Ranked: The A-League Men players rival fans love to hate

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Many football fans around the world have a strong dislike for certain rival players, and the A-League Men is no different.

Whether it be for their perceived grubby play, their success against your own team or a combination of both, there are many players around the league who fit into the love to hate category.

The following is a ranking of the five most ‘love to hate’ footballers in the A-League Men, with an extra historical honourable mention that only seemed right to include.

So, sit back and enjoy the A-League Men footballers who, whether rightly or wrongly, rival fans love to hate.

5th. Stefan Mauk

Adelaide United fans love Stefan Mauk, it’s as simple as that. Their club captain has well and truly endeared himself to the Red Army, who will defend the midfielder with their last breath. Rival fans however would likely not do the same.

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Known to do everything to get his team the victory, Mauk can often be described as simply annoying by opposition fans.

Whether he is giving away a sloppy foul, winning penalties or complaining to the referee about something, he is a pea in the bed of rival supporters everywhere.

Whilst Mauk is a pest for the away bay, he is the exact type of player that you want on your team. He is passionate about the Adelaide badge, will do anything to get the three points and will defend his teammates no matter what.

That is the definition of a great captain, but also the person that you comfortably want to beat when coming up against.

4th. Scott Jamieson

After playing for five teams during his so far thirteen seasons in the A-League Men, it is hardly surprising that the left-back has rubbed a few fans the wrong way over the years. Combine this with his polarising style of play and it is clear why the Melbourne City captain makes this list.

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For him it ultimately doesn’t matter how opposition fans feel, as he is the perfect fit for this Melbourne City team. Filled with young and skilful players, Jamieson is arguably one of the most important of the lot. He is an enforcer, willing to defend any teammate and is happy to take a yellow card when needed.

That probably best sums up why is is currently so disliked by many rival fans, he does the dirty work for the best team in the league.

Frankly every successful team needs someone like him. If he plays for your club you love his determination and passion, if he brings down your star striker as they are running goal bound, it may be a different story.

Despite his perceived dirty play style, it is interesting to note that he has only ever received one red card in his whole A-League Men career. He does however have 60 yellow cards at under one every five matches, which probably contributes to why rival fans dislike him.

3rd. Matt Simon

Known as the Wizard of Woy Woy, Matt Simon is an icon of the Central Coast. His 11 seasons at the club has made him beloved by nearly every Mariners fan, however the same cannot be said about rival supporters.

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Simon has long been a polarising figure, the true definition of love him on your team, hate him on another. The eighth highest scorer in the competition’s history, the fact that he only has five less yellow cards than goals scored is a fair indication of why he is disliked by many.

His tendency to raise an elbow in an aerial duel, get in a heated clash with almost anyone in the league, or attempt a sloppy tackle are just some of the reasons that rival supporters are not as fond of him as they are on the coast.

The negative perception of Simon has potentially eased over the last few seasons, especially since he came back to the Mariners after his few years with Sydney FC.

It was hard to hate on the Central Coast side in their Cinderella story like 2020/21 campaign, and Simon was a key player in that. His 10 goals was the most he had scored in a single season since 2010/11 and helped propel his side into their first finals appearance in several years.

That being said, if you check any comments section on a post about the Wizard of Woy Woy, you will certainly find one or two people who will happily let you know how they feel about him.

2nd. Rhyan Grant

A few years ago Rhyan Grant would have likely topped this list. Despite a softening towards him by fans around the league, there was no place lower than second where he could slot in.

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His tendency for a bad tackle and somewhat irritating persona on the pitch has led rival fans to have him right on top of their least likeable list.

The last five or so years of Sydney FC’s success has not helped his case either. For many he is the personification of the Sydney FC era of complete domination in the A-League Men’s competition.

Whilst many fans will tell you that the main reason they don’t like him is for his on field antics, the truth is we have all been burnt by a Rhyan Grant Sydney FC team, and he is an easy person to blame for a disappointing result.

People’s opinions have however slowly begun to change about him. His performances since becoming a mainstay in the Socceroos team have earned him plaudits by many, whilst his decision to cut off his beloved mullet to raise over $25,000 for charity received widespread praise.

Even with these redeeming qualities, whether it is his on field antics, playing ability, the team he plays for or a mixture of the three, he is still right at the top of the players rival fans least like coming up against.

Honourable historical mention – Besart Berisha

I couldn’t make this list without mentioning the legend of the A-League Men that is Besart Berisha.

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The best striker in the competitions history made his fair share of enemies during his 10 years in Australia, notably almost every rival fan.

Whether it was his on-field antics, including diving, or the annoying habit that he had of scoring crucial goals for teams that weren’t yours, you would be hard pressed to find an opposition supporter back in the day who was a fan.

Over the years, and especially once he went to Western United, that hatred by many begun to soften.

It was clear that his time on Australian shores was coming to an end, and whilst he could get under almost anyone’s skin at times, you could not help but respect what he had done for the game.

He was a perennial winner, and whenever he wasn’t winning for your team that often left him beating them. However let’s be honest, I think every A-League Men’s fan misses the legendary striker in some way, shape or form.

1st – James Troisi 

You would think that someone who scored Australia’s Asian Cup winning goal in 2015 would be immune from this list. Unfortunately for James Troisi, that isn’t the case.

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Troisi is the definition of a polarising player, someone who many in the away bay are more then happy to voice there displeasure about. The thing that ranks him above many on this list is his relationship with his own fans.

His well documented tumultuous relationship with Melbourne Victory fans ultimately left a bitter taste in both parties mouth when he left to Adelaide at the start of the 2019/20 season.

His one goal for Adelaide before terminating his contract to join the Wanderers did little to endear his home state’s support either. He also has rivalries with clubs including Melbourne City and Sydney FC (remember a certain celebration).

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That being said it is crucial to remember just how good Troisi was in his prime, and if he gets back into the Wanderers match-day squad how good he could still be.

Despite a so called poor season in 2020/21, Troisi was still able to produce seven assists for the Wanderers, to go along with his four goals.

It remains to be seen whether we will ever see Troisi play in the A-League Men again, with his anti-vax comments over the last year doing nothing to help his image among fans around the league.

So there it is, the top five A-League Mens players that rival fans love to hate. No matter which team in the league you support, it is almost guaranteed that at least one of these players listed above has riled you up before.

However before you get too annoyed at any of them on game day, just remember one thing, if they were on your team, you would be loving them.

Feature Image Credit: Peter Hugg

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William Makepeace
William Makepeace
Current Intern covering Canberra United. Sports Media student at University of Canberra who lives and breathes Football

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