THE past 18 months have been a whirlwind for Gembrook’s own 19-year-old goalkeeping prodigy Ryan Scott.
After moving from Doveton to Mornington mid-season in 2014, he ruptured a ligament in his ankle and admits “that was probably karma biting me on the arse”.
But in the off-season he got the phone call that changed everything – the chance to work his way into the Bentleigh Greens squad.
What followed was Scott – serving predominantly as the club’s number two goalkeeper behind Alistair Bray – going on to be part of a victorious, Victorian National Premier League (NPL) grand final-winning soccer squad.
“Being a back-up is always tough but you have to do what you have to do,” he told the Gazette recently from the Greens’ home stadium, just before running a group of promising juniors through their paces.
One, in fact, approached him out of the blue to give him a thank you gift for all his hard work. It might go unnoticed for some, and that extra work is hardly anything Scott needed a thank you for, but it just points to his exceptional work ethic.
“I couldn’t knock back the opportunity to come here into a very professional environment,” he said.
“The amount of training sessions you do adds up to a lot of work and it’s a big commitment, but it’s definitely worth it.”
After a long, hard pre-season starting way back in December, Scott got his opportunities throughout the year. As is the brutal nature of the business, they came when Bray succumbed to injury.
But the pair, both members of the ‘GK (goalkeepers) Union’, have a close friendship. They’re vying for the same spot, but they help each other and spur each other on along the way.
From a having a goal scored between his legs five minutes into his debut game – a big derby clash against Oakleigh, to having a Hume opponent score against him from his own half – the year provided plenty of testing moments for Scott.
But his workrate, dogged determination and relentless desire to improve puts him in good stead to contend for the number one spot in the upcoming season.
“Being the number two keeper you really have to take your chances when they come,” Scott said of his season.
“I just had to do what I could.
“Opposition players are going to see you as a weak link but the boys had my back and they knew I was up to it.”
Scott – also a cricketer for the Brookers alongside older brother Geordie – went on to shine in some of the opportunities he was given for the Greens, including against A League side, the Newcastle Jets, in a pre-season friendly.
“That’s the level you want to be at,” Scott said.
“It’s always daunting, but when you’re actually playing you’re thinking these guys are good players but they’re just like us – they’re normal people.”
Then, after watching the minor premiership slip away on goal difference, Scott was part of a side that won the title at the top level of Victorian soccer.
“We beat them 3-1 in extra time and won the grand final, which was my first real grand final win,” he said.
“Being at the top level in Victoria, it’s a pretty good achievement. It’s something that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”
Scott is now looking to stay at the club next season and press his claims for the starting spot.
“I just want to put in another solid off-season and a big pre-season and hopefully I’ll be the number one next year,” he said.
“But Alistair’s been a huge influence in my time here. Everyone thinks goalkeepers are mad and that they’re nuffies, and there’s a lot of truth to it. I’m the first to admit we’re different but we know what each other goes through as a keeper and it’s hard.
“You need to be able to have no fear. You can be there all game and have nothing happen, but then all of a sudden in the 90th minute you’re up against the striker one-on-one and they might score. It might take an hour and a half before anything happens and you only get one chance. People can criticise and point the finger, but realistically you have to be ready.
“It’s commitment and I pride myself on that. I know I have to put in 100 per cent to get anything out of it and I’m prepared to do it.”
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