Ranked: The A-League Men games played in the most confusing locations

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In light of Perth Glory’s recent temporary residency in Tasmania, as well as the upcoming regional fixtures taking place across the A-League Men, we take a look back at some of the games from previous seasons which retrospectively make little sense on paper.

Over the course of its 17 seasons, the A-League Men competition has been no stranger to distributing its fixtures amongst regional stadiums, even to those that are a long way from the original home bases of ALM clubs.

The arrival of COVID-19 in the 2019/20 season, however, threw such fixtures into disarray when the entire competition was forcibly relocated to Sydney, resulting in 26 of the remaining 27 fixtures that year being played in New South Wales.

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This meant that an overwhelming majority of matches were played on neutral territory, although one team would have to be credited as the “home” side by default. Wellington Phoenix, however, have subsequently run into the same issue, meaning that their home games would have to played in Australia as a result of being unable to compete from back home in New Zealand.

For such reasons, this list excludes the fixtures from the latter half of the 2019/20 season as well as the Phoenix’s “home” games across New South Wales this season and throughout the course of the pandemic. Instead, it will serve to highlight the fixture oddities from previous seasons and rank them accordingly, based on a combination of distance from a club’s original home base, the quantity and unusualness of the games in that particular location, as well as whether or not the matches were played in a different state to the team in question.

1. Adelaide United in Bathurst

Believe it or not, there was actually a day in A-League Men’s history when United played a “home” game some 13 hours from the city of churches in a different state.

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On a warm Wednesday in January of the 2011/12 season, the Reds shared spoils with Newcastle Jets, who were four hours away from home, in front of 2,363 people at Carrington Park. Due to almost nothing about this clash making sense on paper, this mid-season fixture oddity from 10 years ago naturally takes out the number one spot on this list.

2. Central Coast Mariners in Canberra

The Mariners have played in the nation’s capital on four occasions which included two matches in both the 2009/10 and 2016/17 seasons. Each game was attended by just over 5,000 people at GIO Stadium with their most recent match forming an A-Leagues double header to coincide with Canberra United’s 2017 ALW semi-final against Melbourne City.

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In consideration of the pandemic, as well as the Mariners’ Gosford home being nearly four hours from the ACT, it should come as no surprise that the yellow and blue have not returned to their unlikely second home in the last five seasons.

3. Melbourne City (née Heart) in Albury

As part of the continued push to bring ALM matches to regional Australia, a 2013/14 season match between Melbourne City (then Melbourne Heart) and the Glory managed to fill just over a quarter of the 20,000 capacity Lavington Sports Ground in the only regular season fixture ever played in Albury.

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Sitting right on the Victorian border, the southern NSW city’s considerable three-and-a-half hour distance from Melbourne contributes to its high positioning on this list.

4. Brisbane Roar in Cairns

Despite the ground’s oval-shaped configuration, Brisbane Roar ventured up north to Cairns’ Cazalys Stadium for a one-off 2015/16 regular season match against Wellington.

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Attracting a respectable crowd of a little over 5,000 spectators from a possible 13,500, perhaps the biggest oddity from this fixture is the whopping 14 hour distance between the Far North Queensland city and the capital of the sunshine state.

5. Wellington Phoenix in Dunedin

Since entering the ALM in the 2007/08 season, the Wellington based side have been notorious for generously distributing their regular season matches far across New Zealand. From New Plymouth to Penrose to Napier, as well as numerous other Kiwi cities and towns.

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Yet, in another ALM’s tale of long distance, the Phoenix have played twice at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium despite its daunting 800km distance from their home city. The 31,000 capacity stadium, however, only managed to draw the underwhelming crowds of 3,060 and 4,628 for their respective games in the 2012/13 and 2011/12 seasons.

6. Newcastle Jets in Coffs Harbour

The Jets have ventured four hours northward to Coffs Harbour twice in their history, as part of a push to capitalise on the growing interest in grassroots football in Northern NSW.

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Newcastle got the better of Melbourne City in a 2-1 win midway through the 2016/17 season, and more recently shared spoils with Perth Glory in round 16 of last season. Both regular season games attracted reasonable crowds on the Mid North Coast, as 7,891 and 2,967 people respectively flocked to C.ex Coffs International Stadium on the two occasions.

7. Western Sydney Wanderers in Mudgee

With the Mariners set to take on Macarthur FC at Glen Willow Sporting Field in mid-March, this will not be the first time that the Mudgee stadium has hosted an ALM game.

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Back in round four of the 2018/19 season, the Wanderers attracted over 5,000 spectators in the Central West as they played out an entertaining 2-2 draw with Brisbane Roar.

8. Macarthur FC in Newcastle

In another fixture oddity from the 2021/22 Season, Macarthur’s round one clash with the Phoenix was moved two hours up the road to state rivals Newcastle Jets’ home ground McDonald Jones Stadium.

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The season opener, as well as the Bulls’ more sensible round three relocation to Penrith’s BlueBet Stadium, occurred as a result of the condition of the pitch at Campbelltown Stadium being deemed unacceptable for playing. Alas, the two fixtures went ahead in front of 1,188 and 3,014 spectators respectively.

9. Melbourne Victory, Western United and Perth Glory in Launceston

The unusualness of Melbourne Victory crossing the Bass Strait to play matches in Tasmania sporadically over the years has ended only recently.

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With Perth Glory’s temporary relocation to Launceston and Western United’s two “home” games at the same stadium this season, the city has become a happy home to ALM’s games despite University of Tasmania Stadium’s oval-shaped configuration and its considerable distance from Melbourne and Perth, clocking in at 540km and 4000km respectively.

10. Western United and Melbourne City in Sydney

When Victoria were plunged into their fourth COVID lockdown in May of last year, two of the three ALM’s teams from the state packed their bags and headed for Sydney.

The resulting fixtures saw Western United take on that season’s newcomers Macarthur in front of just 550 fans at Leichhardt Oval, whilst Melbourne City played the final game of the season behind closed doors against Newcastle Jets at Netsrata Jubilee Stadium.

In retrospect, the two fixtures would make little sense on paper if, for whatever reason, you had forgotten about Victoria being in yet another lockdown at the time.

Feature Image Credit: Brisbane Roar

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Jimmy Alexander
Jimmy Alexander
Covering Sydney FC for the 2021/22 A-League season. Studying a Bachelor of Sports Media (Journalism) at Charles Sturt University.

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