John Hutchinson is one of Morwell’s favourite sons.
He played juniors at Morwell Pegasus before getting his first crack as a professional for the Gippsland Falcons – later renamed Eastern Pride – in the National Soccer League from 1996-2001.
Hutchinson doesn’t do social media. And nowadays he lives in the United States where he coaches Seattle Sounders FC 2 in the United Soccer League.
But the Gippsland product still wants the world to know that he is adamant a south-east Victorian A-League and W-League club would do wonders for his home region.
“Gippsland Falcons was a home. It was somewhere I loved to be and somewhere I will always remember fondly,” Hutchinson said.
“It was also a place I could go to support my area, my team, in the national competition. I remember going to Falcons games as a kid and watching the likes of Warren Spink and John Markovski, the place was packed.
“And to now have the chance for all of Gippsland to embrace a team that will embrace the region is critical for all families and everyone who loves the game.
“For the kids of Gippsland to dream of playing for what will be their home team and for family and friends to be able to come and watch, it will stoke the passion of what is a very proud football community.”
Hutchinson played 89 NSL games for Falcons/Pride.
But the midfielder truly left his stamp on Australian football throughout a glittering 11-year A-League career at Central Coast, where he played 228 games between 2005-15 and won the 2012-13 championship.
He is the only Mariner to have surpassed 200 games for the club.
But Hutchinson said if it wasn’t for the Falcons providing him that pathway, who knows where his career might have ended up.
And for the next generation of talent coming through Gippsland, Hutchinson hopes Team 11 can do for them what the Falcons did for him.
“I owe a lot of people thanks for what they did for my career, but who knows where it would have been without a club around the corner which was ours,” he said.
“I can’t wait to see the next player from Gippsland play in the A-League or beyond and what a feeling it would be to have that player play for a south-east Victorian club.”