Melbourne Croatia Clubrooms, Somers St, Sunshine North. Phone: 9310 1842
The St Albans Saints aren’t exactly the smallest of minnows in the Australian soccer world – they play in the Victorian National Premier League, after all.
But that they have made it to the last 16 of the inaugural FFA Cup knockout competition is pretty cool.
Mind you, they have done so so far without having to come against the professional might of any of the A-League clubs.
Tonight they do.
And for almost all the first half it looks like a miracle – and a quarter-final berth – are on the cards.
Eventually, they succumb 4-1 to Perth Glory – but Bennie and I love a taste of grassroots football.
For lighting and other reasons, the game is held at Knights Stadium in Sunshine, the powerhouse Melbourne Knights being another club – like the Saints – with a Croatian heritage.
So, of course, food is on the agenda.
We’ve been this way before – for CROktoberfest – but this is our first time checking out what the regular Melbourne Croatian Clubrooms fare is all about on a regular game day/night.
There are a number of platters available ranging in price from $20 for cevapi and raznjici (cubed pork pieces) up to the upper $20s for steaks, seafood, parmas and the like.
That all seems fair enough – and the meals being consumed around us look the goods – but we opt instead for more footy-minded tucker.
So shared rolls of cevapi and raznjici ($7) plus chips ($4) it is.
We’re very happy with what we get.
The chips are only so-so, but there’s plenty of them, we’re hungry and they taste pretty good.
The rolls, with their contrasting meaty fillings, are fine.
The meats are juicy and cabbage salad – something of a leading theme at CTS in recent weeks – are fab.
Wow, what a character-filled contrast – so simple, so obvious, so good – to the over-priced crap available at Melbourne’s major sports venues.
Upon entering Knights Stadium itself, we’re impressed to discover the same cevapi and raznjici rolls are available at the grandstand “food court” kiosk!
And how about this?
The open-air bar right out in front of the grandstand is serving scotch and bourbon – without resorting to the tacky by selling pre-mixed cans.
Bennie is in digital game mode as I wander around taking in the sights and sounds. Everyone is friendly and happy, and I love the vibe.
The folks from The Stray Cafe whip us up a fine cafe latte and hot chocolate.
The St Albans Saints are out of the FFA Cup.
But personally, I have really enjoyed being out and about for some grassroots community sport.
My interest has been tweaked by editing so many stories – covering all sorts of sports – for the Star Weekly newspapers, and I’m glad we’ve made the effort.