Young guns aim up for Hamilton

TOM Davies started the season as a 15-year-old thinking he would be lucky to get on the bench for Hamilton’s under-23s.
Nanjing Night Net

Pat Brown was a young man with a point to prove in first grade.

Neither expected to be starting players in a top-grade semi-final.

Tomorrow the teenagers will be just that for Olympic when they take on Lambton Jaffas at Edden Oval in the qualifying semi-final.

Davies, now 16, has carved out a starting position in his first season at Hamilton after beginning the season in under-19s.

It has been a rapid rise for the year 10 student at St Philip’s Christian College, who has taken every chance coach Michael Bolch has provided.

‘‘After the first five or six games, we needed a right fullback in 23s,’’ Bolch said.

‘‘We were worried he was too young but he came off the bench and did really well. ‘‘Then he started in 23s. Then against Phoenix when we won 5-0 we blooded him in first grade. He came on in the last 20 minutes and did really well. From there he’s been with the senior squad.

‘‘Realistically I could bring Joel Grenell into the starting line-up this week, but Tommy doesn’t deserve to lose his spot.’’

Brown, 19, has also seized his opportunity, scoring nine goals in 15 games, including a hat-trick against Charlestown.

The striker was part of Olympic’s under-23s grand final win last year. That came after he was cut from the Newcastle Jets Youth squad.

Determined to prove himself, he has taken on a greater role in first grade this season after a handful of appearances last year.

‘‘He used to have a couple of bad habits, putting his head down too much and losing the ball, but the senior players have really taken him under their wings,’’ Bolch said. ‘‘He’s come along really well.’’

Like Brown, Davies said the support of senior teammates had played a big part in his development this year.

‘‘I was NSWIS last year but I just had enough of it all and decided I wanted to come back to club football, because I enjoyed playing it before,’’ Davies said. ‘‘All the boys have been good. They’ve helped me out a lot and I’ve got a lot of confidence out of it.’’

Both were confident a fresh and in-form Hamilton could turn the tables on the Jaffas after two 2-1 losses to them.

‘‘The first game we were all over them but they took their chances,’’ Davies said.

Brown added: ‘‘The second game with all the midweek games we were playing, we were just stuffed.’’

Hamilton will be without captain David Hodgson (broken wrist, finger) but get back Matt Swan (hamstring).

Jaffas coach David Tanchevski, who will be without the suspended Abe Wheelhouse, expected the loss of Hodgson to hurt Hamilton.

‘‘I think Hodgo was the focal point of their attack,’’ Tanchevski said.

‘‘They play that long ball a lot for Hodgo to flick on to their strikers, so I don’t know how they are going to reshape their game without him.

‘‘But they’ve got plenty of pace up front, which is always a danger, and their defence is always solid, so they’re going to be tough to beat.’’

Teenagers Tom Davies, left, and Pat Brown at Darling St yesterday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

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