IT seemed too good to be true.
As the Hunter geared up for season six of the A-League, things were unusually quiet in Newcastle. No rumblings of discontent, no controversy. Boring.
From the moment owner Con Constantine boldly announced former England manager Terry Venables would be the inaugural coach, the Jets have led a soap opera existence.
There were proposed strikes, court cases, battles with Football Federation Australia, a player exodus and a series of dud imports. Golden boy Joel Griffiths needed valium to deal with stress as he fought for a release from the club at which he won a Johnny Warren Medal.
At one point, Constantine threatened to throw the head of the supporters' group off a balcony at EnergyAustralia Stadium.
A championship was followed by a wooden spoon. Crazy.
But this year was different.
Coach Branko Culina was back for a second season, as planned, his roster was finalised a month before the season kick-off and headlines had been limited to player signings and trial matches.
Even Ljubo Milecivic, who blew into town 18 months prior with the ferocity of a cyclone, was settled.
The lion-hearted defender had opened up about his battle with depression and told how his love of Newcastle and the Jets had helped him turn his life around.
"I wasn't myself and I guess it was pretty obvious," Milicevic told the Herald. "I am very fortunate to have great support from my family and from the club."
Then, on August 31, three rounds into the season, came the sledgehammer.
Constantine, who had been listed on Australia's top 200 rich list the previous year, couldn't pay the players' wages.
A month of turmoil followed. Accusations flew, promises were made and not kept, there were conspiracy theories, secret meetings.
Constantine, who had a testy relationship with FFA, requested a loan from the governing body.
"I asked for assistance from the FFA, not a handout, and would have paid back every dollar," Constantine implored.
Eventually, FFA relented and provided a $300,000 lifeline but it wasn't enough.
On September 22, FFA announced that they had terminated Constantine's participation licence and handed ownership of the Newcastle Jets to Hunter Valley mining magnate Nathan Tinkler.
In an emotional press conference, a tearful Constantine accused the FFA of stabbing him in the back despite the businessman having poured $15m into the Jets.
Two weeks after taking up an interim licence, Tinkler agreed to a $4.5 million fee to extend his ownership until 2020.
Renowned sports administrator Ken Edwards was installed as executive chairman and charged with turning the Jets into a "community club".
Edwards made Jets tickets the cheapest in the league, offered Culina a four-year extension and promised more signings to come.
Former Socceroo David Lowe summed up the feeling of the Jets faithful in his Herald column: "I'm half expecting to wake up in a fluffy white robe, sitting opposite Angelina Jolie, sipping cocoa in front of an open fire...OK, I'm away with the fairies, but why wouldn't you believe that anything's possible after recent events for everyone associated with the Jets. Talk about best-case scenario. From the precipice of disaster to a 10-year licence, a safe, secure future with the potential for massive growth, and all in a two-week period."
Next was David Beckham.
Tinkler took 30 seconds to stump up the $2 million to lock in Becks and the LA Galaxy for a friendly in Newcastle.
Not since legends Bobby Charlton and George Best played for Manchester United against Northern NSW at No.1 Sportsground in 1967 had the Hunter hosted a draw card as big as Beckham.
It was close to the perfect night. Beckham played 90 minutes, the Jets beat the Galaxy 2-1 and the most famous footballer on the planet even took his shirt off.
Beckham, who produced an array of pinpoint passes, searching crosses and curling corners despite being hindered by a back issue, had a chance to snatch a draw at the death.
But he slightly overcooked an audacious chip which landed on the roof of the net.
In the end, everyone walked away happy - even Becks.
"I normally wouldn't have played, but when a game like this comes up you want to play," he said. "Besides the back pain, I enjoyed the game. It was a nice occasion, a full stadium, which is always great to play in front of, and I'm sure everyone went home happy with the Jets winning."
The first sign of turbulence for the Tinkler-charged Jets came in January when Milicevic was released to pursue a contract in Europe.
Management had initially wanted the firebrand to play out the season but the relationship between the stopper and some of the team and coaching staff had deteriorated to the point where it was untenable.
The flashpoint was footage during the Jets' 1-0 win over North Queensland of the former Socceroo dancing, out of club attire, in the eastern grandstand with the Squadron supporters group, even though he was supposed to be sidelined because of an ankle injury.
The season petered out under the weight of injuries - Michael Bridges, Ben Kantarovski and Sean Rooney suffered season-ending knee injuries while Kasey Wehrman and Ruben Zadkovich missed the final month - as the Jets finished six points outside the finals.
"It is pretty hard to come in halfway through the year and say we want to win the competition; that is a fairytale," Tinkler said. "Next year I'd like to think we would be challenging for the title. I want to make sure Branko gets the squad he wants."
Ten days later the Jets confirmed they had signed Socceroo Jason Culina from the Gold Coast on the biggest deal in the club's history.