Words: Michael Flynn | Image: Patrick Leigh Perspectives
In 2015, Jason Campbell watched from the sidelines as Gold Coast City defeated South Melbourne FC – this year he is itching to be part of the action.
City will host the historic Victorian club for the second time in three years in the Westfield FFA Cup Quarter Finals later this month.
The match will be City’s second Quarter-Final appearance in the competition’s four-year history and a win will see them become the first Queensland club to ever reach the Semi-Final stage.
The last clash between the two sides ended in a dramatic penalty shoot-out at Cbus Stadium – City, then known as Palm Beach SC, prevailing 8-7 in the spot-kick showdown after the teams drew 1-1 after extra time.
Recalling that night, Campbell said he can’t wait for his chance to face off against one of the most famous clubs in Australian football history.
“I’ve never played against South Melbourne, so I’m very excited,” Campbell said.
“A number of the boys played against them two years ago but I wasn’t on the team sheet that night. I was part of the senior squad and warmed up with the team but I didn’t play.”
“I watched on from the sideline and it was just a great feeling when we beat them on penalties because a lot of people wrote us off before that game.”
The 20-year-old midfielder, who originally hails from Alstonville in far northern New South Wales, said it was an extra bonus to be drawn first out of the pot, ensuring City have hosting rights for the match.
“Obviously, I’m very pleased that we got the home game. It always provides the upper hand to be playing in front of your own fans and on your pitch.”
He added, “Last time we played a big match like this a few car loads and even a mini-bus came up from my area to support the club. I’m hoping we get the same again this time to cheer us on.”
South Melbourne, affectionately knowns as Hellas amongst their predominantly Greek-Australian fanbase, are one of the most successful clubs in national league history – winning four National Soccer League Grand Finals and three National Soccer League Premierships prior to the launch of the Hyundai A-League in 2005.
Currently competing in the PlayStation 4 NPL Victoria, South Melbourne were also acknowledged as the Oceania Club Of The Century and won the OFC Champions League in 1999.
However, Campbell said that past achievements count for nothing for either side once the opening whistle blows.
“This is this year and teams are always changing. So I’m not too fazed by their history for this game,” he said.
“They are obviously a good team and play in a good competition in Victoria but a lot of that history happened before I was even born, so I don’t think it will affect this game much.”
City were eliminated from the PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland Finals Series last weekend, meaning the only competitive fixtures left for City this season are in the Westfield FFA Cup.
Campbell said being able to focus on the task at hand after a dramatic past month will be important.
“It’s been quite an intense few weeks for us with the end of the league season being so tight and then the cup games thrown in there as well.”
“So a little bit of time off might be good and then picking up a couple of games as we get nearer the cup will probably be the plan,” he concluded.
City have never lost to a team from outside the Hyundai A-League in the national stages of the Westfield FFA Cup.
Westfield FFA Cup 2017 – Quarter Final
Gold Coast City FC v South Melbourne FC
Venue, fixture, broadcast and ticketing details TBC