City asked ‘to have a Heart’

Andrew Mathieson
SOCCER’S newest club is dealing out its trump card to win the hearts of Geelong football fans.
Melbourne Heart FC is monitoring the prospect of playing home games at Skilled Stadium for the 2011/12 season, the club’s second in the A-League competition.
Heart chief executive Scott Munn has been in talks with Geelong Cats counterpart Brian Cook about the logistics of the switch of some home games from the new multi-million dollar AAMI Park.
Munn said the club would “most certainly” set up at Skilled Stadium but was aiming to get a feel for the Geelong facilities sooner rather than later.
“We were actually keen to play a pre-season match in Geelong this year but unfortunately (Geelong’s) council wasn’t supportive of that,” he told the Independent.
“It’s something we’re certainly looking at; whether or not it would be a pre-season or an official A-League game.
“It’s a great surface, a great stadium and we would be very open to any possibility.”
Heart officials wanted to play A-League side Newcastle in a friendly this winter.
“That’s not to say that down the track and in the future it is something they may re-consider,” Munn said.
Geelong’s council still said Melbourne Heart’s proposal had been “unsuitable with regard to the timing and proposed commercial arrangements”.
However, council still considered soccer a potential growth sport in Geelong.
Crosstown rival Melbourne Victory’s only pre-season clash at Skilled Stadium was in 2007.
Munn said the fledgling Heart club was looking to new markets to lure support and sign-up members.
“We’d love to lure the whole Geelong region but we don’t have a number on it,” he said.
“We think Geelong, for us, ticks a lot of boxes.
“I mean, Josip Skoko, I think he has got the keys to the city and he’s coming back and will play in our midfield.”
Munn said Heart’s early commitment was to prove the club was “very serious” to kick a few goals before debuting in the A-League in October.
It was no coincidence the Heart’s visit coincided with Australia’s World Cup campaign and major sponsor Westpac’s Community Football Festival in Geelong.
At least 35 players and officials were in Geelong over three days, culminating in a friendly hit-out against a regional development side at Lara on Thursday night.
Munn said the club was looking at building a feeder system from Geelong’s young talent and could set up an academy in the future.
“We haven’t dealt that far yet but certainly with (Thursday night’s) game we are still looking at a couple of players to fill our final list,” he said.
“Our coaches are going there not only to coach our team but also to have a look at some of the young talent.
“Hopefully we can unearth another Josip Skoko but we’ve got two spots on our lists and we’re looking at local talent to fill that list.”