Mariners’ custodian to pass three figures

Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic will reach a landmark milestone this Saturday, lining up for his 100th competitive appearance for the club, when it takes on Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium.

Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic will reach a landmark milestone this Saturday, lining up for his 100th competitive appearance for the club, when it takes on Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium.

Vukovic was signed by Lawrie McKinna originally as an understudy to first choice goalkeeper John Crawley in the club-s inaugural season, but after Crawley suffered what turned out to be a career ending hip injury after just five rounds, the then 19 year old Vukovic was thrust into the spotlight, and has hardly looked back.

"It-s gone pretty quickly," admits Vukovic.

"It seems like only yesterday I played my first game here at Bluetongue. It-s been a great five years, and now just looking forward to this season, hopefully it can be a successful one.

"It was unfortunate for JC to pick up that injury, but his misfortune was my good luck. I was lucky enough to take my opportunity and I-ve pretty much kept my spot since that first season, so yeah, very happy with how I-ve gone."

The Penrith junior has been the club-s first choice goalkeeper ever since he took the reigns from Crawley almost five years ago, the man who has mentored Vukovic for the past decade.

"He-s been huge for me and for my career. I-ve been with him for ten years now and his style of coaching suits me perfectly. I owe him a lot for where I-ve got to in my career," Vukovic said.

But Crawley isn-t the only coach instrumental in getting Vukovic to where he is today, the Qantas Olyroo and fringe Socceroo also paying tribute to Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.

"We-ve always had a good bunch of boys and kept that core group of players. With Lawrie, he put his faith in me when I was 19 and up and coming. He could have easily gone out and got another goalkeeper but he gave me a chance, and I-m grateful that he did that," Vukovic said.

Vukovic would love nothing more than to celebrate the milestone with victory over Brisbane this Saturday, and continue the Mariners second greatest ever start to a season, save only for the Premiership winning campaign in 2007/08.

The Central Coast took three wins and a draw out of their opening four matches on the way to winning the Premiers Plate two seasons ago. They head into Saturday-s clash at Suncorp Stadium with a win and two draws so far this campaign.

"They-re always tough to play up there, and they-ve predicted it-s going to be pretty hot up there as well so conditions aren-t going to be the best, but we-ve gone up there before and won, and it-s a good time to go up there, they haven-t been going that well and we-ll be looking to get the three points on Saturday.

"It-s been a good season so far for me personally. I only kept three clean sheets last season and I-ve already kept two this season. Just looking to build on that, and hopefully keep another clean sheet on Saturday," Vukovic said.

Of Vukovic-s 99 competitive appearances to date, 81 of those have come in the Hyundai A-League, the first of which in a 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory in round 6 of the club-s maiden campaign. Vukovic has also made 11 starting appearances and one as a substitute in the now defunct Pre Season Cup, as well as six appearances in the Asian Champions League.

The Mariners- next home match of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season is Friday, 4 September. Kick-off is at 8pm at Canberra Stadium. 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.