The Loyalty Award

We don’t have a plaque for him, but congratulations to Matt Simon on reaching 200 games for the Mariners last Wednesday.

There were heart-warming scenes at full-time as the veteran striker celebrated the milestone with his family.

During the post-game coverage, Simon gave an emotional interview to Fox Sports, where he explained the meaning behind his ‘shaka’ celebration.

The celebration is a Hawaiian symbol of gratitude for his young daughter, who was born several weeks premature.

Simon has always been a player that has divided opinion amongst A-League fans.

 Love him or hate him; one thing you cannot deny is his loyalty to the Mariners and the inspirational way he wears his heart on his sleeve every game.

Simon has returned to the Mariners three times in his career.

Wednesday’s comeback against Melbourne City highlighted what an inspiration he is to his teammates.

He brilliantly set up Jaden Casella at the end of the first half, before winning and scoring the equaliser form the penalty spot.

Even the way he speaks about being delighted for Casella, who scored his first Mariners goal, speaks volumes of the enormous character he is in the dressing room.

Simon was unable to lead the club back into finals football in recent years, mainly because he is the only one that has shown a real commitment to the cause.

However, now that Alen Stajcic has a squad that embodies similar traits to his talisman, they have become a tough nut to crack.

As the club’s record scorer, Simon is well-placed to lead them back to where they need to be. 

The Dear Diary Award

Ex-teammates at Melbourne City, Stefan Mauk and Neil Kilkenny rekindled their friendly relationship (not) on Friday night when the Reds hosted Perth.

 The pair clashed just before halftime, with Mauk suggesting at the interval that Kilkenny’s lack of quality was the reason he ended up leaving City.

 Kilkenny replied at fulltime to those accusations, hilariously telling Mauk to “write it in his diary”; thus, the memes ensued from various Twitter accounts.

 On a serious note, this didn’t seem like it was a heat of the moment thing.

The pair must have had issues off the pitch in Melbourne, and in the end, it’s probably best they only see each other occasionally from now on.

The Award For Most Entertaining Day Of The Season

Saturday was arguably the most entertaining day of A-League football we have witnessed this campaign.

With 11 goals in two games, ridiculous defending, goalmouth scrambles, long-range chips, and scorpion kicks, it had it all.

First, we had Brisbane annihilate Melbourne Victory in the early kick-off.

Dylan Wenzel-Halls, Scott McDonald and Riku Danzaki ran riot and destroyed a hapless Victory defence.

Grant Brebner has got a tremendous job ahead of him to get this woeful Victory unit organised, as they are an absolute shambles at the back.

Later on, in the Western Sydney Derby, the Bulls and Wanderers came out completely revitalised after halftime to produce one of the best halves of football we’ve seen in 2021.

Macarthur took more risks in their game for once, instead of keeping the ball for the sake of it.

Meanwhile, the Wanderers re-found their high intensity and direct style that made them entertaining in the campaign's opening weeks.

I'll quickly recap all that happened in the second half.

We had Graham Dorrans's incredible long-range chip, Adam Federici's stunning save in a hectic goalmouth scramble, and Keanu Baccus's scorpion assist.

It was another fantastic advertisement for a competition that is slowly showing signs of a rapid rise in quality.  

The Riley McGree Award

Keanu Baccus deserves special recognition for his inventive scorpion kick assist for the Wanderers on Saturday night.

It was a moment of individual brilliance that Riley McGree certainly would have been proud of.

Whether the midfielder meant it to assist Simon Cox or be a goal for himself, we will never know.

For now, let’s all take the time to appreciate it once more.

The Give Him The Job Already Award

Following Newcastle’s 1-0 victory over Melbourne City on Sunday, the Jets are looking like real contenders for a top-six finish.

After exceeding expectations early on, it might just be time to appoint Craig Deans on a full-time basis.

The interim boss has made the Jets hard to breakdown, and each side that has beaten them so far has had to work hard to earn the three points.

However, in Valentino Yuel, Ramy Najjarine and Roy O’Donovan, they also have potent attacking threats.

There hasn’t been a match this season that Newcastle has looked out of place, and with other options few and far between, the 46-year-old is the best candidate.

The Super Sub Award

Alou Kuol netted his fourth and fifth goals of the campaign on Sunday night, thumping two brilliant headers past Western goalkeeper Filip Kurto after coming off the bench.

The striker single-handedly changed the game, spurring the Mariners to another stunning late comeback.

 The 19-year-old also came off the bench against Sydney recently to score and seal the points.

He also set up Daniel De Silva’s winner as a sub against Melbourne City last Wednesday.

Kuol is making a name for himself as a super-sub.

However, Alen Stajcic has to decide whether to start the youngster or continue to use him off the bench. 

He could either start Kuol, get a decent 60 minute shift out of him, or bring him off the bench as an impact player for 20 minutes.

Stajcic also should consider whether starting Marcos Ureña sends the wrong message to Kuol.

The Costa Rican wasn’t awful on Sunday by any means, but it does look like he will need more time to adapt to a new country and league.

Therefore, there are many different factors to take into account.

Start Kuol because he deserves it, use him as an impact player from the bench, or start Ureña so he can adapt, but risk upsetting Kuol in the process.

Either way, these are the types of headaches a manager welcomes, and as long as Kuol keeps finding the net, Stajcic won’t care one bit.