Dockerty Cup Grand Final Preview: Hume City FC vs Avondale FC

After a year like no other (or at least a year like none other than maybe 2020), the 2021 Victorian men’s football season will reach its conclusion on Sunday afternoon: Hume City taking on Avondale FC at CB Smith Reserve for the right to call themselves champions in the Dockerty Cup’s 113th year. 

Named for the man that donated it, Football Victoria Hall of Famer Harry Dockerty, the Dockerty Cup has been a semi-regular part of the Victorian football scene since Carlton United FC first lifted it in 1909; Melbourne Knights the most successful club in the competition’s history with nine wins. 

And thanks to its cancellation in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hume will enter Sunday’s contest as its defending champions: James Brown’s 28th-minute proving enough for coach Nick Hegarty’s side to deny Knight’s a tenth crown and, instead, secure their first in club history. 

Ostensibly the lone major trophy that will be up for the taking this season due to the cancellation of the 2021 NPL Victoria season in the wake of COVID, it’s a trophy that coach Nick Hegarty has been targeting ever since he received the news that his side would be returning to action to see out their Cup commitments. 

“That’s been the main aim since we came back from the COVID break,” he said. “To get into a position to play that game. “And a Cup final is a Cup final -- there’s only one winner and you always want to be that club that wins it. 

“I think the [FFA Cup] games that we’ve had in Port Melbourne and City will hopefully put us in a good place heading into the Avondale game. Obviously, the short turnaround into Sunday might help level the playing field of them not playing lead-in games a bit.

“But we’re happy with where we’re at with a slightly new group and the levels we’re at in physical.”

Nick Hegarty's side come into the game following a tight midweek FFA clash against Melbourne City.

Hegarty was speaking in the wake of his side’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Melbourne City in the FFA Cup -- ending their run through the national stages at the Round of 16. Prior to that, two late goals had propelled them back over fellow NPL Victoria side Port Melbourne in the Round of 32, giving them at least two competitive fixtures to click into gear ahead of their assault on the Dockerty Cup. 

Avondale, conversely, received a walkover against NPL Tasmania side Devenport Strikers in the Round of 32 of the FFA Cup and won’t play their Round of 16 game against a foe yet to be determined until December 14. While coach Zoran Markovski’s side has been able to stage some warm-up fixtures since returning to training, that means they won’t have played an actual competitive fixture since defeating Port Melbourne in the semifinals of the Dockerty Cup back on August 3. 

At least, on a symbolic basis, that means they’re in good form. 

Lurking at the back post, Stefan Valentini put the Avengers ahead in that fixture when he poked home a corner -- that he himself had won -- in the 24th minute, only for the Sharks to respond just moments from halftime when George Mells was picked out by Kris Koussis and laced a long-range effort into the bottom corner of the net.  

This sense of parity, however, would last less than five minutes and never be found again; the boys from the Reggio Calabria Club providing the first blow of what would soon become a barrage when Joey Katabian threaded a pass in behind Port’s lines for Valentini to run onto and fire into the back of the net minutes into the second half. 

The Valentini show would then continue roughly ten minutes later when the West Australian attacker was fed through by Mario Barcia in the 59th minute, rounded the keeper and slid the ball into the net to secure his hattrick. 

Stefan Valentini has been a standout performer for the Avengers throughout the year.

Someone other than Valentini finally getting in on the act, Liam Boland made it four when he was picked out by Stefan Zinni with a yard of space at the Shark’s penalty spot, and the Sharks night went from bad to worse in the 73rd minute when Jackson Courtney-Perkins inadvertently turned the ball into his own net -- making it 5-1. 

Hume, conversely, were made to work much harder for their berth in back-to-back finals in their semifinal against South Melbourne. 

Henry Hore, who has since signed with Brisbane Roar in the A-League Men competition, put Hellas up within 16 seconds of that contest commencing -- putting Hume behind the eight-ball before many punters with designs on watching the behind-closed-doors contest at Kingston Heath had had a chance open their streams. 

Just over four minutes later, however, they would get themselves back later when Danny Dixon, who has since departed the club and returned to Perth, picked out Josh Bingham inside the penalty area in a position that would allow the former Central Coast Mariner to turn his effort around the corner and into the back of the net. 

Five minutes out from the end of the half Hume would then hit the front: Andy Brennan picking the ball up near the halfway line as his side broke in transition, storming to the edge of the area and lacing a shot into the bottom corner of the goal. It was a goal that must have made an impact on the South brass as Brennan was recently announced as headed to Lakeside in 2022. 

That lead, though, would only survive all of ten minutes: Harrison Sawyer getting to the byline and cutting the ball back for Hore to fire past Michael Weier -- who has since signed for Newcastle Jets -- to secure his brace and tie the game up in the 48th minute. 

In the end, 90 minutes of football wouldn’t be enough to separate the two sides; a winner found in the 112th minute when Brennan sent a high, looping cross in from the right that was bundled over the line by substitute Umut Bozdugan. 

Late drama, as it turns out, was also on the agenda for the lone meeting between the two sides during the 2021 NPL Victoria season -- with Avondale dramatically coming from behind to steal a 3-3 draw.

Locked at one apiece as the first half wore down following goals to Brennan and Valentini, Hume took the lead in the 43rd minute of the contest at Avenger Park through a Bingham penalty, before taking a 3-1 lead thanks to an unfortunate own goal from Phillip Riccobene on the hour mark. 

For all intents and purposes, it appeared as though Hume was set to hand their hosts a rare league defeat until substitute Zinni gave his side a shred of hope when run onto a long ball over the top, chipped it over the head of Weier and reduced the deficit to one in the first minute of second-half injury time. The unlikely comeback was then completed when Brandon Lundy seized upon a Zinni shot and fired into an empty net two minutes later. 


Date: Sunday, 5 December
Kick-off: 3:00PM
Venue: CB Smith Reserve
79-83 Jukes Road, Fawkner