One-on-one with Alex Wilkinson

On the eve of his 150th Hyundai A-League match for the Central Coast Mariners, we caught up with captain Alex Wilkinson to reflect on his seven seasons in Australia's top flight with the yellow and navy.

On the eve of his 150th Hyundai A-League match for the Central Coast Mariners, we caught up with captain Alex Wilkinson to reflect on his seven seasons in Australia's top flight with the yellow and navy.

ccmariners.com.au - You-ve been a mainstay of the Mariners backline for seven seasons, what-s the secret to performing consistently week in, week out? Alex Wilkinson - I think hard work obviously and trying to stay injury free and a bit of luck chucked in there. I think I-ve been lucky enough to be with the Mariners now for seven years and I-ve loved every moment of it. It-s a fantastic club and I love the way that we-ve really built ourselves into the community here. We-ve had a lot of highlights over the first six years and hopefully there-s a few more to come.

ccmariners.com.au - You mentioned the highlights, what memories stick out for you? Alex Wilkinson - I think the three Grand Finals obviously are three major memories. It was good to get there but not quite the icing on the cake with the three losses. But also the minor premiership in season three was great, I think obviously if you can finish on the top of the table throughout the whole year I think that-s a great reward to get that. They-re probably the main ones but there-s plenty of other individual games that have been fantastic as well.

ccmariners.com.au - The Mariners are a champion team rather than a team of champions, but over the years you have played with a lot of players. Who do you rate as the best guys to have come and gone from the club, or they might still be here? Alex Wilkinson - We-ve been lucky enough to get a number of great players in. Johnny Aloisi was here for a season, Tony Vidmar was here for a couple and they-re two Socceroos who have had probably over 50 appearances for the national team - it was great to have guys like that here. Patrick Zwaanswijk, he-s obviously a great defender to have here at the club he-s had a lot of experience. It-s also been good to see guys like ‘Hutch- (John Hutchinson) - who-s been at the club for seven years, ‘Kwas- (Adam Kwasnik) - been at the club seven years, Matty Simon-s been here, Brad Porter - so it-s good to see that a few boys have been here from day one as well.

ccmariners.com.au - What about from your opponents, is there anyone that you-ve come up against that you-ve found particularly tricky throughout the seven seasons of the league? Alex Wilkinson - There-s usually a few every year. Archie-s been around in the A-League now for six or seven years and he-s always a pretty touch opponent when he-s on his game, he-s so quick and direct and always causes defences a lot of problems. That-s the one that sticks out the most for me at the moment but there-s been a lot that have given me tough days.

ccmariners.com.au - While there have been plenty of players that have come and gone from the club there have only been two coaches, which is a pretty remarkable thing in professional football. Without asking who is the better coach, how can you compare Lawrie (McKinna) to ‘Arnie- (Graham Arnold)? Alex Wilkinson - I got asked this question on Tuesday and it-s very hard to compare. As I said on Tuesday I think the way that Lawrie built the team into the community was second to none. I think he was more than willing to get down and do a lot of community work - invite the fans to house and go on the radio and promote the club and all that sort of stuff, I think he did a fantastic job doing that and probably not too many other coaches could have done as good a job as him - he had a great five years at the club, two grand finals. Now Arnie-s come in and the amount of experience he-s got in the game is shown every day in training - he-s tactically very very good. And just the experience he-s got from working under Guus Hiddink, Pim Verbeek, and going to Olympics and World Cups is just fantastic - he can pass his knowledge on to us every day at training.

ccmariners.com.au - The fans and Members both locally and abroad are the lifeblood of the club. What does their continued support mean to you and does it provide added motivation for you to achieve personally? Alex Wilkinson -If there were no fans there would be no football club. I think we-ve done over the last seven years very well to grow our members and to grow the awareness of the Mariners in the community. We worked very hard to do that in the first few years and it-s paying off. I think our fans are fantastic and if we get 10,000 at a game every week that-s fantastic for the amount of people we have in the area per person. We have by far the best crowds in the league. We can-t ask anymore of the guys on the coast and we just hope they continue to get behind us.

ccmariners.com.au - Happy 150th!