It has been well documented how well the Brisbane Roar have done in the 2013-14 season of the Hyundai A-League. They sealed the Premier’s Plate with three rounds to go and ended up finishing ten points clear of second placed Western Sydney Wanderers. While Brisbane was perhaps expected to do well this season, no one could have predicted this.
With the Roar facing a sudden death preliminary final next Sunday against Melbourne Victory, I want to take a moment to reflect upon and to celebrate the season that Brisbane has had. While the Roar won 16 of their 27 games, they so often did it the hard way, conceding a goal first and then coming from behind to win. In the process they scored some stunning long range goals, often very late in the game, and provided their fans with exhilarating entertainment.
It all started in Round 1 away to Wellington Phoenix. Wellington scored first, but Brisbane went on to win 2-1, with the second goal scored by Ivan Franjic in the 90th minute. This was a pattern that was repeated multiple times throughout the season – once more against Wellington (Round 16), against Adelaide United (Round 9), against Central Coast Mariners (Round 17), and against Melbourne Heart (Round 25).
The win over the Phoenix in round 16 was particularly memorable as Brisbane was missing several first team regulars and one of their goals (a cracking long range volley) was scored by a young player on debut, Devante Clut. This has been a feature of Brisbane’s season: no matter who has been absent from the squad due to injury or suspension, they have still found a way to win. Besart Berisha, Kwame Yeboah, Ivan Franjic, Luke Brattan, and Henrique have all stepped up and scored important goals at crucial times.
Arguably the most memorable of these was the goal scored by Luke Brattan against Melbourne Victory in Round 24, the goal that secured the Premier’s Plate. It was typical of the Roar’s season that it did not come until the 92nd minute. While it would have been easier on the nerves of the Suncorp Stadium crowd if the Roar had put away one of their many earlier chances, the long time we had to wait for the winning goal certainly heightened the drama and ecstasy when it finally arrived.
It is appropriate that the Roar face-off against the Victory next Sunday. The Round 24 encounter was one of the highest quality games I have seen all year, with end to end attacking football from both sides. As a Roar fan I can only hope that the Roar’s tenacity and never-say-die attitude will continue on Sunday and on into the Grand Final. But even if it doesn’t, the Roar can be proud of what has been a stellar season.