Birthday boy dreams of Grand Final gift

Central Coast Mariners defensive midfielder Rostyn Griffiths is hoping for the greatest gift of all for his 23rd birthday, Hyundai A-League Grand Final glory over Brisbane Roar this Sunday.

Central Coast Mariners defensive midfielder Rostyn Griffiths is hoping for the greatest gift of all for his 23rd birthday, Hyundai A-League Grand Final glory over Brisbane Roar this Sunday.

Although his birthday is today, three days out from the season-s showpiece, Griffiths says he-d love nothing more to be able to celebrate as a Hyundai A-League Champion for 2011.

“If we can get the win it would be unbelievable, obviously being the birthday week, and my folks will be up there as well so hopefully we can make it a very happy birthday,” said Griffiths.

The now 23-year-old has big game experience, having taken on Scottish Premier League giants Celtic and Hearts, and was part of a Gretna side which played in the 45-thousand fan cauldron that is Rangers- home Ibrox, but he expects this Sunday will surpass those experiences.

“In terms of actually building towards it, it has been the whole season as well, we can-t forget that, we have been looking forward to it all season. It-s the biggest game in the A-League and probably in the history of the A-League in my opinion, so a massive game and I-m just looking forward to it,” said Griffiths.

Brisbane head into the match with the weight of expectation on their shoulders, with the entire state of Queensland, and indeed most of the nation expecting them to raise the Champions trophy this Sunday, after a season which has seen them smash records on their way to a 27 match unbeaten streak.

52-thousand fans are likely to pack Suncorp Stadium, with the majority ready to celebrate a Brisbane win, and Griffiths says he will be interested to see how Brisbane react to that pressure.

“The pressure is all on them, and has been on them all season since they have had their good run. We have been the underdogs every time we have played against them this season and that-s a title we-re happy to have, and I am happy to have as well because the expectation is not on us, we have proven a few people wrong this season, especially in the last game we played against them, and hopefully we can prove a few people wrong again,” Griffiths said.

Despite only just turning 23, Griffiths is considered one of the more experienced players in the Mariners squad, littered with teenagers and their own personal success stories, but even at his own relatively tender age, being a “veteran” is a title which sits comfortably with the ex Blackburn Rovers man.

“When you look through our squad there are players younger than me which is great. I-ve been around the game quite a long time now which seems quite odd, even at 23 I have been around for ten years.

“That is what happens in this squad, everyone feels a part of it, whether you-re 23, 16 or 33, everyone has a voice in the squad and that-s certainly how I feel this season,” Griffiths said.

Enjoyment has been the backbone of the Mariners preparation for Sunday-s decider, and indeed for the entire season. Griffiths says that this attitude has played a big part in the club-s on field success, and he expects it to continue to do so heading into the Grand Final.

“If you don-t enjoy it you probably go in a bit negative but this week so far I-ve enjoyed everything, yesterday we had a fan day which was great, and training has been enjoyable and everything has been enjoyable.

“It-s just the build up, and everyone you speak to is so excited for you, that you can-t help be excited yourself, I can-t wait,” said Griffiths.

The unwavering belief inside the dressing room walls has been unmatched externally, with many pundits tipping the Mariners to finish in the lower echelons of the season six ladder, and Griffiths admits it is satisfying for the squad to have proven to itself that it was capable of reaching such lofty heights.

“People wrote us off. I read a few magazines which all said we would finish eighth or ninth, and a few of the boys have sort of kept that, but from day one of Arnie coming in we had belief. We had a system and a structure, and added a couple of players this season around the players that we already had and built a solid team,” Griffiths said.

Indications are that anywhere up to two-thousand Mariners fans will be making the journey north for the club-s third Grand Final appearance, news that has Griffiths excited a the prospect of sharing a moment that few others would have thought possible at the start of the campaign.

“They are impressive figures, two-thousand people travelling up to Brisbane is amazing and two-thousand Mariners fans will probably be like 50-thousand Brisbane fans. From that perspective we hope they cheer, last time we scored up there there wasn-t much noise so this time if we score hopefully there-ll be a bit of a cheer,” Griffiths said.

Of that, Griffiths can be certain.

The Central Coast Mariners next match of the Hyundai A-League 2011 Finals Series will be the 2011 Grand Final against the Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium this Sunday, 13 March. Kick-off is at 4:00pm QST (5:00pm AEDT) and tickets are available online at or by phoning 132 849.