FFA Cup Opposition Insight: Hume City FC
Following a Round of 32 win over South Melbourne, the City boys will again face NPL competition at the next stage of their 2021 FFA Cup campaign, set to play Hume City on Wednesday, December 1.
History and recent results
Hume have gone through several iterations since the club’s founding in 1979, but have found success hard to come by, with the club’s 2019 Dockerty Cup win the first piece of major silverware in their history.
The Broadmeadows-based club has built a reputation as one of the few state-league ‘Cup specialists’, making the Semi-Finals in 2015 and the Quarter-Finals in 2018.
Most recently however, Hume secured a fourth-place finish in the prematurely cancelled 2021 NPL 1 Victoria season, six points ahead of Melbourne City’s Round of 32 opposition, South Melbourne.
Hume’s higher finish was secured on the back of potent attacking performances over the course of the season, registering 37 goals (second in the league) in the team’s 18 fixtures at 2.05 goals per game. Former Central Coast Mariners striker Josh Bingham starred for Hume in 2021, netting 13 times on his way to a second-place finish in the league’s goalscoring chart.
Bingham was also the hero for Hume in this year’s FFA Cup Round of 32, where he scored a 92nd-minute winner to secure progression to the Round of 16 for his side. Earlier in the piece, it was Mark Ochieng who netted Hume’s opener, before Port Melbourne struck back in the 79th minute through Chris Duggan.
From all reports, it was Port Melbourne, not Hume, who appeared bound for the Round of 16, with Hume instead described as being “on the ropes” as they withstood “a barrage” of Port Melbourne attacking opportunities in the final 10 minutes. Alas, Bingham popped up with the 92nd-minute strike to put his side ahead, before substitute Nahuel Bonada capitalised on the Sharks’ disorganisation in their hunt for an equaliser, getting played in behind on the counter and finishing with composure to make it 3-1.
Now almost a decade into his time with Hume City, current manager Nick Hegarty arrived at Hume in 2012 as a player, before transitioning into his role as head coach in 2017. The ex-English midfielder had played over 100 professional games in the UK before arriving in Australia, and has implemented a game plan predicated on “high work rate, high energy, as well as high positivity.”
That description of his preferred style came from his very recent appearance on the Coaching in Clubland podcast, with Hegarty finishing the quote: “Negativity still f*****g breaks me.”
“I kind of focus more on player movements than ball movements, which might be different than some coaches,” he said, “I like to think I'm very structural in terms of what I want and where I want people to be in kind of all moments of the game; in and out of possession, in transition from one (end) to the other.”
Hegarty also instills a confidence in his sides to seek and implement control over the contest. “Control is massive,” he said, “You can be in control with and without the ball; it's that mindset of thinking that when someone thinks they've got the edge, you know they haven't.”
How Hegarty’s resolution to implement control fares in Hume’s clash against one of Australia’s best sides at controlling the tempo of the game and maintaining possession is another matter altogether.
As with many top NPL sides, Hume City’s squads contains several names familiar to fans of the A-League Men’s competition.
Aside from the aforementioned Bingham, Brandon Lauton and Theodore Markelis also have top-flight experience, both with Melbourne Victory.
The aforementioned Mark Ochieng may be a name that bears painful memories for those who remember his 87th-minute winner against City in Round 15 of the 2016/17 season, with Adelaide slicing through City in a two-pass counter-attack from the corner. Now plying his trade as a full-back for Hume, Ochieng opened the scoring against Port Melbourne with a ripping volley and has become a key player for his side as the team looks to create opportunities through their full-backs.
But perhaps most iconic of all of Hume’s ex-A-League contingent is Mitch Cooper, who fans may remember was named by Clive Palmer as Gold Coast United’s captain as a 17-year-old when the club took on Melbourne Heart in 2012. The club had its licence stripped a few weeks later. (Click here for an in-depth re-telling of that iconic day, from our City Stories series from 2020)
Whilst Bingham looms as the man to contain for City’s backline, City fans should be thankful that it is only Bingham that will be of major concern; Hume’s attacking stocks have taken a big hit over the NPL off-season. Club captain and former Newcastle Jet Andy Brennan provided 10 goal contributions in the 2021 season, but recently departed the club to join South Melbourne for the next campaign, with the other member of Hume’s dynamic front three, Danny Dixon, also departing recently.
Even worse for the Broadmeadows side, the team will also be without surprise packet Nahuel Bonada, who had spent the 2021 season with Dandenong Thunder – scoring an impressive 12 goals – before linking up with Hume as a train-on over the off-season. Bonada was approached by Hegarty to play in the team’s Round of 32 clash with Port Melbourne and, despite not expecting to actually play, the Argentine ended up making an eventful cameo appearance, netting a goal in extra time before getting sent off following a scuffle after the goal. Bonada believes the red card was shown to the wrong player, however, and he hopes to have it rescinded in time to play Melbourne City in the Cup. At this stage, Bonada won’t be making an appearance in the Round of 16, but City fans should be thankful that Hume won’t have a strike force of Bingham, Brennan, Dixon and Bonada for our defence to contend with.
Hume lost key personnel in other positions too, with Patrick Langlois (midfielder) and Michael Weier (goalkeeper) also having departed the club over the NPL off-season, with the latter joining the Newcastle Jets.
Weier's departure is especially significant as it left 16-year-old Lucas Trenkovski to start in goal against Port Melbourne, with Hume yet to sign a more experienced replacement.
With South Melbourne, a serious lack of goal threat but strong defence made it clear that City needed only score once to effectively ensure a winning result. Hume City, despite not finishing all that further ahead in the NPL 1 Victoria, are a different proposition.
That said, Hume have been hit hard by off-season player movement and have lost a large portion of their core group from that 4th-placed side.
Shutting down Bingham and stifling chance creation from wide areas should be enough to see City control the game as we did against South Melbourne, but the boys will likely be looking for more as they seek to restore confidence following the disappointment of Saturday's 2-2 draw in the A-League Men's competition.