Gus Martin’s loyalty to Werribee City did not waver in the face of his team’s ordinary start to the NPL season.
The Bees’ early woes only deepened his search for solutions.
“It was hard to stomach because I’ve generally been used to playing in relatively successful teams,” he said. “To be getting beaten by some of those scorelines at the start of the year was really painful to take.
“Then I started looking at all aspects of the club and why we weren’t getting the results.
“We always had a really tight-knit group of players and … inner belief that the next win would eventually come. It did take a while.”
Werribee City’s fortunes have changed dramatically in the second half of the season.
After the first 11 rounds, the Bees had only picked up a dismal two points from two draws.
The next 11 rounds have been a total contrast – five wins, four draws and just two losses.
Martin believes it is no coincidence better results have come since Sergio Sabbadini took over as coach and John Waddell joined as his assistant.
“He’s been a blessing,” Martin said of Sabbadini. “His tactics are simple, but they’re extremely effective.”
To demonstrate how far the Bees have come, a look at the two times they have played St Albans this year is revealing.
Back in round seven, they were belted 5-2 on home turf, but on Sunday they got payback with a 1-0 win on the road against a title-contending team.
The young Bees are showing they can match it with the very best sides in the competition.
“You look at a lot of the boys in the team, our average age has been something ridiculous, like hovering around the 20-year-old mark,” Martin said.
“This year has been a good year for discovering who we are as a team … there’s a lot of new players there.
“I think next year, if we keep a lot of the playing group together and if we have Serge and John there, I think we can definitely push for a better finish.”
Martin wants to be part of the revolution at Werribee City. The central defender is only 24 himself, but feels like an elder statesman.
In this, his second year at the club, Martin felt honoured when he was asked to wear the captain’s armband. He appreciated that his teammates accepted the decision to give him the captaincy.
“A lot of the boys had actually been there a few more years than me, but they were really good – they accepted it and have shown me support the whole way,” Martin said.
Martin’s soccer journey has been a great one.
It started in his home town of Ballarat, where he played with the Ballarat Red Devils.
He moved over to England for two-and-a-half years, tasting a high level of football playing with English conference team Hampton and Richmond Borough.
“I got a good chance to play in some big cups [FA Cup and EFL Trophy] but just didn’t quite make the cut when I came to securing a professional deal,” Martin said.
When his visa ran out, Martin returned to Melbourne, settling in St Kilda to start work as a personal trainer.
He linked with Moreland Zebras before crossing to Werribee City last season.
The Bees got a no frills, never back down defender into the ranks.
“I’m not a thrill player, I’m not flashy,” he said.
“I like to put my head down and bum up and work my socks off every game – that’s pretty much it.”
He is excited about the future at Werribee City.
He wants to see the young squad stick together and become a force.
“We’re building a really good healthy team atmosphere – the future is very bright.”