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Hunty's Column: Royals Down Under

Swapping Berkshire for Oz is quite the trend, apparently.

A-League Rd 11 - Sydney v Central Coast Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Having spent many years watching the A-League and following Sydney FC, I love the game back at my other home down under. I witnessed first-hand the electric atmosphere when the Socceroos beat Uruguay to qualify for their first World Cup all the way back in 2005.

In the past we have had a number of Reading players represent the Aussies, namely Andy Bernal, Stuart Lovell and most recently Adam Federici. Well now the focus is on another much-loved ex-Royal, Jem Karacan, who is joining the Central Coast Mariners.

They currently sit bottom of the league on just six points from 16 games. Jem will have his hands full, but will add much needed heart to the midfield. The reason he is joining? He was recommended to the club by Kalifa Cisse, another ex-Royal currently playing for the club.

This got me thinking about other Royals who have played down under professionally. On paper its not a bad team.

Between the sticks is Jamie Young of Brisbane Roar. Do you remember him for his cameo performance when he came off the bench against Stoke City in 2004? He kept a clean sheet but never played for us again. He then went on a nomadic career in the eEnglish lower leagues.

Moving back to Brisbane he joined the Roar, and had a difficult start. However he has now proven to be one of the most consistent keepers in the league. This article gives a fascinating insight into his journey.

At the back is Joseph Mills, brother of Matthew (the one finger salute guy). He never really cemented a first team place with us, but went on to be more consistent with Perth Glory. He played 44 times in a couple of years, before leaving for sunnier pastures at Forest Green Rovers this season.

Kalifa Cisse is playing at the back for the Mariners, after having a tour of Asian football since leaving us. However he's currently on the sidelines after losing the plot Andre Bikey style against Sydney a couple of weeks ago.

Oli Bozanic is a player who I had high hopes of making it at Reading when he signed in 2007. Injury curtailed this, but he came back to Australia and was one of the most consistent performers in league for Melbourne Victory, earning a national call-up. He is now playing pursuing a love of haggis while play for Hearts in Scotland.

Another Mr Consistent for the Victory, who was the first-ever goal scorer at the Mad Stad, it's Grant Brebner. He played 120 games for Victory and won the league with them. He was also banned for a few games for betting on matches; a problem that affected his career.

The Edwards brothers, Ryan and Cameron, joined the Royals in 2011, with mixed degrees of success. Ryan did feature in a handful of games in 2014 on the back of a loan spell with Perth Glory.

Cameron also played alongside him there, with their father Alistair Edwards as coach. However, calls of nepotism cost him his job. Ryan is currently playing alongside Bozanic for Hearts north of the border.

Back in the years when Australian football tried unsuccessfully to rebrand its game, three ex-Royals had stints in the National Soccer League. The first is Neville Roach, who turned out for Eastern Pride down in Victoria back in 2000/01.

Another, Andy Bernal, proved to be no flash in the pan. He had a very successful time with Sydney Olympic prior to joining the Royals. He also appeared for the Socceroos on a number of occasions.

Mass Sarr also played for Sydney Olympic in 2000, but like his time with Reading flattered to deceive and failed to score.

A-League Rd 11 - Sydney v Central Coast Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

One player who is certainly not having this problem is Adam Le Fondre. He is currently ripping up the A-League with Sydney FC, becoming the quickest player to score 10 goals (taking 11 games to do so) in the league's history.

It's brilliant to see and, as a massive fan of both clubs, I'm absolutely chuffed to bits for him. I hope he goes on to break the record for goals in a season (27).

Finally just a reminder about the mental health awareness walk from the Three Guineas pub outside Reading train station to the Madejski Stadium on Saturday February 2. It's coming up soon, and is on the same day as the Aston Villa game.

We meet at 10.30am. Footy shirts will be allowed in the pub that day, so come and join us and the Villa fans. Urzzzzz.