Danny Vukovic: “We have to be at our best” with history on the line

Danny Vukovic spoke to the media on Friday, representing the Mariners at the Offical Grand Final pre-match press conference alongside Football Manager Mark Jackson.

Vukovic reflected on last week’s semi-final second leg, where a disciplined, professional defensive display saw the Mariners advance with a 0-0 draw (2-1 on aggregate) against Sydney FC.

“I think defensively we were very strong and limited them to only a few chances. We were quite happy with how that went, we knew a clean sheet was enough to get us through. We’re excited for tomorrow and can’t wait for for the game to get started.” Vuka said.

READ MORE: Defensive Masterclass: The stats behind our semi-final success

It may be the first time we have been able to host a Grand Final at Our Paradise, but it’s certainly not Vuka’s first rodeo and our skipper drew on his previous experiences, stating how being at home in front of our fans gives us an advantage.

However, Vuka knows Melbourne Victory will be more than up for spoiling the party in Gosford, as they did in front of a sold-out Sky Stadium in Wellington last week, so the Mariners will have to be at their best.

“It’s an advantage to us having the majority of the support, we saw that last season. I’ve been in Grand Finals where we’ve had to go away and it is difficult.” Vukovic said.

“We know Melbourne will be up for the game, they had to play away in Wellington in front of the packed house there. We know we have to be at our best if we want to win the game.”

Vuka is already a hero on the Coast, but he could take his legendary status to an immortal level by leading the team to a treble, never seen before in A-League history. He says pressure is a privilege and to him, leading this team out is a ‘dream’ and one of the highlights of his incredible career so far.

You dream of outcomes like this, and you hope for the best. But a lot of the time you don’t get to this game at the end of the season. I’ve been in the game long enough to know that.”

To lead the boys out is one of the highlights of my career. If we can get the job done, it will go down in history, that’s a huge incentive for us.

Danny Vukovic on captaining the Mariners in a Grand Final.

Vuka responded to the idea that the Mariners are ‘under pressure’ to win on Saturday.

“It’s funny how [pressure] changes because at the start of the season, people didn’t think we would be here today. We’ve already had success this season and there’s more pressure when you haven’t had success.” Vukovic said.

“Of course we want to finish it off in the right way and that’s certainly the goal. It is a massive game so there’s always going to be pressure involved but that’s a privilege for everyone,” he added.

Vukovic said the APL need credit for allowing us to host this Grand Final for the first time, and how much that decision means to the community.

It’s huge for the region and I think that APL need to be commended for allowing this type of game here. I think we all know they get the gate takings, they could have easily put it down in Sydney and got more money but I think this is a decision that is going to have a long lasting effect on this region and that’s more than money can buy.” Vukovic said.

I’ve been stopped so many times this week, leading up to the game. People are just so excited, they were in tears after the semi-final, it just goes to show how much this team means to them and what effect we have on the community.

Danny Vukovic on the community feeling around this game.

“It’s crazy to think about it, this club has been through some dark times and not many people would come through the gates not too many years ago, so to see where we’re at now and to see how far the club’s come, through a lot of hard work from from everyone involved, is huge and we’re just embracing this week because everyone deserves to to experience it.”

Finally, Vukovic was asked about the memories he is creating, for his family and for everyone on the Coast and if this Grand Final is the biggest event ever in Gosford.

“I think my oldest boy certainly will remember, I’m not sure about the three year old! But yeah, they’re really special moments, to be able to bring them on the pitch and allow them to be a part of it. So if the other one doesn’t remember, I’ll have the games recorded so I can show him in a few years time.” Vukovic said.

“I don’t know of any other national sporting code that have hosted a Grand Final here on the Central Coast. It should be a record crowd and it’s a huge night, a great occasion and one that I think will last in the memories of everyone on the Coast for a long time.”