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The A-League enjoys its moment of serenity

by Ben Somerford on Oct 26, 2012

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Three rounds into the 2012-13 A-League campaign and we're enjoying a largely positive season for once. Del Piero's presence, big name recruits, derbies, great crowds and much much more has made it a very pleasant time to be a football fan.

In years gone by, the A-League has typically been overshadowed by some lingering dark cloud. A negative story such as North Queensland Fury's future, hooligans, underwhelming marquees or whatever.

This season seems to have delivered.

And for ardent football fans that's the relief we've been waiting for. But it goes beyond relief. Watching the Melbourne derby or the Sydney-Jets clash, the A-League right now, is where many of us pictured it to be before it's birth.

A sprinkling of quality marquees, good fast football, big crowds making plenty of noise and it all being relevant, making the mainstream newspapers and TV news segments.

And in the main, it's been positive news, from ABC picking up the radio coverage of the A-League, to Fox Sports' improved promotion of the game, it's made for an excellent package, which not only satisfies the current fans but seems to be bringing more than a couple of newbies too.

After years of struggling to twist your mates' arms to get them along to an A-League game that battle has become a lot easier. The fight for the right to the remote control on a Saturday afternoon has become far more merciful too.

It seems people are actually giving the A-League a chance. They are interested.

I recall prior to the season kick-off, having a coffee at a cafe and hearing the staff discussing Del Piero's move to Sydney in the kitchen. And this was all the way over in Perth, in the sun-drenched wealthy suburb of City Beach, a place where the locals' sport appetite only normally extends as far as AFL and cricket. It surprised me, but also brought a smile to my face.

It is too simplistic to say the A-League has arrived. Indeed, way back in Season One there was a similar swell of excitement about the competition, but that wave dwindled away. Now the next set has come through and we're riding atop the crest of a big wave.

I'd don't want to enter into talk of legacy and long-term viability, because for once, there's a serene sense of peace for those battle-hardened A-League fans.

The league's momentum is hardly better exemplified by Vince Grella's out-of-nowhere decision to join Melbourne Heart (which would've been a massive story 12 months ago alongside Kewell and Emerton, but has been a bit overshadowed this season).

The boys up at FFA headquarters are charged with turning this wave into a monster, but the fans won't be holding their collective breath given their track record.

Then again with a new CEO, ex-NRL boss David Gallop (arguably another good news story), soon arriving on the scene, there's reason for a bout of optimism.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, but all of a sudden, A-League fans are wearing their rose-tinted glasses and I might ask, why not?