Michelle Heyman was one of Central Coast's stars during their first W-League stint in 2009.

Ten years after the Central Coast Mariners brand disappeared from the W-League, Newcastle’s local rivals are set to re-enter the competition as it expands under the guidance of the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association (APFCA).

The last Mariners venture to play in the women’s national league was helmed by Football NSW rather than the Central Coast club itself, and while the coastal team was present for the first two seasons of the competition, they pulled the plug.

Their departure in 2010 left the W-League with just seven teams on the bill—Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Newcastle, Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne Victory. Since then, Western Sydney and Melbourne City have joined the league’s ranks.

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Now, as part of the APFCA’s mandate for “every A-League team to have a W-League counterpart” in their one-club philosophy moving forward, it seems like the Mariners will be returning a decade after their departure.

The Mariners have called for expressions of interest in forming business partnerships for the “foundation team” (due to Football NSW running the last venture), as well as potential apparel deals for player kits and merchandise.

This expansion plan may also see Western United join the W-League in the near future after an APFCA representative told The Guardian one of their key plans for an “independent W-League” would be 16 core teams.

That expanded competition—seven teams more than the national competition now boasts—would also bring with it a fully home-and-away season, where each club plays each other twice in a 30-week round-robin format.

For the Newcastle Jets, the Mariners’ ten-year return means a local derby is finally back on the cards. Sydney FC and the Wanderers are both close to Newcastle, but neither provides that local rivalry spark the Central Coast has this century.

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Another W-League club within a stone’s throw of the Hunter will also be nothing but a boost for the Northern NSW Football Women’s Premier League competition, which is set to move into an NPLW-branded system in the next few years.

Young stars like Lauren Allan have made the leap from the WPL to the W-League this season, and with other top-level stars like Tara Andrews, Gema Simon, and Cassidy Davis plying their trade there, it’s becoming quite a development pool.

Adamstown and New Lambton product Lauren Allan has already made six appearances for the Newcastle Jets.

With two clubs within reach of the region, the chance for young players to step into either the Jets or the Mariners’ academy pathways will also be key to seeing more Hunter stars making their way towards the limelight.

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There’s been no indication if the Mariners are preparing their W-League systems for the 2020/21 season, but considering the APFCA is keen to push expansion, and has been backed by the FFA, Professional Footballers Australia, members federations, and the Women’s Council, it would be no surprise to see them re-join next year.

For now, the Jets have their own campaign to worry about before their rivals appear on the horizon. Craig Deans’ squad is caught six points outside the top four, and have struggled to find an offensive cohesion. They’ve clocked up just one win in six.

The Jets face Melbourne Victory (6th) on the road this weekend, with Sunday’s kickoff penned in for 4pm. The match will be live on FOX and Kayo Sports.