A-League Women Wednesday Media Conferences

Ryan Miller-Woods reports on Canberra United’s event announcing the retirement of Ellie Brush whilst Ben Gilby reports on Newcastle Jets’ presser with Lauren Allan and Cannon Clough reflecting on how the squad are working to end their losing streak. Plus Perth Glory boss Alex Epakis on righting the wrongs of last week’s result in Adelaide ahead of their mammoth journey to Wellington Phoenix (15/3/23).

Canberra legend Brush announces retirement

by Ryan Miller-Woods

Above: Ellie Brush speaking to the media today. Image: Canberra United.

Canberra United star Ellie Brush today announced that she will retire from the game at the end of the current season.

Speaking to the media today, the Canberra United foundation player admitted that the news becoming public was the first step in the realisation dawning that the end of her playing days are nigh.

“(It) kinda hadn’t kicked in until this morning and I saw it on the socials. I suppose it’s been my life for almost 20 years really since the start of Canberra Eclipse (in the Women’s National Soccer League) first of all and then into Canberra United in 2008 until now.

(This) might even be the 20th season of (playing) professional soccer so I haven’t really known much else and it’s a big decision but one definitely that I’ve thought of for a while now and that sits right with me.”

For Brush, this season has seen her career come full circle with her return to the capital city side, given this was the location of her entry into A-League Women football in its inaugural season back in 2008.

“That’s kind of the way I wanted it. I may have not even had this extra time and to come back, to finish in Canberra is kind of the way I wanted to do it. I had two years of bad knee injuries and that could have easily been it but I suppose that competitiveness and determination in me to want to try and get back to playing at the highest level weighed heavily on me, so I really wanted to give it another shot and to come full circle and my last season be in front of friends and family of where it all started is the way I wanted to do it.”

With her announcing her retirement meaning that Brush will be going out on her terms, the Canberra star was asked whether she was worried that at one point her body wouldn’t have allowed her to do that.

“Yeah, I suppose had come across my mind. I’d been relatively injury-free until I got taken out a few years ago (while) playing in the A-League. It felt really rough to think that would be how I sort of finished and I certainly wanted to kind of try and make it on my terms and put in the hard yards of rehab.

“Of course, that’s not easy because we’re not full-time athletes and I’ve got to work and live with another job alongside getting back to playing football and ultimately it’s just those sacrifices it’s just too hard to continue having to play for sub-par salary and also try and make ends meet and have another job. I kept playing cause of the love of the game and I’m glad now I’ve been able to go out certainly on my own terms.”

Above: Canberra United head coach Njegosh Popovich reflecting on Ellie Brush’s influence and Saturday’s huge game with Melbourne Victory. Image: Canberra United.

Also reflecting on the news today was Canberra United boss Njegosh Popovich who admitted that the news was the end of an era at the club. But hopefully, the start of a new one for Brush with the team.

“It is (bittersweet), she’s obviously been a foundation player and a player that’s been heavily involved in our club. We hope it’s not the end of Ellie Brush, we see this as a new beginning for her and maybe taking up some mentorship for us in seasons to come and also maybe some coaching roles.”

Popovich was also asked about what it has meant for himself and the playing group at Canberra to have had Brush back at the club this season given how the majority of her time in the W-League/A-League Women has been spent at Canberra.

“It has been great because I think that a lot of the players had lost their way in terms of understanding what Canberra United is and I think Ellie has been a very good mentor in that space for some of the younger players to say this is what we do and this who we are.”

In the midst of the announcement, Canberra’s head coach is well aware of the need for ultimate focus on Saturday’s match against Melbourne Victory which given both clubs’ aspirations to make the Finals and the battle for fourth position in the A-League Women’s table, is will be a crucial match.

“Melbourne Victory are a good side, they got a good result against Melbourne City which sets up a great show for us, the last home match for us. Hopefully not the last home match because I believe if we win every match from here to the end of the season, we’ll end up with a home final and finish third on the ladder, which will be sensational for Canberra.”

Newcastle Jets: The bye was a good thing, now we’re ready for winning

by Ben Gilby

Above: Lauren Allan – “We’re working hard as a team”. Image: Newcastle Jets.

Newcastle Jets pair Cannon Clough and Lauren Allan outlined to the media today how the club used last weekend’s bye to work hard on putting things right in order to give them the best possible chance to end the season with an improved run of form.

There certainly was no rest and relaxation on bye weekend, with Clough admitting: “We have been training all the way through,” and Allan revealing: “It wasn’t so much of a break as I had to work over the bye weekend but it was a bit easier on the body!”

With a fortnight since their last game, Jets have been analysing their recent run of defeats with new boss Gary van Egmond. “It’s (been about) how can we learn from (the losses), what mistakes did we make that are avoidable – and that was most of them – we need to play how we can play and limit mistakes,” said Clough.

That work ethic was reinforced by Allan: “We’re working hard and working as a team. We are trying to stick together, we’ve been conceding a lot of goals, so we’re looking at the technical side of things.”

The duo also emphasised the difference in approach under van Egmond. For Clough, it’s all about intensity. “He brings out a lot of fight and bite. That’s good, it means people want to be here and they want to play hard to get the results we haven’t been getting.”

Allan revealed the Jets’ head coach’s holistic approach to supporting the whole person within each player. “He likes you to work hard and is understanding about outside commitments. He does one on one sessions to work on individual things. It is a good transition. A lot of the girls are doing well under him and he knows what he is talking about. It is a fresh atmosphere.”

Epakis: Perth have had “deep conversations” and are going to Wellington ready for the challenge

by Ben Gilby

Above: Perth Glory boss Alex Epakis discusses preparations with the mammoth trip to Wellington Phoenix today. Image: Perth Glory.

Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis has highlighted the “deep discussions” held with his squad to rectify what went wrong in last weekend’s defeat in Adelaide ahead of their 5,250 km trip to Wellington Phoenix for Saturday’s Distance Derby.

Looking back at the way the squad have addressed that loss in South Australia that put a major dent in the club’s Finals aspirations, Epakis told the media: “It was disappointing considering we were tracking well in recent weeks. The reality is the last performance wasn’t good enough.

“We’ve had pretty deep conversations as a group about what hasn’t been working and what we need to do to do better. It takes a good group to do that and address it on the training pitch.”

Whilst it was highlighted that Perth have a young group of players in the early stages of their A-League Women career and so may not have experienced the pressure of a Finals race before, the Glory boss reflected on the realities of the situation.

“We have top-level experience and we have players who are coming through that are extremely talented but are still learning what it is to win a game and deal with pressure moments on the field. We’re on that journey with those players. With each game and every week, the players improve their understanding of what our identity is and their own identity.

“I really enjoy that part of coaching. If we had a squad of ready-made players, it doesn’t make my life interesting. One of the beauties of coaching is going through that rollercoaster of experience with players.”

Perth have another big challenge ahead this weekend, one of the longest away trips in world sport – a flight to Wellington of at least six hours. Given the Phoenix’s excellent result against Sydney FC last weekend, it is not just the journey that Glory have to handle.

“Credit to them (Wellington), they have established themselves as a competitive team, despite being a new team with a really young squad. I really admire what they are doing as a team and as a coaching staff. They had a great result and performance against Sydney. It will certainly be a challenge. We are not in a position to slip up we need to go there and win.

“We are going into the unknown as a coaching group. We haven’t had this experience of playing in Wellington. It is extended travel. We are a professional outfit. We are not going there and taking it lightly.”

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: