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2019-10-22 03:21:33

But while most diehards know the Reds are going for their third Cup win, and City their second, the national knockout competition has a far longer lineage than the current version, which began in 2014.

Its predecessor, the Australia Cup, was first played for in 1962 — the final won by Yugal, who defeated St George Budapest 8-1 in front of over 11,000 at Wentworth Park in Sydney.

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Now, thanks to documentary maker Ben Coonan (who co-produced November 16 - the story of Australia’s World Cup qualification in 2005), another one of those early Cup Finals is going to be brought to life, in a mini-feature that will screen on Fox Sports prior to Wednesday’s showpiece occasion.

Coonan has visited Caroline Springs George Cross FC (the successor to George Cross) in north-western Melbourne, to discover the story behind the 1964 Cup winners, from some of those who were there.

On that day, November 1, 1964, the club formed by Maltese migrants in 1947 defeated APIA Leichhardt 3-2, with Archie Campbell netting an extra-time winner after the teams had finished the 90 minutes all square at 2-2.

The feature that will screen on Wednesday contains some wonderful old footage from the final at Olympic Park, the kind of which has rarely been seen in the intervening years.

An action shot of the 1964 Australia Cup final.Source: FOX SPORTSFans in the stands during the 1964 Australia Cup final.Source: FOX SPORTSBefore the FFA Cup there was the Australia Cup.Source: FOX SPORTS

The Australia Cup only ran for seven seasons, with Sydney Hakoah its last winners in 1968. Famously, in 2011, the Cup was discovered in a rubbish bin by builders while doing renovation work at the Hakoah Club. It was surely the most symbolic event for a sport that has largely ignored its history.

But times are changing.

To coincide with the shooting of the feature, current FFA Chairman Chris Nikou took the Cup, rescued and now housed at FFA HQ in Sydney, down to Fraser Rise to show to members of the (Caroline Springs) George Cross club, and there are plans afoot to take the Cup to other former winners and recognise their feats still further.

FFA is believed to be open to the idea of acknowledging the Australia Cup as the direct forerunner of the FFA Cup (the new trophy is largely modelled on the old), and officially recognising its former winners as “associate” Cup winners.

This follows on from the recent initiative to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Matildas’ first international at Seymour Shaw Park in Sydney. The modern team mingled with the pioneers of 1979 such as Julie Dolan, Leigh Wardell and Sue Monteath at a lunch near the stadium.

That was preceded by the unveiling of a plaque at the ground, which will hang as a permanent reminder of that historic occasion.

Chris Nikou examining the Australia Cup.Source: FOX SPORTSKevin Musct at the Australia Cup event .Source: FOX SPORTS

The Heritage Committee (which for transparency’s sake, I am a member of) is planning a launch event next year which aims to celebrate the greats of the past, and attempt to start the process of officially remembering the game’s history.

Meantime, the inaugural Football Writers’ Festival was held earlier this year in Jamberoo, one of the spiritual homes of the game thanks to its connections with the Warren family.

It brought authors together to celebrate their contribution towards keeping the flame of Australian football history flickering.

If truth be told, all of this is long overdue.

Football has a history dating back to 1875 in Australia, and with other significant anniversaries looming, such as the centenary of the first-ever Socceroos game in 1922, the time is right to try and bring together all of the complex yet wonderful strands of the sport.

One of those tales will air on Wednesday night.

Do yourself a favour and tune in, it’s well worth watching.

The Australia Cup feature will air prior to Wednesday night’s FFA Cup final on Fox Sports channel 505. Coverage begins at 7pm AEDT.

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