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 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 first of five dives into narratives surrounding the entrants in the 2018 edition of the FFA Cup, we take a look at the rise, fall, and rise again of Marconi Stallions.
Founded in the late 1950’s, Marconi Stallions became synonymous with football throughout Australia in the mid-to-late 20th century.
One of the big hitters in the old National Soccer League, the Stallions finished second in its inaugural season back in 1977 and won it in 1979.
Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Marconi won the competition three times and were runners-up twice.
Their four titles was the equal-best record in the competition during the NSL era; only South Melbourne and Sydney City (now Hakoah Sydney City East) managed the same.
Marconi took the step down into the NSW Premier League when the NSL was disbanded in 2004, and hasn’t managed to reach the same heights they once did.
Promotion back into the NSW NPL 1 this season has lifted spirits around Marconi Stadium, with the Stallions jostling for a spot in the top five.
This is their second ever Round of 32 appearance in the FFA Cup. Three of their four NSL championships were play-off matches, and they won the NSL Cup once – not a bad record in do-or-die matches.
Marconi has been the breeding ground for some of the best Australian players and coaches of all-time.
Not just in the NSL days either, but some big Hyundai A-League names have also come through that production line.
Mark Schwarzer and Archie Thompson, two members of the 2006 FIFA World Cup squad, enjoyed decorated careers with the Australia national team after spending time with Marconi.
Schwarzer made his professional debut for the club at just 19-years-old, back in 1990.
They’ve helped develop some of the Hyundai A-League’s coaches, like Frank Farina, Gary van Egmond, and Steve Corica.
Former Socceroos under 20s coach Ufuk Talay spent time at Marconi during his playing career, so too Western Sydney Wanderers assistant Jean-Paul de Marigny.
Marconi wasn’t among the four former NSL teams which expressed an interest in joining the Hyundai A-League, but make no mistake being back on the national stage is an ambition the proud club harbours.
A penalty shoot-out denied Marconi a shot at the Round of 16 the last time they qualified for the final 32, back in 2016.
If they can manage a better result over Avondale in this year’s edition, the country will sit up and take notice.