Is history repeating on the Central Coast?
No one remembers who comes second. It’s an age-old adage and one the Central Coast Mariners must be desperate to avoid.
No one remembers who comes second. It-s an age-old adage and one the Central Coast Mariners must be desperate to avoid.
Last season the Mariners pipped the Roar to the post in the race for the Premiers- Plate, finishing two points ahead of Brisbane after 27 regular season games.
They were subsequently dispatched by the Roar in their two-legged semi-final, before Perth Glory dumped them from the finals altogether with a nail-biting penalty shoot-out win in the preliminary final.
It prompted Mariners coach Graham Arnold to claim he didn-t care if his team won the grand final or not, arguing that his side was still the competition-s best after finishing top of the table.
“A grand final is obviously the Australian way and it-s a beautiful way but it-s cup football and it-s totally different to what you do for 27 rounds,” Arnold said at the time.
He-ll hope history doesn-t come back to haunt him because with nine games of this season remaining, the Mariners are five points clear of second-placed Melbourne Victory.
Should the Mariners fail to win the grand final once again, it wouldn-t be the first time a team has dominated the A-League only to come up - at least in some peoples- eyes - empty handed.
Adelaide United dominated the inaugural season of the A-League in 2005-06 under John Kosmina.
Starting with a win over Newcastle Jets in which veteran striker Carl Veart scored the A-League-s historic first goal, it took until Round 7 for the Reds to taste defeat, going down 2-1 to Sydney FC to forge what would become a bitter rivalry with the Sky Blues.
In the end it was Sydney FC who would prove their undoing, registering a second 2-1 home win over the Reds in the final round of the regular season before seeing them off 4-3 on aggregate in their two-legged semi-final.
Ironically it was the Mariners who delivered the final blow to Adelaide-s campaign in 2006, winning the preliminary final 1-0 to advance to the decider against Sydney.
The question is; how many fans remember it was Adelaide who finished an impressive seven points ahead of Sydney in the premiership?
Not only do the history books show Sydney FC as champions, they also suggest Central Coast were the second-best team in the competition courtesy of that grand final defeat.
Much has been written about the meaning of the premiership and whether it-s worth as much, or more, than winning a grand final.
The Mariners are certainly fond of reminding everyone that they-ve twice finished top of the table - but like Adelaide United, they-ve yet to register a grand final victory.
In both of the seasons Melbourne Victory finished top of the table, they went on to be crowned champions on the back of grand final wins - coincidentally over premiership runners-up Adelaide both times.
And with Ange Postecoglou setting his sights on hauling in the Mariners over the remaining nine games of the campaign, the Victory tactician will hope history repeats for his side as the Victory chase their third championship crown.
The Mariners are still chasing their first and their Round 22 showdown with Victory now looms very large indeed.
They won-t want to finish second best - either at Bluetongue Stadium or for the remainder of the campaign.
But for the trophy-hunting hopefuls eager to ensure the Mariners don-t claim all the plaudits this season, they may see Central Coast-s table-topping performances as somewhat of an omen.
Winning the premiership is undoubtedly an accomplishment to strive for, however Graham Arnold and his side will hope that in doing so, it-s not all just a case of a little bit of history repeating.