Mariners honoured for Grand Final glory

THOUSANDS of Central Coast Mariners members and supporters lined the streets of Gosford’s town centre to congratulate the yellow and navy on their maiden Hyundai A-League Championship at a victory parade on Friday afternoon.

THOUSANDS of Central Coast Mariners members and supporters lined the streets of Gosford-s town centre to congratulate the yellow and navy on their maiden Hyundai A-League Championship at a victory parade on Friday afternoon.

Fans were able to cheer on their Grand Final heroes as the team made their way through the CBD with the Hyundai A-League trophy aboard a specially decorated open-top bus.

The Club-s players, coaching staff, support staff and volunteers jumped aboard on the corner of Burns Crescent and Mann Street at Gosford Train Station. The parade commenced down Mann Street, with the bus then travelling down Donnison Street and Mortimer Lane, before arriving at Kibble Park.

The Mariners were welcomed to the stage in Kibble Park by a bumper attendance. MC Chris King led the crowd in a series of rousing chants.

State Minister for Sport and Recreation, the honourable Graham Annesley MP, Central Coast skipper John Hutchinson, Head Coach Graham Arnold and Chairman Mr Peter Turnbull addressed the ecstatic crowd.

Hutchinson paid tribute to the coaching staff and thanked the fans for their support this season.

“Without the coaches we wouldn-t have achieved what we did this year,” he said. “This is an unbelievable turnout and the boys are so appreciative of everyone coming out and showing us support for the whole season.”

“Every single one of you, from members to the people just turning up and those wishing us well on the street. We are very grateful, we are a very lucky team to have such great supporters and hopefully we can repeat it next year.”

Arnold praised the effort shown by his team throughout season eight of Australia-s top flight, and called on the support of fans for his side-s final AFC Champions League group match next week.

“This is the best football team this country has seen in eight years and the players always give 110 per cent,” the former Qantas Socceroos boss declared.

Fans of the yellow and navy were given the opportunity to get up close with their favourite Hyundai A-League stars following the completion of the formalities, while others took the opportunity to have the photo snapped with the trophy colloquially known as the ‘toilet seat-.

Pacey attacker Mitchell Duke spoke to media following the event and described the past five days as a career highlight.

“It was an absolutely great atmosphere at the Grand Final, there were obviously great celebrations, and it was a huge win,” he said.

“To back it up in Korea was unreal, I'm so proud of the boys. We dug deep to get a result over there. We have come back to such a great reception in Gosford today, it's been absolutely unreal.”