Sunday, January 4, 2009

Adelaide 2-0 Sydney

A balmy summer evening at Adelaide Oval. Lovely.

In what seems to now be an annual event, the Reds hosted Sydney FC at a ground known more for its association with summer whites and willow bats than football - the picturesque Adelaide Oval. All up 23,002 people made their way through the gates, took up positions in the stands or on the grassy hills, bought a beer or three, and settled down to watch the match.

The first thing that should be said about the match is that I didn't see it very well. As the picture above indicates, I was a fair way away from the pitch and watching from a pretty shallow angle, so most of the time I had a bit of trouble working out what the figures dancing around in the middle of the oval were actually doing. Adelaide Oval, for all its charm, convenience to the city, and ability to hold more people than Hindmarsh, is patently not a football ground.

As such, I can't really give much of an actual analysis of the game, other than that the distant blurry figures in red scored twice, through Cassio and Alemao, and the distant blurry figures in blue and white failed to score, despite getting on top of the game in the second half (until Alemao's goal, anyway). I think that the result was due more to the fact that Sydney are complete and utter pants, as opposed to any sort of quality from Adelaide. Our defence generally did well, though, aside from an out-of-sorts Jamieson.

I don't really want to whinge after a two goal win, but is it too much to ask for us to play two up front? I thought Cristiano was having a pretty decent game until his substitution for Younis, who was a little ineffective. Surely he could have stayed on the pitch - those two haven't had much game time together and I would like to see what they could have done. On a brighter note, it looked like the ex-Dead Ball Specialist TM had another good game, just to prove me wrong - maybe he is worth holding on to for next season. Perhaps being relieved of his free kick duties by Paul Reid has taken a bit of pressure off, who knows.

Generally the atmosphere around the ground was pretty lacklustre (or so it seemed from where I was sitting - apparently there was a bit more noise and energy up at the scoreboard end ), and this wasn't helped much by the shades of beige being dished up from both sides on the pitch. Things got much better towards the end of the game though, there was a bit of chanting that the whole crowd got into, and a Mexican wave started up that got a bit more noise going. Purists may scoff at the Mexican wave in a football context, but I don't think there's anything wrong with something that gets the crowd making noise and involving themselves in the game and the spectacle - no different to any other organised show of support, really, when you think about it. All up it was a pretty good night out. Definitely nothing on Hindmarsh in terms of view, atmosphere and pitch quality, but everyone (bar the small knot of Sydney fans) left happy with the result and in good spirits.

An enthusiastic Reds fan celebrates the win in Rundle Mall

Adelaide Oval - pros

Location, location, location
Proximity to post-match eating and drinking venues
Non-football fans know where it is and how to get there
Big capacity
Lovely grassy hills to sit on and sip beer
It really is a beautiful ground


It's a cricket ground
The pitch is too far from the crowd
The viewing angle is too shallow
Very low-key atmosphere
The number of non-football-savvy people that are just there to drink and yell at the 'umpire'
The pitch might be a batsman's paradise, and provide decent bounce for the quicks, but it's shit for football
It's not Hindmarsh - we lose some of our home-ground advantage
Changing venues is potentially disruptive to the team

Needless to say I much prefer to watch AUFC play at Hindmarsh. Adelaide fans are spoiled by the fact that we get to watch our team play in probably the best football stadium in Australia - just about every seat has a good view, and you're very close to the action. But as occasional events I think these Adelaide Oval matches are a good thing. People come that don't normally go to Reds matches, and the team gets a nice little publicity boost leading up to the game. It's a bit off a trade-off but I think it helps to keep football in the front of peoples' minds. Big crowds are good financially and they also keep the stadium debate on the boil.

If anything, comparing the Hindmarsh and Adelaide Oval experiences really drives home the need for football-friendly stadiums. Let's hope that if a new stadium is built in this city, it's designed with football in mind.

Cassio & Alemao ending Sydney's season


Guido said...

Melbourne fans can't wait until the 'bubbledome' is finished (if interested to see its progress you can visit the thread about it on the Melbourne Victory Fans Forum).

I think that AFL states have been disadvantaged in this respect. At least Rugby League stadia had pitches that were rectangular and reasonably close to the football dimensions.

Bill said...

I was in Melbourne not too long ago and it really looked like the Bubbledome was starting to take shape - should be fantastic, especially given all the problems with the pitch, treatment of fans etc at Docklands.