Central Coast captain John Hutchinson has announced he will retire at season's end having played for the Mariners for the last decade.
Hutchinson, a club legend, who is one of the competition’s only foundation players and is approaching 10 years of service, will close in on 250 competitive appearances for the yellow and navy and leave a legacy as the Mariners first Championship winning captain.
Hutchinson admits he won’t be looking to play for a rival Hyundai A-League side and says he’s very pleased of his achievements during his time on the Central Coast.
“I’ll be retiring from the A-League at the end of this season, all good things must come to an end, and I can’t see myself ever playing for any other club in the A-League.
“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.
The 35-year-old who is well renowned as one of the main drivers for the club’s tight knit culture made it clear that the friendships he has accrued since joining the Mariners ahead of the inaugural Hyundai A-League season have been 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 Hyundai A-League and AFC Champions League campaigns.
“We’re only halfway through our season. 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,” he said.
The club can reveal plans are being put in place for Hutchinson to remain with the yellow and navy in an off-field capacity once his distinguished playing days draw to an 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.
“Hopefully I can stay on in a working capacity with the Mariners, I obviously want to stay with the club,” Hutchinson said.
Central Coast Head Coach Phil Moss said Hutchinson will be strongly missed on the field once he hangs up his boots, but insists 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. 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 said.
Moss believes Hutchinson’s announcement 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.
“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.
“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,” Moss said.
Central Coast Mariners Owner & Majority Shareholder, Mr Michael Charlesworth also had nothing but praise for 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.”
“His record & 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,” Mr Charlesworth said.
The Central Coast are also working on final details for testimonial events for Hutchinson. Further details will be released to fans and media later this afternoon.