He’s travelled to three FIFA World Cup’s in support of the Socceroos and ventured abroad to see his favourite club sides play, so there is no doubting Central Coast Mariners supporter Brendan O’Neill’s sheer passion for football.
On Friday night, O’Neill will be back at North Sydney Oval where he first caught the football bug in 1997 as a supporter of Northern Spirit.
And, come kick-off against Melbourne Victory, O’Neill, originally from Warriewood but now living in Manly on Sydney’s northern beaches, will have taken his place in The Bob Stand to support the Mariners – a Club he believes has the capacity to resonate with some of the vast numbers of football participants south of the Brooklyn Bridge.
“I have adopted Central Coast Mariners as my team in Australia because I believe it’s the team that best relates to my philosophy, and the way the game has been played in this country,” O’Neill said. “The Mariners show spirit, and the players have character and attitude. Central Coast may be the underdog, but the team regularly overachieves.”
Growing up near the water, O’Neill spent much of his childhood and teenage years in or around the ocean, surfing almost daily. Football was also a huge part of his upbringing as he played, and later became an ardent fan of the beautiful game.
When the Hyundai A-League was formed O’Neill attended a few Sydney FC games, and while he enjoyed the football at Moore Park he didn’t feel a particular connection to the Sky Blues.
So, he sought out a side to support that was symbolic of him.
“The football inside a wave [on the Mariners’ crest] is what I believe can attract football participants from the north shore to the Mariners,” he said. “Football is the most played sport on the northern beaches and the north shore, and being around the water is a big part of our culture, too.”
“The beaches on the north shore are very, very similar to the beaches on the Central Coast, and it shouldn’t be lost that only a small body of water separates the two areas.”
“So I think that symbolism is very important in bringing a few games to the north side, because in many places on the north shore you can see the Coast,” he said.
O’Neill said the idyllic Central Coast Stadium, as is firmly the Club’s intention, simply must remain the Mariners’ home base, but that broadening the yellow and navy’s footprint in Sydney’s north by playing “a couple of games” in the region could offer numerous benefits, not least an increased fan base.
“I think that the Central Coast Mariners will always have their home at Central Coast Stadium because that is one of the best grounds to watch football in Australia,” he said. “I love watching games there – it’s perfect because not only do you have the football, but you can see out to the water. That again brings the cultures together.”
“For me there ‘s no danger of Central Coast relocating permanently to northern Sydney, but I think there are people here who want another option of a team to follow. I think that if it’s nurtured, there is a fan base here that can definitely be sustainable to travel to Central Coast Stadium as I do every game as best I can either by public transport, car, or even by ferry.”
“There’s a big population of players here and maybe they would like to go see a game in their local area, and any young footballer that has a visit from a team when they’re young, it would surely have a big impression on them.”Central Coast Mariners vs. Melbourne Victory – Hyundai A-League 2014/15 Round 9
Friday 5 December 2014
North Sydney Oval, North Sydney
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Twitter: @CCMariners #CCMvMVC