Updated: Aug 23, 2020
One can forgive Jamie Maclaren if he’s judged to be feeling a bit giddy at the end of the A-League season, or walking around Melbourne City’s interstate hub in the Hunter Valley with a certain swagger.
Maclaren just captured his second A-League Golden Boot, scoring twice against Western United in City’s final regular-season match to finish with 22 goals in just 20 games, and his first such honour outright since sharing the spoils with Besart Berisha at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season.
The average of over a goal per game may be nice – but Maclaren isn’t prepared to rest on his laurels anytime soon.
Truth be told, Maclaren would gladly trade any sort of personal accomplishments for a premiership for his club.
“I’ve won some individual awards, and they have been great, but nothing will give me as much of a buzz as winning something with my teammates,” Maclaren said before the weekend.
The 27-year-old Maclaren, who has just completed his fifth A-League season in a senior career that started in 2013, has witnessed what his peers have accomplished, and passionately desires a piece of that action for himself, and for his Melbourne City teammates.
“I speak to other players who have played on winning teams, who have won [A-League] championships or won FFA Cups, and I’ve been on the receiving end of losing two FFA Cup finals and it’s not a nice feeling,” says Maclaren.
“I’m here to push for a spot in the final, and there are other guys on this team who want that so badly as well. We all want to achieve something great at this club,” added Maclaren.
Melbourne City, in its tenth A-League season, achieved its best-ever finish, capturing second spot on the ladder and thereby earning a bye into the semi-final stage of the A-League’s finals series.
And Maclaren holds firm beliefs that – while paying tribute to his teammates around him – Melbourne City can convert that lofty achievement into Premiership hardware.
“Going into a semi-final, I believe that we are full of confidence, and if there was ever a year that City could win outright, it’s right now,” says Maclaren.
“We’re playing some really good stuff, and I believe that the confidence around the group and around our staff is fantastic.
“We’re just having a great vibe at the moment,” he adds.
While Melbourne City have earned a rest ahead of that semi-final match on Wednesday against the survivors of Sunday’s Brisbane Roar v Western United single-elimination final, Maclaren reflects that a change in ideas with coach Erick Mombaerts this season has greatly influenced the club’s change in fortunes, one season after finishing in fifth position after the regular season and exiting the finals series at the first hurdle.
“Erick has been absolutely fantastic for us, brought in some new players who have been absolutely fantastic,” says Maclaren.
“‘Nooney’ [Craig Noone] has had a great year, and he [Mombaerts] has gotten the most out of some young boys as well – some of the signings we’ve had this year have taken us to a whole new level.
“He’s starting to integrate a lot of players who deserve their minutes, and we’re playing some fantastic stuff regardless if you’re coming off the bench or if you’re starting. I think everybody on this team knows their roles, and it’s just a wonderful culture to be around,” adds Maclaren.
While Maclaren feels that the contributions from his teammates helped him and Melbourne City reach the heights they’ve enjoyed this season, it’s that spirit of teamwork and camaraderie which will take them to an A-League championship.
“This game is a team sport, and as a whole collective, even our staff will get some sort of joy or reward for winning something this year, or even for winning games. Even the guys who aren’t playing are taking joy in what we’re doing,” says Maclaren.
“This game is a collective effort, and not for individuals, unless your name is Messi or Ronaldo.
“This is a team game, and my teammates have helped me to get me to where I am today,” adds Maclaren.
Which is not to take anything away from his individual accomplishments this season. If anything, Maclaren feels that he can continue such exploits into the finals matches.
“To win my second A-League Golden Boot with my second club was a dream come true, and to do it for Melbourne City in its best-ever season was highly satisfying,” says Maclaren, who says he received messages of congratulations from Golden Boot rivals Berisha of Western United and Adam Le Fondre of Sydney FC.
“They had fantastic years as well, and we all keep in contact with one another – me, ‘Alfie’ and ‘Bes’ – and it’s a nice little friendly rivalry that we have with one another,” says Maclaren.
“I received messages from each of them last night to offer me congratulations. There’s something in the old saying about ‘game recognises game’, but at the end of it all, I have to thank my teammates for producing the quality for me,” he adds.
And ultimately, he is proud to not only deflect credit to his teammates, but also confident that those teammates can win two more games to give Melbourne City that maiden A-League premiership.
And regardless whether it’s a league premiership, designs on next season’s Asian Champions League, or even repeating all of this again in the next A-League campaign, Maclaren strongly believes that the sky’s the limit for Melbourne City’s dreams.
“There is so much belief and ambition at this club, and that’s what drives us,” says Maclaren.