He once called WIN Stadium home. On Saturday, Nick Montgomery will return to Wollongong in search of his second victory as an A-Leagues head coach.
Montgomery was appointed into Central Coast's mentoring role in July following the sudden departure of coach Alen Stajcic.
The man nicknamed 'Monty' was no stranger to the Mariners, having played for the club between 2012-17, before moving to Wollongong where he played 30 NSW NPL games for the Wolves across two seasons. He also spent time learning his managing craft under then head coach Jacob Timpano.
He then hung up the boots and headed back to the Central Coast to coach the Mariners' NPL and Y-League sides, before being promoted to the club's top job this year.
As the Mariners head back to Wollongong to face the Phoenix on Saturday afternoon, Montgomery hopes to extend his A-League Men's coaching record to 2-0.
"I've been looking forward to this game. I spent a little bit of time with the Wolves when I was transitioning from a professional playing career into coaching. For me, it was a great experience working with a really good owner in Tory Lavalle," he said.
"Their coach at the time Jacob Timpano asked me to come down and work with a bunch of young players, and that's something I'd always enjoyed doing. It was a good fit at the time, and it's a fantastic club with really good people. And I obviously keep an eye on them and speak to Luke (Wilkshire) a lot."
The match will kick-start a busy week for the Mariners, who will return to WIN Stadium next Wednesday for their FFA Cup round of 16 clash with the Wolves. They will then back up to face A-Leagues side Macarthur four days later at a venue to be announced, as the fallout continues from Campbelltown Stadium's poor surface.
However, Montgomery said his team would remain focused on the taking on the Phoenix.
"Wellington have got a good coach in Ufuk Talay. They're well structured, organised and difficult to break down, so I expect nothing less than a physical game, and a good game against a decent side," he said.
"We need to play our game. They've got a couple of decent players in their front third, but we'll go down there with a game plan and we'll try to get three points. It's about playing the way we play, like we did against Newcastle, and hopefully we can get a good result."
A 2-0 start to their campaign would be the perfect start for the Mariners, who were the competition's surprise packets last season.
After finishing last the previous three years, Central Coast fired their way into third spot and into the finals on the back of strong performances from the likes of Matt Simon and Alou Kuol.
It was Stajcic's second campaign at the helm, but his sudden departure during this off-season opened the door for Montgomery.
"I definitely want to build on what the club did last season. I've made it no secret, I don't think the A-League last year was the best due to COVID. But this year, everyone's recruited really well and there's been a lot of money spent," he said.
"Finishing in that top six was so important for the club last year, and that's the aim again this year."