After being on the losing end of three Grand Finals, Newcastle Jets defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley is looking to make his fourth decider the winner against Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.
Topor Stanley was with Western Sydney Wanderers when they were runners-up in the 2012–13, 2013–14 and 2015–16 A-League Grand Finals.
In his first season with Newcastle the 33-year-old veteran defender has been an ever-present figure in the Jets backline playing every minute of every game.
And heading into Saturday Night’s Grand Final against Melbourne Victory, Topor-Stanley feels he’s earned a great chance of finally joining the winner’s circle.
“Of course,” he said. “This is what you work all year towards. It’s a one off and you don’t get another opportunity until twelve months later.
“You have to make it through a lot of obstacles to get there. Clearly, it’s a massive game.”
With the Jets being recipients of the wooden spoon in two of the past three A-League seasons not many saw Newcastle as championship contenders at the beginning of the season.
But Topor- Stanley revealed that the Jets were aiming for glory from the outset.
“At the beginning of the season we set our standards pretty high,” he said.
“To be the best that we can be, to drive each other with the aim of winning the Championship. Whether that happens or not, is out of your control to a certain extent.
“It’s a testament to the character of this club that we have been able to put ourselves in this position.
“We’ve been good enough all year to put ourselves in with a chance to win something.”
Topor Stanley also lauded the influence of Jets coach Ernie Merrick in turning around Newcastle’s season, highlighting the freedom that Newcatle's boss gives to his players in the final third.
“I’ve said this a few times, that he gives responsibilities to players to create,” he said.
“I’ve seen a lot of coaches try to structure a certain way, and rightly so. That’s how they want to play, that fine.
“But the good thing about Ernie is that he gives a lot of freedom and he puts in on the players to do what comes naturally.
The defender added that one of the recipients who benfited most from Merrick’s laissez faire attitude has been Dimi Petratos
“You’ve seen the flourishment of Dimi Petratos and Andrew Nabbout, both are well-deserving Socceroos and that’s a sign of his coaching style,” said Topor Stanley.
“Dimi’s always been an incredible talent. Maybe he’s had more return on that because he’s been given more responsibility this year.
“This is my first season with him and we know what he is capable of, we see it in training so we’re happy to have players like him on our side.”