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City Stories: 'Our Time' by Mikayla Baker

The days leading up to the 2021 Grand Final were some of the most anxious but exciting that I've ever felt. Knowing that some of our best players, including Jamie Maclaren, Curtis Good and Connor Metcalfe, were out with Socceroos commitments made the nervous wait even longer. Without those three, the chances of winning seemed pretty unlikely.

I remember arriving at AAMI Park and trying to settle my nervous stomach with some food, but it felt like every system in my body had kicked into overdrive. This game meant the world to us and we had to win.

Kick-off finally arrived after a long wait, but our excitement wouldn't last long. The game's first goal arrived just 21 minutes in, and it was Kosta Barbarouses for Sydney FC who would be the first to strike. It felt like the game was already virtually over. There wasn't a dry eye amongst my group as we felt that there might not be a way back.

Little did we know that our disappointment would last just two minutes, with Nathaniel Atkinson hitting back straight away for City. I remember looking around and seeing every fan in the crowd absolutely over the moon. Our goal music was blaring in the background, and more than anything I remember the words of our MC: "GOAL FOR YOUR MELBOURNE CITY!!!" Finally, I had some hope that we could win.

Photo: Robert Cianfloni / Getty Images

After that, things began to go downhill fast for Sydney. Luke Brattan was shown a second yellow before half-time, meaning Sydney was one man down!

Just before the break, Adrian Luna earned us a penalty after being knocked down just inside the box and because our Golden Boot-winning striker Maclaren was watching from his hotel room, the skipper Scott Jamieson took it! I was so nervous that he would miss. He's my absolute favourite player and to see him miss in that moment would have been unbearable. Luckily enough, he buried it perfectly, and we were in front for the first time.

The second half didn't have as many goals, but it was just as exciting, and the narrow one-goal lead meant that we were even more anxious than we had been before the game! Luckily, Scott Galloway made those feelings go away when he scored the sealer three minutes into extra-time, and that was the moment that I knew it was our time. That was when I knew that the trophy was ours, safe and well in City's hands.

Photo: Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

It was so special to see all the players celebrate after the game and it will always be a memory that I will never forget.

Mikayla Baker

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