Sometimes it’s hard to be a fan. We’ve had such a ripper of a season, scoring every game, scoring some absolute rippers and being so generally awesome that I’d pretty much forgotten what losing was like. Two losses in a row for the Newcastle Jets reminded me. Ouch. Sure, it ‘didn’t really matter’ as we’ve secured second place and a spot in the finals, but winning feels soooooo good and losing, well, it doesn’t.
The Easter Sunday match against Melbourne City had a surprisingly subdued atmosphere, both on and off the pitch (active support in Bay 1 excluded). Whether it was the long weekend, the end of daylight savings, the lack of away fans as we were playing Melbourne, who knows? With our skipper Nigel Boogaard out with injury, Nikolai Topor-Stanley has ably, but perhaps less vocally captained the team. We’re also missing Andrew Nabbout who not only excelled in scoring and setting up goals – he kept team and fans spirits up throughout the match with his exuberance and banter.
A 3-0 loss hurt, but there were highlights in Sunday night’s match. For me, Riley McGree showed some moments of inspired genius. Currently on-loan from Belgian’s Club Brugge, this young midfielder showed some real sparkle and skilful moves. He’s one to watch and I’d love it if we could wrangle a way to keep him (pretty sure we can’t…) It’s also good to see our marquee star Ronald Vargas back to strength after his injury, and I’m hoping that he’ll fill the hole left by my favourite player Andrew Nabbout. (sobs) And Dimi Petratos is back after taking the field for the Socceroos and doing us all proud.
With Boogaard injured and Jason Hoffman on suspension, our defence had less maturity than usual, but I’m calling the concession of goals more a string of bad luck than bad defence. It just wasn’t our night.
Last season we were wooden-spooners, sitting in last place after years of disarray. This year we’ve got a strong team, with key players back from injury (fingers and toes crossed for a return from injury for our skipper too!) and we’ve got a giant of a coach in Ernie Merrick. Everything’s in our favour. AND we’re second on the ladder – ain’t nobody going to take that away!
So I’m going to optimistically say that we haven’t peaked, we’re just having a little breather before getting back into it!
I love the family atmosphere that the club’s cultivated thanks to Lawrie McKinna’s management. Sunday night saw kids stream onto the field to grab easter eggs from the Easter Bunny and Jet Man and Jet Girl and there’s nothing as delightful as seeing so many girls and boys decked out in teeny jerseys being inspired by their heroes. It’s cuteness incorporated.
Newcastle has another opportunity to cheer on our team on Friday April 6 at McDonald Jones Stadium when we kick off at 7.50pm against Perth Glory. After a hard week of training, and a lot of pep talks from Ernie I reckon they’ll be back in form.
Then we’ve got a match at Central Coast Stadium before a home semi on the 27th, 28thor 29thof this month.
The games really are family friendly, so bring the kids, grandparents – why not bring your next-door-neighbour!
Tickets for Friday night’s match, a ‘Kicking it for Brain Cancer’ fundraiser against Perth Glory, are available here. Raise your voice Newy, and get on-board with our local team because together we can soar.