Big Moments: Mauk recalls incredible Championship run
In hindsight, Stefan Mauk’s midseason arrival was the catalyst ascribed to Adelaide United’s successful title charge in 2016.
Adelaide’s form had dramatically improved but the then 20-year-old’s addition brought another dimension to the Reds with his dynamism and intensity in midfield.
For Mauk, a number of moments stick out during that incredible period in the Club’s history.
“Just coming back and everything happening extremely quickly,” Mauk said when reflecting on his move to Adelaide.
“I was away with the Under-23s and in the space of the 24 hours I went from being a Melbourne City player to being an Adelaide United player.
“Having to get back as quick as possible to then move to Adelaide and I think I trained two or three times before sitting on the bench and coming on for my first appearance.
“It was a pretty crazy time and then the next four months to go on after that were even crazier with how exciting and being a part of the Club’s first Championship was unbelievable.
“It was a blur at the time of how well things were going but the buzz that it created within the playing group and everyone at the Club, but probably more so around the city.
“I think that was the thing that made me understand how many Adelaide United fans are out there – it just needed us to be winning every game for everyone to get on board.”
Mauk’s most memorable goal occurred on Easter Sunday against Central Coast Mariners.
The box-to-box player went on a surging run, skipping past a couple of opponents before guiding his finish into the net.
“I just remember for that game I was just really tired and fatigued going into that game and I was struggling to get up for it,” he said.
“To score that goal was really special because I was not feeling great and the crowd erupted and it was an awesome goal.”
The last game of the regular season also causes a great sense of nostalgia for the now 25-year-old.
The Reds prevailed 2-0 over Melbourne City in a tempestuous affair and then required a result to fall their way to claim a second Premiers’ Plate.
“We knew we needed to win that game against Melbourne City, against my old team,” he said.
“I obviously had a point to prove to them and knowing so many of their players it was a very heated game and they had so much quality on the field.
“But to win that game to give us the chance to win the league, and then we obviously did after finding out the results the next day, but that game was just jam-packed with goals, tackles, excitement, half-time punch ups, some 2-0 signs to the crowd – it had a bit of everything.
“It was probably one of my favourite games I’ve played in.”
But with each passing game, the stakes were raised and a semi-final meeting with City two weeks later would eclipse the Round 27 encounter.
Mauk mentioned the anticipation around Adelaide during the semi-final clash which United won 4-1 was also due to the passion the fans provided.
“I think that was the thing that stands out the most,” he explained.
“Yes, the wins were great but just the buzz around the city and rocking up to the game against Melbourne City here at Coopers and it was sold out.
“It was an extremely loud crowd and it was probably a little bit tense at the start and when Bruce scored that goal it was insane and we went on to win quite convincingly.
“But seeing a sea of red out there and how much the fans impact us with how we play.”
Mauk stated the fans were fundamental to their success in the Grand Final triumph as well.
“But then also those big moments, having them there makes it so much more memorable as players,” he said.
“And I’m sure for the fans as well celebrating with all their friends and seeing the crowd erupt and the Grand Final was just times 10 of that.
“The crowd was unbelievable, walking out for the warm-up I get goose bumps now still thinking about it, how many people were there already.
“The finish to that couldn’t have been better with Pablo scoring the sealing goal, but it was a very special time in my career and the Club’s and I’m sure every single Adelaide United fan.”