There may have been little expectation on Newcastle Jets heading into this season, but under proud Novocastrian Gema Simon the team are on track to end a long finals’ drought.
Newcastle recorded one its greatest victories on Sunday with a 4-0 rout of Brisbane Roar, as the two-time champions suffered a record home defeat.
The win lifted the Jets into third on goal difference ahead of Sydney FC, and just one point shy of second-placed Canberra United.
Newcastle haven’t reached the finals since the glory days of Cheryl Salisbury and Co back in season one, but skipper Simon, who is the lone survivor from that campaign, has the Jets on track.
Simon, cousin of Sydney FC and Westfield Matildas forward Kyah, is currently just a few appearances shy of the league’s most capped player – Canberra United’s Ellie Brush.
And, after a single season at Melbourne Victory, Simon says she is enjoying life back at the Jets, having made her 80th Westfield W-League appearance on Sunday.
It seems like the team really put it together against the Roar on Sunday?
Gema Simon: We have played well this season and but not finished out chances. This time we were clinical in front of goal, which has been our biggest issue. The girls worked really hard and they deserved to win. Getting a few goals on the board will do wonders for our confidence.
What is the team doing well this season that is really making a difference?
Everyone’s work rate and mentality. It is a very tight squad, with everyone working hard for each other. We have one goal in mind, which is to make the finals. We are trying not to look too far forward. Deansy (Coach Craig Deans) has been great for the girls. A few of the girls have been around for a bit for a now, and everyone is starting to mature a little bit now which is great to be a part of.
It has certainly been a long time since the Jets reached the finals...
It would be nice to do it again this season, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us.
There are not many big names in the team, but has that ended up being a good thing in a way?
I think it is good that we don’t have any big names. Everyone knows that if we play for each other, it will be quite hard to beat us. We don’t have individuals that will out and out win games for us. It is a very good mix of youth and experience and everyone is gelling quite well.
Did you privately believe at the start of the season that you could be in the position that you are?
You always have to believe, and be positive with your goals.
How are you finding your own form this season?
I’m just taking it week by week and enjoying my football. And I’m really enjoying being part of this group and being back in Newcastle.
Is adding to your five caps for the Matildas in the back of your mind?
Not really, I’m just focused on playing well for Newcastle and doing my job on the field. If anything comes of it that would be great, but right now I’m just focussing on my on-field goals.