THE legacy this group of players has left augurs so well for the future of this great club and is the barometer by which future Mariners teams will be motivated.
WEDNESDAY night-s AFC Champions League round of 16 clash against Marcello Lippi-s Guangzhou Evergrande in China brought down the curtain on a journey that will be talked about for generations as the Central Coast Mariners breakthrough season.
The legacy this group of players has left augurs so well for the future of this great club and is the barometer by which future Mariners teams will be motivated.
But you must look deeper than just this season for the reasons we were able to achieve what we did – runners up in the league, grand final winners (Champions) and Asian Champions League second round qualification.
It was borne out of two things – a culture and a plan.
The culture was born the same day as the Mariners – a culture of unity, honesty, hard work and a never-say-die ethos that enables David to continually defeat Goliath.
The plan came up the F3 with Graham Arnold three years ago when he swapped the national team for an A-League team.
His vision and plan was as clear as his philosophy from the first day of his tenure and it was something that the players and staff bought into immediately.
There are so many gauges to show how far the playing group has come over those three years but perhaps the most visible was the grand final victory over Western Sydney Wanderers last month.
With the score locked at 2-0 in our favour late in normal time – just the same as it was against Brisbane two years earlier (albeit in extra time on that occasion) – the belief and determination to stick to the game plan and our philosophies enabled us to play out the game without giving the Wanderers so much as a sniff of a comeback.
We were clinical and ruthless and didn-t “stop playing”.
That to me was a snapshot of how far the team had come in three seasons both individually and collectively.
So where to from here?
When you taste success it makes you hungry for more.
Next season is a fair way off as we stand here today but all those ingredients mentioned above will still be here next season and for many, many years to come.
So too next season will we have a group of players in a Mariners shirt who now have won a premiership, a grand final and qualified for the second round of the ACL together.
They now know how to win things and that experience you just can-t buy!
I-ve said before that had it not been for a record-breaking Brisbane Roar two years ago and a history-making Western Sydney Wanderers this year our 50-plus point haul three years in a row (history-making in it-s own right) would have secured a hat-trick of premierships and with a little more luck two years ago two grand final wins.
Whichever way you look at it, seasons 2010-2013 have been a phenomenal success for the smallest club in the land.
There may or may not be some player movement during the off-season but one thing is certain, the structures in place will allow anyone coming into the squad – be it youngsters from within or new signings to the club – to adapt very quickly.
The squad under ‘Arnie- has shown that what we have is much more than just eleven players. When a player is out injured or suspended or even sold overseas the next cab off the rank knows exactly what his job is and what is expected of him.
It-s an absolute priority of the coaching staff to ensure that is the case each and every week before a player crosses that white line on game day.
But for now, it-s time to wrap up what has been a sensational season – one which delivered the Central Coast it-s first championship trophy and first foray into Asia-s top 16.
A season that saw Gosford throw a party like never before and a season that put this beautiful part of Australia on the world map!
I think I-m safe in saying that our wonderful supporters enjoyed the journey as much as the players and staff did. It-s now time for a very well-earned holiday!
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From everyone at the Club, thanks to Mariners Assistant Coach Phil Moss for delivering us his unique team insights throughout the season.