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Spirit of the Game: Birth of a new football tradition?

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Melbourne Victory Evangeline - The Catholic Weekly
Evangeline Victoria – Melbourne Victory. Photo: Supplied.

Melbourne Victory have just lost their manager, but there’s another signing they must make permanent this A-League offseason. Fail to obtain their services and the team might just be letting go of their place in the rich tapestry of footballing tradition. 

I’m of course talking about their violinist.  

Yes, while this year’s grand finalists certainly feature their fair share of stars on the pitch, none have come close to wowing Victory supporters, the entire league and non-fans together like musician Evangeline Victoria. 

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AAMI park was bouncing during her electrifying rendition of the “Seven Nation Army” team anthem during April’s Melbourne Derby. Soon she was a hit online, with millions of views. 

Without hesitation Evangeline returned for a string of home finals series matches with a beaming smile, dancing boots, a new team kit and her trusty violin, in front of the colossal blue wall of equally receptive dancing and chanting Victory supporters.  

The words “Melburnian” and “genius” together don’t often find themselves in the same sentence in The Catholic Weekly, but whoever organised Evangeline’s performances is certainly one.  

It’s tough to imagine thousands of sunglasses-at-night wearing football ultras, clad in navy blue, waving their hands and jumping around to the serene sounds of a violin, but these moments of transcendence and surprise are exactly what make football so unique. 

The sport in Australia has craved this kind of thing for a long time—the unique traditions so familiar to European football. 

Think 60,000 Liverpool supporters bellowing out “You’ll Never Walk Alone” before kick-off at Anfield (although I’d love them to pipe down), that intimidating yellow wall of Borussia Dortmund fans, or Benfica’s eagle Águia Vitória circling their Lisbon home stadium, until landing on and completing the club’s crest in the middle of the pitch. 

Football culture in Australia, and particularly fan culture, is often slammed for being on the quieter side, known for nothing more than the usual chants.  

But give a little, and you’re sure to get much more in return.  

Evangeline and Victory’s collaboration worked because it wasn’t pre-match entertainment for pre-match entertainment’s sake. She was prepared to use her image and style to elevate the club, which fans thoroughly appreciated. 

Now together, they welcome away fans in “Victory” style.  

So, what’s the usual response to someone that delivers for their football club? A contract. 

Evangeline is now a valuable component of Victory’s identity and having her perform permanently at every home game moving forward is a no brainer. 

If not, someone else will snatch her up—like Carlton, who Evangeline performed for over the weekend in their matchup against Geelong.  

It’s a sight A-League fans might not want to see. In a sense she has become like any other great athlete or coach and everyone is vying for her signature. 

Traditions matter, in sport as in faith. Let’s hope Victory makes this one of theirs—for the benefit of the whole game.  

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