June 13, 2024

Olyroo Lachlan Brook is Adelaide through and through – but Western Sydney’s off-season advances were too good to ignore, writes Matt Comito.

Lachlan Brook would cop flak from his teammates each time he pulled out his phone to stream an Adelaide United fixture live.

“I watched every game,” he told KEEPUP. “They were on usually around 8.30-10.30 in the morning (in England). So even if I’m sitting in the change rooms, I’ve always got my phone on me watching the games.”

Be it his teammates at Brentford B, or at League Two club Crewe Alexandra, the banter he’d hear would always be the same (‘You’re not there anymore!’).

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As would be his response:

“Even if I (had) never played there, it’s the club I grew up watching.”

Brook describes himself as “the A-League’s biggest advocate.” He’s an Adelaide United youth product who has treaded the path so many young players follow, chasing his footballing dream abroad after finding his feet in the A-League Men.

For the best part of three years in England, Brook spent his time advocating for the competition that launched his career. Now, he’s back where it all began, joining Western Sydney Wanderers on a two-season contract.

“Anyone that I speak to in England or anywhere, I think they’ve got a bit of an arrogance about the league,” Brook said. “They don’t think it’s a very high level, and it’s a little bit of a shame.

“Look at the World Cup and how that went: most of the (Socceroos) that stood out were players that either came from the A-League, or are playing there still.

“I think the World Cup did a really good job of, not putting us on the map, but just awakening everyone’s idea of the A-League.

“I’ve played in it, I’ve watched it, and it’s criminally underrated.

 

“Just the way it’s portrayed in other (countries) is crazy. I think if A-League teams are in other leagues, especially in England, I think they’d be high (in) League One or even bottom of the Championship.

“The role it’s played for me is massive.”

It may come as a surprise to see Brook land in Western Sydney on his return Down Under. This is a player who says he’s never been happier playing football than when he returned to Adelaide United on loan in 2022. A player who says that “if it was up to me, I’d play there for the rest of my life.”

But following a turbulent stint at Brentford, which included loans to the Reds and then to Crewe in England’s League Two, it was Western Sydney’s ability to map out his role in their squad for the 2023-24 season that sealed his decision to sign for Marko Rudan’s side.

“I need consistent game time under a great coach,” Brook said when signing for the Wanderers. “So that’s what I’m looking to do at the red & black.”

Brook is an Olyroo who has represented Australia at Under-17, 20 and 23 level. He spoke to KEEPUP while in France with the Olyroos ahead of the Maurice Revello Tournament; Brook was a late withdrawal from the tournament due to a hamstring injury.

 

His fellow Olyroos squad members are some of the most exciting names in an emerging crop of Australian talent; the likes of Nectar Triantis, Keegan Jelacic and Garang Kuol all linked up with the Australia U23 squad in France after sealing moves to European clubs off the back of stellar form in the A-League Men.

“I think the best part about the A-League is how we can bring those young players through,” Brook said. “I think that’s been the focus the last four or five years. You’ve seen how many young players are playing and then moving overseas.”

Brook says it’s “the perfect pathway” for young players to follow. He took that path himself in 2020, signing for Brentford from Adelaide as a 19-year-old.

Brook played solely for the club’s ‘B’ team until a loan back to the Reds, then joined Crewe in League Two for the 2022-23 campaign. It was a loan move he describes as a learning curve – and once he reached its conclusion, he knew he needed a permanent change for the upcoming season.

“With Crewe being a club that typically is known to be a club that plays a good style of football, I thought it would be a good fit,” he said.

“It was definitely a learning curve for me, playing in League Two. As I’m sure everyone knows, it’s quite physical. Even with the 46-game season on top of three separate cup competitions, it’s very full-on. I learnt a lot from that.

“If you look at the season from an outside point of view, it might look like a negative step. But I just think every year and every time you play football you’re learning.

“There’s never a wrong move. Maybe on paper, it didn’t look like the greatest move, but the things I learned in that time, and the things I’m going to learn from that pushing forward (that) are going to help me is massive.”

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