Whilst the Men’s equivalent has been around for five seasons longer, Melbourne Derbies held between the Women’s teams of City and Victory are beginning to develop a storied history of their own since the very first in October 2015.
With two very different looking lineups taking to the field that day, the scoring was opened through Marianna Tabain just a few minutes into the second half. Four-time Championship winner with City, Aivi Luik, doubled our lead in the 72nd minute, stepping up to coolly convert her spot-kick. The goal effectively ensured that first Derby bragging rights would be headed our way, despite Whitley Knight’s 92nd-minute consolation goal.
Since that first one, there have been 11 more Melbourne Derbies, with the younger of the neighbours holding the head-to-head advantage with seven wins to five – incredible that we’re yet to see a clash between the teams end in a stalemate.
Despite City’s overall superiority in the contest, one of the most characterising features of the Melbourne Derby, regardless of which gender it is contested between, is that form heading into the clash seems to go out the window by the first whistle, with many results defying spectators’ expectations.
For instance, during City’s historic ‘three-peat’ of Championships between 2015/16 and 2017/18, a period where the club was renowned as the league’s dominant force, Victory still managed to secure wins in two of the six meetings between the teams.
In a similar vein, the fixture’s most one-sided result came earlier this year, with Victory securing a 6-0 win in what was a day to forget for City fans. By the time the final whistle sounded on the 17th of January, just one week later, City had pulled off an incredible 3-2 win that defied all form and logic. It was an unbelievable 90 minutes, with City going two goals ahead early, then getting pegged back to 2-2 by Mindy Barbieri and Catherine Zimmerman, then finding an 86th-minute winner through Harriet Withers (whose crosstown move over the off-season will no doubt pour more fuel on the Melbourne Derby fire).
Withers, of course, is just one of countless players to have turned out in both of Melbourne’s footballing shades of blue, a phenomenon not seen as often in the Men’s equivalent, but all the more beneficial for the added feeling between the two teams as they do battle.
City’s overall head-to-head advantage is reflected in the goals tally between the teams over their 12 meetings thus far, with City netting on 19 occasions to the Victory’s 16 – a number which doubled over the 2020/21 season given their eight goals scored in last season’s Derbies.
The upcoming Round 2 meeting between the teams is a home fixture for our City girls, and is set to be played at AAMI Park, a location synonymous with our Women’s side as the setting for several Championship wins. City tend to be the stronger outfit when playing at home, winning four of the six Derbies they’ve hosted, whilst the record is split evenly at three wins apiece when playing away.
With the 13th instalment of the Melbourne Derby just around the corner, the balance of Women’s footballing dominance in the city appears to be edging closer to parity. Whilst the Victory may have made up ground in regards to silverware and in the head-to-head record, City has an opportunity to once again re-establish some distance from their fierce rivals, but all will be decided when the teams take to the pitch this Sunday.
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