Forget John Aloisi’s penalty. Forget making the second round of the World Cup in Germany. Forget just about everything Tim Cahill has ever done.
The FFA Cup is the best thing that has ever happened in Australian football (see headline – not hyperbole) and I will tell you why: South Springvale SC.
A self proclaimed ‘pub team’, South Springvale went on a giant killing run just to qualify for the bloody thing and have just slain another giant, South Cardiff (maybe not a giant in the grand scheme of things, but it’s all relative isn’t it?), to progress to the round of 16.
To sum this team up, their captain didn’t realise the competition they won in order to qualify – the Dockerty Cup – even provided a pathway to doing so. I imagine that must have been a delightful little surprise. Like discovering with a bit of yoga and a sturdy laundry basket, one can actually fellate oneself!
The reason this is all so fantastic for the future of Australian football is not just because it provides the romantic theatre of an underdog performing on the big stage, but because these blokes are genuine part-timers. There isn’t a player amongst them who is living off his craft and finally the weekends, supposedly wasted chasing a ball around a bumpy suburban park, have paid off in some tangible sense.
The girlfriends lost; the Friday night booze sessions abandoned early; the absolute lack of sympathy when you come limping into work on a Monday – they have now all been worth it for this one shot at the big show.
I am someone who has never played a competitive fixture of the round-ball game in his life, but am now seriously considering signing on to a club next year. How hard can it be? I’m a tall guy, I can just stand in the box and head-butt anything that comes my way. Sure I might get a red card or two, but fuck it, score enough goals and all is forgiven.
My slightly delusional attitude will no doubt be indicative of every 25-35 year old male in this country who is finally coming to terms with the fact he will never be a professional sportsman. We all have our reasons why we didn’t make it and I assure you very few will admit they just weren’t good enough.
It’s either injuries, bad luck, or a European drug trafficking charge that stand in your way, and in a very real sense this is often the case. How many talented guys do you know who didn’t ‘make it’ because they didn’t really try? And how many less than talented guys are running around in first grade because they had little else to do?
The FFA creates a whole new opportunity for a generation of frustrated wannabes who didn’t quite cut the mustard. Suddenly there is a chance, however slim, of playing in a game that actually means something once again.
The great tragedy is that football/soccer is the only game in which the concept will actually work. Let’s face it, there are too many grubs running about in the lower levels of rugby union, rugby league and Aussie Rules to let those teams wrangle with upper echelon. They would adopt a I can’t be them, so I’m going to fuck them up mentality that could potentially end careers and I have no doubt is responsible for 90% of (non-sexual) nightclub incidents involving footballers.
So I am wholeheartedly getting behind South Springvale SC. Even thought I have absolutely no idea where in Victoria Springvale is. I will bleed for this club. I will arc up for this club. I will even buy the jersey of this club, because in three years when no one remembers who they are, just think of how fucking niche and hip that will be.
By Alasdair McClintock