2016/17 Review: A-League

With many leagues across the world heading to their nail biting conclusions, Australia’s A-League is already done and dusted. Last Sunday saw Sydney FC defeat Melbourne Victory on penalties in the grand final to be crowned champions.

Let’s take a look at the English involvement down under this season. Stats below include league and playoff appearances only.

Joseph Mills

Joseph Mills. 27. Defender. Perth Glory. Appearances: 22. Goals: 1
Upon arriving down under, Joseph Mills called his move to A-League club Perth Glory an “opportunity he couldn’t turn down”.  Despite being only 27-years-old, the left back has been round the block in English football, having played for seven different clubs back at home. His move to Perth came following two seasons with Oldham Athletic in League One.

A product of the famed Southampton academy, Mills’ move to the Glory saw him team up with compatriot Kenny Lowe, who has managed the club since 2013. The 55-year-old had a lengthy playing career back in his homeland featuring for the likes of Barnet, Birmingham and Gateshead before spending four years as Barnet’s manager between 1999 and 2003.

Overall, the past season for Mills can be considered solid, if not groundbreaking. The Glory made the playoffs again, or the Finals Series as the Aussies refer to it as, and even went one stage further than last season, this time losing in the semi-finals to eventual winners Sydney 3-0. However he didn’t play in either of the club’s two playoff matches.

Mills himself played in 22 of the club’s 27 league games, starting 19. He also scored what was just his fourth senior league goal, albeit in a 4-1 loss away to Sydney.

In fact, Sydney were a consistent thorn in Mills’ and Perth’s side, as they also knocked the Glory out of the FFA Cup, beating them 2-0 after extra time, a game in which the former Reading defender played the full two hours.

The 27-year-old still has a year left on his contract with Perth so could be set for another season down under.

Wayne Brown

Wayne Brown. 28. Midfielder. Newcastle Jets. Appearances: 22. Goals: 2
Wayne Brown’s career path could not be more varied if he tried. After three seasons in Finland, the former Fulham youngster switched the brisk Scandinavian weather for Australia’s golden sands when he agreed to sign for Newcastle Jets.

The Jets have a history of recruiting Englishmen. Michael Bridges, Francis Jeffers and Emile Heskey have all worn the blue and red of Newcastle but unlike those who came before him, Brown was not coming towards the end of his career when he put pen to the Jets’ paper.

The midfielder’s move to the Jets came off the back of a very successful spell with SJK in Finland. In his first season with the club, his side finished as runners-up in the Veikkausliiga, the Finnish top flight. In his second season, they went one further, lifting the title. His time in Finland also saw him experience playing time in the Europa League.

It is therefore no wonder that his move to the Jets was considered a coup for one of the A-League’s perennial under performers.

Brown’s impact at his new side was immediate as he scored on both his cup and league debuts for the Jets.

However, despite becoming an integral part of the Newcastle side, Brown’s performances could not prevent his side from missing out on the playoffs again as the Jets finished bottom.

In total, he made 22 league appearances scoring twice and although the Jets under performed once again, Brown was sufficiently impressed with his time in Oz to extend his contract, adding one more year to the initial two year deal he signed.

Jamie Young (right)

Jamie Young. 31. Goalkeeper. Brisbane Roar. Appearances: 6. Clean sheets: 2
Here’s a tricky one, does Jamie Young count as an Englishman abroad? He’s represented England at various youth levels. He played in England for ten years. But he spent the first 17 years of his life in Australia and was born in Brisbane. For the purposes of simply extending this post, he counts as English.

After growing up in Australia, Young made the move to England in 2002 to join Reading. During his time with the Royals, Young appeared for England at U18, U19 and U20 level, for whom he competed in the 2005 Toulon Tournament alongside the likes of Steven Taylor, James Milner and future Englishman abroad, Bradley Wright-Phillips.

I’m not entirely sure how Young was eligible to play for England at youth level just a few years after his move to Reading but the fact that he was definitely makes him more English…

Young in England colours during the 2005 Toulon Tournament.

Anyway, after just one first team appearance in four years at the Madejski Stadium, the goalkeeper moved to Wycombe and then on to Aldershot, where he made 140 appearances in all competitions during his four seasons with the club.

Short stints in Conference South with Basingstoke, Whitehawk and Hayes & Yeading followed before Young returned down under in 2014 to play for his hometown club Brisbane Roar.

Young has now spent three seasons with the Roar and has made the playoffs in all three seasons but this year saw his opportunities severely limited. He made just four regular season appearances as his side finished third in the A-League table.

The 31-year-old however, did play in both of the Roar’s playoff games, including the first round win over Western Sydney Wanderers when he came on as as a substitute in the ninth minute of extra time. Following his introduction, Young was then pivotal to Brisbane’s victory, as he saved a crucial spot kick to secure a penalty shootout victory over the Wanderers.

The former Aldershot goalkeeper was also in net as his side lost 1-0 in the playoff semi-finals against Melbourne Victory.