Image: Mark Avellino
With a football career that has taken him from Alice Springs to Adelaide and now Shepparton, Matthew Lelliott is readying himself for another season with the Goulburn Valley Suns in NPL2 East.
Coming to NPL Victoria in 2015 from Alice Springs on the back of time with the Adelaide United Youth team and Campbelltown City in NPL South Australia, Lelliott joined younger brother James at Goulburn Valley Suns.
Needing to work to return to the top of his game, the midfield enforcer told TCF about the task of installing himself as a regular fixture in the Sun’s senior team midfield.
“First year that I came here I wasn’t up to the level and had to apply my training with the Under 20s for a bit,” he said
“Worked my way up to the seniors and since then I haven’t looked back.
“When I’m not suspended I’m in the starting lineup.”
The midfielder spoke of his nickname earned through his tendency to pick up a booking, explaining that despite the negative connotations, it was something he often felt like was required for the team.
“[I’m] known as the ‘Card King’, few too many tackles.
“Coach gets angry sometimes but sometimes you gotta do them.”
— G.V. Suns F.C. (@GVSuns) October 16, 2016
Finishing in eighth position last year in NPL 2 East, Nick Kalafatis’ team will be eager to replicate form that saw them finish fifth in 2015 with just a single point keeping them from the top three.
The 23-year-old was quick to quash any focus on goals that lay too far in the future, explaining that the club was keeping its attention on what lay immediately in front of it. Lelliott was hopeful this approach, coupled with an underdog status, could see success for the team.
“We’re the type of team that doesn’t want to look too far ahead,” Lelliott explained.
“We want to do really well the first five rounds and if we get the points we want then after that we can look further on.
“Hoping to surprise a few teams, I think a lot of people in the NPL world have written us off already but [we have] a lot of local boys playing, keen to show what they can do at NPL level.”
Having now been a part of the Victorian footballing setup for a couple of years, Lelliott looked back on his time and on how the league had developed.
“It’s definitely been growing since the first year I was here [football in Victoria].
“You can see the teams that were at the bottom of the ladder their teams are much stronger now and top teams their teams are much stronger.
“The league is growing for sure even with the younger age groups. They’re playing some good football now…they’re all starting to learn how to play the right way.”
Some of those teaching the younger groups how to play the right way are Matthew and James Lelliott, both of whom take charge of junior teams at the Suns.
Goulburn Valley kick off their season with a match at John McEwan Reserve against the Springvale White Eagles on Saturday 4th of February at 19:00.