Wellington entered the competition at the expense of the woeful New Zealand Knights, but it was future Phoenix captain Andrew Durante who drove Newcastle to their maiden Hyundai A-League Championship, winning the Joe Marston Medal.
Here is the story of the season
Carlos Hernandez (Melbourne Victory)
Joel Griffiths (Newcastle Jets)
Shane Smeltz (Wellington Phoenix)
John Aloisi (CCM)
GAME OF THE SEASON
Newcastle Jets 3 Brisbane Roar 2: a dramatic preliminary final was sent to extra-time when Reinaldo converted a 90 th minute penalty to square the ledger at 1-1. But Joel Griffiths scored from the spot himself in extra-time and Tarek Elrich increased the margin before a second Reinaldo spot-kick set up a grandstand finish.
Phoenix finished last in their inaugural season, but managed to beat the eventual champions Newcastle 3-2 on their own patch, with Michael Ferrante and Kristian Rees both scoring their only goals for the club.
GOAL OF THE YEAR
With Sydney FC trailing Adelaide United 1-0 in round 18, Brendon Santalab picked up the ball on the left of the penalty area, cut inside and curled a peach of a shot into the far, top corner.
GOLDEN BOOT WINNER
Joel Griffiths (Jets): 12
The Mariners led the table for 17 of the first 19 weeks, before Queensland Roar took top spot heading into the final weekend. But Roar’s loss to Adelaide saw both the Mariners and Jets jump above them, with Central Coast winning their first Premier’s Plate on goal difference, by just one goal.
STORY OF THE FINALS
The Mariners overturned a 2-0 first leg deficit to beat the Jets 3-2 on aggregate in the major semi-final, but when the two teams met again in the Grand Final – in Sydney - things swung the other way. Mark Bridge sprinted away to score the game’s only goal and win Newcastle’s first and only Championship.