Not since 2016 have Green Gully Cavaliers captured national attention as they did in the past week.
Two years ago, the Cavaliers shocked the nation with a 2-1 upset win over A-League club Central Coast Mariners in the FFA Cup, a result that understandably created headlines.
It took an incredible team performance for the Cavaliers to bring down a team of professionals on that unforgettable August night at Green Gully Reserve.
Green Gully was last week the talk of the soccer nation again – this time for a totally different reason.
Cavaliers forward Andy Brennan made the brave decision to come out as gay.
It was always going to be a big story, with Brennan being the first former A-League player to come out.
Just as on that day when Green Gully defeated Central Coast, the club united – this time in support of Brennan.
Cavaliers striker Alex Salmon said Brennan’s declaration took a lot of courage.
“When he told me, I said – it’s obviously a burden that’s been hanging over him – don’t feel like you can’t talk about it with all the lads,” Salmon said.
“It speaks volumes about the group that we’ve got at Gully that he feels comfortable in doing that and coming out to us guys.
“He’s a good lad … I hope he’s happy.”
The decision to come out removed a weight from Brennan’s shoulders.
Not only did his Green Gully teammates rally around him, but he was also overwhelmingly applauded in football circles.
In an Instagram post, Brennan wrote: “It’s been tough to talk about this, but I couldn’t be happier with how people have reacted to the news. I always wanted it to be on my terms and in my words, and I can’t thank everyone enough for the support.”
Brennan made a substitute appearance in Green Gully’s 1-1 draw with Oakleigh Cannons in the National Premier League at Green Gully Reserve on Saturday.
The 26-year-old had a significant role to play, slotting into the left side after Matthew Fletcher went down with a hamstring injury.
When Brennan came on to the field, he did so with the Cavaliers a goal down after Wade Dekker had put Oakleigh in front after eight minutes.
Green Gully’s start was uncharacteristically slow, even though the Cavaliers enjoyed most of the early possession.
“It wasn’t like us,” Salmon said. “We’ve started well in the past five or six games. We’ve usually been the ones that have scored early.”
But Green Gully did find a way to earn a share of the points.
The equaliser came just after half-time when captain Nick Kalmar scored from a free kick.
Kalmar, Jay Davies and Jonathan Bounas were influential in the midfield for Green Gully, while wing backs Jordan Lampard and substitute Jeremy Walker worked hard to defend and create.
Manny Muscat played his last game for Green Gully after announcing his retirement during the week.
Muscat had a decorated career locally with Green Gully and Sunshine George Cross, at A-League level with Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne City and internationally with the Maltese national team. The 34-year-old played the final 13 minutes of the match and walked off to a guard of honour after the game.
Salmon was impressed with the way Muscat approached his football in the short time he was a teammate.
“He puts his tackles in, he’s got good quality on the ball and you can’t argue with what he’s done in his career,” he said.
“It was nice for him to get his send off and I hope he enjoyed it.”
Green Gully remains steady in fourth spot ahead of a clash with seventh-placed Altona Magic at Green Gully Reserve this Saturday.
Meanwhile, Melbourne Knights played out an entertaining 3-3 draw with Dandenong Thunder at Knights Stadium on Friday night.
Gian Albano scored a double for the Knights with his second coming from the spot in second-half stoppage time to earn a point for his side. Marijan Cvitkovic was the Knights’ other scorer.
The fifth-placed Knights will be back at home on Friday night to tackle the Oakleigh Cannons.
In NPL women’s, Angela Beard scored a double in Calder United’s 4-0 win over Senior NTC at Keilor Park Recreation Reserve on Friday night.
United, eight points clear on top of the ladder, will hit the road to play Box Hill United at Wembley Park on Saturday.
In men’s NPL 2 west, St Albans Saints enjoyed a 2-0 win over Box Hill United courtesy of goals to Joseph Monek and Ayodeji Omoboye.