“I’ve come down here to win.”- Nick Montgomery
AFTER a horror week, this is the perfect tonic.
Straight from the A-League ranks and months after becoming an Australian citizen, Central Coast Mariners Nick Montgomery signed a short-term deal with the Wollongong Wolves.
Dreams of the Wolves becoming a NSW National Premier League title contender had faded a little, after a 3-nil loss to previously winless Bonnyrigg and the deduction of competition points for using ineligible players in round one.
Whatever the circumstances – and the Wolves were seething over the loss of points – another tumultuous week was unacceptable, when they hold loftier goals of being part of an expanded A-League.
And so with rival bid Southern Expansion pushing their community consultation agenda, the Wolves needed to make a statement.
It comes in the form of Montgomery, a tenacious holding midfielder who played 350 games for Sheffield United in England, before moving to Australia in 2012.
In his time at the Mariners, Montgomery has had his share of battles.
He was a big part of the club’s 2013 A-League championship win, but suspended for the grand final, when they beat the Western Sydney Wanderers 2-nil.
Since then Central Coast have slipped out of the title race, including finishing last in 2015-16 season.
The Wolves are now seven points out of the finals places after being stripped of three for the controversy over playing Chris Price and Josh Macdonald against Parramatta. But there is renewed hope of being a genuine force, as Montgomery makes his Wolves debut at WIN Stadium against second-placed Rockdale on Sunday.
“Football has been my life and I’ve never played simply because of the money,” Montgomery said about signing with Wollongong.
“It’s always been about the challenge and about the team.
“I like what is brewing down in Wollongong with the club’s vision and I think I can add quite a lot to the team and quickly gel with my new teammates. I’ve come down here to win.”
Montgomery also adds valuable balance to the Wolves squad, after defensive midfielder Ben Tosi broke his foot.
The high-profile signing comes as the Wolves welcome back former Japanese international Yuzo Tashiro for the Rockdale game.
Tashiro withdrew before the loss to Bonnyrigg because of a hamstring complaint, before scoring a double – almost a hatrick, with the third contentiously awarded an own-goal – in the win over Sutherland. And Wollongong also have the attacking firepower of 22-year-old talent Patrick Antelmi.
“It’s been a bit of an up and down season for the Wolves but we haven’t hit the halfway mark yet so there is still plenty of time to go,” Montgomery said.
“We can make a very strong showing in this competition and intend to do whatever it takes to ensure the people of Wollongong and the Illawarra have plenty to cheer about come finals time.”
Coach Jacob Timpano said signing Montgomery will help steel the Wolves towards a finals campaign later this year. “Nick is the kind of player every team dreams of having,” Timpano said.
“He’s hard, uncompromising and provides incredible self-belief in his team mates.
There are no short cuts with Nick and he will raise the standards and professionalism of every single person in our club.
“Nick is going to give us insights and examples of exactly what it takes to make it. He is going to be great.”