Friendly faces to fuel Nat Tathem against Roar

Support away from home won’t be far for Melbourne Victory on Saturday at Nat Tathem’s old stomping ground, Brisbane Roar.

Ahead of the encounter at Perry Park, Tathem shared she was looking forward to playing her old team.

“You definitely always want to win,” Tathem said.

“It’s better for me being in Brisbane, because it’s nice to be able to play with my friends and family watching the game as well.

“It’s always nice to have a friendly face in the crowd … especially leading into the end of the season knowing we have pressure on us to win games to make the finals.

“It feels comforting knowing that you have the support in the crowd behind you, even being away from home technically, with Melbourne being my home now.”

Both teams are coming off moral boosting wins in round 13 and both sides are pushing for finals.

“I think us getting the win last weekend, especially convincing 3-1 by the end, is going to help because we’ve had a lot of draws and had a really busy schedule in the last month or so,” Tathem said.

This weekend’s game, Tathem said, would likely come down her side adjusting to the Queensland mid-afternoon heat.

“It’s going to come down to mentality and game smarts because we are playing in temperatures that we’re not used to,” she said.

“I think our little devil this season has been trying to score goals, so I think if we can finish our chances and finish them early so we don’t have to be chasing games late; that’s probably going to be key for us winning against Brisbane.”

Tathem is once again at Melbourne after spending time last season returning from her ACL injury in Brisbane with family and friends, which was suffered on her Victory debut in 2021.

That injury experience, she said, made her more appreciative on and off the pitch.

“I think personally in the whole of life it’s made me have a bit more perspective to appreciate everything,” she said.

“Especially an ACL, which most people don’t really see, when you’re doing rehab, you genuinely have to learn to walk, and then run, and then get back to soccer.

“And you think it all comes easy, but it took me three months to run because I kept limping, it didn’t matter how much I trained myself, did my rehab, I would go jogging and I’d limp.

“Once I was finally able to run, I was able to appreciate that I could walk from A to B.”

One moment etched into A-League Women’s history was the support Tathem gave Perth Glory’s Rylee Baisden in round nine, when it was clear her former Queensland NPLW teammate had been struck down with an ACL.

“No one wants to join the ACL party, but when you do, everyone who’s been through it welcomes you and supports you, knowing how hard the journey is,” Tathem said.

“We’ve known each other for a fair amount of time now. Knowing how hard a worker she is … so I think even more so it hit me knowing that. 

“As soon as she did it, you could tell.”

The round one curse did strike again for Tathem, however it wasn’t season-ending, resulting in a five game stint on the sidelines. 

On her return, head coach Jeff Hopkins has deployed Tathem at left back since her return, where she has linked up with Beattie Goad.

“Playing with Victory at full back is really enjoyable,” she said.

“We play a style where Jeff really encourages us fullbacks to join in the attack and get forward, which is super enjoyable because you’re not stuck in this defensive position.

“I think we’re quite lucky at Victory as well because we do have very talented wingers on my side. I’ve got Beattie, she’s talented on the ball, she wants the ball and wants to be involved, which always makes the fullbacks job easier.”

Melbourne Victory take on Brisbane Roar this Saturday in Round 14 of the Liberty A-League, kicking off at 3:00pm.