Hammond ready to step up

Facing the Melbourne Victory on the road is never easy, facing them in a must win finals match with a plethora of players out injured or suspended is even harder.

So people could be forgiven for thinking that the Wanderers stood little chance after falling behind early on.

Yet the determined young guns in the Wanderers including electric winger Aydan Hammond had other ideas.

“Everybody knew it was a tough game -if we lose, we’re out of the finals – but it gave us hope that we had a chance. It got everybody on their toes, on their feet.

“As a youngster coming in, in a game like this,every game is an opportunity to improve and show what you’re capable of.”

The young Wanderers certainly did that, as they pulled off a stirring comeback to win a 4-3 thriller, with Hammond and Oscar Priestman scoring their first senior goals for the club.

Whilst other results conspired against the Wanderers in the final round, Hammond feels they still put the rest of the league on notice.

“Everybody’s like, ‘we’re not going to make finals’, but the fact that I came in and I didn’t care about the score – we were down 3-2 – and turning the game around, it is a special feeling. And it gets all the fans happy, it makes the club happy, and it gives us character and it gives us a better look that we don’t just give up in any situation, we keep fighting to the end. I think that’s what I showed, and I think we all showed it together.”

It was a great end to the season for Hammond, who was a scholarship signing from the Central Coast Mariners. He admits it wasn’t the easiest task to hit the ground running whilst a tough season was in progress.

“There was definitely a lot of ups and downs, not only for the club, but for myself as well, having a situation where I wasn’t able to play for the first first rounds of the season. But, (it) gave me a bit more extra motivation to work hard on and off the field knowing that my opportunity was coming, and just the fact that knowing that I was signing gave me that extra motivation to work hard.

“I’m very passionate, so anything is like music to my ears, (it) just makes me want to grind even harder. I know myself and I think that I have a lot more in me to show, but I think that I didn’t lack aggression, I didn’t lack the hunger, (and) the heart that this club has given me.”

He has also played an integral role to the NPL NSW side’s strong season to date, having scored six goals in 13 games, including the opening goal in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Hills United.

Hammond says he recognises he has a responsibility as a scholarship player to act as a leader in the team.

“It’s important as a scholarship player to play in the NPL side and perform well. I think it’s good to be a role model for the younger ones coming up.

“It feels good… it’s not easy as you can tell from previous years, but I think we’ve gone strong, and we’re just continuing on focusing on that.

“I helped the team, but that’s because I’m passionate for the club – if I’m on the NPL side, or if I’m in the first team – wherever I’m playing, I make sure we get the job done, it’s very important for me.”

For these reasons, Hammond has signed a two-year extension to his scholarship deal, and he is looking to continue his improvement as a player and help both sides to success.

“(The) most important (thing) for me is gametime; whatever opportunity I get, hopefully, you know, I get to do well.

“I want to score more goals – I scored one already – but I know that I have more me, and I know, it’s not about just goals, it’s working as a team, and making it to the finals, and then succeeding in the finals, as well, and hope to be champions.”