Jason Hoffman is set to chalk up his 20th F3 Derby appearance this Sunday when the Jets meet the Mariners at McDonald Jones Stadium, but it was in his fifth that the Mayfield United junior fully came to understand the magnitude of defeating the Club’s fiercest foes.
On Sunday 24 February 2008 Hoffman came off the bench to replace Matt Thompson for the final 15 minutes of the greatest F3 Derby of all --- the Hyundai A-League 2008 Grand Final.
On an epic afternoon at what is now Allianz Stadium in Sydney the Jets held on to their 1-0 lead to hoist aloft the Championship trophy in front of 36,354 supporters --- most of them from further north up the F3 Freeway than Gosford, as evidenced by both the colour and noise.
It was an experience that embedded in Hoffman a deep desire to defeat the Mariners for the Club’s members, supporters, players, and staff each and every time the two teams meet.
“Definitely the biggest Derby that stands out in my mind is the Grand Final,” Hoffman told local media on Wednesday.
“I was very fortunate to be part of the squad that year when we won the Championship, and to do it in the Grand Final against the Mariners I think that will go down as the best F3 Derby that I have been a part of.”
“To play that day was extremely important for me going forward in my career and it is something that I will treasure forever.”
“Ever since that day I have understood the importance of the rivalry between us and Central Coast, and for me every game and every time we play them is just as important as that Grand Final in 2008,” he said.
In the Mariners’ first team squad only young winger Trent Buhagiar can lay claim to being a local junior. The rest of Central Coast’s Hyundai A-League 2016/17 squad has been imported from Sydney, interstate, or overseas. In fact, many Mariners players no longer even opt to live on the Central Coast, selecting instead to travel two hours each day from Sydney for training or games.
Conversely, the Jets could feature as many as four local juniors in Sunday’s match --- Hoffman, Nick Cowburn, Andrew Hoole and Ben Kantarovski. That figure could, and probably would, have been higher if it weren’t for injuries to captain Nigel Boogaard and goalkeeper Ben Kennedy.
Hoffman believes having players connected to the Hunter Valley region can provide the Jets with an advantage this weekend.
“We have more than a handful of locals playing in our side,” Hoffman explained. “Every local boy here from the youngest to the eldest that has gone through the Newcastle footballing system understands what it means to come out on top against Central Coast.”
“The local boys understand the pressure and it is a good pressure to have [because] we need to be successful against our cross-town rivals.”
“The Mariners haven’t beaten us in a while and we have got an even better record at our home ground, so for us we should be more than confident to be attacking and get a good result at home,” he said.
Newcastle Jets vs. Central Coast Mariners - Hyundai A-League 2016/17 Round 7
When: Sunday 20 November 2016
Where: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Gates Open: 2:20pm
Westfield W-League Kick-Off vs. Perth Glory Women: 2:30pm
Tickets: Please click here to purchase match tickets
Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS 505
Radio: Live on 1233 ABC Newcastle x ABC Grandstand x EON Sports Radio