This Friday night is a red letter day for the Melbourne Heart, a chance for all members and supporters to show that not only are we a well supported club in Melbourne, but we are deserving of a place in the ALeague finals in around 10 weeks time.

To say crowds have been disappointing this season would be an understatement.  Even after a spirited Melbourne derby performance we could only draw 6,303 to a match featuring the reigning champions Brisbane Roar on a perfect Sunday afternoon.  Albeit it was school holidays and I’m sure some of our fans were enjoying the beach while Fred was scoring a second half goal to send us 3-0 up.  The following 30 minutes wasn’t as pretty to watch but what impressed me most was the performance of those ‘From the Stands’.  Brisbane managed to score 2 late goals and had plenty of time to find an equaliser.  That afternoon the crowd rose as one and managed to become the 11th man (Williams was earlier sent off) that we so needed.

I admit this blog would have been far easier to write after the 80th minute of last week’s match against Sydney (when our players decided to stop playing).  It would have read something like this; three wins on the trot and currently sitting in 5th spot come out to watch the red hot Melbourne Heart take on 2nd place Adelaide Untied.  Sadly we conceded two late goals, lost 2-1 to the badly out of form Sydney FC and sit outside the top six.

This Friday night represents our last Friday night game for the season and I believe a strong opportunity to build our ever expanding fan base.  The launch of the #OneMelburnain campaign and the clubs ‘Own the experience’ are key factors in realising financial stability on and off the pitch but these measures can only take a club so far.

The #OneMelburnian campaign is a fan based initiative that encourages existing members to seek out friends and family to attend at least one Heart game with the idea of becoming a member after attending the match.  The goal is for the club to reach 9,000 members.

Next season Friday night matches will be shown in lounge rooms throughout the country thanks to free to air broadcaster SBS and we must show the league and those in charge we do want Friday night football in Melbourne.  This will not only provide great exposure and sponsorship opportunities for the club but give Melbourians a chance to experience Friday night football in the summer months.  Our Aussie rules counterparts thrive on Friday night football, it’s about time we followed their lead.  This is a golden opportunity for the club and we must show we are deserving of such a prime time kick off.

Performance and consistency on the pitch is the one key ingredient the Melbourne Heart has been lacking ever since the inception of the club in 2010.  Sport is a results based industry and sadly Melbourne Heart has failed to deliver in this category.  One only has to look at the leagues newest franchise Western Sydney Wanderers and their debut season, Tony Popovic has performed miracles with that group and the team are receiving unprecedented support.

One does wonder though when the FFA pull the plug on their funding will the club have to resort to things like ice baths in wheelie bins like some other clubs in the league.

The 2012/13 season is shaping up as another wasted season unless we see improvements on the pitch.  We seem to linger around 5-8 on the table, and are losing ground on the top challengers in the league.  On our day we have the ability to be World beaters, but seem to lack the mental strength to string consistent results together.  As an outsider looking is it’s a frustrating results merry go round that we watch.  I’m as impressed with our home form as I am with our inability to win out of Melbourne.  Its 13 months since we have won ‘away’ and this is an issue that needs to be addressed quickly.  Is it our mental fragility, team travel plans or just sheer coincidence?  If this issue isn’t addressed we won’t be winning any titles in our near future.

Our derby form has been suburb this year, and you would have a great case to say we have outplayed Victory twice this year.  Why can’t John Aloisi and the players get themselves up for other games when they perform so valiantly in Melbourne Derbies?

Our squad selections haven’t been helped by injury, or the ridiculous size of the league’s playing squads.  These argument could be used by all 10 ALeague clubs, but it is hardly ideal conditions for a rookie coach to be working under.  The different situations relating to Vinnie Grella and Steven Gray are frustrating and puzzling to say the least.  Vinnie Grella seems to be more injured than Australian cricketing all rounder Shane Watson, and the value of his signature now has to be seriously questioned.  The signing of Steven Gray was a puzzling choice when made, using an visa spot for cover of Colosimo and Gerhardt central defensive position just doesn’t seem right when you are restricted to such a small squad as we are in the league.  Was this decision purely financial or did we believe he was a much needed commodity to win a title? We will probably never know.

The goalkeeper selection has been puzzling for the last four weeks, yes it worked for the first week or two but to have you most experienced and best keeper Clint Bolton sitting on the pine (or plastic Bunnings furniture) is staggering.  To his credit Andrew Redmeyne put his hand up for the error last week in Sydney but you have ask why was he out there in the first place?  Is there a tiff between Aloisi and Bolton or are we giving Redmayne some playing time in an effort to contract his services for next season when Bolton retires.  Whatever the situation Aloisi should have put his hand up for this blunder.

Once again we are in the position of selling our best young talent to help save our bottom line.  This is sadly a reality for most clubs in our league; one only has to look at Central Coast and their shining star Tommy Rogic.  Members have to realise that talent like Michael Marrone and Aziz Behich can only last so long at Heart before they move to wealthier or better standard leagues.  I’m more than happy to see our young talent leave to pursue greener pastures, but my worry is what if we don’t have one or two talented youngsters to sell off to balance the books next season, what happens to the club then.

You may or may not agree with some of the points I have made, but one thing is certain; we need bigger crowds and a bigger supporter base to succeed in this ever improving league.  Heart fans grab your friends, family, neighbours whoever and get along to this Fridays crucial clash against Adelaide United.  Together we can achieve great things, OneMelburnian at a time.

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