Tim Brown will become the first player to make 100 Hyundai A-League appearances for the Wellington Phoenix when he takes the field against Perth Glory on Sunday at Westpac Stadium.
The all-action midfielder vividly remembers the moment almost five years ago when he received a call from All Whites coach Ricki Herbert telling him the Wellington Phoenix was a going concern and that he wanted Brown to play for the club.
“It was fantastic to hear there was going to be a professional football club in my home town and that Ricki wanted me to be a part of it,” Brown says.
“The problem was I had signed a two-year contract with the Newcastle Jets half an hour earlier.
“I had been playing for the Jets and was delighted they wanted me to stay there, but the thought of being part of the Phoenix was exciting.
“I am so grateful the Jets understood how I felt and released me form the contract.”
Brown said that while growing up in Wellington the possibility of a professional club in the city hadn-t been on the horizon. Now he can-t imagine it not being a part of New Zealand-s sporting landscape.
While playing for the Jets Brown had been almost embarrassed by the exploits of the Knights, New Zealand-s representative in the A-League.
“Unfortunately they were a bit of a joke and the arrival of the Phoenix was probably the last chance to salvage the reputation of New Zealand football,” he says.
“I believe we have done that, and now we have to go on and win it (the A-League).”
Asked what being the club-s first centurion meant to him Brown was typically phlegmatic.
“It makes me feel old,” he said with a laugh.
“I-m not a big one for records, but this is a bit special.
“While you are still playing it is hard to appreciate it, but I-m sure that when I hang up the boots I will look back on it and feel very proud.
“It has been an interesting journey and a lot of fun.
“This is a very special club with special people in it.
“At the end of the day a football club is all about the quality of players, not their nationality, but it has been great having the New Zealand boys (Mark Paston, Tony Lochhead, Leo Bertos and Ben Sigmund) alongside me for the ride.
“I think the momentum the club has built up means just a little bit more to the Kiwi boys.”
Becoming the club-s first centurion will be the last thing on Brown-s mind when he lines up on Sunday. The only thing he will be thinking about it making sure that there will be another three points in the bag 90 minutes later.
“It is an important game for us. We have to get the three points,” Brown says.
“That we have a poor away record has been well documented so home points are like gold, but I think we are playing better on the road this season than n the past.
“I think we have to be a little smarter tactically when we are away from Westpac.
“Wednesday-s win over Sydney was a good result. There were a lot of tired legs out there after the busy schedule we-ve had and it was to our credit that we ground out a result.
“Now we have to go and do it again.”