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MY FIRST SEASON IN THE A LEAGUE

Without tooting my own horn, I reached a fairly decent playing level back in my younger days, notwithstanding that I am currently only 36yrs old, only a few weeks younger than CR7 himself. With that being said, I have never attached myself to Australian Football or Soccer as it is still widely known throughout the country.

I never found it to be attractive to watch or even mildly skilful. Would always compare the top professional level with that of a lower league in a European Country. A little bit about myself, I was born in the only city of England to not have a professional football club and that is Wakefield. Wakefield is situated in West Yorkshire and surrounded by clubs such as Leeds, Doncaster, Huddersfield and Hull to name a few. So even though through family history I am a Manchester United diehard I have no hometown club to follow. That is until now……………………………….

The newest expansion club in the A League – The Macarthur Bulls. Once moving to the country as a young boy I have grown up in the Wollondilly and Macarthur Region, so having the club establish themselves in the area piqued my interest.

So, with myself being negative towards the A League in general I decided to give the club ONE SEASON to win me over.

I will not bore everyone with a round by round recap, rather I will select a few moments of the season that either won me over or cemented my belief of Australian Football.

Photo Credit: FanBabbles own Chris Babis

No better place to begin than the very first round of the season. The Bulls came up against the Western Sydney Wanderers in their very first South West Sydney Derby. The first thing I notice is that the Bulls were very competent on keeping possession and in periods where they didn’t keep possession, they had a ferocious want to press the opposition and win the ball back. Tick No.1.

The next positive I noticed was that they had signed a Premier League Journeyman in Adam Federici who was pulling off some great saves. Always a must of any side is to have a good gloveman and having Adam there was a huge grab for the club. But the last tick I needed was a player to capture my imagination. A young player with no fear, who is quick and only know to move forwards. That night I fell in love with football again. A player by the name of Lachlan Rose. A blond haired blued eyed kid that wouldn’t be out of place amongst the waves at Bondi Beach. He for me, showed what I wanted to see from this team. Energy, skill, youthfulness, desire and hunger. My eyes became glazed, and I could have believed it was a young Beckham or Giggs or even Harry Kewell. Now it turned out that Lachie didn’t go on during the season and continue that form I believe, and I will talk about it another time, but he opened the door for me and dared me to walk in. The Bulls went away with a first victory in a 1-0 win.

Photo Credit abc.net.au

The next few games for the club were mixed and after 7 rounds they had notched up 3 wins 2 losses and 2 draws. They moved into Round 8 after a 2-0 win over Brisbane and a very wet home game against Adelaide United. During said game I found myself one of the only fans sitting front row against the fence as the rain pelted down for much of the match. The boys didn’t disappoint they ran out 4-0 winners with Matty Derbyshire grabbing a hattrick in the process. This was the game that the club won me over. Sitting in the pouring rain on a Friday night yelling and cheering the boys on. Finally, after 36 years I had a hometown team to claim as my own.

The results continued for the season, up and down and the boys limped into 6th place and claimed a finals appearance in their inaugural season. Not many pundits gave them a shot. They matched up against the Central Coast Mariners who had beaten the Bulls in every game they played this season. But what was a close game and ended up going into extra time WE, yes, WE THE BULLS came out on top and had won our place in the semi finals with a 2-0 win. I had tears of joy after that match.  I am very much a fan who wears his heart on his sleeve, I had much to say about the way the team played at times and even questioned the manager’s tactics. But my support never wavered.

Unfortunately, we lost to Melbourne City in the Semi Finals whom went onto to beating Sydney FC in the Grand Final but all in all the season was a success. The A League new boys turned a negative Nancy into a fan boy, they brought back my childhood. Even though Manchester United will always be my team, The Bulls gave me something that was always missing in my life a local team to support.

Bring on the 21/22 Season and as much as I want to improve on the past season, I look forward to feeling the sadness from a bad result as I know the euphoria that goes with a great result, and I don’t have to stay up past midnight to support this team.

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