Dockerty Cup Final Preview

On the warm summer nights of February, the first of more than 100 clubs from around the state entered into Victoria’s most historic football competition. Now only two remain.

The Bentleigh Greens and Oakleigh Cannons have run the gauntlet and this Saturday only one will be left standing as the 2022 Dockerty Cup Champion.

Named after Football Victoria Hall of Famer, Harry Dockerty, who donated the trophy, the competition is 113 years old. It was first won in 1909 by Carlton United and after a few hiatuses over the years, 2022 marks the 97th iteration of the tournament.

The Final on August 6th marks the culmination of a six month long process which initially starts out as the preliminary rounds of the Australia Cup.

104 clubs from the various State League 4 and 5 divisions battled it out in round one to begin the process. As the rounds progressed, sides from further and further up the Victorian football pyramid entered the fray until even the 14 teams from the top flight were introduced.

Finally, the five sides that were able to qualify for the national stage of the Australia Cup this year broke off to form the playoffs to reach the Dockerty Cup Final.

This year could potentially see a first time champion crowned if the Oakleigh Cannons are to come out on top. The furthest the Cannons have come was their 3-0 defeat at the hands of South Melbourne in the 2015 final.

This season, their journey began with a comfortable 4-0 win over State League 2 outfit Epping City, when the Cannons entered the competition in Round 4. The next round saw them really kick things into gear with a 12-0 rout of hapless State League 5 side White Star Dandenong.

Next, Oakleigh narrowly defeated 2019 Dockerty Cup champions Hume City 1-0 at Jack Edwards Reserve, before a commanding 4-0 victory over the nine time winners Melbourne Knights booked their place in the last four.

In the semi-final, they saw off a spirited second half fight back from last years champion Avondale to run out 3-2 winners and book their ticket to Lakeside Stadium for the final.

While the Cannons have made just one Dockerty Cup final and are yet to lift the trophy, their South East rivals the Bentleigh Greens have ran this race a number of times.

The Greens are the most successful team of the last 10 years in the competition. Crowned champions in 2016 and 2018, during a run where they made the final in three consecutive campaigns.

Bentleigh is attempting to join an illustrious group of fourteen clubs that have won the Dockerty Cup on three or more occasions. That list includes some of Victoria’s most prestigious clubs, including Melbourne Knights (9), South Melbourne (8), Brunswick Juventus (6), Green Gully (5) and Caroline Springs Georges Cross (3), not to mention former greats that are no longer with us in Hakoah (7), Footscray JUST (3) and Slavia (3).  

In 2022, they kicked off their cup run with a 4-1 victory over NPL2 side Werribee City at Kingston Heath. The next round saw a second half comeback help them edge past fellow top flight side Altona Magic 2-1, which was followed by a comfortable 3-0 victory over St Albans Saints.

A first half effort from Mitchell Hore and a second half brace from Lucas Derrick saw them ease past State League 1 side Banyule City to book a place in the semi-finals.

A goal each from the aforementioned Hore and Derrick was just enough to hold off a late charge from 2017 Dockerty Cup champions Heidelberg United. The 2-1 win earning them a spot in their fourth final in seven years.

Between 2015 and 2019 the Greens have won at least one piece of silverware every year, including an NPL Championship and Dockerty Cup double in 2016.

However the Cannons may feel as if their time has come. Their first piece of top flight silverware was awarded to them last week when they were presented with the 2021 NPL Victoria Premiership.

Now looking to add to their trophy cabinet, head coach Chris Taylor says it’s time for Oakleigh to fulfill their potential.

“I think the big thing is for Oakleigh to start winning trophies. They’ve been a team that’s promised so much for so long.”

“Everyone at the club is excited and has bought in to what we’re doing this year. I think the pleasing part is that we’re playing good football, which is nice that we’re winning in style as well,” he said.

Oakleigh’s good football this season has had fast, free flowing attacking as its centre piece. Their 81 goals in all competitions the best return of any side in NPL Victoria this year.

Leading the charge has been the three pronged attack of Wade Dekker, Joe Knowles and Joe Guest. With 16, 15 and 11 goals respectively in all competitions, the trio have been a nightmare for opposition defences in 2022.

Oakleigh captain Tyson Holmes notes that everyone at the Cannons has put the club in the position it is today and that success would be an achievement for more than just the players on the pitch.

“There’s a lot of people that deserve success to come to this football club and that’s what we’ve been building towards for the last couple of years.”

“This is just another step in the direction we want to go as a club, and hopefully bring some success to the loyal supporters and people behind the scenes that have been working at that club for a very long time,” he said.

Oakleigh defeated last year's winners Avondale FC to progress through the semi-final.

Bentleigh coach Nick Tolios says a big part of why his side have been able to make this deep cup run is the depth in personnel the Greens have.

“I think we’ve really used our squad well this year. A lot of young kids from the under 21’s this year have got opportunities and when we’ve relied on them they’ve come in and done a job for us.”

“The biggest positive for us is having that squad and mentality from everyone that’s involved to continue that winning culture at Bentleigh,” he said.

While the Greens have been somewhat middle of pack with regards to attacking and defensive metrics this year, midfielder Jack Painter-Andrews says his sides killer instinct is the secret to their success.

“Our work rate and our ability to deliver in big moments has been the difference. We’ve been able to push through quite tough games… we all trust in each other and we’re all confident,” he said.

Coming from neighbouring suburbs in the South East corner of Melbourne, the Greens and the Cannons are local rivals. Having played twice this year in the league, the season score between the two is delicately poised at one a piece.

Oakleigh were 1-0 victors at Jack Edwards Reserve back in April, but Bentleigh got their revenge last Monday when they won 3-2 at Kingston Heath.

The Cannons’ form over the last month has not been as inconsistent as they may have liked, with three wins and two losses in their last five in all competitions. The Greens had been on a 12 game unbeaten run heading into last weekend, but a shock 3-0 loss to Altona Magic brought that to an end.

As the saying goes, however, form goes out the window in a cup final or a derby, and this match just happens to be both.

Will the championship pedigree of the Greens shine through to win their third Dockerty Cup, or will Oakleigh see their name etched on the famous trophy for the first time ever?

A mouth-watering clash awaits, 4pm this Saturday at Lakeside Stadium.


Date: Saturday, August 6
Location: Lakeside Stadium. 33 Aughtie Dr, Albert Park VIC 3206
Entry: Gate 2
Kick-Off: 4:00PM (gates open 2:45PM)
Ticket: Available at the gate

  • Adult $15
  • Concession $10
  •  Under-14 enter free.

Streaming: The game will be live streamed on Football Victoria Facebook, Youtube and to NPL.TV.