Mariner boss’ tribute to ‘massive factor’ in title triumph: ‘Without him, this wouldn’t happen’

As the Isuzu UTE A-League 2024 Grand Final entered stoppage time, the Central Coast Mariners were just minutes away from seeing their treble dream fall at the final hurdle.

The Melbourne Victory looked set to be crowned champions; that is, until a dramatic 91st minute equaliser and an additional two goals in extra time turned the tables and completed an unprecedented feat in Australian football.

But was Mariners boss Mark Jackson ever worried his side’s magic had run out?

“No,” he said almost instantly when that question was put to him in his post match press conference.

“Honestly people ask me that. It’s easy to say that now when you score, but I honestly believed we were going to score.

“When we went to extra time, I knew the boys could go to another level as well. 

“So yeah, I say that after the event, but those were my beliefs on the touchline.”

In a press conference that was backgrounded by his players pumping music in raucous celebration, Jackson also gave credit to his number two, paid tribute to his match winner Ryan Edmondson and explained what he’s going to do next.

“Yeah, I’m pleased, obviously,” he said.

“A big factor in that is (assistant) Danny Schofield, massive, massive factor in that is Danny.

“Me and him worked really closely together in the offseason, when we were both out of work. We were scouting games, we were talking about football, we’re talking about potential opportunities. We were working on our football philosophy together. 

“And when this opportunity came, he was courageous enough to step on a plane and come with me. It takes a lot to do that. He’s been without his family now for a while. They’re due to come over in July. So that’ll be fantastic for him. 

“But I’m made up for him as well. Because, you know, without him, this doesn’t happen.”

The 2024 decider will go down as one of the great Grand Finals in Isuzu UTE A-League history, finishing with extra time and an unprecedented pitch invasion.

“I said to Popa up before the game,’ I hope it’s a fantastic game tonight’. And I thought it was a great game. You know, it’s two teams who deserve to be in the Grand Final. And I wanted to put on a show for the air league. And I think both teams did that,” Jackson said.

“And credit to Melbourne. They were really resolute tonight, they play good football, they’ve got some great players, they really, really tested us, pushe dus  right to the end. 

“So I think it’s a great advert for the league. I think, you know, the supporters back home for me a lot of people watch these games. 

“And, you know, I’m saying, ‘Listen, this, this is a really, really competitive league’. And it’s got some fantastic players. And, you know, I’ve been, I’ve managed to be part of a team who’ve just gone and achieved what we’ve achieved this evening. So super proud. 

“My family back home are really proud of what I’ve achieved as well.”

He continued: “The next few days? Yeah, we will celebrate tonight, I’ve got a lot of planning to do. 

“I’m back on a plane to England on Wednesday, I’ve got to graduate for the pro licence on Wednesday. So I’m back on a plane to England … I’ve got a five-day last module for that. I’ve got to pull together two presentations and present them. 

“So at some point, I’m gonna have to do them. But I’ve got a little bit to write about on that anyway. 

“But we’ll we’ll celebrate it; we’ve got a lot of planning to do myself, (Matt Simon), Rich (Piel), we’ve got a lot of planning to do.

“You know, this is a busy time for managers, now. 

“Players get a chance to rest, but yeah, I’ve got a little bit of work to do.

“But I will take time, what I want to do with my family, I want to get back over and explore Australia a little bit. I haven’t been able to do that (yet).  I’ve kind of been here, there and everywhere but never really seen anywhere property. So we’re going to explore the Central Coast and a little bit further afield as well.”

Edmondson came off the bench and turned this Grand Final.

He scored the equaliser in the 91st minute and then capped off the victory in the 121st minute, with his display earning him the Joe Marston Medal for best on ground.

“I’ve had a relationship with writing now for a fair few years. I had him as a 16 year old at Leeds and he came through and believe it or not, he was still the same size at 16,” Jackson said.

“But you know, he showed the quality tonight, but it wasn’t just about one player. 

“It’s not about one player that, definitely no.t It’s it’s about the whole team collective. And you know, he got the headlines with a goal. But yeah, can’t underestimate what the team did tonight. It was phenomenal.”