CENTRAL Coast captain John Hutchinson says his side is determined to bury the ghosts of grand finals past when the Mariners take on the Western Sydney Wanderers in Sunday's A-League decider.
The 2012-13 grand final will be the Mariners' fourth - a competition record - since the inception of the A-League in 2005, but the club is yet to add a championship trophy to the cabinet at Gosford.
Hutchinson knows about the Mariners' disappointments more than most, having featured in both the 2008 and 2011 defeats, to Newcastle and Brisbane respectively.
He is desperate to avoid that feeling again: "It's a motivation. Those grand finals are gone now and it's out of our hands, but we look forward to this one," he said at the A-League pre-grand final press conference on Saturday.
"We can control our destiny. The boys spoken briefly about it - controlling our own destiny.
"It's something that everyone around says the club needs to win. We've been there three times and haven't done so.
"For us and for Central Coast as a community and a club, it's a big game. We're not shying away from the fact that we've lost three [grand finals]
… We've got a chance to do what no Mariners team has been able to do in the past."
Standing in the Mariners' way is the Wanderers, who have far exceeded expectations in their maiden A-League season.
Western Sydney, under Tony Popovic, already have the Premiers' Plate in their possession, with many suggesting their fairytale story deserves a championship-winning end.
Central Coast coach Graham Arnold said he believed - considering the Mariners' past disappointments - his club could consider a long-awaited title victory their own fairytale ending, but he did have plenty of praise for the Wanderers' accomplishments.
"They're a wonderful team. They thoroughly deserve the premiership plate… to get over the line and beat us by three points was a fantastic achievement by them," he said.
"… We are the smallest club in the country, there's no doubt about. But I think they are quickly becoming the biggest club."
The Mariners have had trouble converting from the penalty spot this season, but Hutchinson revealed they had been practicing lest Sunday's match go to a shoot-out.
Arnold, however, was quick to throw light on his side's profligacy from the spot: "We never practice penalties. Haven't you been watching us?" he joked.
"We've only missed five."