Broadmeadow Magic's historic surge into the FFA Cup 2018 Round of 16 is a major achievement for the Northern NSW club.
When they host Victorian NPL high-flyers Bentleigh Greens on Tuesday 21 August, the Magic has the chance to keep their dream run alive and catapult themselves further into the national spotlight.
It’s an opportunity that’s not lost on silky attacker James Virgili and one the local junior is desperate to take with both hands.
For Virgili, who burst onto the scene as a teenager in the Hyundai A-League with the Newcastle Jets, the Magic is a club close to his heart.
You could say he bleeds Red and Yellow. In fact, the whole Virgili clan do.
The Virgilis have a genuine family connection at the club. Dad Robert coached there for 17 years, while James played his junior football with the Magic – before returning in 2016 – and his brother Luke is also part of coach Ruben Zadkovich’s squad.
It’s that love for the club that will spur the dashing winger when they take on the highly-fancied Greens at Magic Park.
“It’s really important. When I was at the Jets playing there I came to watch the club for years with my dad coaching and brother [Luke] playing.
“You would say I was a supporter of the club for a few years before I came to play here,” Virgili told www.theffacup.com.au.
“Once I came as a player it was great, dad was there as a coach still and my brother has been playing there since I’ve been back.
“It’s times like this and games likes this that you appreciate so I’ll be playing with my brother on Tuesday night so that’s something that I’ll hold forever really.
“It’s moments like that that you try and make the most of.”
It’s a mantra Virgili has lived by his entire career.
After making his Hyundai A-League debut as a 16-year-old with the Jets, Virgili went on to play 57 times for the club over five seasons, with a broken ankle suffered in 2014/15 scuppering his time in there.
The Australian youth international has been with the Magic since 2016, happy working as a radiographer at Hunter Imaging Group and playing with his junior club.
But, after a shock call from Jets boss Ernie Merrick last month, the 26-year-old was all of a sudden off on the Hunter club’s tour of China.
Admitting he thought his hopes of getting back to the Hyundai A-League had gone before Merrick’s call-up, Virgili now could have a decision to make if the Jets offer him a deal.
“Since [joining the Magic] I haven’t really pursued [the A-League]. I’ve enjoyed playing here and I wasn’t going out chasing anything so it kind of came out of the blue when Ernie gave us a call,” Virgili said.
“If [the Jets] do want to sign me it’ll show that if you’re playing in the Newcastle NPL then you can still get something.
“A lot of people in Newcastle think they have to move on or move to Sydney to get a deal in the A-League so it shows people in here that you can still get somewhere by playing in Newcastle.
“I’d definitely have to think about it for a few days if they do give us a call,” Virgili added.
“Given the fact that I am working in a job that I enjoy at the moment and I do enjoy playing for the club [Magic]. There’s a lot of hard-working people at the club. Until I get that phone call I haven’t really thought too much ahead.”
It’s a situation Virgili is happy to let take care of itself, with the club’s first-ever appearance in the FFA Cup Round of 16 his only priority right now.
While Broadmeadow has the benefit of a home tie, Bentleigh is currently second in the Victorian NPL and have an impressive history in this competition.
“I think it’s the perfect draw for us. We go in as underdogs, there’s no pressure on us it’s all on them and I think it’s a winnable game for us,” Virgili declared.
“They’ve got to come to Newcastle so hopefully we can put on a bit of show and a win would be a massive win for the club.”