What will Johnny Warren do in the A-League on his 79th anniversary?

Melbourne City failed to cement their perceived bias for the 2021-22 A-League Championship on Wednesday night, as Adelaide United stood firm and drew 0-0 in the first leg of their semi-final at Coopers Stadium.

Similarly, like the derby clash between Western United and Melbourne Victory the day before, the match had everything that neutral fans could expect; Possibilities on both ends, flashy attacks and defensive work which should be appreciated. Yet, sadly, on this occasion, no goal was scored.

The second leg will now be a crucial game for our grand finalists to decide, with Victory seeking to secure their place from unbeaten in 16 games and City desperate to suppress the dangerous Reds at the return fixture at AAMI Park.

As a league, the two-leg semifinal concept is a test. So far, it certainly seems to have kept the interest and it was a blessing for Melbourne fans, three of the four matches will be played at AAMI Park.

From the outside, it looks like a format the A-League owners are willing to follow in the coming years, despite an apparent reluctance to run out of two legs to decide the overall champions.

With 12 teams now competing and the recent expansion clubs proving more than competition, the A-League certainly looks a lot different from the first one that engulfed our television screens in 2005.

The competition was officially born in April 2004, just as NSL rolled into a financial and structural catastrophe.

A few months later, Australia’s most enthusiastic football advocate, Johnny Warren, died of a respiratory complication related to lung cancer inside him, a disease caused by lifelong cigarette smoking.

Tuesday 17 May would have been Warren’s 79th birthday, if we had been lucky enough to have him still with us. Instead, the man who played 42 times for Socrates and represented our country at the 1974 FIFA World Cup, where Australia first appeared, has since watched Australian football from afar.

From his lofty perch in heaven, Johnny saw the A-League birth, its multiple successes and failures, and the Scorpions have led Australian football fans to the most fruitful but frustrating ride since World Cup regulars, and he won’t. Doubtless you will be impressed by the growth of women’s football and the role that Matildas has played in inspiring thousands of young women to kick a goal.

Kia Simon of Matildas celebrates his team's only goal in two games in an international friendly series between the Australian Matildas and the United States women's national team on November 30, 2021 at the McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer / Getty Images)

(Photo by Cameron Spencer / Getty Images)

Johnny Warren would love to see it personally.

During his time on Planet Earth, Warren Kane warned everyone that despite the institutional dislike and disrespect for football in Australia, it would one day flourish. On his death anniversary on Tuesday, I was forced to think about how former broadcasters, writers, coaches and players could evaluate the current A-League competition; The decisions that have taken it to this stage and how successful it seemed throughout its first decade and a half.

Despite constant criticism from some sections of the Australian media, Warren thinks Warren was probably surprised to see an almost complete AAMI park for the Big Blue or Melbourne Derby, just like the idea of ​​mixing it with a competing New Zealand-based team. The locals used to fascinate him every week.

Johnny undoubtedly would love to see our best young talent given opportunities abroad, something that is extremely rare for his people and – knowing full well that the long-term future of the game depends on the serious promise of a commercial broadcast partner – maybe the A-Leagues and Network 10 / Paramount + Satisfied with the current arrangements.

There are plenty of modern elements that Warren will undoubtedly claim to back up his famous “I told you” line, warning of patient and long-term plans and vision to put Australian football on the map once and for all.

I think he will be happy with the progress, but he is disappointed with the decision-making process at the administrative level, which seems to have deprived many football fans of the right to vote. Some are completely isolated, Eurosnobari is widespread and the presence is going to be problematic.

The constant and challenging fight for corporate dollars, media space and general attention will undoubtedly be high on his agenda if Johnny appears on the court in an open football discussion.

He will be much more professional and successful in an elite-level competition in which he was fortunate enough to take part, yet ‘Captain Sakaru’ may be as disappointed as the rest of us in the case of the snails – the game progresses in Australia.

Some might tell me Warren might say, “Look, I told you so, but we still have a long way to go.”

Happy Birthday Johnny.

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