W-League: Gill chases elusive team glory

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Golden Boot winner Kate Gill has a personal trophy cabinet busting at the edges but surprisingly it is filled with very few team accolades.

The Perth Glory striker and Matildas co-captain is a two-time winner of the Westfield W-League’s Golden Boot award and she has scored more goals for her country than any other Australian player.

Gill’s list of career achievements is almost as long as War and Peace yet the only team entries are the Matildas’ 2010 AFC Asian Cup victory and Glory’s recent W-League Premiership.

Her burning desire to win more team trophies as she enters the twilight of her decorated playing career is evident when the spotlight is placed on her individual performances this season.

The modest centre forward netted 12 season goals, including a record five goals in one match, to claim her second W-League Golden Boot award but she is quick to play down the feat in favour of team praise.

“It’s a pleasing individual award but it’s also great to have the team behind me to get there,” Gill said.

“I think the most pleasing thing is our performances week in, week out. We’ve been pretty solid across the board and every player has had a major contribution to it.”

Newcastle-raised Gill has called Perth home for the past five years and may have been tempted to look elsewhere in search of that elusive team success as Glory languished in the bottom half of the W-League for several seasons.

But the 2010 AFC Women’s Footballer of the Year stayed loyal to the club and paid credit to local body Football West, where she also works as a sponsorship executive, for backing the Glory women’s programme in recent times.

“They’ve stuck by the girls and funded the initiative for so many years, considering some of the up and downs we’ve had,” Gill said.

“For me, it was an easy decision to stay in Perth because it’s where my family are. I love being in Perth and I think it’s important to enjoy playing football but also being comfortable in your surrounds and that’s what’s happened here.”

Gill celebrated her 30th birthday on Wednesday but is yet to seriously contemplate how long she has left in the game.

“It really is an inevitable thing that you’re going to retire at some point and I guess you’ve got to be happy and content in yourself when you do decide to make that decision,” Gill said.

“I’ve been fairly lucky I’ve really only had one major injury and maybe that 12 months out of the game has given me another year or so.

Age is only a number and for me it’s just about enjoying the time I have left.”

Birthday celebrations, however, are on hold as Gill and her Glory teammates attempt to cap a record-breaking season with the W-League Championship.

Perth hosts Sydney FC in a semi-final showdown at nib Stadium on Sunday for a spot in next weekend’s decider and Gill expects to confront a vastly different Sky Blues team to the one Glory trounced 5-0 only a fortnight ago.

“I don’t really think we can reflect on what happened in that last game because finals football is just a different kettle of fish altogether,” Gill said.

“Teams that maybe haven’t been performing up until now can turn it around on the day so you have to play the game on its merits.”

Glory will be without Sam Kerr for the semi-final after the speedy attacker suffered a season-ending knee injury in last weekend’s 2-1 loss to Canberra United.

Kerr, who scored eight times in Glory’s past four games, has formed a lethal partnership with Gill in attack this season and will be hard to replace.

“It’s a huge loss for us because Sammy’s more than just a player on the field,” Gill said.

“She’s such a character and a great person to have in the team. It’s really disappointing because she’s been exceptional for us and personally she’s been playing some beautiful football, so I’m more upset for her than anything else.”

Gabe Marzano, who has played mainly off the bench this season, looms as Kerr’s likely replacement.

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