Well done to the Unicorns! Six months ago an object of our mockery and ridicule, they’ve emerged from the shadow of The Del Piero Effect™ to win their first ever serving tray in their inaugural season.
All praise Tony Popovic, who during the course of the campaign has managed to inexplicably transform Tarek Elrich, Michael Beauchamp, Mark Bridge, Shannon Cole, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Labinot Haliti from a dysfunctional rabble of goal-shy rejects into a well-oiled football-winning machine. Quite an achievement.
We are of course contractually obliged to cloddishly point out that the incredible win will always be slightly less incredible due to a certain amount of rule bending, backhanded favours and payments thrown their way by the 23-carriage FFA gravy train. Having said that, the serving tray still takes some winning - especially with Tahj Minniecon in your squad - so congratulations to you Poppa.
But as Sydney news outlets fawn at Poppa’s feet like adolescent groupies, only with less dignity, The Ancelottery prefers to focus on the weekend exploits of a different young man. A young man who grew up with the lofty ambition of being a pro-gamer, but chose instead to give it all up and settle for a job as Morwell Heart Head Coach.
After conducting his usual 10 minute pre-match YouTube homework on the opposition on Friday afternoon, Cashmere John’s Morwell Heart travelled to Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday to take on Central Coast Marinaters, with the hope of continuing their impressive winless away record. And continue it they did, with stylish aplomb.
When Heart stopper Patrick Gerhardt elbowed a goal-bound shot off the line in the first half of their tie with Central Coast Marinaters, referee Jarred Gillette sent off Gerhardt and awarded a penalty, as the laws of Association Football dictate.
It was a decision which left Cashmere John baffled and confused; so much so that he (worryingly) “blew up”, directing a half-time expletive explosion at Jarred Gillette, which duly earned him a red card in the process.
“The reason (why I whinged to the referee) was a few people from the Marinaters told me it was never a hand ball,” the perma-tanned one explained whilst the Marinaters coaching staff sniggered in the background. “Every week we’re getting decisions against us,” John excused, before summing up, “I feel that they’re not up to standard.” Unfortunately, he didn’t confirm whether he was discussing the referees or his players.
But hey ho Heart fans, being an also ran isn’t so bad! “When we did play well we played some of the best football in the league,” trilled Cashmere John, basking in the warm glow of intermittent, moderately-paced, unsuccessful football. And you’ve only six months to wait until you can try and avoid the spoon all over again. Oh the joy!
In the winter of 2012, Cashmere John, the bestest youth team manager in the land who hadn’t actually won anything, was given his big break. As a reward for his incredible coaching talent and his even more incredible perma-tan, Morwell Heart entrusted him with the keys to the canteen at Bundoora. With the backing of many respected figures within the game, as well as Scott Munn, he started to try and develop the side “to win the league”. “You saw last year our consistency wasn’t quite there,” Cashmere John stated, as he quickly set about fixing any inconsistencies.
Ten months on and Morwell’s transformation is complete. Under his excellent tactical stewardship, Heart have finally found the consistency that Cashmere John claimed they were lacking - failing to win a single game outside of Melbourne this season, scoring an average of 0.45 goals per game in the process.
Cashmere John once professed whilst applying his FakeBake, “John van’t Schip set a platform for this club. I learnt a lot under John. I learnt how to react after certain defeats.” Tutelage he put into full effect in a entertaining Sunday afternoon rant: “I thought it was a poor performance from the referee. Our players were upset about (the penalty) and the Roar lifted - but it’s no excuse,” he excuse’d after the game.
But Cashmere John shouldn’t despair! At The Ancelottery’s last count, Heart need just five points from their final away game to make the elimination finals and with Kris Griffiths-Jones (or any other A-league whistleblower) officiating, who knows what’s possible?
Over in the harbour city another A-league team are displaying an equally fine level of consistency, albeit in a different way. Despite their best attempts to kick and harangue their way down the Fair Play ladder by picking up a balmy 6 red cards in their last 5 away games, The Del Piero Effect’s Bling FC look set to assault their way into the finals. Taking 20 points from a possible 23, the Sky Blues still have every chance of lifting the toilet seat despite being 22 points behind the Unicorns. Maybe Graham Arnold has a point after all?
As those more cynical than us took one look at the A-league fixtures for Round 24, they’d have been forgiven for thinking that the Labour Day game between Morwell Heart and SAdelaide United would be about as appetising as a unseasoned lentil and quinoa salad.
On the one hand you had the rudderless A-league travelling circus troupe, Morwell Heart - a team who haven’t won away from Morwell since roughly ten minutes before time began - facing the rudderless Reds, a team who were fresh off the back of the kind of inept defensive display that only eBay Luzardo could dream of. We were hardly smacking our lips at the proposition. And neither were the two men, a dog and a bored hatamoto security guard who turned up to watch the Reds demolish Heart 2-0.
”We haven’t won coming from behind this season,” John Aloisi proudly boasted. “I take full responsibility,” he cashmered, before going on to apportion some of the responsibility to whistle blower Chris Beath and his gigolo beard: ”He (Beath) slows down the game way too much, he doesn’t let it flow. He talks to a player, has to write everything down, then whenever they get a free-kick it slows it down. It’s not the first time and we’ve already told the head of referees what he’s like and it hasn’t helped, so I might as well not meet with them any more.”
‘Distraught’, ‘devastated’ and ‘gutted’ are the only words that FFA director of referees Ben Wilson can think of today.
If only Heart were playing at Suncorp, Parramatta or Allianz Stadium in the next few weeks, then Aloisi would have a real excuse for their hoofball antics.
Each of the aforementioned grounds will treat their A-league tenants to terrain more suited to the Australian Supercross Championships in their next fixtures. All three surfaces will be regaled with thirty burly men in short shorts bumping into each other on the eve of their respective A-league fixtures, inevitably resulting in games being played at the sort of pace you might expect while making your way through a boggy field in the dark.
Brisbane Roar vice-chairman Chris Fong down-played any difficulties. “We’ve got a world-class home. We are very happy with Suncorp Stadium,” cheered Fong, doing his bit for the promotion of attractive play by staging home matches on a ploughed field.
“We certainly understand that for the round ball game (the pitch) is an integral part of the game,” Parramatta Stadium director Luke Colman said. “The unfortunate thing is the weather and diseases, those are the unknown factors,” he explained whilst punching the words ‘Sydney’, ‘weather’ and ‘influenza’ into google.
Allianz Stadium officials refused to comment on their excuse for a pitch, however Bling FC fans can be rest assured that Terry McHack will be on hand to recreate these heartwarming scenes…
Oh the joy!
It’s tough being a Morwell fan at the moment. League away form is nothing short of abysmal, a top six finals finish teeters on a knife-edge, the price of cashmere has skyrocketed in recent weeks, and now Heart CEO Scott Munn is smarting after being “snubbed” by everyone’s favourite under-paid defender Luca$$$h Neill.
On Friday, the covetous former Al Wasl defender had a chin wag with John Aloisi and Doug the Pizza Boy and gave them an “old-fashioned handshake agreement” that he would sign for the candy stripes. Sometime between that moment and Saturday evening (after watching the way that Heart “try to play”), Luca$$$h reneged on the aforementioned handshake and decided that he didn’t want to move to Bundoora. Not on his dead body. Or even for $100k. Instead he preferred the thought of Tony Piñata’s signature on his weekly pay-check.
“When the opportunity became very real to join Bling FC it was a difficult decision,” Neill straight-faced to the gathered press, “but (it was) an easy one from a family point of view, as they didn’t want to see me suffer the indignity of having to stand in an wheelie bin”, he almost said.
So as Heart miss out on another high profile name, they’re forced to doggedly stick to the strict youth policy that has so far earned them a sum total of zero trophies in three years and a squad average age of 42. Carry on boys!
Meanwhile in pie-eating news, Prayag United midfielder The Leaping Esky will be waddling his portly way to Wellington Funix - but only if he can summon up the required energy when the Indian Premier League season concludes in June.
Should Carlos manage to squeeze through the Cake Tin’s dressing room door he’ll become an “instant fan favourite” according to Kiwi bookkeeper Ricki Herbert. “Carlos is a massive signing,” Herbert said, managing to sum up his on-field and off-field presence in one fell swoop.
Discussing the reasons behind the move kickoffindia.com reported today that, “the Costa Rican player was unhappy with his stay in India and also had fallen with coach Eelco Schattorie.”
According to coach Eelco Schattorie, “When I came here, Carlos was not at the peak of his fitness. If we play long ball, Carlos has to run back and forth losing much energy.”
The Ancelottery can’t for the life of us work out why it didn’t work out.