Magic of the Cup has fans spellbound

It happened in the blink of an eye but was the perfect snapshot of what makes the Westfield FFA Cup so good for Australian football.

While the success of the Socceroos and continued improvement of the Hyundai A-League is the bread-and-butter for future of the Australian game, there are other factors having an impact.

Like the long-awaited FFA Cup, the first time in almost 50 years a nationwide knockout tournament has been run to compliment the national competition.

If there were any doubts over its credibility and position in the football landscape they were extinguished in just three or four seconds.

The time it took for unknown Adelaide teenager Thomas Love to bamboozle the Western Sydney defence to score and produce the first major shock of the inaugural competition.

Here was an 18-year-old Sport Recreation Management student at the Uni of SA taking it to the full-time professionals of the Wanderers and coming out on top.

When the FFA Cup became a reality it has been a dream of all the small clubs and part-time players to produce that giant-killing moment against the A-League’s big boys.

It wasn’t just the result but the whole occasion which highlighted what the tournament is trying to achieve.

A true cup tie, with end-to-end football at a local ground with both the A-League and local State League club’s gaining national exposure.

The shock result was just the icing on the cake.

Football fans raised in England may expect a replication of the tradition and excitement of England’s FA Cup almost immediately.

That will undoubtedly grow over time.

For now, results like the one we saw at a jam-packed Marden Sports Complex on Tuesday night and the fairytale run of Victorian third-tier club South Springvale will only enhance that growth.

It’s also been great to see some of Australian football’s traditional and oldest clubs het their shot back on the national stage.

The likes of Adelaide City, Sydney Olympic, Brisbane Strikers and Sydney United all ruled the national competition at certain times in their history.

While no longer in the “spotlight” once the NSL went under, they are certainly relishing their chance to show they can still be a player on the big stage.

All four are through to the last 16 of the tournament and will be big threats to any Hyundai A-League side they come up against on the run-in towards the final.

The Cup has also helped unearth potential stars of the future, many that may have gone unnoticed without performing in front of the nation.

Like Love, who was overlooked for the Adelaide United NYL team but now has other Hyundai A-League club’s making enquiries.

There are others too like Melbourne Knights’ Jordan O’Doherty, Brisbane Strikers’ Matt Thurtell and Jake McLean from Olympic FC that could make the step up to the professional ranks.

It may be early days but there is certainly a lot to like about this incarnation of the national knockout competition.

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