For two years, Aaron Philp and Warren Moon were coaching colleagues on the Redcliffe peninsula.
Now, they lead the highest-ranked teams in Queensland and will go head-to-head at Moreton Daily Stadium in the FFA Cup Round of 32 on September 14.
It pitches Peninsula Power, runaway leaders of the state-level NPL, against Brisbane Roar, one tier and on last season’s standings, nine places higher in the national A-League.
Philp was assistant to Moon at AJ Kelly Park from 2012-14. “It was mentor (Moon) and apprentice,” says Philp, who has been Power’s head coach since mid-2016.
Moon, player-coach on the peninsula, was in charge at NPL club Lions from 2014-19 and is in his second season as Roar’s head coach.
Moon believes the sides are evenly matched.
“It’s absolutely a more level playing field,” he says. “We get this every year - rounds while A-League clubs are preparing for their season.
“NPL clubs have nothing to lose and can play with certain degree of freedom. They have the incentive and motivation.
“Lose and it’s an honourable defeat, they can hold their heads high. A-League clubs are expected to win. We have to prepare and contend with that.”
Roar has gone beyond the Round of 32 twice in seven attempts. Power has reached this stage once, four years ago when they lost to Melbourne City at Moreton Daily Stadium.
“We had a great experience in the cup in 2017 and I’m looking forward to this,” Philp says.
“We’re not only representing ourselves, we’re representing the NPL and community clubs.
“We’re a community club and perhaps we can show that anyone can get there.”
On his battle with Moon, the Power coach said: “I’ve faced him many times and he’d have the upper hand!
“I think the only game I’ve got up on him was in 2019 at Lions in the NPL (Power won 2-1).
“Warren is very good tactically and this will be a good chance to see where we’re at.”
Moon watched Power’s convincing victory at Moreton Bay United just before the recent lockdown and plans to watch them again before the cup tie.
“Playing a local team is always good, so its playing at our home ground,” said Moon, “we’ve played Power before, but this time there is something at stake.”
Tickets are available online
Peninsula Power President Craig Feuerriegel says the national stage of the FFA Cup is a “fantastic opportunity to take the community club, sponsors and players to a wider audience”.
“To play at Moreton Daily Stadium also showcases our club, the city of Redcliffe and Moreton Bay Region to national and international spectators.
“This will be the second time we have drawn an A-League club at this stage of the competition and the team are looking forward to the challenge.”
In 2017, Power faced Melbourne City, going down 2-0 – both goals in the last minute of each half – in front of a club record 4017 fans at Moreton Daily Stadium.
“The media interest was very high from outlets in New South Wales and Victoria around the match,” Feuerriegel says.
“We have a fantastic relationship with Brisbane Roar who play their home games at Moreton Daily Stadium. However, come August 24 we will be opponents and as with any knockout game both teams will go for it!”
Peninsula Power and Brisbane Roar are close sporting neighbours – in fact just 1.6km separate their home grounds in Kippa-Ring.
But the connections run deeper still, with four players having been on the books of both clubs.
Power’s Hayden McHenery, Jesse Daley and Sam Cronin (currently injured) all spent time at the Roar, whose Josh Brindell-South was at AJ Kelly Park.
For McHenery, at the Roar in 2017 with Daley, the FFA Cup tie will be his first time playing in the national Round of 32.
“When I heard the draw, my first thought was ‘Oh, an A-League side’,” the 24-year-old says,
“but then I thought perhaps this is a good time to face them.”
Roar returned to training, under strict COVID-19 regulations, at the start of August ahead of their new A-League campaign.
Power were match fit and more than halfway through their NPL season before community sport was banned during the recent lockdown.
“We’ve got a few games to go in the NPL,” says McHenery, who was born in New Zealand, “but the FFA Cup tie is in the back of our minds.
“We want to get super fit for that. You have to be fit and have to be ready to run, because they (Roar) keep the ball so well. I watch a bit of the Roar, but I’m more a Wellington Phoenix fan actually!”
While McHenery is making his debut in the Round of 32, Josh Brindell-South, who was in the Power youth team, is hoping to make it third time lucky.
The 28-year-old has lost twice at this stage, to A-League sides, when playing for NPL Qld side Lions against Perth Glory and Adelaide. Both times 1-0.
“We should have beaten Adelaide,” he says, “but I’ve been on the other side of this … it is different (for NPL sides).
“Peninsula Power will be no different. They will want to impress and do well against an A-League team.
“I expect them to be fitter as we’ve just started building into our season. It’ll be close game.”
Brindell-South, who played for McHenery’s favourites Wellington, was actually spotted at North Pine by current Power coach Aaron Philp.
“We lived just across the road,” Brindell-South says. “Aaron must have seen me play and was coach of Power’s youth team. He said did I want to join them – and I did.”
Grab your tickets to the FFA Cup game on September 14. Head here