Hopkins: City rivals have helped drive Victory to Westfield W-League glory
It hasn’t been easy for Melbourne Victory to sit back and watch crosstown rivals Melbourne City take all the glory in the Westfield W-League over the past three seasons.
Especially when you consider they haven’t featured in the Finals Series themselves, finishing ninth, ninth and seventh in the last three campaigns.
So having just got their hands on the Westfield W-League Premiers’ Plate on Tuesday night, Victory boss Jeff Hopkins admits it’s nice to be the top dogs in Melbourne.
“The rivalry [with City] is pretty intense especially for us over the last three seasons, especially when we weren’t doing so well finishing at the bottom a couple of seasons on the spin,” Hopkins told reporters after Victory’s 0-0 draw with Canberra United on Tuesday night.
“We really built that game up to be a real special game because we really had to.
“It really means a lot to us the rivalry. Obviously, with City the last few years, they have been the benchmark of the league.
“It doesn’t give me any pleasure [City] not being in the finals, but it does give me a lot of pleasure us being top of the league.”
Something else that pleases the Victory boss was the performance of some of his fringe players in the goalless draw with United.
The likes of left-back Alexandra Gummer and teenager Kyra Cooney-Cross haven’t seen much game-time this season due to the performance of Victory’s starting XI.
But with just a few days until Sunday’s must-win Semi Final against Perth Glory, Hopkins decided to rest some of his established stars against Canberra to give some fresh faces a shot.
“We’ve been great this year with keeping our starting XI on the field. Our medical and sports science people have been fantastic and this is really the first time we had to make changes,” Hopkins explained.
“We say at the start of the season ‘keep yourself right, do the right things, your chance is going to come at some stage' and it’s come [on Tuesday night].
“And they have given me a few headaches for the weekend as well which is another aspect of the game tonight that we talked about."
Victory’s Semi Final against Glory is at AAMI Park on Sunday as part of a double-header with the top-of-the-table clash between the two clubs in the Hyundai A-League.
The Westfield W-League Grand Final qualifier kicks off at 2pm.