“My parents were at dinner when I scored on debut” – Harry McCarthy | Academy Graduate

“You are going to win this (for us).”

They are the sort of words a coach usually reserves for a vastly experienced player about to come on as a substitute with the game in the balance, and not for a nervous 20-year-old about to make their senior team debut.

As Harry McCarthy got the wave to take off his track suit top and get ready to go on to the field with 12 minutes to go in the Central Coast Mariners FFA Cup tie against Wollongong Wolves at WIN Stadium last week, the last thing on his mind was that he would end up a match winner and the talk of the Central Coast.

Just getting on to the field with the game so delicately poised, keeping it simple and making sure he did the right things would have been upper most in his mind.

But, the coaching staff obviously knew a bit more about the young man’s character and capabilities to have sent him out with those words of encouragement ringing in his ears.

Just three minutes into his debut, with the scores locked at 1-1 and the possibility of extra time looming large, McCarthy turned the sideline prophecy into stunning reality, getting his head to the ball from a corner from the right and watching in disbelief as it hit the back of the net.

Harry McCarthy rises highest in the box to nod home the winner.

Such was his shock that McCarthy didn’t know how to react or celebrate his goal as he disappeared under an avalanche of jubilant teammates.

“As I was on the sideline getting ready to come on Monty (coach Nick Montgomery) and Serge (assistant coach Sergio Raimundo), told me to remember what they had taught me, to work hard and to make sure I worked hard defensively,’ McCarthy recalled.

“Then they told me very much that I was going to win this. When I scored I didn’t know what to do I was in shock. I just remember all my teammates were very happy.”

Of his match winning goal, McCarthy says: “The ball came in from the corner and my marker moved away from me. It went over a few players and came straight for me.

“I’m not that tall but the ball was perfect. It was a bit of a combination of shoulder and head, but it went in.” 

Harry McCarthy still in disbelief at full time.

Unfortunately, his parents could not make the trip to the “Gong because they were in Sydney celebrating his sister’s end of HSC exams.

“They had their priorities right, but, they were still watching while at dinner!” He laughed.

It’s been a long football journey for McCarthy, who still lives in Sydney and played most of his football in Wakehurst and Manly.

He played his junior football with Wakehurst before graduating to Manly United, returning to Wakehurst then back at Manly before a stint with Sydney FC for almost a year.

McCarthy was then offered a trial with the Mariners and looked set to return to Manly United before Montgomery and the coaching staff locked him in to the Yellow and Navy.

“When I heard that Christo (Mariners head of NPL Andrew Christiansen) was here at the Mariners, I was over the moon,” he added.

Initially a striker, McCarthy eventually moved to the wing and the number 10 role as others around him became taller and stronger “and I didn’t!”

A quietly spoken young man, he is not letting the events of the other night go to his head.

“There is still a lot to do. I am just looking to continue working hard on my game and hopefully get more bench time and some more minutes,” he added.