Just two days away from the Mariners first Grand Final in 10 years, Central Coast Mariners head coach Nick Montgomery is ready for an intense match up.
The former player turned coach feeling the love on the Central Coast in the lead up to the decider on Saturday night, seeing clearly the community spirit that defines the region.
“I’ve had so much support from everybody who follows me here and the team. Just walking out everywhere you go on the Central Coast, quite a few free coffees given and people that don’t normally talk when they recognize you just saying good luck and wishing the boys well’,” he said.
“It’s been really nice, and all the boys will tell you the same thing. It’s a small community and everybody knows who the players are, they’ve really become heroes to the local community.
“It’s awesome when you just wander around with the kids or the players go around, and people are wishing them well. It’s a nice feeling and we know that we’re going to be well supported on Saturday night. We will have a lot of people making the journey up to Sydney.”
Montgomery has been at the club during both the good and challenging times, playing a major role in the championship winning team of 2013. The head coach thankful for the support that fans have shown over the years, and the incredible amount of love that the Coast have shown his side.
“10 years ago, we won the final during my first season here as a player. I saw what it meant to the community. Then I’ve also seen the really tough times. Then there’s small crowds and those hardcore supporters still turning up to games when things weren’t going well,” he said.
“Now to see 20,000 at the stadium last weekend, right now the club’s the strongest it’s ever been in the community. Just to take the team into the final as the coach is something that I’m really proud of and I can’t wait for Saturday.”
While Brian Kaltak and Nectar Triantis have been rocks in defence, the Mariners attack has lit up the league. 59 goals scored this season in 28 games is a club record, with each of the front four contributing seven or more goals this campaign.
Montgomery has been extremely pleased with the return, explaining how he likes to give his attacking players freedom when in the final third.
“All of the boys here play within a structure; we have an identity. When you have talented players like Marco, Sammy and Jason, we work a lot in the front third on attacking movements but when it comes to it, it’s an unpredictable game and you want plays like that who are exciting, attacking and good one on one,” he said.
“I’m not going to tell Sammy or Marco Tulio what to do in that front third. In terms of decision making, we give them options. I just love giving the freedom to players like that in the attacking third because as a defender, it’s the last thing you want is a player running at you one on one.”
It hasn’t just been our starters who have had a productive season, with the Mariners offensive threats off the bench being a nightmare for opposition defenders. Christian Theoharous has been electric as a substitute with his skilful runs, while both Moresche and Dylan Wenzel-Halls have looked extremely dangerous.
Montgomery pleased to have a strong second unit, hoping that they can continue to bring the spark on Saturday night.
“You look at the talent we have got not only starting, but off the bench bringing on Wenzel-Halls, Moresche and Christian Theoharous as well. Defensively the boys know that they have to do the work and if they do it defensively, we give them license to express themselves in that front third,” Montgomery said.
“I think we’ve seen all season from some of the goals we’ve scored and just from some of the play up there, the boys are thriving.”