Academy Spotlight: Ryley Hollingdale

Our NPL NSW side has taken the competition by storm in the opening third of the season, embarking on a seven game winning streak to lead the league after 10 games.

Whilst the senior members in the team have led the team with distinction, the younger players have also been hugely impressive, one of whom is midfield maestro Ryley Hollingdale.

The 19-year-old has played in every game so far this season, becoming a key cog in a midfield that has dazzled and torn opposition teams apart.

Originally playing at the Sutherland Sharks, Hollingdale joined the Wanderers youth system in 2020, where he quickly moved through the ranks despite dealing with the disruptions of COVID-19.

As a fan of the Wanderers, joining the Red & Black was always an appealing option, but Hollingdale says touring the top-class facilities and set up sealed the deal.

“Me and my dad were invited to the club; (we were given) a presentation (and) a rundown of the future plans that they had – that was when the new facility was still coming together.

“(They) just gave us a tour, and just persuaded us, and showed us that (there) was really no other option.”

Hollingdale also praises the level of coaching he has received in his time coming through the Wanderers’ system under current coach Andrew Christiansen, as well as the facilities on offer.

“We’ve got the gym, so that’s tops. Then when it’s raining or when there’s other teams, you’ve got a whole field and whole space to yourself, or you get the astroturf if it’s wet. “

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MAY 13: A general view ahead of the Australia Cup Playoff match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and the Brisbane Roar at Wanderers Football Park on May 13, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Hollingdale broke into the first grade side halfway through last season when the team was in the midst of a difficult relegation battle; he played 13 times including starting the final two matches as the Wanderers rallied late in the season to secure survival.

They have kicked on in a big way this season, losing just once and holding a four point lead at the top of the table.

Hollingdale has three goals to his name this season, including a spectacular free-kick in a 5-2 Sydney Derby win, but his best performance arguably came at WIN Stadium in March.

With eight senior players missing, Hollingdale led an inexperienced Wanderers to a well deserved 2-0 victory against second placed Wollongong Wolves, with the midfielder himself opening the scoring with a brilliant long range strike into the bottom corner.

Hollingdale says the importance of a positive mentality, as well as an individual and collective hunger to prove themselves has led them to success.

“A lot of it has been (the) mentality and the group collective focus of one goal. Everyone’s very hungry to show themselves, prove themselves in the NPL. Everyone’s just hungry and the mentality is just better this year.”

“We’ve always had confidence in our ability and we always back ourselves, but a few wins at the start (of the season) and we’re now sort of building the momentum, we’re definitely in a very good space mentally.”

Hollingdale has also had the chance to train with the A-League Men’s side during his time at the club, and he says it is a great motivator to push himself to succeed.

“I have trained with the first team… it’s definitely good to be exposed to that sort of environment, and it’s always a factor to push you because you want to be training with them everyday.”

If Hollingdale and his teammates keep the strong performances coming, there is a good chance he will be doing just that.