LET’S come together, right now.
That is the message from Mark Rooke, the man who will take over as the Western NSW Mariners FC first grade coach for season 2019.
As a man who once captain-coached Bathurst ’75 in State League and has since mentored a number of younger Mariners outfits, Rooke is passionate about football.
He is delighted get the chance to guide the Mariners, taking over from Andrew Fearnley who remains in his other role as football manager and technical director for Western NSW Mariners FC.
But before Rooke has even staged his first training session, the pressure is on.
It is because next season the side faces its toughest battle yet to avoid relegation. To survive, Rooke needs the best footballers from across the Central West to unite as Mariners.
“It’s going to be hard next year because the bottom five teams go down, they are restructuring the league … that’s difficult but I honestly believe there are good enough players out here, we’ve just got to get them on the one field,” he said.
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“We need to get them out of local football back into state league football, whether they’re from Bathurst, Orange, Dubbo, Parkes, Mudgee, Forbes it doesn’t matter, we just need to get the best players on the park for the Western Mariners.
“I don’t want people thinking ‘I don’t know if I can’, come and try, put your hand up and have a go – we can make a judgement from there.”
Rooke wants to retain those who played for the Mariners this year – players who did serve it up to bigger clubs throughout their campaign – but add to that roster to create more depth within in the squad.
If he can do that, he has faith that the Mariners can find the consistently strong performances they need to be in contention for finals rather that battling to avoid relegation.
“Going back into a first grade coaching situation again is a little bit daunting I suppose, but I’m excited about it too,” he said.
“I want to try and help turn things around. To be honest it is a really difficult comp we are in, there are some really good players, really good teams, so I’m aware of the enormity of the job.
“I hope I’ve got some tools to work with certainly, I’ve done some courses over the last five, six years since I last coached at ’75. I think it has made me a better coach and hopefully I can pass it on to the guys and they can get something out of it.
“Over the years in the competition we’ve always had periods where we’ve been really good, it’s that consistency that’s lacking. On our day we’ve been as good as every other team, we’ve beaten the likes of Rydalmere when they led the competition, but the next week we’ll turn around and get beaten by the team that’s down near the bottom.
“If we can get those players, get their head right and get them on the field at the one time, then yes, there is every chance we can push on to play semi-final football. That’s where I want to be, every year I say to my teams you’ve got to set goals.”
The Mariners will commence training on Sunday at 3pm at Jack Brabham in Orange.
The side will split its training between that venue and Bathurst.