BRAD Swancott spent three years at the Newcastle Breakers in the giant shadow of veteran goalkeeper Bob Catlin.
Now the Jets goalkeeping coach, Catlin was among a group of experienced players who followed coach Lee Sterrey up the freeway from Sydney at the start of the 1998 National Soccer League season.
Swancott made his national league debut as a 16-year-old the season before, and although he was unable to usurp Catlin, who holds the record for most NSL games (345) by a keeper and the most clean sheets (105), he learned a lot.
‘‘I didn’t get to play much because of Bobby but I worked with him every day,’’ Swancott said. ‘‘He was a class act and a Socceroo.
‘‘He passed on a number of things, mainly the way he commanded his box and the way he spoke to and organised his defence.
‘‘He was a very good communicator.’’
Though not possessing the same physical presence as Catlin, Swancott, now 32, hopes to put the communication and organisational skills he gained to good use in goals for the Northern NSW Select side against the Jets at Darling St Oval tomorrow night.
‘‘If the team is defending well it makes my job easier,’’ Swancott said. ‘‘I expect them to put a fair bit of pressure on us.
‘‘I caught the first half when they played Broadmeadow and they looked pretty good.
‘‘They play a possession-based game, have a couple of strikers who are quite sharp and the experience of Michael Bridges. They will definitely be a handful.’’
Released by Newcastle United at the end of the 2000-01 NSL season, Swancott played nine seasons in the NSW Premier League at Bankstown, Apia Leichhardt, Parramatta and Manly.
He returned to the Northern NSW state league last year at Lake Macquarie and made the switch to Hamilton Olympic this season.
Swancott was in the Northern side which played the Jets last season and was a regular for Manly in pre-season hit-outs against Sydney FC.
‘‘It is a good opportunity to play at that level again,’’ Swancott said.
‘‘I haven’t heard from Bobby this week but I’m sure I will.
‘‘He tells me he is lighter now than during his playing days.’’
Northern have made several changes to the squad for tomorrow night’s game, which kicks off at 6.30pm.
Kyle Hodges (unavailable), Josh Piddington (overseas), Jon Griffiths (groin) and Peter McPherson (hamstring) have been replaced by Phil Bures and Cameron Hughes, reducing the squad to 17.
‘‘You know playing the Jets they are going to have a lot of the ball,’’ Northern co-coach Damien Smith said.
‘‘We need to be well organised defensively, squeeze the game up to them and be disciplined.
‘‘That is where Swanny can lead from the back.’’
? The Jets’ trial against Charlestown City set down for July 25 has been cancelled.