Newcastle Jets defender Taylor Regan has added more fuel to the F3 derby fire, ridiculing Central Coast Mariners for their dwindling fan base, lack of travelling supporters and identity crisis after flirting with North Sydney for some home games.
Mariners skipper John Hutchinson lobbed the first hand grenade on Wednesday, blasting the Jets over their treatment of club legend Joel Griffiths and insisting the club continually lets down its fans and members.
But Regan returned serve on Thursday and didn’t miss the mark.
Asked directly about what Hutchinson had to say, Regan teed off: “Hutcho’s a well-liked guy around the league. He’s making his 221st appearance and that’s a record and congrats to him.
“It will just be a shame if he’s on the bench for his record breaking game.
“Young [Liam] Rose and [Nick] Montgomery did really well in the middle of the park … maybe it’s the end of an era [for Hutchinson].”
Regan also took a pot-shot at the Mariners' supporter base and believes the derby will mean more to the hosts because a number of their players come from the Newcastle region.
“You’ve got to be proud of the area and where you grew up. I’m not sure if they’re Central Coast or is it North Sydney now? I can’t even remember where they play,” he said.
“What’s important is we go out there and play for our fans. We’re going to have the loyal ones in the stadium and hopefully they can make a lot of noise like in the last few weeks.
“We’ve got an 11,000-strong membership base. I couldn’t even tell you theirs [Central Coast’s] but I’m sure we could count it pretty quickly.
“You’ve got Hutchinson that’s playing the record game and it’s a shame because every time they come here they don’t bring any fans. Their fans don’t travel but ours do.
“We go down there and Newcastle fans are a lot louder than the ‘Marinators’ as they call themselves.
“They can say whatever they like about our club, we know what’s going on … we just keep fighting and worry about the game and try and get the chocolates.”
The hard-nosed defender admitted the F3 derby had lost some of its "bite" in recent seasons but has promised fireworks at Hunter Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve got a few players that don’t mind getting stuck in and putting their body on the line and that will no doubt happen this weekend,” Regan said.
“They need a result, they will come here and try and put one over us but the last few weeks we’ve showed that more than anything we’re willing to fight.
“We owe our fans … we start on Saturday repaying their faith.”
Regan said the absence of Ben Kantarovski and Andrew Hoole through suspension would be a big loss for the home side but was confident its recent performances would hold them in good stead to get a positive result.
Despite just one win for the entire campaign, the Jets will move to within two points of the Mariners with a victory on Saturday.