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City Stories: 'The Coopers Cauldron' by Josh Watson

Updated: Sep 25, 2022

January 15, 2022, was the first time in my life that I set foot outside of Victoria, taking the well-worn path between Melbourne and Adelaide for one of the A-League's most iconic away days.

Patrick Kisnorbo's boys were six games into the new season to that point, but our title defence hadn't exactly begun smoothly. With just two wins, and coming off the back of two frustrating score draws, tensions were rising amongst the City fan base, but a big away win against Adelaide would have been exactly what we needed to get back on track.

Starting at 4am, our road trip began in Melbourne and made stops in Ararat, Nhill, and Keith, and finished up in the City of Churches, where we made sure to notify the Adelaide residents of City fans' arrival by blasting 'So Happy Together' until arriving at the famous Governor hotel.

Finally entering Coopers Stadium, a rush of excitement hit me that we were finally there, and I had made the trip with my best mates. It was clear that the locals were uneasy about our presence, though. "You going to be causing a scene?", we were asked by one United fan, which was really only a taste of the hostility ahead on that hot and dry January day.

Once the game kicked off, the tension from the home fans was only felt more as we began to sing and chant for the lads. The tense atmosphere was eased slightly in the 24th minute, when City scythed through the Adelaide defence, leaving Andrew Nabbout to tap home at the back post. Whilst this left us in good spirits at half-time, the Reds would respond early in the second half through George Blackwood.

Photo: Getty

With the scoreline level, an already tense game was made even more uncomfortable by the animosity from the home Reds fans. "Get out of here and go back home,” we were told. We had no plans to do so.

Just past the hour mark, goal machine Jamie Maclaren put us back in the lead. It was another incisive team move that saw our #9 set up for a comfortable finish with his trademark composure.

Tensions were high again in the 68th when Nuno Reis dragged Blackwood down inside the box, copping the double-whammy of a red card and penalty. Partly at fault for the first goal, Tom Glover redeemed himself when he saved Craig Goodwin's strike from the spot.

Photo: Getty

With only a quarter of the game to be played, we were on a high again, but it didn't last long. In the 84th minute, Hiroshi Ibusuki hit us with a heartbreaking equaliser which would lead to the result finishing 2-2.

After the match, we walked back to the car disappointed that we didn’t get the three points, but we were happy that we could be there for the boys in that away bay, as well as enjoying a memorable road trip as a group.

Unfortunately, that away day has since become memorable for a different reason. As we departed the next morning, heading into the Adelaide Hills on the freeway, a car suddenly stopped right in front of us, leading to a three-car pile-up with us in the middle. All I remember is mocha coffee flying everywhere and immediately getting out of the car to make sure I could walk.

As it turned out, we had a "koala in the middle of the road" to thank for our severe whiplash and my broken wrist, or so we were told by the driver in front.

This City Story isn’t about an accident though; it's about a fan doing his first away trip with his best mates, and the pure passion that the S19 Crew and every City fan has for this football club and those boys on the pitch.

Stay safe on the road, I must say, and watch out for those Koalas!

Photo: Supplied by author (centre)

Josh Watson


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