Newcastle is a proud footy town, but, it’s usually rugby league that’s dominated in the sporting arena.
However, this season has seen the Newcastle Jets fast becoming a fan focus with stunning A-League performances that’ve seen them dazzle week after week.
Currently sitting at number two in the table, we’ve got a top notch team that put on a pitch-perfect performance every week.
Last weekend was the 10th anniversary of the Newcastle Jets 2008 premiership win, and the team celebrated that anniversary with a one nil win over Brisbane Roar that saw them cement their finals spot.
The Jets are taking on ladder leaders Sydney FC this weekend at MacDonald Jones Stadium, and it’s set to be a corker.
Never seen an A-League match live? Here’s what you can expect.
The team song/theme song
The Newcastle Jets take the field to INXS’s Never Tear Us Apart (complete with rousing audience participation that involves coordinated clapping and team scarf waving). It never fails to get the crowd and the team pumped and sets the adrenaline level for the match.
But that’s not the only musical high note of the match, when we score a goal, expect The Boys Are Back In Town to ring out over the loudspeaker. (And for the crowd to go completely wild!)
Now you’ve probably heard that soccer is a low-scoring game, and it is. But the game’s about more than the ball hitting the back of the net (although yes, a win gives us the points). For me, I love watching the ball play up and down the field, and this year’s team know how to move a ball about.
This year The Jets are playing an attacking game, with plenty of spectacular attempts on goal. Cool side-note about this season, we’ve scored in EVERY match we’ve played.
We’ve got a great keeper in Jack Duncan. He’s tall with a reach that takes up most of the net, and has has made more than 45 saves this year. Some of them pretty bloody spectacularly. When Jack was off injured Glen Moss more than competently filled his keeping shoes.
Players to watch
I unabashedly love Andrew Nabbout. He gives, oh, around about 1000% every time he takes to the pitch and he scored a goal the other week that was awarded The Best Strike in the World by ESPN.
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Dimi Petratos (quite possibly our best buy of the season) is a joy to watch as he scores and assists, and we’ve got a top notch bunch of young guns including Joey Champness, Johnny Koutrombis and rising star Riley McGree on the pitch.
Defenders don’t often get much kudos, but we’ve got a strong field led by skipper Nigel Boogard who put his head on the line for a killer of a save the other week.
And hey, just because I haven’t named a player doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a shout-out – there’s no deadwood in this team creatively curated by Ernie Merrick – and we’ve got a strong midfield that works to move the ball up to our scorers – keeping our strike-rate high.
I adore Ernie Merrick. Not only has he turned The Jet’s football around, he’s transformed the club culture. Along with manager Lawrie McKinna they’re listening to fans and giving them what they want. From family-friendly kids go free sessions to supporters’ buses to away games. The management are recognising supporter loyalty and are being rewarded by attracting more fans to the game.
Ernie’s famously stoic face might barely crack a smile, but the love he has for the team is palpable.
There’s a rapidly growing bunch of passionate fans who don the red and blue (with a touch of gold) to support our team. Adding to the atmosphere are drums, chants and lots of cheers from the stands. There’s a real sense of Novocastrian Pride at McDonald Jones stadium when the team take the pitch.
From newbies the Champness’ Chaps who are passionate about their Joey, to The Squadron – the dedicated group of supporters who add a real sense of atmosphere to the field with their chants and cheers, the fans take their regular seats each week (Bay 1’s where most of the action is) to cheer on the team.
There’s also a very professional podcast put together by passionate supporters.
This weekend’s match against the A-League’s number 1 team Sydney FC is the RAAF round which will include an FA-18 hornet flyover. It’s pretty spectacular and will light up the socials (hashtag #NTUA and #TogetherWeCanSoar).
We’ve been getting some great crowds along to our home matches, and Lawrie’s hoping to crack 15 000 this weekend. Let’s do it for the team hey?
Tickets available here.
Photo: Sproule Sports Focus