Top Scorer Stewart Returns As Strikers Make Three More Signings

Nov 08, 2017 by

2017 Brisbane Strikers Golden Boot winner Jeremy Stewart heads a trio of signings for the club as its senior squad prepares to get back into training this week for the 2018 PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues season.

Stewart, 24 (pictured), scored fifteen league goals for the Strikers and two more in the PlayStation 4 NPL Finals Series against interstate opposition in his first season for the club after transferring from Sunshine Coast FC Fire as arguably the least heralded of former coach Sean Lane’s signings.

He has re-signed for 2018 and is accompanied into next year’s senior squad by two of the club’s emerging talents in attacking midfielder Braedon Steel and defender Tom Ellis.

Strikers technical director David Large said he was heartened to have Stewart back in the senior squad for what looms as an exciting 2018 season in an expanded PS4 NPL Queensland competition.

“Jeremy, for me, was a surprise packet. I didn’t really know Jeremy and what to expect (from him)”, said Large when looking back at Stewart’s 2017 season.

“He was a player that really fitted in to what we did and how we did it. He proved to be a young boy with an ability to be in the right place at the right time”.

That Stewart was able to supply that most valuable of a goal scorer’s abilities was not a simply a matter of sniffing out an opportunity when it was ready to present itself.

It also owed a lot to another quality he brought to the team – a huge appetite for hard work.

“I thought he recognised what was required, and especially the way Sean wanted to play,” Large continued.

“I might look at him in a different way next season in how I want to use him, but it’s lovely to have that in your back pocket – to know that when a really big shift is required he is able to do that”.

For his part Stewart said the experience of playing with Strikers this year had exceeded all his expectations.

“I loved my first year. The professionalism of the club, the support from behind the scenes and the support from all the coaching staff is unbelievable and something that I’ve never had at any other club,” said Stewart.

“Being top scorer was down to the players I had around me as well. Having good players to play with week in and week out certainly helps as a striker and the delivery from the midfield was superb all year.

“I learned a lot from more experienced players and I feel that helped me throughout the season and will hopefully help me going forward in my second year with the club”.

Steel, 17, first played for Strikers when selected in the club’s Under-13s squad in the inaugural PS4 NPL Queensland season in 2013. He had a stint with the Queensland Academy of Sports in 2016 before returning to Strikers this year.

So impressive was Steel’s form for the Under-18s that he found himself selected in the Under-20s and then the senior team towards the end of the 2017 season. He made five senior appearances before ending his season on a high when he came off the bench in each of the Strikers’ three PS4 NPL finals series games, culminating in the Grand against Heidelberg United.

“It was amazing. Getting an opportunity to be with the Strikers team, especially in that time, and going through that process of travelling and going to Hobart, Newcastle and then playing in the Grand Final at home and getting game time – that would be one of the best feelings I’ve ever had”, said Steel.

The youngster didn’t just make up the numbers in the finals series. He made an impact – such as when he linked with Michael Lee in the dying minutes of the semi-final against Edgeworth Eagles in Newcastle, hitting a post with his shot before Lee was brought down when controlling the rebound for the penalty that sealed a 2-0 win.

A full call-up for Steel to the Strikers’ senior squad for 2018 seemed likely after that. Now that it has happened Steel is on cloud nine.

“To be a 17-year old – one of the younger players – and now to be put into the senior team, it makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something and you’re getting somewhere,” he said.

Versatile defender Ellis, 17, has not yet made a senior team appearance so his elevation to the senior squad might surprise Strikers supporters. Ellis, however, sees it differently.

“I feel like I’m ready,” he said. “Hopefully I do get a run off the bench or maybe eventually start a game.

Ellis also said being offered a senior squad position felt like a vote of confidence in his abilities.

“Being one of the youngest players in the senior squad, it certainly does feel like the club thinks you’re a good player and they want you there for the future”, he said.

Photo: Michele Pitman

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