It will be a homecoming for Melbourne Victory legend Archie Thompson who is returning to Albury-Wodonga where he was raised, to play for Murray United in the 2017 NPL Victoria 2 season.
Murray United’s coup was announced on Tuesday where Thompson will be playing as a marquee player for the season.
It comes after Thompson was a guest player for Heidelberg United last season, joining the NPL after finishing his career with Victory.
Thompson joked about returning to his childhood club Twin City Wanderers after his debut for Heidelberg in August last year and at the time his door was open to opportunities while also acting as an ambassador for Victory.
And with the constant travel up to Albury-Wodonga to visit his mother Esther and father Archie Sr, Thompson said the decision was easy.
“I was tossing up between the idea of playing at a higher level especially here in Melbourne,” Thompson told FourFourTwo.
“I thought ‘you know what, I’m actually in a better place to play a bit of football’. When I was with Heidelberg, maybe I was a bit fresh still out of the A-League and my expectations were a little bit higher than they should have been but I did enjoy my time there.
“I’m very thankful for them to give me opportunities to play for them. But now I want to give back a bit more and I’d like to play a lot more of these games all over Australia, in the rural towns where you probably wouldn’t get to see too many ex-A-league or ex-Socceroos players.
“I’m glad the opportunity came again because I’ve been going up every third week, I thought why not go up there, play a bit of football, get back to enjoying it and give back.”
Thompson continued to place the emphasis on his goal of becoming an inspiration to the locals, fans and players involved in grassroots football.
He also said plenty of NPL clubs contacted him expressing their interest in signing him for this season.
“I had a lot of teams call me saying ‘Archie, come here and you’re going to score lots of goals’… I’m like ‘no, it’s not the reason why I want to be playing’,” he said.
“The reason is I want to enjoy my football, I don’t want the pressure… I’ve had 20 odd years of pressure.
“I know there’s pressure because everyone has expectations, but my expectations are different to what other people are thinking.
“Murray United are on the same wave length and so was Heidelberg so I’m looking forward to the next challenge.
“You don’t get the opportunities you would in the city, whatever little advice I can give or help with and me too. I’m always learning too, so hopefully there’s someone there that can say ‘OK Arch, here’s a rainbow trick, give this a shot’.
“I’ve got a real buzz, it’ll be exciting to get down there, it’s just up the road from mum, dad and sisters house. So it’ll be good to get that family feel again.”
Thompson said he was unsure when he will be training with his new teammates but was hopeful it would be as soon as possible.
He has kept fit since departing from Heidelberg and said his return to Albury-Wodonga would not have him shedding tears.
“I’ve done all my crying in my last game for Victory at AAMI Park, I think all the emotion has gone now,” Thompson joked.
“It’s a different emotion, to be able to go back and play in front of friends and family and to just reunite, that’s what I’m excited about too.
“I haven’t kicked a ball in a while. I want to go there and meet the boys, I don’t want to take anything away from them, they’ve worked really hard over the last couple of months and I’ll just do what I have to do.”
For now the 38-year-old will attending to his media commitments on Saturday night where his former club lock horns with fierce crosstown rival Melbourne City in the derby.
Murray United play Box Hill United in the opening round on Saturday but will return to La Trobe University playing fields in Bundoora to face off against Melbourne City the following week.