Craig Noone was unveiled as a newly-signed Macarthur FC player earlier today, departing Melbourne City following two seasons with the club. The Englishman leaves not only as one of the greatest contributors to the club’s 11-year history, but also as one of its most undervalued.
There’s no doubt that Noone’s time with City began as a curious case – we even said as much with this article of a similar name nine rounds into 2019/20 – but the winger has built an impressive resumé during his time in Melbourne.
Noone burst onto the scene with a starring role in our run to the 2019 FFA Cup Final and, despite our initial doubts, went on to put together the equal-best campaign of his career, tying with Dimitri Petratos as the A-League’s leading assist provider (with nine) in 2019/20.
The following season – and a year older – he matched his goal tally (six) and assisted eight times, despite playing over 200 fewer minutes. He ingrained himself in City history by scoring the winning goal against Central Coast to secure our inaugural Premier’s Plate and went on to be named in the 2020/21 A-League Team of the Season.
Incredibly, over the course of his 52 games and 4188 minutes played for City (that Transfermarkt has recorded), Noone has contributed at a rate of 0.66 goal contributions (GC) per 90 minutes; just four players in the club’s history (with 1000+ minutes played) boast better: Maclaren – 1.09, McCormack – 1.04, Fornaroli – 0.82 and Cahill – 0.72.
Despite all this, and even in a season where Noone lead the league for chances created, the Englishman’s contributions have continued to be undervalued by some sections of the City supporter base.
Arriving at the term ‘undervalued’ to describe Noone took until this article’s final edit; first it was ‘underrated’, and then ‘underappreciated’, but neither quite as accurately depict the disregard of some fans towards what the winger has provided as ‘undervalued’.
From those who were claiming even mid-season (before the former’s best run of form) that Marco Tilio could do a better job than Noone (0.53 vs 0.70 GC/90 this campaign), to those attributing Noone’s high chance creation solely to his high-volume crossing (true that he crosses plenty, but he’s also crossed at a much higher-than-average 36% in 20/21), to a blatantly ignorant comment from pre-Finals that Mathew Leckie would double Noone’s output next campaign (if Lecks wants to score 12 and assist 16 next season, go right ahead).
Admittedly, this article comes much too late, and without evidence of the aforementioned opposition. The idea for it had originated at a time when adversarial comments about Noone could be found in just about every post-match comments section, yet it’s finally being written and published at a time when fan sentiment towards players is positively uncompromising.
On that final note, fans seem to have accepted Noone’s decision and moved on quickly, holding little animosity towards the former City winger. Here’s hoping that ‘moving on quickly’ doesn’t mean forgetting the contributions of one of this club’s greatest.