Wilkinson set for Boxing Day ton

The Central Coast Mariners will welcome the first member of its centurion club when they take on the Newcastle Jets at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Boxing Day, with club captain and tireless defender Alex Wilkinson set to make his 100th competitive appearance for the club.

The Central Coast Mariners will welcome the first member of its centurion club when they take on the Newcastle Jets at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Boxing Day, with club captain and tireless defender Alex Wilkinson set to make his 100th competitive appearance for the club.

One of ten foundation Hyundai A-League squad members remaining on the Central Coast, Wilkinson has been a cornerstone contributor to all that the Mariners have achieved since their inception and has amazingly started every competitive match in the club-s history save for a nine-match injury layoff at the beginning of season three.

Wilkinson-s start against the Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium last Friday was his 99th in yellow and navy - a tally that has been accumulated through 77 Hyundai A-League appearances, 19 in the Pre-Season Cup and a further three in May 2005-s Club World Championship qualifying series.

Having inked a new two-year deal with the Mariners that will keep the former youth international and fringe Qantas Socceroo on the Central Coast until at least 2011, Wilkinson will continue to be at the heart of all that the Mariners achieve in the future, not least as part of their maiden AFC Champions League campaign.

"We-re honoured to have been represented by such an exceptional individual as Alex - a player that has always showcased total commitment to the Mariners cause and one that has exhibited great pride in wearing the Mariners crest," said Mariners Executive Chairman Lyall Gorman.

"As captain, he has been integral to all of our recent successes and instrumental in establishing the team and club culture that has become so synonymous with the Mariners and with the Central Coast and that, indeed, will ultimately be one of many enduring marks that Alex will have made in Mariners colours.

"I-m sure all of our Members and supporters will join me in congratulating Alex for this outstanding achievement, one that will live on throughout the history of our club and one that has been achieved by a truly deserving individual."

It was against Friday-s opponents, the Newcastle Jets, that Wilkinson made his competitive debut for the Mariners on 7 May 2005 - a match won by the Mariners 4-2 on penalties after scores were tied at 0-0 after regulation and extra time in the opening round of the Club World Championship qualifying series at Bluetongue Stadium.

Since that day, Wilkinson has been part of all that the Mariners have achieved on and off the pitch since their inception, including being the player to spearhead the club-s greatest success to date - the Hyundai A-League 2007/08 Premiership.

Wilkinson has made two Hyundai A-League Grand Final appearances and two Pre-Season Cup final appearances, in addition to a start in the first showpiece event of Australian football-s new era - the final of the 2005 Club World Championship qualifying series against Sydney FC.

Wilkinson will be presented with a framed jersey to commemorate his milestone achievement in front of the Bluetongue Stadium gallery ahead of the Mariners- New Year-s Eve clash against the Perth Glory at Bluetongue Stadium.

"It-s a great honour to be so close to making my 100the appearance and it-s been a privilege to have been such a big part of this club since the very beginning," said Wilkinson.

"We-ve achieved so much on and off the field and to have done this with the support of the coaching staff, administration and players here at the Mariners has been really memorable and something that all of us can reflect on with a great deal of pride.

"Football isn-t about achieving personal milestones and as flattering as this achievement is, the main objective for the short term is a win against the Jets on Boxing Day and once we achieve that, I can truly enjoy what will be a special moment."

18. Alex Wilkinson

Date of Birth 13 August 1984 Height 187cm Weight 82kg Former Clubs 1999-2004 Northern Spirit; 2004-05 Manly United (NSW) International Experience Qantas Joeys (2001), Qantas Young Socceroos (2003)

Mariners Appearances 2005 Club World Championship Qualifying Series; 3 starts, 0 goals 2005 Pre-Season Cup; 5 starts, 0 goals Hyundai A-League 2005/06; 25 starts, 0 goals 2006 Pre-Season Cup; 6 starts, 0 goals Hyundai A-League 2006/07; 21 starts, 0 goals 2007 Pre-Season Cup; 5 starts, 1 goal Hyundai A-League 2007/08; 15 starts, 0 goals 2008 Pre-Season Cup; 3 starts, 0 goals Hyundai A-League 2008/09; 16 starts, 0 goals Total; 99 starts, 0 goals

The Mariners- Hyundai A-League season continues at the EnergyAustralia Stadium home derby rivals the Newcastle Jets on Friday, 26 December. Kick off is at 8pm.

The Mariners return to their Bluetongue Stadium home on Wednesday, 31 December - New Year-s Eve - for the showpiece of their annual summer holiday extravaganza, which will culminate with a Hyundai A-League fixture against the Perth Glory. Kick off is at 6pm.

Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.

For more information regarding the Gosford waterfront New Year-s Eve festival, visit www.gosfordnye.com.au.