Stott: It’s just great to be back

It’s been a great start to the A-League Women season for City, with the return of all-time appearance leader Rebekah Stott a key reason.

Stott left City in 2020 to join Women’s Super League club Brighton Hove & Albion, but her time in the UK was cut short after she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Always a fighter, she was never going to be kept down for long and in July this year, Stott was told the great news that she was in complete remission.

A return to the football pitch also came in July with NPL side Bulleen Lions, and then a month later, a return to City was confirmed.

“The first two months of training were really hard,” Stott said, “I’d do a training session and be so fatigued from it and my recovery time from even a simple session would be a couple of days.

“It took me a while to get back into the swing of things and I really had to be careful with what I was doing recovery-wise.”

With all the hard work of pre-season behind her, a return to professional football came in City’s early December Round 1 win over Canberra United. She saw an hour of action in what was a return to her ‘happy place’.

“It’s just great to be back and it’s so nice to be back in a team environment with the girls,” she said.

Just to be out on the field training and playing is a great feeling.

City fans saw her minutes build over the first few matches, but it was a strange feeling for Stott who had only been subbed off twice in 87 previous appearances in Australia’s top league.

“It’s hard going off the pitch and knowing you can’t do anything to affect the result, she said.

“In saying that though, the girls that are coming on are doing the job and we all have a lot of trust in them and they know what they need to do.”

Stott’s first 90-minute performance would come in the Round 6 win against Wellington Phoenix. Although she has now strung together four 90-minute appearances in a row, Stott feels she’s still not quite at full match fitness.

“I’m definitely not there yet and I need to continue to build up my fitness and strength,” she said.

I’m hoping that by the time Finals come around, I should be back to 100%.

Returning to professional football hasn’t been the only hurdle she’s faced this season, with a move from the back four to midfield providing a different kind of challenge.

She started the season in a defensive midfield role but due to circumstances, has also been deployed a little higher up the pitch as an attacking midfielder in recent times.

“It’s always tough trying to get into a new position and learn a new role,” she said.

“Playing as a 6 (defensive midfielder) was a bit more comfortable for me but playing as a 10 (attacking midfielder) in recent games is certainly a lot different to being a centre-back like I was previously used to,” she laughed, “Each game and every day in training I’m learning more and more.”

Her return to City’s A-League Women’s squad was one of many key additions that have seen the team propel itself up to second on the table this season. Stott gives much of the credit to Head Coach Rado Vidosic who has ‘done a great job recruiting the best young talent in the country’.

“It’s a really good group of girls and we have a lot of fun in training but we still work hard,” she said.

“Everyone wants to win so it’s just about putting everything in training onto the pitch in the games so we can get results.”

One of these key additions has been star striker and fellow Kiwi Hannah Wilkinson. Currently sitting on nine goals and the clear leader of the Golden Boot race, Wilkinson has been a key player for City this season.

“She’s brought a wealth of experience to the squad and a lot of the younger ones have and will continue to learn a lot from her,” Stott said.

“Her experience on the field for gamedays is just so valuable for us.”

The two are also great friends and spend plenty of time together both on and off the pitch, being housemates as well as of course teammates.

“I think we’ve known eachother for almost 10 years now and it’s really cool to be able to live with her now and play with her,” Stott said.

“It’s so nice to have a couple of fellow Kiwi’s around here with her and Marisa (van der Meer).”

Stott and City will be back in action this Sunday afternoon when they host Western Sydney at AAMI Park. All the action will kick off at 4:05pm and you can click here to get your tickets!