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Games 7 & 8 of The Quest

by Alex's view from the terrace on Nov 11, 2012

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I'll admit right now, despite supporting Sydney FC first and foremost, I do love the prospect of a Friday night game in Newcastle to start-off my weekend. However many there might be making the trip, it's always good to be a part of the regular group of Sydney-based Jets fans who do the mad dash up and down the F3 for a home game in the Hunter. Always good banter to be had amongst passionate football people who all appreciate my particular brand of nutterdom. In the event, the evening turned-out to be a brilliant opportunity to share in a solid home win and Heskey appreciation session.

Of the three most notable A-League signings for season 8, the big man from Leicester is the one who's made the greatest impact in terms of goals (thus far) and the Jets' support have taken him to their collective hearts – judging by jersey sales alone, he can already be considered an inspired acquisition. On seeing his second goal of the night go in, I couldn't help but feel the elation of the squadron going berko to my right.

To see Heskey's sizeable frame skilfully and tellingly combine falling over and banging-home the second half of a brace would surely bring a smile to even the most stoic of countenances. Emile is, quite simply, a massive asset to the Jets and to our league as a whole, and this is coming from someone who'd had his doubts about his quality as a player for some time. Whatever his apparent limitations may have been as an EPL stalwart and England international of some years standing, I'll happily tuck into a double-helping of my own words served with humble pie as I applaud the man and the club who've signed him.

So, to Homebush on Sunday for Sydney FC's first A-League game at the Olympic Stadium (their third match, overall, at this venue). There must be many who have as mixed a set of feelings as I do about this ground. I scarcely need to mention that it's the scene of one of my life's happiest memories of a certain night in November of 2005. I'd also add that as a venue for less sizeable crowds – for any sporting event – it's far from ideal. SFC was, admittedly, forced into relocating this fixture due to re-turfing that was going-on at the Sydney Football Stadium but other possible venues appealed far more to large sections of Sydney's supporter base than what was actually chosen. As the first Sydney derby proved, a sold-out smaller venue provides an atmosphere and anticipation that's disproportionately greater than a part-full Stadium Australia – ask any rugby league fan. In fairness to those making the decision, the financial inducements for the club in choosing to play at Homebush were probably very favourable.

The most enjoyable things that I took from the day were celebrating the goals and the result with friends, seeing another mate make only his second appearance as an Assistant Referee in the A-League (with many more to follow) and to be reassured that Del Piero can even influence a game when playing at less than 100% fitness. The blue-tinged tongue celebration after the penalty was a nice touch, as well. I only hope that the next time I see a match played here, it's much better-attended and appreciated. Yes, I'm looking at YOU, fickle Sydney sporting public!

Important personal stat: Newcastle Jets vs. Melbourne Victory on Friday, October 26th was my 250th A-League game and my 700th football match overall.