A very special landmark is in store over the next week or two, says FFA stats man Andrew Howe. Here, he explains why.
Football fans couldn’t have asked for much more from the first two rounds of Hyundai A-League 2016/17 Season, with record crowds, spectacular comebacks and a glut of goals: 33 in the opening ten games.
And for fans of stats and milestones, a very special landmark is in store over the next week or two.
In the early stages of this, the fortieth season of national league football in Australia, the 20,000th goal is set to be scored.
After Round 2, the all-time tally of goals scored in the national league since its commencement 40 years ago stands at 19,987 – just 13 goals short of the magic milestone.
Way back in April 1977 the National Soccer League (NSL) was created from the strongest clubs of the state leagues, to become the country’s first national football competition.
The NSL’s first game was played at Canberra’s Manuka Oval, where West Adelaide travelled to take on brand new club Canberra City, coached by the legendary Johnny Warren.
As fate would have it, one of Australia’s most iconic players of the era scored the first ever national league goal in this match, the 7th-minute strike netted by none other than John Kosmina for West Adelaide, who went on to win the historic match 3-1.
“Kossie” went on to become the league’s highest scorer with 133 NSL goals to his name by the time he retired in 1989. It took several years for his national league goalscoring record to be overtaken, by Rod Brown in 1997.
Kosmina’s Socceroo tally of 42 goals also stood as the most goals in all international matches for any Australian men’s team player in the modern era, a record which stood from 1988 until being surpassed by Tim Cahill only a year ago.
The national league’s 5000th goal was scored by Sydney Croatia’s David Rezo in early 1985, to draw 3-3 in the last minutes of a Round 1 local derby against Marconi at the Sydney United Sports Centre.
Another one of the league’s all-time most prominent goalscorers John Markovski scored goal number 10,000 in December 1993, the first goal for Morwell in a 1-3 loss to Heidelberg at Olympic Village. Markovski – who scored his first NSL goal at age 15 – went on to notched up a total of 110 national league goals for nine clubs.
Marconi’s Royce Brownlie scored the 15,000th goal in the national league during a 3-0 win in March 2002, the second goal of a hat-trick against Parramatta Power at Marconi Stadium.
The goal came at the early stages of a remarkable scoring run for Brownlie, who scored eight successive goals for Marconi over four games – this stands as an all-time Australian league record for most consecutive goals for a team scored by the same player.
When the NSL closed down in 2004 a total of 16,147 goals had been scored in 5825 games over 28 seasons, an average of 2.77 goals per game.
Since the Hyundai A-League kicked-off in 2005 we’ve seen another 3840 goals in 1386 games (to Round 2, 2016/17 Season), a scoring rate that has kept the all-time average goals per game ratio at 2.77.
Last season 2015/16 had the highest scoring rate of any A-League season with 3.17 goals per game.
The ratio of 3.30 goals per game in the first two rounds of 2016/17 maintains an extraordinarily high scoring rate of recent times.
COUNTDOWN TO THE MAGIC 20,000
So with 13 more goals required after Round 2 to reach the magic milestone, the countdown is on. Which game will the 20,000th goal be scored?
Melbourne City and Perth Glory kick off Round 3 on Friday night.
The Mariners and Roar then have a small chance of seeing the milestone in their Saturday evening clash, with Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory later on Saturday a more likely game to host the landmark goal.
However if less than 13 goals are scored before Sunday, then its Sydney FC’s trip to Wellington which gets the next opportunity for goal number 20,000, followed by the Western Sydney Wanderers v Newcastle Jets later that evening.
If under 13 goals are scored in Round 3, the spotlight will then turn to the first game of Round 4 when Melbourne City host Adelaide United – and with it the small but real possibility of Tim Cahill putting one past the reigning champions to celebrate the 20,000th Australian national league goal.
Who do you think will score the 20,000th goal?
With thanks to David Paton for assisting in compiling the 20,000 all-time Australian national league goal preview statistic.
Follow Andrew Howe’s Australian football stats updates on Twitter @AndyHowe_statto