The Man, The Myth, The King

Thumbnail

Saturday night will mark the end of an era for the Red & Black.

Saturday night will mark the end of an era for the Red & Black. 

There has never been quite as much of a decorated player for the Red & Black as Mark Bridge. 

Donned “The King” by Wanderers members and fans, Bridge has captured the hearts and minds of what it means to be one of the Red & Black and represent the Western Sydney region.

In a career that has seen him capture success at both Sydney FC and the Newcastle Jets before signing for the Wanderers in their inaugural season, Bridge has encapsulated the importance of hard work and determination.

With 250 Hyundai A-League matches to his name, it’s been a roller coaster of a ride for Bridge who has now etched his name not only in Wanderers but also Hyundai A-League history.

Born in Blacktown and raised in St Clair, Bridge played his junior football with Parramatta Eagles before starting his professional career with Parramatta Power in the National Soccer League.

Joining the Newcastle Jets in the inaugural Hyundai A-League season the attacker spent three seasons in the Hunter, winning the club’s Player of the Season award in 2006/07 before scoring the winner in the Grand Final the next year. 

Bridge Jets

After his success at Newcastle, Bridge moved to Sydney FC where he won the Premiership and Championship in 2009/10, once again scoring in the Grand Final. Bridge’s form with Sydney was rewarded when he made his Socceroos debut against Singapore on 22 March 2008. He also went on loan briefly to Chinese Super League club Tianjin Teda to help with their 2009 AFC Champions League campaign.

Following the creation of the Wanderers, the local boy decided to return home and was announced as a Wanderers Foundation Player on 30 June 2012. Making his debut in the Wanderers first ever game, Bridge scored the club’s first ever goal against Brisbane Roar in Round Four of the 2012/13 season on his way to winning the Wanderers Player of the Year and Golden Boot awards.

The next two seasons saw Bridge add to his impressive trophy cabinet with another Grand Final appearance in the 2013/14 Hyundai A-League before winning the AFC Champions League in 2014.

Champions

Bridge’s individual form took an even bigger boost in the 2015/16 season, having overcome injury in the early rounds, returning to find his goal scoring boots, at one stage scoring five goals in a four-game stretch as he scored nine goals and claimed eight assists in an incredible season that saw him win his second Wanderers Medal for Player of the Year.

Hearts were broken in May 2016 when it was announced that King Bridge would depart the club to join Thai outfit Chiangrai United.

But over a year later, Bridge would return to where it all started, signing a two-year contract to finish his Hyundai A-League career off at the Red & Black.

Bridge’s impact on the Wanderers identity and the team’s culture is sure to never be replicated.

A leader on and off the park, an ambassador to his local community, a tenacious worker and a role model for the next generation – Bridge will never be remembered for a single contribution to Wanderers history but for many moments that have defined the path the Wanderers have taken over the last seven seasons.

Bridge

It hasn’t been the final season Bridge had certainly hoped for, falling to a calf injury four times in a row, questioning his own ability to comeback.

But his determination and desire to fight back, in true Bridge form, will no doubt see him take to the field in his final Hyundai A-League clash on Saturday night against Melbourne Victory.

Will we ever see a player to grace the Red & Black like Bridge? We’re not sure, but one thing is for certain, someone like the “King” is not replaceable.

Next season, the crown will be ready for the taking and we’re confident that the next heir to the throne will not only do Bridge but the Red & Black proud in years to come.

Who knows, it may even be Bridge’s next generation…