John Hutchinson has a chance to enter the record books against the Newcastle Jets this Saturday and become the equal most capped player in the 10-year history of the Hyundai A-League as the skipper could walk onto the pitch for the 221st time during his illustrious career with the Central Coast Mariners.
The man who bleeds yellow and navy will become the most experienced campaigner in the Hyundai A-League next to former Newcastle Jets, Melbourne Heart & Sydney FC player Matt Thompson.
Unlike Thompson, Hutchinson has played the entirety of his Hyundai A-League career for just one club and it is only fitting that this weekend he will have the chance to level that record in an F3 Derby at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
Across all competitions the former Maltese national team representative has featured in 263 competitive matches for the yellow and navy which includes AFC Champions League, FFA Cup and the defunct Pre-Season Cup.
Hutch was humbled at having the chance to reach such a significant milestone but was adamant his full focus is on the team’s performance.
“My focus is solely on the team and making sure we go there for three points, it’s my last derby so I’m looking forward to a good one. Whether I start or sit on the bench, I’m happy to play my part and help the boys.
“We’ve had some great battles me and Matty Thompson and he’s a great guy. I know Danny Vukovic is right behind us which is nice as well, a good mate and an ex Mariner. I don’t know how long I’ll hold the record for but if someone like Vuka overtook me then it would be fantastic. We grew up here playing with the Mariners together,” Hutchinson said.
Despite having over 260 competitive appearances for the yellow and Navy, Hutch insisted that his preparation and motivation remained the same as it was 10 years ago.
“For me nothing changes, I take every game as it comes and I’m pretty relaxed on game day and I just try and focus on myself and as soon as we start I focus on the team. This week I’m just more focussed on the team and three points than any milestone,” Hutchinson said
It hasn’t all been all smooth sailing for the skipper who mentioned that he had doubts over his career in the early days.
“Season one I had a knee reconstruction and season two was probably the worst season I’ve had at the Mariners, I still remember the chat I had here with Lawrie who was disappointed in my season two but it’s a great club. It’s been fantastic for me and my family, the community and the people around the place and the club itself has been great which is why I’ve never looked to move from the club,” Hutchinson said
Head Coach Phil Moss praised Hutchinson for the role he has played in instilling the culture of the dressing room and his assistance in the development of youth.
“This milestone says so much about Hutch the player and Hutch the person, loyalty is a dying art in professional sport so I’m really proud to be the coach at the time when Hutch achieves that milestone.
“Hutch will go down in history forever as the first Mariners captain to lift the grand final trophy so his legacy in retirement will be that, and also bringing Liam Rose & Anthony Kalik, players like that through and I’ve always said the platform the senior players lay at this club is second to none,” Moss said.
The following past and present Hyundai A-League players are the closest to Hutch’s imminent record:
- 221 Matt Thompson (Newcastle Jets, Sydney FC & Melbourne Heart)
- 220* John Hutchinson
- 219* Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners, Wellington Phoenix & Perth Glory)
- 212 Andrew Durante (Newcastle Jets & Wellington Phoenix)
- 201* Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Sydney FC, Perth Glory, Newcastle Jets & Western Sydney Wanderers)
- 199* Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory)
Saturday 28 February 2015
Match: Newcastle Jets vs. Central Coast Mariners – Hyundai A-League 2014/15 Round 19
Venue: Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Kick-off: 5:00pm (AEDT)
Television: Live on FOX SPORTS 505
Radio: Live on 96.3 Coast FM & ABC Grandstand
Twitter: Join the match conversation using #NEWvCCM #CCMFC