If you’re looking for objective, measured analysis of the 2012/13 W-League season, this is not the post for you. This is purely a personal reflection of the season, so a bit of Sydney FC (aka 2012/13 W-League champions) bias is to be expected. Of course, if you’re a Sydney FC supporter, you’ll probably enjoy this.
It was, to say the least, a topsy-turvy season. With six teams in the running for the finals until the second-last week of the season, there were certainly plenty of fans biting their nails. Canberra United and Sydney FC fans were left with jangling nerves right until the end of the regular season, whilst Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth fans watched their teams fight for the regular season title and a home final. Eventually, it was the Brisbane Roar who took home the regular season title, and Sydney FC who managed to fight their way from fourth position to a championship, winning back-to-back away games to secure a second title. After defeating Brisbane Roar 3-2 in a nail-biting semi-final, Sydney had to deal with Emma Kete’s suspension and Ellyse Perry leaving for the Cricket World Cup in the final, but secured a 3-1 victory against Melbourne Victory in the final, with goals coming from Nicola Bolger, Sam Kerr, and captain Kyah Simon, who secured the win with a penalty after Larissa Crummer was brought down in the box by Maika Ruyter-Hooley late in the game.
So, let’s run through a few categories and I’ll dish out a few not-so-prestigious awards. The categories will be:
- Low Point Of The Season
- High Point Of The Season
- Game Of The Season
- Breakout Player Of The Season
- Player Of The Season
Low Point Of The Season: ACL Injuries
Wasn’t this just an absolute nightmare? As if the W-League and Matildas hadn’t seen enough of these already, Sydney FC lost Danielle Brogan and Leena Khamis to ACL injuries prior to the season, and then three more players went down with the very same injury in the first week of the season. Fingers crossed we can go on a bit of a run without seeing any more of these horrid injuries – they’re potentially career-ending, and not something that someone should wish on any player.
High Point Of The Season: Champions!
It was a no-brainer, wasn’t it? As a Sky Blues fan (and member), this was the most nervous 90 minutes I’ve experienced in a very long time. But it was more than just those 90 minutes. The team had to win their last regular season game in front of a boisterous Western Sydney Wanderers crowd, and then of course, the semi-final against Brisbane Roar. It was three straight matches of sudden-death football, and Sydney FC showed some amazing guts and determination in making their way from almost missing the finals to scraping into fourth place to lifting the trophy. Sydney is well and truly Sky Blue! And then, of course, there was THAT backflip!
Game Of The Season: Perth Glory 7-5 Sydney FC
See, I can be unbiased! In front of parochial anti-Sydney support from the Wanderers’ A-League fans and similarly parochial Sydney support from the Cove, this curtain-raiser to the A-League Sydney Derby had more exciting moments than the A-League match could have dreamed of. I’ll admit that when Carly Telford went off with an injury and Glory substitute goalkeeper Zoe Palandri fumbled her first couple of saves, I thought (along with those people I was sitting with) that the Sky Blues would just have to pepper the net and eventually the goals would rain down. And they did. But, there was a problem. Five goals wasn’t enough. Perth managed to score seven. Perth’s strike force, led by Lisa De Vanna and backed up by Elisa D’Ovidio, managed to shred Sydney’s defence to pieces. Not that Perth’s defence was a brick wall, it just wasn’t quite as leaky as Sydney’s.
Breakout Player Of The Season: Sham Khamis (Sydney FC)
When you throw a seventeen year old goalkeeper between the sticks halfway through the season, you place an enormous amount of pressure on some very young shoulders. But somebody forgot to tell Sydney FC goalkeeper Sham Khamis. After replacing Sian McLaren in goal midway through the season, Sham was leaving everyone scratching their head as to why she hadn’t been starting all season. Her performance in the grand final was a joy to behold. The fact that Sham was in goal for Sydney FC that day definitely made me a lot more confident, especially after her first few saves.
Player Of The Season: Tameka Butt (Brisbane Roar)
Tameka had an absolutely INCREDIBLE season. The statistics don’t do her season justice. It was the fact that every time she received a pass, made a pass, or simply made a run in anticipation of a pass, Brisbane Roar fans shuffled to the edge of their seats and opposition fans’ hands went straight for their heads. She was just THAT instrumental in her team’s successes. Her composure for Brisbane’s first goal in the semi-final against Sydney was an example just another of her intangible weapons; many players would have latched onto that through ball and tried to beat the defender and goalkeeper at the near post with one shot. Instead, Tameka held up the ball, squared it for Emily Gielnik, and Brisbane went 1-0 up. It really looks as if she’s benefited from her season with the Boston Breakers in the US, and has definitely developed as a player in recent seasons, culminating in an absolutely brilliant individual season.
It certainly has been an entertaining season, and it was great to see some of the A-League supporters’ clubs come to the finals and the Sydney Derby at Campbelltown. Hopefully they come along next season, and bring along even more fans. The W-League is a great product – if you watch it you’ll realise just how enjoyable and entertaining it is.
If you’re from Sydney, hope to see you at Leichhardt Oval next season! If you’re not, well, I hope you get out there and support your own local W-League team!