Header Ads

Breaking News

Time for perspective after an A-League round that was anything but routine | Football

If this had been a routine round of A-League action this column would be all about the 69th minute of Melbourne City’s 1-1 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers. In a season of madcap highlights this was another destined to be sliced into snackable content and overlaid with a jaunty soundtrack. Done well, the clip probably even comes with a caption punning on the surnames of the two major protagonists, Curtis Good and Simon Cox.

A routine round would provide time to wonder what on earth Nathaniel Atkinson was doing attempting a needlessly lobbed backpass straight into the dark heart of the metaphorical mixer. There’d be questions asked about the communication between Good and goalkeeper Tom Glover. Cox would be praised, initially, for his predatory reading of the situation, but then stride-by-stride analysis of his complacency would not reflect so favourably on the Irish international.

There’d be ample opportunity to marvel at Good’s return to the scene like a little known superhero on an unending quest to undermine XG. “He came up behind him like a librarian!”. Dennis Commetti’s tour de force from the 2010 AFL grand final, would get an airing.

But this wasn’t a routine round of A-League action. It was anything but.

The ramifications of coronavirus on the A-League are worsening by the day. A disrupted round this weekend; at best, games without fans next. Thereafter, who knows? The New Zealand government’s quarantine restrictions necessitate a response from competition bosses. Could Wellington Phoenix relocate temporarily to Australia to see out the season? Even if such a measure was practical, is it ethical? Denying Phoenix players the opportunity to hold loved ones close at a time of unprecedented uncertainty in their young lives.

Casting even further into the future, the crisis could prove an existential one for clubs, as the financial impact of playing behind closed doors – or not at all – hits home. Many A-League enterprises are already loss-making. Football Federation Australia does not have deep pockets to soften the blow. Professional football – like most sports – exists in a finely balanced and micro-managed ecosystem.

Gemba Group are one of the most influential sports strategy consultancies in the country, and one of its directors, Andrew Condon wrote on Sunday, something as innocuous as “an unfavourable draw or bad weather can make a big difference.” The consequences of a season-curtailing pandemic have probably never been modelled.

There is no sugarcoating. The situation is grim.

Time for a joke to lighten the mood (not mine, an oldie, but a goodie, and one that exists in many variations). Once upon a time there were two children, one an optimist, one a pessimist. At Christmas their parents decided to buy them contrasting presents. The pessimistic child awoke on Christmas morning in an Aladdin’s cave of toys, but he was still downbeat in anticipation of the gifts breaking or gathering dust unused and unloved. The optimistic child rose in a room filled with horse manure. Hours passed and the child was not heard from until eventually the parents knocked on the door and asked what was happening. Gleefully, the response arrived: “with all of this horse manure, there has to be a pony in here somewhere.”

In amongst all the crap, is there a pony to be found for Australian football? If there is, it’s probably staring us in the face – the opportunity to take stock, draw breath, and remind ourselves why we care in the first place. Joni Mitchell sang that we won’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone. We’re going to get a sneak preview of what that feels like.

That time could be spent better appreciating what we have, be it Curtis Good’s recovering lunge, Nikolai Topor-Stanley’s thunderbastard, or the camaraderie of the knot of hardy Central Coast Mariners supporters who remain committed to a cause that staggered into the postcode of lost many months ago. We could watch Optus Sport’s Football Belongs series, read a book from Fairplay Publishing, or trawl through a quarantine’s worth of audio in Football Nation Radio’s archives. It is an opportunity to prove that absence can make the heart grow fonder.

In the meantime, wash your hands thoroughly and often, dab when you cough or sneeze, and recharge for the next routine round of A-League action (whenever that is).

Source link

No comments