The future of the A-League

Hyundai A-League fan Andrew Urry believes the success of the competition lies with the next generation of fans.

Hyundai A-League fan Andrew Urry believes the success of the competition lies with the next generation of fans.

Moving to Australia as a baby and growing up in an immigrant family but not knowing anything other than living in Australia.

Not a unique experience by any means, a well-trodden path followed by many in this country for generations. A path my 4-year-old son is on right now.

Born within ear-shot of Roots Hall, home ground of English League 2 side Southend United, before moving with his family to Brisbane a few months before his first birthday.

Leo is football mad. He really did kick a ball as soon as he could walk and has been attending ‘Little Kickers- from 18 months old. When there is football on TV, which is often in our household, he always picks a team that he wants to win and cheers for them loudly throughout.

It-s this issue of picking a team to support for a more long term commitment which could be a thorny issue.

Like many migrants to Australia I bring with me my own passion for a club back home and am and always will be a ‘Shrimper-, that same Southend United Football Club who-s home my son was born so near to.

First thing I did on the morning after he was born was wait for the club shop to open and buy him his first kit and it was at the next home game that I wet the baby-s head with beer and my fellow supporters. So Leo has a family tradition to uphold.

However there aren-t many opportunities living in Australia for me or him to see Southend play. So my live football fix has been from watching Brisbane Roar play.

First game I attended was within a few days of arriving here and I-ve been a member ever since. As of last season Leo has come to some games with me. I-d like to say he was hooked from the start but in truth he was more interested in the ‘big telly- behind the goal, looking out for Roary and the promise of lemonade at half-time… then came the Grand Final.

From the moment we stepped off the train and started to walk towards the stadium he realised it was different. The sheer number of people, the colour, the noise – everything that makes the atmosphere of a genuinely huge game and which makes my stomach do somersaults with excitement were obvious to him too.

Wide eyed he took it all in, excitedly he asked questions and made comments on what he saw.

Then of course there was the game itself. Many thousands of words have been written about what happened and many more would be needed to do it justice.

Suffice to say seeing him stand on his seat and jump around with the pure thrill of seeing Brisbane win in such a manner made me realise that any battle I may want to fight to make him a Southend fan was lost.

Ask him who he supports now and he-ll say without missing a beat “Brisbane Roar”. When we play football in the garden he pretends to be Brisbane and I pretend to be Southend and of course he always wins.

There is no question of divided loyalty for him and hopefully when he has 30 years of going to games behind him as I have he-ll be able to look back to that Grand Final Day as the day he become a Roar fan.

It is him and many other kids like him who will ensure this league will grow and prosper, long may that continue.