"It is the equivalent of a spear tackle or king hit in rugby league."
In one moment of brutality, Jets defender Andrew Durante had his leg snapped in two places by a horrendous, studs-up lunge from Central Coast striker Nik Mrdja.
The A-League kick-off was still three months away.
But the disgraceful challenge, and the aftermath, ensured the F3 derby would forever be the original and most compelling rivalry in the new competition.
"You cannot get a more dramatic incident in our game," then Jets coach Jean Paul de Marigny fumed. "It is the equivalent of a spear tackle or king hit in rugby league."
The fact the Mariners edged the Jets on penalties in the Club World Championships qualifier after 120 scoreless minutes in Gosford has long been forgotten. Durante spent two nights in hospital and a year on the sidelines. He would return and go on to etch championship-winning redemption story and remains one of the league's iron men with 333 games and counting.
That tackle, and the fact Mrdja got off scot free, still eats away at Jets fans.
The months in the lead up to the new dawn of Australian football were as dramatic and controversial as anything dished up on the pitch.
In one of the biggest coups in Australian sport, let alone football, the Jets captured Terry Venables to lead their first campaign ... well so they thought.
After seven months of anticipation and much toing and froing it was revealed that 'El Tel' was staying in England.
"I have spoken to him about three times in the last week-and-a-half, and the position at the moment is that he won't be coming," Jets director of football Remo Nogarotto lamented.
Owner Con Constantine was less diplomatic: "To me a handshake is a contract written in blood and that's what we had. I've spent a lot of time and money chasing Terry."
Instead of El Tel, the Jets landed former Richard Money, a defender who spent a couple seasons at Liverpool alongside Newcastle's most famous football export Craig Johnston. Money arrived in Newcastle after a stint in Sweden and previous roles at Coventry City, Manchester City, Nottingham Forest and Scunthorpe United.
"We may have missed out on Mick Jagger, but in my view we have Keith Richards," Nogarotto boasted.
The Jets were certainly not lacking rock stars on the pitch.
Blue chip Socceroo Ned Zelic was signed as the marquee and was surrounded by proven Australian stars Ante Milicic, Nick Carle, Jade North and Richard Johnson.
"Sydney's announcement a couple of weeks ago that Dwight Yorke was joining their ranks has now been matched in my view by Ned's decision to return home after 14 years abroad," Nogarotto beamed. "I'm sure with the squad we have assembled this year, and with Ned's acquisition, we are not only going to be very competitive but put Newcastle and the Hunter Region back on top of the sporting tree in this country."
The Jets were bestowed the honour of hosting the first A-League game when they took on Adelaide in front of 13,160 fans on August 26.
Veteran Reds striker Carl Veart spoiled the party for the home side when he bundled in the game's only goal in the 19th minute.
"They came and played very cleverly and made life difficult," Money said. "I sense a lot of disappointment, but don't lose faith. We will grow and get better. But we need to do it quickly."
The Jets stumbled along, handicapped by injury and suspension, and were second from the bottom on seven points after seven rounds.
They travelled to Adelaide in round eight and stunned the Reds 4-2 to spark a seven-game unbeaten streak.
Adelaide again signalled a change in fortunes for the Jets when they beat them for a second time at EAS, 2-1 in the final game before Christmas.
After nearly a month off, the Jets heralded in the new year with a 4-1 capitulation to the Mariners.
Order was restored thanks to a scoreless draw with Sydney the next week, before they rounded out the regular season with a brace of wins and losses to finish fourth.
The campaign then finished as it started, with a disappointing loss over two legs to the Mariners in the minor semi-final. They went down 1-0 at home before leading 1-0 in Gosford only to give up a late goal.
"I think the best team lost over both games, to be honest," a shattered Money said. "I'm very disappointed, but I am proud of what we have done in both games. I could not have asked for anything more from the boys."
In a season of many highlights, rookie central defender Allan Picken emerged as one of the finds of the A-League.
Picken was recruited from NSW Premier League club Sydney United as a replacement for Andrew Durante (broken leg). Carle also had an outstanding year, while experienced midfielder Johnson was instrumental.
"Picken was an obvious standout," Money said. "I think goalkeeper Liam Reddy had a decent season. Nicky Carle surprised me with his work rate and energy. Thommo the same. [But] we had a number in the group who I think we can get a lot more out of next year. Even with the likes of Jobe Wheelhouse and Stuart Musialik. They will be like new signings for us next year, as will Durante."
Reflecting on the season, Money said: "We have got to learn to become part of the city and to embrace the city. We must become a football club not a football team".
Two months later, Money was sacked, despite having two years to run on his contract.
A failure to perform was the official club line, but Constantine was livid after being informed that the coach had shopped himself around to other clubs mid-season.
It was also a mixed season off the field. The Jets' failure to sign a major sponsor meant they were always going to suffer a hefty financial loss believed to be more than $1.5 million.
A dispute with the players over unpaid bonuses in December also did little to enhance the club's reputation.
On the positive side, the Jets built a solid fan base and averaged a healthy home attendance of more than 9000.