by Ben de Buen
Conditions could not have been more typical for Melbourne City’s first home game. Hay fever was in the air, in that heat, in that warm wind. It felt like summer as AAMI Park gathered its first football crowd of this season. Newcastle Jets were to do the honours.
There was still plenty of Heart in the crowd, though it is hard to say whether these were some nostalgic few, a reluctant lot, or even the dissident sector of a relatively young following. Maybe they hadn’t saved up for a new kit or maybe in a few years a Melbourne Heart top may become highly sought vintage fashion.
Some supporters wore bits of Heart and City apparel, while the Heart songs were still chanted on the Yarra side. Adding to that mix was the assortment of David Villa jerseys from his Barcelona and Spanish National days, though none from his stints with Valencia or Atlético de Madrid. Manchester City tops were not only an acceptable item on the grounds (presumably part of the local support), but blended in perfectly with those who renewed their colours in the offseason.
City dominated the first half with a very active Massimo Murdocca and some unrewarded efforts for Damien Duff.
A cold breeze crept in from the South just as the first half came to a scoreless close.
Merchandise stands packed with customers during the break. Perhaps the transition from Heart to City will happen as easy as Melbourne goes from hot to cold, which it did. The sky clouded over just before the second half kicked off.
The cold settled in and it was a new day altogether, any trace of the heat erased in minutes.
‘One goal, all we want is one goal’ sang undemanding supporters in the stands.
Newcastle Jets put a dampener on the outing after silencing AAMI Park with the first goal of the day. Other clear opportunities to broaden the difference were… clearly missed.
The result of the match was relegated to a mere subplot during today’s fixture. Many were there to see David Villa score. It was Murdocca who put in the hard yards, while Villa lingered mostly in the interstitial region of the pitch, between the halfway mark and offside.
‘That’s hot blood Guaje!’ Spaniards in the crowd said when David ‘Guaje’ Villa delivered for the 15 thousand in the stands. By then it was bitterly cold out. Villa fired up and tried to put his seal on the match, though it would not be enough for Melbourne City to complete a comeback.
So it was a different Melbourne as crowds trickled back towards the cold windy city. No more heat, no more hay fever, and a little less Heart.