The FFA Cup Round of 32 finishes Wednesday with a host of fantastic matches, but one stands out in exemplifying the true ‘magic of the cup’.
Melbourne Knights vs Adelaide United.
Former National Soccer League giants against reigning and two-time FFA Cup champions.
It would take a huge upset for the Knights to win against the A-League side, but if they go into the game with the right attitude they can challenge Adelaide.
But this game is about more than underdogs and heavyweights — it’s about the history and the future of our game.
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Melbourne Knights are ‘old soccer’. Giants of the NSL with a history going back to 1952 and strong roots in the Croatian community. A 15,000 capacity stadium and a dream of a national second division which, to me, is still quite a way off.
Adelaide and the A-League are ‘new football’. A new national competition meant the NSL’s death in 2004 and the Knights losing their national stage — a stage they will return to on Wednesday.
This is what the FFA Cup offers up. Games like these are what makes the Cup so special.
It’s why we broadcast it instead of all A-League clashes like Sydney FC vs Brisbane Roar or Perth Glory vs Western Sydney Wanderers (although all can be live streamed on foxsports.com.au or through Kayo).
It’s a chance to tie the grassroots and the potential second division to the new competition which is the Hyundai A-League, and the ‘new football’ it brought.
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It also gives us a chance to look back on the history of these clubs. As for the Melbourne Knights and the Australian Croatian footballing community in general, their contribution to Australian football is immense and shouldn’t ever be forgotten.
To name all the Socceroos who came from Croatian clubs like the Melbourne Knights, Canberra Deakin, or Sydney United (just to name a few) would be almost impossible.
The Knights alone can lay claim to having produced dozens of international footballers, the biggest being former Australian captain Mark Viduka. Some ended up representing Croatia, like Josip Simunić.
Then there’s the silverware cabinet. Two-time national champions, three-time Victorian champions & a dominant period in the ‘90s where Knights Stadium was a fortress feared by every NSL team.
Teams like the Knights are an immensely important piece of Australian footballing culture and history.
That’s why we focus on this kind of game – because of the history of these NPL clubs and because of what it meant and certainly still means for the game in this country.