The following is an excerpt from Football Central’s upcoming book which profiles and studies the most influential clubs in Australian football history. One of those clubs is Brisbane Roar, and this passage tells the story of their fall from possible Premier Plate winners to stumbling at the semi-final hurdle in the third season of the Hyundai A-League 2007/08 season.
Remember 20 January, 2008. It can be managed with an uneasy smile, assuaged by what is now reality though with a mind persistently troubled by the prospect of a circular narrative.
But back then, in the final round of the A-League’s third season, it’s Queensland Roar (now Brisbane Roar) frozen at the gate of a brighter future. The club is on the cusp of a debut Finals Series appearance and the Premiers’ Plate is a prize just 90 minutes away.
Three points on the road to an Adelaide United side sitting sixth are needed to secure a first trophy. While wins for Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners earlier in the weekend mean victory is essential, scheduling is in Roar’s favour and they know one goal will be enough. It should have been simpler; Frank Farina’s side crushed Perth Glory 4-1 away in Round 18 to lead the league with two home matches ahead, from which they took just a point.
Perhaps, in the midst of the Suncorp Curse, wearing the home kit at Hindmarsh Stadium is a poor omen. But nothing external is required to rationalise Danny Tiatto’s recklessness, because it’s entirely keeping with his on-pitch character. “Sometimes he just snaps and tonight he did,” Travis Dodd, Tiatto’s temporary punching bag, remarks after the match.
The former Premier League player’s dismissal is selfish and severe, compounding Bruce Djite’s opener by way of a Griffin McMaster error. When Lucas Pantelis doubles Adelaide’s lead on the stroke of half-time, insecurity is seared into Queensland’s embryonic psyche.
Andy Harper, as if each word could be his last, hurriedly declares the Reds have “stirred up a hornet’s nest of emotion from the Queensland Roar.” He takes the scenic route in classic style, but he’s right.
Even one of the club’s finest triumphs a few dazed weeks later – a 2-0 win over Sydney FC in the Minor Semi-Final second leg, decorated inexplicably by Reinaldo’s sequence of grace, control and poise – fails to convince the lion of its courage.