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How northern boy Travis Dodd became an Adelaide United legend

Ex-Adelaide United captain Travis Dodd played six successful seasons with his home town club.

The former Socceroos player went One on One with Tom Staggard to talk about his time with the Reds, his surprise move to Perth and his involvement in football today.


Tom Staggard: Where did you grow up and how did you get into football?

Travis Dodd: I grew up in the northern suburbs of Adelaide in Salisbury Park.

I got into soccer accidentally I guess.

My dad played Aussie Rules but never really pushed me into playing the game.

It happened one day after school, I think was about five years old, a friend of mine who lived on the same street was going to soccer training and asked me to come along.

It was just around the corner from home so I went out for that first session and I’ve been involved ever since.

I played other sports along the way, in particular baseball, as well.

I played baseball until I was about 14 and I made the state team for both soccer and baseball in the same year and my mum basically made me make a decision and I chose soccer.

So it’s turned out alright for me.

TS: When you were tossing up between soccer and baseball was it a tough decision to make?

TD: No to be honest, not really.

I enjoyed the environment of soccer a lot more than I did baseball.

There was a time where I did want to give away baseball but my mum was really encouraging me to play because she was a softballer.

She wanted me to continue on with that sport but in the end it was a pretty easy decision for me.

TS: You started off as a young professional in the old National Soccer League (NSL) days. What was that experience like as a young player?

TD: Growing up I probably didn’t watch a lot of soccer to be honest.

I would see a bit of English Premier League but I didn’t really stay up to watch it because I wasn’t really much of a fan growing up.

Especially as a young teenager, I didn’t even have any ambitions or even think about being a professional footballer.

It wasn’t until I was about 14 or 15 when I was making state teams and young Australian teams where I thought it could be an option.

I think I was 15 when I went to my first NSL game to even watch Adelaide City.

I played for Adelaide City in under 13’s and spent two years in the juniors and when I was 15 I was signed to play first team, but the agreement was to spend a year at the South Australia Sports Institute (SASI) to develop a bit more and then come back next year to play first team.

It was a strange experience to be honest because I basically got thrown into first team football as a 16-year-old without any real game experience in senior football.

That was the first time I got paid to play and I thought it was unbelievable to get paid $50 a game in the State League as a 16-year-old.

I had Alex Tobin, Milan Ivanovic and Joe Mullen in that side.

They just had a wealth of experience and my early days were just phenomenal.

I was working full time as well – so were 95 per cent of the squad actually.

I didn’t really consider myself a full-time footballer until I went to Newcastle as an 18-year-old.

I’d gone from getting paid $200 a week to about $30,000 a year.

I thought all my Christmas’ had come at once. Living out of home for the first time and having that responsibility was a bit of a shock but it was the beginning of my development as a footballer.

PHOTO: Adelaide United – Facebook

TS: You were a part of the inaugural Adelaide United squad. Was there a big difference between the style of play between the old NSL and the new A-League product?

TD: There was certainly more hype around the league because it was a new brand.

There was a lot more media exposure and it had come a long way in terms of rebuilding and restarting something.

For me, the beginning of the A-League was when we were all full-time professionals and it was just football that’s we were focused on.

I don’t think the football was as good as what the NSL was to be honest.

There were a lot of good players back in the day of the NSL and the start of the A-League was a fresh start and there was a lot of new faces.

The A-League has certainly developed over the years but right at the beginning I don’t think it was as good as the NSL.

TS: Adelaide United had some team success in the early years of the A-League and it all culminated in that now infamous 6-0 defeat at the hands of Melbourne Victory in the 2007 Grand Final. What do you remember of that day and how low was that day for the club?

TD: It’s never great but to make a Grand Final in the second year was fantastic.

I honestly don’t think we were the best team in the league but what we had under John Kosmina was a group of players that played for each other, that played for the coach and what we lacked in technical ability we made up for it with desire and hunger.

Unfortunately, that Grand Final we had Ross (Aloisi) sent off in the first half and we were down 3-0 at half time.

We went in to change room basically knowing that the game was done and dusted.

It’s hard to take because you work so hard to get to the final so to go out like that was pretty disappointing.

After the game its a really numb feeling, especially with it being 6-0.

It was embarrassing to do that in a grand final to be honest.

Unfortunately, these results can happen in football and there is no doubt that the mood in the playing group was pretty low.

The sun rises the next day and you just dust yourself off and come back for season three.

TS: That day was John Kosmina’s last game as manager in his first stint with the club. There was a lot of controversial incidents with him throughout that season. Is it difficult as a player when those kinds of incidents are happening and the manager is in the news?

TD: Nah, to be honest I don’t think so.

The stuff that happened in the media we didn’t really focus on.

What became hard for us was the game day scenario where there were times where Kosmina wasn’t allowed in the change room or to come and speak to the boys at half time.

To not have a coach who you’ve had for the entire season not be available because of suspension does make it difficult.

But the stuff that goes on, if anything, it builds a bit more resolve within the playing group and the club itself.

We had people writing us off because of the things happening with Kossie and saying that we were going to fall apart but I think it actually brought us together more.

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Tom grew up in Adelaide’s northern suburbs and is our resident North American sports expert. Tom has experience as a working journalist and has a keen interest in basketball, ice hockey and American football, as well as cricket, soccer and football. He spent his junior cricket career at East Torrens District and has played for a number of football clubs across Adelaide’s north.