Usain Bolt set to play in the A-League

Bolt showing he’s far from a gimmick

USAIN Bolt is charging down the left wing, urging for the ball to be pushed through into space.

Same deal Mariners coach Mike Mulvey, on the sideline.

And Brett Costello, The Daily Telegraph photographer who is, right now, positioned up against the Pluim Park fence midway through this Friday morning opposed session - frantically clicking as the world's fastest man charges for what will surely be his first goal on Australian soil.

"Yeeeeees," shouts Bolt, full tilt now and motioning to a heap of free space just outside the penalty box.

Space to where he is headed.

Quite obviously, at speed.

So can somebody please push through that ball?

But a certain Gosford midfielder, who has said ball at his feet, and who will also stay nameless because of what happens next, decides to ignore his celebrity winger and instead - gasp - pass the ball out and right.

Opportunity gone.

At which point, Bolt throws his arms high.

And Mulvey, he goes quiet.

 

Usain Bolt hitting his stride at Central Coast Mariners training on Friday. Picture: Brett Costello
Usain Bolt hitting his stride at Central Coast Mariners training on Friday. Picture: Brett Costello

 

Gone too that Saturday backpage picture.

But as for this being a bad day?

Absolutely not.

For having already spent the best part of a week settling into his new Central Coast club, 32-year-old Bolt used day seven of his A-League tilt to not only enjoy genuine touches in an opposed game - notably, at left wing - but also immerse into a host of ballwork drills.

And never once did he look a gimmick.

 

Usain Bolt lines up a shot during Central Coast Mariners training on Friday. Picture: Brett Costello
Usain Bolt lines up a shot during Central Coast Mariners training on Friday. Picture: Brett Costello

 

Which isn't to say the Olympic great is anywhere near the calibre of, say, Matty Simon.

That beloved Mariners striker they call the Wizard of Woy Woy - even though he grew up in Wyoming, and played for the East Gosford Rams.

But still, sauntering down the clubhouse stairs at 10.09am - as usual, kitted out in tracksuit pants and gloves - Bolt used the ensuing two hours to prove he has some touch, some skill and certainly some hope of earning that $3 million deal.

 

Usain Bolt jumps for a header during a training drill with the Central Coast Mariners on Friday. Picture: Brett Costello
Usain Bolt jumps for a header during a training drill with the Central Coast Mariners on Friday. Picture: Brett Costello

 

Sure, he doesn't take many risks with the ball.

Or not yet anyway.

Just as at times playing opposed, the big fella needed a little positional prodding.

But if Bolt can prove himself on par with even Australia's worst A-Leaguer, the Mariners should sign him.

Knowing his $3 million contract, it will be repaid in jersey sales.

And if not that, then memberships.

Or sold out stadiums.

Same deal all those corporate deals that, a year from now, will help the club go chase some Serbian star with a surname nobody can say.

 

Usain Bolt during training with the Mariners on Friday. Picture: Brett Costello
Usain Bolt during training with the Mariners on Friday. Picture: Brett Costello

 

So c'mon, who cares if the football purists don't want Bolt in?

They're not turning up to Mariners games anyway.

Nor are they buying jerseys, corporate boxes, any of it.

And given the club is coming off a wooden spoon … well, how good can the bloke be he replaces anyway?

Besides, professional sport is about entertainment.

That's it.

And find us a better sell than Bolt, full tilt, and charging down a left wing, when that ball is finally pushed through …