Happy 2009, everyone. Well, the Middle East might be on the path to self-destruction and the world economy is going down quicker than a hooker on the Titanic, but, on the upside, Adelaide United are doing pretty well and the A-League is heating up on the run in to the finals. But, there's always room for improvement. So, here's a list of all the things I would like to see in Australian football in 2009:
1. Adelaide romp in the A-League premiership, then crush Melbourne 6-0 in front of a capacity crowd at Hindmarsh to take the Championship (I know this is wishful thinking: if Adelaide win the rights to host the Grand Final it would probably be held at Footy Park). They therefore qualify for entry into the 2010 Asian Champions League.
2. Central Coast Mariners have a good run in the ACL, including beating Newcastle in the quarter final in the biggest match the F3 derby has ever seen. Sasho Petrovski and Joel Griffiths are both red carded for simultaneously kicking each other in the testicles.
3. The State Government agree to go halvsies with Adelaide United in a 30,000 capacity rectangular stadium on the North Terrace railyards, able to expand to 50,000 should Australia win the 2018/2022 World Cup bid. The design of the stadium is lauded as a truly iconic and revolutionary building (OK now I've really lost the plot, time to get back to reality Bill!)
4. Gold Coast and North Queensland debut in the A-League with healthy crowds and plenty of excitement. North Queensland defy the odds by not sitting in stone motherless last spot at the end of the year, while Gold Coast make headlines by hosting the inaugural 'XXXX Gold Annual Beach Soccer XXXXtreme SuperBattle' during Schoolies - an invite-only beach football tournament also featuring LA Galaxy, Sydney FC, and cameos from a host of washed-up ex players, TV personalities, celebrities and boy band members. Paris Hilton puts in a decent showing and is signed by Sydney on a guest contract.
5. Several Australian players return from Europe to finish their career in the A-League. Mark Viduka signs for Adelaide after carefully weighing up an offer from Melbourne Victory. At their next home game, Melbourne fans conduct a protest by standing up in silence with their backs turned and unfurling a giant banner stating "Merrick Out!" Unfortunately the banner does not have the desired effect as it is facing the wrong way; Merrick signs a new 10-year deal with the club, who also pick up young Botswanan striker !Tuo Kcirrem on loan.
6. The Socceroos do well in their Asian Cup and World Cup qualifiers. Adelaide representatives like Ognenovski, Jamieson and Dodd feature heavily in the A-League based squads.
7. Crowds and TV ratings go up to such an extent that the NRL, ARU and AFL join forces in an attempt to defeat the scourge of the round ball. A new hybrid game, RealAussieProEggball, is quickly developed and forced into school curricula. It takes off around the world as well, with over two billion registered participants in South Africa, Ireland and the Federated Republic of Micronesia alone. The Toyota Collingwood Sharkies are crowned as the inaugural RAPE champions after a thrilling game that sees them upset the Queensland Bundy Bears by a score of 13 1/2 (103) for 16 to 23.12 4/5 for a gallon. The crowd goes wild when Troy Fackwit nails a last-minute minor convulsion.