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Tony Lochhead will play his 100th game for the Wellington Phoenix against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday night but he would swap that milestone for a win.
In typically modest fashion Lochhead yesterday said he didn’t want to make a fuss about the achievement, but admitted it was something pretty special when the 100 games were with one club.
“Yes, I suppose a lot of people have played 100 A-League games but not too many with the one club,” Lochhead said.
“I think making it a little bit more special is the fact that I was one of the inaugural members of the club and I have helped build it into something to be proud of.
“We finished last in our first season but have continued to improve year by year.
“We’ve put ourselves in a good position to make the playoffs for a third successive season, and not many clubs have done that.
“A couple of years ago we were one game off the final and I don’t think anyone would have expected that when Ricki (Herbert) put the club together in a few months.”
Lochhead, who joins fellow founder players Tim Brown and Daniel in the Phoenix Centurions Club, would have reached the milestone earlier but for some niggling injuries that came through wear and tear on his body.
“Most of those 100 games have been for the full 90 minutes,” he said.
“I haven’t made many appearances as a substitute and haven’t left the field early very often.”
Asked for his highlights from the 100 games, Lochhead plumps for the Phoenix’ first ever Hyundai A-League game against Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium.
“We were two goals down and came back to draw 2-2 and the atmosphere and energy from the crowd was really cool,” he said.
“Another was beating Gold Coast United 6-0 because Smeltzy (Shane Smeltz) had just left us to join them!”
Lochhead said the Phoenix and the All Whites, in reaching the World Cup finals, had given football a shot in the arm in New Zealand and he was proud to be a member of both teams.
The reliable fullback was also instrumental, albeit indirectly, in Manny Muscat joining the club.
Muscat was invited to trial for the Phoenix as Lochhead was going to England for a trial with English Premier League side Middlesbrough.
Unfortunately the trial came to nothing for Lochhead but Muscat has gone on to become a stalwart for the club.
Herbert said Lochhead had been a consistent performer for the Phoenix and was a stalwart of the club.
“You can always rely on Tony to do a job for you and he has been an integral part of the team from day one,” Herbert said.
While he will savour the moment on Friday night, nothing less than three points will send Lochhead to bed happy.
“I would gladly swap the milestone for a win,” he said.
“We are going really well at present and I want that to continue. I’ve only scored one goal in 99 games which doesn’t bother me as I see myself as a provider rather than a scorer, but it would be nice to do a ‘Manny Muscat’ and contribute to a win on Friday.”