Perth Glory have been the revelation of the Westfield W-League season and few players are more deserving of success than long-serving home-grown star Shawn Billam.
The Glory have been through more ups and down than a rollercoaster over the past four years finishing second, fifth and first, before plummeting to eighth last season.
But this campaign has seen a remarkable turn-around for Glory, under Bobby Despotovski in his second season at the helm.
Along with Sarah Carroll, no Glory player has been a permanent squad member longer than the English-born Billam.
It has been far from easy, however, and the 24-year-old has had to bide her time while a succession of local and imported names earned the majority of game time.
Transformed to midfield after several years in central defence, Billam is a regular in a side which has now gone six matches unbeaten, playing some sparkling football along the way.
“Bobby (Despotovski) has given me a shot this season, says Billam. “I’m really lucky to be in a good position because it has taken me a while to get there.
“Both Bobby and Perth Glory as a whole have said they want to use more local girls. Perhaps that is why some people under-rated us at the start of the year.
“This season we have some great internationals, but we are using a lot of local girls. It is good that people like myself are getting more of an opportunity.”
Billam moved to Perth aged 15 and, as a proud local with now entrenched roots, she knows the value of the distinctive purple shirt as much as anyone.
“I don’t think I would represent any other club,” Billam adds. “I’m pretty lucky I have the opportunity to stay here and play, work here and stay at home.
“It is nice to be able to be involved and the club is happy that there is a lot Perth girls involved and it sets up a better future (for the club).”
Invariably, there are a special group of fans in attendance watching the Glory – a posse of High School students cheering on their PE and Science teacher ‘Miss Billam’.
“A lot of kids from school come to watch, which is special but maybe slightly embarrassing.”
Ahead of a massive match on Saturday against third-placed Perth Glory, Billam has revealed one of the reasons for the Glory’s success this season
“The team get on really well together,” she said. “We do a lot of stuff outside training together and that helps.
“We always travel the night before, so we always have team dinners and breakfasts together.
“We are all friends at the end of the day, there is no animosity at all and we all get on really well.
“Everything has started to fall into place for us (this season). We really work together well and everything is falling into place for us at the minute.
“It helps that Sam (Kerr) is scoring goals and Rosie (Sutton) is doing really well, because we were struggling to score goals at the start.
“The internationals have slotted in really well, so things have really started to click.”
A win this weekend and the Glory will find themselves top with just two rounds to go.
And a win the following weekend (January 22) against Adelaide United at home will see them put one hand on the premiership.
Second-placed Perth Glory will face Canberra United at McKellar Park on Saturday at 4pm (local).