Bridge on the cusp of 250 matches

Mark Bridge is on the cusp of reaching a major Hyundai A-League milestone. 

It's not every day a player reaches a major milestone, let alone 250 matches in a single competition.

For Wanderers legend Mark Bridge, that moment is almost coming with one more appearance needed to reach the elusive 250-match mark.

Bridge is a legend in his own right and the journey to 250 matches has had its fair share of both ups and downs.

“I mean looking at it now with only two games to get until the 250, it’s such a big thing and only nine other players have done it,” said Bridge.

“But not only that, its when you start. If I think about the beginning, if you think to yourself oh I’m going to get to 250 games, I mean just to get to 20 games would have been an achievement when I started.

“I mean, I just kept plodding along and ended up here. It hasn’t always been easy, it’s been a bit up and down a fair bit as careers do. There’s form slumps, injuries, I mean all it takes is one coach not to like you and then you don’t play. It’s just things like that.

“It’s just about your commitment to the game and your commitment to your profession that you hold hope that it all ends up well and I’m one of those fortunate ones where it has turned out pretty well. "

Bridge


Bridge has had a wealth of success during his career, winning the Hyundai A-League Championship in 2008 with Newcastle Jets, the Premiership and Championship with the Sky Blues as well as the Premiership and AFC Champions League in 2014 with the Red & Black.

One of the moments that has stood the test of time for Bridge was his involvement in the very first Hyundai A-League match.

"I can instantly remember my first game in the Hyundai A-League. I can still see it in my head, Newcastle vs Adelaide up in Newcastle," reflected Bridge.

"It's funny that going back now 15 years, maybe more, that I can still remember it clear as day.

"It's things like that and it was pretty cool to be involved in the very first Hyundai A-League game, it's been a hell of a ride.

"But I mean in terms of reflecting on the stuff I've achieved, it still hasn't really sunk in yet.

"It probably will when I retire or when I'm telling my kids later in life, maybe then it will sink in how many things I've achieved and how big they were."

Bridge


Bridge was part of the Wanderers foundation squad and was fundamental in the club's very early success.

For the forward, the Red & Black's success in bringing the community together off the pitch was just as important as their achievements on it.

"The birth of the Wanderers meant a lot to players like me who are from Western Sydney and love Western Sydney," explained Bridge.

"At the start, it was difficult because you had no choice but to move. Even if you're playing at Sydney FC like I did, it was a hike to get in there and you don't have a connection to the city.

"To have a team out here, that your friends and family want to be part of as well is huge. "My family and friends, followed me everywhere, they went for all my teams but they have a sense of belonging at the Wanderers.

"It's massive and you can see even now that even though we've had a rough couple of years that everyone loves the club.

"It's such a big club and a big area that brings together so many cultures and nationalities into one family."

Bridge


Looking back on his first few seasons at the club, the 33-year-old believes that the club's early success has set them up for a very bright future in years to come.

"The one thing that really hasn't sunk in is the first season of the Wanderers and the first few years and how big we really were," explained Bridge.

"We took it for granted and it’s not normal for a club to be that successful off the bat, we won an Asian Champions League.

"Thinking about it now it was ridiculous and we had no right to win that tournament, but we did.

"I think it’s massive having that success early on and it has helped up get a new training ground and given us the new stadium.

"High-quality players come to our club because they want to play for us because it's such a good environment. The first few years of success have set this club up for the future."

Champions


With only one game to go until Bridge reaches the 250 club, there was a point this season with the forward didn't think he could make it. Falling to injury four times in a row.

"There was a chance where I didn't think I would run out, it's been a hard year, not one calf injury in 16 years and I got four in one season," said Bridge.

" I mean, I still can’t believe it’s happened and to get back involved with the squad has been a great personal achievement.

"It’s been fortunate that in my last season that I’ve had such a great group of boys around me who have kept me up.

"It’s something I’ll be forever grateful for, after the 250th game, if I get there, it’s something that I’ll look back only on when I’ve finished."