Football 4 years ago

Central Coast One Year On

  • Central Coast One Year On

On this day, exactly one year ago, the Central Coast Mariners made it fourth time lucky by winning their maiden A-League championship title 2-0 against the Western Sydney Wanderers. 

Goals from centre back and fan favourite Patrick Zwaanswijk as well as golden boot winner Daniel McBreen either side of the interval brought the famed 'toilet seat' to the Coast for the first time after loses in their previous three Grand Final appearances. 

Since then, it would seem from the outside looking in that the team has undergone an extensive facelift since April 21, 2013. Our goal scorers from the final have moved on - the former retiring into a coaching role, whilst McBreen left to chase a new challenge overseas. Add to that the loses of Mat Ryan, Pedj Bojic, Trent Sainsbury, Oliver Bozanic, Michael McGlinchey and Tom Rogic all in the last year, and you could forgive the Mariners for being a bit out of sorts. 

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To add insult to injury, championship winning coach Graham Arnold pulled the pin on his contract with the Central Coast to improve his coaching resume with J-League side Vegalta Sendai midway through this season, and took with him arguably the best strength and conditioning coach in the A-League - former Mariners defender Andrew Clark. 

And all of this before mentioning the constant cloud of financial instability that hangs over the club like a fly at a picnic.

Thats enough to de-rail the most sturdy of trains, and sink the most bouyant ship, however once again the little engine that could has put its head down and played its way into third spot on the A-League table, as well as a Grand Final qualifying match this weekend. 

How do they do it? How, in the face of all adversity, does the smallest club in Asia continue to punch well above its weight? 

Maybe it's because they really haven't changed at all? 

Sure, the club has altered in a literal sense, but their is one constant in the Mariners dressing room that, amidst all the adjustment and transformation that has become a part of the game, will remain a symbol for all that the Central Coast stand for. 

And no, I'm not talking about foundation player John Hutchinson.

I'm talking about the Central Coast Mariners culture. 

The culture that no one man is ever bigger than the club. The culture that when you walk onto the park in the yellow and navy you are playing for your teammates, and not for yourself. The culture that Lawrie McKinna instilled, Graham Arnold fostered and developed, and Phil Moss is carrying on. 

It is the culture that this season alone has seen the emergence of Storm Roux and Anthony Caceras, the steady improvement of Nick Fitzgerald and the returned Bernie Ibini, as well as the revival of Liam Reddy's career. The players and staff all believe in what the system of values has to offer, and it makes for a squad united and a squad determined.

The Mariners season, like many seasons before it, should have been in post mortem by this stage. Not for the first time, however, the club has thrived on their own misfortune to once again be challenging for the title - a feet that surely could not be matched on either the national or international stage. 

One thing is for sure - the little club from Gosford are proof of the age old paradox that 'the more things change, the more they stay the same'.



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