97 Hyundai A-League appearances, four Hyundai A-League clubs and a hit-out against his favourite English Premier League club – 26-year-old Jack Clisby has achieved a lot in his relatively young career.
He’s accumulated a lengthy highlights reel for the Yellow and Navy in just one pre-season, so with an exciting Hyundai A-League season ahead, the defender talked to the Central Coast Mariners official website about the highs and lows of pursuing his dream job: a footballing career that came very close to not happening at all.
Clisby has travelled across the country to ply his trade. He’s made appearances for Perth Glory, Melbourne City, and the Western Sydney Wanderers, but with his family still living on the other side of the country, he’ll always be a Perth boy at heart.
“My Mum and my Dad and my brother all still live over there, so I still call it home, in a way, because I’ve moved around quite a bit, and Perth will always have my family and my friends there,” Clisby said.
“Mum and Dad moved over 30 or so years ago to Perth from Scotland, so cousins, relatives, all that, they all live over there, so it’s nice when they come out and visit. I think the last time I visited was probably too long ago, it was maybe when I was 18 or 19, when I was playing football over there, so I should probably go back again sometime soon.”
During that most recent visit in late 2010, Clisby travelled from Perth, Australia to Perth, Scotland. There, he played youth football for St Johnstone with the hopes of working his way into the Scottish Premiership.
“I was there for a year,” he said. “I was part of the youth set up for St Johnstone. I didn’t really get the chance to break through into the first team, so I decided to come back to Australia.”
His Scottish venture had a disheartening outcome, and it was a setback that nearly had Clisby hanging up his boots for good.
“At that point, I thought I might not have been able to make it as a professional,” he admitted.
“I was actually thinking about giving up football. But my dad, who loves football, and has always driven me to keep going, said ‘Look, just give it one more year, play in the WA NPL for Inglewood United.’”
It was a wise piece of advice to follow, and the resilience Clisby showed put him back on track for a bright future in football.
“I ended up getting player of the season for the whole league as a centre back, and that put me on the books for Perth Glory,” he said.
“It was not long after that they approached me and I started training with their first team, and the next week I signed a contract and I was playing my first professional game.
“My debut, which was on Australia Day back in 2013, that was a fantastic experience and a proud moment for my family,” Clisby said.
Since his debut, Clisby’s career has stayed on an upward trajectory, with plenty of great moments for him to celebrate – including a rattled crossbar against his favourite Premier League side.
“The biggest highlight of my career would have to be playing against the club I supported while I was growing up, playing against Arsenal in the last pre-season with the Wanderers, that was a pretty special moment,” he said.
“I hit the crossbar there, but I should have scored against them, and I would have happily retired after that I think! That was definitely a career highlight.”
“I also got to play against Manchester City, which was an amazing experience with Melbourne City,” he said.
Just last season, Clisby was able to celebrate his first ever Hyundai A-League goal in a match for the Western Sydney Wanderers against Adelaide United.
“My first goal was also a pretty good moment. It took me 90 games to get my first goal, so I think my celebration was probably a little over the top for what it was, but I just couldn’t contain it!"