Having forged his career outside of his home state, Jamie Maclaren always watched with envy whenever there was a Melbourne Derby played in the Hyundai A-League.
But after joining Melbourne City last month, the 25-year-old striker will finally get to play in the blockbuster fixture when his side takes on champions Melbourne Victory at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.
While only new to the club, it’s clear to see this is a clash that means more to the Caltex Socceroos frontman.
Born and raised in the suburb of Sunbury – just over 40kms north-west of the Melbourne CBD – Maclaren knows all about local pride and would love nothing more than to give City fans bragging rights.
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Even after playing for Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar in the Hyundai A-League, as well as stints with German side Darmstadt98 and Hibernian in Scotland, Maclaren never forgets where it all began.
“It’s a place that’s in my heart. Sunbury United is a club that was the beginning of me becoming a professional footballer and having that hunger to kick on,” Maclaren told Melbourne City’s official website.
“It’s great that I can come out here and see the kids and see their determination because that was me as a young kid.
“There’s a lot of quality coming out of this sort of region and people don’t take into consideration that Sunbury is only growing and there’s going to be more players that come out.
“If I can show my face more it will be great for the community.”
Maclaren has certainly be good for City since his arrival, scoring in both of his first two outings for the club, a 1-1 draw against Adelaide United and a 3-1 defeat to the Newcastle Jets.
But while he'd be delighted with his goal return so far, a win is what the former Glory and Roar attacker really wants.
Ahead of Saturday's clash, Maclaren was back in Sunbury on Tuesday – where his parents still live – to meet players from the local football club and talk about City’s clash with Victory on Saturday night.
And he believes his return to his boyhood club might just see a few more fans get behind City from now on.
“I think there’s more City fans (here) than Victory fans,” Maclaren said.
“It’s great that people are going to get behind us and me showing my face maybe will bring a few more fans through the door and it will only be great for the derby and I can’t wait.”
While City is in fifth position on the Hyundai A-League ladder – three places and nine points behind Victory – they have had the better of the Derby clashes this season.
Warren Joyce’s men came from behind to win the Round 1 clash 2-1 at Marvel Stadium, while the last meeting just before Christmas ended 1-1.
The highly-anticipated clash can be seen LIVE and FREE on 10 Bold or tenplay, with kick off at 7:50pm (AEDT).