After four weeks off Newcastle hit the blocks running last week in the return of the A-league Men competition, overcoming the Central Coast Mariners 2-1. They’re hoping to continue that good form through Christmas so they can enter the new year on a high.
The Jets get their chance when they host 10th-placed Brisbane Roar on Friday night. A win would keep them in touch with the top four.
Arthur Papas’ side also has the advantage of having a game in hand thanks to their Round One Derby being washed out.
In the wake of the APL’s decision to move the next three Grand Finals to Sydney, Newcastle are prepared to watch its supporters walk out of Friday night’s clash with Brisbane at the 20th minute. However, milestone man Jason Hoffman is urging fans to stick by their side despite the unfortunate situation.
“All you can hope for is that your fans are with you [for] every moment of the game,” Hoffman told the media on Wednesday.
“We’re fortunate to have a really good relationship with our fans at the moment. That’s grown in particular through the end of last season and into this season so far.
“We appreciate our members and all our fans who support us in every facet of the game. We just hope on Friday night they see the bigger picture and that the club wants to be together in everything that we do.
“Our fans are critical, the game doesn’t exist without them.”
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The Jets’ veteran has the chance to become Newcastle’s most-capped player of all time should he take to the field on Friday night. His 211th appearance will see him overtake Ben Kantarovski for sole leadership of the record.
The 33-year-old is incredibly proud to represent his hometown club and believes having two local boys at the top of the list is exactly what the Jets are built on. He said the occasion will be a highlight of his 15-year career but has no plans on slowing down.
“Being a Mayfield boy, I was always at the local pitch with a big dream to play professional football,” Hoffman said.
“I never considered that one day I might be 15 or 16 years deep into a career and have the opportunity to be the Jets’ most-capped player of all time.
“It’s something I’m sure I’ll be proud of at the end of my career, but to be honest I have no plans on slowing down just yet.
“I have to pay some respect to Ben Kantarovski as well, to be up alongside Ben for the appearance record will make us both extremely proud as local boys. Long may it continue as well because I’ve got some unfinished business after 2018 [grand final loss].”
The Jets will have the chance to make it back-to-back wins going into the second portion of the season if they can beat the Roar at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday, giving them a wave of momentum to carry through a tough Christmas schedule.
Stringing results together was something they lacked in their last campaign, and something Hoffman believes they’ve worked on as a squad to understand what is required from top teams. He said taking a result in Friday’s game is integral to their long-term success.
“I think momentum is the number one thing that brings success in this league,” he said.
“Most teams that go on a really good run not only make finals but finish in the top end of the ladder and get to host semi-finals and big matches in front of their own fans.
“For us, to build momentum is absolutely critical, because it will give us belief in our system. To really solidify that inner belief we need results to justify what we’re doing.
“We never really went on that run last year even though I think we played some fantastic football. For us to get the three points of Friday is crucial, because then we have another F3 Derby mid-week and we can set up a really good festive period.”
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