Recently we listened to almost hysterical reactions, whilst glorified practice games were played in Australia, by some of the world’s most wealthy and successful football clubs, (which are colloquially called Soccer in this country), such as Real Madrid and Manchester City, to name just a couple. So much so, that we almost missed a very important press release. It covered the fact that after much deliberation, Melbourne Victory had put pen to paper, for a new contract for Archie Thompson.
You see Archie represents almost everything that soccer hasn’t got in this country. He is a much loved player, who has had a huge presence in the Australian A League as a one club player who has been there from the get go.
Don’t be fooled by the 90,000 + crowd at the MCG, to see such players as Ronaldo; Soccer in this country is only beginning to hold its own as a football code.
It’s just it needs history! It needs heroes and it needs to truly belong! Not for a collective minute of strength but to have a year, to year improvement.
Archie Thompson is one of the few players in this infant competition who is a talisman. Players such as Archie are those on which, the competition has been built. He has been there from the beginning and been a great player throughout these initial years. It is why his signing was so important. It means he will now be a one club player whom will no doubt be in the hall of fame, when one inevitably is created. He was the inaugural “Golden Boot” winner of the league. He scored 5 goals, an amazing feat in a Grand Final. He has been named in the A League Team of the decade, represented his country and once scored 13 goals for Australia in a single match.
Still that’s not the reason he needed to be at Victory this year. It has nothing to do with his football ability. He probably will be used off the bench more often than not. He will no longer be in the best 11. The A League needs him to be a one club player. They couldn’t afford for him to move to another club.
As clubs throughout the country try and win the FFA cup which proceeds the start of the season proper, Archie is where he belongs.
Archie Thompson is Melbourne Victory!
He is like many great players who become larger than their football ability alone. Many know that I follow Richmond in the AFL. Players for my club and its great history were forged by names like “Captain Blood” Jack Dyer, “Hungry” Kevin Bartlett and modern great Matthew Richardson.
Think of Footscray’s Ted “Mr. Football Whitten” and the tragedy that “Dougie” Hawkins finished his great career at rival Fitzroy. That simply can’t happen to Archie Thompson. He is a pillar, in a strengthening and some would say burgeoning, competition the A League.
If the A League is to challenge the established icons they will need more players that engender more than their playing abilities. Some may not agree but I am interested to hear others thoughts.
Soccer needs more Archie’s. Sport does in my opinion.
If I were to go through the AFL where I have more knowledge, there is a player at most clubs who are the heart and soul of the club and not always the best player.
If I were to have a stab at who they might be it would read like this;
Adelaide; Tex Walker
Brisbane; Was Browny, not quite sure now
Cats; Boris or Selwood
Hawks; Cyril, Hodge or Roughy
Demons; Nathan Jones
Power; Robbie Gray
West Coast; Le Cras
Bulldogs; Bob Murphy
Now I know I’m in trouble but this is an opinion game and everyone has one.
I like that we have a sporting landscape that is diverse and for one, hope that they can all co-exist? I need to dream away the monotonies of life and through sport and it’s heroes, I can smile and live.
Patrick Rafter was for a while Aussie Tennis.
Rowing will always be the Oarsome Foursome.
Cathy Freeman is the Olympics.
Cam Smith is Melbourne Storm and Queensland.
Cricket may become Steve Smith.
Anyway you get the point. All great statements but are they true?
Then there is the irony that an Australian star such as Archie Thompson was born in Otorohanga to a New Zealander father and Papua New Guinean mother. Anyway that subject is for another day.
Mark Vorstenbosch is a passionate supporter of a number of sports and a die hard Richmond fan.
You can follow Mark via his twitter handle @Vosstiger