Travis Major marked his return to the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition with a hat-trick on the weekend, making a big statement of his intentions after rejoining Blacktown City for the remainder of the 2022 season.
Having spent some time with RoundGlass Punjab in the I-League, Major had an interesting experience in India with heavy restrictions due to Covid, but was excited to return to Blacktown.
“I’ve done a few times before so I’m used to coming back and having a bit of an offseason and then getting back into it,” Major said of returning to the NPL NSW Men’s competition.
“I’ve been back for about five weeks now and had a two-week break in Bali as well, just to have some freedom because I was in a quarantine bubble the whole time I was in India for eight months so I didn’t really have any freedom, so it was nice.
“I didn’t really get to experience India as a whole because for the eight months, we were in a hotel quarantine bubble the whole time so the only way we could leave the hotel was for training or a game.
“I didn’t really get to experience any of the culture, but the football was definitely different.
“It was so hot and humid when we played that the tempo was a lot slower so that took some time to get used to but it was a good experience all in all.”
When it was time to return to Australia, there was no doubt that he would play for Blacktown City, with a long history and strong connection to the club.
“The only team I’d play for the NPL is Blacktown – everyone probably knows that by now,” Major said.
“I’ve got such a close relationship with the club and Critto [Mark Crittenden] being my stepdad, it’s a pretty seamless thing to go straight into, he’d probably kill me if I went elsewhere.
“It’s always Blacktown for me in the NPL and they’ve always got that relationship with me that they say if anything comes up at a higher level, you can go the next day.
“They’ve never held me back and they’ve done that three or four times now.
“It’s always good to have such a close relationship with them where they do what’s best for me and obviously I’m always doing my best when I’m playing for them.”
Speaking of the support Blacktown City has shown him, Major said the club is supportive of everyone when they have an opportunity to play the next level of football.
“Critto is the first one to say, ‘you’ve got to go for it, if this is what you want to do go for it and there’s always a spot back here for you’, because no one ever really leaves on bad terms.
“If anyone ever comes back, the door’s always open for them and it’s always been like that for me as well.”
The culture at Blacktown is something the players and staff often speak of, with a strong team mentality the cornerstone of their success over the years, and Major said it hasn’t changed since he first joined the team.
“I came in 2010, that was my first year and there were senior boys at that time who had that culture down pat, and then by the time myself and Zach Cairncross and Matt Lewis were 23 to 24, they had taken off and then we kept that culture going, and then any of the new boys that have come in have just kept it up,” he said.
“Lynchy [Grant Lynch], Daniel Collins, Lewy [Matt Lewis] and Tristan [Prendergast] are still there and they carry on that culture and anyone that comes in gets introduced to it and it’s sink or swim.
“If you don’t buy into it, then you’re not part of it and you’re welcome to leave the club at any time.”
Joining the team with only six regular season games to go is an exciting prospect for the striker, and an opportunity he has relished.
“It’s exciting to come in because obviously last year we were six or seven points ahead with a few games left, so we had that wrapped up as far as I’m concerned,” he explained.
“This year is completely different, where instead of being the hunted, we’re hunting down the top couple of teams because we’re a couple points off, so it was enticing to come back.
“I think the pressure is on everyone else in front of us, because we’re chasing them down and we’re pretty confident we can do that.
“At the end of the day, we’ve still got to get the points on the board and see how we go in finals.”
Having spent a lot of time with Blacktown in the NPL NSW Men’s league, Major couldn’t recall another time where the competition was so tightly-contested at this point in the season, with 2014 the only season that came close.
“The only one that comes to mind was 2014 I think, when Blacktown Spartans, ourselves and Bonnyrigg were all fighting for the top three and it came down to the last day where Blacktown Spartans just needed a draw to win and I think we beat them 7-0 and they lost it on the final day to Bonnyrigg,” he recalled.
“That’s the only one I can really think of, in the last few years it’s been the first position that’s run off and won it by five or six points – I’ve never seen it this close with six teams in the race.
Having made his return to the league with a very successful performance, Major said it was a bit of luck that helped him with his hat trick.
“It was a bit of luck to be honest, obviously getting a penalty after 20 seconds, it sort of fell in my lap,” he explained.
“We got another penalty, which again fell in my lap and then got one straight after half time, so it was good to get some goals straight away and just shake off the cobwebs, because I think it’s been six weeks since I’ve played a game.
“It was nice to get out there injury free, get some goals, win the game and we just to carry on the next week now.”
With five games remaining and the Premiership in reach, Major is determined to succeed in the remainder of the season and hopefully return to playing football overseas afterwards.
“Personally, I just want to come back, stay injury free, do as well as I can, score goals and get as far as we can into the finals and win it all and if anything comes up from that, then we’ll take it from there,” he said.
“I definitely want to go back to Asia, I’m just not sure what country that will be, it just depends on what opportunity presents itself.
“Five of the last six years I’ve been over there and I’ve been happy with how it went so I definitely want to go back over there and test myself again.
“I’m lucky I’ve got a supportive partner who is happy to travel with me, which makes it a lot easier.
“If something comes up that’s definitely something we both want to pursue, but it has to come up first.”
-By Madeline Riley