Michael Bridges still calls Australia home

The dirt from Down Under is in an English kind of mood, and it's not just because the blog is desperate to make The Guardian's online "favourite things this week" shortlist.

Michael Bridges - that amiable Geordie of a seemingly innumerable host of clubs including, most famously, Leeds United - has returned to the A-League to ply his trade with the Newcastle Jets.

The big target man was all arms and elbows in his A-League second-coming, as his Newcastle side played out an absorbing 1-1 draw on the road at Adelaide United.

Bridges was an immensely popular figure during a brief nine-game spell at Sydney FC during the 2007/08 campaign, with the former England U21 striker quickly establishing himself as a fan favourite.

Strong in the air, powerful in the shot and every other footballing cliché one cares to mention, Bridges won over fans with his whole-hearted commitment to the cause - which stood him in glaring contrast to several other A-League imports.

Back in Old Blighty, fans often snigger at English lower-league players moving to Australia, but the point they miss is this - some of these players are a vast improvement on A-League standards.

Admittedly, we have experienced the occasional disaster. The ill-fated New Zealand Knights and their plethora of English plodders springs immediately to mind.

But if the Mother Country is willing to send the likes of Robbie Fowler and Michael Bridges to a land down under, we'll gladly take them.

Bridges failed to get on the scoresheet on his Newcastle debut, strangely enough, although six of the eight goals scored in Round 9 action were registered by foreigners.

Diminutive South Korean dynamo Song Jin-Hyung and Brazilian misfit Cassio traded goals in the 1-1 draw at Hindmarsh Stadium - the latter with a thumping volley, while two more Brazilians and a Northern Irishman got in on the act elsewhere.

What was also noticeable in a low-scoring, albeit intriguing round of action was the return of big crowds to certain stadia.

Both Perth Glory and Adelaide United attracted decent attendances - at least by A-League standards - while Melbourne Victory welcomed their largest crowd of the season to Etihad Stadium in their 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar.

Victory will top that figure this weekend when they host eternal rivals Sydney FC, while the gritty Central Coast Mariners will hope that their attendances improve now that the popular Rugby League season has come to an end.

The one club still sweating profusely on crowd figures is Brisbane Roar, and it's not because of the sub-tropical climate in South-East Queensland.

So desperate are Brisbane to usher fans through the gate for the derby with local rivals Gold Coast United, they've hired the services of one Warwick Capper.

Capper is a former Australian Rules player, who upon being recruited by Brisbane to spruik the derby, admitted that he hadn't seen a game of 'soccer' in over 20 years.

He's also synonymous with wearing the world's tightest pair of shorts, launching an abortive porn career and failing in a 2009 Queensland State Election bid because he didn't bother submitting official documentation.

In other words, he's the kind of guy that makes Paris Hilton look like a stable and intelligent human being.

His recruitment as an official Brisbane Roar mouthpiece smacks of desperation of the last-chance saloon variety, with the Roar seemingly staggering towards death's door.

It would be a shame to see them go belly up, not the least because Brisbane play some of the most attractive football in the country.


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