A long distance relationship

by Ashley Morrison on Feb 08, 2012

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Ever since the Hyundai A league started, there has been two teams whose performances have virtually mirrored each other. What makes this all the more interesting is the fact that the two teams are the furthest away from the East coast of Australia.

We are of course talking about Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory.

The Phoenix did not exist in the first two seasons of the Hyundai A League and came in to replace the disastrous New Zealand Knights.

In 2007/08 the Phoenix came last the Glory second last both accumulating 20 points, Glory avoiding the wooden spoon on goal difference.

In 2008/09 the Phoenix were sixth, the Glory remained seventh, this time one more win and a draw saw the Phoenix finish four points ahead of Perth.

In 2009/10 both sides made the finals for the first time, again finishing side by side, Phoenix fourth, Glory fifth and just one point separating the two. They met in the elimination final and surprise, surprise it finished in a one all draw, Wellington won the penalty shoot out.

In 2010/11 just before Dave Mitchell stepped down as coach, a comparison with the Phoenix coach Ricky Herbert showed that in 67 games both coaches had accumulated the same number of points for their sides, 86. Mitchell had won more, but Herbert had accumulated more draws.

Both sides could not repeat their finals appearances, and the Phoenix, under a cloud of ownership issues, slumped to last, the Glory with an ill timed change of leadership slipped to third last. Sydney was the meat in the sandwich.

This season as both have started to win on the road, while other teams continue to struggle with the long away trip to each club, is it any wonder that both sides are in the top four and with again very similar records? The Phoenix has 33 points, 10 wins and 3 draws, the Glory 31 points with 9 wins and 4 draws.

No doubt the administrators at the FFA will be watching the form of these two sides very closely in the coming weeks. Both look like they may well host home finals, who knows one could actually end up hosting the Grand Final, which would mean all the VIPs having to make the long trip the players of both sides make on a regular basis.

It would be extremely refreshing if that were the case. It is incredible to believe that this year the finals could take place without both Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC.

Should Perth and Wellington make the finals, rest assured many will be supporting either side to gain hosting rights for the Grand Final. The Phoenix have the All Whites now calling the Cake Tin home, but Perth has been starved of top-level football for way too long.

It will be great for the A League as a spectacle if this year’s Grand Final is held outside of Sydney and Melbourne, and should the Mariners falter at the final hurdle due to ACL commitments what better places that the two outposts of the A League, Wellington and Perth? Two sides with so much in common.