Football groundLong distance relationships are hard, especially when the love of your life is 17,000kms away. Absence makes the heart grow fonder so you can imagine the excitement that has been building since it was announced that both Manchester United and Liverpool were to travel down under for matches that meant so much more than mere pre-season friendlies.

Interest has been unprecedented with all 84,000 tickets for United’s game against an A-League All Star XI in Sydney gone inside half an hour. As one of the first chances to see life after Sir Alex Ferguson many are wondering how David Moyes will keep the trophy-hoarding juggernaut rolling on.So keen in fact that 20,000 paid simply to see an hour-long training session.

A comprehensive 5-1 win helps allay worries but for those in attendance the visit of the Champions was something special. Keith White, Chairman of the Brisbane Manchester United Supporters Club said: “Its fantastic. A lot of fans here have never seen United in the flesh so for me this is really for them. For most average Australian families a trip to Old Trafford is just too expensive so getting them here its a once in a lifetime event. For the ex-pats who now call Australia home it’s a nice reward for getting up at crazy o’clock every weekend.”

For such a sport-mad city the arrival of Liverpool four days later took interest in soccer (as the locals call it) to new heights in Melbourne. Despite having two local teams the sport ranks well behind Aussie Rules yet such a visit could change perceptions. A record-breaking 95,446 crowd saw Liverpool labour to a 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory at the MCG with the build-up dominating the local press alongside the AFL and The Ashes.

With so many ex-pats struggling for regular sleeping patterns during the Premier League season the visit of the two biggest English clubs has proven a fillip. Viewing figures for the live terrestrial TV coverage has shown that while football may be down the list in terms of popular sports the biggest clubs can still garner huge interest. Let’s make it a regular thing shall we?


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