Erin Mariner gives an account ‘From the Stands’ of last week’s F3Derby.
It was a warm day for the derby and with the 7.45pm start in Newcastle it felt like it would be a long wait before getting ready and jumping on the Coastal Liners Mariners Supporters bus to head to the game. To while away the time I knocked over a couple of odd jobs and sent a few tweets tagging players, club and fans to make sure to pick up on any banter in the lead up. Sure enough twitter was alive with plenty of home and away fans sledging one another, light-hearted and otherwise. Aside from the sledging, there was definitely plenty of excitement among both sets of fans on twitter. Mariners fan tweets expressing they were rightly confident their team was performing well enough to overturn the last derby result. Newcastle fans giving as good as they got but maybe a little apprehensive about their team’s chances this time around given they could hardly suggest they were in great form.
As bus time approached, I gathered my supporters gear and prepared to head for the Central Coast Leagues Club to catch the bus to the game. I was feeling a little less nervous than the previous F3 Derby trip; mostly because I was super confident our team would perform well.
As I arrived at the bus stop I noticed a coach and a mini bus waiting and thought great, plenty of travelling fans to make the trip and game more enjoyable. As I approached the buses, I discovered that the coach was actually for a senior’s tour and only the mini-bus would be carrying F3 Derby fans. I was a little disappointed seeing this so as I climbed aboard the bus I jumped back on Twitter to see what I could find about travelling fans heading to Newcastle. Sure enough I quickly became aware that many Mariners fans had decided to head up to the game early so they could catch the NYL F3 Derby, which was played prior to the main game.
The bus trip discussion was filled with comments about how well our team have been going recently and about how to boost the numbers of fans for the next NSW away bus trip (Sydney FC 27th December). Our bus driver was full of enthusiasm for the Mariners and information about how to ensure fans do not miss out on buses. Apparently a number of bus customers for the F3 Derby called the bus company on game day and unfortunately were turned away because a bigger bus could not be allocated at late notice.
Aside from buoyant discussion, the bus trip was relatively un-eventful except for the fool who needed a comfort stop at Swansea golden arches. Oh wait…that was me. J We motored into Newcastle with the odd fan giving us a wave as we approached (or were they giving us “the bird”) and pulled into the car park at Hunter Stadium.
At the stadium there didn’t seem to be a lot of fans around, just a trickle arriving and walking straight in without any queuing. It was around an hour before kick-off and once I got inside I noticed there were many Mariners fans already in the stadium and I was hopeful the local fans would build quickly and we’d have a quality crowd for the game.
As my group approached our seats (around the half way line and about midway between the two sets of active fans) Jets members already sitting in their seats made a few light-hearted comments about us being in the wrong bay. We smiled and took our seats hoping we’d be the ones with the loudest mouths later in the evening.
The game was immense and I won’t go through a blow by blow description except to say the Mariners were fantastic and thoroughly deserved their victory. Sitting surrounded by Jet’s members didn’t stop me from jumping out of my seat ecstatically when we scored each of our two goals, nor did it stop me providing some loud verbal advice for the referee.
With about five minutes to go in the match and with the Mariners leading 2-0, some of the Jets fans begun to leave and we didn’t waste the opportunity to question their commitment as they left.
When the fulltime whistle went, we headed down to the fence to shake the hands of our mighty Mariners warriors and they did not disappoint, coming over and greeting every fan waiting for them. A great bunch of blokes them Mariners boys and always keen to thank the fans for turning up whether at home or away.
Heading back to the bus we were met with the odd grumble from Jets fans but in reality nothing could have dampened the elation I was feeling at getting such a great result. Jumping on the bus the mood was more than buoyant, I’d say excited and the conversation was alive with the top drawer performance our boys put in. I spent plenty of time on the way home tweeting about the game and the performance of our team and the tone of conversation there was elation as well. Mariner’s fans were more than a little pleased to grab the bragging rights and the points on our way out of Hunter Stadium.
I arrived back on the coast around 11.30pm still feeling elated about the result and the way the game played out. The banter with disappointed Jets fans continued all the way home. Walking into my darkened home with the rest of my family in bed, I was in no mood to sleep so I sat down to watch some more football and continue the tweet banter, finally calling it a night and falling asleep with a smile on my face well into the wee morning hours.
What a trip! What a game! What a result! What a performance and what a team!
Right now is a great time to be a Mariners fan. No-one’s counting any chickens yet but as I noted in one tweet from a well known Mariners supporter – “Long way to go but I’d rather set the standard than chase it”.
Come-on you yellow!Google+