EXCLUSIVE: As a nine-year-old at Knox City, Melbourne Heart defender Curtis Good and his mates would watch on as a teenage Leigh Broxham bossed the Melbourne club’s midfield.
Melbourne Victory duly snapped up the nuggetty midfielder who remains at the club some six years later.
Now, another young Knox City alumni takes his chance in the A-League with Victory’s city rivals Heart.
Good, 18, has enjoyed an eye-catching debut campaign in the A-League, netting his first goal against Brisbane Roar last week and racking up 21 appearances in the red and white.
The defender is one of the club’s success stories with a rapid improvement over the season.
Like Brendan Hamill and Craig Goodwin – who were both selected in the Australian U23s this week – Heart’s kids have been standouts in a roller coaster season which began poorly, skyrocketed, plummeted and now looks like it could just about end in a play-offs spot.
“It was a harsh start, but I am always working on things like that [scoring] after training so it was good to come off,” Good told au.fourfourtwo.com.
“And that was a massive point for us in Brisbane – we’ve played them three times this season and we haven’t lost to them.”
The experience of playing against Roar was a learning curve for Good.
“I’m usually defending high balls and clearances most weeks but against Roar, it’s a completely different ball game,” said Good, clearly impressed.
“They’ll take you down one side then switch and take you down the other and keep on doing that till they get through.
“You can’t afford to dive in. And when they break through it’s a cut-back or a ball along the deck. So it’s different. It’s an interesting experience that prepares you for international teams.
“Every game is hard but if you can match up well against Brisbane – who are the top footballing team in the country – it gives you confidence heading into the finals.”
Finals football will be a litmus test for the likes of Good and Co.
It’s tantalisingly close for fifth-placed Heart with Saturday’s clash against third-placed Wellington Phoenix at AAMI a real finals six-pointer.
A win for the red and whites should just about confirm their spot, particularly if Victory can do them a favour against Sydney.
However, Ricki Herbert’s Kiwis are likely to pair experienced pair of former Millwall striker Paul Ifill with ex Manchester City and Tranmere forward Chris Greenacre.
Good concedes they are a handful but after Roar last week and his goal, he’s buzzing with confidence and ready for the more direct challenge.
“I played against Wellington away and that was one of the tougher games of the season. Playing on Ifill was a hard experience,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say they’re opposite to Brisbane but their approach is slightly different. They look to win those second balls so we’ll have to adjust but I’m sure we’ll be ready for them.”
Looking ahead and should Good remain at Heart next season, he’s likely to be guided by former Socceroo Ante Milicic – current Heart assistant and the hot tip to take over from John van’t Schip.
The highly paid Dutchman – a former Ajax and Holland assistant coach - is heading back home after a modest return on the park.
Last season the club missed the finals and this season they are yet to confirm their place in the play-offs – though they are expected to make it.
However, on the training track van’t Schip’s know-how has been pivotal in helping develop the likes of Good, Hamill, Goodwin, Aziz Behich, Mate Dugandzic and Eli Babalj.
“Tezza [Milicic] is a great coach and takes a lot of his JVS’s thinking and techniques,” said Good. “It wouldn’t change much at the club if he got the job and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got it.
“It’d be good for the club.”
Good has been swept up in the excitement of the A-League with the Melbourne derby now one of the must-see games in the city’s sporting calendar.
It’s been a season to remember but he hasn’t forgotten his junior days moving up from U-6 through to U-15s at Knox City.
“I loved my time there. They had good coaches too,” he said.
“I even remember watching Leigh [Broxham] play. Me and my mates would be mucking around along the sidelines not taking too much attention just playing a bit of sheva… until we scored.”
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