The Central Coast Mariners’ combative skipper John Hutchinson will hang up his boots at the conclusion of the season heralding the end of an era at the Gosford outfit.
One of the league’s last remaining foundation players, Hutchinson is approaching a decade of service and closing in on 250 competitive appearances for the Mariners.
His emotional decision paves the way for a potential coaching role at the club as the Mariners’ first championship-winning captain looks to build on his legacy.
The Gosford outfit currently sits 8th on the A-League ladder, but there are hopes that Hutchinson’s looming retirement will bring the team home with a wet sail as they seek to send their leader out on a high.
“All good things must come to an end, and I can’t see myself ever playing for any other club in the A-League,” the 35-year-old said.
“I’m proud of what I’ve achieved on the Central Coast and to be able to live and play football in such a great area has been a real joy. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve done and it’s been fantastic.” Hutchinson said.
Known as one of the key drivers behind the club’s tightknit culture, Hutchinson counts the friendships he made during the past 10 years as a real highlight.
“I’ve had a wonderful chance to meet some fantastic people here and that’s the main thing that I’ll take away from all of it. We’ve won things, but it’s more the mateship from the game and I’ve got friends for life.”
Hutchinson says he’s not looking too far ahead at the moment and insists his focus remains on Central Coast’s current A-League and AFC Champions League campaigns.
“We’re only halfway through our season,” he said.
“I’m still solely focused on doing well for the Mariners, for my family and myself. Once the season is over, then we’ll look back and reflect.”
Plans are in place to keep the midfielder with the club once his playing days end.
“I’m currently in discussions with the club to see if there will be a future role for me, I am a fully qualified B licence coach and will be taking my A licence in the near future,” he said
“Hopefully I can stay on in a working capacity with the Mariners, I obviously want to stay with the club.”
Central Coast coach Phil Moss said Hutchinson’s strong on-field presence will be missed but that he’ll help the former Maltese international in the next chapter of his football career.
“Hutch is an important member of our squad in the dressing room, on the training pitch and in the community,” Moss said.
“He’s a fantastic captain, a great leader and a rock solid midfielder who has a lot more quality than what people give him credit for.
“He’s flagged his interest in pursuing a coaching career and I think that’s fantastic.
“He’s got a very good football brain and a good personality, he’s starting a new chapter of his life when this season finishes and I’ll help him in any way I can.
“I want to keep Hutch involved – he has a special place in Mariners’ history and in the hearts of everyone involved with the club since day one.
“He would be a fantastic addition to the staff in whatever capacity it ends up being which is why we’re working hard behind the scenes to make sure it’s a job that works for Hutch, his family and the club.”
Moss believes Hutchinson’s decision to retire will have a positive impact on his side ahead of the second half of the season and the 2015 AFC Champions League qualifier.
“His announcement was an emotional moment, you could see the effect it had on the players and staff and I’m very confident that it will further galvanise the squad for what is to come at the back end of the season,” he said.
“There will be that extra bit of motivation now to ensure Hutch goes out on a high note,” Moss said.
Moss also praised Hutchinson’s family for their support adding: “His wife Kate and the entire Hutchinson family are all a massive part of the club and I’m sure they will continue to be so for many years to come.”
Central Coast Mariners owner, Michael Charlesworth added his praise to the contribution of the championship winning skipper.
“Hutch epitomises exactly what has made the Mariners so special – loyalty, commitment and a fighting spirit that is second to no other player in the Hyundai A-League,” Charlesworth said.
“His record and achievements speak for itself. Having been a major part of the club’s maiden A-League Championship, two premierships and four AFC Champions League Campaigns it is needless to say that he will be missed on the pitch.”comments