Legends’ lovely on-air moment as captain reveals ‘beautiful messages’ that left him in tears

Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC – Highlights | Isuzu UTE A-League 2023-24 | Semi Final Second Leg

REACTION: Central Coast Mariners’ dream season continued on Saturday night as they saw off Sydney FC to seal a spot in a second-straight Grand Final.

This time around, the biggest match of the season will be even more special for the club.

For the first time ever, Industree Group Stadium will host the Isuzu UTE A-League Grand Final as the Mariners take on Melbourne Victory next Saturday night, playing for not only the Championship crown but also an unprecedented treble, having already claimed the Premiership and the AFC Cup.

“For the Mariners point of view; just incredible, in all fairness, what they continue to do,” Sydney FC legend Alex Brosque said on Network 10 and Paramount+

“They do keep finding ways. That spirit in this team, in this community, is fantastic.

“Do they deserve to be in a Grand Final? Yes, based on everything they’ve done this season.”

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Mariners great Daniel McBreen added: “It’s hard to fathom, really. How with all that trouble, going and winning a continental cup and then being able to get the Premiership (and) back up for a second Grand Final in a row. 

“The little town on the coast does alright. They’ve got some big fellas who do the job for them as well.”

On a wet and wild night on the Central Coast, Mark Jackson’s men delivered a backs to the wall performance to seal their spot in the big dance, with goalkeeper Danny Vukovic named Man of the Match after keeping yet another clean sheet.

Now 39, Vukovic is enjoying an extraordinary final chapter in his career, captaining this Mariners side who continue to keep winning on all fronts.

“A very tough night for us. Sydney came and they threw everything at us, they threw the kitchen sink and we managed to hold out,” he told Network 10 and Paramount+.

“Some crazy moments in the game, it might go down as a classic, although there weren’t any goals it was still an incredible match and we’re so happy to be through.

“… Any team that I’ve been involved in that had a little bit of success, that team camaraderie was always there. Here, it’s just incredible. We’ve built on it. It’s something we stand by and something that helps us in games, like tonight.

“Backs to the wall, very difficult conditions and we knew that (if) we keep a clean sheet we go through to a Grand Final. We did that.”

The post-match coverage saw a lovely moment between Brosque and Vukovic, who were teammates at Sydney FC, where they won a Premiership-Championship double in 2016-17.

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“It’s hard for me. Obviously, I played many years at Sydney, shared success with this guy. But to see him doing what he’s doing, this club, this community is so lucky to have you here,” Brosque said in an emotional tribute to his ex-teammate.

“You’re almost impossible to get past; you were at training back then, you still are now. You are leading this team incredibly well. 

“Looking ahead now to the Grand FInal, you are on the verge of an incredible treble. How is it feeling? How are you feeling?”

Vukovic replied: “I appreciate the nice words. I had a great captain to learn off in yourself mate. 

“I even forget what the question was… sorry guys, live television and all. We’re excited, a massive week coming up… we get to host the Grand Final here. Who would have thought?

“The place is going to go off. This week is going to be incredible to be on the coast. Make sure you get your tickets.”

Asked who he would invite to next week’s Grand Final if he could bring any guest in the world, the Mariners skipper responded with a typically beautiful answer.

“The two little boys up there in the green jerseys with Papa on the back,” he said.

“We had a message from all the families before the game; I was in tears for two minutes, listening to all these beautiful messages and those two boys they mean everything to men and my wife Christie, she is incredible.”

Vukovic celebrates Semi-Final victory.

Speaking after the match, defender Brian Kaltak, who has now reached the Grand Final in each of his two fully professionally seasons, also hailed the togetherness of this Mariners side, which has been a key theme through two very successful years.

“No one can break us, you can see… one game to go,” he said.

Mariners boss Mark Jackson spoke glowingly of both Vukovic and Kaltak, who each played a huge role in securing this result on a challenging night in Gosford.

“Two fantastic leaders in the dressing room,” Jackson said.

“Vuka with his experience and Brian just with his mentality. 

“The story I was telling you there, he’s only been a professional for two years, but he told me a story that he lived a life of a professional even though he didn’t have a professional contract. That’s why he is the player he is now. His commitment is massive. 

“That is just two players out of a squad of players. I talk about that because its not just the players on the pitch, on the bench, there are players who didn’t even make the squad today. I truly believe this is not possible without the whole squad being together. 

“Even through the tough times when players are not in the squad or out of the team, that is a given, that belief is massively important to me. It has played a massive part in our achievements this year.”