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City Stories: 'The Last Heart Win' by Mitchell Adam

You've probably tried to suppress the memories, but Melbourne Heart's 2013/14 season was, on the whole, a wooden-spoon-yielding, steaming pile of dog shit.

It was my second season following Heart from afar after moving to the UK. But while my five years there meant I missed savouring Hawthorn's AFL three-peat, I was not missing much on the A-League front.

It was doomed from the outset, with marquee signing Orlando Engelaar breaking his leg in a pre-season friendly in August. And, by gum, it didn't get much better from there.

Zero wins and four draws from the first 12 matches cost John Aloisi his job just after Christmas, with the club rooted to the bottom of the table.

Photo: Melbourne City FC

Whilst the home kit was a genuine beauty, the only other highlight that the first half of the season served us was Andrea Migliorini's brace against Adelaide to snag a draw.

Side note, such was Migliorini's impact as a short-term injury-replacement player, he made this feature on Heart/City's Top 10 barely-seen players Aidan Watts-Fawkes and I wrote.

Aloisi was replaced by the returning John van't Schip and Heart's first win finally arrived in JVS's third match back at the helm, Round 15.

By this stage, the City Football Group buyout was on, but CFG must have been wondering why.

Then, something strange happened. Heart took six wins and a draw from seven matches. There was David Williams's late winner with 10 men against Sydney and a 5-0 drubbing of Wellington in Wellington.

It made Heart finals bolters, even though they were never above ninth on the 10-team ladder. I even remember suggestions Kewell should be in the Socceroos squad for that year's World Cup in Brazil.

The last of those wins was the match I'm now - eventually - talking about.

On March 1, Heart hosted Victory in the 2013/14 season's final Melbourne Derby. It was also the last Heart vs Victory Derby and, as it turns out, the last ever win for Melbourne Heart.

I happened to be back in Australia and attended with the aforementioned Aidan Watts-Fawkes. Despite Heart's winning run, my hopes were not high.

Photo: Supplied

We'd been cast aside in the Christmas Derby 3-1. I watched that on a Saturday morning in the UK before heading off to the safety of Birmingham's Christmas Markets, where nobody else would know - let alone care - about the result. Mulled wine also helped.

Heading to AAMI Park there'd be no escaping a similarly-tough result, nor was there the physical distance to take the edge off the disappointment.

But what ended up playing out over 90 minutes was a genuine treat.

Engelaar gave us another case of 'what if this bloke had been fit all season?' with the opening goal after nine minutes, intercepting a goal kick to start the sequence and being there for the tap-in finish.

Photo: Melbourne City FC

Mate Dugandzic's cross-cum-shot followed soon after, and we were 2-0 up after 15 minutes. It was a lot of fun, but the job wasn't done.

Victory's Nick Ansell was sent off just before half-time, but we had to wait until the final 10 minutes for Heart to add a third goal and kill the contest.

Williams snagged that one, followed by an outside-the-box effort from substitute Kewell, both in front of the Heart fans.

As a Leeds fans based on the Elland Road exploits of Kewell and Mark Viduka around the turn of the century, the Kewell goal - the last of his career - was particularly nice to witness.

A 4-0 win, it finished. The biggest Melbourne Derby margin until March 2021. It was unexpected and it was bloody sweet. A bright moment in an otherwise forgettable campaign.

Melbourne was red and white, one last time.

Mitchell Adam

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