THE Newcastle Jets picked up a couple of extra fans during a whirlwind visit to Singleton on Friday.
The full Hyundai A-League squad and coaching staff, including newly-appointed mentor Ernie Merrick, met a big crowd of supporters – young and old – at Howe Park.
The players happily signed autographs, posed for photos and then put 200 youngsters, mostly Singleton Strikers juniors, through their paces, via a series of skills sessions.
The stop-over, in partnership with the club’s major community partner Greater Bank, was part of the Jets’ regional tour, which included destinations such as Taree, Port Macquarie and Tamworth.
“It’s been great,” Merrick admitted.
“I’ve really enjoyed seeing some of the countryside – we’ve also received a warm welcome at every town.
“I believe this is the third year the Jets have travelled to key areas within their provincial footprint.
“It’s important to connect with the people who support the game.
“We also hosted clinics, such as this, at Taree and Tamworth.
“When we return [to Newcastle], our focus will turn to the upcoming A-League competition.
“Everyone’s looking forward to a successful season.”
Earlier in the week, Jets chief executive officer Lawrie McKinna admitted the concept was important for the growth of football.
“With Greater Bank’s backing and the additional support of people in Northern NSW, we’re once again able to take our club to the community,” he said.
“These trips provide a great chance for us to meet many of our members and fans in their backyard and, generally, spread the gospel of the game and the Jets.
“This year, we’re traveling around Northern NSW in our fully-branded Sid Foggs bus for the first time, so supporters can spot us on the highways, streets and roads throughout our route.”