Heidelberg has always been home for me. I first got to Olympic Park at about 12 years old with my dad Luke in tow, and was ready to get started into the junior ‘Bergers team. I spent some time there, under the teachings of Heidelberg legend – and now long-time mentor – Jeff Oliver, before moving over to Melbourne City’s Youth Academy when I was 16. Through all this, when it was time to start my senior football campaign, it was a no-brainer to make the decision to come back to Heidelberg and live out the childhood dream of playing first team football at Olympic Park.
Having grown up with the club as a kid, Heidelberg has always felt like family to me and really drove my decision to come back home to Catalina St. I was back in the yellow and black just before Melbourne’s first lockdown hit, and with what followed to be an interrupted two seasons of NPL stop-start football. This year I’ve been given the opportunity to step up as the Warriors look to make an impact on the league. I’ve welcomed the challenge with open arms and it’s looking to be going alright. Amongst all of this, I can absolutely say that I’ve enjoyed every bit of it.
I’ve been goalkeeping ever since I was seven, and dad was my first coach. The family circle that I have around me have always been, and remain my biggest supporters. They nurtured my love for the game, and their support and sacrifice from my younger days has helped foster my success. With everything that I do, I continually want to make them proud.
My mentality has always been consistent. I want to have fun with my football and I want to enjoy it. There’s no doubt that keeping a clean sheet is important, but for me it’s not necessarily my individual performance that drives me. Being able to put together winning games as a team is the ultimate goal, and I know that I play my role best when I’m enjoying my time out on the pitch. It’s about getting into that zone mentally and once that happens I feel like I’m pretty unstoppable.
Our goal as a team – and Heidelberg’s goal as a club – has always been to win the league. We aren’t there to fill numbers and we’re not there to just play finals – our sights are set on taking out the whole thing. Our rocky start to the season was disappointing because as a team we know we have the capabilities to win every game we play. We’re a team with quite a few fresh faces and like anything else, it takes a bit of time for us to completely gel. Once the results start coming that bond will only get stronger, and we know that at our best, we’re a force to be reckoned with.
Football can consume a lot of my life and it has for years, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’ve been privileged enough to share a goalkeeping union with Brendan White who has helped me develop and grow through his wealth of experience. We’re each other’s biggest supporters, and our training with Sinasha, George Katsakis and Steven Pace has only helped us go from strength to strength. The intensity that we’ve worked on has put us in great stead to craft the successful season that we’re chasing.
I understand for some of the fans it can feel like two steps forward with the last two wins and one step backwards after our result on the weekend. I know how frustrating it is, and I ride every high and every low with them. I’m asking the fans to believe in us and keep the faith that the results will come, and when they start coming this Heidelberg outfit is going to be a danger to the rest of the league.
By Nick Eres