The Top 10 A-League Grand Finals

The 16th edition of the A-League Grand Final and 44th season of top flight football in Australia will conclude on Sunday evening as Sydney FC and Melbourne City face off at AAMI Park.

It is a repeat of the 2020 decider which saw Sydney claim its fifth national league crown.

With Fox ending its partnership with the A-League after this weekend, we thought it was worth taking a trip down memory lane and looking through the top 10 A-League Grand Finals since the competition’s inception.

10 – 2016: Seeing Red

Having lost both of their A-League Grand Finals to date, Adelaide were undoubtedly ecstatic to host the 2016 decider and avoid the Melbourne Victory.

The Western Sydney Wanderers, fresh off a pulsating Semi Final win over Brisbane were also hoping to break their Grand Final drought having lost in 2013 and 2014.

Adelaide got off to a flying start and in an anomaly for most A-League Grand Finals, scored twice in the first half including a remarkable free kick.

Western Sydney pulled one back through Scott Neville however in their efforts to try and find an equaliser they were caught in the final minute of normal time as Adelaide clinched their first A-League premiership.

9 – 2013: Arnie and The Coast Break Through

For so long, Graham Arnold and the Central Coast were the A-League’s equivalent of Ted from Scrubs.

But on one fantastic day (for them) in April 2013, the Mariners were finally crowned kings of Australia.

Having suffered a pair of heartbreaking Grand Final defeats in previous seasons, the Mariners took on the Western Sydney Wanderers, who had won the Premiers Plate in their maiden season.

While the match itself did not reach any great heights you have to put it on this list for the storyline of the little engine that could finally reaching the peak of the mountain.

8 – 2007: Archie’s Historic Day

Adelaide would love to pretend this day never happened, Archie Thompson will never let anyone forget it.

The Victory striker who suffers from a massive excess of personality had a day most people only dream of, scoring five in his side’s 6-0 belting of the Reds.

He had his first two goals of the day by the time Adelaide’s Ross Aloisi was sent off in the 34th minute and the match was over as a contest there.

Thompson completed his hat-trick six minutes before half-time and added two more before being substituted in the 90th minute.

To cap it all off, his replacement Kristian Sarkies scored the Victory’s sixth in stoppage time.

7 – 2020: Grant In The Right Areolas  

How many players can say they scored the winning goal in an A-League Grand Final?

Only a handful.

How many players can say they scored the winning goal in an A-League Grand Final with their nipple?

Just one, Sydney FC’s Rhyan Grant.

Sydney FC and Melbourne City could not be separated in the 2020 decider thanks to a pair of stellar goalkeeping displays and the match went into extra time scoreless.

In the 100th minute, Grant ran to the back post and with Luke Brattan’s cross at an awkward height, he chested it into the open goal.

6 – 2012: It Was A Penalty

In all honesty, this match is even lucky to be on the list at all because for 80-odd minutes, it was one of the worst football matches this country has seen.

Brisbane’s rampant attack was stymied by a dogged Perth side that was happy to play the underdog role, which unfortunately resulted in a dour match.

It looked like Perth’s approach of winning despite having no shots on target would pay off when Roar defender Ivan Franjic turned the ball into his own net giving them a lead to defend.

As he had done so often that season, Besart Berisha got on the end of a Thomas Broich cross and nodded home the equaliser 10 minutes from time before being the central figure of the most hotly debated call in A-League history.

Late in stoppage time, Berisha was winding up to shoot when Perth’s Liam Miller clipped his foot, mildly knocking him off balance and now Premier League referee Jarred Gillett gave Brisbane a penalty.

Berisha converted giving Brisbane back to back A-League titles.

Was it a soft decision?

Absolutely, but it was the right one, not that Perth will ever be convinced otherwise.

5 – 2008: An F3 Derby to Remember

As much fun as this match would have been played in Gosford, moving it to Sydney only added to the spectacle.

Local rivals Central Coast and Newcastle made the decider and for all money it looked like the Mariners would build off their stunning come from behind win in the Major Semi Final over the Jets.

After all, the Mariners had won the Premiership and were arguably the better side, however one brief slip by Tony Vidmar opened the door for Mark Bridge to score the match’s only goal.

It was all around chaos at full time with Central Coast claiming they should have had a penalty for a handball by Newcastle’s James Holland only for referee Mark Shield to deny their claims… how much would they have loved to have VAR that day…

Mariners keeper Danny Vukovic slapped the arm of Shield and earned himself a red card plus a lengthy ban.

It was the worst day in the Mariners short history… for a few years at least.

4 – 2010: Muscat Off The Post

Some say that Melbourne Victory fans can still hear the sound of the ball clanging off the upright at what is now known as Marvel Stadium.

It was the first time the two biggest clubs in the A-League had faced off in the Grand Final and we were given a real treat on the night.

Goals from Mark Bridge and Adrian Leijer left us level after 90 minutes and a cagey extra 30 minutes meant that the Grand Final would be decided from the penalty spot for the first time.

The normally ever so reliable Kevin Muscat drilled his penalty wide and it rebounded out, giving Sydney an early edge.

Shannon Cole was unsuccessful for Sydney however Marvin Angulo handed the advantage right back to the visitors with another failed attempt.

Sydney claimed its second Championship from there and it was undoubtedly made all the more sweet considering who they defeated.

3 – 2017: A Big Blue Bonus

Seven years later it was a very different story as these sides met in the Grand Final for the third time.

A rocking Allianz Stadium in Sydney saw one of the best rivalries at the time add another storied chapter.

Two years after demolishing Sydney in the Grand Final, Besart Berisha was back to his old tricks, opening the scoring before Rhyan Grant levelled things up with 21 minutes remaining.

Just like in 2010 the Grand Final between these two would be decided from the spot and just like in 2010, Sydney emerged as the victors after holding their nerves.

2 – 2014: Brisbane’s Dynasty Continues

It’s fair to say that the A-League offers a unique atmosphere when the fans are allowed to put on proper demonstrations.

The atmosphere in Suncorp Stadium for the 2014 A-League Grand Final may never be matched as the Wanderers became the third side to fall victim to the fast finishing Roar.

Under the stewardship of Mike Mulvey this time, the Roar stormed to the Premiership and booked in Orange Sunday III in front of their fans.

But the Wanderers came to play as well filling out one corner of the ground and deafening those in attendance at times.

On the pitch it was another classic Roar Grand Final with plenty of action before Besart Berisha levelled eight minutes from full time and Henrique was able to play the hero in extra time.

1 – 2011: Brisbane’s Miracle Escape Act

There was only ever one option to take out the top spot.

Back when Brisbane and the Central Coast were A-League superpowers they faced off in the best A-League decider.

A sold out Suncorp Stadium greeted the two teams who traded blows for 90 minutes but nobody could land the necessary punch, sending the match to extra time.

Central Coast thought they had won it with a pair of goals before the vaunted Roarcelona outfit stormed home.

Goals from Henrique and Eric Paataluu in the final four minutes of extra time sent the match into penalties where the Roar claimed their first Championship.