPN and CNN. We have a team of commercial photographers ready to shoot for sport teams and sponsors.