The A-League needs more Lawries

apaway Roar Guru

By apaway, apaway is a Roar Guru

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    The Newcastle Jets sit six points behind the reigning champions from the Harbour City, after some very barren years, which saw the Novocastrians burn through coaches at an alarming rate, survive the horror of the Tinkler ownership era, and not come close to making a finals appearance.

    However, the club may have made its most important signing in June 2016, with the appointment of Lawrie McKinna as chief executive.

    When it comes to contributions to the A-League, Lawrie McKinna’s name must rank right near the top of the list. He was the inaugural coach of the Central Coast Mariners and took the fledgling team to the grand final in the league’s first season – a feat they repeated in 2008.

    He moved into a managerial position with the Mariners when Graham Arnold took the clipboard, which ultimately led to their first A-League title.

    McKinna insisted that the club’s players and staff engage with the community, making the small organisation such a raging early success story. More than a coach, he was a community liaison and game promoter, often heard on local radio stations, giving his all to the job of not only coaching the team, but getting the Central Coast public invested.

    One of the greatest games in A-League history occurred during this era – a midweek game that broke the ground record at Central Coast Stadium on December 22nd, 2007, when Sydney FC scored a penalty with the last kick of the game to win a classic match 5-4.

    McKinna was so popular on the coast he became the Mayor of Gosford.

    But after the amalgamation of the council with Wyong, and a brief dabble in federal politics, he yearned to return to his first love. An offer to help out the beleaguered Mariners, who were close to sinking into Brisbane Waters in what became known as the Walmsley era, was declined.

    Instead, the team at the northern end of the F3 derby acquired his services.

    Football in Newcastle has such a chequered history at national league level, it could star in its own drama series.

    Passionate, turbulent, fractious, united and divisive in almost any given month, Newcastle remains one of the great football cities, with a history longer than any sport anywhere in Australia.

    Now, after a season to settle in, McKinna is once again proving himself the great fixer and uniter of the game. He has brought rival support groups together, increased the team’s off-field presence, re-engaging the club with a knowledgeable and therefore wary football community.

    Acquiring the services of highly successful coach Ernie Merrick with local legend Clayton Zane as his assistant has proved a success. In a season where crowds have been a concern, the Jets have bucked the trend, with a healthy increase in support, highlighted by almost 30,000 fans at the last two home games, against the Mariners and the Roar.

    The Jets presently sit comfortably in second place after 16 rounds, a seven-point buffer on third-placed Melbourne City accentuated by a goal difference 16 to the better.

    This from a club widely tipped to add to their wooden spoon collection in 2018.

    Lawrie McKinna might use wooden spoons to stir his porridge but he has no need for them in football. The A-League need more like him.

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    The Crowd Says (37)

    • January 16th 2018 @ 7:58am
      Kanga Rodriguez said | January 16th 2018 @ 7:58am | ! Report

      Lawrie took over a basket case of a club, with a new owner . Lawrie first appointment of mark jones , did not go down well ,but all is forgiven, now that he signed up Ernie Merrick

      Connection with the fans is vital .

      In this modern technology world , any jets fan can Facebook friend lawrie and send in comments, goals you video etc . He meets with supporter groups ,, and got them united in bay 1 .

      I’m not sure if it’s merrick griffo or lawrie doing the recruiting but it’s definitely working .

      Do other A league clubs have a CEO that is easily approachable??

    • January 16th 2018 @ 8:30am
      j,binnie said | January 16th 2018 @ 8:30am | ! Report

      Apaway – Now that is a very worthwhile,,well investigated and compared article . More of the same please Cheers jb.

      ps – One could ask, never a place for such a man at football’s “top table”??? jb

    • January 16th 2018 @ 9:10am
      mattq said | January 16th 2018 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      “Newcastle remains one of the great football cities, with a history longer than any sport anywhere in Australia”

      this could be a whole article in itself. I have a feeling the Illawarra could give Newy a run for its money.

      • January 16th 2018 @ 9:37am
        Kanga Hoffman said | January 16th 2018 @ 9:37am | ! Report

        Matt q

        I think newy and the gong share similar stories regarding where football started in Australia.

        I’ve often been told that the first official club were the Miami rangers from Newcastle, but not totally sure .

        Suffice to say that all the English Scottish and Welsh coal mining immigrants from over 100 years ago brought football with them to Newcastle and most likely Wollongong also .

        • January 16th 2018 @ 11:51am
          mattq said | January 16th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

          I have been led to believe it is the Balgownie Rangers (whom i’m played for) but tbh I don’t really know Newcastle football history.

          Definitely some close similarities and ties given the coal and steel.

          • Roar Guru

            January 17th 2018 @ 6:12pm
            apaway said | January 17th 2018 @ 6:12pm | ! Report

            You are right, Matt. Balgownie are the oldest current football club in the country, with Hunter-based teams like Adamstown Rosebuds not far behind in age.

        • Roar Guru

          January 16th 2018 @ 8:32pm
          Griffo said | January 16th 2018 @ 8:32pm | ! Report

          There is a plaque in Lambton Park that reads:

          “Lambton Park
          Birthplace of soccer football in Newcastle

          The first recognised soccer football match in the Newcastle area was played on this site in 1885 between two teams representing South of Lambton (Hamilton and other areas) and North of Lambton (Minmi area).”

          The local schools visit there for their local history excursion.

          • Roar Guru

            January 16th 2018 @ 8:39pm
            Grobbelaar said | January 16th 2018 @ 8:39pm | ! Report

            Why does it call the game soccer football?

            • Roar Rookie

              January 17th 2018 @ 7:10pm
              Rhonda Blackwell said | January 17th 2018 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

              Most Australian’s who have European ancestors passed down the correct term for this game football since colonisation. Football has been in place for centuries in England possibly starting with Roman occupiers Diverse sporting culture with Rugby League followers calling there game also Football has made using the term Soccer easier to identify especially for children. Also
              some kids identify with the word “Soccer” due to our men’s Representative team named the “Socceroo’s” !
              I hope this helps you out as most reports on the subject are more confusing than my post. ⚽️❤️

          • January 16th 2018 @ 9:22pm
            Kanga Hoffman said | January 16th 2018 @ 9:22pm | ! Report

            Cheers griffo

      • Roar Guru

        January 16th 2018 @ 5:15pm
        apaway said | January 16th 2018 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

        I did write an article on Newcastle football for this erstwhile site, Matt…

        • January 17th 2018 @ 6:12pm
          "Ronnie B Good" said | January 17th 2018 @ 6:12pm | ! Report

          Hi Apaway,
          I love your story about the “God”of Newcastle. If I had my way I’d tell you the rest of the article that’s missing without a hindered doubt. So… my husband Todd & I have made a vow of silence in Lawrie’s name. He is far more a “Man of Men” whose heart is bigger than our new scoreboard.
          I’m sure Lawrie would agree that without his loving & beautiful wife Christine behind him, his outstanding achievements as a player, coach & Lord Mayor would not have been as easy as he made it look.
          Thank you for highlighting this great man in your positive story that needs to be read by all.
          Cheers ⚽️❤️?⚽️❤️?

          • Roar Guru

            January 18th 2018 @ 4:18pm
            apaway said | January 18th 2018 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

            Thank you Ronnie. Yes, Christine is a fabulous person, they make a great team.

    • January 16th 2018 @ 9:28am
      punter said | January 16th 2018 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      Great success story Newcastle this year, much of the deserved credit given to Ernie Merrick, but great article on Lawrie Mckinnon & how he has added to the success story, he was massive at the Mariners.

    • January 16th 2018 @ 9:33am
      Kanga Hoffman said | January 16th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      Lawrie McKinna makes himself totally available to fans through social media networks. He generally answers anybody posts or questions.

      He has been able to unite the supporters into Bay 1 to create some noise again .

      Well done lawrie

    • Roar Guru

      January 16th 2018 @ 9:44am
      Griffo said | January 16th 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

      Some may have been wondering how he would go (thinking anything from the Mariners cannot be trusted) but he’s canny, and knows how to engage the community. Oh and he has experience, which is something to be said over previous appointments.

      I am assuming he’s also hired Joel Griffiths for football operations, who it seems is doing good work there and knows the city a little.

      Behind the scenes the club may be finally running smoothly, which can only be helpful for the teams running on the park.

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