Missing the A-League? Try watching a local club

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    Football in Australia doesn’t begin and end with the A-League – a point exemplified by Brisbane’s high-flying NPL Queensland club Olympic FC.

    I spent a few hours down at Olympic’s atmospheric Goodwin Park home yesterday, chatting with media manager Braden Asujamaa and checking out what makes the club tick.

    I’ve been down to Olympic a few times before – most notably for the NPL Queensland grand final in 2013 – but I wanted to see how the club was getting on now that the latest incarnation of the Queensland state league has a few years under its belt.

    For those who don’t know, Olympic has plenty of history. Founded by the local Greek community in 1967, the club has played in both the Brisbane Premier League and the old Queensland State League, before taking up the offer to join the new NPL Queensland in 2013.

    They’re one of three traditional inner-city Brisbane clubs now plying their trade in the National Premier Leagues – the others being Brisbane City and Brisbane Strikers – in a competition featuring a couple of other familiar names in the form of Northern Fury and Brisbane Roar’s youth team.

    And with several more upwardly mobile clubs like Gold Coast City, Western Pride and FFA Cup giant-killers Redlands United kicking about, the standard of football is well worth keeping an eye on.

    It’s a standard Asujamaa would like to see more fans come along to watch, suggesting it offers fans the chance to watch the “future stars” of Australian football in action.

    “It’s not like it’s a lower tier,” he says. “It’s really exciting.”

    “The fans are passionate, the players are passionate for the club. Obviously this is where they get their first chance at the big shot, so they all put in their best effort.”

    brisbane-roar-supporter-a-league-football-2012

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    There was plenty of effort on display as Olympic drew 1-1 with Northern Fury in an entertaining encounter, with Fury goalkeeper Ryan Murphy turning in a Herculean second-half performance to keep the frustrated hosts at bay.

    Olympic skipper Shane Stefanutto looked every inch the former Australian international, organising his defence, urging his team forward and ultimately talking himself into the book after skilful midfielder Kazuya Ito was denied a decent penalty shout at the death.

    Ito’s influence is keenly felt – the Osaka-born midfielder has been with the club since 2013 – and just last week Olympic announced a formal player development and coaching partnership with Japanese first division outfit Ventforet Kofu.

    With promotion and relegation to the A-League seemingly years away, it’s the sort of pathway that could potentially offer another route into the professional game.

    There’s no doubt another much-needed pathway has been opened up to clubs like Olympic – the FFA Cup.

    I was there the night Olympic stunned Melbourne Knights 3-1 in the inaugural FFA Cup, and it’s safe to say every available vantage point was jam-packed.

    It was an experience more akin to watching English lower league football, with fans standing right on top of the action.

    Yet the most obvious difference between our state leagues and England’s lower leagues is the fact there are usually far fewer spectators in the stands here at home.

    That’s not to say supporters at this level are non-existent – Asujamaa said the derby against Brisbane City drew a huge crowd earlier this season – and state league clubs around the country have been drawing decent attendances for years.

    But they could always do with a few more fans, and the A-League watchers among us could probably ditch the attitude that the football season in Australia is only six months long.

    So if you don’t often head out to watch winter football, why not follow a local club on social media and check out an upcoming fixture?

    I saw my old mate Taka Uematsu in the carpark on the way out – his little boy plays for Olympic – and I’m looking forward to watching a game with both of them soon.

    After all, as the affable Asujamaa pointed out to me, “you don’t know what you’re missing until you try it”.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (179)

    • Roar Guru

      May 15th 2017 @ 7:08am
      Kaks said | May 15th 2017 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      And the ‘no crap’ award goes too…

    • May 15th 2017 @ 7:11am
      Waz said | May 15th 2017 @ 7:11am | ! Report

      Nice article Mike. The NPL is defiantly worth checking out (and a reminder of the benefits of summer football, brrrr) and while it’s a great experience to actually get down to the grounds many clubs are now streaming their games live and on replay and getting between 5-10k viewers. So if you can’t get there search out these links on Facebook and tune in virtually.

      • Roar Pro

        May 15th 2017 @ 4:00pm
        Jeff Williamson said | May 15th 2017 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

        I agree. NPL is definitely worth getting out to watch.

        The good news is that the NPL is played in every state and territory.

    • May 15th 2017 @ 8:21am
      Pauly said | May 15th 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      Getting a Fury membership got me through my year in Townsville and some of the games provided the most entertaining football I’ve seen.

    • Roar Guru

      May 15th 2017 @ 8:56am
      Rick Disnick said | May 15th 2017 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      Too many elitists on this board, Mike.

      No one would watch low quality local football after watching the A-League.

      • May 15th 2017 @ 9:11am
        Tezza said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

        Yep and no one wants to go and watch low quality aussie rules after watching the AFL. Really Rick, where do think most of our A-League players come from? There is nothing better than a cool Saturday arvo or night with pie in hand and a good seat watching our local lads go around playing for their premiership. May not be A league standard but we aren`t in the Aleague .

        • Roar Guru

          May 15th 2017 @ 9:30am
          Rick Disnick said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

          Face it Tezza, most on here are elitists, just like all those Euro Snobs.

          • May 15th 2017 @ 10:19am
            Tezza said | May 15th 2017 @ 10:19am | ! Report

            Rick, I am neither an elitist or a euro snob, I just love following the sport that I love. If you choose to follow and support another sport good on you, but just leave the snide not needed for comments on your sports threads.

            • Roar Guru

              May 15th 2017 @ 10:41am
              Rick Disnick said | May 15th 2017 @ 10:41am | ! Report

              So basically you don’t want me to form an opinion on this site, which just happens to be based upon opinions.

              Got it.

              • May 15th 2017 @ 10:50am
                Tezza said | May 15th 2017 @ 10:50am | ! Report

                No Rick, everyone is entitled to their opinion that`s the beauty of living in this great country. I just see your comments as an attack on a different code that you don`t necessarily support , but then again this is just my opinion.

                cheers.

              • Roar Guru

                May 15th 2017 @ 11:11am
                Rick Disnick said | May 15th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

                I’ll issue you the same challenge I’ve issued many others on this site.

                Reference me one comment where I’ve attacked the code of football. If you can, I’ll disappear for good.

                When you can’t do that, feel free to apologise.

              • May 15th 2017 @ 10:50pm
                Lionheart said | May 15th 2017 @ 10:50pm | ! Report

                Rick Disnick
                No one would watch low quality local football after watching the A-League.
                posted just above.
                bye Rick

              • May 16th 2017 @ 9:00pm
                Evan Askew said | May 16th 2017 @ 9:00pm | ! Report

                Ffs. This is the sort of thing that annoys the crap out of me. Another interesting article railroaded by a code war argument. Tell me if your at a party and you see a tempura battered prawn with a metal hook buried inside it attached to a piece of string do you swallow it hook line and dinner? I’m guessing the answer is no. Then why reply to his troll comments.

                If we just ignored the comments from rock sidekick, Martin 50 etc, would they keep posting their bs?

              • Roar Guru

                May 16th 2017 @ 12:00pm
                Rick Disnick said | May 16th 2017 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

                Lionheart

                So you’re saying local football is high quality compared to the A-league?

      • May 15th 2017 @ 9:12am
        Ian said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        Another valuable contribution.

        You calling others elitists is the first example … and then describe local football as low quality…being the second example.

        • Roar Guru

          May 15th 2017 @ 9:32am
          Rick Disnick said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

          “Another valuable contribution.”

          You love my comments.

          • May 15th 2017 @ 9:59am
            pauly said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:59am | ! Report

            Well they do give us a laugh.

    • May 15th 2017 @ 9:15am
      Ian said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

      Good read Mike. Been to Olympic and a few games at City……a good arvo/evening out.

    • May 15th 2017 @ 9:47am
      Midfielder said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      ALL FOOTBALL POSTERS PLEASE BOOKMARK THIS ARTICLE.

      MORE SOON

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