Melbourne City will be looking to right the wrongs of last season’s Grand Final defeat, as they aim to prevent defending Champions and Premiership rivals Sydney FC from completing a historic three-peat.
City have enjoyed a stellar season under rookie coach Patrick Kisnorbo, the former club captain finally ending the club’s seven year wait for silverware as they ran away with the Premiership.
At the heart of the City defence on the road to that historic victory was Curtis Good, the Melbourne native stepping effortlessly into the shoes once occupied by his current coach.
When the City Football Group took over the perennial strugglers, there was an expectation that instant success would follow. However it has been a long and winding road to glory for the rebranded side, one which Good has witnessed first hand returning to his hometown club.
Ahead of Sunday’s Grand Final, City’s defensive rock joined Kick360 to share the hard work and unseen sacrifice that have gone in to getting them there.
“We felt we always had the talent, and we were always surrounded by great players, but it sort of clicked from the start” Good said.
“Even though our start in the league wasn’t great, behind the scenes it was still going well. We were missing a few players early on, but from what we built in pre-season and everyone buying in to what we were doing, and everyone’s role in the team, it sort of showed through that period.”
City started slowly, an inconsistent run of results including consecutive defeats to Perth, the Mariners and the Jets.
“Even early on, I was thinking ‘Oh Jeez, we’ve lost three in a row now.’ I’ve been playing for a few years now but even I was feeling a little bit of pressure, but it’s credit to the whole group collectively, and credit to the coaching staff.”
That 1-0 defeat in Newcastle proved to be the turning point in their season, with City sweeping aside any and all opposition including the famous 6-0 and 7 – 0 derby demolitions of the Melbourne Victory as they surged up the ladder.
For Good, this was testament to the hard work and culture cultivated by Kisnorbo during a gruelling pre-season.
“He’s been fantastic. He’s very passionate, he’s very team orientated. He believes in the team. In pre-season he talked about dying for the guy next to you. It was the hardest pre-season I’ve had, ever. But you’ve got boys who are 32, 33, 34 who are doing the same sort of work rate, and everyone sees them doing it, everyone buys in and gives that ultimate level, and push themselves to the extreme.
“We’ve carried that throughout the season.”
The centre back also credits Kisnorbo’s experience as a player in transforming his own fortunes.
“He usually takes the back four, or a back six with two defensive midfielders. As a centre half, I’ve always found having a defensive minded coach makes it easier. He’s always thinking that way.
“When I first came to the club Paddy was assistant and he helped me a lot in the early days. Tweaking stuff and positioning and heading the ball, so it’s been great working with him.”
On a personal level, the tough times experienced during an injury riddled spell in England has made the 28-year-old appreciate the ‘good’ times even more.
“[This season has] been fantastic. It’s been that much fun. I’ve really enjoyed it.
“Obviously you have darker times in your career and then you have the good times, and this has been a quality year. It’s a great bunch of guys to play with, to go in to training and be around, and the results have followed that.
“Me being a Melbourne boy, living at home always helps. It gives you that all round life experience, and I have to admit, I have thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I was ready to chuck away the game after I came back from the UK. I was trialling at Blackpool and pulled my hamstring after coming back from the hip stuff. I didn’t have a club and was like, I’m coming home.
“I couldn’t get an A-League gig! My agent said go down to Melbourne City for a couple of weeks, have a trial. I packed up all my stuff and came home, with the intent to come back either way.
“Credit to the medical staff and the coaches and PK for signing me after that two week trial because we wouldn’t be here now if that wasn’t the case.”
In his own words, that two week trial saved his career, and Good hopes that his experiences can set an example for other young Aussies who may be struggling overseas.
“During that injury period, I didn’t want to come back to the A-League, because I saw it in my mind as a failure. I wanted to achieve things in the UK and Europe, I felt like going home and playing in the A-League wouldn’t be seen as a success.
“I didn’t come back earlier for that reason and it got to the stage where it wasn’t even about football anymore. I just had to come home and it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me, coming back and playing for Melbourne [City].”
Good’s form for City earned him a Socceroos recall, seven years on from his last cap.
The amazing achievement capped off a long road to recovery for the former Newcastle United youngster, but speaking seven days in to a two week quarantine, it now seems slightly bittersweet.
“[Missing the finals] didn’t really affect me when I was over in Kuwait but sitting in the hotel now it doubles that feeling. It was stressful watching the Semi Final, it was a tough watch… It was great that the boys got the win otherwise it would have been a depressing week if they hadn’t!
“Credit to the boys. There are a lot of boys missing, a few of us and some of the Sydney boys who missed their games, but everyone else pulled together. Especially Cola and Tills up top.”
Despite missing their sprinkling of star power, the Socceroo defender feels that the team first mentality put in place by Kisnorbo, and the backing of their home fans, sets them in good stead for an historic first Grand Final victory.
“It comes back to the system implementation. By working towards that, it gives the team the confidence that can win even though we are missing the Golden Boot goal scorer.
“In my opinion, having the final in Melbourne will help too… even though it’s a 50% crowd, it’s still important. Our fans have been crying out for us to win something and having that support at AAMI Park [will be key]. We’ve played so well there during the season, those kind of things make a huge difference.”
Image Supplied: Melbourne City