IT’S no secret that the strength of the group at the Mariners is the group itself!
IT-S no secret that the strength of the group at the Mariners is the group itself!
And when a group goes through thick and thin together and you have that stability it generates a toughness, a belief and a confidence that you can get through anything.
So, as Sunday-s Grand Final showdown with Western Sydney Wanderers at Allianz Stadium approaches, that inner strength and belief as a group is the ace up our sleeve.
As a group we know exactly what lies ahead and how to handle it.
As a group we know how to prepare for the biggest game of the season, what affect any added nerves may have on us and how to produce our best when it matters most.
The last time we experienced this two years ago we took a record-breaking Brisbane Roar outfit all the way to the wire when no one gave us a hope.
On a scale of 1-10 the improvement and maturity as a group since that day in Brisbane is an 11.
This week has been as normal a week as is possible but we have also embraced the fact it is Grand Final week because we know from experience that it doesn-t come around every year.
We are part of an all-NSW Grand Final - our fourth appearance on the last day of the season in just eight campaigns! It-s an incredible record for any club, let alone the little one that could and we are extremely proud of that.
Western Sydney has captured the attention of the nation with a Premier-s Plate and Grand Final appearance in its first year of existence.
It-s a story that deserves the column inches and airtime it has received and they are to be congratulated on their efforts.
We respect them as a worthy Grand Finalist but it-s our job to end their party on Sunday and the cool, calm and calculated way we have negotiated our way through the week - which started with a very reassuring team talk from head coach Graham Arnold at Monday-s recovery session - has us primed for a performance of consistency.
A consistency that has taken us to heights over the past three years that has raised the bar for the entire A-League.
The first team to surpass 50 points three years on the trot, the first team to finish in the top two three years on the trot, a new record for goals scored at home (33) - the benchmarks just keep coming.
It-s a credit to “Arnie” and the players and this is our opportunity to place the cherry on top.
We know it-s a tough challenge ahead. Western Sydney finished the season with momentum on and off the field (their crowd has set new standards of support for the entire league to try and match).
But we are just concentrating on the cornerstone of our success - our defensive structure - and executing the game plan with discipline, confidence and ruthlessness.
Our shape and concentration for 95 minutes against a very dangerous Melbourne Victory in last Sunday-s Semi-Final win was outstanding.
It holds us in great stead for this weekend-s game.
It promises to be a showcase event for what has been a real landmark season of the Hyundai A-League.
2012/13 Hyundai A-League Grand Final - Western Sydney Wanderers vs. Central Coast Mariners Sunday 21 April, 2013 Allianz Stadium, Sydney Kick-off: 4:00pm Twitter: The official hash-tag for the 2012/13 Hyundai A-League Grand Final is #ALeagueGF. Add #GoMariners to support Graham Arnold-s men in the decider!