The magic of the FFA Cup conjures up visions of stunning upsets, dramatic finishes and heroic performances but it is pretty rare that one of the stars of the show is a duck.
Cro Patak, a seven-year-old waterfowl dressed in Melbourne Knights colours, stole the spotlight and sent social media into a flap on Wednesday night.
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Although his favourite team slid to a 5-2 defeat against FFA Cup holders Adelaide United at a rain-soaked Somers St, he did seem to enjoy the waterlogged conditions.
The Knights’ mascot is a local celebrity and the pet of 67-year-old football fanatic and community character, Marko Bulic.
Marko has been following Victorian football for 52 years and, for the past 15 years, he has been closely following by a loyal duck.
“That’s my pet. His name is Cro Patak. Everyone in the Croatian community knows him. He’s a pretty famous duck,” Marko said.
“I had a previous one that was much smarter. He was like Elvis Presley. This one is still smart but not as clever as the last one.
“He doesn’t come to every game. All of the kids always ask me, why didn’t you bring him? So, on special games, I’ve got to bring him.
“The kids and the oldies love him. He loves it. He is very friendly with everybody.
“When we have a nice picnic, or an event like Oktoberfest, the duck is there.”
“I love it. I like to entertain the kids and keep the crowd happy.”
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When he’s not preparing for a big Knights game, Cro Patak spends his days waddling around Marko’s backyard in Deer Park, Melbourne.
He shares his home with a galah, named Cro Galah, and a Maltese terrier called Spot, and his Knights fandom has spread throughout the household.
“When he’s not at the football, he is arguing with the chickens and the dog if he’s got nothing to do,” Marko added.
“They sit on each other, they clean each other. They are a happy family.
“Many times I take my galah to the football. We put a Croatian dress on him, and my little dog wears his soccer shirt.”
It's not only club football that fits the bill for Cro Patak. When there's an international game on, he's more than happy to join Marko in heading to the pub and quacking open a beer.
“The duck has got another dress in green and gold,” Marko said.
“He comes with me to the St Albans Hotel when the Socceroos play to watch on TV. Everybody has their picture with him.
“I went to the Queen Victoria market and the Socceroos were playing and he followed me. Everybody wanted to meet him.
“Wherever I go, the duck follows me like a doggy.”
Knights president Pave Jusup held special praise for the club’s vocal supporters and said he was proud of his team’s performance.
After all, it’s not like they scored zero. Or, as you would say in cricket: a duck.
“We wanted to win and the crowd was loud, passionate,” said Mr Jusup.
“Marko comes to every game. He’s been bringing a duck for about 15 years. We’ve got a lot of colourful characters around the place.”
Nabbout back with a bang
When Caltex Socceroo Andrew Nabbout announced his return to Australian football with a thunderous strike to double Melbourne Victory's lead against Newcastle Jets, did anyone else have a sense of deja vu?
If you did, some blame probably lays at the voice of Fox Sports commentator Teo Pellizzeri. Get outta here, Teo!
While Nabbout did not celebrate scoring against his former employers, the 26-year-old looked sharp and hungry, bringing back memories of his 10-goal season in Jets colours in 2017/18.
Practise makes perfect
If you put in the hard yards, you will reap the benefits: a message Adelaide United's Nathan Konstandopoulos does not need telling.
That strike perfected on the training pitch in July — high into the roof of the net from outside the penalty area — was replicated in the FFA Cup holders' 5-2 win against Melbourne Knights.
The kids are more than alright
Another magical factor of the FFA Cup is the platform it provides for budding young talents to introduce themselves to the football world, and a pair of promising youngsters did just that on Wednesday night.
Teenager Patrick Langlois capped a stunning Newcastle Jets comeback by scoring his first professional goal in extra time to clinch a 3-2 win against Melbourne Victory and spoil Nabbout's homecoming party.
And, in another upset victory, Western Sydney Wanderers struck first blood in their 2-1 extra-time triumph against Hyundai A-League Premiers Perth Glory. Another 19-year-old, Mohamed Adam, showed some killer instinct from the edge of the penalty area (watch from 00:47).