By Joey Lynch
Melbourne City has begun the process of rebuilding a squad looking to return to finals football with the announcement of former Adelaide United captain Emma Checker.
Beset by injury, an unsettled squad and the departure of superstars such as Alanna Kennedy and the irrepressible Jess Fishlock, City finished in fifth-position on the W-League table at the end of 2018/19; missing out on the finals thanks to an inferior goal difference to Sydney FC and Perth Glory.
Positively for Rado Vidošić, however, a defensive unit highlighted by Matildas’ star Steph Catley ended that campaign with the equal-stingiest defence in the W-League; themselves and cross-town foes Melbourne Victory only shipping 15 goals across the regular season’s 12 games.
That strong defence will be further boosted with the addition of dependable centre-back Checker.
Already possessing 78 W-League appearances at just 23-years-of age, Checker made her debut in the W-League with Adelaide at just 15-years of age and has also had spells with Melbourne Victory and Canberra United.
A three-time Matilda, Checker signed for South Korean side Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels in 2017 but was unable to register a single appearance thanks to injury. She re-joined Adelaide later that year and went on to captain the club.
The defender revealed on her Instagram account on 30 August that she was set to depart the Reds and, highlighting the significant challenges still faced by Australia’s female footballers looking to pursue a career in football, later told the club website that she was not able to return thanks to work-related commitments outside the game.
Checker, who captained NPLW Victoria side Alamein FC during the most recent offseason, lives in Melbourne.
“It’s a pretty overwhelming feeling,” Checker remarked upon her signing.
“I’m really excited, it’s obviously a new start, a new place and I’m looking forward to a new challenge.”
“It’s incredible, I remember the first day that I walked in. I felt at home, and I felt like it was a place where I could really put myself to the test and I think it’s really impressive how world-class the facilities are.
“I want to be challenged and I feel like the environment here is the best place for me to challenge myself and to get myself back to hopefully being in the national team setup again.
“I’ll fight, I feel like I’m a pretty fierce player and I’ll give it everything, that’s the one big thing I want to bring to the Club – a lot of hard work and commitment.”
Also announced alongside Checker was that promising Young Matildas Sofia Sakalis and Chelsea Blissett had re-committed to the Bundoora based club, Sakalis on a two-year deal and Blissett on a single-season contract.
Football Nation Radio also understands that 2018 and 2019 NPLW Victoria Gold Medallist Catharine Zimmerman and 2018 and 2019 NPLW Victoria Media Player of the Year Kayla Morrison have also been invited to train with City during the W-League pre-season but, thanks to their Visa status, their chances of securing league minutes will likely depend on City’s other foreign pre-season additions.