Fans ignore naff name ahead of ‘Big Blue’

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After weeks of gloomy headlines, there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel for embattled A-League fans.

On December 19, the two biggest clubs in the land go head-to-head at Etihad Stadium in a fascinating top-of-the-table clash.

Around 35,000 supporters are expected to turn out to see league leaders Melbourne Victory do battle with arch-rivals Sydney FC, and there are more sub-plots to consider than your average Hitchcock thriller.

Former Crystal Palace, Rangers and Millwall hard-man Kevin Muscat plays his 500th game in the colours of his beloved Victory, as he lines up against Sydney’s evergreen playmaker Steve Corica.

In-form Sydney striker Alex Brosque also celebrates a milestone in the form of his 100th A-League match, doing so in the knowledge that he features in the plans of Australia coach Pim Verbeek – who will rely heavily on local players for an upcoming Asian Cup qualifier against Kuwait.

Meanwhile, Sydney defender Simon Colosimo was nonplussed by his club’s failure to appeal the red card he received in the Sky Blues’ recent win over Wellington Phoenix.

“For the club to decide not to appeal, I don't think was right. At least we should have given it a go,” sighed Sydney’s exasperated centre-back to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Club officials responded by claiming there was only a minimal chance of success, yet the failure to appeal is unlikely to do much for relations between player and club – with Colosimo being tracked by a host of rival Australian and Asian outfits.

His absence means that ex-Melbourne defender Sebastian Ryall will slot into the defence for what will inevitably be a torrid encounter against his former club.

Ryall missed the start of the season after criminal charges were brought against him for engaging in a sexual act with a 13-year-old girl, and Victory supporters are unlikely to bother with good taste in their attempts to unsettle the young defender.

Melbourne and Sydney have both won 10 games this season, however Victory are still three points in front of the Sky Blues at the top of the standings.

They could go a long way to wrapping up the ‘premiership’ trophy with a win over their biggest foes, and Melbourne are itching for revenge after Sydney thrashed the Victorian side 3-0 when the pair met in an earlier Etihad Stadium encounter last October.

After only 30,372 fans turned out across five matches last weekend – the lowest aggregate total this season – A-League officials could be forgiven their relief over a blockbuster that should draw more fans through the gate than last weekend’s entire round.

The only thing left is to give the interstate grudge match a name.

Host broadcaster Fox Sports made a half-hearted attempt back in October, launching a website poll that featured some of the most ridiculous names for a football game one can possibly imagine.

‘The Big Blue’ came out on top, but given that it was up against ‘Big City Derby,’ the hilariously misappropriated ‘Oz Superclasico’ and the downright bizarre ‘Parra-Yarra Derby,’ it’s not clear whether that was a genuine sign of affection or an attempt to minimise further embarrassment.  

Whatever the truth, fans have mostly avoided employing the strange moniker – opting instead to simply label the match ‘Melbourne Victory vs Sydney FC.’

It goes to show that when it comes to hyperbolic marketing, most A-League fans won’t have a bar of it.

But when it comes to the A-League’s biggest match, there’s no doubt that Melbourne’s classic with their hated harbour city rivals has all the ingredients of a classic.

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