Mariners youngster’s ‘crazy’ connection to club’s two Championship teams, 10 years apart

Harry Steele | Pre-Match Press Conference | Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC

Central Coast local Harrison Steele says it’s a dream to be representing his boyhood club as the Mariners set off in pursuit of a second-consecutive Isuzu UTE A-League Championship.

The Mariners have been crowned Isuzu UTE A-League Champions just twice in the club’s near two-decade history.

The first came in 2013; Steele, then just 10 years old, remembers becoming well acquainted with the club’s first Championship-winners as a friend of defender Patrick Zwaanswijk’s son. Ten years later, Steele came on as a substitute in the Mariners’ second-ever Grand Final win in 2023. Now, he’s on the hunt for back-to-back titles, and three trophies in 2023-24.

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“It’s crazy. As a kid, this is what you dream of.” Steele said. “When we heard the news about the Grand Final, (that it) could potentially be here (at Industree Group Stadium) if we make it, I think we were all more excited than what we should be.

“We’ve still got Saturday’s game, got to get through that and then we’ll focus on the Grand Final.

“Being a young boy coming to all the games as a young kid, I was best mates with Patrick Zwaanswijk’s son so when I’d come to the games I used to come into the changerooms with that 2012 team and get around them. To be one of the players now, it’s amazing.”

Patrick Zwaanswijk (centre) holds the Isuzu UTE A-League Championship trophy in 2013.

Steele and the Mariners face Sydney FC on Saturday night in the second leg of the Semi-Finals. Central Coast lead 2-1 on aggregate after defeating the Sky Blues on the road. Ahead of this weekend’s clash, set to take place in front of a sellout crowd in Gosford, Steele was asked what failure to progress to the Grand Final would mean to the playing group and Mariners staff.

“I think after such a long season, if we don’t get over the line Saturday it will be a disappointment,” Steele said. “We’ve come so far, and at the start of the year the treble was our goal so to have two ticked off already, and not be able to play at least in the final of the third one, I think it would be a bit of a disappointment.

“But at the end of the year, we’ve won two trophies and I think that’s a really good achievement but as I said, we want to get this third one for sure.”

Mariners head coach Mark Jackson was posed the very same question, but refused to look any further than the game itself on Saturday and the challenge he expects Sydney FC to pose to his side.

“Everything is fully focused on winning this game,” he said. “We’ll think about that afterwards. We’ll think about the outcomes of this game afterwards, and we’ll deal with whatever the outcomes are, whether that’s being successful or not successful in this game.

“We’re fully focused on putting everything into making this game a success.”

Jackson did, however, take the time to commend the club’s fans for selling out Industree Group Stadium for Saturday’s Semi-Final.

“We knew that would be the case, and credit goes to everybody behind the scenes here, how they pushed it, how they dealt with everything, the ticket sales, the publicity about it and stuff like that,” he said.

“Credit to the supporters as well for getting out there in numbers to make this sellout crowd possible.

“We’re really looking forward to it, to play in front of a packed house. We like to play in big games with big atmospheres and it’s certainly going to be that tomorrow.”