Half-way through the second period the rain came. Not a vertical, drenching rain but a swirling, soaking rain that scattered the pitch-side photographers and sent the crowd searching for higher ground.
The crowd retreated to the back of the stand, security guards succumbing to reason and letting wet patrons relocate to somewhere other than their assigned seats.
By then the score was 1-0 to the away team; Wanderers having converted one of the few chances in the first half. Long-range shots from the home team had, predictably, posed more of a risk to the crowd than the goal.
8,070 had given up Friday night after-work piss-ups to watch Melbourne Heart – a perplexing team name if ever there were – host Western Sydney Wanderers.
The Melbourne weather had reverted to cliché, swinging between bursts of warm sunshine and cold rain. Visitors from Sydney were easy to spot: they hadn’t brought a cardigan.
Speaking of the travelling support, the “Red and Black Bloc” tried to goad the home fans during the opening 45 minutes, but the RBB hadn’t counted on the insouciance of the Heart supporters at the northern end of the ground. Huddled together in clumps, they exhibited a finely honed north-of-the-river indifference. “Goals are passé,” were their unspoken words.
The security guards patrolling the RBB were in good spirits. Any away fan that strayed from their designated area was simply tickled into submission then bundled back in to the away supporters’ bay.
As the second half progressed the rain intensified and Heart pressed for a goal.
No goal came.
HONOURABLE MENTION: At the river end of the ground, the home supporters sang, danced and twitched for the whole second half. “We’re dead last but we’re having a blast.”
DISHONOURABLE MENTION: The two WSW supporters wearing Burberry caps.