Wednesday, 7 September 2005 4:00 PM
“As far as we’re concerned this is the Grand Final”. Those are the stern words from Heidelberg United skipper Eric Vassiliadis ahead of Sunday’s Vodafone Premier League blockbuster at Olympic Village.
The Warriors, a team only promoted back to the top flight this season, and South Melbourne, a club that had concerns about relegation in the pre-season, are within 90 minutes of the premiership decider on Sunday, September 18.
Vasilliadis is salivating at the thought of a packed Olympic Village against arch rivals South Melbourne, and he had a simple message for his younger South Melbourne counterpart Robbie Cattanach at a press conference at FFV headquarters today – “enjoy yourself”.
“I’ve played at this level for over a decade. I’ve won a Premier League title with Heidelberg and looking back you really have to make the most of it”, explained the Warriors leader. “If you can’t enjoy your football in front of what should be 10,000 plus screaming passionate fans, then you never will”.
Vasilliadis also joined FFV Chief Tony Pignata’s call to Victorian football fans to get to the game and be part of a cracking atmosphere. “The Victory are on the road and there is no AFL in town, so we call on all fans of the game to get down and check out what should be a frenetic and entertaining football match” said an enthused Pignata. Those heading to the match are advised to make sure they arrive early.
For his part, Cattanach has been a welcome inclusion into a South side that at times stuggled to find goals. He now says he has settled in after a mid-season move from NSWPL side Blue Devils, where he won the Gold Medal for player of the year.
“I’ve been warming to the fans and hopefully they have been warming to me”, said Cattanach, who says he received strong support from the blue and white section of the crowd when he missed his penalty kick against Green Gully on Saturday.
Cattanach is yet to play in a South / ‘Bergers derby, but says he can feel the anticipation amongst his team mates already. “On the track and in the rooms, there is a real buzz this week, you can sense something special is in the air”.
South boss John Anastasiadis, a man who has played for both clubs, is quietly confident of a win. “We have moved on from last week and are focused on Sunday. We have some small injury concerns including Con Blatsis, who we’ll give as much time as he needs to get himself right” said the South gaffer.
The day is getting nearer and for one team, the fairy tale is almost complete. Heidelberg, up from the lower leagues can smell it. South, a team built almost from scratch after losing all but a couple of their NSL list, can sense it too.
Sunday sees the biggest rivalry in Australian football back in the spot light. Awaiting the victor is 6 months of bragging rights and a date with the Green Gully Cavaliers in the Vodafone Premier League Grand Final.