There was a watershed moment in the Thomas household on Sunday.

It came in the thirtieth minute of the Central Coast Mariners vs Western Sydney Wanderers clash in Gosford. After seeing the red and black control the entire first half and pursue another goal to ensure the scoreboard reflected their dominance, Raul Llorente slung a ball into the box and his Spanish compatriot Oriol Riera pounced.

What followed was stunning as the striker rose, with balance and aggression and headed with thunderous power from somewhere not too far from the edge of the area.

The power was considerable, the placement superb and Ben Kennedy launched himself to his left in a desperate attempt to keep the Mariners in touch with half-time looming.

Sadly for the shot stopper, the ball hit the underside of the bar and ricocheted down, always into his waiting arms. Such was the power and chaos that the shot created, the keeper almost dragged the ball back into the goal with him as he crashed like a wounded praying mantis, slightly stunned at the speed at which it had all occurred.



It was astounding viewing and along with Milos Ninkovic’s dribbling effort against Newcastle, will go down as one of the highlights of the season.

What made the moment more significant was that fact that my darling wife was sitting on the lounge opposite and as the header thumped into the post and Kennedy fumbled the scraps, she yelped.

I was shocked. My wife is not a football connoisseur. She has been to three games in her life and it would be fair to suggest that her attendance was more for the kids and time spent together as a family, as opposed to some deep seated interest in the game.

She doesn’t like the swearing, songs with rude words in them or having beer thrown over her and generally chooses to stay away. However, on this occasion, she lost the proverbial plot. She was amazed at the athleticism of the header, as well as the attempted save, at the same time she was heartbroken for Kennedy who was close to pulling off one of the saves of the season.

It reminded me of just how pure our game can be when played at its best. Already, Friday night had seen a clinical Sydney FC knock four past Wellington in the most beautiful dissection of a rather flimsy defence and the Jets continued their run of success, knocking off the ever improving Victory.

What struck me was how few people would actually get the chance to see Riera’s goal in light of the context of the week. I thought I would do a little experiment and fly the A-League flag for the following twenty-four hours and test the awareness waters around the Riera goal.

I asked neighbours if they had seen the header though most hadn’t, I sent a few emails alerting family, they were too busy preparing for the Big Bash Final and raised the topic at my local tavern only to be invited to a Superbowl LII party.

I walked home a saddened soul, reflecting on the age old problem of poor promotion and awareness of the game in Australia.

No doubt, all the kids had seen Mo Salah’s latest strike for Liverpool, the epic hitting of Jake Weatherald for the Adelaide Strikers as they toppled the Hurricanes in the City of churches and the NFL was on everybody’s radar.

News headlines on Sunday evening were ramping up the big game in Minneapolis as Tom Brady prepared for another legendary moment. The script applauded the WBBL winners, the Sydney Sixers after they knocked off the Scorchers and parochially cheered on the Davis Cup team.

Amongst it all, Riera’s goal was nowhere to be seen/

I blogged the WBBL Final and a disappointing contest it was. The Wanderers first half performance and the goal itself, far exceeded anything that occurred at the Adelaide Oval yet its absence from news grabs and promos spoke volumes about the constant challenge faced by football.

A cracking goal such as Riera’s would be first cab off the rank in English headlines. As it would in Germany, Holland or even Spain, so pure it was. However, Australian media still lack the belief and faith in the product to promote such an A-League moment.

It mystifies me as to why the Ten Network don’t do it, considering the relatively poor ratings the game is receiving in its Saturday night free to air broadcasts.

I saw the goal plenty of times on Foxtel and their supporting programs waxed lyrical on its class. Sadly, it is another case of preaching to the converted. The goal appeared in my twitter feed, my Facebook page and other social media platforms with which I am engaged. Football people were aware.

Yet once again, no one else was.

Time is of the essence, as the A-League slowly but surely connects with our kids. Hopefully to a point in the future where they want to attend matches and buy Australian team kit as enthusiastically as they do their European ones.

No doubt, we will get there one day and maybe Mrs Thomas leaping through the ceiling watching a Spanish marquee score is a sign.

She might just be a convert yet.

Categories: Opinion | A-League

a-league, western sydney wanderers, oriel riera

You might also like: