He may not be a player anymore but Central Coast assistant coach John Hutchinson has fired the first shots ahead of Saturday’s F3 derby with local rivals Newcastle.
Hutchinson, 35, has played in more F3 derbies than any other player with the fixture still firing up the former midfield tyro turned assistant coach.
And even though the Jets are in third place on the ladder, five places higher than the Mariners, Hutchinson was happy to stoke the rivalry fires by pointing to Newy's disastrous campaign last season, one in which they ended bottom of the league.
"I have always said it's a big game, especially for our members," Hutchinson told the Newcastle Herald.
"This club has always done better than what Newcastle has done.
"Newcastle is a bigger region and probably deserve a better football team than they have had in the past…
“The only thing Newcastle has that we haven't is a wooden spoon."
However, ‘Hutch’ was understandably more charitable towards the Jets and their coach Scott Miller, himself a former Gippsland Falcons product like Hutchinson.
"I was in the first team at the time and he [Scott Miller] was in the youth team," Hutchinson said.
"I was under-age and when the youth team made the finals I came down and played.
"He was a defender, quite good and aggressive.
"I'm not sure if that has changed. I actually know the Miller family and watched Scott go overseas as a coach. He has done a great job.
"Most coaches who get a team that finishes last, they have to work back to front." the former midfielder said.
"He has done that.They have been hard to break down in the games I have watched.
"They get good numbers behind the ball and are well organised.”
And Hutchinson predicted an intense battle at Hunter Stadium, with new passions being passed on by people like himself to the younger guard at Gosford.
"It's my job to pass on what it means to be in a derby and what it means for our club.
"Last derby was probably the most boring game of football I have watched," he said in a swipe at former coach Phil Moss.
"When Tony Walmsley took over [from Phil Moss] we changed our style.
"We were privileged to have Graham Arnold up here as a coach. He did a wonderful job with the team and we played great attacking football.
"We are trying to do the same with this team.
"They [Mariners] are fearless, why not let the kids play. They want to play, they want to press. Let's do it within a structure, make sure it's done properly.
"Newcastle obviously like to get men behind the ball. It will be a good game to watch."