Wollongong Wolves goalkeeper Hayden Durose has had some fantastic performances so far in the 2022 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition.
While he is competing in his third season representing the Wolves in the NPL with pride, Durose could have led a different path in the football world after interest from English club Nottingham Forest in his youth.
“I didn’t really go into goals until I was about 13 or so, a little bit of a late starter, and from there I just kept training and I found a love for it,” he explained.
“A few years later I had the opportunity to go overseas to trial with some English clubs.
“It all went well and I was meant to actually sign over there with Nottingham Forest when I was 16 years old but in terms of the Visa, everything that I was trying to apply for kept getting denied, which was frustrating.
“I realised that it wasn’t going to happen so everything kind of just fell away from there.
“I think it was about two weeks beforehand that I found out that it wasn’t going to happen so that was a bit disheartening.”
Having his dreams shattered at such a young age, Durose took his talent and brought it to his local NPL club at youth levels, and eventually returned in 2019.
“By the time we found it all out it was too late for me to go back to school and I found myself in this bit of a void and I didn’t really know what to do,” he said.
“After that happened I was trying to go for the trials at Marconi in the NPL and was also contacted by Wollongong Wolves as well, so as a teenager I was with the Wollongong Wolves’ youth grade and first grade for a few years with Trevor Morgan which was good.
“At about 18 years old I obviously wanted to play more first grade and men’s soccer so I made the decision to go to the local league, the IPL with Wollongong Olympic and I stayed there for six or seven years.
“I think from all that happened when I was younger, I lost a bit of my drive to push myself so I was kind of just cruising in the local league, but then also had a good couple of years.
“I was always training under the Wollongong Wolves ‘keeper coach [John Krajnovic], he’s the only bloke that really does any sort of training in the Illawarra.
“I’ve known him since I was a young kid so he was talking to Luke because they were looking for another goalkeeper and Luke got in contact with me and a couple of weeks later I found myself back with the Wolves.
“I’ve been there for the last three years, which has been good besides the whole COVID thing.
“I’m enjoying being back and part of the whole NPL system again.”
Speaking about returning to the league, Durose praised the support of the Wolves in welcoming him to the club.
“At first it was a bit daunting going back into the NPL in terms of the level, but also the commitment with working full time and then trying to train as much as possible and put your time and effort into that as well,” he explained.
“It was obviously a bit hard, but everyone was very welcoming.
“I knew a couple of the guys just from around the Illawarra which is good but they all welcomed me in.
“I came in comfortably, there was no tension or anything which was good and that always helps to be in a bit of a more relaxed state coming into new teams.”
Having been given plenty of support from coach Luke Wilkshire, Durose expressed how happy the team is to see him head to the Central Coast Mariners for the next two A-League seasons as the Head of Youth Development.
“Everyone is stoked to see him in a professional setting, which is what he’s striving for, too and what he deserves in terms of what he’s done for Wollongong Wolves as a club, from where they were to where they are now in the initial stint with him,” he said.
“I think he’s put us on the map, especially in the 2019 season where they won the NPL and the national competition as well.
“We all want to see him in a professional setting, which is what his whole life’s been too, so he knows the ins and outs of what’s expected and everything like that.”
After some promising performances in recent weeks, the Wolves still have their eyes on the prize this season, with big ambitions to make finals football and work their way into the top spots in the league.
“Everything is going on as planned at the moment, everyone’s buzzing,” Durose explained.
“We’ve had a few wins the last few weeks as well, which is always good for morale.
“Our goal is to make finals and we’re always striving for first place.
“We do have the team to do it, although we started a bit slow this season which is a bit unfortunate, but in the last few weeks it’s really starting to come together, everyone’s playing their role and starting to get those crucial wins now too, especially heading into the second round of the season.
“The last few weeks we’ve pretty much been trying to work on tightening certain things up and cleaning little bits and pieces up of our games and things like that and it’s really starting to work out for us and so hopefully we’ll be seeing finals, pushing for those first few places.
“I think where we are now, it’s only really seven points from first to eighth so it’s still quite tight so everything and anything’s possible.
“We haven’t fallen away from the pack or anything so everyone’s everyone’s quite confident going into the second half of the season and bringing something home.”
-By Madeline Riley