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HE was the first player signed to the Central Coast Mariners and wore the number 11 for the club during his time in yellow and navy. Now working as the Mariners Youth Development Coordinator, Damien Brown is widely respected for his impassioned fight for Central Coast football excellence.

HE was the first player signed to the Central Coast Mariners and wore the number 11 for the club during his time in yellow and navy. Now working as the Mariners Youth Development Coordinator, Damien Brown is widely respected for his impassioned fight for Central Coast football excellence. Tyson Scott went one-on-one with Brown.

How did it feel to be the first player to sign with the Central Coast Mariners and what were your expectations?

I was very honoured to be the first player to be chosen by the Mariners, it-s something that I will really look forward to telling my kids as they grow up because at the moment they don-t really understand it. My expectations were a bit of the unknown because it was a whole new league. I was thinking it would be a bit like the old National League [NSL] with a bit more flare and a lot more professional.

It was crazy the amount of quality players that Lawrie [McKinna] bought into the squad, it was fantastic to be playing alongside them.

What are your earliest memories of the club?

A lot of my early memories are around Mingara [Recreation Club]. We used to have our training sessions there, eat there, all of our gym sessions, pool sessions and meetings were there, everything was at Mingara which was great. Now the club has taken a few years to achieve that at [Tuggerah-s] Centre of Excellence, so I hope the players can get everything they need to play their best like we had at Mingara in our first year.

Something that brings back memories are our video sessions, we were all crammed into a three by three metre space sitting on desks, there were bags in there and we would all look at a computer screen at some footage to help us become better. Looking back at that and where we are now, we have to give full credit to the club.

What is your fondest memory as a player for the club?

Something that I will never forget as a player was running out for that first Grand Final. I remember it being so loud and knowing that all my family and extended family were in the crowd and my kids were in the crowd with the “Brown” on their back of their Mariners- tops. So things like that knowing that they were there amongst 40,000 and it was so loud that you couldn-t hear your mate next to you on the field was a great feeling. We gave it a real hell of a shake too.

Who was the toughest individual opponent that you faced in the Hyundai A-League and who is the best you have played with?

Toughest player would probably be, Sasa Ogenovski. He was very tough and we had a few good battles. Not that I was a striker but in terms of a midfielder and trying to attack, he would win every aerial battle, when you got into an attacking situation against him you would come off second best. That fear of an individual not only being very strong and physically on top of you but he could play as well. He was very dangerous.

In terms of the best players that I have played with I could probably put it down to two - Andre Gumprecht and Tom Pondeljak - it was an honour to play beside them.

Who is your favourite Mariners player at the moment or who do you think we should look out for this season?

I-m really looking forward to seeing Anthony Caceres getting some game time. It-s going to be hard for him to get into that midfield but I would like to see him out there and see how he goes against the top players in Australia. I have heard some good raps on him.

In terms of my favourite player now or the best to watch, I like watching Josh Rose play because that was a position that I played for a year and it-s interesting to see how he can defend and he really prides himself upon good attacking football as well. I know what that-s like and I know how hard it is and to have the energy he does after all of his running is phenomenal, so I love watching Josh play.

What is your role at the Mariners now?

I am the Youth Development Coordinator. I do a lot of community work so I-m out there every day for our schools program called “Mariners Active” which is a free program for schools for kids aged eight to 12. We play a lot of small sided games, a lot of exercises and things like that as well as gala days. I do some promotional work but usually I work with kids aged six to 16.

What-s the best thing about working with the Central Coast Mariners?

I love my role at the Mariners because I feel personally attached to the Mariners being the first ever player and playing for a few years but I-ve continued working here for eight years now. Also I enjoy educating and motivating kids, that-s one of my goals in life and I want to continue to do that. Having a football background and working in the football industry, I think I-ve got the perfect job.

What are your predictions for the Mariners this season?

I think Graham Arnold has done such a good job and is so thorough. I haven-t seen any of the other teams or what they-re made up of at this stage which I-m looking forward to, but I just think there-s no way they [the Mariners] can really not be successful because of how thorough he is.

Are we likely to see you play another season in the local Central Coast Premier League?

Yes, I think I-ll be back one day. It looks like I will be playing another season up in Newcastle but after that you never know. The team and the club up at Lake Macquarie have treated me really well over the past three years so I am happy there. I would like to finish off in the local league.

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