Fire lures English player to side
NEW Fire signing Stephen Hindmarch spent two seasons going nowhere in no-name English sides.
He had just graduated from boyhood to manhood and was already on the sporting scrap heap after he was left floundering in the football wilderness when his League One club, Carlisle United, bluntly told him he was not made of the right stuff.
The then 18-year-old had been with the club since he was 13.
However, when footballers graduate from youth teams in England the big question is asked: do they have what it takes to become professional footballers - and quickly?
There is no place for sentiment in such decisions. Long-held dreams are dashed in a crushing instant.
"That was the goal - to be a (professional) footballer, and to be kind of told you're not good enough ... at the time it hurt," Hindmarch, 22, said yesterday.
"But you've got to pick yourself up and get on with it."
That is exactly what he did, but it was not until he pictured his rebirth in a faraway land that the wounds of rejection started to heal.
On the other side of the world he could be mentally emancipated from his past. He could reinvent himself.
So a year ago, Hindmarch and his long-standing girlfriend, Beth Williams, headed for New Zealand.
The defensive midfielder first played with Western Suburbs in Wellington, then signed with Napier-based national league side Hawkes Bay United.
One of his United teammates was Alex Barlow, a Sunshine Coast product who signed with the Fire this season.
It was Barlow who recommended Hindmarch to the Fire, and a few weeks ago Coast coach Richard Hudson contacted the Englishman.
He was going to sign with Brisbane Wolves in the Brisbane Premier League, but the Fire's offer was "a bit too good".
Hindmarch, who grew up in the small town of Keswick in England's north west and appeared in an FA Cup match for fourth-division side Shrewsbury Town, played his first Fire game in last Thursday's friendly win over Caloundra.
He is in line to make his QSL debut in Saturday's away match against Far North Queensland.
Hindmarch has been some what surprised by the Fire's professionalism and the attention the team garners.
"Hopefully, I can do well at the Fire and maybe push on," he said.
"(But) I just want to concentrate on working hard at the Fire for the moment."
Hudson saluted the player's defensive qualities after the Caloundra encounter, as did Fire captain Tyson Holmes.
Holmes said his new teammate provided an excellent contrast to the Fire's attacking midfielders - himself, D.J. Firth and David Muta.
"He's definitely going to be a big benefit for us in the midfield," the skipper said.
"He'll give us a bit more defensive structure in there."
Hindmarch has joined an in-form side.
The Fire are leading the competition after six rounds, have notched up four straight wins and are on course to win their third consecutive premiership-championship double.
Hindmarch will return to Hawkes Bay for another stint at the end of the QSL season.