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Action Jackson: A-League champions Central Coast appoint a new manager

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28th September, 2023

After weeks of speculation, Englishmen Mark Jackson has finally been unveiled as the Mariners’ next coach, taking over from Nick Montgomery.

Judging by the online feedback, the assessment has been swift, with some apprehensive Central Coast fans recommending other applicants including Ben Cahn and Luke Wilkshire.

It’s worth noting, however, that Wilkshire formerly walked out of the Gosford club, waving goodbye to his Head of Youth Development role. For a team that prides itself on uncovering talent, such a rash decision appeared unforgivable.

Conversely, while managing abroad, Jackson excelled at coaching in the academy system, generating a promotion for his Leeds U23 side.

Former Mariner Jason Cummings celebrates scoring during the 2023 Grand Final. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The other legitimate CV competing with Jackson was Cahn, a former NPL coach of the year. Sadly, however, his recent Australia Cup effort with the Melbourne Knights was questionable as they registered zero shots on target against Brisbane Roar.

Jackson’s parachute into Gosford must seem intimidating, even scary, especially with the Asian Football Confederation Cup already underway. Time is limited.

He has less than a week until Stallion Laguna travel from the Phillipines to face his squad, which has been dramatically altered since winning the A-League Grand Final.


Yes he inherits a champion side, but a large chunk of the lads are now gone for new challenges overseas.

Jackson enters the picture with one senior gig under his belt, coaching Milton Keynes Dons in the English League One. Although the club’s name doesn’t flash in bright lights, his temporary position was still commendable, showing more experience than Montgomery at a similar age.

For now, there’s a period of adjustment in Gosford and a few questions arise. For example – What happens to the current team of assistants? German international Nicolai Müller only joined the staff a month ago.

Was his addition part of Montgomery’s short-term plan? A gap was left when Hibernian took the gaffer to Scotland.

Or, do the current assistants stay, each helping run the day-to-day operations of the Centre of Excellence at Tuggerah?

Regardless, welcome to Australia, MJ. May the shopping at Erina Fair delight you, and the hot sands sparkle at Terrigal beach.


It all else fails, let Jason Cummings’ early perceptions of down under guide you and just go with the flow. It was 2022, Round 21 at Mars Stadium, and the cult hero was homesick.

“And then you come here,” he reflected after the match, happily accepting his fate, pausing. “I don’t know what this place is.”