The Aussie invasion has been a slow burner. Mat Ryan became the first (male) Aussie to play for The Arsenal since 1978 when John Kosmina played his one and only league game for The Gunners vs Leeds United on August 19th.
As most of you probably don’t know, Kosmina played for the Socceroos (Aussies have to nickname every sports team) 60 times and scored 25 goals , putting him 5th on the all time scorers list, behind the more illustrious finishers of Tim Cahill and John Aloisi and ahead of the household names such as Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka.
Before being whisked away to colder climes, Kosmina made his name in the National Soccer League, playing for the likes of Polonia Adelaide, West Adelaide Hellas and Adelaide City (all names I remember from my dad doing the Aussie pools in the 70s).
Kosmina said of his time in England that he was seen as a ‘novelty’ player.
“It was different. The English had a somewhat skewed idea of what Australia was like. They thought kangaroos hopped about the backyards of most people’s homes and we all had koalas sitting in the trees. Skippy was still a fairly top-rating show in England at that stage, that’s the impression they had of Australia. Australia was just not thought of as a footballing country back in the 70s”
‘Is little Jimmy stuck down a well Skip?
He went back down under after his one game and had a second stint at West Adelaide Hellas, followed by Sydney City, Sydney Olympic, before finishing (around the corner from me) in 1989 at APIA Leichhardt.
John then went onto manage a number of NSL and A League teams ranging from the Warringah Dolphins to Adelaide United and is currently coaching NPL side the Brisbane Strikers.
Anyway, back to to modern day invasion
Matt Ryan, has had a long trip to finally make to The Emirates.
Starting his senior career at Blacktown City (semi-pro NPL side), he moved onto the A League to join the Central Coast Mariners (my adopted A league team) in 2010, making his debut in 2011, winning the league in 2012 and the Grand Final in 2013.
Since then, Ryan has played for Club Brugge, Valencia, Genk and Brighton before following in Kosmina’s footsteps and joining The Arsenal.
Internationally, he made his Socceroo debut in 2012 and has held the Number one shirt since 2014 (taking over from Mark Schwarzer) and culminating in Australia’s greatest football achievement, winning the AFC Asian Cup in 2015.
From Saturday’s performance along, Matt Ryan will have a more successful Arsenal career than his trailblazing??? Australian predecessor.
The Aussie strength and depth in the ladies camp is a tad more substantial.
As it currently stands both the Matildas (the ladies nickname) and Arsenal Ladies, are challenging the best in their respective competitions for top spot and this shows in the quality of the Aussie ladies plying their trade in North London.
Lydia Williams (fellow Green and Gold keeper), Caitlin Foord (national vice captain) and Steph Catley, all joined Arsenal Ladies in 2020. They have represented the Matildas at the Olympics, the Asian Cup and the last two World Cups and have a total of 250 senior caps between them.
Along with fellow Aussies Joseph Montemurro and Aaron D’Antino (who manage the team), the quintet are keeping The Arsenal Ladies in the hunt for the major trophies.
Good onya mate, the Aussie invasion is strong in North London and hopefully a bit of the ‘Aussie Spirit’ can rub off on the less ‘committed’ members of the squad.