Over the past ten years, some truly incredible players have taken to the pitch with the Heart or City crests on their shirt; players that we as fans have fallen in love with even long after their departure.
After giving consideration to the raw talent, overall contributions, fan-favour and excitement-value of some of the biggest names in club history – men’s or women’s – here is Talking City’s Top 20 Players of the Decade.
1. Only players who spent more than one season with the club were considered.
2. A-League stats as per Ultimate A-League.
3. W-League stats as per "WLeagueStats.com" (aleaguestats.com/WLeague).
10 | Lydia Williams (52 appearances, 24 clean sheets)
Without doubt one of the fan-favourites of the W-League side, Lydia Williams is just as beloved for her eccentric personality as her world-class goalkeeping prowess.
The 86-time Matilda has been with Melbourne City since the 2016-17 season, winning three championships to go with her 2011-12 title with Canberra United.
5’9” Williams is a master of the goalkeeping trade, equally capable of impressive diving saves and astonishing reflex stops, whilst also a fearless commander of her box when claiming aerial balls amongst traffic.
One of her even more impressive traits is her leadership and communication from the back, with the Matildas legend not afraid to utilise her booming voice to promptly organise her back four into shape.
Whilst goalkeepers don’t always get a whole lot of love or recognition for their contributions, it’s impossible to go past Williams as being one of the most important figures in the history of our W-League side and at just 32, the girl from Kalgoorlie still has a lengthy shot-stopping career ahead of her.
9 | Luke Brattan (79 appearances, 6 goals)
A man whose Twitter banter was often just as good as his on-field performances, Luke Brattan will – like Scott Jamieson – be remembered as one of the great characters to pass through the doors at Bundoora.
We’ll forgive him for that bleach-blonde hair stage, which we’re bringing up purely for the “oh that really happened”-factor, because in his 79 appearances Bratts scored some absolute belters; none better than that chested-volley against Newcastle that still leaves viewers speechless.
There have been several iterations of Brattan over the years (and even more haircuts), required at various stages of his City career to transition from the primary holding midfielder to a more creative progressor of the ball depending on the composition of the midfield combination he was a part of.
There have even been claims on past Talking City podcasts that his Joyce-era partnership with Osama Malik had a decent shout as the best midfield combination in the league at that time.
Fast-forward to the current 2019-20 season and whilst our trade of Bratts for Josh Brillante may have turned out alright for us given how crucial the latter has been this season, it’s still ironic that – as with just about every other City departee – the former has gone on to arguably perform better at another club, becoming a key cog for deserved (though perhaps not yet official) Premiers, Sydney FC.
8 | David Williams (101 appearances, 21 goals)
With more appearances than any other player in club history (and third on the all-time goalscoring list), David Williams simply HAD to feature here somewhere.
‘Willo’ was never really a dominant striker at any period, with 12 goals in 2013/14 being the highest tally of his professional career, but his legacy in Melbourne is irrefutable.
An exciting, pacey and opportunistic forward who could – on his day – turn a game right on its head in the blink of an eye, Williams was truly one of the few bright spots in that final Heart season.
His 12-goal haul in that campaign was enough to land him a spot on the bench in the 2014 A-League All-Stars game against Juventus, in which he was substituted onto the pitch in the 63rd minute for a certain Alessandro Del Piero.
As a tribute to the great man, we’ve included the full match highlights from his hattrick against Wellington in 2013/14, where just about every goal is an absolute beauty. Our personal favourite is the last one, when you can hear “Watch Williams!” from a Phoenix defender just a few seconds before the ball is played short from a corner to Willo who’s in acres of space outside the box, bending in an absolute worldie to cap off the glorious occasion.
7 | Rebekah Stott (62 appearances, 5 goals)
Rebekah Stott is one of those players that make you realise just how severely underappreciated City’s W-League sides have always been.
Potentially one of the top central defenders in the world over the past few years, Stott can be described – like Aivi Luik – as transformative; City teams are vastly superior with her presence on the pitch.
Whilst the Kiwi primarily occupies the heart of defence, she’s certainly a valuable commodity with her versatility allowing her to play in wider defensive positions or even in defensive midfield. This is also evident from her ability to make driving runs out of the backline, essentially taking the piss out of the opposition midfield by initiating attacking phases directly from defence as if it were a training ground drill.
There’s one variable that never changes, though, and that’s that she’s one of the best-on-ground no matter where she plays.
Quiet, consistent, but always brilliant, Stott is often the glue that holds our defence together, with even her indirect actions making the team so much better.
6 | Patrick Kisnorbo (76 appearances, 5 goals)
Hard-pressed not to make the top five? Yeah, you’ve potentially got a fair point, but it speaks to the calibre of players that did make it into that elite group.
In the past, we’ve described PK as arguably our first club legend, with the much-adored former-Heart AND City man renowned for his on-field leadership, brick-wall defending and timely headed goals from set-pieces, as well as his coaching achievements with the Youth and Women’s teams, even picking up a W-League title along the way.
Unfortunately for his position on this list, we’re only considering his on-field feats and are forced to neglect the coaching achievements which have served to solidify his legend status.
Kisnorbo’s been around for the club’s highest-highs – including that famed MFN season of 15/16 – and its lowest-lows, as he endured through that numbing final Heart season which saw us without a win from the first fourteen rounds.
Throughout his time as a player though, he always maintained a professional attitude and a hunger for success, regardless of however unlikely it may have seemed.
He’s an icon of our first decade as a club – his modelling of the skin-tight, turtle-neck Kappa shirts will go down in history – and still has a bright future ahead of him within the Melbourne City coaching ranks.
Keep an eye on our socials over the weekend for the final installment of our 20 greatest players of the decade...