As a 22-year-old, David Carney won the first ever Hyundai A-League championship with Sydney FC. Eleven years on, the former Caltex Socceroo is on the cusp of adding another.
GRAND FINAL MEMORIES STILL VIVID
Carney was part of the Sky Blues side that won the inaugural championship, beating Lawrie McKinna’s Central Coast 1-0 in the 2005/06 Grand Final.
“I remember we started off very slow and they had a couple of chances at the start – for some reason we were a bit flat,” Carney told reporters as Sydney FC continued their build-up to Sunday’s Grand Final with Melbourne Victory at Allianz Stadium.
“They were on top and we were lucky to still be 0-0 after 25 or 30 minutes.
“The first 20, I don’t think I was the greatest myself.
“It took a good run or something like that to get into the game – sometimes you need that.
When you’re a kid you just want to start off well but sometimes you need that little bit of good fortune to set you away and get you into the game.
“I think our experience in that team at the time overcame it.
“We had the likes of Dwight Yorke and Steve Corica scoring the winner and that sort of got us over the line.
“I remember the second half we seemed to dominate them, but it’s a long time ago!” Carney recalled.
BACK WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Life has come full circle for Carney.
After playing stints in Europe (including in the Premier League with Ian Holloway’s Blackpool), Asia and the United States as well as two and a half seasons with the Jets, he now finds himself back with Sydney FC and in line for another championship medal.
“It’s surreal in a way where you win it when you’re just starting off your career and now I’m coming to the end of my career and I’m playing it again,” reflected Carney.
“I started that one but I’ve just got to be there for the boys and hopefully when I do make an impact it’s a good one.
“I seem to do well against Victory so I’m happy we’re playing them,” Carney smiled, remembering his round five brace which saw Sydney triumph 2-1 in the season’s first Big Blue.
TIME TO ICE THE CAKE
Sydney FC have fielded an older side on average this season than any other A-League team and Carney believes that will also help in Sunday’s showpiece.
“I’m sure with big finals – even this week – experience will be vital,” said Carney.
“You just want the young ones to keep doing what they’re doing and not get fazed.
“It’s work-rate and what they’ve been doing and just go about the game as a normal game.
“I think that’s what’s positive about our team – we like to press and fight straight from the start so that’ll work in our advantage for the final.
“It’s been fantastic to beat all the records [this season].
“For what we’ve done and how hard everyone has worked this year, we’ve got to win it this Sunday,” he said.