End of an era - Royce joins ACE

Royce Brownlie celebrating after scoring against FNQ Heat this season. Picture Andrew Shaw


It was a tough decision, says Jets captain

 

ROYCE Brownlie, the leading goalscorer in the history of the PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland, has left Moreton Bay United.


Brownlie hit 72 goals in four seasons with Jets, was our foundation captain and skippered the side to the league and grand final double in 2015.

 

But next season he will be wearing the red and black of Albany Creek Excelsior (ACE)


In a major coup for ACE, the former Queensland (now Brisbane) Roar striker has decided now is the time to return to the BPL.


“It's come to a time where I'm not getting any younger and it’s time to put back in to ACE where we have kids coming through,” said Brownlie, 36, who won the NPL Queensland Golden Boot in 2014 with 34 goals.


“Players like Chomba (Arop) and a few of the other boys. Hopefully I can pass on some tactics and information and slowly start making the transition to the other side (coaching).


“I’ll definitely keep playing, but the main part of the decision to step down this year was work commitments up north and being able to provide the same time to train the kids. This way I can still play and give 100 per cent.



Royce Brownlie getting in a cross against the Sunshine Coast last season. Picture Patrick Kearney


“It was a tough decision, knowing when to make the move, to make the right decision, but I consulted my family about what should I do and they said they wanted me here. They made it easy for me.”


That was great news for ACE coach Pouria Nabi. “Royce is a really good signing for ACE,” he said.


“I had a couple of meetings with Royce before he decided to come to ACE. Mainly we talked about football, not just ACE, and found we had a lot in common about the game and he was convinced to come to ACE.


“The great thing about Royce joining ACE is we have two really good young strikers, Riley Campbell and Chomba and both need a player like Royce to mentor them, pass on what he has learned over the last 15-16 years.


“If he can do that these boys can improve and make the next step up in their football careers, that’s the NPL.”


It's a role Brownlie filled at Moreton Bay United, as technical director Adam Piddick explained: "Over the last two seasons Royce brought a lot of experience to the club and to the team," he said.

 

"He played a significant role within the playing group, with the way he led the side on the field and with the way he spoke to individuals behind the scenes."


But, Brownlie also has ambitions for his new team. “ACE wants to grow and win a championship and hopefully I can help deliver that,” he said.


“It’s a big thing. Like with Moreton Bay. In four years they won a premiership, a grand final, I won a golden boot. It’s now on the other side of the fence.


Royce taking on the Gold Coast defence at Wolter Park last season. Picture Chris Simpson


“The BPL is a fast-paced game. More of a battlers’ game. To be honest it may help me a bit. It’s not about being lightning quick. It’s about football, battling, getting stuck in, doing your job and hopefully I can do that next year and provide some help for ACE.”


That will come at both ends of the field, according to Nabi. “Based on how we play, I expect our defenders and midfield to score goals, not just put the pressure on Royce to score,” he said.


“I expect everyone to score and I expect Royce to defend as well. At the end of the day it is a collective team effort.


“In the last two years we were lacking experience and big leader on the park on match day. Signing Royce means we do not have to be too concerned about who is our leader on match days.


“Royce can be a great leader not just for the team, but for the club as a whole. He can be a great ambassador for the club to improve football from the juniors right through to the seniors.”