EA: Andrew, you are currently playing for Reading in what many would see as the lower reaches of the English League. Why Reading? What made you try your luck overseas?
AB: I have been at Reading for the past 4 years in Division One thanks to Mick Hickman who organised my transfer. Unfortunately this year hasn’t gone well and we have been relegated to Division Two, but in the first four years I experienced playing at Wembley Stadium (1st division play off final vs Bolton), so I wouldn’t really consider this level to be the lower reaches of the English League as your question suggests. Why Reading? I had no other firm offers. I had previously played in England for Ipswich.
EA: Prior to heading off for England, you played for Sydney Olympic. What other clubs did you play for in Australia?
AB: Canberra City and A.I.S.
EA: Where do you see yourself going from here? Do you have realistic ambitions to move on and have any clubs shown any interest in you whilst at Reading?
AB: I have two years of my contract remaining at Reading, so anything else is pure speculation.
EA: Tell us about Reading. They play at Elm Park which sounds very homely.
AB: This past season was the farewell to Elm Park after 102 years. We are moving to the Madjeski Stadium. It’s a new 30,000 all seat stadium. Although relegation has set us back a year, the club is ambitious and is seeking to progress to the Premier League one day.
EA: What is the usual routine of players at a club like Reading? Assume you have just played a home game on Saturday afternoon and the next game is away the following Saturday. What would your schedule be for the week leading up to the game?
have Sunday off. Train all week then travel on Friday to a hotel within
proximity to the opposition’s ground.
EA: How would you compare the game in England at the level that Reading are at against the Ericsson Cup back in Australia?
AB: I have only experienced 1st division football with Reading and I believe this division is one of the strongest in Europe, ahead of the Scottish, Belgian and Dutch leagues, who really only have 2 or 3 strong teams each. Division one this year boasted teams such as Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Nottingham Forest and Man City (even though they were relegated). So to be perfectly honest, the Ericsson Cup is not quite up to this level yet.
EA: What is the biggest thing that you notice about the exposure the game gets here versus the media attention in Australia?
AB: Football is life. Exposure over here is tremendous. I hope one day that soccer will receive the same exposure in Oz.
EA: Six months ago Australia lost the battle to gain the last spot in France 98. The game was shown live on TV in England. Did you manage to see it? Did you cop any stick from your Reading team-mates when the result came through? Even though you were not involved, how did you feel when you heard the 2-2 scoreline?
AB: I did
see the game and I was disappointed for the lads and Australian soccer
in general. It would have been a major boost to have qualified. My Reading
team-mates couldn’t believe
that we had allowed such a wonderful opportunity to slip away, and yes,
I did take some obligatory "stick"!