Continuing our countdown of the club's 20 greatest players ever, we resume at #15. Click here if you missed the first installment of this list, in which we covered places 20 to 16.
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).
15 | Neil Kilkenny (28 appearances, 2 goals)
Kilkenny’s name leaves quite a sour taste on the tongue when discussing his contributions for Melbourne City which landed him this spot in the ranking. It’s not him as a person or a player, per sé, more just the bad memories that come about when forcibly reminded of how typical his departure from City was of the Joyce era in its entirety.
The 2016/17 Melbourne City Player of the Year made just three appearances the following year, and was out the door not too long after that – just one of many high-profile names to do so – only to join Perth Glory in January, going on to ensure that his first goal in purple was the equaliser in what would eventuate into a miserable 2-1 loss for City, where we’d been 1-0 up only to concede the winner in the 96th-minute.
Enough salty reminiscing though, because Kilkenny really does deserve a mention on this list.
Killa’s perpetual scowl belied his on-field leadership, with the holding midfielder becoming an important figure in the City lineup with his trademark consistency and steely tackling – though the latter would ultimately lead to him earning one of the worst games-per-booking ratios (of players w/ 10+ games) in club history (10 cards in 28 apps.; a card every 2.8 games, second only to Wayne Sroj with 20 from 43 [every 2.15 games]).
Killa was an apt nickname after all…
14 | Thomas Sorensen (37 appearances, 7 clean sheets)
Truly The Great Dane.
A man who continues to be involved to varying degrees with Melbourne City and who is renowned for his charity work outside of football in Australia, Sorensen was named in Talking City’s Team of the Decade earlier this season and hence beats out Clint Bolton yet again for a spot in the top 20 players of the decade.
With his crowning achievement being his deserved recognition as the 2015/16 A-League Goalkeeper of the Year, the campaign in which he was also inevitably named to the Team of the Season, it’s quite interesting to note that the 6’5” shot-stopper secured just seven clean sheets from his 37 appearances for the club, though when you consider how notoriously leaky our defence was in that MFN season, it’s somewhat less surprising.
Whilst it’s quite a shame that he didn’t start in the 2016 FFA Cup Final – he really did deserve that moment – Sorensen nonetheless still has a legendary performance that he’ll deservedly be remembered by City fans forever for: The 2015/16 Christmas Derby.
Do yourself a favour and rewatch the highlights from that unforgettable night. Wear your brown pants though. You might need them.
13 | Aivi Luik (49 appearances, 6 goals)
Been there from the very beginning, Aivi has.
That’s four W-League titles under her belt and whilst some of the biggest names in women’s football who’ve played with City over the years have overshadowed her always-reliable, anchoring midfield performances, it’s Luik who finds herself in at 13 on the back of her own personal achievements.
Luik’s influence on City squads over the years has been undeniable, and that fact can’t be better exemplified than by our girls’ uptick in form when she arrived slightly later this W-League season, immediately transforming this year’s team into a far more cohesive, ruthless unit which would go on undefeated despite a very shaky start to the campaign in which our results were largely unconvincing.
Transformative is one way to describe her. An absolute rock in midfield is probably just as good. A true champion is even better, though, and it’s exactly what she’s become.
12 | Scott Jamieson (76 appearances, 0 goals)
There are players that every opposition fan, no matter the team, just loves to hate, and Jamo is probably one of them.
He’s a master of shithousery, of course. Loves a smiley-staredown with his direct opponent after a dubious opportunity-preventing tackle. Loves giving it back to the opposition fans who’ve been pestering him all ninety, shutting them up with a cheeky grin and a wink. On the other hand, he also isn’t afraid to (rightly) call out and engage with the keyboard warriors on Twitter, which seems to draw an even larger target on his back for criticism.
And we love him all the more for it.
Whilst Jamo’s been more than serviceable in his three seasons at the club thus far, what he’ll really be remembered for is his leadership and his character and his steely determination to get a result for the fans.
Right up there as one of our most influential captains, and likely to finish at City as one of our all-time leading appearance-makers, assuming he stays on for the full final season of his contract in 2020/21.
One more thing: when he does eventually get one of his rockets from outside the box to fly into the top corner, the Terrace will go f****** mad.
11 | Jamie Maclaren (29 appearances, 23 goals)
Finding a spot for JMac on this list was tough. Really tough, actually.
He’s got a better goals-to-games ratio than Bruno (and marginally less than ‘Fat Ross’; 0.79 to 0.82) and has single-handedly won us several important games this year alone in which an inferior striker would have fallen short. He leads the league’s Golden Boot, is probably our Player of the Year frontrunner and, we dare argue, is the only reason that we’ve achieved anywhere near the finish that we have this season.
Yet, can you really recognise a guy who’s been here for just 15 months, playing 29 games – less than anyone on this list other than Neil Kilkenny – as a definitive top 10 player of the decade? Not really, in our eyes, and that’s why we’ve stuck him in at 11.
Keep an eye on our socials over the coming week for the rest of the countdown…