Few players can boast the glittering Hyundai A-League career that Mark Bridge has enjoyed. Yet the Wanderers’ greatest ever goal-scorer is showing no signs of letting up.
There’s no doubt about it – Mark Bridge is a history maker.
But he’s more than just that: the Blacktown-born forward is a true Wanderers icon and a name that will remain synonymous with the club forever.
He’s the man who netted the first ever Wanderers goal against Brisbane and then scored the club’s first goal at Wanderland in their first home victory.
Bridge netted the first ever Wanderers hat-trick against Adelaide and finished as Golden Boot winner and Player of the Season in the club’s inaugural season.
The Red & Black’s leading goal scorer and second-highest capped player is also the Hyundai A-League’s fourth highest goal scorer of all time and has made the eighth most appearances in the competition’s history.
He was one of the first players to cross the divide between Sydney FC and Western Sydney, a duel Hyundai A-League winner with Newcastle and Sydney, the first to score in two grand finals and an AFC Champions League winner with the Wanderers.
In what will be his eleventh season, a rejuvenated Mark Bridge is out to etch a little more history onto both his sparkling Australian football CV and Western Sydney’s rich tapestry.
Although the 30-year-old has entered what many consider the twilight years of a footballer’s career, the Wanderers talisman has shown no signs of denouement.
In fact it’s been quite the contrary with Bridge starting the 2015/2016 campaign in near-career best form: fighting off a recurring groin problem that saw him miss the opening two games of the season.
It’s been just reward for a player who has been hit by a series of niggling injuries over the course of the past few seasons. Some might call such wear and tear a sign of a dwindling decline but for Bridge it’s an indication that the forward’s best years with the Wanderers are still firmly ahead of him.
With five goals and two assists in just 471 minutes of action, no other Wanderers player has made a more efficient contribution to Western Sydney’s early title charge.
And in typical Bridge fashion, his impact this season has upheld his reputation as one of the league’s most versatile attacking players in the competition’s history.
For a player who has often had no qualms in the past to disassociate himself from the position, such opportunistic cameos highlight that although he might not see himself as a conventional number nine, Bridge can sure produce the goods from anywhere across Popovic’s attacking quartet.
He showed exceptional zen-like poise for the winners against Wellington and Newcastle but Bridge’s three other goals have shown his impeccable sense of timing and more or less been carbon copies of each other: with each strike a perfectly timed run across goal crowned by a neat far-post finish.
And as one of the bosses’ most reliable generals, a fit and firing Bridge is just what Tony Popovic needs to transform the Wanderers’ superb start to the season into aspirations of yet another grand final appearance.
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