Just over five weeks out from the start of the season, Mariners skipper Matt Simon is looking forward to getting back out on the park in front of the Club’s fans.
Simon was confirmed last week as returning for this season, with the announcement that he will work with the younger members of the squad as part of an expanded dual role.
The A-League 20/21 season will be Simon’s 14th in the league and his wealth of experience makes him an ideal candidate to help a young group adapt to the rigours and expectations of the professional football environment.
“With such a young squad it’s important to have a core group of senior players and we have had Ollie [Bozanic] come in this year which is brilliant for the team,” he said last week.
“People like Birraz, myself, Ziggy, we can really lead the way and show the young ones how to do things around the professional setup, and it’s up to us to lead them as a squad and I’m sure the young ones will follow.”
“I’m really excited to be going around again and mentoring the young ones, that’s something I’m really looking forward to and we’re all looking ahead to the season itself.”
As clubs await the season fixture, they continue to work towards the start date of December 27, with trial games filling out the space left by the FFA Cup this year.
Although the pre-season is shorter than last year’s four-month grind, Simon said the team is enjoying their time and are focused on day one of the campaign and keeping a strong outlook in the lead up.
“It’s been good [so far],” he said on Friday ahead of a hit out against the Jets.
“It’s obviously always a long pre-season but as we know this year been a tough year, everyone is enjoying being back on the park and I think we’re around the halfway mark now, the boys are really looking forward to the end of December.”
“We just really need to be positive around the club.”
“It has been a tough year not just for football but the whole world in general and we are very lucky that we get to do what we do every single day and they boys don’t take that for granted.”
“Moving forward we just need to work hard, set some goals that we think are achievable and really go after them.”
With Memberships on sale, fixtures not far away and a couple of new faces still to arrive, Simon praised Mariners fans and said the players are looking forward to putting on a show for the faithful in December.
“We’ve always traditionally had great fans at this Club, and no matter what happens they support us so we’re really looking forward to having those people back to support the club and new ones too,” he said.
“As I say it has been a tough year for everyone so we hope we can put a good show on for people and bring some happiness [back] into their lives.”