Youth will keep derbies and A-League alive

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26 derbies down and still nothing has changed. Arguably the most spiteful match up in the A-League, last night’s match showed us that regardless of ladder position or ability, a clash between the Central Coast Mariners and the Newcastle Jets will always be won by the brave.

In terms of quality there was nothing to separate the two sides and, as the clichéd saying goes, it was definitely a game of two halves with the Jets rolling the Mariners in the first, followed by a second stanza that went the other way.

When you think ‘F3 Derby’, you think Wilko, Hutcho, Simo and then R, A and J Griffiths. Tonight, however, young blood was running through the veins of the derby with the emergence and domination of Pepper, Amini, Kantarovski and Bernie Ibini.

As derbies grow older so do the players and with seven seasons of experience comes new generations of players stepping up and earning their spot in clubs that have stood the test of time.

Seven years is nothing on the scale of world football but in terms of the A-League it is now that we are seeing the older, experienced players support the incoming youth and gradually step aside. It’s the gallant efforts of these veterans that is helping the A-League grow stronger and our derbies continue to entertain.

“We have to keep playing our kids and if we don’t play our kids than how are they going to get any better,” said Jets coach Gary Van Egmond who is an active supporter of breeding young talent through the club ranks.

It seems like only yesterday these two clubs faced each other for the first time in 2006 and since then the league has developed significantly. The only thing that probably hasn’t changed is the resounding and continuous boos Mariners’ stalwart John Hutchinson receives when he comes up against Newcastle.

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The Squadron is one of many groups of supporters that will be more than happy to see the back of Hutcho when he moves on.

This match was great for the future of football in Australia and as long as A-League managers continue to place faith in and be patient with the youngsters on their rosters the league will only get better and better.

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“Derbies all around the world are about tough match ups and at the end of the day we had enough chances to win it,” said Mariners coach Graham Arnold.

The only thing that mattered last night was the short stretch of road that separates the two sides and it is the one factor that will remain constant in future F3 Derbies. Whilst it wasn’t the most skillful display of football the country has seen, John Hutchinson was under no illusions as to how this game would be played.

“Tonight was a derby and a clash between players, we knew how it was going to turn out and we know it will probably happen next time we play them”.

Forget about hatred, studs-up tackles, drunken bogans, headbutts and yellow cards. Even though we saw plenty of that in the clash between Newcastle and the Central Coast, last night’s F3 Derby is a tribute to what our league is becoming. Lets try and hang onto our young guns for as long as we can and fuel not only the derbies but week in, week out, top flight football.

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