It’s fair to say John Hutchinson knows a bit about leadership.
The 220-game veteran, who is poised to equal Matt Thompson’s Hyundai A-League record of 221 appearances in Saturday’s F3 Derby, has been at the heart of the Mariners, both on and off the field since day one.
Hutchinson has made it his responsibility, along with fellow senior players to develop a ‘team-first’ culture in the Mariners dressing room, and has been instrumental in transitioning young talent into the squad.
So when ‘Hutch’ suggests you need to take a serious look at your leadership system, it’s probably best you prick your ears up and listen.
Take note, Newcastle.
“I don’t know who the captain is at the moment, they just turn players over. I feel sorry for their fans and their members for what is going on up there,” Hutchinson said
It has been a rotating armband for the Newcastle Jets in recent weeks, with the honour and authority falling to Taylor Regan a fortnight ago and most recently, Jacob Pepper in their two-all draw across the ditch last weekend.
“Maybe there is another Newcastle boy they can select.
“The captain needs to make sure he is looking after the players and when you are rotating through captains, it’s disappointing. They need a leader and hopefully they can find one,” Hutchinson said.
Player exits have been thick and fast in Newcastle this season and Hutch shared his concerns over the treatment of players in the Hunter.
“It's sad. I know Joel Griffiths - he's not there anymore.
“You hope that a player who has done so much for a football club would get treated better than that.
“They’re trying to move on but they'll be disappointed by another poor season.
“Most of the players we move on go overseas for big money transfers to help the club move forward,” Hutchinson added.
While the Mariners are admittedly in a re-building season themselves, Hutchinson insists that that is where the similarities end.
“This season has been a rebuilding phase for us but we have got some great young kids coming through and the future is bright here.
“They’ve been going through a rebuilding phase for four years.
“You look at Newcastle, they’re meant to have the big community and the big club mentality but I don’t remember the last time they made the finals. I’m sure their fans up there and their members would be very disappointed with what the club produces year in year out,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson noted that there is a lot to be said for continuity in football, and credits the enduring faces in the Mariners locker room as a core factor in the club’s success, and the reason the side have the wood over their northern neighbours.
“We’re a stable club - we’ve only had Lawrie (McKinna), Arnie (Graham Arnold) and Mossy (Phil Moss) as head coaches, we’ve hardly changed personnel around the place and every year we’ve achieved great things.