Eoin Ashton: “We’ve got the ability to show this league what we’re about”

Eoin Ashton

Playing in Melbourne was never really on my radar, and coming to Heidelberg was a very last-minute decision. I had just got off a flight from the UK and was in hotel isolation in Sydney for two weeks, and without a club. I was probably about three or four days out from leaving and heading back up to Brisbane when our coach, George Katsakis, gave me a call. He asked me to sign for the ‘Bergers and that’s how my involvement came about.

Coming from the UK’s massive football culture, Australia seemed very similar in a way. I felt the same community feel and sense of togetherness that is fostered within the club. It has honestly made my time playing with this club so enjoyable. Since arriving at Heidelberg, the support I’ve received has been really important, especially since I moved down here on my own. They’ve looked after me really well, made me feel welcome and made me a part of the family.

Something really important for me is finding a balance between football and the rest of my life. While it is easy to let the sport consume you, I definitely feel there are times when you have to take yourself away from it all. For me, I enjoy spending time at the beach or relaxing with friends, and of course seeing family whenever they get the chance to come down here. If I don’t make the effort to enjoy my downtime, I can get stuck in the wrong mentality, leading to a poorer performance come game day.

To prepare for a game, I always get to the ground early. The staff at Olympic Park will tell you – even for training sessions – I’ll be on the ground, stretching and foam rolling. I like to envision in my head what I’m going to be doing on and off the pitch, to get mentally ready for a game. For the team, we spend our training sessions keeping fit and making sure we’re physically ready for the week. We will focus on tactics and strategies the night before the game, but throughout the week, our attention is on our bodies.

Looking back on the first round this season, we obviously knew a derby match against South Melbourne was going to be a tough occasion. The plans we had before the game didn’t work out, leading to a disappointing loss. Despite that, I think the team still managed to stick together even when things weren’t going our way. This showed towards the end of the game when we got a goal back. It was definitely a game we will learn from. 

Personally, I thought I did well to affect the game, especially in the first 15 minutes. I think we all lost our way a bit – myself included – and we didn’t play the way we wanted to. I think the main positive from last Thursday was the fight and determination that arose in the last half of the match. We may have lacked that momentum in the beginning, but I definitely saw the capability of our squad shine through the defeat.

Dandenong Thunder will obviously be a challenge on Sunday as they are very physical. For this game, we have to focus on ourselves and what we can improve on from last week. The cohesion of the team was good in the pre-season and looking at the squad, I know we’ve got the ability to show this league what we’re about. Even with the new additions and the disruptive injuries from last Thursday, I think we still look pretty strong.

After the setbacks of the last two seasons, our goals for this year are clear. Simply put, we want to be on top. The end goal is to ultimately win the league this year and we’ll do that by putting our best brand of football forward. Coming off a tough loss in Round 1, we’re regrouping and looking to bounce back. We’re heading into the next clash wanting to play our football. Our vision is not necessarily concerned with the opposition’s game plan, but more about putting forward a Heidelberg United attack that is hard to miss.