Knights junior product and former Socceroo Mark Talajic has spoken highly of the youth system that the Club has been long known for, as he and his old teammates look forward to this Sunday’s all-time reunion at Somers Street.
The Melbourne Knights Team of the Century nominee also said it was a privilege to play for the Knights and come through the junior ranks, while saying he had plenty of fond memories from his days at the various venues.
“It’s a great honour to play for the Melbourne Knights,” Talajic, now 46, said.
“My parents took me to Montgomery Park back in the early ’70s, I played there for 2,3 years and then moved over to Cross Keys [Reserve] down in Essendon and it was just fantastic playing at a Croatian club.”
“[I’ve got] plenty of childhood memories, playing for the boys. You don’t see them for 10,15,20 years, [and then] you might see them down the street somewhere and you just sit there and talk to each other for about half an a hour about the days that we used to play juniors.”
Talajic, who now has a son Chris playing in the current senior squad, said his early days at the Club taught him some crucial lessons for his future career in the game.
“Just do the basics, really,” Talajic said when asked what he learnt in the Knights youth system.
“Don’t do too much and do hard work. Not to just do the training sessions at training but on the side there as well – at home. If you want to be something or do something, you have to do that extra bit of training, and that’s all it is – hard work.
“You’ve got to have the passion for the game and the hard work. There’s going to be a few times where you might have a few injuries and might get down on yourself, you have to always keep at it and you’ll come through and if you’re good enough, you’ll make it.”
While the Knights have a proud Croatian heritage, the Club has welcomed plenty of players and their relatives into the Knight’s junior ranks from various backgrounds, which Talajic described as a “family” feel.
“It’s a bit of a family Club,” the former junior said.
“Once you come to the Club, you’re always welcome. It doesn’t matter if you go away, you always come back years later – it’s like you haven’t left. It’s just the way it is.
“There’s always familiar faces around here and you’re always welcome back at the Club, no matter if you’re non-Croatian – it doesn’t matter where you’re from.”
Speaking to melbourneknights.com.au ahead this Sunday’s event, Talajic said he was looking forward to reminiscing with old faces.
“We’ll talk about the old times, what happened, things we did, who we beat, remember the goals we scored, remember this, remember that! So yeah, I’m looking forward to it, it’ll be good!”
Gates open at 9am for this Sunday’s All-Time Juniors Reunion at Knights Stadium, with current junior Knights squads playing games throughout the day!