We have taken a long and winding pathway but finally, belatedly we have reached the 2022 A-League Grand Final as Western United will take on the reigning champions Melbourne City.
It will be the 17th A-League Grand Final and we have been treated to some memorable clashes since the competition’s inception in 2005.
After much debate and discussion, we’ve put together this top ten list of the best A-League Grand Finals.
10 – 2016: Adelaide’s Red Letter Day
SCORE: Adelaide United def. Western Sydney Wanderers (3-1)
It was a third Grand Final appearance in four seasons for the Wanderers, but there would be no stopping Adelaide United as they would complete the double on a memorable day at the Adelaide Oval.
There was a sea of red in the stands and they were celebrating early with Bruce Kamau opening proceedings after 20 minutes before Isaias doubled their advantage with this sublime free kick.
“Any corner on this earth that is golazo!!”
Remember when Isaías hit this stunning free-kick in the 2016 Grand Final?
Full Video: https://t.co/GwH51yta8C pic.twitter.com/LUfeFyY5HD
— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) January 24, 2018
Scott Neville gave the Wanderers a lifeline with his goal just before the hour mark but they were unable to find an equaliser as Pablo Sanchez iced the contest in the closing moments of the match.
It capped a remarkable turnaround for the Reds who were stone dead last after eight rounds before going on to claim the premiership in the final weekend of the season.
9 – 2013: The Mariners Finally Win It All
SCORE: Central Coast def. Western Sydney Wanderers (2-0)
In the early days of the A-League the Mariners were the competition’s hard luck story, losing three of the competition’s first six Grand Finals (but more on those later).
Then in 2013, up against the upstart new boys of the A-League and premiers Western Sydney Wanderers, they finally had their moment.
At the site of their 2008 Grand Final defeat the Mariners were able to overcome that final hurdle and give Graham Arnold the Grand Final triumph that had eluded him.
🗣️”The @ccmariners have a championship at last!”
Watch as the Mariners claim their maiden title in the latest installment of @hyundaiaus #ALeague Classic Clashes!
Tune in for a full-match replay of the 2012/13 Grand Final from 7.30pm tonight on our Facebook page! pic.twitter.com/BYGPu5K23L
— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) April 24, 2020
8 – 2007: Archie Goes Off
SCORE: Melbourne Victory def. Adelaide United (6-0)
Scoring one goal in a final is an impressive effort, scoring two is a great day out but to score five on the league’s biggest stage?
Archie Thompson had an absolute fill up against Adelaide United, who spent almost an hour down to 10 men after Ross Aloisi’s second yellow card, which came when they were already down 2-0 to Thompson.
Melbourne could have easily sat back and controlled the game at a steady tempo but instead showed a ruthless edge to pile on a further four goals, three of which were scored by Thompson.
While it will not go down as the closest contest, Archie’s history making day earns this game the eighth spot on our list.
THAT Grand Final when @10Archie scored a record five goals for @gomvfc to become Hyundai #ALeague Champions for the first time 🏆
Relive another @HyundaiAus A-League #ClassicClashes edition of the 2006/07 Season decider tonight on YouTube from 7PM: https://t.co/egKVksarlz pic.twitter.com/3hyafbWOW9
— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) April 18, 2020
7 – 2020: Grant Chests Sydney Over The Line
SCORE: Sydney FC def. Melbourne City (1-0 A.E.T)
They say the key ability any good goalscorer possesses is the ability to be in the right area, or in the case of Rhyan Grant, the right areolas.
In the first of back-to-back Grand Final meetings, Sydney FC and Melbourne City could not be separated through 90 minutes in a tense affair after a frantic conclusion to the season in the Sydney based hub.
Then in the tenth minute of extra time, Luke Brattan lobbed a ball to the back post and with it bouncing at an awkward height, Grant opted for the only finish he could muster, using his chest to get it past Tom Glover.
.@RhyanGrant doesn’t mind a Grand Final goal 😎
Is this the goal that seals the Championship for @SydneyFC? 🤔
📺: @FOXFOOTBALL 507, @kayosports
📱: My Football Live app – https://t.co/tlabbdo8jX#ALeagueGF #SYDvMCY #FootballReturns #SydneyIsSkyBlue #CityTogether #ALeague pic.twitter.com/2KvfbO0gta
— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) August 30, 2020
🗣 “He started out with a plastic milk bottle at his foot.”
Relive the emotions of the 2020 Hyundai #ALeague Grand Final with @RhyanGrant’s family. #ALeagueGF #SYDvMCY pic.twitter.com/4OTXSE4oMd
— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) September 3, 2020
6 – 2012: Berisha’s Cool Finish
SCORE: Brisbane def. Perth (2-1)
The 2012 decider was defined what has been to this point, the most hotly debated Grand Final moment in A-League history.
Admittedly the game itself wasn’t the most exciting affair with the tension of the final certainly impacting both clubs but boy did it escalate late on.
Looking to cap a remarkable run in what would turn out to be Ange Postecoglou’s final game in charge of the Roar, Brisbane went in as short priced favourites against a scrappy Perth side that set out to frustrate the host’s free flowing style.
It almost worked out well as Perth, despite not registering a shot on target held a 1-0 lead thanks to an Ivan Franjic own goal in the 55th minute.
Just like they had done the season before, Brisbane left their run late as Besart Berisha nodded home to restore parity six minutes from full time, then came the moment of much discussion.
Receiving the ball in the box, Berisha’s left leg was clipped as he went to strike the ball and referee Jarred Gillett awarded Brisbane a penalty late in stoppage time.
While the Perth supporters remain adamant it was a dive, a forensic examination does show Liam Miller making contact.
Berisha briefly paused his celebrations to dispatch the spot kick and give Brisbane a second straight Grand Final win.
Back-to-back has never been so sweet, just ask @brisbaneroar 😋
Relive all the action from a see-sawing Grand Final tomorrow night on YouTube with our latest edition of @HyundaiAus #ALeague #ClassicClashes 📺 pic.twitter.com/quwwFS1PfS
— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) April 21, 2020
5 – 2008: Jets Derby Delight
SCORE: Newcastle def. Central Coast (1-0)
Fans descended upon Sydney from Gosford and Newcastle as the F3 Derby took hold of the league’s centre stage.
Having played out an epic Major Semi Final (which the Premiers Central Coast won thanks to a 3-0 comeback in the second leg) the fortnight prior, it was only fitting that they faced off once again for the title.
Moved to Sydney to maximise attendance, over 36000 people filled Allianz Stadium on the day and they were treated to an enthralling contest.
What else did you expect in a Grand Final between these two?!💥
📺 Relive all the heated action of the 2008 #ALeagueGF between @NewcastleJetsFC and @CCMariners from 7PM AEST TONIGHT in the latest @HyundaiAus #ALeague #ClassicClashes: https://t.co/I8mj4syvFB pic.twitter.com/tfjanPnI1D
— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) May 23, 2020
Mark Bridge capitalised on a loose ball just after the hour mark to break the deadlock and the Mariners pushed for the equaliser they felt was inevitable.
It never came however with howls of protest at the end after the Mariners felt they were denied a clear penalty for a handball.
The Jets held on and the celebrations kicked off in the Hunter as their side had reached the A-League summit.
FROM THE VAULT! 🔐
Highlights from our epic 2007/08 Grand Final victory, and the celebrations that followed. What a day!
🎥 @nbnnews pic.twitter.com/WQfwswX3Uq
— NEWCASTLE JETS FC ✈️ (@NewcastleJetsFC) February 24, 2018
4 – 2010: Muscat Off The Post
SCORE: Sydney FC def. Melbourne Victory (1-1 A.E.T. – 4-2 Penalties)
It took five seasons before the Grand Final was a Big Blue between Sydney and Melbourne Victory, but it was well worth the wait with this tense encounter in Melbourne.
The Sky Blues won the premiership on the final day of the regular season ahead of the Victory with a 2-0 win, but Melbourne won the right to host the Grand Final with an extra time win in the Major Semi Final.
Just as he had done two years earlier, Mark Bridge opened the scoring just after the hour mark but it would not be the final action of the game.
Adrian Leijer equalised 10 minutes from full time and the game went to penalties.
Up stepped Kevin Muscat, the Victory captain and the man who was as close to automatic from the spot as one could be… and he struck the post with his attempt and it bounced out.
Shannon Cole was unsuccessful with Sydney’s second shot, but Marvin Angulo handed the advantage right back to the visitors in the third round.
Unheralded Sydney FC defender Byun Sung-Hwan was tasked with the responsibility to win the title, and he dutifully converted, creating a little bit of history for the club as the first side to win a Grand Final outside of their home state.
We re-live our 2010 Grand Final triumph ahead of Sunday’s clash…#SydneyIsSkyBlue #Premi4rs #OneDown #ALeagueGF pic.twitter.com/V4rx8Aeq5s
— Sydney FC (@SydneyFC) August 28, 2020
3 – 2017: Big Blue Back and Forth
SCORE: Sydney FC def. Melbourne Victory (1-1 A.E.T. – 4-2 Penalties)
There is no questioning the atmosphere at AAMI Park for the 2015 Grand Final between these two teams was one of the best in A-League history, but this game deserves its plaudits as well.
A packed out Sydney Football Stadium was rocking as the Victory and Sydney FC traded blows in this gripping encounter.
Besart Berisha scored first for the Victory before Rhyan Grant popped up with the equaliser 20 minutes from time.
There would be no further break through sending the sides to penalties where Milos Ninkovic had the chance to seal the title for Sydney FC, which he dispatched with authority.
Last time we had a home Grand Final, this happened…
Throwing it back to 2017 in our latest Grand Final recap 👏#SydneyIsSkyBlue #Premi4rs #OneDown #ALeagueGF pic.twitter.com/7YeLEOkl4L
— Sydney FC (@SydneyFC) August 29, 2020
2 – 2014: A Roarsome Dynasty
SCORE: Brisbane Roar def. Western Sydney Wanderers (2-1 A.E.T)
Arguably the most colourful A-League Grand Final in the competition’s history saw the orange of the Roar taking on the red and black Western Sydney Wanderers at a packed Suncorp Stadium on a brisk May evening.
Jason Derulo’s half and half jersey from the pregame entertainment sparked plenty of conversation while the 6000-odd travelling Wanderers fans provided arguably the best away fan atmosphere of any Grand Final, at times drowning out the Roar active support.
It looked like it would be a joyous occasion for the visitors when Matthew Spiranovic met a corner early in the second half but the Roar’s killer B’s combination, playing together for the final time combined to level the scores five minutes from full time.
The extra half an hour was not without its drama however nothing topped the Roar’s diminutive forward Henrique outjumping a much taller Wanderers defender to win a header and keep an attack alive that he would later finish for his second career title winning strike.
“𝙃𝙚𝙣𝙧𝙞𝙦𝙪𝙚! … 𝙃𝙚’𝙨 𝙙𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙞𝙩 𝙖𝙜𝙖𝙞𝙣!” 🔥
You can never count out @brisbaneroar in an @IsuzuUTE A-League Grand Final 👊
On this day in 2014, Henrique sealed a dramatic come from behind victory against @wswanderersfc! #WeAreALeagues pic.twitter.com/4rdRCONdZU
— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) May 4, 2022
1 – 2011: Orange Sunday
SCORE: Brisbane Roar def. Central Coast Mariners (2-2 A.E.T – 4-2 Penalties)
There was only ever going to be one option to top our list & it has to go to the best game in A-League history.
Over 50000 fans packed out Suncorp Stadium on a Sunday afternoon decked out in whatever orange garb they could access to back Ange Postecoglou’s Roar side who were on a 27-match unbeaten run.
They had to do it in the hardest, most dramatic way possible, scoring two goals in the final three and a half minutes of stoppage time, including with the last play of the game just to send it to a shootout.
Michael Theoklitos (as he was known at the time) came up big in the shootout, making two saves while every Roar player converted their chances, sending Henrique to the spot to complete the double for the Roar.
Those that remained in Suncorp drew their breath as the Brazilian prepared to strike the ball, putting it past Mat Ryan and cueing jubilation on the pitch and in the sands.
It doesn’t get any better than this.
We’ve already posted this today, but it just deserves a second watch.
Go on, you know you want to…
Sit back & watch the best bits of our #RoarRewind Mini Match of the 2011 @ALeague Grand Final. pic.twitter.com/zxLRRpFJ7S
— Brisbane Roar FC (@brisbaneroar) March 13, 2021
The ultimate way to build up to the Grand Final: The Ultimate Grand Final.
11 years ago @brisbaneroar and Central Coast had Suncorp shaking.
Alex Wilkinson and Kosta Barbarouses played on that day and shared their contrasting emotions. pic.twitter.com/Q3radCnq6c
— Neds (@NedsAus) May 24, 2022