You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
One of Southern United’s new recruits is quite literally going the extra mile for the club.
Alex Ridsdale joined the team two weeks ago and will play his second game tomorrow, against Waitakere United at Sunnyvale.
It was perhaps fitting the 24-year-old made his debut against Tasman United, the club he transferred from.
He was also a Nelson local and was still living there, working a Monday to Friday job as a duty manager at Vics Brewbar.
That posed a challenge, although it was one the attacking midfielder was not letting stand in his way of turning out for the Dunedin-based club.
"It does a little bit," he said when asked if living in Nelson made things difficult.
"Obviously, it’s only for the last seven games or so. But I’ve committed to this job so it’s something I have to do.
"I work Monday to Friday up here [Nelson] and then come down for a training and a game at the weekend.
"But I still keep in contact with the lads and go through some video footage up here and get some extra fitness work in myself.
"So it’s not too bad. It’s definitely workable."
A conversation with Southern defender Kristian Gibson — who played for Nelson Suburbs last winter — sparked the move.
With game time harder to come by at Tasman this season, he was hoping to make his mark and play 90 minutes every week at Southern if he could.
He has a high-level background, having played for New Zealand under-17 and been involved with the Auckland City and Canterbury United youth teams. Alongside that, he spent four years playing at college in the USA, the last two with a strong team at Xavier University.
"I loved it over there; it was a great experience.
"I’d recommend it to any kids coming through the age-group stuff to take a look at that as another option from going pro.
"Obviously you get the degree alongside playing footy every day, which is a bonus, really."
It had been a full-on lifestyle completing a degree majoring in business management and minoring in entrepreneurship while also training every day.
He said the level had been high and there was a good atmosphere at the games, with "a couple thousand" students often turning out.
Now in his second year back in New Zealand, he was impressed with the standard of the national league. He felt it had improved, particularly with Auckland City and Team Wellington’s Club World Cup aspirations setting a high standard.
One thing he said needed addressing was whether the league was amateur, semi-professional or professional. At the moment it seemed to be stuck in the middle, and an amateur league would make it hard to attract quality players.
He was enjoying himself, though, and was expecting a tough match from Waitakere.
Southern had been disappointed after failing to fire in the second half of its loss to Tasman. However, Waitakere had been upset 3-2 by the Wellington Phoenix Reserves as well and he expected them to come looking to prove a point.
Danny Furlong returns from injury for Southern, while Andrew Cromb has his first call-up from the youth team.
Southern Utd v Waitakere Utd
Sunnyvale Park, tomorrow, 2pm
Southern United: Liam Little, Conor O’Keeffe, Tom Connor, Kristian Gibson, Stephen Last, Danny Ledwith, Omar Guardiola, Jared Grove, Danny Furlong, Tim McLennan, Andrew Ridden, Tom Stevens, Hamish Cotter, Sam Carmichael, Alex Ridsdale, Andrew Cromb
Waitakere United: (from) Stewart MacKay, Matthew Chant, Julyan Collett, Jordan Hearn, Yuki Ohtsuka, Andre Estay, Ryan Cain, Eder Franchini Pasten, Keegan Linderboom, Charlie Thomas, David Parkinson, Rory Turner, Christian Gray, Jake Butler, Kris Carpenter, Tom Shaw, Rossi Nkoy, Dylan Windust, Josh Dijkstra, Dylan Manickum, Nicolas Zambrano, Liam Anderson