I first found myself at the ‘Bergers in 2014. I was playing up in Brisbane and had just finished my studies at university when I got a phone call from someone I had previously played against. At the time I didn’t know him personally, and he had asked me what my plans were for the upcoming season in 2015. On the other end of the phone, was ex-Bergers’ legend – and to date one of my closes mates – Jack Petrie. The call came at the perfect time. 24 year old me was ready for a change, and so I came down and found myself at Olympic Park.
A few years later, I had moved over to New Zealand for a professional stint with Wellington Phoenix FC, playing in the A-League. A little older, and a lot more experienced, I returned to Olympic Park in 2019, and in a way it felt like I was coming home – there wasn’t any other club for me. I had tunnel vision knowing that I wanted to be back at Heidelberg.
After an interrupted last two years of stop-start football, it was difficult to sit out the opening three rounds of this year’s NPL season. Like any sportsperson will tell you, it’s not easy being on the bench. Being injured, and not being able to contribute was honestly harder than losing. I’d rather be out there on the pitch – win or lose, and just doing my part for the team.
I’ve played football ever since I was five and had never missed a season. I felt like my body has always been accustomed to the physical demands of football. Sitting out the first three rounds with injury was never going to be easy – I was eager to get out on the pitch and prove myself, be a part of the team and get a win on the board. In my Round 4 return, in what turned out to be an emotional week for the club and Heidelberg community as a whole, I felt like I got the chance to do exactly that. We got to work and secured our first win for the season. The ball was finally rolling.
Coming back from injury, I feel like I’m in a good place now – my body is developing back into being more football fit and that confidence is carrying on into my performances on the pitch. I’ve always maintained that prevention is better than cure. I know that being organised and ensuring my sleep is a priority helps both my mental and physical health. I’m still not as fit as ideally I’d like to be, but I know it usually takes me those five or so games to get back to that level. So far I can say that I’ve been happy with the way I’ve carried myself over the course of the last few rounds.
I have no doubt that our team will be strong contenders for this season. We’ve gelled together really quickly, and I’ve seen our synergy go from strength to strength in just a short time. We’re setting a benchmark that we can be proud of, and we just want to work towards keeping our performances trending upwards.
The results are not the only essence of our game, it’s the comradery and the standards that we cultivate as a team that ensure our performances are at 100%. If everyone plays their role, there’s no doubt we have the quality to succeed. As captain, for me it’s always been about making sure that I’ve embodied the character of being that first servant; the first to put my hand up and the first to put my body on the line. I’ve always felt like a natural leader and I’ve enjoyed committing myself to leading this team. I’m working to set the pace and tone at our club, to be that benchmark for not only my own standards, but also as a foundational pillar to rally the boys around.
In my time here at Heidelberg, I’ve been able to make Melbourne my HQ and am fortunate to be part of the fabric of Heidelberg’s family. I feel deeply ingrained in our strong community and Melbourne’s unique football culture, where community is at the spirit of our game. As a boy from Brisbane, I’ve loved every bit of it.
Written by Reuben Way