When the Newcastle Jets travel to play the Brisbane Roar on February 24th it won’t just be the match that could seal their first finals spot in eight years, but it also marks 10 years to the day that they defeated F3 rivals Central Coast Mariners 1-0 to win their only A-League championship so far. To mark the occasion let’s talk a look at where the players in that championship winning squad are now.
Ante Covic – No Newcastle goalkeeper has kept eight clean sheets or more since Ante Covic did in the 2007-08 season. The two-time Socceroo stayed at the club for another season before leaving for Sweden. He returned for Melbourne Victory in 2011 and made 130 apperances for Victory, Western Sydney, and Perth Glory. He now plies his trade at Rochdale City Suns.
Adam Griffiths – Twin of Joel, older brother of Ryan, Adam Griffiths played a huge part in Newcastle’s championship winning season, chipping in with three goals throughout the season. Griffiths made 38 appearances for the club before having short stints at Gold Coast United (literally one match) and Sydney FC. He has since dabbled in film while also being the assistant at Manly United.
Jade North – Became the first Indigenous player in Australian sport to captain a side to a championship. North stayed at the club for another season before going overseas. He made 19 appearances for Wellington in 2010-11, but has made 112 appearances since joining Brisbane Roar in 2013 where he still remains today. He added to his trophy cabinet winning the Premier’s Plate and championship in 2014.
Andrew Durante – The centre back won the Joe Marston medal for player of the match in the Grand Final. That was his last match for Newcastle, joining Wellington Phoenix for the 2008-09 season where he has remained and recently passed Danny Vukovic (who was sent off in the decider) with the most A-League caps.
Tarek Elrich – Elrich scored the goal to seal Newcastle’s entry into the Grand Final. He enjoyed a breakout season in 07-08 and stayed at the club until 2012, leaving with 134 caps. He joined Western Sydney Wanderers for their maiden campaign, then he moved to Adelaide where he remains and also won the 2015-16 Premiership and Championship.
Stu Musialik – Once described as Australia’s Claude Makelele, big things were predicted for Stu Musialik. The holding midfielder played a big role in Newcastle’s championship winning season but left for Sydney FC for the 2008-09 season where he made 69 appearances and won the 2009-10 championship. Unfortunately mental health issues brought the end of his promising career however he has since returned to local football in Newcastle.
Adam D’Apuzzo – Newcastle’s sixth highest capped player with 102, the left back went his entire A-League career without scoring a goal but played 19 times in Newcastle’s championship winning season. D’Apuzzo retired at the end of the 2010-11 season only to come out of retirement in 2012 for Western Sydney’s maiden season before retiring in 2014 to continue his career as an accountant.
Song Ji-Hyung – The South Korean only made his debut for the club in the preliminary final but his touch and skill on the ball made him an immediate fan favourite. Song went on to make 49 appearances for the club before leaving for France in 2010. His career has taken him to France, South Korea, the UAE, and back to South Korea where he currently plays for FC Seoul.
Joel Griffiths – The man so good they (unofficially) named a road after him. Arguably Newcastle’s greatest player. Griffiths was at the club during their NSL days including a stint at the defunct Newcastle Breakers (throwback). Griffiths won the league’s Golden Boot with 14 goals and Johnny Warren medal for player of the season in 07-08. Griffiths remains the club’s all-time leading goal scorer with 34 and currently works for the club as a Football Operations Manager.
Matt Thompson – Only Joel and Ryan have scored more or as many goals for Newcastle than Matt Thompson. The dependable utility player captained the side in 2009-10 where he became the first player to make 100 appearances for the club. Thompson left for Melbourne City and had a stint with Sydney FC. However you can find him now playing for Maitland in the Northern NSW Premier League.
Mark Bridge – Scorer of the most famous goal in Newcastle history. Bridge captialised on a rare Tony Vidmar error and evaded Alex Wilkinson before slotting the winning goal past best mate Danny Vukovic. Bridge joined Sydney FC the next season and stayed there until joining the Wanderers in 2012 where he has spent a majority of his time since becoming their most capped player and second highest goal scorer.
James Holland – Not only did Newcastle steal James Holland from the grasp of the Central Coast he scored against them in the regular season and it was his apparent handball that left many Mariners fans with years of sleepless nights… and also ruined Vukovic’s Olyroos chances as he aggressively high fived referee Mark Shield. Other than a short stint with Adelaide United Holland has spent a lot of time playing in Europe since departing the club in 2009.
Jason Hoffman – Hoffman had just celebrated his 19th birthday when he came off the bench for Matt Thompson. The junior found the back of the net but it was chalked out for offside. Hoffman stayed at the club until joining Melbourne City in 2010. However he has since returned to the club and is enjoying career best form under Ernie Merrick.
Denni – The little Brazilian played 19 times for Newcastle in the 2007-08 season but only played the final moments of the Grand Final, replacing Song in injury time. He left the club at the end of the season and has since spent the past decade in Malta where he has made close to 200 appearances, playing for multiple clubs.
Noel Spencer – Noel Spencer captained the Mariners in their 2006 Grand Final loss to Sydney FC, but unfortunately he get to take part in their next Grand Final defeat. An NSL champion with Wollongong Wolves, Spencer was last reported to be the manager of Dapto Dandaloo Fury.
Ben Kennedy – Kennedy didn’t play a single minute of Newcastle’s championship season but went on to play 114 times for the club (the fourth most in the club’s history) witnessing the highs and lows. He is now playing for the side Newcastle beat in the Grand Final.
Gary van Egmond – Never took Newcastle to the heights he did in his first two seasons where he took the club to a preliminary final, and this Grand Final victory. He left after the 2008-09 season (where Newcastle finished last) but returned for two-and-a-half seasons from 2011 to 2014. You can now find van Egmond on the coaching staff for the Matilda’s.
The Mariners’ side featured many familiar names to Australian football. Veteran Socceroo Tony Vidmar was featuring his his final match before retirement. Current Brisbane Roar boss John Aloisi started. Future Socceroo captain Mile Jedinak started as did A-League championship winners Danny Vukovic, and Matt Simon. Newcastle Jets captain Nigel Boogaard was wearing yellow on this day, and CEO Lawrie McKinna was the losing manager.