He enjoyed the experience while playing for the Newcastle Jets’ youth team, but Mike Finlayson has no regrets about what might have been.
The 27-year-old Port Saints midfielder can add his name to a growing list of sportspeople from up and down the Mid-North Coast who have tried their luck in the big city.
He spent a couple of seasons in the Jets setup playing in their youth team before the cut-throat nature of it all proved a mountain too high to climb.
“I was lucky enough to get in the youth team and travel around Australia, but if one coach doesn’t like the look of you it’s pretty cut-throat at the end of the day,” Finlayson admitted.
“I’ve got no regrets and was pretty stoked to get to play where I did and go to the places where I did.
“Obviously I would have liked to play further, but there’s a lot of really good players in the world and everyone’s dedicated and wants it pretty hard so I’m just happy to be playing soccer for Port and being around here.”
Originally from Minnie Waters, Finlayson went through the Northern NSW system before he moved to Newcastle and attended Hunter Sports High School.
As a result of his schooling, he found himself at the NNSW Institute of Sport – as it was known at the time – which fed him into the Jets system.
He played a couple of seasons with the Jets until the age of 21 before he signed with National Premier League club Broadmeadow Magic.
Three years with the Magic followed before he finished university and then a subsequent move to Port Macquarie followed after a job as a teacher came up in 2018.
“It would have been nice to take it a bit further but at the end of the day I’ve got a pretty nice job and live in a good place and like playing for fun,” he said.
Finlayson attempted to commute between the Hastings and Broadmeadow for one season, but the travel proved too much.
A chat with Saints captain Anthony Jamieson lured him to Findlay Park where he has stayed.
“I don’t know if I could have made it at that level,” he said.
“But I’m getting a bit older now and I just enjoy playing.”