The battle for Championship glory sometimes throws up some unlikely heroes. Will it be a show pony or a work horse that proves the difference in tonight's A-League Grand Final between Perth Glory and Sydney FC? We take a look at the past Man of the Match recipients who took home the Joe Marston Medal.
Sydney FC, 5 March 2006
Perhaps he was still jet-lagged from flying to England and back for an international friendly but it was a low-key first half from the Sky Blues celebrated marquee in the inaugural A-League Grand Final. Yorke stepped it up after the break, pulling the strings for Sydney’s attack and, in a moment of magic, setting up the only goal of the match on 62 minutes. Engaging the attentions of two Central Coast Mariners’ defenders, Noel Spencer and Andrew Clarke, the Sydney skipper laid it on a plate for team-mate Steve Corica who drove a low angled shot past the outstretched arm of keeper Danny Vukovic sealing the historic win in front of nearly 42,000 at Aussie Stadium (Allianz).
Melbourne Victory, 18 February 2007
Victory’s smiling assassin was on a double hat-trick when he ripped the heart out of arch rivals Adelaide United in front of 55,436 people at the Telstra Dome (Etihad). In a brilliant individual performance that still has fans reaching for the rewind, an unstoppable Thompson scored five in a 6-0 demolition job – the most goals ever by player in an A-League match. By the time Reds skipper Ross Aloisi was given his marching orders for a second yellow on 34 minutes the Socceroo has already notched up a brace. He smacked home another leading into the break and two more were added on 56 and 72 minutes before Kristian Sarkies completed the rout deep into injury time.
Newcastle Jets, 24 February 2008
The defender broke his leg in the first ever meeting between the F3 derby rivals in 2005 but was at his rock solid best against the Premiers when the two sides faced off on neutral territory. As 36,354 fans watched from the stands of Sydney Football Stadium (Allianz), the always reliable Durante pulled off several game-saving blocks while team-mate Mark Bridge scored the only goal of the match on 64 minutes, capitalising on a slip by former Socceroo Tony Vidmar. When a last-gasp penalty shout against the Jets was ignored, goalkeeper Danny Vukovic batted the arm of referee Mark Shield, earning himself a red, a lengthy ban and forfeiting his spot at the 2008 Olympics.
Melbourne Victory, 28 February 2009
The attacking midfielder scored the only goal of the match in a clash largely remembered for the red card to Adelaide striker Cristiano on 10 minutes. Unlike their previous Grand Final clash this was no 6-0 rout. The outnumbered Reds dug deep, valiantly holding off the Premiers until the hour mark. Urged by Coach Ernie Merrick to ‘stay wide and bide your time,’ Pondeljak latched onto a back heel from team-mate Evan Berger and fired from 23-metres out to break the deadlock. Another contentious red a few minutes saw Victory striker Danny Allsopp head for the sheds but the home side held on for their second Championship in front of 53,273 fans at the Telstra Dome (Etihad).
Sydney FC, 20 March 2010
Charged with containing Victory hitman Archie Thompson, the Sky Blues centre back had his work cut out until a collision between the two players early in the first half ended the striker’s night. In front of more than 44,500 screaming fans at Etihad Stadium Colosimo held his nerve, making a number of crucial interventions to keep the Premiers in the contest. Mark Bridge drew first blood for the visitors on 63 minutes and Adrian Leijer clawed back the deficit on 81. After a goalless extra time, Colosimo coolly slotted home the first penalty. Team-mate Shannon Cole wasn’t so lucky but when Victory skipper Kevin Muscat and Thompson’s substitute, Marvin Angulo, fluffed their lines Sydney snared their second Championship.