FFA Cup has something for all football fans

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As someone who is inherently skeptical about any new football related initiatives, the FFA Cup was an interesting proposition in terms of inclusion.

Having moved to Australia after the National Soccer League’s demise and with no affiliation to or particular desire to be part of a State League club, I wondered how the competition would draw me in.

With the World Cup finishing only a few weeks ago, the new European season on the horizon, and the countdown to the A-League continuing, was there room for another competition comprising of teams that I, for the most part, had no interest in?

In hindsight, I needn’t have worried as the on field action delivered in a big way last night.

There are still plenty of issues that need to be ironed out – the weighted draw still doesn’t sit well with me, and the late decision to switch the venue for the Perth ties has left a sour taste in the mouth of many – but that was all put to one side, at least temporarily, once a ball was kicked.

I couldn’t name a single player from either Broadmeadow Magic or Brisbane Strikers before their last 32 tie, but that probably helped in a weird way. I had no preconceptions and didn’t particularly care about historical relevance of either, leaving me free to just sit back and watch some good old fashioned cup football.

The first half wasn’t anything to write home about but the second 45 minutes was exactly what the competition needed to captivate its audience, and credit must go to both sides who fought tooth and nail for what turned into 120 minutes.

We saw some excellent goals, two red cards, a penalty that should never have been given, and some kamikaze goalkeeping amongst other things, all of which lit up social media across the country.

The powers that be couldn’t have asked for a better first night of televised action.

A hat tip must also go to Fox Sports for their excellent coverage, which included crossing live to the other three games for goals and, most importantly, a deciding penalty shootout.

South Springvale is another club who I had never heard until a couple of weeks ago but now they are deservedly getting their moment in the spotlight after reaching the last 16.

The team, who are in the third tier of Victorian football, came from behind twice to draw with their more fancied opponents South Cardiff before prevailing on penalties; an instant feel good story from the last 32, and strong foundations on which to build up the competition.

I previously stated that I don’t have much interest in State League football, and that probably won’t change as I am too committed to my own amateur club. However, I respect and appreciate the traditions of those who are involved at that level across the country and the FFA Cup has given the likes of myself a chance to learn more about them.

Even if you don’t support any of the teams participating, the excitement and “magic of the cup” should be enough to get you to a local ground to soak up the atmosphere, or at least stick on the television to catch the action on Fox Sports.

As much as it may have wanted to, a predictable football-bashing article in the mainstream media, conveniently dropped on the FFA Cup’s big day, couldn’t take the shine off what was a great occasion for the game in Australia.

Like many others around the country today, I’m looking forward to the next lot of fixtures already.

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Neil Sherwin
Neil has covered the Perth Glory and the Hyundai A-League for five years and is one of Western Australia's most knowledgeable football journalists.

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