Press conferences can be cliché at the best of times, and there’s nothing new about Scott Jamieson’s proclamation that City will face ‘anyone, anywhere, anytime’. Over the past 24 hours, however, the phrase has become a rallying cry amongst City supporters, and it’s what drove the team to defy the odds against Macarthur in our emotional win away from our true home.
Missing Craig Noone and Andrew Nabbout, in addition to our host of Socceroo stars, and playing the ‘home’ final in unfamiliar territory, the narrative had been unfairly skewed towards Macarthur’s run to the Semis, with their progression to the Grand Final seeming to be the fairy-tale ‘written in the stars’.
City held firm, however, refusing to relent during Macarthur’s occasional periods of dominance – and this was no better exemplified than by Nuno Reis’ 32nd-minute defensive heroics. With the emotion of the quickfire double likely to steal the headlines, especially with two well-loved youngsters at the centre of the action, Reis’ goal-saving clearance mustn’t be relegated to a secondary moment from the match. With momentum swinging slightly in Macarthur’s favour at that stage, the intervention prevented what may have been the game’s decisive moment.
Then, of course, came Stefan Colakovski’s opener. And then Tilio’s sealer. And with those two events came outpourings of emotion to rival some of the greatest moments in our history. Any doubters of the legitimacy or passion of the Melbourne City supporter base need only watch footage of the celebrations at Welcome to Thornbury (and other viewing locations, no doubt) to recognise that this team and those goals meant something very, very special to us as fans.
And so, as the final whistle blew, our fate was sealed; a Grand Final rematch with Sydney FC lies on the horizon. In less than a week, we’ll return to the A-League’s biggest stage and seek redemption for last season’s shortcomings.
Amongst some quarters of the supporter base, however, there’s a feeling that no matter the result this Saturday, we can’t lose. Following a successful season in which we’ve already claimed the most legitimate piece of silverware on offer, Melbourne City fans are united in our togetherness, positivity and support for the team.
There is optimism about our youngsters, respect and admiration for our record-breaking captain, comradery amongst fellow supporters and a belief that this team can overcome the odds, no matter the occasion; anyone, anywhere, anytime.
We’ve fallen back in love with Melbourne City, and that feels like a greater prize than anything on offer on Saturday evening.