I have been a Central Coast Mariners fan ever since their inception in 2004 into the new national football league named: The A-League. Granted, l was only 10 years old, and wasn’t focused on them that much, but l went to the occasional game and really enjoyed it. As l played football from ages 6-16, l started attending games regularly in the 2007/08 season and l was enthralled at how this small team for my region could compete on a national scale and almost win the Championship. Losing to the Jets in that season’s grand final hurt, but l knew, with a lot of others that success was not far away for this overachieving and great football team.
In the next few seasons, l grew as a person and as a fan. I had a free ticket for every home game due to the club’s fantastic system where if you’re a player for any local football side you can gain access to home games for free. A luxury that l did not want to waste. I was suddenly a huge fan in season 2011/12 when we made the Grand Final again and faced the mighty Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium. I remember watching at my friend’s place because he had Foxtel (A luxury l couldn’t afford until recently). I was over the moon when the Mariners went 2-0 up in extra time and l could smell the title all the way from here. Then, one of the most memorable moments in Australian football history happened. The Roar came back from the dead to score 2 goals in a matter of minutes to force the game into a penalty shootout that we subsequently lost. I was shattered; it was like someone had thrown an axe straight into my heart. My friend and his parents were also huge fans, and we were all speechless. No one moved or talked in that house for what seemed like a lifetime.
That next season l was determined to help my club even more. This is when l joined the small, but amazingly passionate Mariners supporter group named the Yellow Army. I was completely in love (l have no shame in saying that) with every single passionate man, woman and child who sung their hearts out for 90 minutes every game. I believe the first time l stepped foot in that bay, l knew l had found my home away from home. From day 1 of the 2012/13 season l was a Yellow Army member; l was totally smitten with the idea of singing all game for my team. I have not missed a home game in 2 seasons; a fact l am proud about. The Mariners had a fantastic season last season only bettered by the 1st season heroics of the new kids on the block: The Western Sydney Wanderers, but in the Grand Final we finally got the win after 4 attempts. The overwhelming joy and happiness l had that day and night was unforgettable. It was a weight off the players and fan’s shoulders. We knew that our time was then, and we took it with both arms. It was a deserved success for all the players, our wonderful team of last season, and for every single true Mariners supporter who had waited for that moment for 8 years. A date and moment no Mariner will ever forget.
The reason for this article is that the crowning moment of this great club and my immense satisfaction and joy came on Saturday night when we were deservedly beaten 3-1 by Melbourne Victory. The atmosphere around the ground was sombre, but the Mariners had arranged a gates open event where parents and their kids, and the whole crowd really, could come onto the field and run around and play where their heroes played every 2nd week. The atmosphere had turned into one of happiness. I saw the smiles on kid’s faces that not long before were sad. The Mariners players, who were still making their way around the ground to shake fan’s hands, were suddenly happy again and some on Twitter have explained how their mood changed right away when they saw the kids on the ground. Even the Victory fans that made the trip up to NSW were of course happy with their teams win, but also played with the Mariners fans with no ego or gloating in sight. A fact l really respected and appreciated. I walked around the hallowed turf with a massive smile on my face as well. No one cared that we had just lost the game because the game was over, the game was insignificant to the joy and happiness on kid’s and parent’s faces.
I had never been prouder to call myself a Central Coast Mariners supporter than l was on Saturday night. Bravo Mariners management and bravo every single Mariners and Victory fan at the stadium that made me smile from ear to ear.Google+