Boogaard's vow: this is only the beginning for Jets
Skipper Nigel Boogaard says the Newcastle Jets are feeling down from their Hyundai A-League Grand Final defeat but encouraged by what lies ahead after the club’s fairytale 2017/18 campaign.
The stage was set at a delirious McDonald Jones Stadium for Ernie Merrick’s men to go from wooden-spooners to Championship winners in the space of 12 months.
But an early Kosta Barbarouses strike and resolute defensive performance from Victory saw Kevin Muscat’s men grind their way to a 1-0 win and record-breaking fourth Hyundai A-League title.
Despite the heart-breaking nature of the defeat for the Novocastrians there was a palpable sense of collective pride and support for the Jets that lingered long after Melbourne’s post-match celebrations.
Boogard typified the impressively upbeat outlook fixed across the steel city and said the occasion marks a landmark shift in the direction of football for the city.
“We have to remember where we came from last year and where we are now,” the skipper said.
“We’ve just got to take the positives out of the game, a Grand Final at home in a full house.
"We’re disappointed we couldn’t get over the line for the supporters but at the end of the day I’m really proud of the boys and the way they gave everything they could until that final whistle.
“There’s definitely been a shift in the region and hopefully this is the start of a great future.”
The Jets resurgence under Merrick this season has been underpinned by a thunderously direct attacking game spearheaded by the likes of Dimitri Petratos, Steven Ugarkovic and Roy O’Donovan which was on yet again on display again on Saturday night.
Newcastle outshot their opponents 14 to seven, with double the amount of shots on target but were halted by a trademark Grand Final display of doggedness from Muscat’s men who had man-of -the-match keeper Lawrence Thomas to thank in particular.
“Once you go ahead in a game like that it’s extremely hard to break a team down, they’ve got some quality and especially with someone like Carl (Valeri) in the middle of the park to organize and break the game down,” said Boogaard.
“When Lawrence Thomas wins man-of-the-match obviously we created some chances and on another night we may have scored them and it may have been a completely different game.”
Newcastle’s Grand Final defeat arrives 10 years on from their sole Hyundai A-League Championship triumph in 2008.
And Boogard says a return to the title-winning days is just around the corner after winning back the hearts and minds of the city with the feel-good story of the competition.
“We’ve made a big point of engaging the community this year and I think it showed,” he said.
“The fact the stadium sold out in 2 days, the support we’ve had all week has been phenomenal – everywhere you go around town there’s people congratulating the boys and wishing them all the best.
“We’ll be back on the stage again in years to come.”