Entering the A-League in 2010 into a city with an already established powerhouse club was always going to be challenging for Melbourne Heart. IN the beginning, Melbourne’s second team was conceived to tap into what the competition’s administrators believed was a large number of football fans whom had for some reason or another not been taken in by the Melbourne Victory bandwagon.

I was not that fan. I attended Victory matches on a semi-regular basis, mainly as the default option of being the only team in town. For a series of reasons including living in regional Victoria at the time I never quite followed the Victory passionately but decided to jump ship once the Heart was created.

Here is why.

  • To be a part of something new from the beginning:

The birth of a new professional football club does not happen too often. I had missed the beginnings of the A-League and did not attend my first Victory match until mid-way through season two. I witnessed the club’s first A-League triumph and even more memorably the first derby win. To be a part of these inaugural moments was special. For whatever is in store for the Heart over the course of my lifetime to be there from the beginning would be a unique feeling.

  • A different style of football:

Melbourne Heart from the beginning set out to play a Dutch influenced style. The appointment of John van Schip as the inaugural coach seemed to confirm this intention. Whilst Melbourne Victory had found success in seasons 2 and 4, their Asian Champions League campaigns seemed to confirm that their approach was restrictive and would only get them so far. The A-League has since matured significantly and the Victory have not progressed at the same rate as some other outfits.

Unfortunately for the Heart, we have seemingly hit a brick wall after a promising 2011-12 season. But my decision to follow them was influenced by the factors at the time.

  • The underdog factor:

Archie Thompson in the lead-up to this weekend’s derby in speaking to the media said

“It is a real rivalry. But it is hard because when you look at the stadium and you look at the supporters and the crowd attendance – 95 per cent of it is ours.”

This sort of arrogance from the big brother in town only reminds Heart fans of how sweet it is to win against the Victory. Naturally, being created 5 years after our cross town rival is going to put us in the underdog position. However, supporting the underdog is where I feel most at home. I expect the crowd on Saturday night to be around 60-65% Victory fans which suit me just fine.

  • Kevin Muscat:

Simply said I never felt entirely comfortable supporting a side containing Muscat either as a player or coach.

On the eve of yet another derby I remain happy with my decision regardless of the result. The Melbourne Heart is the team which I can truthfully say that I support passionately.