Much has been made of the added opportunities afforded young domestic players during the early weeks of the new A-League season.
Loyalty to some is merely a seven-letter word. A word that means nothing. To the hard-nosed football fan, loyalty means everything.
The relationship between football fan and football club can be a tough marriage. Hard times can bring out the best and worst in people.
The Newcastle Jets’ relationship with fans has been strained of late. Membership currently stands at 4123, numbers are significantly down on recent years. Obviously Covid has played its part.
Surely most of the uncertainty is borne out of the ownership issues. Martin Lee has this week been stripped of the licence, with an APL Consortium now holding sway. Lee had put no money into the club since October 2019.
Sco-Mo may ‘still believe in miracles’, Lawrie McKinna and his staff have been performing them. The Scotsman has somehow managed to navigate a survival course for more than 14 months.
Whether McKinna is part of the new structure remains to be seen. Either way Novocastrians cannot question his loyalty, neither for the most part can the players. In fact the likes of Nigel Boogaard, Ben Kantarovski, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Jason Hoffman are all centurions in the Blue, Red and Gold colours. They have 557 games between them.
The Jets’ first up start against traditional rivals the Central Coast Mariners was a close affair. A defensive error and a determined Alou Kuol proved to be the difference in the end.
Newy’s depth in playing numbers is already being tested. As early as the ninth minute the injury to Jason Hoffman forced a change in personnel.
Nineteen year old Lucas Mauragis, a left-sided player, filled in admirably at right back. Considering this was only his third A-League outing, his performance belied his age and experience. Whilst a defeat in a Derby is never good, this performance and result will soon be forgiven and forgotten once the Jets secure a win.
Turton Road will host the return of Carl Robinson and Kenny Millar a mere few months since their shock defection to the Western Sydney Wanderers.
The Hunter faithful still recall well his very first interview as coach of the Jets. In answer to a question of why he took so long in deciding to take up the Newcastle coaching role, Robinson answered, “The last thing I want to do is try and get a job, accept the job and then three months later say I’m not happy and want to leave. That’s not what I’m about as a person.”
The Welsh/Scots duo had a contract that allowed them to leave regardless. It still didn’t sit well with many Newy fans. If fans didn’t like the coaching departure, then the actions of Bernie Ibini and his agent did get their blood boiling.
Ibini refused to train and eventually wore the Jets hierarchy down. A complete lack of loyalty? You betcha!
The Jets loss may well be the Wanderers gain. Time will tell. Yes he did pay out the remainder of his contract. That won’t stop Jets fans giving him the proverbial raspberry come Friday night.
Cheap ticketing is in place for the Jets versus Wanderers game. Covid restrictions, the latest scares and even wet weather may limit this Friday’s attendance.
Those who venture to the fixture and take their seats could be in for an immense battle. Both sides are coming off narrow loses. Surely the pressure is though on Robinson and WSW.
The Wanderers’ millionaire backers will demand results. On the flip side Craig Deans and the Newcastle Jets have already been written off by most. Less expectation, less pressure.
Carl Robinson may not mind playing the pantomime villain for this game and Bernie will feel the home crowds ire.
Friday night football… I can’t wait.