FOOTBALL: You get the sense that Roy O'Donovan is looking forward to the boos, the insults and the baiting, if only because it'll get it all out of the way straight away.
"I mean, I don't think they'll be rolling out the red carpet for me, put it that way," O'Donovan (pictured) said of his return to former club the Mariners on Saturday, sporting the colours of rivals Newcastle.
Having the F3 derby scheduled in round one sends the Irish striker straight back to Gosford for his first A-League game since jumping ship.
"It'll be very strange, but I'm excited by it," he said.
"It was the game I wanted first after the furore of me leaving to go to the nearest rivals. Means I can nip it in the bud, get in there and hopefully come away smiling.
"I'm sure they'll try to wind me up, a few niggly tackles.
"But it's a derby, so that should be there anyway.
"There's a bit of spice there, an intriguing contest."
Part of it is the knowledge the Mariners have of how O'Donovan can hurt them, after scoring 19 goals in 45 games there.
Wondering how many he could score in a dominant team was the impetus for not re-signing for Paul Okon's team.
"We're going to find out, aren't we?" O'Donovan said.
"This is a big reason why I left. I felt at the time that we didn't know who was coming in the door at the Mariners. I couldn't bank on it being anything great after the two years previous.
"I knew Lawrie (McKinna, CEO) was building something at Newcastle. He told me their budget and I thought I had to take that opportunity.
"I said to him, 'Get me someone who will put the ball in the box because I believe I will score goals'.
"I don't mean that in an arrogant way, and the proof will have to be in the pudding this year. The supply line will be good."
It remains an interesting career choice, given the interest in signing him from other A-League clubs who might be expected to challenge more for the title.
"The football and life balance is important," he said.
"The results at the Mariners for two years weren't great, but my family life was brilliant. My son was born in Gosford, and me and my wife settled into Terrigal very quickly.
"Newcastle is very similar, it's a laidback, beachy lifestyle and not a crazy city like Sydney.
"When I come home we can enjoy that relaxed vibe, I like that quiet life away from football."
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