It’s tough being a Melbourne Heart supporter.
We’re constantly being ridiculed for our low support numbers. To be compared to our cross-town rivals Victory in this instance is largely unfair considering the gap of five years between the two teams entering the competition.
Now we’re being measured against the new side, the Western Sydney Wanderers. Once again this is unreasonable. In Greater Sydney, the west is big enough to be distinguishable from its east. This is different for Melbourne. Our western suburbs, while a key growth area for the future, is not as big in population and land size as Sydney’s is right now.
Sure, it’s true. We probably should have more support than we currently do, but how can that be expected with inconsistent football like Melbourne Heart have produced over the past few seasons?
From the get go, the Heart consortium wanted its team to play an attractive brand of football. To help achieve this, the club appointed former Dutch interntional John van’t Schip as its first coach.
Not much was expected in their first season, just to develop a competitive base for the club. The season started poorly before their inaugural win against the now-defunct Fury and the hsitoric win in the Melbourne derby. For the majority of the season, Heart were in sixth place, on the cusp of the finals before being passed by Wellington and Newcastle and finally finishing eighth.
Going into the second season, experience was replaced by youth. John Aloisi, Josip Skoko, Gerald Sibon & Michael Beauchamp all either retired or left. Heart signed former Victory attacker Mate Dugandzic and saw future Socceroos Eli Babalj and Aziz Behich stand up and play a larger role.
Again, a positive pre-season was followed up by a poor start before winning seven from eight to sit equal top at the end of 2011. From then on however it was all downhill, with the team only winning two more games for the rest of the season and a debut in the finals ending up a 3-0 demolition by Perth.
At the start of the 2012/13 season, the fans thought we had a reasonable squad. Gone was van’t Schip, who had resigned, to be replaced by understudy John Aloisi. Finally, we thought we could give the competition a shake up.
The youth policy was finally producing the goods, with Eli Babalj and Curtis Good both sold for a total of over $1million, while Brendan Hamil flew out to Korea. Former Socceroos Richard Garcia and Vince Grella joined Patrick Gerhardt and Josip Tadic as new signings, exciting fans.
A win against the Victory in the first game of the season gave fans a false sense of hope, as the team would only go on to win two of the next 12 games.
But what frustrated fans the most is the wasted opportunities. Often the side would start a match out of the blocks fast and score, then they would go to sleep, the other side would take advantage and Heart would lose. It was even more disappointing because of the amount of talent that Melbourne posses.
A new year brings new optimism and the Heart started the year in fine fashion on new years day, defeating the Jets 2-1. 70 minutes into the next match, Heart fans thought that this side had grown up. They held a 3-0 lead over the Roar and were defending brilliantly. Then, David Williams was sent off.
The momentum stopped. Roar scored two goals through Berisha and Heart were lucky to hold on for the win. The same curse struck again in the next game against Sydney. 1-0 up with 15 minutes to go and bang; Sydney score two to win for the first time against Melbourne Heart.
Is this down to the inexperience of manager John Aloisi? Is it the players? Who knows, but what we do know is that this needs to change soon.
All we the supporters ask for is 90 minutes of concentration and commitment. Surely for professionals it is not that hard.