Tuesday night saw the exit of the Bentleigh Greens Football Club from the Westfield FFA Cup at the hands of Hyundai A-league side Perth Glory.
Bentleigh were the last non A-league side left in the competition after defeating fellow second division club Adelaide City in the quarter finals.
The story of the Green’s rise from National Premier League outfit to sentimental favourite is a special one. The side is full of part-time footballers with day jobs that were forced to travel to Sydney twice in an attempt to make it through the knockout stages.
Finally in the quarter finals they drew a home fixture against Adelaide City, and thousands piled in for the most famous souvalakis in south-eastern Melbourne, and to watch history in the making.
Former Bentleigh goalkeeper Michael Rajtmajer said, “a night like the Adelaide City game is something the club could have only dreamed about a few years ago.”
“To have almost a full stadium, Fox Sports broadcast and a knockout game for a spot to play an A-league heavyweight is simply incredible.”
A spirited come-from-behind victory gave the Greens a chance to host Perth Glory in the semi finals.
“A cup semi-final is unlike anything this club has ever seen, and for it to be against an A-league side at home is exactly what the club would’ve been hoping for at the start of the tournament,” Rajtmajer said.
“Big crowds, big atmosphere, big game and big money, all things that are music to the ears of club administration.”
With the tournament taking place in the off-season of the local sides, the money made off these two games and the possible boost in interest from players, fans and sponsors shows exactly what the FFA Cup can do for grassroots football in Australia. – Jake Benoiton
Top photo from FOX SPORTS Football’s official Twitter.