As a proud Novocastrian Jason Hoffman has always enjoyed beating rivals from down the road.
Be it matches against Central Coast or Sydney, the former Mayfield United junior and Hamilton Olympic player understood from an early age just what it means to represent the Newcastle and Hunter region with distinction in any field.
On Sunday Hoffman is set to play his 12th F3 Derby fixture against Central Coast Mariners. Of the Club’s current squad only Ben Kantarovski (14) and Labinot Haliti (13) have featured in more.
But with just one F3 Derby blemish (or loss) to his name, it seems that having Hoffman on Newcastle’s side when this highly anticipated game rolls around is key for the Club.
“I think being a Newcastle boy I understand the history behind the Derby,” Hoffman explained. “From my first year as a professional I have understood how important it is for Newcastle Jets to win the F3 Derby. For me all week in training and then come match day I am that little bit extra fired up.”
“Every time we play the Mariners - whether it’s in pre-season or a league match - they’re massive games. They are important for the playing group, but they are probably even more important for the fans. For the Newcastle fans to be able to say that we beat the Mariners is a massive thing. With the ladder position that we find ourselves in right now this is one of the most important derbies that we have had in recent years,” he said.
From Head Coach Mark Jones down there has been both acceptance and admission over past days that the first team’s most recent performance in Adelaide - a 1-0 loss in round 20 - wasn’t up to the standards that the group has set itself.
After playing well in a nil-all stalemate against Melbourne Victory just four days before the Adelaide encounter, the Jets headed to the city of churches optimistic that they could consolidate their place in the Hyundai A-League’s top six.
Instead the loss, compounded by Western Sydney’s narrow win over Sydney FC in their Derby last week, meant that the Jets fell three points behind the red-and-blacks.
“The fans have every right to be frustrated (by last round’s result),” an open an honest Hoffman added. “I actually think it’s a good sign if they are frustrated by it because obviously they demand success and the group itself demands success so that shows that we are on par with what the fans think.”
“The playing group is much harder on itself than anyone externally will ever be on the group. I think the fact that we slipped up against Adelaide only motivates the group to put in a performance that guarantees three points (against Central Coast Mariners).”
“With the ladder situation the game will have almost a finals football feel to it. We need to be physical, we need to be aggressive, and come out with real intent. If we can do that we will hurt them.”
“We are a good football team, we should make finals, and we should take belief into every game knowing that the teams below us on the table we have to beat and we should beat, and the ones above us we’re good enough to match it with them and take our chances and win matches.”
“There is no better game to get hyped up for than an F3 Derby,” Hoffman said.
Newcastle Jets vs. Central Coast Mariners - Hyundai A-League 2016/17 Round 21
Date: Sunday 26 February 2017
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Gates open: 4pm
Tickets: Please click here to purchase match tickets
TV Broadcast: Watch LIVE on FOX SPORTS 505
Radio Broadcast: Listen LIVE on 1233 ABC Newcastle
Social Media: Join the match conversation using #F3Derby & #ALeague