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Underdogs relish cup decision

Minnows will be plotting a famous giant-killing run … powerhouses will be looking over their shoulder.
That’s the beauty of cup football.
Football Federation Victoria announced last week that it will reintroduce its FA Cup-style knockout competition for all affiliated clubs next month.
The competition began way back in 1909 but has not been played since Green Gully Cavaliers won the Dockerty Cup in 2004.
Clubs and supporters have been persistent in their calls to reinstate the cup competition and now their wish has been granted.
The Mirabella Cup will see all Victorian premier league, state league, provisional league and country-based clubs, along with local A-League outfits Melbourne Heart and Melbourne Victory, go head-to-head in cut-throat matches to determine the champions of Victoria. It will give local clubs such as the Altona East Phoenix – a one-time premier league club now playing in state league2 north-west – a chance to mix it with the best clubs in the state.
“It’s exciting,” Phoenix coach Paul Donnelly said.
“It’s a really good idea. It’s about having the underdogs tag and the challenge of playing the better team.”
Donnelly has fond memories of the Dockerty Cup.
He played in a final for South Melbourne when it beat Melbourne Knights in front of a packed house at Middle Park. “I still have the medal,” he says. “I was a youngster coming through and I played well and kept my place in the team. It was one of the highlights of my career.”
The Mirabella Cup is likely to be played as a midweek competition.
The extra games will create a juggling act for coaches with smaller squads. “The league will still be the bread and butter,” Donnelly said.
“It will create an opportunity for the youngsters.”
Most clubs yearn for a meeting with the Heart or Victory when the A-League clubs are entered into the quarter-final stage.
The Phoenix, however, would be thrilled to draw Altona Magic.
“We would love to play Altona Magic in a local derby,” Donnelly said.
The amateur clubs – those in the provisional and state leagues – will play off in phase one, starting next month.
The semi-professional clubs in the Premier League will be admitted in phase two.
Those surviving clubs will be allocated a quarter-final and a potential match-up with the Heart or the Victory.
The cup final is likely to be scheduled before the start of the 2011-12 A-League season.
The closing date for clubs’ entries is March 4.
Although the Mirabella Cup is touted as a competition drawing upon the traditions of the Dockerty Cup, it is interesting to note that Melbourne Croatia / Knights currently hold the record for most Cup wins with a total of 9.
Pictured is former Knights captain Andrew Marth with Coach Ian Dobson holding the 1996 Dockerty Cup, the last time the Knights took out Victoria’s coveted Cup competition.

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