“Two Trophy-Hungry Teams”: Clulow On Perry Park Season Opener

Feb 02, 2018 by

The Brisbane Strikers will kick off their 2018 National Premier Leagues season with a blockbuster clash against Western Pride FC on Saturday at Perry Park, and winger Trent Clulow says they can’t wait.

Strikers will take to the field at their home ground as the defending NPL Queensland premiers of the last two seasons. But they could scarcely have been thrown a tougher opening round assignment than Pride, who are defending Champions having won ten games consecutively in the back end of the 2017 season as they surged from mid-table to third position, from where they eventually won the Grand Final.

Clulow (pictured), who played a leading role in Strikers’ 2016 premiership breakthrough before leaving to play with Bentleigh Greens in NPL Victoria last year, admitted he had been surprised by Pride’s emergence into the Queensland spotlight – but also delighted!

“I’ve spoken to the boys about the changes that they (Pride) have made and I did actually stream the Grand Final,” he said. “It’s fantastic for the competition to see such a turnaround from a team that was traditionally a midtable team to now really being a title contender.

“They’ve been flying high in pre-season as well. They’ve got a very young team, but a hungry team and they got some really good players.

“I think it’s going to be a huge battle (on Saturday). Both teams are hungry. Both teams have had a taste of winning trophies now, so this weekend is going to be an exciting one”.

Clulow said Pride’s dramatic rise was one ingredient in what he thought would be a tremendous sixth season of NPL football in Queensland – one that offers something extra for players and fans, with new teams and the added spice of relegation and promotion between NPL Queensland and the Football Queensland Premier League.

“It’s great for the league, especially with the introduction of some new teams,” he said. “It’s awesome that they (Pride) are doing well and they’re up there and it makes it more rewarding when you win leagues and it’s so much more competitive”.

While the task of winning a third-straight premiership shapes as even tougher this year, given the influx of new clubs and the strengthening of teams like Pride, Clulow remains confident that Strikers are up for the challenge and are even capable of improving on last season’s showing.

He says the confidence and ambition of teammates already on the record saying Strikers are going after every prize they contest this season is only to be expected.

“It’s natural to be progressive. We’ve won the league two years in a row now, had a strong showing in the NPL (national) finals series last year and the year before there was a good run in the FFA Cup,” Clulow said.

“So now it’s about, first and foremost, the league again – to wrap that up – and the Grand Final, which we haven’t won. And the FFA Cup is just such an exciting prospect. You want to be making that Round of 32, for sure.

“I think with the team we’ve assembled, we’ve looked to strengthen and with the success we’ve had, I don’t think it’s out of reach. Strikers are an ambitious club and we are going to do what we can to win everything that we can”.

Clulow said that it was a positive for Strikers that many of the players involved in the successful 2016 and 2017 campaigns were still at the club, because he believed success breeds success.

“You can always get better,” he said. “It’s not like you can focus at getting better at one competition. You can just get better in winning games. Even though you win the league, the next year you want to win the league but lose less games, or you want to try to go through a season undefeated – there’s always new challenges and more things to get.

“So I think the hunger just remains and a winning attitude is something that just sticks with you.”

Whatever the result on Saturday evening, fans are reminded to stick around if possible for the Mecca Bah Brisbane Strikers Man of the Match announcement and ticket draw in the Perry Park Social Club after the game, where the successful player and supporter will win a dinner for two courtesy of Mecca Bah’s sponsorship of the award.

The main game is scheduled to kick off at 6.00 pm, preceded by the two clubs’ Under-13s and Under-14s teams kicking off at 2.15 and 3.45 respectively.

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