Almanac Soccer – The Magic of the Cup: Round of 32 (Cockburn City)

Continuing my journey through the 2016 FFA Cup from the very beginning. I started off with my local side Backpackers FC have followed them until being knocked out by Curtin Uni who fell to Stirling Lions. The Lions were eliminated by Cockburn City and I will now follow that side until they are defeated and follow that side and so on so forth. Who knows where I’ll end up…

BACKPACKERS FC 8 Western United (Sunday Division 5) 0

Fremantle Croatia (Sunday Premier League) 4 BACKPACKERS FC 4 (Backpackers won 4-2 on penalties)

BACKPACKERS FC 2 v Bunbury Dynamos (South West Premier League) 0

Curtin University (Saturday Division 2) 4 v BACKPACKERS FC 2

CURTIN UNIVERSITY 2 v Canning City (Saturday Division 1) 0

Stirling Lions (NPL WA) 4 v CURTIN UNIVERSITY 2

Stirling Lions (NPL WA) 1 COCKBURN CITY 2


ROUND OF 32-Wednesday August 10

Melbourne Knights (Victorian National Premier League) v COCKBURN CITY (WA National Premier League)

After outlasting Stirling Lions on the WA Day Public Holiday Cockburn City were now (to paraphrase Tyrion Lannister) in the great game now and it would be terrifying. Cockburn were one of three sides from WA in the round of 32 for the cup with A-League clubs now in play and a perilous game would lie between here and the final later in the year at every step. Ex-Glory star Scott Miller and his side wanted a big fish, they kind of got one in the Melbourne Knights.

The Knights were originally called Melbourne Croatia and are Australian Football royalty. The club was formed by Croatian immigrants in Footscray and drew players from the fledgling local Croatian community and other places such as Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training Centre as well as newly arrived ships from the old country. Club officials went straight to the source to build this club.

The club has always been proud of its heritage and debuted on Croatian Independence Day no less yet sometimes their pride had been a bit too misplaced. They have had many issues off the pitch and most of the trouble has been caused by their own hand. As well as always having issues with local rivals (and Serbian immigrant side) Footscray JUST the side was also kicked out of the Victorian League in the early 70s for violence after a controversial sending off. After a stint on the sidelines and the clawing back of respect in Victoria they had been forgiven enough to be invited to join the National Soccer League in 1984 and were part of the NSL right until its disbanding in 2004.

Their time in the NSL wasn’t without some issues though. In 2001 fans rioted and tried assaulting Perth Glory players and staff in an elimination final after Glory’s controversial star striker Bobby Despotovski gave a Serbian war salute when provoked. The incident was splashed all over the media and gave those against the sport a chance to stick the boot in.

On the pitch they have produced some Australia’s greats through their wonderful youth system. Their back-to-back NSL title-winning side in the mid-nineties is arguably Australia’s greatest ever club side. The likes of Joey Spiteri, Vinko Buljabasic, Tommy Pondeljak, Andrew ‘stabber’ Marth and Steve Horvart were some of the stars in the side with a teenage Mark Viduka knocking them in for fun. Still in the top division in Vicoria since the end of the NSL, they were still a major player at state level and this would be very hard for Cockburn City.

I really did try to get over to Melbourne for the game but my duty to the significant other’s birthday, the Fremantle Ports annual report and other such things meant I would have to follow on the net. I have been to the home of the Knights on a previous occasion though. On a Geelong-related trip I once attended on  a Sunday to finally see their revered ground. Public transport isn’t the best to get out to this particular part of Sunshine which can be described as ‘industrial at best’ with a smattering of old buildings and a quarry at one end of the ground. You knew you were getting close to the ground on my visit when you saw the anti A-League and FFA graffiti on the walls of disused factory. “Death to Modern Football” was a running theme in both Croatian and English it seemed.

The attempt to eradicate the ethnic side of the sport by David Hill in the 90s didn’t seem to work much out this way. The menu inside the Knights bar area was in Croatian. There are Croatian romance novels for sale along with Hadjuk Split and Croatia Zagreb DVDs for sale and copies of the song for the national side at Euro 2008 featuring then national team boss and now West Ham managed Slaven Bilic on bass (had to buy a copy of that).

Then there was ‘The Bat Cave’, a bar under the main stand used by some of their more passionate fans with many involved on that day in 2001. Their passion could not be questioned, the direction of said passion maybe could. They were still a club full of pride and love despite some of these more troubling moments with the side now connected to its Croatian roots but not a closed door to anyone in the community.

For the FFA Cup clash Cockburn were looking to upset the Marth coached Knights but the home side were largely in control on a night where the rain was abundant. Aden De Luz for Cockburn was dangerous on the counter as Cockburn camped in their own half hoping to get the ball to him so he could break lines. After 21 minutes the Knights were ahead with veteran striker Jacob Colosimo scoring with a left footed shot in the wet from close range. It would be expected that the Knights would go on with this with Cockburn unable to hold to the ball before somehow they equalised right on half time. Angel Andres, the amazing Spaniard who had put Stirling to the sword in the previous game intercepted a clearance by a defender and danced around two Knights players before scoring. 1-1 at half time. Game on.

Even from my view on a lap top and with the highlights on TV you could tell there was a decent crowd; this was, after all, their first hosting of a game at a national level in some 12 years. One Knights player was injured for the match so he was in the stands with the Bat Cave mob waving a flag. As the rain subsided so did Cockburn City’s resistance as the Knights turned the screws. A goal was disallowed and numerous shots we put out for a corner or wide.

On 70 minutes the Knights had their second goal as was to be expected. Andrijacevic was the scorer when he smashed home a shot that took a slight deflection. The Knights wanted the third to finish the result off as Miller looked to his Cockburn bench to find some inspiration that was not forthcoming with Liam Murray largely a spectator. The Knights were through 2-1 in a result to meant a lot for a club once kings of the domestic scene in Australia but now not welcome at the top-level in Frank Lowy’s brave new world.

The FFA Cup Round of 32 was brilliant in general. Adelaide United and Central Coast Mariners being eliminated were massive upsets. Then there was some ridiculous goals and stories about players who were from varied backgrounds and all with a story to tell. It is tremendous entertainment and worth following to show true passion for the sport in this country away from the sheen and careful marketing of the A-League.

This is also the end of the involvement of Western Australian clubs for me unless I come across Perth Glory. With Floreat Athene eliminated by Melbourne City the Glory are the only ones left representing the West. I’m now with the Knights and they are again at home in the next round against local rivals and another Victorian great in Green Gully. It should a brilliant game. Pass me the cevapi.


MELBOURNE KNIGHTS 2 (Colosimo 21 Andrijasevic 70)
COCKBURN CITY               1 (Andres 45)

CROWD-Approx 1900. If not for the weather it could have been larger. Will be packed for the next round out in Sunshine. 


FACILITIES-If the same as my visit a few years ago. More than adequate. 


Melbourne Knights are at home to Green Gully in the next round on August 30.



Stories of all previous Rounds are linked to the results listed above.

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About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Dilettante. Traffic Nerd. Behind the Almanac World Cup 100. Keen Cat, Cardie, Socceroo/Matilda, Glory Bhoy.


  1. Dennis – this is an outstanding idea and outstanding dedication to the idea.

    Your catalogue of round-by-round Cup ties deserves a big audience.

    Will you be travelling from WA?

  2. Dennis Gedling says

    Thanks for the feedback it’s really appreciated, just copying what they do in the UK for the FA Cup and going on the action in the last round the competition as a whole perhaps deserves a bigger audience.

    I’m looking in to getting to Sunhine and also getting to the Cats v D’s game. Unfortunately I’d have to rush back to see the Socceroos game in Perth straight after the FFA Cup game. It’s not like the national side are in Perth that often.

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