GRAHAM Arnold will return to the club where his professional playing career began when Sydney FC play Bankstown Berries in their FFA Cup match tomorrow night.
Australia's oldest football club, founded in 1886, has undergone several identity changes over the years, including a change of name from Canterbury-Marrickville to Bankstown Berries.
Arnold was just a teenager when he left his home town in 1980 to join Canterbury, where he got his opportunity under Ron Corry. And he wasn't the only one - the late, great Johnny Warren was a product of Canterbury, as were Leopold Baumgartner and Johnny Watkiss.
"It's a long time ago - the start of my career,” Arnold said.
"I left Sutherland Shire to go to an area where no one knew me. I was very fortunate that Ronny Corry had a lot of trust and faith in me as a player and gave me the opportunity.
"The club has obviously gone through a lot of transition and are what they are today. It was a club that developed a lot of players when I was younger.
"It's always good to see they're still doing well and still helping kids. No doubt it will be a good occasion.”
Arnold has added Polish international Adrian Mierzejewski to his squad since the Sky Blues' last match against Darwin Rovers and says the winger will feature tomorrow night.
"Mierzejewski is a very good player, an exciting player,” Arnold said.
"His ITC (international clearance certificate) has come through, so I expect him to take part in the game at some stage.
"I'm very happy with the new boys that have come in. The team morale has been great and I expect us to perform better this year than last.”
Arnold's recruiting isn't quite done, with a "very good U20 player” about to sign for last season's double winners.
And there are still funds available for Arnold to add depth to the squad to boost their title defence, while also competing in the Asian Champions League.
"We've still got a good amount of money in the cap, probably will leave that until January when we decide if we'll go with an Asian player for the ACL,” he said.
"I think we've got a great squad, greater than what we had last season.
"There's a lot of belief. I know all the players have got more in them, it's my job to get that out of them. I expect us to be greater this year.”