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BY THE PALM TREES

It’s been a tough year, but under the stewardship of Paul Okon we’ve shown plenty of improvement – in the way we play the game, the results we’ve achieved along the way and in our relative position to the other teams on the table. But with two rounds left in the season we find ourselves fighting our original rivals for the most unwanted prize in team sport. Should we win the game, we will likely avoid the “wooden spoon”. Should our rivals win or if we share the points, we will most likely take the ignominious prize.

Neither side has the right to claim much favoritism but examining the Jet’s run into this match we find they have not won since January 27th when they defeated Melbourne City in Coffs Harbour, 2-1. Since then they have picked up just a point, in the last F3 Derby on February 26th at their home ground. They’ve also conceded 15 goals while scoring just 1. Over the season they’ve scored 28 goals while conceding 49 so their goal difference is minus 21. The Jets are coming off a 0-3 defeat by the Wanderers at their home.

For the Mariners, we haven’t won since February 12th when we accounted for Western Sydney at their home 0-2. Since then we’ve picked up just a point, in the same away F3 Derby referred to above. Since then we have conceded 12 while scoring 5. Over the season we’ve scored 29 goals while conceding 51 so our goal difference is minus 22. We’re coming of a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of the Roar in Brisbane.

There isn’t that much in it is there..? So it’s all about pride, pride in the shirt, in the club and about providing a positive ending to another difficult (to say the least) season.

In terms of the passion of the fans, we’ve shown on the two previous F3 Derby occasions that our fans are prepared to travel to support their team in great numbers, exceeding 1000 fans on both away trips. It remains to be seen whether the Jets fans can match those efforts. We’ll find out today.

The biggest advantage we can look to is that we’ll play at home in front of our home fans with everything on the line. In the past, we’ve shown many times this is when we’re at our most dangerous and most desperate. We’ll only find out if that can be repeated when the referees whistle blows.

Our fans have been frustrated, sad, and some downright angry in our recent efforts and it’s hard to blame them. There has been plenty of discussion among them about supposed unnecessary negativity and plenty who think there should only be positive talk. It’s a two way street. This club has been built on success since the very beginning, winning the first ever trophy offered (2005 Pre-Season Cup) and with two premierships won, four Grand Final appearances, an A-League Championship win and five appearances in the Asian Champions League tournament, who can argue with the reason fans feel deflated by our last couple of campaigns. So here is one way – we (the fans) should remain positive because whether we like it or not, we’re the smallest club and yet we’ve always been spoilt with successes. And in the other way – for the same reason, why should we be positive about accepting mediocre (or worse) when we rightly feel we deserve our successes to continue.

The re-signing (not resigning) of three of our current roster this week provides some hope Okon has started taking us in a new direction, in his own direction, with the players of his own choosing. It’s been hard to remain patient but the time has almost come for the signing season which we must trust will provide hope of a different path. Storm Roux and Josh Bingham can become part of Paolo’s new direction and Adam Pearce’s promotion to an A-League contract is a just reward for his rapid improvement among the youth.

The reason I write blogs about my team and club is so I can look back through our memories and re-read the story of our journey in my own words. The last couple of years this has been harder to do every week and for this season I have only written before home matches. I hope the new Paolo direction can restore my motivation to write every week and I hope to be writing my first (this season) blog before an away match next week, remembering how we restored some pride and respect to our club as we finish the season away from the dreaded spoon and on a path to better times.

About Erin Morrow (96 Articles)
Football fanatic and amateur analyst. An over 35′s player and sometimes coach. He does the occasional refereeing. Passionate Central Coast Mariners foundation member. Follow on Twitter: @Erin_Mariner