In August 2012, Central Coast Mariners invited fans to attend a fan forum event with the aim of letting them know what was happening around the club and listening to their opinions. Recognising the importance of re-engaging the community, the Mariners were hoping to get a couple of hundred fans of the club to become involved.

With the great progress the Mariners have made in respect of the Centre of Excellence facilities and the fact that the club has been built on community engagement, the club felt it important to re-connect with the fans by talking about their successes and hearing fans suggestions and opinions.

At an evening presided over by MC Lawrie McKinna, a panel consisting of Mariners Chairman Peter Turnbull, Director Bob Graham, Head Coach Graham Arnold, and senior team players John Hutchinson and Patrick Zwaanswijk responded to questions from fans eager to understand the practices and processes the Club is implementing to ensure it remains not only successful on the field, but an innovative and sustainable force off it.

An excellent turnout of fans heard some great news about the club, listened to future plans and participated in an open to all question and answer session. At the end of the evening fans were offered the chance to register their interest in being a part of an on-going consulting and advisory group to meet regularly with the club to discuss all things aimed at improving the Mariners fan experience.

A short time after the forum, Lawrie McKinna wrote to each of the fans who registered their interest and invited them to attend a lunch meeting with himself and other officials of the club. A very enjoyable lunch and discussion took place and the group agreed to meet regularly to continue those discussions.

Sometime later, after many discussions, this group of fans has started the process of formalising the relationship between the club and the fans via the formation of an official supporters club with the endorsement of the Mariners. The first "official" meetings of the group were held around a month ago and a core group of around fifteen fans are engaged in a regular meeting process pursuing this aim and is now well down the track to achieving this goal and expecting to complete the formalisation of the supporters club in the near future.

The Central Coast Mariners Official Supporters Club (as it will be known) intends to represent the views of all fans of the Mariners (both active and otherwise) to create a conduit allowing the suggestions and opinions of the fans to be discussed and considered by the club. With Lawrie McKinna just one of the Mariners staff members involved in the group, the basis for a true connection between the club and the fans is almost completed.

The group includes fans from the "Yellow Army" active support group as well as an excellent cross section of the clubs fan demographic: males and females, from High School students through all ranges of the age demographic and including parents and grandparents.

At the final A-League match at Bluetongue Stadium before the finals (Melbourne Heart), the fan group intends to promote the concept so carefully constructed by the group, by marketing the idea to all the fans who attend. Information will be given to fans arriving at this match including links to the supporter clubs first web site, where information will be disseminated as the supporters club takes shape.

As the smallest club in the league with the smallest market and perhaps the most limited resources, crowds and atmosphere are always the focus of negative comments from other A-League club supporters. Although there are other objectives, the fundamental aim of the supporters club centres around these two issues.

So far the group has been responsible for the re-creation of the match day fan march, the announcement of the teams names and attempts to involve the main crowd in some of the active supporter chants. Mariners match regulars will have noticed these things over recent times and this is just the start of the ideas the supporters club group intends to try.

It is a proud moment for the Mariners fans involved to see the many weeks of work now bringing to fruition their dream of the club actively engaging all fans in a permanent arrangement for the betterment of our club, the attendance and the fan experience.

We may be small but we're working hard to improve!

Interested Mariners fans can get information from You can also be involved in the conversation about it on Twitter using hashtag #CCMFansUnite

Proud to wear yellow!