OLD ORDER READY TO SHINE IN FFA CUP
Some of the fallen giants of Australian football will return to the spotlight when the inaugural Football Federation Australia (FFA) Cup commences on Tuesday.
With A-League clubs sitting out the opening action in the round of 32, attention turns to Melbourne Knights, Sydney Olympic and Brisbane Strikers, who between them won five championships in the now defunct National Soccer League (NSL).
The 10 A-League teams plus semi-professional clubs from all over the country will feature in the long-mooted knockout competition, which is based on the famous traditions of England's FA Cup.
Melbourne Knights, who have produced countless national team players over the past three decades including the Socceroos' 2006 World Cup skipper Mark Viduka, travel to Brisbane to tackle Olympic FC.
Playing in Victoria's National Premier League, the Knights side now boasts few recognisable names and it sits in mid-table after a modest season to date.
However, Knights coach and former Australia midfielder Andrew Marth says the prospect of tackling A-League opposition in the next round of the FFA Cup is a massive incentive.
"Melbourne Knights have a huge tradition," Marth said.
"It facing an A-League opponent is like a David-Goliath like scenario. To get a Melbourne City or Melbourne Victory at Knights Stadium would be just out of this world for the club."
Sydney Olympic - NSL champion in 1990 and 2002 - visit Sydney rival Manly United and are also seeking to revive some of their former glory with a cup run.
The Greek-backed Olympic will enter the match at Cromer Park on Sydney's northern beaches as marginal favourite and it boasts a side that includes former Leicester City goalkeeper Paul Henderson, and one-time Adelaide United forward Evan Kostopoulos.
In Melbourne, two of the cup's rank outsiders will do battle as South Springvale - called a "pub team" by its coach - host Newcastle-based South Cardiff.
Springvale, which plays in Melbourne's third-tier league, has already seen off several higher-ranked teams just to qualify via Victoria's Dockerty Cup.
"You can just about call us a pub team to be honest," said coach Bill Lambropoulos.
"Some of the boys can only train once (a week) because of their jobs. But because of where we are and what's happened, no one's been missing from training."
In Newcastle, Broadmeadow Magic hosts 1997 NSL champion Brisbane Strikers.
The nine participating A-League clubs will make their cup debuts over the coming month with four matches to be played each week.