Tony Mifsud is as diehard of a Melbourne Victory supporter as it gets.
A member of 10 years, a supporter since day dot and one of a number of fans that follow the Victory across the country.
Tony spoke to The Inner Sanctum this week and cast a reflective eye over his experiences at away games at Coopers Stadium as well as what the Original Rivalry means to a Melbourne Victory supporter.
“My number plates are Melbourne victory number plates. My son was born and he got his first Melbourne Victory members pack when he was three weeks old,” Tony chuckled.
“I’ve been to Adelaide for every away game, except for this year’s game due to COVID-19.
“Games are normally on the Saturday and we get to Adelaide by Saturday morning.
“By 12.00 we meet at the pub, whatever pub they’ve allocated for the Melbourne Victory fans and the singing and dancing starts at 12.00.
“Two hours before the game our head of security lets us know that they’ve blocked off the road and that’s when we start marching down to Coopers stadium.
“As well as the carry on before the game, it also goes on after the game. Out of coopers we’re always led out by six or eight coppers on horses.
“At Coopers, you feel like you’re at a zoo. You’re caged in and to your right there’s a stand and it’s a sea of red. You’re one person against a thousand.
“That’s why the Adelaide trip is so good and that’s what the rivalry is.”
The Victory are one of the biggest clubs in the league with a giant supporter base and rivalries with a number of clubs, namely Sydney FC, cross-town rivals Melbourne City and fresh-on-the-scene Western United.
For Tony, though, it is the rivalry with Adelaide United that means the most, and his reasoning is as surprising as it gets.
“As a supporter, as far as looking forward to one of our three rivalry games, it’s the Adelaide one,” he admitted.
“It’s the players. Craig Goodwin, he loves to score against us and now they’ve got that mongrel back.
“I don’t know if I should be saying this but honestly it’s because they’ve got such good players.
“Isaias, he was such a good player but you just love to hate him because he’s so good.
“Adelaide has always had a good player that’s gonna stick it to Melbourne Victory, always, there’s always been some player there that’s gonna give it to us.”
As for a special memory and a Firestarter for the rivalry, Tony says that the 6-0 grand final win is impossible to go past.
As well as the wins, though, he admits that the memory of Victory shortcomings are just as prevalent.
“It started when we gave them six in the grand final,” he began.
“When they took that all back home, the idea of ‘Adelaide were never to be beaten by Melbourne Victory again’, for me that’s where it all started.
“Last year when we came to Adelaide and we got an equaliser, we were still celebrating and Adelaide took the kick off.
“Maria scored in about 30 seconds to go back in front.
“I didn’t see the goal because I was still jumping around and there was beer everywhere.”
Through the highs and lows, Tony admits that the passion has always been there.
He recounted a time when Marco Kurz, then Adelaide United coach who would go on to coach the Victory for a short period of time, lost his cool on the touchline.
“When Marco Kurz was in charge of Adelaide, I think they were beating us by a goal and the board went up for extra time saying eight minutes and Kurz went off his head,” he said.
“Within that time their fullback took too long to take a throw in and Marco Kurz went crazy.
“I’ve never seen anything like it, and then he came and coached us!”
Saturday marks one of the biggest clashes in recent history, with Melbourne languishing down the bottom of the table and looking to turn their season around.
Tony knows as well as anyone that the implications of the result go beyond the three points and has called out for Victory to take a stand, if not for themselves then for their coach.
“We’ve got some players that know what the rivalry is and have played against Adelaide plenty of times,” he started.
“Hopefully they can tell these boys what it’s going to be like and what it means to the fans and the supporters to win this game.
“If I was captain, I would be saying to the boys if we don’t win this game, Brebs isn’t going to be able to feed his family, he has no income.
“If he doesn’t perform this week, that’s it.
“That’s what’s going to get us over the line, we have to get over the line.”
Despite their ladder position, Tony keeps the faith as all good supporters do and knows that in a rivalry game such as this, anything can happen regardless of form.
With desperation a driving factor, he says that Melbourne will get the win, simply because there is no other option.
“There’s been some hard questions asked of our club and when questions are asked of our players, there’s always a chance that the team will perform.
“That’s what I’m hoping for this week.
“We do not have a choice, we have to get over the line, we have to get a win and I think we will.
“We lost one of our rival games last week, we can’t do that two weeks in a row. We just can’t.”