As the Round of 32 kicked off in 2014, many weren’t sure how the Westfield FFA Cup would go. Well, I think that was answered emphatically. It was a ripper. Now, there’s a real sense in the football community the Cup will dial up the drama to new heights in 2015.
Last year was the eye-opener. In case you’ve forgotten, check this out…
Now, a new group of clubs and some familiar names are back and dreaming of emulating the Cup runs of South Springvale, the self-described “Pub Team” of the Cup, Bentleigh Greens, Palm Beach, the Tuggies and a Love-inspired Adelaide City.
There’s even a team in from Darwin this time. And in an extraordinary clash of David and Goliath proportions, little Balmain Tigers meet the Hyundai A-League reigning premiers, grand final holders and Aussie football behemoth Melbourne Victory.
How good is that?
We've interviewed PS4 NPL players and coaches from various states in the lead up to the Round of 32.
And what you feel and see in their eyes is a palpable sense of what this Cup now means at the semi-pro level of Australia’s pyramid: what it means for the coffers, fans, volunteers, coaches, players and their families.
They all want a piece of the action now. They see the benefits. There’s a buzz – no clubs or players want to miss out on the national media spotlight, a packed ground, and the chance to meet A-League teams and their fans.
What's more, it's fascinating for Hyundai A-League fans to check out teams and players they've never seen before. I'm sure there'll be a few fans asking themselves, "he could play A-League".
First timers to the Round of 32 are Hume City, and their star midfielder Nick Hegarty, sees the big picture.
The ambitious Melbourne club want the FFA Cup to shine a spotlight on the fantastic facilities now on offer at Broadmeadows. And they have a young striker who could make a name for himself. Daniel Clark... you heard the name here first.
Meanwhile, in-form PS4 NPL NSW club Blacktown City are still hurting from their exit last year in the Round of 32.
They see 2015 as very much their chance at redemption, as former Hyundai A-League player and City star Travis Major told www.theffacup.com.au
Likewise, Broadmeadow Magic have Cup redemption on their minds after their exit at the same stage last year.
Coach Robert Virgili hopes his swashbuckling approach and goal-hungry strikeforce currently ripping it up in the PS4 Northern NSW NPL will do the trick in the Cup this time around.
And Palm Beach Sharks skipper Justyn McKay now knows what the Cup is all about.
The English-born former Swindon Town man was part of the Sharks’ impressive run last year to reach the quarter-finals before bowing out to Hyundai A-League opposition in Central Coast.
In fact, he’s been on national TV in the UK when he played in the English FA Cup in 2006.
Now is his chance to shine with the Sharks in 2015 once more.
So Bring on stories of local heroes; bring on the spotlight for grassroots clubs, the chilly nights and the suburban grounds full of character and passion.
Bring on the Cup in 2015!