Magicians of the FFA Cup: Football Queensland

Magicians of the FFA Cup: Football Queensland


With the draw completed and the details set, the FFA Cup’s Round of 32 is almost upon us.

At present, the FFA Cup presents the only opportunity for clubs from outside of the Australian top tier to mix it with A-League sides; presenting an intoxicating clash of styles, culture, and histories as the Australian footballing community experiences the magic of the Cup.

In this preview, looks at the sides from Football Queensland that will be competing in this year’s Cup.

Gold Coast Knights:

A member of Queensland’s State Leagues, Football Gold Coast Premier League club Gold Coast Knights are one of only three non-NPL sides that have progressed to the FFA Cup Round of 32.

Founded as St. Anthony’s Soccer Club in 1978, the Knights are based at the Croatian Sports Centre in Carrara on the Gold Coast and have also been known as Gold Coast Croatia, Gold Coast C.S.C. and Carrara Cro’s SC in their history – settling on the current name in 1999.

The defending Football Gold Coast Premier League champions, the recent successes of the Knights means that they have been announced as a future competitor in the QLD NPL, handed a future license by Football Queensland following the dissolution of Gold Coast City FC.

This is the first time on the national stage of the FFA Cup for the Knights, who will be forced to balance any Cup run with their current battle with Burleigh Heads SC for the top spot in the Football Gold Coast Premier League.

The Knights road to the national stage of the FFA Cup started in the third round of the preliminary qualifying rounds, when they defeated fellow Football Gold Coast Premier League foes Surfers Paradise Apollo 1-0 at the Croatian Sports Centre.

A 1-0 victory over another Football Gold Coast Premier League side in Broadbeach United would then follow, before the Knights knocked out NPL QLD side and A-League hopefuls Gold Coast United 3-2 in the fifth round of preliminary qualifying.

The Knights then traveled to Clive Berghofer Stadium to knock out NPL QLD side SWQ Thunder FC 2-1 in the sixth round of qualifying and then staged an immense comeback in extra time to defeat NPL QLD side Sunshine Coast FC 3-2 and advance to the Round of 32 in round seven.

A potential family reunion also looms for Knights coach Grae Piddick in the Round of 32, with the former Gold Coast City boss’s brother Adam currently in charge of NPL VIC side Port Melbourne Sharks.

Round of 32 Fixture: v Newcastle Jets, Cbus Super Stadium, 7 August, 7:30

Cairns FC:

The most frequent visitor to the Round of 32 of any non-A-League clubs, the artist that was formerly known as the Far-North Queensland Heat will be making its fifth appearance on the national stage of the FFA Cup in 2018; hoping to better the immediate exits they have made in their past four attempts.

Playing out of Barlow Park in the Cairns suburb of Parramatta Park, Cairns FC was born after FNQ Heat rebranded in October of 2017, with club director Shaun Donaldson telling Tropic Now that “we have consulted broadly and a common theme is people wanted to see the identification with Cairns.”

FNQ Heat themselves had their genesis in the creation of the NPL system in 2012 – the club formed in order to lodge an ultimately successful application to join the newly established NPL QLD.

Still competing in NPL QLD to this day, Cairns FC sits seventh in the 12-team competition, last week defeating Redlands United 3-2 at Barlow Park.

Cairns began their qualification in the fifth round of the preliminary qualifiers, forced to go to extra time after their clash with State League side Southside Comets ended 2-2 before eventually triumphing 4-3.

A far less dramatic 3-0 over fellow NPL QLD side would follow in round six, setting up a seventh-round playoff with the phenomenally named Mackay and Whitsundays Magpies Crusaders United with a spot in the Round of 32 on the line.

Cairns turned up the heat in the contest, with a brace to Josh Taylor and single goals Harrison Corica, Chris O’Hare and Johnson Slotemaker driving their side to a 5-3 victory over the Magpie Crusaders at Barlow Park.

Cairns has been managed since of October of 2017 by Danny Graystone, a former Stoke City and Crewe Alexandra youth player who ended his playing career in Australia with the State League South Adelaide Panthers.

An A-Licenced coach, Graystone inadvertently stayed at a Singaporean brothel on the advice of the Singapore FA whilst completing his certification, saying that “Despite knocks on the door at all hours of the morning, I managed to stay focused and passed with flying colours!”

Round of 32 Fixture: vs Armadale SC, Barlow Park, 1 August, 7:30

Olympic FC:

Founded in 1967 as Pan Rhodian FC, the club adopted the name Brisbane Olympic United as a condition of joining the Queensland Soccer Federation a year later and adopted its current title in 2008.

Originally playing out of Pineapple Park, which was simply a field behind the Pineapple Hotel in the Brisbane suburb of Kangaroo Point, the club moved to Dutton Park in the early seventies before moving to their current home of Godwin Park – in the Brisbane suburb of Yeronga – in 1982.

Currently competing within NPL QLD, Olympic in second position on the table of QLD’s top tier.

2018 will be Olympic’s second trip to the FFA Cup’s Round of 32, having previously reached the national stages in 2014. They would defeat the Melbourne Knight’s in the Round of 32 of that year, before falling to A-League side Central Coast Mariners 3-1 in the Round of 16.

Featuring former A-League star Shane Stefanutto, Olympic began their run to this year’s Round of 32 in the fourth round of QLD preliminary qualifying. Defeating State League side St George Willawong 7-1 in their initial fixture, Olympic would follow up with a 2-1 win over State League side Centenary Stormers and a 3-2 extra time win over NPL QLD side Moreton Bay United.

Meeting NPL QLD powerhouses and former NSL side Brisbane City with a spot in the Round of 32 on the line in the seventh round of preliminary round of qualifying; Olympic would be taken to a penalty shootout, which Olympic would win 4-1.

Olympic is lead into the national stages by manager Ben Cahn, who previously parlayed a long history of working with youth footballers in QLD into a gig with the youth team of the Central Coast Mariners in 2016. Cahn would spend 21 months in Gosford, before being named the boss of Olympic in September of 2017.

Round of 32 Fixture: @ Lions FC, Lions Stadium, July 25, 7:30

Lions FC:

Founded as Hollandia-Inala Soccer Clubby by Dutch immigrants in the Brisbane suburb of Darra in 1957, the Lions will be making their second appearance in the FFA Cup’s Round of 32, having been eliminated by Perth Glory in the 2015 Round of 16.

Changing their title to Brisbane Lions in the early 70s after orders to abandon their ethnic name, the Lions became the first club side called the Brisbane Lions to compete in a national competition when they played in the NSL between 1977 and 1988.

Much like fellow Round of 32 qualifiers Devonport, the Lions can also claim links to the legendary George Best in their history: The Welsh superstar having made four appearances for the side in the 1983/84 season.

The Lions settled upon their current name in 1997, after reaching an agreement with the newly formed Brisbane Lions AFL team

Initially the operators of the then Queensland Roar in the newly formed A-League, the Lions had a majority share in the Roar until 2008; when they sold their 25% share of the club to the Roar’s board.

The Lions have since re-entered the Queensland leagues and currently compete in NPL QLD, where they sit in the first position on the table with two games in hand on second-placed Olympic and a game in hand on third-placed Western Pride, most recently defeating Moreton Bay United FC in Round 21.

Currently playing out of Lions Stadium in the outer Brisbane suburb of Richlands; the Lions began their run to the FFA Cup’s Round of 32 at home against State League opposition: defeating Caboolture FC 5-1 in the fourth round of preliminary qualification.

A 3-2 home win over FQPL – the second tier of QLD football – side Eastern Suburbs was then followed by another home victory over FQPL opposition, this time a penalty shoot triumph over Rochdale Rovers.

Continuing their blessed run, the Lions would then draw another FQPL side and be allocated yet another home fixture in the final round of Queensland preliminary qualifying, facing Peninsula Power with a spot in the Round of 32 on the line.

There would be no penalty shootout scares for the Lions this time around: a hattrick to Shaun Carlos, a brace from Jheison Macuace and a solo strike by Mitchell Hore propelling the Lions to a 6-0 victory over the hapless Power.

Round of 32 Fixture: v Olympic FC, Lions Stadium, July 25, 7:30