Simon hopes for 100th to remember

Playing 100 Hyundai A-League games is a tremendous achievement in itself, but to potentially celebrate the milestone with a Grand Final victory could be one of the most cherished memories a footballer could ever have.

Playing 100 Hyundai A-League games is a tremendous achievement in itself, but to potentially celebrate the milestone with a Grand Final victory could be one of the most cherished memories a footballer could ever have.

That is exactly the situation for Central Coast Mariners striker Matt Simon, the home-grown front man will wear the Yellow and Navy for the 100th occasion in Sunday-s Season decider against Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium, and he says it-s tough to imagine the joy that would come with marking the occasion with the club-s first success in the Hyundai A-League-s showpiece event.

“I didn-t think I was going to get there this year, there was a bit of banter going around with the boys in saying I wasn-t going to, but it-s a good feeling to have got there. I haven-t really thought about it too much this week, I have just been concentrating on the big game but it is special to play your 100th in a Grand Final.

“At the moment we can only imagine what it is going to feel like but hopefully we can put in a good performance to get the result we want and bring that trophy home. I-m sure that-d be a good feeling for a long time to come,” said Simon.

Reaching three figures this season was a close run thing, after first a knee injury, then a freak accident very nearly cruelly robbed the East Gosford and Wyoming junior of the honour in 2010/11.

“It-s been a bit frustrating toward the end of the season. I had had a good season and didn-t want it to end disappointingly. For it to come to this now with a Grand Final and to finish it on a good note, I-m looking forward to doing that,” Simon said.

This will be the 25-year-old-s second tilt at Grand Final glory, after coming off the bench in the side-s last appearance in a decider, against Newcastle Jets in 2008. Along with Alex Wilkinson, John Hutchinson and Adam Kwasnik, Simon will use that experience to pass on to the latest generation of Mariners stars, and says his own memories, as well as the European experience of the likes of Joshua Rose and Patrick Zwaanswijk will all assist preparations for this Sunday.

“Patricio and Patrick have played in front of 50-thousand people close to week-in week-out and a few of the boys have played in Grand Finals so there-s a little bit of experience there, and it-s going to be a massive occasion, 50-thousand, the majority of them being Brisbane fans, it-s going to be huge. Hopefully we have got a good game plan and we can stick it out,” Simon said.

The Mariners head into the match as underdogs in many eyes, and while the belief within the camp is unwavering, Simon admits Brisbane pose an extremely formidable opponent.

“They have got some record, and they-re a good side. They-re going to want to finish off the season and keep that record going and win the Grand Final, because I-m sure they-d swap the record for a Grand Final win. We-re going to go up there and hopefully put an end to the record that they have going and bring that trophy home,” said Simon.

Around two-thousand Mariners Members and supporters are expected to make the journey north for Sunday-s decider, the club-s third in six years, which equals Melbourne Victory-s Hyundai A-League record of Grand Final appearances, and Simon says the squad is planning to give the travelling support a night to remember.

“It-s going to be massive for the Coast, 2-thousand people going up and a lot of family and friends of each player. I know that every single person that loves the club will be watching it on TV if they can-t make it up there. They can look forward to us bringing that trophy home and having a bit of fun over the next couple of weeks,” said Simon.

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.

Head-to-Head: All matches (played 22): Brisbane Roar wins 11, Central Coast Mariners wins 3 (8 draws)

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 3, FS3 HD and Sky Sports 3 (NZ). Hyundai A-League partner is 4BC 1116, ABC Brisbane and 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford) and 92.5 ABC Central Coast.

Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Matt SMITH, 4. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 9. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 10. HENRIQUE, 12. Matt MUNDY, 14. Rocky VISCONTE, 15. Matt McKAY (c), 16. Daniel BOWLES, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 18. Luke BRATTAN, 19. Chris BUSH, 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 21. James MEYER, 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Milan SUSAK
*four to be omitted*

In: Daniel BOWLES (promoted), Luke BRATTAN (promoted), Chris Bush (promoted), James MEYER (returns from injury)
Out: Nil
Unavailable: Nil

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 2. Daniel McBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 10. Patricio PEREZ, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 13. Michael BAIRD, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 18. Alex WILKINSON, 19. Matt SIMON, 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 24. Bernie IBINI ISEI, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk)?
*three to be omitted*
In: Matthew LEWIS (promoted), Pedj BOJIC (returns from suspension), Michael BAIRD (returns from injury)
Out: Nil
?Unavailable: Brad PORTER (knee – 4 weeks), Nik MRDJA (knee – season), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee – season)

Referee: Matthew Breeze