All hands on deck for Christmas cracker

The cavalry has returned for the Central Coast Mariners ahead of Saturday’s surefire Hyundai A-League epic against Sydney FC at Bluetongue Stadium, with Dean Heffernan, Paul O’Grady and Matt Simon each included in an extended 18-man squad.

The cavalry has returned for the Central Coast Mariners ahead of Saturday-s surefire Hyundai A-League epic against Sydney FC at Bluetongue Stadium, with Dean Heffernan, Paul O-Grady and Matt Simon each included in an extended 18-man squad.

Almost a year since a match that is commonly regarded as the greatest in Hyundai A-League history, the Mariners have again set their sights on their southern rivals and all but the suspended Nigel Boogaard and long-term injury sufferer Ahmad Elrich are up for the challenge.

The Mariners are still represented by nine players that took to the pitch that night, 22 December 2007, while Sydney FC have the same amount in their current playing squad.

The Mariners- Matthew Nash has swapped Sydney colours for yellow and navy, while Sydney striker John Aloisi has gone in the opposite direction.

Nine goals from nine different goal scorers, two red cards and a record Bluetongue Stadium attendance were among the highlights of an engrossing ninety minutes that were unquestionably among the most entertaining in Australian domestic football history.

None of the 17,514 that were in attendance will forget one of the truly exceptional Hyundai A-League encounters that will celebrate its one-year anniversary nine days after Saturday-s clash.

"The boys automatically pick up for this one," said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.

"Sydney have been struggling the last few weeks but got a good result in Newcastle and they-ve jumped into third spot - that-s how tight it is.

"It-s a crucial game for both teams on Saturday, they-ll be flying high and full of confidence but we-re going along alright ourselves."

For all of the Hyundai A-League neutrals and sporting purists alike, encounters between the Mariners and Sydney FC will almost certainly deliver the best entertainment that Australia-s top-flight football competition has to offer.

In sixteen previous meetings between the Hyundai A-League-s nearest rivals, an amazing 54 goals have been scored, 25 of which have been slotted in the past four Hyundai A-League meetings between the two sides.

Aside from last season-s unforgettable 5-4 epic at Bluetongue Stadium, the Mariners- memorable history with their southern rivals includes the inaugural Hyundai A-League Grand Final, November-s unfathomable 3-3 draw at the Sydney Football Stadium and matches that have marked the competitive debuts of former Mariners drawcards John Aloisi and Mark Bosnich.

In total, the Mariners have scored five wins in clashes between the two clubs, suffered eight losses and drawn on three occasions.

"It-s a big game for us and a big game for Sydney and it all points to an entertaining clash," said McKinna.

"They-re a good team - it doesn-t matter what team they put on the park, they-re competitive, they-ve got a lot of experience on the park and they-re going to be a big threat.

"Mark Bridge always scores against us and they-ve got players all over the park that can hurt us - Corica, Aloisi, they all score goals.

"We-ll show them respect, but we-ll be getting stuck in as best as we can."

Hyundai A-League 2008/09, Round 15
Central Coast Mariners vs. Sydney FC
Bluetongue Stadium - Saturday, 13 December 2008, Kick off 7pm
2 Andre Gumprecht
Position Midfielder
DOB 26 Nov, 1974
Height 175cm
Weight 77kg4 Pedj Bojic
Position Defender
DOB 9 Apr, 1984
Height 180cm
Weight 75kg5 Bradley Porter
Position Midfielder
DOB 19 Feb, 1987
Height 179cm
Weight 74kg6 David D-Apuzzo
Position Defender
DOB 5 Sep, 1988
Height 180cm
Weight 77kg7 John Hutchinson
Position Midfielder
DOB 29 Dec, 1979
Height 179cm
Weight 78kg8 Dean Heffernan
Position Defender
DOB 19 May, 1980
Height 186cm
Weight 81kg9 Nik Mrdja
Position Striker
DOB 30 Nov, 1978
Height 186cm
Weight 87kg10 Adrian Caceres
Position Midfielder
DOB 10 Jan, 1982
Height 178cm
Weight 84kg11 Dylan Macallister
Position Striker
DOB 17 May, 1982
Height 191cm
Weight 92kg13 Paul O-Grady
Position Defender
DOB 6 Nov, 1978
Height 193cm
Weight 92kg15 Andrew Clark
Position Defender
DOB 24 Aug, 1974
Height 180cm
Weight 74kg17 Matthew Osman
Position Midfielder
DOB 29 Jul, 1983
Height 183cm
Weight 75kg18 Alex Wilkinson
Position Defender
DOB 13 Aug, 1984
Height 187cm
Weight 85kg19 Matt Simon
Position Striker
DOB 22 Jan, 1986
Height 188cm
Weight 79kg20 Danny Vukovic
Position Goalkeeper
DOB 27 Mar, 1985
Height 187cm
Weight 96kg22 Sasho Petrovski
Position Striker
DOB 5 Mar, 1975
Height 180cm
Weight 80kg23 Mile Jedinak
Position Midfielder
DOB 3 Aug, 1984
Height 189cm
Weight 88kg30 Andrew Redmayne
Position Goalkeeper
DOB 13 Jan, 1989
Height 194cm
Weight 84kg

The Mariners- Hyundai A-League season continues at their Bluetongue Stadium home on Saturday, 13 December against southern rivals Sydney FC. Kick off is at 7pm.

Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website -, or via phone on 132 849.