Despite his relatively modest feats in the top flights of England’s football leagues, Kevin Muscat can claim to be one of the most talked about Australian international sporting figures in recent times.
Once nominated by Birmingham City professional Martin Grainger as “the most hated man in football”, Muscat has been known to get up the nose of opposition players, officials and supporters largely as a result of his enthusiastic approach to the more physical aspects of the beautiful game.
It’s no surprise, then, that Muscat again found himself at the centre of another heated exchange in last night’s A-League match against Adelaide United at Telstra Dome, this time with Adelaide coach John Kosmina.
A simmering affair had been locked at 0-0 up until the 82nd minute, when Adelaide’s Greg Owens completed a remarkable pitch-length run by knocking one past Melbourne keeper Michael Theoklitos.
Sensing the club’s first defeat, Muscat moved hurriedly to retrieve a ball for a throw-in from under Kosmina’s chair in the dying stages of the match, knocking the Australian assistant coach from off his chair in the process. Not exactly a shrinking violet himself as a player, Kosmina reacted angrily by grabbing Muscat around the throat, earning himself the rare distinction of being sent from the arena for the remainder of the game.
This incident sent the 32,000 strong crowd into a frenzy, reviving memories of past Victorian-SA rivalries from all sports and codes. From the “Kick a Vic” era of AFL State of Origin games past, to the Sheffield Shield wars that saw Darren Lehmann and Jamie Siddons poached from their respective states early last decade, there has always been an intense rivalry between the two states.
While Muscat and Kosmina made good their earlier altercation by shaking hands in the middle of the pitch after the game, it’s this type of unplanned theatre that will help the A-League find its feet among the crowded Australian sporting climate.
No doubt, the bean-counters at the FFA headquarters are hopeful this will fire the imagination of Adelaide United fans when the clubs meet again on 1 December at Hindmarsh Stadium.