It’s the Melbourne derby, so where are all the Melburnians?
Just two senior players from both high-flying Melbourne Victory and underdogs Melbourne City grew up where they play their A-League football.
On the Sky Blue side of town, there’s returning defender Curtis Good and in-form goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic.
Victory can boast Kevin Muscat as a local lad, but the coach is joined only by Leigh Broxham and Nick Ansell in his playing ranks.
Galekovic’s ties run the deepest, watching and playing in NSL derbies before the league gave way.
He holds a unique position of maintaining ties to Melbourne’s four key protagonists in the NSL and A-League-era derbies.
“I grew up supporting Melbourne Knights but played for South Melbourne. And then I played for Victory and now I’m at City,” he told AAP.
Galekovic’s Croatian heritage meant supporting the Knights was a natural fit, and there was no bigger day than derby day.
“It was Knights-South Melbourne and back then and it was big,” he said.
“Usually the old man drove and I always took some friends … it was a bit old school. It was pretty passionate and very enjoyable.”
Broxham, like Galekovic, grew up in Melbourne’s south-east and would travel in for South Melbourne matches.
“As a kid I won a competition to go through the South Melbourne change rooms with all the players around,” he told AAP.
“That was massive for me, going and getting signatures from players.
“Thinking about it, it’s all coming back but I’d need to ask the old man for all the games we went to.”
Galekovic, 37, and Broxham, 30, maintain the heritage the cross-town rivalry into the modern day.
They loom as the only likely Melburnian starters in Saturday’s derby, a far cry from the first derby where the home grown component reached double figures.
In October 2010, Heart boasted Clint Bolton, Aziz Behich, Geelong-raised Josip Skoko, Nick Kalmar and Adrian Zahra – they won 2-1 against a Victory side containing Roddy Vargas, Billy Celeski, Tom Pondeljak, Mate Dugandzic, Adrian Leijer, Broxham and Muscat.
While it might mean fewer family members would be in the stands at AAMI Park, Galekovic said it wouldn’t see a less intense contest.
“I played for Adelaide for 10 years, it didn’t mean I didn’t give 100 per cent. You always play for the shirt,” Galekovic said.
“No matter where you’re from, you understand what a derby is and what it means to local people,” he said.
“You mightn’t know the exact history, but you know it’s important.
“At each club it gets brought up and mentioned. And especially the Christmas derby because you want to send your fans home happy for Christmas.”