Tara Andrews has re-signed to Newcastle for another W-League season and the star striker has unfinished business in her twelfth year as a Jet.
Andrews is a favourite of Newcastle and neutral fans alike. Her ability to link up play and score spectacular goals with head or foot makes her one of the most watchable players in the competition.
“I’m from Newcastle originally, so obviously it’s my hometown club, says Andrews about her return.
“It’s where my friends and family are, I started my career at Newcastle… Ever since I got this feeling that I want to keep playing for my hometown club and I want to do better every year.”
“So I keep coming back because I want to do better for the club, myself, and I’m a very loyal person… I don’t like to leave with unfinished business. With the Newcastle Jets, I want to do better this year.”
Now a senior player, Andrews feels a sense of responsibility in the team, especially with the younger players at the club.
“I want to be a good role model for those younger players coming up. We probably have a bit more weight on our shoulders being the older players.
“There is a little bit more responsibility and pressure, but at the same time, you need to be able to deal with that and be able to focus on yourself and be playing well enough in yourself that you can propel other people around you as well.”
She is a unique player in the W-League, a tall center forward with the technique and strength to be the focal point of an attack. The goal she scored against Melbourne Victory last season was the perfect example of her skills.
A long ball played was half-cleared by the defence, at the edge of 18 yards and before anybody could react Andrews lashed it into the goal off her left foot. It was anticipation, reaction, technique, and power combined.
“You definitely have to take advantage when you’re in that form,” she says of her scoring run that led to five goals in the first half of the season.
“If you can take score a goal in the first game of the season of first two games that just lifts your confidence a lot.
“You pretty much just have to run with it when your scoring goals, you take more opportunities, you shoot more because you’re more confident.”
An Alumni of Hunter Sports High, Andrews looked up to Kate Gill as a young player and Cheryl Salisbury as a child. She learned her trade under the tutelage of Matilda’s legend, Joey Peters as a youth.
“She was a great coach… she’s obviously very technical in the way that she plays so she kind of made sure that we were all really good technically. We practiced those small little things like small little touches, juggling that sort of stuff.
“She taught us tricks how best to beat a player, drop a shoulder, and change direction, she just had all these little things that helped us so much that other coaches don’t talk about …She tried to give us all that information.”
Andrews’ ability to score seemingly from nothing makes her a difficult proposition for W-League defences more accustomed to defending through balls and pacey attackers.
“A lot of strikers are more the fast type that runs in behind so defenders probably generally know how to defend that pretty well.
“But when they come up against me I think they do have to change their tactics a little bit because I can drop into midfield, pick up the ball, turn and play through balls.
‘If they don’t follow me then, they’re leaving me free… if they do I’ve got my number 10 running free as well
“It’s a little bit different for them to defend, but there’s some pretty good defenders and they’re pretty switched on with changing their tactics.”
That point of difference saw her in contention for a first Matildas call-up since 2016. Prior to the Olympics, Andrews was one of the players brought into the Talent ID camp on the strength of her W-League form and what she can bring tactically.
She changes the way a team can attack, more importantly, she changes the way an opposition has to defend.
“If they do want to change the tactics of how they want to attack, I could be that different sort of player. Obviously, you’d never want to take Sam Kerr off but if you do want a different option that’s what I can provide.
“I still need to work on my power, how fast I am but making sure I’m still strong on the ball and can still do those turns…That’s the style I play and I need to be really good at it.”
Newcastle may have only made the top four once in her career, but Andrews is a player approaching the peak of her powers and determined to change that.
“I want to make finals and go as far as we can because I know we’re capable of it. We just need to put it all together.”