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  • Writer's pictureThomas Pombart

"One of the best performances I've seen" - The top five F3 derbies of all time

The Jets and Mariners continue to trade blows almost 17 years on from their first meeting, but what are the best F3 derbies of all time?

Since the Central Coast Mariners took on the Newcastle Jets in the OFC Club Championship on the 7th of May 2005, each meeting, 57 in total, has been hotly contested.

There has never been a dull moment, whether it was drawing their first league meeting, the 2008 Grand Final, or the Jets 8-2 statement victory in 2018.

We've picked our top five F3 derbies of all time below.

Front Page Football also reached out to Mariners fan Martin and Jets fan Rickii for input into the most significant moments between the two sides in A-League history.

Current manager Nick Montgomery played in a handful of F3 derbies for the Mariners. (SBS)

5. Newcastle Jets 0-1 Central Coast Mariners: The first finals meeting

The fifth-ever meeting between the sides and the first-ever F3 Derby finals match up.

The 10th of February 2006 saw the sides meet in an epic clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium (now McDonald Jones Stadium), accompanied by an attendance of 10,236 fans.

Mariners and Jets players get into a tussle during their first ever finals meeting. (A-League Twitter)

Just like every derby, it was heated early on.

Mateo Corbo and Allan Picken received yellow cards for Newcastle, and Michael Beauchamp picked up a caution for the Central Coast.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 75th minute when Mariners midfielder Matthew Osman scored the first-ever finals goal between the two clubs.

Central Coast advanced to the next stage of the finals series, with a 1-1 draw at Central Coast Stadium putting them through on away goals.

4. Central Coast Mariners 3-0 Newcastle Jets: The greatest comeback of all comebacks

We need first to discuss the 2007/08 season to put this game into context.

The Mariners had claimed their maiden A-League Premiership title on the final day of the home and away season, edging the Jets on goal difference by only one goal.

The Yellow and Navy then faced the Jets in the first leg of their Major Semi-Final, where Newcastle ran out 2-0 winners at home.

The Mariners pipped the Jets to the Premiership on goal difference in 2007/08. (A-League Twitter)

A crowd of 19,112 fans set the stage for an almighty comeback for the ages.

The Mariners started the match with a sense of urgency, and that paid off early on.

Adam Kwasnik found the back of the net in the 37th-minute, but the home side hadn't finished scoring yet.

Cue Sasha Petrovski to cause unbridled euphoria in Gosford.

Petrovski scored the second to equalise on aggregate late in the second half, before another in extra-time completed the most incredible F3 Derby comeback.

"The 3-0 win in the second leg of the semi-final series in 2008 was a great game," Martin said.

"2-0 down after the first leg away, it was always going to be tough, but the boys put on one of the best performances I’ve seen to get over the line.

"Over 19,000 fans in Gosford; the atmosphere was electric!"

3. Central Coast Mariners 1-5 Newcastle Jets: The stalemate is broken in Gosford

From 2014-18, both sides failed to inspire in derbies.

Each match was never played out with genuine intensity, as both clubs were at the bottom end of the ladder for a prolonged period.

At the start of the 2017/18 season, though, something felt different for both clubs.

Both the Mariners and Jets had undergone rebuilds, releasing countless players and keeping a skeleton from their previous squads.

Joey Champness celebrates scoring in the 5-1 thrashing of the Mariners in 2017. (Newcastle Jets)

It was a dream start for Ernie Merrick's Newcastle, dismantling their rivals through former Mariners striker Roy O'Donovan, who netted a first-half hat-trick.

In a brilliant season opener, Dimitri Petratos and Joey Champness rounded out the celebrations, with both attackers scoring on their competitive debuts for the Hunter outfit.

2. Central Coast Mariners 2-8 Newcastle Jets: A record-breaking evening in Gosford

In the highest-scoring F3 Derby and A-League Men game in history, Newcastle soared to new heights during the final match of the 2017/18 season, bouncing back from a bad patch of form.

The Mariners had already lost the two games prior; the previously mentioned 5-1 at Gosford, then 2-0 in Newcastle.

The Mariners were also set to win the wooden spoon in 2018.

But Newcastle showed no mercy, hitting the Yellow and Navy for eight at Central Coast Stadium.

Jets fans celebrate empathically winning the highest-scoring F3 Derby of all-time (Newcastle Jets Twitter)

Riley McGree scored a hat-trick, whilst O'Donovan haunted his former club again with a double.

Champness, Petratos, and Lachlan Jackson rounded out the goal-scorers in a memorable night for Newcastle fans and a game and season to forget for the Mariners faithful.

The match between the two is equal for the most goals ever scored in an A-League Men match.

The Wellington Phoenix also defeated Central Coast 8-2 in Gosford a season later.

"I’d 8-2 admit it, but our derby win at their home ground in 2018 was a cracker too; plenty of goals and plenty of beers," Rickii said.

1. Newcastle Jets 1-0 Central Coast Mariners: The Grand Finale

It was the most significant occasion and arguably the biggest F3 Derby of them all.

The A-League Grand Final of 2007/08 was played with an added incentive.

A neck-and-neck home-and-away season was contested to the final day, with five F3 derbies in one season, all coming down to the most important day on the A-League Men calendar.

The opening half at Sydney Football Stadium was heavily contested, but neither side could break the deadlock.

It took a masterful change of formation from Gary Van Egmond to break the tie open after halftime.

Danny Vukovic was sent off for crossing the line when protesting a late decision. (A-League Men Twitter)

Mark Bridge would be the Jets hero in Sydney when he pounced on a mistake from Tony Vidmar and then beat Danny Vukovic in the Mariners goal.

The final would not be without controversy, though, with Vukovic sent off after slapping referee Mark Shields' arm when the Mariners were not awarded a penalty in the final moments of the match.

What are Martin and Rickii's favourite moments from the historic derby?

"There’s been a number in between, but the latest one also stands out," Martin said.

"The first game in charge for Monty, with a team not rated [and] away first up in Newcastle against a highly-rated Jets [team].

"But not only was the result a great one, seeing Josh Nisbet score and Jacob Farrell head one in on debut [was fantastic].

The Mariners were victorious in the first derby of the 2021/22 season. (A-League Men Twitter)

"It just cemented the belief amongst the away fans there that day that the Mariners were going to remain a presence this season after a great 2020/21 campaign.

"You could see many heads turn around the rest of the league after that result first up.

"I’ll [also] never forget John Hutchinson taking a throw-in in front of the away Jets fans in Gosford one afternoon. They were giving him so much curry, even chucking a few coins his way (donations, I guess). He stood there back to them all and just smiled," Martin continued.

"He loved it, as did the crowd when [it was] shown on the big screen! It was a defiant moment with Hutch representing us with what we thought of the Jets fan base.

"Another moment I remember was Anthony Caceres scoring a cracker in a 3-0 win in 2014 at Central Coast Stadium. It was probably one of the cleanest strikes of a ball that I’ve seen, and I was sitting directly behind him. It looked brilliant!"

Mariners fans celebrate a goal in the F3 Derby with their players. (A-League Men)

"Everyone’s favourite derby has to be the 2008 Grand Final," Rickii said.

"Winning the Grand Final and watching Danny Vukovic getting red-carded (and a long term suspension) for carrying on.

"Also, I loved Dimi’s (Petratos) cracker goal in the 8-2 victory in 2018. The angle, the power, everything about that goal was amazing."

Who do they think will finish higher this season?

"Who will finish higher? There have been 54 F3 derbies [played in the] A-League. There have been 18 wins each and 18 draws," Martin said.

"We have both scored 65 goals, but we won’t finish equal on the table. The Mariners have hit the spot with a combination of youth and experience, and finally [we've] got some return from our imports.

"The Mariners will finish higher on the ladder; there’s no doubt about that."

"[In] round one, we played great and dominated against them, but couldn’t score," Rickii said.

"We’ve had more time to gel now, and I think we could put another number on them."

The latest edition of the F3 Derby will be broadcast live on Channel 10 and Paramount+ tomorrow night at 7:45pm AEDT.

You can also click here to read more about an interview Front Page Football recently conducted with Mariners youngster Harry Steele.


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