How good was the weekend?
No, seriously, how good was it?
It might have only been for a moment – but it was enough to make people forget about everything wrong with football in Australia and appreciate the game being played at it’s best.
The two contests could not be any more different.
On Friday night, Premiers Perth Glory got out of jail, while Sydney FC’s 12-month plot for revenge came into action on Sunday, setting the stage for another classic Grand Final.
It is perhaps fitting the two best sides from the last two seasons face off for the A-League’s most converted prize.
For the first time, perhaps ever, this finals series has felt like an elite competition.
Despite finishing sixth, Wellington played entertaining and aggressive football and deserved their place in the series – as did all the teams.
Even the dullest of the games between Adelaide United and Melbourne City featured a late piece of drama with Ben Halloran winning the match in the 119th minute.
For all its flaws, Australian football was showcased at its best over the last fortnight – indicating the league on the field is at least heading in a positive direction.
The weekend also amplified the significance of the finals in the A-League.
Unfortunately contests like the weekend’s are few and far between, and this season the finals were once again called upon to save the competition.
It may have been the fourth time the two sets of sides had faced off this season, but this did not seem to matter given the significance of the respective ties.
The excitement delivered by the weekend’s action is as good as an advertisement for the finals series as any, indicating – for the short term at least – the A-League is reliant on its finals.
It may be a concept unfamiliar to some, but finals are enriched within Australian culture and has given not only A-League fans but fans from the days of the National Soccer League moments they will never forget.
While eradicating the finals may be something football traditionalists would prefer, it will not do anything to benefit the league, at least until promotion and relegation is introduced.
Promotion and relegation would add further excitement and interest to the competition over a longer period, reducing the need for the “sugar hit” of knockout finals football.
But before Australian football shifts its attention to the issues surrounding the game, this finals series has reminded fans there is exciting action on our doorstep – not just in Europe.