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Apr 18, 2012   |  9:45PM AET

Victory fans, AAMI Park the best

Victory fans, AAMI Park the best

AAMI Park was unanimously voted by the players as the best venue in the Hyundai A-League on Wednesday while the best atmosphere award went to Melbourne Victory fans.

AAMI Park was unanimously voted by the players as the best venue in the Hyundai A-League on Wednesday while the best atmosphere award went to Melbourne Victory fans.

Melbourne’s boutique AAMI Park was the runaway winner this year from the drastically improved Etihad Stadium while Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, winner in the last two seasons, slipped to third.

Under the Professional Footballers Association Stadium Rating System which was introduced in 2010, PFA chief executive Brendan Schwab highlighted two elements of criteria for the success of the A-League – the quality of play and the fan experience.

Schwab, Victory captain and PFA executive member Adrian Leijer as well as PFA president Simon Colosimo were on hand to present the awards.

Leijer presented the award to the Blue and White Brigade leader Adam Tennenini, whose group was again overwhelmingly regarded by the players as the best set of fans.

“One of the real pleasures of playing for Melbourne Victory is the tremendous support we get from our fans, particularly at this stadium,” Leijer said.

“It’s a fantastic place to play, the pitch is always immaculate.

“Our fans – credit to them for receiving the award for the best atmosphere because the game day atmosphere they create is second to none, it’s always a pleasure to come out and play for them so hopefully we can reward them a little bit more next season.”

Tennenini accepted the award on behalf of the Victory fans and couldn’t resist the temptation to have a quick jibe at Colosimo’s Heart.

“I want to thank all Melbourne Victory supporters I think we’ve been by far the benchmark over the seven seasons of A-League football,” Tennenini said.

“Their (Heart’s) average attendance is second or third in the league but you take away those derbies and they’re right down the bottom.”

The visiting captains were asked to give the pitch a rating out of five after each league game and Colosimo, who handed the award to AAMI Park’s head groundsman, Justin Lang, said AAMI Park was hands down the best venue in the A-League for play and atmosphere.

“It’s not only the pitch but it’s the stadium,” Colosimo said.

“This stadium is built for supporters, built for football. At the start of the season I went around to see where my family was sitting and I don’t think there is a bad seat in the stadium.

“The derbies are the biggest crowds there’s no doubt about that but it makes it special for the supporters and players as well.

“I wish to congratulate AAMI Park and the head groundsman, Justin Lang, for preparing such an outstanding field of play throughout the 2011-12 season.”

Schwab said it was a chance to give due recognition to the entire maintenance staff at AAMI Park.

“It’s an opportunity for our players to say thank you to the people of AAMI Park for preparing such a wonderful venue in which our players can perform,” Schwab said.

Suncorp Stadium and its head groundsman, Mal Caddies, took out the past two awards.

Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide and NIB Stadium in Perth decreased in quality, according to the players, while Etihad Stadium (second) dramatically improved.