Dan Hall reveals why the time was right to leave the Mariners: ‘That’s what excites me’

Speaking to aleagues.com.au, prized Auckland FC signing Dan Hall explained why he felt the time had come for a move away from Central Coast Mariners – the club he’s called home since he was a teenager.

He’s been described as a “defensive rock” by Auckland FC. An experienced player set to become one of the leaders in the club’s inaugural Isuzu UTE A-League squad.

“No pressure, right?” Dan Hall said, through a light-hearted laugh, in response to the description of what he could bring to the club.

The 25-year-old is still not quite used to hearing that kind of terminology in reference to himself as a player – but the former Central Coast Mariners star is determined to rise to the challenge after joining the Black Knights ahead of their maiden Isuzu UTE A-League campaign.

“It’s very humbling to hear those things,” Hall added. “I want to reward the faith instilled in me.

“It does excite me. It’s crazy to me being considered one of the more experienced players, it just feels like it was the other day I was having my debut in the league… it’s funny how it works like that.”

Hall was revealed as Auckland’s 13th squad member in early July ahead of the club’s introduction into the Isuzu UTE A-League for the 2024-25 campaign.

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The ex-Mariner has arrived in Auckland with 74 league appearances for Central Coast to his name; 26 of those appearances came in Hall’s best season of his career to date in 2023-24, when he proved a pivotal figure in his former side’s surge to the Isuzu UTE A-League Premiership and Championship, as well as the AFC Cup title.

Hall joined the Mariners as a teenager and life in Gosford is all he’s ever known as a professional footballer.

Speaking to aleagues.com.au, Hall revealed the comfort of being a Mariner was the reason for his pursuit of a new opportunity.

Ultimately, the defender felt that comfortability could lead to complacency.

“I spent six years at the Mariners, and loved every minute of it,” Hall said. “I’ve made some mates for life there, and I’m so grateful to the club for giving me that chance and that opportunity to sign my first professional contract. 

“For me, it felt like the right time to try something new, challenge myself elsewhere, and get comfortable being uncomfortable. (To) really see a new lifestyle and see how my football goes in a different environment, and challenge myself. 

“Going into any new workspace there’s uncertainty and unknown – but I think that’s what excites me here at Auckland: we’re building a team from scratch and I get to be a part of helping that team culture, I get to see how far the team can go in such a short amount of time and that really excites me.

“It was hard to leave the nest but feel like I’m ready for the new challenge. I’m forever grateful for them, but I also want to see what else life has to offer, and new challenges that come with this move.”

For all the latest transfer news involving your Isuzu UTE A-League club, make sure to stay across our dedicated Transfer Centre

Hall arrived in Auckland two days before his unveiling as an Auckland player; prior to that time, he had only ever been to New Zealand to take on Wellington Phoenix on away days with the Mariners.

Australian born and of Fijian descent, Hall is the club’s first foreign recruit.

He’s joined 12 New Zealanders on Auckland’s public list of signings, with further announcements in the coming days and weeks set to significantly bolster head coach Steve Corica’s playing stocks.

He’s also one of the club’s most experienced A-Leagues players; that fact will remain true regardless of who the club brings through its doors in the months leading into the 2024-25 season. And after the best individual season of his career to date, Hall is primed to hit the ground running at his new club from the very start.

In 2022-23, Hall made just nine starts in 19 games as Nick Montgomery’s Mariners became Isuzu UTE A-League Champions. The following season the club went back-to-back and, under new manager Mark Jackson, Hall was back in favour.

At the centre of the Mariners’ defence, Hall racked up 26 appearances (all starts) and ended the season having contributed to the club’s unprecedented success.

“Football is funny, how things like that work,” Hall said.

“One season you’re not playing, the next season you’re playing a lot of minutes. I think as a footballer you know that when you get a chance, you’ve got to try and take that and I’m grateful that I did.

“I’m very thankful for Mark Jackson, (Central Coast assistant) Danny Schofield and all the coaching staff at the Mariners for trusting me with so many minutes, and also my teammates at the Mariners – they were great backing me and supporting me from the mistakes I make through the season, to keep building my confidence. 

“I think with that confidence came performances and consistent game time, which obviously led to me being here today.

“I think when you’re playing regularly, confidence grows. At the moment I’m not trying to get too far ahead of myself, I just want to take it day by day, adjust to the new environment, get along well with my teammates and hopefully then I can start advancing and continuing to improve as a footballer and as a person and see where it takes me.”

For all the latest transfer news involving your Isuzu UTE A-League club, make sure to stay across our dedicated Transfer Centre

Hall is set to meet his new Auckland teammates on Thursday and with more new recruits set to be announced after Hall’s unveiling, the club will look to ensure its membership base continues to grow alongside its playing squad.

As a former Mariner, Hall knows exactly what a passionate home crowd can bring to an A-Leagues club and after feeling the warmth of the family atmosphere on the Central Coast, he hopes to help foster a similar vibe in Auckland throughout the club’s first season in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

“We’re building something pretty special here,” Hall said.

“It’s not every day you get to be a part of an inaugural season with a new club, and that support would never go unnoticed. I’ve experienced it in the past with the Mariners, we may not have had the biggest support group but it was a lot of heart and a family-oriented vibe.

“I feel like with Auckland, we can do that to the same extent, (or) even better.”

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