The top 10 A-League blow-ups

The infamous flash point between then Adelaide coach John Kosmina (L) and Kevin Muscat (R) (Getty).

Ahead of the opening match of the A-League's 10th anniversary season, The World Game is celebrating everything the game has had to offer over the past nine seasons of euphoric highs and comical lows. From the very best matches to the best goals, biggest blow-ups and even the signing of a non-existent player, our stable of A-League experts has it covered.


Next cab off the rank is Toby Forage who brings you the biggest blow-ups in Part 3 of TWG's Power of 10 specials.


With Sydney FC struggling in a dour Sydney derby against Western Sydney Wanderers, coach Frank Farina decided to remove star man Alessandro Del Piero from proceedings with 10 minutes to play at Pirtek Stadium, throwing on youth player Dylan Caton for his first run in Sky Blue.

The Italian great swallowed that call about as easily as a bowl of undercooked penne, leaving Terry McFlynn hanging as he tossed him the captain's armband, and flashing a death stare in the direction of Farina that Julie Bishop would be hard-pressed to match.

To top it all, Sydney FC coughed up any points it might have won in the 87th minute when Brendon Santalab scored to win it for the host. Not a happy day for the Sky Blues.

9. GRIFFITHS'S NUT JOB – October 2007

Newcastle Jets star Joel Griffiths took the concept of going nuts a little literally when he ploughed his fist into the assistant referee Alex Glasgow's crown jewels during a match against Central Coast Mariners.

But thanks to referee Matthew Breeze issuing him with a yellow card for the nut punch, FFA could take no further action against the player. He was fined by the club but perhaps should have missed a few games for his indiscretion.

8. VUKOVIC v SHIELD – February 2008

Don't touch the referee. It's a simple enough instruction, but one Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic decided to ignore during the 2008 grand final loss to Newcastle Jets.

Upset at referee Mark Shield not awarding a penalty to his side during the match, Vukovic slapped the whistleblower.

He initially received a 15-month ban for his troubles - on appeal a convoluted split suspension was handed down - and he missed out a trip to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in the process.

7. BLEIBERG v PALMER – February 2012

Gold Coast United – how we miss that club, not least when it was under the management of Miron Bleiberg and Clive Palmer.

Bleiberg, of course, was the coach and Palmer his billionaire owner. But when the latter took it upon himself to name 17-year-old Mitch Cooper as the club captain on his debut against Melbourne Heart, Bleiberg was less than impressed.

When asked by media for his thoughts on the decisions, the outspoken coach claimed it was a "ceremonial" appointment. Well, that went down like a lead balloon with the big wigs, and the coach was promptly suspended after chief executive Clive Mensink deemed it "inappropriate" for Beliberg to pass judgement on the matter.

After being told his comments were disrespectful to Cooper and Palmer, Bleiberg did what most people might have done and walked out on the club.

By the end of the season, after Palmer's rants against FFA, his Freedom Of Speech stunt, closing stands and upsetting fans, labelling football a "hopeless game" and running battles with FFA CEO Ben Buckley, Gold Coast United was dumped from the A-League. It certainly went out with a bang.

6. KALAC v PETRATOS - 2012

Getting yourself on the wrong side of a man that stands more than two metres tall is not the best of ideas, but that's exactly what Dimitri Petratos did when he got a bit too cheeky for Zeljko Kalac's liking during a Sydney FC training session.

Playing a small-sided match, Petratos ripped into the Sky Blues goalkeeping coach for taking a shot at goal rather than passing the ball to him. Kalac told his young charge to "shut up", although slightly less politely than that. And the argument continued.

''If I hear that from you again, I'll break your jaw,'' Kalac reportedly said. ''Just play and worry about what you're doing and not anyone else.''

The two got close to becoming physical before Terry McFlynn stepped in as the peacemaker. Meanwhile, head coach Ian Crook appeared completely unfazed by the whole episode.

"I've seen punch-ups before. They're things that don't bother me. They're things that happen ... in every squad I've ever been in," he remarked.

5. BIRIGHITTI v REGAN – March 2014

Taylor Regan left this altercation with a face full of claret after a disagreement with goalkeeper Mark Birighitti saw the pair come to blows at Newcastle Jets training.

Reports suggested Regan had thrown a ball into the back of Birighitti's head, lighting a fire under the goalkeeper. They butted heads, an act that presumably split Regan's eyebrow.

"You want your players to have a competitive nature and show passion on the field because that's a key ingredient for success in any sport," Jets chief executive Robbie Middleby said in a statement.

If it had been anywhere other than the training field, the Jets might have done better.


It seems not a game can go by without everyone's favourite Albanian doing something nuts, but during Season 7 of the A-League, when he got worked up not just with opponents, but team-mates as well.

Let's start in January, when Berisha and Sydney FC defender Pascal Bosschaart had a little disagreement, and when we say little, we mean enormous. There was history, when in December Sydney snapped Brisbane's 36-game unbeaten streak. Berisha claimed Bosschaart wasn't kind about his family, and the big stopper also upset Ivan Franjic and Erik Paartalu.

So when the two teams met again, and Berisha scored the winner at the death, the Albanian was only too happy to give it to Bosschaart. Shirtless, he gestured to Bosscaart to join him in the dressing room for a physical stoush, and before you could say "seconds out", both teams were involved in a mass brawl as officials tried to calm things down.

Note in that clip James Meyer doing his best to calm Berisha down. A few months later, Berisha took aim at his young team-mate in a bizarre argument after a 2-0 win over Central Coast Mariners as the players left the field.

In conclusion, B is for Besart, and Berisha, but also for bonkers.


The spat between Sydney FC's Ali Abbas and Western Sydney Wanderers forward Brendon Santalab was a big test for Football Federation Australia's disciplinary process. Ali Abbas claimed Santalab racially vilified him in a spiteful match that the Sky Blues won 3-1.

Abbas, who scored from the spot to seal the game in stoppage time, said after the game: "I come from a different country, I respect everyone here - I should get it back.

"If I don't get it back, I'm going to attack. That's what happened. If people attack religion, if people attack culture, I'm against that. We need to stop that."

Abbas claimed he was called a "[expletive] Arab Muslim [exlpletive]", and blew up like an Icelandic volcano on the park, snapping at Santalab as his team-mates tried desperately to pull him away.

Santalab was cleared of any wrongdoing after FFA was unable to make a decision on a punishment owing to what it claimed was a "lack of evidence".


He looks like a mild-mannered character, the sort any mother would love, but when Aurelio Vidmar spat the dummy after Adelaide United's 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Melbourne Victory during the A-League finals series, the air turned blue.

"It was a disgrace, an absolute disgrace. We owe the world an apology, a performance like that was a disgrace," Vidmar blasted, perhaps overstating the interest of "the world" at the time.

"Politics, that's what I put it down to. There are too many people in this club with hidden agendas. That's the problem. That 4-0 result tonight was politics, nothing else. Whether you are involved directly or indirectly you have an effect.

"Because of a pissant town, this club will never win anything until you get rid of that crap."

In the absence of the actual clip, here is a hilarious remix for your enjoyment

Vidmar said it would take a massive "heart-to-heart" to get his players back on track before the following week's match against Queensland Roar for a place in the grand final and another chance at redemption against Victory.

"You either got balls or you don't have balls, Monday we will see who has them and who hasn't and then we need to come out on Saturday and show that we have got them," Vidmar said.

Sure enough, the balls were on display against Roar, Adelaide winning 1-0 to reach the showpiece final. But a week later, they'd shrunk back out of sight, and the Reds lost the grand final 1-0, copping five yellow cards and a red in the process.


When two of the more volatile characters in Australian football clash, you can expect fireworks, although a Sydney Harbour New Year had nothing on John Kosmina and Kevin Muscat's infamous stoush during an Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United match at Docklands in 2006.

With the ball sent into touch and nestling under Kossie's chair, Muscat stormed over to retrieve it, barging into the Reds coach's garden chair in the process and sending him tumbling to the canvas in somewhat unceremonious fashion. Unimpressed, Kosmina popped up like a Jack in the box, grabbing Muscat's throat before the two were separated by players and officials.

Adelaide won the match 1-0, both men defended their part in the bust-up, and Victory went on to win the grand final against Kosmina's side 6-0. Muscat, therefore, wins on points.

And to ensure the incident is never forgotten, Victory and the Reds now play for the Kosmina-Muscat Cup each season.

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Source: SBS