Former Mariners coach and ambassador jumps ship

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Lawrie McKinna, former Mariners head coach and the club’s official ambassador has stepped down from his role today. Some commentators have speculated that his decision to leave was based on disagreements with the direction the club is heading in, quite literally.

With this Friday’s “home game” to be played down in North Sydney, some cynics are speculating that McKinna (who is also the mayor of Gosford) couldn’t go on supporting a club that is straying from it’s commitment to his community.
The Mariners press statement was suitably vague, not clarifying the reason for McKinna’s departure, but acknowledging his service to the club, which included leading the yellow and navy to two Hyundai A-League Grand Finals and the 2008 Hyundai A-League Premiership.

Perhaps moving home games to Sydney might be a bid to attract larger crowds, as the average attendance at Gosford Stadium this season has been 7620.

Yet, you’ve got to question their logic. Moving away from the iconic Central Coast Stadium will isolate a great many home fans, and the Mariners have always prided themselves on being a “family club”.
It’s hard to buy into the idea that the club would simply abandon their home stadium in the pursuit of spectator numbers, but then again, football is a business and like any business, it relies on numbers.
And on the topic of numbers, the Mariners are facing a few crunching figures. They have won only one out of eight games played this season, have scored only five goals – the lowest of any team on the ladder, but surprisingly hold a goal difference of only -5.
Sure, they’re holding onto sixth place by their laces, but it’s become clear that the Mariners are facing tumultuous times both on and off the pitch.
Although, after all storms, comes the sun. With new recruit Malick Mane effectively relieved of his contract, Hungarian striker Richard Vernes has been slotted into his place, and has finally come through with the goods, scoring a goal against Newcastle last weekend.
The patience with which the Central Coast fans have supported their team’s thus- far unspectacular performances would be poorly repaid by moving games down to Sydney.
The impending clash with Melbourne Victory at North Sydney Oval will be the second game the club has played there, and will surely be an indicator of spectator interest for the Mariners in Sydney.
The boys will have to bring their A-Game on the trip down south, as they will be facing an undefeated Melbourne Victory side who are currently second on the A-League ladder.

For the Mariners, a win and three points would help put the news of Lawrie McKinna behind them, but they’ll have to fight hard to earn it.

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