Humans of MUSC: Michael Owen

In this special instalment of Humans of MUSC we talk to club president and living legend, Michael Owen. Get a run down of his top of his top 5 goals, and find out why he nearly didn’t play for MUSC.

Can you introduce yourself please:

My name is Michael Owen. No relation to the Michael Owen. I first joined MUSC in 2004, so this is my 17th year at the club. I’ve played for a number of the club’s Saturday and Sunday teams, coached for a year while coming back from an ACL reconstruction, and have enjoyed being involved in the running of the club through various volunteer roles.

Why did you choose to play at the Melbourne University Soccer Club?

I moved from country Victoria at 18 to attend the University of Melbourne. I was living at one of the Uni’s residential colleges, so Princes Park was only a short walk away. I very nearly didn’t join the club. There was a mix up during selection and I was asked to register but then didn’t end up being picked in a team. I was trying to get my rego fee back and I was given a run in the final practice match of pre-season, scored a hattrick and was warmly welcomed after that!

What do you feel are the main benefits of playing at MUSC?

The people you meet and the friendships you make. Your teammates change from year to year, but you always end up playing alongside good people from loads of different backgrounds. A lot of members aren’t originally from Melbourne, so the club is great at helping people settle into a new city or country.

The club is player-run. As well as opportunities to develop as a footballer, MUSC provides great opportunities to develop skills and experience in other areas through volunteering. By helping run the club, you’re introduced to and become friends with a wider group of members who you wouldn’t normally get to know.

Has there been a favourite season at MUSC, if so why?

Any year you win a championship is extra special, but my favourite years were those I played seniors.

2008 was a favourite because it was the first year that I tried out for the club’s Saturday teams and I landed in the Prov 3 Reserves. I was promoted into the Seniors for the tail end of the campaign when John Buckley took over as senior coach mid-season. I scored some important goals in the last few matches and we avoided finishing in the relegation zone. That was satisfying and I learnt a lot from playing alongside more experienced strikers like Michael Cosmano and Andrew Brown.

2014 was another favourite, even if I did get nutmegged by ex-Socceroo Danny Allsopp. I played Seniors again, learnt heaps about football, and became good friends with a lot of people who are now my best mates.

What about your current involvement in the soccer club?

I’m in the Men’s State League 5 Reserves again this year. There’s no football going on right now so I’m trying to keep fit and stay in touch with my clubmates while we all isolate.

This is my fifth year as president of MUSC and there are plenty of long-term projects to go on with while football isn’t happening. I chair the club’s Board of Directors who are elected by the members to govern the club. The Board is responsible for defining the club’s vision, identifying strategic priorities, and putting in place structures so the club can function and achieve its objectives. We ensure the club is meeting its purpose and serving its members appropriately. Many people have contributed so much over the years to make the club what it is. It’s rewarding to build on that and see the club continue to improve little by little each year.

Has there been a standout coach at MUSC? (and) the best player you have played alongside at MUSC?

I’ve been around for a bit so have played for quite a few coaches. At the risk of missing some, I’ll give a shout out and thanks to Adam Keily, Milhem “Big Mick” Nassour and Lorenzo Martino, Dave Crowden, Chad Neylon, John Buckley, Stat Konstantopoulos, Larry Quiroga, Shoni Maguire, Luis Neumann, Peter Ross, Des Boyle, Marco Palacio, Drew McMullin, Euan Roberts, George Traikovski, Mat Kelly and a few fill-ins along the way like Pete Alarcon and Iain Scott.

The two who have had the biggest impact on me are John Buckley and Larry Quiroga. John took over mid-season in 2008 and promoted me from the Reserves to give me my first taste of Senior football with the club. I learnt loads from being in Larry’s 2013 and 2014 teams; we had patterns of play and knowing everyone’s role baked into us. Whenever I play with anyone from those years, there’s an instinctive connection- you just know what they’re going to do, and it allows you to play some really good football together.

The best player is a tough one. I’ve generally been a Reserves player, so have shared a very short period of time on the pitch with some really good players who were in the Seniors above me, or younger guys who’ve since gone on to do really well in Seniors. I reckon I could pick a good XI for a dream team but can’t narrow it down to one.

How do you prepare for a match on gameday/do you have any quirky pre-match rituals?

My preparation involves a fair bit more Deep Heat and foam rolling than it did a decade ago. I don’t have any rituals but at home games I’m usually the one getting grumpy about helpers not arriving on time to be ground marshals or look after the pavilion.

Besides sports, do you have any other hobbies or passions?

Being involved in the running of the club is a rewarding side project. I’m a big fan of Manchester United. Outside of football, I work as a Software Engineer and like dogs, wine, cooking & eating.

What has been your most memorable goal at your time at MUSC?

A diving header from a low Yousef Abu-Zidan cross (2014 MSL4 Seniors v Brandon Park in a 3-2 come from behind win) and a couple of decent volleys come to mind as the best ones. I’m known for missing the really easy ones and scoring the hard ones. I’ve missed a lot of tap ins from within the 6-yard box, much to the dismay of George Karantzas and others. Sorry to everyone who has squared me a ball only to see me stab it high &/or wide!

I’ve often had joy on the last day of the season when we’ve had something to play for. Scoring on those days are the standouts for me as your teammates are pumped and the celebrations get turned up a notch. I’ll go with:

2008 in John Buckley’s Prov 3 Seniors. Andrew Brown, Henry Davidson and I all scored in a win at Brighton on the last day of the season that meant we finished high enough up the league to avoid relegation.

2013 in Larry Quiroga’s MSL5 Ressies. I scored our goal in a 1-1 draw against Mazenod that gave us the point to guarantee the Reserves championship. I met a high ball on the edge of the box and headed it over the advancing goalkeeper, who backtracked but the ball had just enough on it and it was great to be able to wheel away and be mobbed by teammates as the ball crossed the line with the GK sliding in after it. I don’t think I’ve taken a bigger hit on the field than Michael Bellofiore charging in to celebrate that goal. The Seniors finished second in the league to get promoted, so that was a great day and made for a memorable vote count night.

2016 in the MSL5 Ressies. In our last match of the year, I scored two (Anthony Tran and Carlos Lopez with the assists) and Eduardo Daga de Sousa curled in a great freekick to win 3-0 and secure the championship ahead of uni rivals RMIT.

2017 in Drew McMullin’s MSL5 Reserves. I came off the bench and helped create one then scored our second to seal the win and the championship on goal difference.

Owen scores against Mazenod on the last day of the season to secure the 2013 State 5 Reserves championship. Photos by Stephen Martin.

Have you been a part of the Unigames/Varsity/World Elite University Football Tournament team? If so, please describe the highlight. Would you recommend it to potential students?

I didn’t hear about Unigames or Varsity until after I’d finished up as a student at Melbourne Uni. I played intercollegiate soccer for St Hilda’s College though, and that was good fun. We made a semi-final but tragically went out to a golden goal directly from kickoff in extra time.

Those are some great goals! We’re all very lucky that you scored that hat-trick in preseason! Thank you for sharing!

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