1. THAT HEADER
JOSH Kennedy delivers the goal that took Australia to its third successive World Cup.
It had been close to two years since the former Twin City and Boomer wore the national strip — a back injury threatening to de-rail his career.
But on the wet and soggy Olympic stadium in mid-June, it was the J-League striker who found space in front of the Iraq goal.
It should have been no surprise that it was Mark Bresciano who picked out his 194-centimetre frame — the pair started their professional career together at Carlton.
Australia rose on Kennedy’s leap, the header wrong-footing a scrambling keeper and the Yackandandah lad’s place in soccer folklore was secured, a nation’s footballing future assured.
The player once nick-named “Jesus” was once again seen as the saviour of Australian soccer.
2. A GRAND DIVE
IT was supposed to have been the high point of the soccer year.
The Cup final clash between the two best teams all season — Myrtleford and Diamonds.
But a red card to the Savoy’s Charlie Romain ended the contest inside 15 minutes.
Diamonds keeper Cam McCormack dropped as if shot when “chatting” to the English import, the referee consulting with sideline officials before sending him off for a head butt.
It never happened, all charges against Romain were, in a first of the association, dropped.
It was game over and Diamonds won easily.
3. OUR OWN A-GAME
THE A-league draw released in early May had a curious omission — no venue for the early February clash between Melbourne Heart and Perth Glory.
The rumour mill had the game coming to Albury and after several phone calls it was all but confirmed.
It is the first elite footballing league to play for points on the Border — not simply a trial match.
In time Lavington was announced as the venue, Harry Kewell the marquee player for Heart and former Arsenal captain William Gallas part of the Glory squad.
Roll on February 9.
4. POMS, EVERYWHERE
THEY were everywhere and their immediate impact was to lift the standard of the game across the competition.
Myrtleford’s Dan Summers, from England via New York’s Syracuse University and the US college system, led the way with the most goals and the AWFA star player award.
But at Albury City Aaron Gough gave new-found belief to his young team-mates, at Wangaratta Steff Joseph scored the goals with Neil Smith and Richard Hodgman the inspiration.
Hodgman’s long throws made him a cult hero at the Red Devils.
Nagus Henry became the point man at Diamonds and also showed the benefits of his schooling in the English lower leagues.
5. STATE OF ORIGIN
TWO super goals from English imports gave Victoria bragging rights when state of origin soccer returned to the Border on a chilly Friday night in early June.
Driven by the Afonso brothers the concept took the best players from both sides of the Border and threw them into an up-tempo contest at the La Trobe Uni ground.
It was a decent sized crowd for a bitter winter’s night, the players embraced the concept and there is the belief that it will be back next year — perhaps at Easter, perhaps with a clear link to a charity fund-raiser.
6. PLENTY OF HEART
FOR years the cellar dwellers of the competition, just three years earlier thrashed 30-0 by cross town rival Twin City — it was finally a victory celebration for Wodonga Heart.
Having threatened on a number of occasions, Heart broke the drought in early May.
They had just lost their coach Carlo Villani to ill-health and captain Tyson Mason took over the reins and led the celebration at Willow Park when they beat St Pat’s.
The only problem was it had been so long, no one knew the song or even if there was one.
7. BUST OR BOOMERS
A FLIGHT from Turkey, bus ride and broken down car couldn’t stop Gemma Imrie from being part of the women’s cup final history.
And the Albury City star midfielder didn’t let her team down.
City finally beat the Boomers’ hoodoo — a second-half strike by Tayla Page enough to reverse the trend that has seen them runner-up in the cup to their bogey side in the previous two years.
It also ended a remarkable five cups in succession for the women from Glen Park.
A reduction in teams in the top flight made for one of the closest seasons on record with Albury United, Diamonds and Melrose all threatening during the year.
8. LOUIS LET FLY
ENGLISH soccer import Louis Clark says he was racially abused in his stint with Myrtleford — leading to his own poor on-field behaviour.
The midfielder left early and in the wake of a seven-week ban for an ugly incident in a highly-charged 2-2 draw with Boomers.
Clark said his four-month cameo had turned into a nightmare.
He said referees and marshals needed more authority over unruly crowds if they wanted to attract better players to the league.
The man who played professionally in England and was rated fifth best in the US college system admitted he had cracked under pressure.
9. SHINE LIKE A ...
DIAMONDS were outstanding all year.
From the start of the year Jimmy Bell built a squad with speed, touch and a ruthlessness in attack and defence.
Diamonds had the benefit of Nagus Henry up front but the pace and strength of Jarrod Herzina and Jedd Gvozdenovic were a threat from anywhere on the park.
Cup final’s best player Jesse Stephens was a standout and the former Myrtleford man must have rubbed a bit of salt into an old wound on that day late in September.
The squad also went on to lose the semi-final of the champion of champions to the eventual winners.
10. PREMIER PARODY
THE concept is simple.
A team, loosely representative of the Border, playing in an elite competition sitting as the second tier in Australian soccer — just below the A-League.
The Border’s bid looked certain for success until rich, and perhaps selfish, Melbourne soccer institutions sent the matter to court.
It sat in limbo for months, was called off as a possibility for next year and then resurrected at the 11th hour by Football Australia.
Now the Border’s best hope is a Mickey Mouse mish-mash with Shepparton while the AWFA is rumoured to be looking at a National Premier League side of its own but perhaps northward rather than Melbourne.