Mike Cockerill Cup celebrated at Poulton Park  

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The fifth Mike Cockerill Cup was celebrated last weekend on a sunny Sunday morning at the home of Connells Point Rovers FC, Poulton Park.

Cockerill who passed away aged just 56 in August 2017, was one of football’s leading voices as he constantly challenged many of the game’s leaders to do better and embrace bold visions for the game of football in Australia.

Through his work for Fairfax newspapers and commentary for Fox Sports Cockerill left a lasting imprint and legacy on the game of football in Australia, with his fighting spirit continuing to be remembered through the Mike Cockerill Cup.

The sense of community and diversity which Cockerill believed in wholeheartedly during his life was on display again at Poulton Park. The tireless efforts of Lou Dulisse and Romano Bit to once again organise a day which honoured everything Cockerill believed in and stood for during his life highlighted a man that impacted and touched the lives of those that surrounded him.

The day began with a welcome to country which was conducted by Romano, before Cockerill’s brother Ian and club president of Rovers FC Lance Condon thanked those in attendance and reiterated the importance of days like this.

It was then on to the football wherein Mike’s All Stars including NSL legend Zlatko Nastevski, played the Brazilian Canarinhos who had also shared a close connection to Cockerill during his life.

The game was hotly contested with the Canarinhos running out 5-3 winners as they held off a fast-finishing Rovers team. Cockerill’s wife Jo presented the captain of the Canarinhos Gelcimar Freire with the winning trophy as the victors celebrated a game which was played competitively but always in the right spirit.

The sense of community and collective spirit culminated in Balu from Barbicrew cooking up a magnificent Brazilian BBQ which everyone thoroughly enjoyed after the exertions of the game. Former SBS ‘World Game’ host Kyle Patterson along with former Sydney FC midfielder Matthew Bingley and former Australian defender Tony Henderson were also all in attendance to honour the life of Cockerill.

Reflecting on the significance of the day president of Rovers FC Lance Condon and one of the chief organisers of the day Romano Bit both spoke to the boys from the Behind the Lights podcast who were also in attendance, reiterating the importance of community football and why it must be looked after and supported.

“Well Mike being such an advocate for community football, we need to recognise it and highlight it and keep the focus on community football, so that we can really grow football within Australia,” Condon stated.

While Bit also emphasised the power of football to bring people together regardless of backgrounds or cultural differences.

“Today’s day is remembering Mike in the essence of community, so when we talk about the Mike Cockerill Cup, the legacy of Mike, we talk about people that love the game and today that is represented by the people that truly love the game and are here for that purpose,” Bit stated.

The fifth Mike Cockerill Cup yet again showcased the ability of sport to cut through division and unite a group of people. This is Cockerill’s true legacy in a time where parts of our world are experiencing great pain and suffering, it is days like this which showcase the truly good of humanity and what can be done when differences are put aside.

-By Seb Kalos


*Photos by Brett Nielsen