This week, Sydney FC midfielder Alanna Kennedy challenged her Twitter followers to break the W-League attendance record for the Grand Final this weekend and there’s very little doubt they’ll have trouble in reaching that target.
Following the two semi-finals played across the last week, fans were treated to some seriously entertaining football, which set up the perfect showdown between grand final veterans Sydney FC and W-League debutants, Melbourne City.
Progressing to their fourth grand final appearance however, was no easy feat for the Sky Blues outfit, who travelled to the Nation’s Capital to face reigning champions Canberra United.
With the hot sun bearing down on McKellar Park, a healthy crowd predominantly made up of Canberrans watched on in horror as exceptionally talented forward Jasmyne Spencer slotted home a debatable goal in the 61st minute.
Cue the obligatory shouting in my living room – or was that just me?
‘Come on ref, you’ve got to be kidding right?’ I roared, as though through some incredible wave of newly developed technology available only to me, I would be heard through the television.
‘Kyah’s clearly holding Lydia back there!’ This time, the veins in my neck joined in on my outrage party.
My disbelief continued as referee Casey Reibelt awarded the goal and I continued to watch on in sheer desperation as the home side tried with all of their might to will a goal into the back of the net.
When Nickoletta Flannery burst onto the field as a substitute, her dynamism and thirst for goal added another dimension to the game and showed real goal-scoring potential.
It wasn’t to be and when the full-time whistle blew, Sydney FC fans breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Dan Barrett’s side survived the barrage of attacking intent Canberra threw at them and had the reigning champions been more clinical in front of goal, it could have been a different story but this was a chapter the Sky Blues would sign their names to.
That level of excitement was much the same, if not even more so, for the next semi-final encounter between Melbourne City and Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park.
Many had doubted the Roar’s abilities in the pre-season, citing far too many personnel changes as the reason why they weren’t a strong contender in the 2015/16 campaign.
How wrong they were.
With one underdog tag off their back, they faced their next challenge with steely resolve and as the suspended Katrina Gorry aptly said in the lead-up, ‘many people have written us off before the game has even begun but that won’t change the belief we have in each other and this team.’
Belinda Wilson’s side would need more than just belief to get past a Melbourne City who scored 38 goals, conceded just four and won every single one of their fixtures in the regulation season.
By the time the whistle blew for kick-off, I am sure most of the Roar camp were hoping that the Melbourne side had undergone a lobotomy and forgotten how to play football – that’s how much of a David and Goliath battle this had shaped up to be.
With a smile that only the Mad Hatter could appreciate, I grinned from ear to ear and the visitors fought, twisted, turned, pressed and defended their way through the full 90 minutes.
For Melbourne City, the 0-0 deadlock wasn’t for lack of trying – the front three accosted Roar keeper Hayley Kopmeyer time and time again but were unable to find a way through, even after Lisa De Vanna’s goal was ruled offside.
By the way, how brilliant were some of the saves Kopmeyer made in that first-half in particular?
With extra-time on the cards, I did my best to contain myself as City faced unchartered territory – 90 minutes of football without a goal.
Despite several nervous moments for Brisbane Roar fans, Kopmeyer maintained her sparkling performance throughout the entire match and kept them well in it.
So much so, that at the end of extra time, there was nothing left to do but advance to penalties – the football equivalent of a minor heart-attack for everyone watching.
Slowly but surely, with shot after shot careening past both Kopmeyer and Davey, it caused many of us to wonder who oh who, would be the first to scuff the shot or save it?
That moment came when the scores were deadlocked at 4-4 and after the Roar’s Angela Beard misfired and hit the crossbar, spectators felt the intensity of the atmosphere reach epic proportions.
When Matildas dynamo Lisa De Vanna stepped up to the spot to take the penalty, I reverted back to my 9 year-old self, who often shut her eyes when the scary part of the movie rolled around.
Melbourne City was into the grand final and what a moment it was for Joe Montemurro and his maiden team.
Off the back of this, it must be said that this W-League campaign has been one of the most enthralling season’s we’ve seen and it’s largely in part to the arrival of Melbourne City to the competition.
The new additions for 2015/16 have raised the bar, improved the already glistening quality of football and will encourage fellow teams to lift their performances and aim higher once season nine rolls around.
In the meantime, with already so much to look forward to this Sunday , it would be daft of me to try and convince you why you should be either attending or watching the grand final.
Why? Because you’ll be the one missing out, not the girls.