Macallister savouring home delights

Five years ago Dylan Macallister was living with his parents and pouring beers at night while playing football for a team whose home ground was a rugby park.

Five years ago Dylan Macallister was living with his parents and pouring beers at night while playing football for a team whose home ground was a rugby park.

The team barbecue doubled as the day's main meal for most of the players, who spent their spare hours refreshing their online bank account in the forlorn hope they may actually have been paid for the week.

Such was the life of a 'professional' footballer with Northern Spirit as the old National Soccer League limped towards its inevitable death.

Macallister got out just before the obituaries, fleeing to Norway and a completely new life.

Perhaps because of his looks - tall, blond, athletic - but more so his football prowess, Macallister and Norway were a perfect fit.

Macallister started off at SK Brann in the Norwegian Eliteserien (Premier League), scoring 10 goals in 38 matches.

He was sold to Oslo-based FC Lyn in 2006 and enjoyed reasonable success in two separate stays, sandwiched between a loan spell at first division Sparta Sarpsborg.

"Just to be playing football as a professional in a country where football is the No.1 sport was unbelievable," Macallister said.

"I was playing against some fantastic players and some big teams and living the dream of a professional footballer."

"I played in the UEFA Cup, won the league with Brann and left with some great memories."

"It was certainly a bit different from my Northern Spirit experience."

Long gone but not lamented, the mention of Spirit now elicits a smile from Macallister.

"We weren't getting paid. I was living at home with mum and dad and working nights in a pub," he recalled.

"That's just what you had to do to make ends meet."

There was one positive to come from the Northern Spirit debacle and his name was Lawrie McKinna.

He was the coach, cook, confidant and mobile ATM for the young kids at the club who were struggling to make ends meet.

Macallister stayed tight with him while in Norway and slowly the wheels were put in motion for a return to Australia.

"Last year was the worst year in Norway. I thought I wasn't treated that well and needed a change," he explained.

"I was looking to get out of Norway and I'd be speaking to Lawrie on and off for about six months so it was always in the back of my mind to return."

"I had a bit of interest from Norway and elsewhere in Europe but I just could feel it (the Hyundai A-League) taking off back here and I wanted to be part of it."

So at 26 and with a 20-month-old son (Mathias) and wife-to-be (Maria) - they are to marry on January 3 - Macallister found himself as a Central Coast Mariner almost five years after departing Australia for Norway.

"It was a chance to come back to where I was from and to bring my son back here. My fiance was very keen on the idea so here we are," he explained.

"I'm getting consistent games and enjoying myself … since I've started enjoying myself again my football is coming along."

"I'm really happy with the way things are going personally and team-wise."

Macallister's form with the Mariners has been good enough for him to be mentioned as a candidate for a Socceroos call-up.

The whisper became a roar after he scored a goal and tormented the Sydney FC defence in front of national coach Pim Verbeek in last week's 2-1 win at Bluetongue Stadium.

The powerful marksman represented Australia at under-17, under-20 and under-23 levels and would love to add a senior cap to his collection.

"When people start throwing your name around for the Socceroos it's a massive compliment," he said.

"Players getting picked for the national team from the A-League was something that was unheard of five years ago."

"Guys are getting a chance here now."

"There is nothing bigger than playing for your country."

"I can't believe how well things are turning out."