Newcastle Jets fans have called for a rematch.
They’re not going to get it – the laws of the game don’t allow it.
But if the call helps disappointed fans get over a gut-wrenching loss, it will have been worth it.
The blatant offside goal that handed Melbourne Victory the A-League grand final sent Jets fans into a fury.
On Sunday, this fury soon turned into political action.
By the evening, 500 fans had signed an online petition calling for a rematch, after Football Federation Australia [FFA] attributed the refereeing mistake to “a technical failure”.
It turned out that the infamous video assistant referee [VAR] failed during the match’s most crucial moment.
In a statement that only added to the indignation of Jets fans, A-League head Greg O’Rourke said this type of failure “happened only once this season”.
“We understand the disappointment and frustration of the Newcastle Jets, their fans and indeed all football fans,” he said.
On the Newcastle Jets Supporters page, Bailey Lewis said: “The biggest blunder a referee could make and it happens in a grand final! Simply unacceptable!”
PHOTOS, VIDEO: Grand final heartache as Jets downed by controversial goal
Another fan, Leone McMillions, said: “FFA has taken accountability, now they need to fix it.
“Announce a grand final rematch in Newcastle. The title should be handed back until the true champion is known. Victory should do this off their own back. That would be true sportsmanship.”
But other fans said there was no chance FFA would call a rematch.
Mark Jones said: “Never gonna happen”.
Darren Robinson added: “Won’t happen, sorry”.
The FFA confirmed a rematch won’t be happening. As it happens, the laws of the game say a match result doesn’t become invalid if the VAR malfunctions.
But rules and regulations aside, many fans struggled to accept that the VAR had tainted the grand final. Many, in fact, believe the VAR is tainting the game itself.
Fox Sports Football commentator Andy Harper said the VAR was compromising the core principles of the game.
For many football diehards, the VAR shouldn’t be part of the game at all.
Some accept that refereeing decisions aren't black and white and never will be.
READ MORE: FFA admit failure in VAR technology
With this line of thinking, each decision comes down to the individual perception of the referee in the heat of the moment, based on a subjective interpretation of the rules.
But others say the VAR should definitely be used for goal-line decisions and offside. There’s nothing more devastating for players and fans than losing a big match to refereeing mistakes over these two parts of the game.
Many football fans also believe that the VAR should be used for violent conduct, particularly in back play.
There’s also the old cliche that refereeing decisions in football matches are basically “swings and roundabouts”.
That is, some go for you, some go against you.
Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna alluded to this on Sunday when he recalled that the Central Coast Mariners should have had a penalty for a James Holland handball late in the game in the Jets 1-0 grand final win over the Mariners in 2008.
The VAR wasn’t around then, but it shows that controversy over bad calls in big games is nothing new.
Comments on the Facebook page of the Jets supporters’ group, NCL, questioned why the referee didn’t use the Fox Sports broadcast, which clearly showed the goal was offside.
Michelle Power said the video assistant referee should have looked at “the broadcaster’s screens”.
However, the VAR rules state that the referee must review footage in the private review area to ensure integrity and protect against any outside influence on a decision.
Kath Morris said: “Maybe a better question is why the linesman didn't signal offside”.
Despite the anger at the error and the disappointment about the loss, many Jets fans were pleased to reflect on a great season.
Neville Power, of Hillsborough, said the Jets had come a long way.
And regardless of the result, he said the Jets “had a terrific year”.
As for the grand final, he said the Jets had the better of the first half, but conceded it was “a disappointing second half for us”.
“We gave too much ball away,” he said.
Max Sutherland, of Carrington, said the Jets’ season had been “phenomenal”.
“They’ve been playing A-grade football almost the entire season,” said the 24-year-old, who painted his face red and blue for the grand final.
“To make it to the grand final was fantastic. It’s a shame we couldn’t have finished it, but it happens.”
Dale Skinner, of Edgeworth, was “devastated with the result, but pumped about the season overall”.
“We’ve been to so many games during the year where they dominated. We’d be walking out of the stadium with our heads held high, compared to other years where we had our heads down,” the 37-year-old said.
“This year they’d be down a goal, but they’d come back.”
He was proud to be a Jets fan.
As for the grand final, he said: “Victory got a lucky goal, then they parked the bus. Credit to them, they defended well and we couldn’t crack it”.
Zack Stansborough, of Adamstown Heights, said he goes to matches week-in, week-out.
“Even when your heads and shoulders are down [when the team loses], you’re still proud to be a Novocastrian,” he said.
“No matter what happens you still support your team.
“A year ago, if you’d said we’d come second in the league and lose the grand final, I’d have given you the shirt off my back.”
Nick Rose, of Maryland, said the Jets’ performances this season had been “great”, especially considering “we’ve had some injuries and a new coach, Ernie Merrick”.
“I think we’ll go well next year,” the 24-year-old said.
Matthew Rigby, 16, of Charlestown, said the Jets “really played well this season and have a lot to look forward to in the future”.
He said the grand final result was disappointing, but “both sides played really well and they should be happy with their performance”.
“It was a good occasion, but would obviously have been better if the Jets won.”