The Magic of the Cup-Round 2 (Backpackers FC)

 

Continuing my journey through the WA side of the 2016 FFA Cup from the very beginning. I started off with my local side Backpackers FC and will follow them until they’re knocked out and then follow that side that defeated them and so on so forth. Who knows where I’ll end up..

ROUND TWO-Sunday March 13

BACKPACKERS FC (Sunday Amateur Division 3) v Fremantle Croatia (Sunday Amateur Premier League)

Following their 8-0 decimation of Western United in the first round of the FFA Cup the mighty Backpackers FC would face a sterner test in the second round being drawn away to Sunday Premier League team Fremantle Croatia. Fremantle Croatia are one of the many teams formed from the vast ex-pat Croat community in Perth since World War 2 and one of three Croatian clubs concentrated around the greater Fremantle area. Along with Spearwood Dalmatanic, North Perth Croatia (now the Western Knights) and Gwelup Croatia et al the club is a Sunday league side and had some fervent support from the ‘Purple Knights’ who would follow the club around and made their home games just that little bit more uncomfortable.

Much was the be expected crowd wise but not much for the game with a gap of three divisions between the sides but hope sprung eternal for Backpackers FC who had leapt up through the divisions since starting on the bottom rung of the Sunday Amatuer League system. The first thing to do on the day before the trip down the freeway was to check if the game would still be on at the same time and if it would be on at all. A 38 degree day meant that a 3pm kick off may be, to put it mildly, suicidal but assurances from Football West were that the game would go ahead with water breaks and instructions to players in how to prepare for such weather. Could a bunch of backpackers mainly from a climate at the other end of the spectrum of this oppresive Perth heat and with skin almost translucent be able to hack it? I guess we’d find out.

Fremantle Croatia’s ground was at a local council run facility in Coolbellup named Len Packham Reserve that was probably named after a well connected Cockburn council member or settler rather than a sporting hero. The facilities were new and with the chance to actually eat and drink at the venue rather than have nothing on offer due to a lack of facilities at the Backpackers home ground. The elevated platform in which to watch a game was also welcomed. The home club had invites for events scattered around also offering entry in to their beer pong tournament and the obligatory poker night. With the heat the crowd was mininal, the club’s ‘Purple Knights’ in small attendence due to the heat.

I was expecting a shallacking which would at least result in goals and it seemed to be going that way when Freo went up 1-0 early in the piece but Backpackers rallied holding on to the ball and conserving energy in the heat making the home side chase in some smart coaching before somehow equalising to have it 1-1. With the beer going through the small crowd like water in the heat Freo were ahead again with win expected to come but in proper cup football the Backpackers rallied in the second half making it 2-2. Taking a match to extra time would be extraordinary for the away side even if it meant another 30 minutes in the heat and the team maybe forfeiting due to heat stroke or one of their players spontaneously combusting. There were no fans, no misters keeping the players cool; just a cheap plastic tub with melted ice and a mix of energy drinks and water next to the plastic party hire seats forming the ‘bench’.

In extra time the rather pasty skinned Backpackers took to initiative going ahead 3-2 and then 4-2, in the bag? A major upset was brewing, a third division Sunday league club barely in pre-school age against a seasoned Premier League side in hostile territory. Freo rallied though as the Backpackers wilted taking it back to 4-3. There was only a minute to go, the Backpackers were dead on their feet but still chased down every ball and put the right body parts in the way to deflect and repel attacks. This wasn’t enough though and the home fans found some voice in the evening heat and Backpackers hearts’ sank when Freo equalised in the final minute to take it to a penalty shootout. All the hard work seemed for nothing.

In what was high tension followng a magnificent goal fest over 120 minutes even the teens skating at the nearby Len Packham skatepark stopped to have a look at the shootout. Freo would go first in the shootout and converted. This was followed up by the Backpackers who then again took it to 2-2 when Freo converted their second penalty. Then for the third penalty for Freo the Backpackers’ keeper stood up and saved. Could the plucky underdogs take advantage of this? They did. 3-2. It was time for Freo’s fourth penalty and again the keeper (who had worked out was called ‘Ash’ going on the praise) saved to keep it at 3-2. All Backpackers FC had to do was convert the next penalty and would be through to the next round in a major upset.

Converted! Backpackers FC through the next round!

The players didn’t exactly sprint to celebrate with the player who converted the winning penalty but after 120 minutes of such effort in such oppresive heat this could be forgiven. Fremantle Croatia were out with applause and hand shakes and many retreated to the cool so it seems, for the next round at least, I’m still hitching my wagon to the Backpackers FC star in their hunt for cup glory. A fantastic story so far and still so much to learn about this side. In the third round they will be at home to take on Bunbury Dynamos from the South West Soccer League who will be making the long journey up and having their own extraordinary journey in the cup so far. The winner will make the fourth round when the big semi amatuer teams from the NPL Saturday leagues come in so much will be at stake.

I think it’s time I got to know some of the players from this team a little bit more!

 

FREMANTLE CROATIA 4

BACKPACKERS FC  4

Backpackers FC win 4-2 on penalties AET.

 

CROWD-60? (including the players, WAGS, kids and officials. A lack of Backpackers fans due to Ladies team playing a scratchie on the same day)

ATMOPSHERE-2.5/5. Vocal locals and alcohol being served helped them find their voice.

FACILITIES-4/5. Fantastic multi-use local council ground with modern facilities and an elevated viewing area to see the action.

EATS/DRINKS FACILITIES-3/5. Bar and Canteen with international beers and the obligatory Croatian football club staple, the Cevapi.

Backpackers FC home to Bunbury Dynamos in Round 3 on March 19.

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Comments

  1. Great stuff Dennis. You’ve inspired me to find a Brisbane club to follow.

  2. Dennis Gedling says

    Thanks. Get on it! Up to Round 4 in Queensland already. One result from the third round.

    WEST UNITED MCL 0
    MAGPIES FC 26

    Imagine is Magpies were at home in that fixture.

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