TRARALGON Olympians have produced an impressive start to the 2024 Latrobe Valley Soccer League season, catching the eye of all involved.

For a team that has struggled in recent times, the club currently sits in fifth place on 13 points in the senior men’s competition, just three points from Fortuna, Moe and Falcons at the top of the table.

After seven games, Olympians currently hold a record of four wins, one draw and two losses.

To put that into perspective, last season, Olympians only conjured 12 points from four wins, suffering 14 losses from their remaining fixtures, finishing the season in eighth out of 10 clubs.

They had last year’s record beat after six LVSL matches this year.

Olympians new senior coach for the 2024 season, Nathan Martin, has been impressed with what the side has done so far.

In just his first season of senior coaching, he too should be impressed with their start.

After Morwell Pegasus folded their senior side, Martin jumped at the opportunity to bring some of their remaining players to the club.

“The reason we are doing so well is obviously we picked up quite a few players from Pegs (Morwell Pegasus). So with Pegs folding, we obviously started chasing players that had played at the club before,” he said.

Martin has a history with Olympians which dates back into the last century, playing with the club in the late 1980s and early 1990s, until he moved to North Queensland in 2004.

For one season of that stint, he played for Traralgon City before swiftly moving back to Olympians.

Olympians won their last flag in 2019, but have endured some tough times either side of this.

“Olympians has always been I suppose good for a couple of years and then, all the players get poached … and then you get another group, another coach will come through and bring players back,” Martin said.

“It’s sort of a merry-go-round, it’s never been like a Fortuna that’s been strong for a number of years and had a good culture at the club, and that’s what we’re trying to change this year … with a whole new committee and the way we’re doing things.”

Martin admits he is trying to break the mould of success and failure, by building a successful culture at the club to prevent the team from falling in years to come.

In 2023, Olympians finished third bottom on the ladder, then Martin was appointed.

“This year we’ve got a new president (Spiro Marcou) at the club, and a new committee, and most of the committee members are ex-players or had something to do with the club which is good,” Martin mentioned.

Olympians have had an impressive start to the 2024 season, as previously mentioned, and Martin has begun to chip away bringing positive changes.

“The squad we had last year wasn’t that bad, they were just a lot of young kids and I suppose they didn’t gel well with the coach last year – who is a very good coach,” he said.

“This year, they seem more keen, we’ve picked up a few players and the attitude has just changed … we had a good preseason too, it’s just been a good start.”

Before the weekend just passed, Olympians racked up their third and fourth wins in a row, knocking off two powerhouses of the LVSL.

Firstly, in Round 5, Olympians hosted and defeated Fortuna 1-nil, before winning their fourth straight game by beating Moe United 2-1.

“Going into those games … the kids just gelled together (in the 5-2 win over Newborough/Yallourn),” Martin said, describing what kickstarted the run.

“We knew going into Fortuna that if we could keep them out, we’d have a good chance of actually winning. The squad we’ve got, just because of the way they’ve gelled and they’re playing the way I want them to play makes it easier.

“At the end of the day I just want to play simple football.”

Before the start of Round 7 at the weekend, five teams all sat on 13 points at the top of the table: Fortuna, Monash, Falcons, Moe and Olympians.

“I don’t think I’ve seen that in my whole entire history of soccer, that in the first five rounds, you have the first five clubs all on the same points, I’ve never seen it at all. So, that’s good for the league,” Martin said.

Within a long season still ahead, Martin is positive that his side could have an impact on the league in the coming weeks, despite missing the chance to stay atop of the league, going down to Falcons in a 3-2 thriller the weekend just gone.

Martin has added a social aspect to Olympians, getting the senior side to interact with other teams at the club like the reserves and the women’s.

Senior players are now making an effort to socialise on Thursday night after dinner, which appears to be helping with team morale, and the players are becoming more known to one another.