City stars revel in history-making feat

Melbourne City players hailed their historic Westfield W-League championship win as one that displayed the team’s character.

The 2-0 Grand Final win over Perth Glory on Sunday saw City become the first club in the nine-season history of the competition to retain the title.

While City’s second goal against Perth had a touch of luck, the first was a classy three-player move befitting of the big stage.

“I think our first goal summed up the way we like to play,” said proud player/coach Jess Fishlock.

“We knew Perth were going to be dangerous on the counter-attack. They are a very good side. We knew we had to shut that down.

“I thought defensively we were great, and in attack when we play the way we want to play we will score goals.”

Last season City cruised through their maiden season to remain unbeaten across all 13 matches.

Though the end result was the same, this season could not have been any different.

City extended that figure to 18 matches this season, before a barely believable six-match winless run.

City won their final five matches straight, including the two in the finals series.

“We scraped in, there is no denying that,” added Fishlock.

“Sometimes life is hard, and the character is shown when life is hard.

“How you act when that happens shows everybody who you really are, and that is what we did.

“But that just goes to show how much the league has grown and credit to all the other teams, because they have been all been brilliant in their own way, in their own right.

“For us to go through the season we have had, and to concede just one goal in four games, including a semi-final and a final, that is not a coincidence.”

Superstar goalkeeper Lydia Williams said the poor mid-season run was a test of temperament.

“It (the mid-season slump) affected us at the time, but it also made us stronger and helped us achieve this result,” Williams said.

“We realised it is ok to lose. All that pressure was part of it, going through that first loss, and then it was a case of making finals.”

There was a slice of personal history for City skipper Steph Catley who, though still only 23, won her third title in four seasons, two of them as captain.

“It was really a polar opposite season,” Catley said. “We really struggled a fair bit there.

“But I think we showed a lot character and (it showed) the experience of the players we have.

“It was a very different season from last year, but they both feel just as good to be honest.

“We were really up and down during the season and a lot of people wrote us off.

“But we kept believing in our team and how we play our football.

“We made history and I couldn’t be happier.”