Captain's Column: Sliding Door Moments

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Hello again guys, hopefully you are looking forward to some minor relaxing of the restriction this weekend but been sure to stay self where you can.

We are hopeful it won’t be too much longer before we hear some good news about the remainder of the Hyundai A-League season and plans to re-start, so we can look to retain our title in the proper manner.

While we wait, I’ve been looking back at a few memories from my career and this week I thought I’d go right back to the start and a couple of sliding door moments when things could well have been a lot different for me.

 

Glasgow Rangers Trial – 2002

I was about 18 years old when I was asked to go over to Glasgow Rangers for a two week ‘trial’.   The Scottish Giants had an affiliation with Northern Spirit who I was playing for in the NSL and myself and a couple of other guys (Sean Walsh, Steve Baveas) went over to experience football in Europe and see what it was all about.

Rangers had just opened up a new state of the art training facility at Murray Park, which was fantastic.  It had lots of indoor and outdoor pitches, a gym, a cafeteria and a pool.  It was really eye opening and something completely different to what I’d experienced here in Australia.

The two weeks were really for us just to see what life was like at a successful club and to see what it takes to make it over there.   We trained with the reserve team who had the likes of Bob Malcolm (ex-Brisbane Roar), Charlie Adam (ex-Liverpool / Stoke) and Alan Hutton (ex-Sunderland / Tottenham / Aston Villa) who were part of the squad.  They were guys who went onto play with the first team for Rangers and some who moved onto successful careers in England, so it was a good learning experience.

Wigan Athletic - 2004

A couple of years later when I was 20, I got a call in the off-season from an agent who said there was a trial available at Wigan Athletic who were about to be promoted to the Premier League so I went over.

I spent a couple of weeks with the first team but it really wasn’t the right time for me to go over.  I wasn’t fit enough as we weren’t in season here and it took me the whole of the first week to get up to scratch and get my fitness back.

I remember they had a big guy up front called Jason Roberts, as well as Jimmy Bullard playing for them.  Former Sydney FC goalkeeper coach John Filan was between the sticks which helped as he made me feel very welcome, but unfortunately the trial didn’t go well enough.

Derby County – 2004

After Wigan, I ended up going down to Derby and spent another two or three weeks at that club.  Having got up to speed with my fitness at Wigan, things went much better at Derby and I ended up playing a couple of reserve games for them.

They were semi-interested at the end of the trial but there were issues surrounding visas and as I didn’t have a European passport and none of my family were eligible, it made things very hard. 

However, the club really looked after me and I look back fondly on my time there.

It all meant I ended up coming back for the first season of the Hyundai A-League and playing for the Central Coast Mariners when we reached the 2006 Grand Final.

And we all know what happened that day!!