There are plenty of narratives to be told after Saturday night’s A-League Grand Final between Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory.

The title decider will see the NSW side host the VIC team in a battle between the Premiers and third-place finishers.

History will be made if either team claim victory, with the Mariners a chance to secure an unprecedented trophy treble, while for Victory, it’s an opportunity to go level with Sydney FC with the most title wins in the competition’s history.

Slaying the coaches demons

Melbourne Victory coach Tony Popovic will tell his players not to treat the grand final as destiny, though the club’s stunning run through the finals suggests it may well be.

Because if anyone knows what it’s like to lose a grand final it’s Popovic.

The former Socceroos defender took Western Sydney Wanderers to three grand finals and Perth Glory to another, tasting defeat in all four.

He will get the chance to manage in a fifth decider on Saturday against Central Coast, courtesy of Victory’s helter-skelter defeat of Wellington.

Victory were under the pump for long spells against the Phoenix in their semi-final second leg last Saturday night, and under pressure from a 33,297-strong crowd in New Zealand.

Just as they did in the elimination final against Melbourne City, the Victory rallied from the jaws of defeat.

Against City, a 10-man Victory equalised against the reigning premiers before Paul Izzo’s inspired penalty shootout, saving three efforts and scoring his own.

Izzo saved another spot kick against Wellington, as well as a follow-up effort, as Victory hung tough.

The Nix, with the benefit of a better record this season and the biggest crowd anywhere in the league, had all the momentum heading into extra time after a 99th-minute equaliser.

Instead, Chris Ikonomidis popped up at the back post from an extra-time corner to give Victory a sense of undeniability this finals series.

Popovic’s own bad grand final luck began in 2013 in the inaugural Wanderers season, when the club won 10-straight to claim the premiership but lost the grand final 2-0 to the Mariners.

The following year, Western Sydney lost in extra time to Brisbane, and in 2016, Adelaide United defeated them 3-1.

After a stint in Turkey, Popovic returned to the A-League with Perth in 2018 and again claimed a premiership – but lost the grand final in a penalty shootout to Sydney FC.

Melbourne Victory substitute Chris Ikonomidis makes it 2-1 in extra time (102nd minute) agaisnt Wellington Phoenix to take his team to the grand final. Photo: AAP via Sipa USA/Joe Serci

“I’ve been at that last game a bit,” he said, pivoting to his Australia Cup success with the Victory in 2021.

“We won the cup a few years ago so we did win a trophy.

“This club’s used to winning trophies and with that comes expectation and our fans, our members, the club, they expect to be challenging and winning trophies.

“That’s what Melbourne Victory is.

“It’s been a while since the club’s been in a grand final for many different reasons and now we have a chance to bring some silverware back to our club.”

A treble and a gentlemen’s agreement

Meanwhile for the Mariners, a win would not only secure a trophy treble but back-to-back Championships for a club that endured significant squad turnover in the off-season.

Title-winning head coach Nick Montgomery left the club, along with several star players including Jason Cummings, Samuel Silvera, Nectar Triantis, Beni N’Kololo and James McGarry. Marco Tulio stayed on, but left the club just months into the new campaign.

But it seems that the boys have some extra motivation aside from the trophy.

Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic is being held to a promise by peroxide-tinged winger Christian Theoharous that if the Mariners beat Melbourne Victory on Saturday in Gosford, he too will go bleach blond.

Theoharous has made a habit of sporting eye-catching styles throughout his career, and his decision to dye his hair bright blond was copied by teammates Alou Kuol and Ronald Barcellos ahead of the Mariners’ semi-final win over Sydney FC.

Vukovic has said he will follow suit in a gentleman’s agreement that brings back memories of the Romania squad at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Theoharous wasn’t even born when the likes of Georghe Hagi made headlines by celebrating their knockout-stage qualification by lathering on the peroxide, but he’d love it if his Mariners teammates mirrored his new look.

“I’ve heard about it (Romania), the whole team did it,” Theorharous told AAP.

“I did it last year before the grand final and it worked, so if it’s not broken don’t fix it.

“A few of the other lads saw it and even ‘Vuka’ said if we win it he’ll do it, so I’m on to the skipper.

“Me and him are good mates. You’ve got the oldest guy in the squad being mates with one of the youngest, and I think it shows the camaraderie within this squad.

“We are a tight-knit group where we don’t leave anyone behind.”

The club’s mesmerising run under Mark Jackson is close to having a fairy-tale ending, even if Victory have shown on their finals journey that they will embrace the role of being “party-poopers”.

“It’s an incredible feeling what we have in this group at the moment,” Theoharous said.

“There’s not really any nerves going around and we don’t fear anyone.

“The togetherness and the structure we have and the coaches, Mark Jackson and (assistant) Danny Schofield, have done an unbelievable job.

“The confidence they have embedded in us (has been great) and the way they talk about football rubs off on everyone.”

The Grand Final is set to take place at Industree Group Stadium, home of the Mariners, on Saturday, May 25, with kick-off scheduled for 7.45pm AEST.

With AAP