"It means a lot for me to represent the Central Coast community" - Jacob Farrell
After a breakthrough season for his boyhood club that included an Australia Cup Final appearance, Jacob Farrell takes significant pride in representing the Central Coast region. It's something that spurs him on to play for both club and country.
The 19-year-old left-back had a fantastic debut season for the Central Coast Mariners, averaging 87 minutes over 25 A-League Men matches, including one finals appearance.
FPF caught up with the Wyoming-born defender to talk about his time at the Mariners, representing the Central Coast community and playing for Australia at a youth level.
"My family helped me get into football," Farrell told Front Page Football in an exclusive interview.
"I got offered a trial to join the Mariners academy, and it was successful.
"When I started playing at the academy, I enjoyed it a lot. Then probably when I was 15 [or] 16 years old, I decided to take football a lot more seriously."
The Central Coast native has always been a fan of the Mariners, saying it was a weekly tradition to attend matches and watch their players.
"I'm just a local boy on the Coast, so I grew up watching the Mariners," Farrell said.
"It has always been a dream of mine to play for them. I used to go to almost every game.
"I looked up to players like Josh Rose and Patrick Zwaanswijk and others who played in the era in which the Mariners won the Grand Final (in 2013). I looked up to all the players that were on that team."
The Mariners are notorious for developing local talents through their NPL academy system. Several graduates, along with Farrell, such as Alou Kuol, Dan Hall, and Max Balard, successfully transitioned from the NPL to professional football.
"It was a lot different," Farrell said about the difference between NPL and A-League Men football.
"Tactically and physically, there's a lot more going on compared to the NPL. It was a step up, and I think I was prepared for it.
"Having Monty (Nick Montgomery) and Sergio Raimundo as my coaches in the past, there wasn't anything I wasn't expecting when playing in the A-League.
"The club is very good at giving young players opportunities. The club offers a lot of chances, so it's a great spot for kids to grow their football here."
Born and raised in the Central Coast region, Farrell takes pride in playing for the Mariners. The feeling of representing the local community he grew up in is something he keeps in the back of his mind every game.
"It means a lot for me to represent the Central Coast community," Farrell said.
"I love the Central Coast, and it's somewhere I enjoy living.
"To be able to represent the region is something very special for me."
Last season, Farrell's professional senior debut came in round one against F3 Derby rivals the Newcastle Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Farrell scored what proved to be the match-winner, and his debut will remain a lifelong memory of his playing career.
"It was a very special moment for myself," Farrell said.
"To get the start as well in the derby was amazing.
"To top it off with a goal, it was a great day out and a very good memory for me."
During the 2021/22 season, the Mariners went on an Australia Cup run that saw them play in the final against Melbourne Victory. Despite going down 2-1 at AAMI Park, Farrell was grateful to be a part of the special journey.
"It was a very exciting time," Farrell said.
"To be able to make the final of any competition is amazing. The playing group did very well. Even though we lost in the final, it was still an awesome experience for myself."
Farrell was offered a three-year contract extension for his performances throughout last season by the Mariners and wasted no time putting pen to paper to stay in Gosford.
"I was very happy about that," Farrell said regarding the contract extension.
"I love the Central Coast and enjoy playing my football here.
"There is no other place where I would rather play, to be honest."
Current Central Coast Mariners manager Nick Montgomery has praised Farrell for his development on and off the pitch. The former Mariners midfielder has been a valuable figure in the youngster's career.
"He's a very understanding manager," Farrell said.
"He played during his career, so he knows what it's like to be a player.
"He's very hardworking as a manager and gets the best out of his team and squad."
Just two weeks remain until the Mariners start their A-League Men campaign. Farrell believes their new signings have adapted well, and the playing group will be eager for the F3 derby in round one.
"Pre-season has been very good," Farrell said.
"We've played a few trial games now, and everyone is looking good.
"Everyone is gelling well, and we will all be ready come round one."
In June 2022, Farrell was rewarded for consistently performing at the Mariners with selection in Australia's U23 AFC Asian Cup squad. He featured in all three group stage matches against Kuwait, Iraq, and Jordan.
Farrell enjoyed the experience of being a part of an international camp for the first time.
"It was an honour to represent my country," Farrell said.
"It's something I have always dreamed about.
"It was a great experience for myself as it was the first time being in an international camp.
"There was a lot of tough opposition to play against, so it was a good test for not just myself but the team, and I thought we did very well.
"There's a lot of upcoming players, especially in the A-League, that give Australian football fans a lot to look forward to.
"There are a lot of young boys looking to get a chance to play, and the clubs in the A-League are giving them chances. There is a good future ahead for the country."
The Central Coast Mariners kick-off their 2022/23 A-League Men campaign at home to the Newcastle Jets on the 8th of October at 5pm AEDT, live on Paramount Plus.
To read our review of the Mariners' 2021/22 A-League Men campaign, click here.