Hutch takes memories of hot 'n' cold off-season into opener

Central Coast Mariners midfielder John Hutchinson has had an off-season bigger than most other players would ever envisage.

Central Coast Mariners midfielder John Hutchinson has had an off-season bigger than most other players would ever envisage.

The pain of the Mariners early exit from the Asian Champions League was offset by arguably the two greatest moments of his life, both on and off the field.

"Flying away with the (Maltese) national team was a good experience, and then coming back here, normally we have two to three months of pre-season but this time we-ve only had four weeks," said Hutchinson.

"It-s been crammed in but it-s been a good pre-season, the boys have been working hard and we-re looking forward to the first game on Thursday.

"The boys have been training hard, and we-re looking forward to the start of the season so we can make amends for the end of last season, which was disappointing.

"While most of the boys have put it behind them, it-s still there in the back of the memory what happened at the end of last season, so we-re looking to make amends for that and get off to a good start this year."

His Maltese national team debut followed quickly by the birth of his first child, he and wife Kate-s son Kai arriving just hours after his first trial match of the pre-season, a 0-0 draw with Sydney FC.

"(Didn-t get much sleep) last night, or the night before that. Little Kai doesn-t really like the nighttime he prefers daytime. He sleeps about six hours during the day but come nighttime he only gets about three or four hours so the little fella is going to have to change his ways!

"He-s a good boy. He-s tiny, the first time I held him I nearly dropped him! No, Apart from that, it-s been good," said Hutchinson.

And Hyundai A-League 2009/10 could see Hutchinson-s star rise further, he joins his Mariners teammates in facing his home state club, defending champions Melbourne Victory to kick off the new season, in what will be his 99th competitive appearance in yellow and navy.

"They-ve got more pressure on themselves to get a result than we do. They are at home, they are the champions, and for them, anything less than a win won-t do them justice. For us, we need to go there and win the game, we need to go there and win.

"As I said, they-ve got the pressure on them, I-ll be playing in front of Mum and Dad, and I-m looking forward to heading home to see them. Hopefully I can get a good result for them, my wife and my kid," Hutchinson said.

After an off-season clear-out of the playing squad, Hutchinson is confident those on board for version five can help the Central Coast be a force in Hyundai A-League 2009/10.

"The (new) boys have come in and done a great job for us. Big (Chris) Doigy is what we needed at the back I thought. A big stopper, someone who is commanding in the air and expects the best from all the boys. Nicky Travis is a good midfielder who will get game time this year and should do a good job for us, Mikey (McGlinchey) has come in and done really well, and Matty Lewis is one of the up and coming stars of the A-League, so add all of them to the mix of our squad, it-s looking better than last year and hopefully we can perform better than we did at the end of last season," said Hutchinson.

The Mariners Hyundai A-League 2009/10 campaign kicks off this Thursday, 6 August when they take on Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium. Kick-off is at 8pm.

The Mariners first home match of the Hyundai A-League season is against local rival Newcastle Jets on Friday, August 14. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now available online by clicking here or by phoning 1300 767 442.