Player of the Day: Michael Bridges

by Ashley Houghton

Local lad in today's spotlight

Whitley Bay-born striker Michael Bridges joined the Black Cats after impressing scouts whilst turning out for Northumberland schoolboys.

He made his debut in February 1996 in a 0-0 draw at Roker Park before scoring in away wins at Southend United and Grimsby Town.

A month later Bridges bagged a double as a substitute to earn Peter Reid’s side a 3-2 victory over Huddersfield Town at Roker Park.

And, after just a matter of months at Sunderland, Bridges picked up a Division One winner’s medal as Reid’s side were promoted to the top-flight.

The following campaign Bridges added 29 appearances to his Black Cats tally, 13 of which were starts, and scored three goals – two of which came in a 3-1 win at Everton.

Despite a more frequent role in the side, Bridges’ first full season ended in disappointment as the Black Cats were relegated from the top-flight.

The speedy frontman saw opportunities limited again during the 1997-98 campaign as Sunderland lost the playoff final to Charlton Athletic.

Bridges played just 11 games, scoring two goals, as Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn made the strike partnership their own.

The 1998-99 season was Bridges’ best on Wearside as an increased exposure to first-team football brought out the best from him.

12 goals in 27 appearances, 18 of which were starts, showed the youngster’s potential as Sunderland won their second Division One title in Bridges’ time on Wearside.

Bridges left Sunderland at the end of the season in search of more first-team football and he joined Leeds United in July 1999.

During his first campaign at Elland Road Bridges starred scoring 19 league goals, including a hat-trick on debut against Southampton.

Unfortunately for Bridges the next four years at Leeds would be plagued by injuries and he would go on to make only a further ten appearances for the Yorkshire side.

He spent time on loan at Newcastle United in 2004 but made only six appearances in his time on Tyneside prior to joining Bolton Wanderers on a permanent deal.

After failing to make any appearances with the Trotters, Bridges made a loan move back to Wearside and played 19 games during the 2004-05 season, a winning strike in a 2-1 win over Burnley being his only goal on his return.

Bridges then joined Carlisle United and has since had spells with Hull City, Sydney FC, MK Dons and Newcastle Jets.