An incredible 770 member federation clubs competed for a spot in the FFA Cup Round of 32, and those 770 have now been whittled down to 22.
Ten Hyundai A-League clubs will join them to make up the Round of 32, but it’s those member federation clubs where some of the best stories can be found.
From the rich heritage of one of a New South Wales powerhouse to the giant-killing run of one second-tier Western Australia entrant, and a qualifying clean sheet in the Northern Territory.
In the second of five dives into narratives surrounding the entrants in the 2018 edition of the FFA Cup, we take a look at a Cairns FC which has maintained its record as the only member federation club to qualify for every edition of the FFA Cup.
THE EARLY YEARS
If you’re a bit of an FFA Cup boffin and are sat there wondering how a side you’ve not heard of in the Round of 32 has played in it the previous four years, then wonder no longer.
Far North Queensland, or FNQ FC Heat, was the name of the club up until late last year.
Their first entry into the FFA Cup Round of 32 came, of course, back in its inaugural year and was drawn against Sydney United 58.
Heat were routed 4-1 by a side which would go down to Hyundai A-League club Sydney FC in the next round.
Just eight sides from the inaugural FFA Cup made it again in 2015, and this time around FNQ Heat’s Round of 32opponents were Oakleigh Cannons.
It was heartbreak at the first hurdle once again, going down on penalties.
MORE RECENT TIMES
Back at home in 2016, a 3-0 loss to Northern NSW side Edgeworth Eagles denied them a shot at progressing past the Round of 32 for the third year running.
It was more of the same last year, as they became one of only three member federation clubs to qualify for every single Round of 32.
This time around it was a demolition derby as their 2014 opponents Sydney United 58 this time played host. The NPL NSW side won 7-2 to send Heat packing.
At the end of the season last year, FNQ FC Heat announced a name change.
They became Cairns FC, a move which they hoped would align them more with the local community.
QUALIFYING AND 2018
With just forty-five minutes remaining in Cairns FC’s round seven FFA Cup qualifier, the final step before the Round of 32, the side was down 3-0 at the break to Magpies Crusaders.
A rousing comeback, perhaps inspired by a desire to play in a fifth consecutive Round of 32, grabbed Cairns FC an incredible 5-3 win.
The win will make them the only member federation club to play in all five iterations of the competition proper.
Despite four appearances so far on the national stage, Cairns hasn’t progressed past the Round of 32.
They’ll play host this year to Armadale SC from Western Australia – will 2018 finally be the year?