Whilst his Melbourne City teammates lift the 2021 A-League Championship trophy following its victory over Sydney FC in last season’s Grand Final, Curtis Good watched on from the confines of a hotel room after returning from Socceroos duty.
Though he was later able to share in the post-match celebrations in a small way, passed around by his teammates who spoke ecstatically to him via FaceTime, Good still felt a very long way from what was taking place at AAMI Park that night.
“Being locked up is one thing, being locked up alone is another,” he said of the experience, “It was pretty stressful to be honest.”
The 29-year-old defender was certainly able to empathise with the emotions that those in the stands at AAMI must have been experiencing, going through the full compliment of emotional highs and lows that come with being a football fan over the course of 90 minutes.
“I probably felt like most of the fans felt,” he said, “It was definitely a lot more stressful than actually playing.”
It is fitting that Good has now experienced Grand Finals both as a fan and, one year earlier, as a player. The centre-back was named in Erick Mombaerts’ starting XI for the 2020 Championship decider, against Sydney FC in a fierce contest that required extra time to decide its outcome.
Rhyan Grant’s 100th-minute chested-winner broke City fans’ hearts that night as they watched on from back home in Victoria and the defeat took quite the toll on Good and his teammates too.
“I remember being extremely disappointed after it, it was quite upsetting,” Good said.
“Even though we were underdogs that year, we still felt like we should have won the game.”
Given that Good’s first Grand Final appearance came amidst the New South Wales COVID ‘bubble’ arrangement that enabled the 2019/20 season to be finished, before he missed the second entirely, the defender says he’s not quite sure how to compare this week’s preparations to the build-up for the 2020 decider.
“I assume this is how you normally prepare for a Grand Final!” he laughed.
It is, in a sense, ironic that Good will go from missing last year’s Championship decider to preparing to play a key role in this one. He’ll match up against one of the league’s most in-form strikers – and one of Western United’s most influential players – Aleksandar Prijovic.
With the Serbian striker particularly coming into form late in the regular season (after our last meeting with the Green and Black), Good was asked whether this will factor into how he prepares for Saturday’s blockbuster.
“My preparation doesn’t really change,” he answered, “During the week we have a look at some individuals to see how to go about best defending them and we have to pay him respect, he’s been in great form and scored a lot of goals.
“It’s not about changing your game, it’s about just being aware and it’s going to be fine.”
After acknowledging the quality of his upcoming direct opponent, there is also a respect for the calibre of opposition that his team as a whole will be facing. United have proven their quality in previous meetings this campaign and Good knows that his side will be in for the biggest challenge of their season.
The positive, he explained, is that the City boys will have a massive advantage up their sleeves.
“It’s good to be in Melbourne with the home crowd supporting us,” he said.
“As you saw in the Adelaide game, the crowd helps us so much.
“It gives us the extra support to keep the boys going, whether the boys are getting tired or it’s getting deep into extra time, if you’ve got the crowd supporting you it makes a big difference.”
With the biggest match of the 2022 season now just one more sleep away, Good summarised the excited anticipation of fans and players well.
“It’s just about the wait now. You just want to get out there.”