Part 1: Who is player #18?

AFTER over 400 games for Sheffield United, Nick Montgomery was offered the chance to transfer to ‘The Land Down Under’.

CCMariners.com.au contributor Bob Brooks spoke with Mariners midfielder Nick Montgomery to discover his personal football story. Here's the first of Bob's two part piece detailing some of Montgomery's life and career.

Number 18 on the Mariners roster is Nick Montgomery. After over 400 games for Sheffield United, Nick was offered the chance to transfer to ‘The Land Down Under-. It was an opportunity that the experienced midfielder was delighted to take up. At the back of his mind, for many years, he had been thinking of coming to Australia. Nick-s Dad had lived in Australia many years before. Dad had spoken favourably of life at the other end of the world as they sat around the dinner table in their Leeds home.

At the age of twelve, Leeds United noticed Nick-s talent. In those days Leeds were in the English Premier League (EPL) and considered one of Europe-s major clubs. Clubs sign youngsters on schoolboy contracts. Very few of these apparently talented teenagers progress to the first team. Nick-s footballing progress was halted at his home town Yorkshire club by a bout of glandular fever.

When he had recovered he was invited by 'The Blades' (as Sheffield United are known) for a trial which proved most fortunate. He was still in Yorkshire in this former cutlery city. Nick's progress was so rapid that he was given his first team debut at seventeen years of age in 1998. The Blades played in the EPL, The Championship and Division 1 during Montgomery-s long tenure. However the Club never played in any European competitions.

One of the attractions of the move to Australia was the fact that the Mariners will be competing in the AFC Champions League (ACL) in 2013. This will be the Club's third venture into Asia.

The three year contract that brought 'Monty' to the Mariners with his wife and now 20 month old twins was certainly a great incentive. The family is resident in Terrigal and, naturally, loves it! They are looking long term at taking up permanent residence in ‘The Great South Land- which is Australia.

There are down sides to playing in Australia on nice firm pitches. After the often soft and wet grounds of England, Nick-s feet have suffered a few blisters. However the warm weather is very much welcomed.

Nick is planning to start studying this year for his coaching certificates to ensure he can remain in football after his playing days are over. Unsmiling and serious on the field there is a different person in face-to-face conversation.