THE memory is a little hazy, but Angus Thurgate only remembers playing at Regional Stadium once before.
A tick over 10 years down the track, the 18-year-old will double his experience on Port Macquarie’s number one sporting venue on Tuesday night.
Thurgate will take the field for the Newcastle Jets in the trial match against two Football Mid North Coast representative sides.
One side will be formed from teams in the southern half of the conference, while the other will be made up of players from the northern half of the conference.
This trip home will be slightly different – it will be the first time in many years the former Port Saints junior has appeared on the field in Port Macquarie as a Jet.
“I think when I was 10 I played one game on the stadium so the crowd will be a bit different this time,” Thurgate said.
“I’m pretty sure it was a gala day and I was playing for Port Saints under 10s and my dad was the coach so it’s a bit different being in the A-League team.”
“It’s exciting; I haven’t been back to Port for a while visiting let alone playing a game so I’m looking forward to it, should be good fun,” Thurgate said.
“It means a lot to be playing against players I used to play with and seeing some old faces as well.”
One of those old faces Thurgate could do direct battle with is Port United’s Jack Pilgrim.
The two had several local derby battles together when Thurgate was playing with Port Saints before he left for the Jets.
“It’ll be a bit different playing in Port Macquarie with the Jets, having played there before in Port Saints colours and Mid North Coast colours,” he said.
“It’s huge for the club because it allows us to expand our fan base and our zone.”
“Now we’ve got those Jets Academies which give the kids a picture of what it takes to get to the next level and shows the next level is there to be achieved.”
Thurgate missed last year’s fixture which drew 4100 fans through the gates and a similar figure is expected on Tuesday night.
It will be a significantly bigger crowd than the attacking midfielder played in front of at the under-10 gala day.
He wasn’t sure how many of his closest friends and family would be in the crowd.
“I only know my parents are coming because they’ll be in Port but that’s all I know of,” he said.
“Most of my mates are at uni elsewhere and my sister is in Europe travelling so I’m not expecting too many in the crowd.”
It was a breakout year for Thurgate with the Jets, although he missed the 1-0 grand final defeat to Melbourne Victory.
“I didn’t expect to get much game time last year, but a few injuries and some people missed out through suspension so I grabbed my opportunity and tried to make the most of it.”
He acknowledged individually and as a team, the Jets were determined to go one step further this season.
“For me, it’s getting as many appearances off the bench as I can,” he said.
“Since last year we’ve realised there’s enough quality in the team to get to the grand final.
“We were a bit unlucky in the final so everyone’s really working hard to get in the position to do it again.”