Australia’s domestic football showpiece event will draw the eyes of many this weekend, and an unsung hero is vowing to ensure it is a spectacle.

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Central Coast Stadium’s turf manager, Tom Jenkin, has battled the elements over the past month, knowing there was a high chance he and his team would be preparing the pitch for the A-League Men grand final.

Central Coast Mariners have been the benchmark of the competition all season and host this weekend’s decider against Melbourne Victory.

The pitch for any professional game — let alone a grand final — must be of the highest quality and Jenkin and his team look set to achieve that despite an unprecedented amount of rain for this time of the year.

“It’s definitely been the biggest game that we’ve ever had to prepare for,” Jenkin told ABC Sport.

“We’re not shy of world-class events, but it’s been a very busy week. The excitement around the place is just next-level.”

This May is the wettest Gosford has experienced in 21 years, according to ABC Weather, with 12 straight days of more than a millimetre of rain across April and May, just shy of the record.
Jenkin, who has been in his role since 2016, says the playing surface has recovered well from the months of wet weather and last weekend’s semifinal second leg against Sydney FC.

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He credits plenty of his team’s success with the experience they gained during last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The Gosford stadium served as England’s training base for their campaign, which gave Jenkin and the team valuable knowledge going forward.

“The high standards that FIFA had set for that competition were through the roof. That was a huge learning curve for us,” he said.

“The standards we set ourselves each week is to have the best pitch in the league, but to have expectations set for pitch height and the colour of the turf, it really raised the bar for the pitch here and all others across Australia.

“For this weekend, the pitch is going to benefit from it. I’d say it’s in the same condition that we had for the world cup, so it has the highest of standards.”

The Mariners and Victory will play in the grand final on Saturday, with kick-off at 7:45pm AEST.

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