ACT State League, round 1
Who: Queanbeyan City FC v Weston Creek
Where: Riverside Stadium
When: Saturday, 3pm
HE’S entering his 13th season of senior footy and reckons he’s playing on ‘‘old man ankles,’’ but Queanbeyan City FC captain Danny Byrne is set to form a crucial component of his side’s title charge this year.
Now in his fifth year with Queanbeyan, Byrne has cemented his reputation as one of the State League’s leading defenders.
The 30-year-old is a fixture in City’s backline and captained the side to its 2010 premiership triumph. His main goal as Queanbeyan skipper however, remains yet to be achieved.
Byrne joined City in 2008 when the side plied its trade in the ACT Premier League.
That was before the club withdrew from Canberra’s top division the following year to instead enter the second tier State League competition.
With Queanbeyan having achieved substantial success on and off the field during the past two years, Byrne said he’s determined to help his hometown club climb back into the Premier League.
‘‘That’s always something on my mind,’’ he says. ‘‘If you go out on Saturday mornings nowadays there are so many [junior] Queanbeyan teams running around and I definitely want these kids to be able to play Premier League with Queanbeyan in the future.’’
The switch to State League two years ago was a major adjustment for the former Canberra Cosmos Youth representative.
After making his first grade debut with Gungahlin Juventus as a 17-year-old, Byrne spent the next decade playing at the highest level of competition on offer in Canberra.
He also represented the Belconnen Blue Devils during their time in the NSW Premier League.
Along with his time at Juventus and the Blue Devils, Byrne’s resume includes stints with Canberra sides Burns Club, the Monaro Panthers and the Capital City Suns before joining Queanbeyan.
Byrne acknowledged that, at the time, Queanbeyan’s demotion did lead him to reassess his position with the club.
‘‘I did think about [leaving],’’ he admits. ‘‘I had a few offers from Cooma and Canberra Olympic and a couple of other clubs and I did want to stay up at the highest level.
‘‘But when the opportunity came up I decided that the boys I enjoy playing with are here in Queanbeyan. I saw the opportunity to help develop the club here and help out so I thought, bugger it, why not stay?’’
Since making the decision to remain with Queanbeyan, Byrne has been one of the club’s leading lights. The defender will lead the side out once again this weekend when City takes on Weston Creek in round one of this year’s State League.
And with a return to the Premier League in 2013 his ultimate goal, Byrne said the club’s road to promotion would begin from day one.
‘‘There’s no second place on our mind this season,’’ he said. ‘‘If we want to show we can play up next year, we need to prove it every game starting with Weston this weekend.’’