Sydney FC yesterday walked away with the inaugural
A-League premiership after beating the Central Coast Mariners 1-0.
Although the pundits had trouble separating
the two teams before the game, today nobody is surprised the shining silver
trophy belongs to Sydney FC. They’ve been a standout team all season, on the
field and off.

At the end of its first season, a toilet
seat couldn’t be a less appropriate symbol for the new competition. Yesterday’s
game proved that Frank Lowy’s vision for a national league is viable, and
showed that football will almost sport certainly challenge both the AFL and rugby for fans, and perhaps more
threateningly, viewers and sponsors.

While there is room in western Sydney for a new AFL club, but not the interest of local
supporters, there is also room for a new A-League team. Following good
attendances all season, yesterday’s crowd of 41,689 at Australia stadium showed that Sydneysiders are keen
to support the new A-League. AFL House won’t have failed to notice that.

As Sydney FC chairman Walter Bugno told SBS
yesterday, his club has another four years as the sole Sydney-based A-League
club. Already labelled the “glamour” club of the competition, another four
years of exclusive access to the Sydney market has the potential to make Sydney FC
into the Manchester United of Australian football. Time will tell.

The comparison might be more accurate for
the work of Dwight Yorke, the ex-Manchester United star who held the trophy
aloft yesterday as captain of the victorious club, and helped create the goal
that secured the win.

All this in the same week he scored twice
in an international game for Trinidad -Tobago, before returning to Australia on Friday. It was an impressive
performance from a player whose credentials can’t be questioned, but who had a
good excuse for having a bad game.

Nobody involved with Sydney FC, or for that
matter the A-League, is doubting Yorke’s sizable pay cheque was a wise investment
for the A-League’s inaugural season.

Peter Fray

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