Once upon a time, PATRICK DUFFY kicked off the very first game of a soccer team called Macarthur. Now the principal of Duffy Law Group – and still a big fan of the round ball game – he believes the sky’s the limit for Macarthur FC when the Bulls start competing in the national competition, the A-League in a little over a year. He explains why in the piece below he wrote for the South West Voice in Macarthur:
Congratulations are due to our new A League club, Macarthur FC Bulls, on a spectacular launch last week at the Cube.
I attended with the Veritas team, along with The Kontos Report and a who’s who of Macarthur, particularly the business and football communities.
Simon Hill of Fox Sports, David Gallop, the CEO of FFA, our own Brett Emerton (Socceroo and Premier League legend), Lang Walker, as well as the owners of Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers, among many others, were on hand to witness the launch, the reveal of the name and logo, and the unveiling of Ante Milicic as coach (and a worthy choice he is).
Not a seat was empty as a full house packed in for the star studded event, which augurs well for the new Club.
Congratulations as well to Michael Lavorato and his team at the Cube who put on quite a show.
Michael won’t mind me saying this as he wears his allegiance proudly, but he and I are the only two (as far as we know) Luton Town supporters in Campbelltown!
We both have another allegiance now though, as the Bulls will be special in a number of ways.
Firstly, and no disrespect to Wests Tigers, but they are only a partial (and shrinking, it seems) presence in our community, and Western Sydney Wanderers dropped the ball (no pun intended) out here in favour of Western Sydney (rather than south west) some time ago.
The Bulls will be a dedicated and exclusive presence in a mainstream national sporting competition, which can only be good for Macarthur.
It will also be special for Campbelltown Stadium to have a full time tenant as well as expansion plans, as part of revitalising the northern gateway to Campbelltown in the near future.
For too long this facility has been underutilised despite having fantastic facilities.
Mark Bridge, the recently retired Wanderers legend and now a proud local and astute football judge, never fails to tell me how much players love the surface at Campbelltown, given some of the dodgy pitches around the country due to overuse or multiple uses.
It will be special for the football community in Macarthur to finally have a showpiece local club in the premier Australian competition.
I grew up in the “old soccer” era, where we were distant poor cousins to rugby league and cricket in particular, with the mainstream view of football best captured by the title of the great Johnny Warren’s book, Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters.
In those days of the 1970s and before, they would announce “Soccer Pools” results on television but not even show highlights of games! The only game on television live start to finish every year was the English FA Cup final. Yet here we are now, centre stage.
Despite producing scores of football legends over the decades (as touched on by Simon Hill and football historian John Maynard at the launch) and despite the massive grassroots participation in the game, it is only now football is truly coming of age in Macarthur, and the new Club is evidence of it.
It will for the first time provide local juniors with a pathway to the professional game that does not involve moving away from their families at a tender age and where local players will be encouraged and developed right here at home.
Well done to Gino Marra (who seems a champion bloke as well as a successful nascent football administrator) and his team on their success.
Lastly, but certainly not least, it will be special for our community.
On the evidence of last Wednesday’s launch, business is keen to support the club, as is the local political establishment of all colours.
I was pleased to see my friends (and first mentors) Jim Marsden and John Adam present and supporting; both are in differing capacities rugby league legends, Jim as an administrator at Wests and Wests Tigers, and John as the former skipper of the North Sydney Bears rugby league team (and, I might add, the “Intercept King”). If football can now attract support from these new quarters, it will have a bright future.
Local councils and local MPs of all stripes were represented. It was not simply Campbelltown, but Liverpool, Camden and the whole local area being represented.
This is what the Bulls need moving forward, the backing of the whole community. And we in turn need the club, who can represent us nationally and internationally in unprecedented ways, particularly in the Asian Champions League as that competition hopefully matures and succeeds.
I have some misgivings about the future of the game in Australia as do most football observers, what with the new A-League business model, the future of the TV rights deal, the progress of the Socceroos and other major issues requiring immediate as well as long term progress.
However, if the launch was any guide, we should all be optimistic as we wish success to this amazing new football adventure.
I for one can’t wait for 2020 to kick off!