Porter hopes to lead Australian revolution

After six years stationed in the north of England, Australian Joel Porter has returned to play out his career in the Hyundai A-League with a clear set of goals in his mind.

After six years stationed in the north of England, Australian Joel Porter has returned to play out his career in the Hyundai A-League with a clear set of goals in his mind.

There are personal ambitions like scoring and creating goals, thoughts of a return to the international stage, and success for Gold Coast United, but the bigger picture for the former Hartlepool hitman revolves around the progression of football in Australia.

At 30 years-of-age and with Australian football on the rise, the scheming striker seized an opportunity to give back to the game which has given him the life so many youngsters crave.

Porter, like many others, believes that after the Qantas Socceroos' stunning run at World Cup 2006 the game in Australia has a chance to develop like never before.

Along with fellow returning expats Jason Culina, Mile Sterjovski, and Jess Vanstratten, the former international hopes to lead an Australian football revolution which will place the game alongside the rival codes where it belongs.

"There is an understanding amongst the boys that have come home that we want the A-League to work, we know what you go through to get where we have been and we want to make it easier for the younger lads," Porter said.

"The trend we are trying to get out there is that players in Australia have every possible chance to play for their country, they shouldn't have to go overseas to get that chance."

"I don't want young Australians to think they have to go overseas to earn a living out of the game."

In the past a typical scenario saw much of Australia's young talent chase their dreams in Europe where there was more money and a perception that unless you were competing in the world's toughest leagues you were a long-shot to earn national selection.

This scenario caused the player-drain which directly affected the quality of the national competition and as the standard dropped, more home-grown talent departed in a destructive cycle that threatened to derail the game.

"That was the main reason I went overseas, the NSL was sort of going downhill and the selectors were using players based in Europe for the national team."

The integrity of the competition was at stake with fans inclined to follow European leagues in order to satisfy their craving for big names and superior skill. Less engaged fans led to less revenue which gave clubs little hope of making big-name signings, and so the cycle continued.

It would take selfless people to buck the trend and restore the game in Australia; people who were content to take a pay-cut and play in front of inferior crowds; people who would seemingly fall away from the eyes of national selectors.

And after six seasons plying his trade in the revered English division one competition - where he was twice voted the fans player of the year - Porter insists that the time is right for him to service the game in Australia while maintaining his desire of reinstatement to the national team.

"The standard of the A-League can only get better with players returning from overseas, the guys bring back their skills and that rubs off on everyone."

"If we can do that then our young players won't have to go overseas to play at a higher level."

"National selection should be the aim of all the Australians in the A-League, there are a couple of spots up for grabs and if you are playing well you never know - you might get a call-up."

"Every time you see the boys in the paper you wish you were there and the way the A-League is going now it wont be a surprise to see a few of the boys in there."

Porter's five goals in four international matches present a good case for a recall, but even if he doesn't get the call up you get the feeling he will be just as proud of any young Australian-based player who does.