Year the fans saw Red
It was fitting one of the most exciting seasons in the A-League’s history ended with a win for Adelaide United in the grand final.
We’ve taken a look back at the season that was and picked out the highs and lows of the 2015-16 campaign.
REDS’ REMARKABLE TURNAROUND
For the first eight weeks of the season, everyone was questioning the decision to bring in former Barcelona star Guillermo Amor as a replacement for coach Josep Gombau who dramatically pulled the pin in the off-season.
Amor’s first eight games in charge proved to be a disaster as his side drew the first two, lost the next four before drawing and losing the next two.
The Reds sat bottom at the end of October and were still there a month later.
A 1-0 win over Perth began the turnaround, with the team going 14 games unbeaten before a 1-0 loss to Melbourne City.
Three wins and a draw secured the Premier’s Plate before dominant performances in the semi-final and grand final secured the remarkable renaissance.
A row between Football Federation Australia and A-League fans threatened to derail the season entirely.
In November a newspaper article named and shamed 198 football supporters who had been banned from attending matches because of poor behaviour.
Melbourne Victory’s North Terrace active supporters group staged a walkout in protest against the poor media treatment and the FFA’s lack of an appeals process.
Other fan groups also staged protests as the row threatened to get out of hand before the FFA and fans met to end the impasse.
WELLINGTON’S NEW DEAL
At one stage it looked as if the Wellington Phoenix might go the way of the now-defunct New Zealand Knights and drop out of the A-League.
The FFA seemed set on a decision not to renew the Phoenix’s A-League licence, but again fans protested, this time in a bid to “Save the Nix”.
It took a while, but the FFA did relent and finally agreed to give Wellington a 10-year extension.
The club was handed an immediate four-year extension up until the end of the 2019-20 season with further extensions of three years to 2022-23 and then 2025-26, dependent on several factors, especially improved broadcast rights from New Zealand.
RISE OF BRUNO FORNAROLI
No one had heard of Uruguayan forward Bruno Fornaroli when he arrived at Melbourne City from the Danubia club in Montevideo.
But he went on to have the best A-League season in the tournament’s history, bagging a record 25 goals in 29 games to help City reach the semi-finals for the first time.
His partnership with Frenchman Harry Novillo (13 goals) was also key.
END OF AN ERA
Archie Thompson scored 90 goals in 224 appearances for the Melbourne Victory, but he will not be at the club next season after he was not offered a new contract.
No news of retirement just yet, but the 37-year-old could join the likes of Patrick Kisnorbo, Josh Kennedy, John Hutchinson and Matthieu Delpierre, who have all left the competition.