Last Sunday morning, as I was gingerly recovering from an extraordinary night of football on television, I got a call from my former boss at The Daily Telegraph.
An ebullient Phil Rothfield was raving on about the goal and match that showed how football should be played.
After engaging in many heated arguments with ‘Buzz’ over the years about Australian football and its coverage by the media, it suddenly dawned on me that this most ardent critic of our game was - like the rest of us - besotted with Brisbane Roar’s sensational 4-0 win over Gold Coast United.
Erik Paartalu’s jaw-dropping volley that crowned a majestic team performance would have to be acknowledged by anyone who appreciates sporting excellence, after all. Or so I thought.
My fervent hope that an old antagonist finally had been won over by the men in orange turned to abject despair when he told me that the Wayne Rooney strike in the Manchester derby was the best goal you’ll ever see, the Premier League is what football is all about and the A-League is rubbish, or something to that effect. Cop that!
The point of this story is not to cast any doubts over the validity of Rooney’s outrageous strike that will go down as one of the greatest goals of the year.
Nor is it a case of belittling the Premier League because, for all its faults, it is still one of the most appealing competitions in the world.
What got me really worried was the grim realisation that no matter how well the A-League teams and its players performed, they would always be burdened with comparisons with the finest of the UEFA Champions League, Premier League and La Liga.
Many football people in Australia of course know and accept that the A-League will never ever achieve the same level of excellence as Europe’s rich and glamorous competitions and they do not see this obvious inferiority as a drawback in its development.
As long as the competition keeps getting better, it won’t matter if it does not end up as strong as the Premier League. A similar standard to that of Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Turkey or Scotland would do very nicely, thanks.
But the problem is that many within Australia’s media and, alarmingly, even the football fraternity itself believe that because the A-League is vastly inferior to the Premier League in terms of standard, standing and wealth then it is not worth supporting.
Aussie football would have had nothing to worry about if Rothfield’s misguided views are isolated ... but unfortunately they are not.
The print media still is notoriously unsympathetic towards Australian football’s efforts to raise its standards. Its message seems to be: “we don’t really like soccer and we’ll only ever take you seriously if you become as good as the English”.
It’s like watching your daughter dress up for her formal and telling her that Miss World still looks better.
The media’s antagonistic attitude towards football might explain why The Daily Telegraph, for example, regularly gives a titbits column on the Premier League as much space on Fridays as all other aspects of the Australian game combined.
It might explain why Brisbane Roar’s uplifting march towards the Premiers’ Plate was not adequately recognised by The Courier Mail.
It might also explain why The Age waged a campaign to try to denigrate Australia’s methods in its bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
And what about the commercial television stations! Let’s not even go there!
It is with this unfortunate backdrop that Australian football keeps trying to raise its overall standards to a more acceptable level virtually on its own.
Yet if there is one positive to be drawn from this very sad state of affairs, it is that if the game keeps doing the right thing and its stakeholders remain united behind a common cause, full acceptance within mainstream Australia will come for sure.
And the mainstream media will have no option but to treat the game on its merits, not because it likes it as it pretends to do once every four years when the World Cup comes around but because it is in its own interest to do so.
That would be the sweetest victory of them all.
Meet Our Bloggers
Fondly known as 'Mr Football', Les has been directly involved in all
the major events covered by SBS Sport, including five World Cup
football tournaments. Follow @lesmurraysbs on Twitter.
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Considered one of Australia's most gifted players, Ned Zelic represented the Socceroos 34 times over a decorated career that spanned Europe, Asia and the United Kingdom. Follow @NedZelic on Twitter.
After years playing abroad and a 20-goal career for the Socceroos, David turned his hand to football punditry and is a beach football fanatic. Follow @zdrila on Twitter.
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Philip Micallef is a football writer with almost 40 years of experience. He has worked for News Limited and now SBS. He is a long-time follower of AC Milan.
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British-born Tim works as a journalist and has lived in Brazil since 1994 and provides unrivalled knowledge of South American football.
Hailing from Amsterdam, Ajax tragic Cornell vander Heyden has over 12 years of journalism experience and cites covering the 2006 World Cup among his career highlights. Follow @dvanda101 on Twitter.