Mariners’ Hutchinson speaks with The Sack

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For Mariners captain, John Hutchinson, the next seven weeks aren’t just the end of the season; they’re the end of his playing career.

The 35-year-old has had quite a run with the yellow and navy over the past 10 years – he’s been with the club since the A-League started, he’s played 222 games and counting, he’s captained them to victory and he’s stood by his team during their ultimate lows.

We caught up with him to discuss all things Mariners: the Phil Moss saga, his hopes for the rest of the season, what went wrong and his plans for the rest of his career.

It’s no secret that the 2014/15 season, and the past few weeks especially, have been hard on the squad, especially with the sacking of coach Phil Moss. For Hutchinson, the loss of Moss is a sensitive subject – the two have known each other for fourteen years.

“Our performance and results obviously hurt Mossy and at the end of the day we have to take some of the blame,” Hutchinson said.

“Our performances on game day haven’t been what they should be, and it’s a shame the way the season was going, but we’re trying to move forward now and make sure we end the season on a high.”

Despite a 1-0 win against Melbourne City on Sunday, their 2-1 loss to Adelaide United means that any hopes of the finals seem to be slipping further away from the Mariners.

The Mariners’ season has been riddled with player transfers and early contract terminations, which have included the loss of key members of the starting eleven, which Hutchinson says are the main cause of his sides poor performances.

“I’ve been with the club now 10 years and this is probably one of the toughest seasons.

“I think the player sales we’ve made have really affected the club. I think if you look in the Mariners past, none of the players we’ve sold or moved on have all been first 11.

“When you lose those kinds of numbers, it’s tough.

“Normally we’re able to rebuild and bounce back quickl, and move forward, but I just think this year we’ve struggled in that department to move on from the sales, and it’s affecting the club and it’s affecting the players.”

While interim coach Tony Walmsley has said he’s a “glass half full” kind of man, Hutchinson says he’s not focusing on finals football.

“I think for us it’s just about pride now, and showing people we’re a football team; we’re not aiming for the finals, but that would be nice.

“We’re just going week by week at the moment; we’re not looking too far into the future. I think the boys are a little bit on edge from what’s happened to Mossy and that kind of stuff so you don’t want to push them too much…they need to focus game by game.”

Despite Walmsley’s initial victory with the club, Hutchinson says he has changed little to the way in which the team is playing, especially with such a short amount of time left in the season.

“We’re trying to push a little higher up the park defensively, but other than that there’s not much you can change with 7-8 weeks left.

“We’re just trying to carry on with what Mossy was doing, and then next season when a new head coach comes in and takes over then hopefully he can bring his own style and the boys can go from there.”

Speaking of coaching, it’s no secret that Hutch hopes to snag a spot on the Mariners payroll for next season.

“I’m still in negotiations – I’m not panicking about that yet. They’ve promised me there’ll be something there for me, and if it suits me, and suits what I want to do, then we’ll go from there,” he said.

Although he will almost definitely be staying with the club, it must be a bittersweet time to know that he’ll be hanging up his boots after 10 years of service to the Central Coast Mariners.

“Obviously it’s my last season playing and its been emotional for me at times, but I’m getting there.”

One of the factors which makes his departure that bit more difficult is the rarity of a player staying with one club for his whole professional career. It’s a real show of loyalty and many have pointed out what a unique player Hutchinson really is.

“Hutch is a severely underrated player,” Phil Moss said, who often praised the central midfielder for his work with players on and off the pitch.

Another former coach, Graham Arnold, has been quoted as saying “the greatest loss the club could suffer would be him”.

While the loss of John Hutchinson will certainly be felt on the field, fans can be assured that he isn’t going anywhere just yet.

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