Chris McCabe has played 11 consecutive games in a breakout year for the Northern Blues. (PHOTO CREDIT: Tim Murdoch)
Heading into year four as a Northern Blue, Chris McCabe was desperate to make an impression.
As someone who plied his football trade playing across the backline, McCabe spent the vast majority of his Northern career in the Development League.
Between 2015 and 2017, McCabe had pulled the Northern Blues jumper on 37 times — just one of those was a senior appearance.
McCabe spoke of his desires back in February about 2018 hopefully being his breakout season.
“I’m really hungry to make a stand this year, and show what I can do with the opportunity of senior footy,” McCabe said.
“With the hard yards put in this off-season and the guidance from the coaches, I’m hoping it will pay off.”
— Northern Blues FC (@NBluesFC) February 13, 2018
McCabe can be treated as one of the success stories of the Northern Blues this year, as he made his return to the senior outfit in Round 2 — it marked the end of a 967-day wait, adter his debut came in Round 19, 2015.
It’s safe to say McCabe didn’t have to wait anywhere close to another 967 days for his next one. He’s played 11 consecutive games since his return to the senior line-up.
A decisive factor has been McCabe’s willingness and ability in a different role, spending the entirety of the season as a small forward.
Another frontier was ticked off for the former Northern Knight on Sunday, when he kicked multiple goals for the first time against Williamstown — they both came in the space of a minute.
Northern Blues senior coach Josh Fraser said McCabe’s step forward in 2018 was testament to his drive, character and ability.
The in-form Sam Fisher is still hopeful of making an impact at the elite level.
— Northern Blues FC (@NBluesFC) July 17, 2018
“I’ve been really proud of Chris’ development, he’s been here for four years and this is the first where he’s played regular senior footy,” Fraser said.
“He does some things in games which are elite, I really mean that — in terms of his forward craft and his ability to give us some run.”
With his disposal a strong point and playing in this new role for less than a year, there’s still plenty of scope for improvement at just 21 years of age.
As a member of the club’s emerging leadership group in 2018, McCabe will continue to have questions asked of him according to the coach.
“The challenge I’d put to him now is ‘how vocal are you’, as a clubman – he’s ticking the box now of playing each week,” Fraser said.
“As someone that’s here in his fourth year now, the next challenge for him to evolve as a leader is being vocal and driving standards.
“We’re thrilled with what he’s been able to produce this year, we want to make sure he finished the year off really strongly.”