IT MAY not have immediately felt like it late on the evening of May 5 this year, but 2018is a good time to be a Newcastle Jets supporter.
Fans dejected after Melbourne Victory snatched a 1-0 victory in last season’s A-League decider had every right to feel hard done by. In the days that followed the full detail of how the controversial goal was awarded despite the misgivings ofmany in the stadium that night from the moment it was struck. Many fans remain infuriated.
What should be remembered is that those same fans hanging their heads had a year earlier been draped in the colours of a team that had not reached the finals, let alone the heights of a grand final berth, in eight years.
They were also walking out of McDonald Jones Stadium, the first venue outside a capital city to host that decider, after their team had made history. Tickets were among the most valuable commodities in the region during that week, with flights into Williamtown becoming prohibitively expensive for some to attend the final.
The fairytale result may not have eventuated last season, but instead the Hunter got what it has long hoped for: a top-flight football side punching above its weight on the national stage.Sunday’s match against Wellington is the first test of the successors to last year’s grand finalist side. Luckily, the cast remains largely the same on paper. Those absent –Riley McGree and the temporarily suspended Roy O’Donovan –will likely take on prominence if results do not flow immediately.For the W-League side, the team appears designed to replicate its finals run from last year. Post-season fates are notoriously fickle, but the addition of a fit Gema Simon and Tara Andrews could help propel the side deeper into the play-offs.
Broadly, it is a club in perhaps some of the best shape across multiple competitionsthan at almost any stage of its history. Newcastle sports fans have, in the lean recent years, clamoured for effort and consistency as much as talent and proficiency.
“We’ve got a lot of good players at the club,” midfielder Dimi Petratos said. “We had our goals and we achieved them. But we’ve just got to replicate that as best as possible, go out there and play our game.”
Newcastle, and football fans enamoured with the attacking flair of last year, will hope the club builds a sturdy future. From Sunday, itfalls back at the players’ feet.
We wish them the best of luck.