Mostly, they nod sagely in response and thank me for my deep wisdom.

But not football fans. For football fans, that piece of advice would get the same response a doctor would give if asked how to take a suppository.

For no amount of football success can ever assuage years of pain – especially Mariners' level pain:

  • Four Wooden Spoons in the last five years
  • No finals appearance since 2013
  • Constantly having their place in the league questioned (on quality grounds)
  • Constantly the subject of takeover (and removal to another site) speculation
  • Always losing their brightest young prospects to richer clubs
  • Made into an international laughing stock by trialling Usain Bolt (ouch!)

It’s been eight years of agony, and while things are looking distinctly brighter at the moment (seven points clear at the top), there’s a long way to go. If a week is a long time in politics, 15 rounds is an eternity in football.

Still, it’s very interesting reading on the Mariners fan forum these days (CCM Fans). The gloom of the last few years has lifted and instead of survival and pessimism (and bitterness over referee performances) being the main topics, the forumites are actually discussing football, and players, and team shape and strategy. (With the obvious exception of the Adelaide debacle when the forum went berserk over VAR and the handball law – such as it is.)

Just like any other fan forum. (Regular readers of my work will know I lurk on lots of forums – especially those clubs where Australians are playing in Europe.)

They are also revelling in the success of their team and the excellence of their coach.

Possibly the greatest change on the CCM forum is the confidence fans have leading into every game. It’s certainly evolved over the course of the season. I’ve seen it go from pessimism – to hope – to various grades of confidence – to expectation.

That’s right, CCM fans expect their team to beat anyone now. The forum before the Macarthur Bulls game was full of confidence including numerous score and scorer predictions. Interestingly, I didn’t see a single score prediction giving the Bulls a goal. They were all to nil, which tells you a lot about the fans’ expectation in defence.

Birrighitti, Rowles and Tongyik are the best back three in the league and the Mariners’ discipline and desperation in defence are reminiscent of the McKinna/Arnold days. It’s no wonder the fans do not expect to concede – and if you don’t concede, there’s a strong likelihood you’ll win.

The forum is also amusing for some of its humour (no longer of the gallows variety). I liked one forumite’s quip – “Macarthur don’t have the cattle to beat us.”

But most of the arguments you see on the forum are about what you might call First Place Problems (as opposed to the First World variety). Like, who was MOTM for example. It was pretty much always Birrighitti last year, but this year there are any number of players every week with their advocates (and plenty saying it's too hard to pick).

There are also concerns about too much success which could see the coach or key players tempted away. Especially the coach. In a salary capped league, the biggest difference you can make – especially for the club with least resources – is the coach. The Mariners are famous for punching above their weight in the Lawrie/Arnie days, but ever since they’ve been diabolical.

Alen Stajcic is clearly a master-coach so the fans are already terrified that he could be tempted away by one of the richer, more high-profile clubs (and there are a few struggling right now). They are also worried about the club’s ability to keep any number of young players who’ve emerged or gone to a new level this year.

In the end, all successful clubs will have these problems. It’s just that the Mariners haven’t had them for a while.

The hope is that success on the field will help to resolve some of the numerous off-field issues that have plagued the club for so long.

But they'll never entirely take away the pain...

Adrian's books can be purchased at any good bookstore or through ebook alchemy. His new novel, Welcome to Ord City, is now available.