ON one of the state’s biggest sporting occasions, Adelaide United wrote the final chapter of a fairytale season with a thrilling victory over rivals Western Sydney Wanderers to become Australian soccer champions on Sunday.
An ecstatic crowd of 50,000 at a packed Adelaide Oval witnessed the 3-1 A League Grand Final win, while in homes, hotels and offices across the state hundreds of thousands more cheered on the Reds.
Elated Adelaide United chairman Greg Griffin said that “regardless of the result”, the day had been the biggest moment in the club’s history and a galvanising event for the state.
“I don’t know what the FA budgeted to publicise this game — probably nothing — but they didn’t need to spend a cent as it would have been sold-out from the Adelaide end alone,” Mr Griffin said.
“It shows you the love for sport in this town and support for the team from The Advertiser and TV media this week has been fantastic.
“And now all those kids and the 50 per-centers (people not fully committed to soccer) will know what a great game we have. It has been an enormously successful time and a galvanising one for the whole state.”
The excitement exploded at the Oval when, after a flowing move, Bruce Kamau turned in Marcelo Carrusca’s cross in the 22nd minute to open the scoring.
It reached fever pitch when Isaias nestled a brilliant free kick in the top corner to double the lead before halftime.
A goal for the Wanderers just after the break, blasted in by midfielder Scott Neville, led to a jangling of nerves until Substitute Pablo Sanchez secured the win with a brilliant shot in the dying minutes.
Sport Minister Leon Bignell soaked up the atmosphere, standing in the middle of the Oval after the game, surrounded by United fans singing the club song Wonderwall.
“This is amazing and one of the greatest days in the history of South Australian sport,” he said.
“This along with the subs announcement has made for the best week ever.
“We can all be so proud of what our team has achieved.”
Hosting the Grand Final in Adelaide also provided a boost for the city economy.
Ian Horne, from the Australian Hotels Association (SA), said the match had provided a big “shot in the arm” for hoteliers.
“It’s been a strong weekend for food and beverage with the Crows playing (Fremantle on Saturday) and then the Reds,” Mr Horne said.
“These boon days reinforce the importance Adelaide Oval has in the hospitality business equation in the CBD.
“Accommodation has been very strong with supporters of both soccer teams staying in town.”
Darren Chandler, from the Stadium Management Authority, paid tribute his staff and the Adelaide Oval design in being able to provided a first class venue for two sports and 100,000 supporters with just a short turnaround.
“It really is testament to the design of the stadium and its infrastructure and especially the turf that allows us to cater to two different sports in the space of 24 hours.”
Two people were reported, another two were arrested and several people were evicted from the Adelaide Oval for behavioural offences.
A photo was circulating social media showing Adelaide Oval seats allegedly destroyed by Western Sydney Wanderers fans, as an investigation is underway.
Adelaide Oval staff this morning were clearing away the broken seats.
Superintendent John De Candia, Police Forward Commander, said most people were well-behaved.
“(Those arrested and evicted) represent a tiny fraction of the 50,000 people who were there, doing the right thing,” he said.
Our army united, delighted in dream victory
THEY came, they saw, they conquered and treated their loyal Red Army to a thrilling grand final victory in front of a crowd of more than 50,000.
As the final whistle blew, there were tears, hugs and plenty of cheers in the fairytale ending fans had been waiting for.
In a case of third-time lucky after two failed grand final attempts, Adelaide United wrote themselves into the history books with an exhilarating 3-1 win against the Western Sydney Wanderers, much to the delight of their home crowd.
As the city enjoyed perfect autumn weather, Adelaide Oval was transformed into a sea of red with flashes of yellow and blue, playing the perfect host in its first A-League grand final.
Cheering, clapping and the drums were loud from early on as an enthusiastic crowd chanted “United! United” and “Sha la la la la, AUFC!” as they streamed across the footbridge and into the stadium.
At the 22-minute mark, the cheers built to a crescendo when United’s Bruce Kamau finished a suburb Marcelo Carrusca cross to slot the first goal of the afternoon. A perfectly placed free kick by Isaias found the back of the net minutes later, sending the crowd into raptures.
Western Sydney pegged back a goal early in the second half, sparking fears of a comeback, but the Reds’ Pablo Sanchez sealed the silverware in the last moments.
Diehard Reds supporter Steven Silvani, 28, of Adelaide, said he was “speechless” after the win.
After sticking tough during their slow start to the season, the win was reward for their loyalty.
“This means everything to me — we’re the champions,” he said.
His brother Russel, 32, agreed.
“It’s just a dream — it’s a testament to the coach,” he said. Ali Visser, of Exeter, and her son Xander, 8, were among the legions of fans decked out in bright red and face paint.
“They (Adelaide) play like a team, it’s like watching a family because there’s no individual hero — it’s one perfect unit,” she said.
The Goss family-of-five, of Andrews Farm, hasn’t missed a game all season and said they loved “the family atmosphere” at Adelaide Oval.
Jalanie, 9, said she liked the way the Reds “play and kick and pass”.
“I’m really excited … my favourite player is Pablo because he scores lots of goals,” she said.
After years of waiting, Reds fans have finally got something to brag about.