Extraordinary rise of NPL’s hottest team who have unearthed string of Aussie football greats

It was another entertaining weekend of football in the National Premier Leagues, and beyond, across Australia. KEEPUP brings you the best bits.

Caroline Springs George Cross and their 11-game winning streak

There is no stopping Caroline Springs George Cross at the moment. The former NSL club have won 11 consecutive matches to be on track for back-to-back promotions.

Playing in the third tier of Victoria’s National Premier League, NPL3, George Cross edged Beaumaris SC 2-1 over the weekend to keep their incredible streak alive through 18 rounds.

Before embarking on the hottest run in any of the NPLs across Australia, the historic Victorian club had only won two of their opening seven matches as they languished around the relegation zone.

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They now find themselves second and only a point behind leaders Melbourne Victory with a game in hand. George Cross’ run has also included a win over Victory’s NPL side (2-1) and Australia Cup Round of 32 participants Goulburn Valley Suns (4-1).

George Cross, formerly known as Sunshine George Cross before relocating to the new City Vista Recreation Reserve in Caroline Springs out in Melbourne’s west, are a club steeped in history.

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They are one of eight Victorian clubs to have participated in the old NSL. During their time in the competition, they reached the 1986 play-off finals. After finishing fourth behind Brunswick Juventus, Footscray JUST and eventual champions Adelaide City in the Southern Conference, they beat Heidelberg United in the elimination final before falling to Footscray in the semis.

That season, the team included Don Maclaren – the father of the Isuzu UTE A-League’s all-time leading scorer and Melbourne City star Jamie. Victorian legend and former Socceroo John Markovski also debuted for George Cross.

Kevin Muscat (bottom row, second from left) played a handful of games for boyhood George Cross in 2011.

Winners of the 1964 Australian Cup, when they were playing out of Olympic Park, George Cross has also unearthed Kevin Muscat – the A-Leagues great who is now winning titles in Japan with Yokohama F.Marinos. He also returned for a guest stint before retiring.

Former Melbourne Victory and Newcastle Jets head coach Ernie Merrick also spent two years in charge of the club. His team included an emerging Damien Mori – who went on to become the highest goalscorer in Australian football history – Craig Foster, Lorenz Kindtner, David Clarkson and Frank Talia – a goalkeeper who played for Blackburn Rovers, Swindon Town, Wolves, Sheffield United, Royal Antwerp, Reading and Wycombe Wanderers.

Ex-Wellington Phoenix full-back Manny Muscat and Melbourne City’s Andrew Nabbout started their senior careers at George Cross, while current and former A-Leagues players like Max Caputo, Sime Kovacevic, Nick Kalmar and Jonas Salley also called the club home.

Elsewhere in Victoria and there was a wild shoot-out between Melbourne City and Werribee City in NPL2 VIC.

City and Werribee played out a 4-4 draw after the visitors overturned a 2-0 half-time deficit with four goals in 28 minutes, only for the A-League Men club’s NPL side to score twice in the final three minutes of regulation.

After 23 rounds, City are seventh and eight points off the pace, while Western United are third and two points behind leaders Kingston City following a 1-1 draw with Brunswick Juventus.

In NPLM VIC, league-leading Avondale FC overcame nine-man St Albans 2-1 as South Melbourne routed Port Melbourne Sharks 4-0 and defending champions Oakleigh Cannons went down 2-1 at Altona Magic.

Son of a Celtic legend lighting up NSW

The McStay name is synonymous with Celtic and it is now making headlines in Australia after Chris McStay scored a hat-trick for Wollongong Wolves in NPLM NSW.

Paul McStay is a Celtic legend, who captained the club and won nine trophies across his 683 appearances. The 58-year-old ex-Scotland skipper spent his entire career with Celtic and only Billy McNeill (822) and Alec McNair (684) made more appearances for the Scottish giants.

He is now living in Sydney and over the weekend, his son Chris’s performance led Wollongong to a 6-2 win over Sydney FC at WIN Stadium.

Chris scored twice in the first half before completing his treble nine minutes from time, earning praise from his coach, former Socceroo David Carney.

“He was absolutely outstanding to play there as a 10 where hasn’t played much this year,” Carney said via NPL NSW.

Wollongong are seventh in the standings after 25 games and 21 points behind APIA Leichhardt, who were stunned 4-0 by Manly United.

Defending champions Blacktown City are the in-form team following their 3-1 success against Sydney United. They have now won seven games in a row.

Adelaide sensation goes bang!

It is only pre-season but Luka Jovanovic has left Adelaide United fans wanting more.

Reds teenager Jovanovic scored a golazo in Adelaide’s opening pre-season fixture.

The 18-year-old re-signed with Adelaide last week, penning a new three-year contract.

Jovanovic enjoyed a memorable debut season with Adelaide in A-League Men, scoring three goals in nine appearances as the Reds reached the Semi Final last season and star captain Craig Goodwin was crowned the Johnny Warren Medallist.

A comeback for the ages in WA

In NPLM WA, Stirling Macedonia kept pace with Perth RedStar after completing a remarkable comeback against Perth Glory.

Trailing 2-0, Stirling scored three goals in the final eight minutes, including a 96th-minute penalty to snatch all three points.

Over in NPLM QLD, Scott McDonald’s Gold Coast Knights remain the team to beat after their 3-2 win away to Brisbane Roar.

In NPLW VIC, Bulleen Lions were big winners thanks to a trio of Liberty A-League stars.

Beattie Goad, Paige Zois and Tiffany Eliadis all played for Melbourne Victory last season and were they on target as Bulleen defeated Alamein FC 4-2.

Meanwhile in NPLW NSW, the league’s in-form team Macarthur Rams eased past Football NSW Institute 4-0 for their 10th win in a row.

APIA Leichhardt remain top of the table after defeating Sydney Olympic 3-0, with A-Leagues star Rhianna Pollicina on the scoresheet.