With the final kick ever of the old National Soccer League (NSL) in Australia in 2004, Nick Mrjda after some fantastic build up Australian football legend Damian Mori, sunk the hearts of Parramatta Power and their fans, winning the last ever NSL grand final in 2004. Being locked 0 - 0 in normal time, the golden goal in extra time was in effect and a rampant Perth Glory managed to take all the day's honors and leave Parramatta Stadium as champions of Australia.
Mrjda's strike symbolized the end of "old soccer" in Australia, a league (NSL) dominated by clubs with ethnic ties and political overtures and made way for a year-long recess in Australian football. The 2005/06 season saw the launch of a new, eight team national based competition known as the A-League, which has seen a dramatic rise in professionalism and the administration of the game in Australia. Parramatta Power have since ceased to exist and Perth Glory, though still plying their trade in the A-League, are just a shadow of what they used to be in the days of the NSL.
Many of the clubs that dominated the NSL have resided into the top tier of the respective states and are still very much a cultural hub of the people that once supported them week in and week out behind their stadium's terraces. The Australian footballing public owes much thanks to the Frank Lowy led administration at the FFA, but every Australian footballing fan should never, ever, forget the past and acknowledge that these clubs helped build many of our past and present (and even future) Socceroos. Never forget history.
Nick Mrjda has just recently announced his retirement from professional football at the conclusion of the 2010/11 A-League season and has returned home to Perth.
To read more about the NSL and it's demise, visit the ever reliable Wikipedia here
Watch the curtain close on the NSL and the dawn of a new era in Australian football:
By Marcel Abboud