Ask any Leeds United fan, and they’ll love to talk to you about January 3, 2010. In fact, they still sing about that famously sweet FA Cup day (google it, it’s a bit too sweary for this site!).
Kilkenny’s big moment of a 14-year English club career came in the FA Cup third round six years ago.
He lined up in the white of Leeds as they shocked bitter rivals Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. At Old Trafford, too.
Die-hard Leeds fans will tell you, the gutsy 1-0 triumph was the most blissful day in their most recent history, one still referred to with misty-eyed reverence.
With 9,000 Whites fans making the short trip across the Pennines, Simon Grayson's men gave United hell.
Jermaine Beckford with the decisive goal after 19 minutes helped lay the platform for a success-starved Elland Road outfit – their first at the Theatre of Dreams for almost 30 years.
And that famous day had a distinctly A-League feel to it.
Recently retired Melbourne City and Socceroo defender Patrick Kisnorbo (who no doubt gave the club the inside word on Kilkenny before they signed him today) was a colossus in defence keeping Rooney, Berbatov and Co. Out.
And central midfielder Kilkenny was a standout.
‘Doyle and Neil Kilkenny, all energy and simple passes, bossed Anderson and Darron Gibson in the centre,’ surmised respected football writer Henry Winter in the Telegraph.
Leeds threw themselves into the battle, tackles clattering in on their wealthy rivals, blocking every shot possible, making every tackle, battling and scrapping like their lives depended on it.
‘This was a deserved triumph rooted in the supreme effort of a tight-knit bunch of players responding to a popular manager’s tactical commands and exhortations,’ added Winter.
It’s this old fashioned spirit that City coach John van’ t Schip hopes Kilkenny will bring to stiffen the sinews of his A-League boys this season.
Manny Muscat, Ivan Franjic, Thomas Sorensen, Bruno Fornaroli and now Kilkenny. That’s a fierce quintet to rely on in the clinches of three Melbourne Derbies and those do-or-die finals games.
Kilkenny now has a chance to acquaint himself for the first time with the Australian version of the FA Cup – the Westfield FFA Cup.
The Cityzens of Melbourne have drawn WA opposition in Floreat Athena on August 2. It’s not often Kilkenny would’ve flown four hours one way for an away game. So welcome back home, mate!
And while the atmosphere might not crackle like that day in Manchester six years ago, it’ll still require the A-League club to perform to get a result. This will be Floreat's night in the spotlight.
Some may say Kilkenny is a replacement for Aaron Mooy, and though they share a few physical similarities, Kilkenny’s strengths are his work-rate and link play, something he’s shown not only at Leeds but as a youth player at Arsenal, then later with Birmingham City, Bristol City, Oldham (loan) and Preston.
He can play balls through but he’s not a like for like replacement for Mooy, the recent Manchester City signing, currently on loan at Huddersfield where he's already catching the eye.
Kilkenny's approach embodies the spirit of that famous day in Manchester – and City will hope their new-look squad will have that same die-for-the-shirt mentality this season.
For a club owned by the City Football Group, the Kilkenny signing may just be a good omen.