Manly United’s 21-year-old young gun Lucas Rainbird put his name on the map over the weekend after scoring an absolute screamer in his side’s match against Marconi.
The goal was his first in the NPL NSW Men’s competition and was quick to gain traction across social media as football fans appreciated the incredible strike.
“It was a pretty special goal, it was my first goal in the first grade side as well, which made it also particularly special,” Rainbird said.
“I usually don’t like the attention but I can’t really get away from it at the moment.”
The Northern Beaches local has risen through the ranks at Manly United and has joined the first grade squad as a regular this season under the leadership of former Socceroo Adam Griffiths.
Having joined Manly United as a junior, Rainbird is a product of their development system and a great demonstration of their commitment to giving opportunities to local young talent.
“I’ve been at Manly my whole life since probably the first age group you could play there and I haven’t gone anywhere else,” he explained.
“I think the basis of the squad each year comes from that Northern Beaches bubble with the exception of a few players.
“I think from the early ages, they look for players from the local leagues and do their best to make them the best they possibly can.”
As a starter and regular first grade player, Rainbird has been able to draw from the experience of the Northern Beaches outfit’s experienced players and player-turned-coach Adam Griffiths.
“I’ve sort of been around the squad for a couple of years now but this is probably the first year I’ve actually got some game time and some starts which has been good,” he said.
“It’s been helpful being around the squad and training with some older boys for a while now so I’ve got a bit of experience through that, but it’s definitely a step up and a new challenge.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have him [Adam Griffiths] for a couple of years now.
“I was under him when I was in the Under 20s so I sort of followed his progression and he’s really good without the younger players.
“If you prove yourself he gives you the opportunity and a chance and I fortunately got mine.
Manly United have invested in the future of football with major improvements to the club’s facilities and resources, something Rainbird has drawn great value from.
“It’s an awesome facility down there now,” he said of the Cromer Park upgrades.
“It’s been good for the club’s culture.
“You feel like a professional almost with the services available – it’s been great.”
After seven rounds, Manly United sit at sixth position on the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s ladder with some decent results, but Rainbird believes they can experience more success through the season by sticking to their playing philosophy set by Griffiths.
“Our squad’s been a bit depleted with a few bigger names out and a few injuries but we’re still getting by and we’re still getting some good results in and putting in some good performances which is good,” Rainbird explained.
“I think the goal is to continually work on our playing style, and that usually reflects in good results.
“The better we play to our sort of philosophy and how Adam wants us to play the more wins we’re going to get and I think now we’re starting to see some of our older, more experienced players coming back into the side which has been beneficial and it really helps us as young boys.”
-By Madeline Riley