Sunday 30 April 2017

Seagulls swoop as Flood returns from trip down under

Anthony Flood Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Anthony Flood Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Barry Lennon

Anto Flood has swapped the sun-kissed Sydney Harbour for another seaside location this season - Bray.

The 32-year-old joins Wanderers after playing down under, having braved 38-degree days when lining out for Marconi Stallions in Australia's second tier.

Although there will be no such temperatures in the Carlisle Grounds, the forward says he returned to feel the heat of battle in the League of Ireland.

"The league (in Australia) itself is real laid-back. It's almost like it's not a competition. You go to games and it's barbecues and all. It hasn't got that same cutting edge," says Flood.

"I missed that about the league. The atmosphere on Friday night here - it's a buzz I didn't think I'd miss."

Flood played recreationally with local side Phoenix during his last year living in Sydney's Coogee Beach, located in the city's eastern suburbs.

But after three years, having played with Marconi and Dunbar Rovers beforehand, Flood felt he'd "done" Australia.

"I miss Sydney, it is the life. I was living two minutes from the beach," he says. "But after three years me and my missus had a talk and she said: 'Do you want to go back and give Ireland a go again?'"

Flood's partner Amy O'Connor could've qualified for Australian residency, while he had found work in a scaffolding company alongside playing football.

However, having already spent longer than expected in Sydney, the couple settled on home rather than away, with mortgage and marriage plans in mind.

"If I was a bit younger I'd probably have stayed on a bit longer," Flood says.

"But I'd lined up a job with the scaffolding company back here. The job was there and I had offers in the league."

With the building trade rejuvenated, Flood now enjoys juggling scaffolding with his footballing commitments.

After the journey home - which took in a tour of Bali, Malaysia and Singapore - the phone started ringing. First up was Bray manager Harry Kenny.

Flood had known Kenny as assistant manager as part of the St Patrick's Athletic league-winning team in 2013, and now he wanted his signature.

There was a choice, though, as talks had already began with Pats manager Liam Buckley about a return to his old club. It was the Seagulls' swoop that was successful.

"Bray showed the more keen interest and they wanted me to sign pre-season, that weekend and all. I just wanted to get sorted and I got it done," Flood says.

"I was promised a lot of game time as well. At Pats, I know Christy (Fagan) is there, and other lads are there. You'd be fighting that competition as well."

Flood is set to make his League of Ireland return tomorrow night at Richmond Park as Bray take on his former club for their opening fixture.

The Dubliner, who last won the league while playing at Inchicore, admits the club will always be a "special place" for him.

He hopes he can recreate the form for the Co. Wicklow side which saw him register 10 goals in Pats' title victory four years ago.

"I could go back to what I used to know, but with Bray they're looking to push on. I've never shied away from challenges."

Irish Independent

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