McGrath takes coaching reins

Melville have named Ian McGrath as their new northern league coach.

McGrath holds a New Zealand Football Level 3 Senior International Coaching Certificate and previously gained a UEFA B licence through the English FA. He coached Team Taranaki, for nine successive seasons through to 2017, leading the senior men’s regional representative team to success in both the Central Premier League and Central Federation League during that time, having earlier overseen the rise of Francis Douglas Memorial College first XI to premier ranks in New Zealand secondary school football and influenced player development within the Central Football and New Zealand Football age grade development programmes.

“ I have considerable football experience that I know will enable me to really enjoy this opportunity,” McGrath said. “This is a great club, with a proud history and an obvious desire to both sustain and build on the foundations built by Sam and Michael. I look forward to my future involvement and meeting everyone at the club”.

The 48-year-old emigrated from the UK in 2006, having earlier played semi-professional football in levels 5 and 6 of the English pyramid structure for the likes of Wokingham Town, Wealdstone, Basingstoke Town and Aldershot Town and experiencing regular exposure to professional reserve team football through his additional involvement in the midweek Capital League competition.

In his youth he was an associate schoolboy with Aldershot FC and briefly played alongside former Melville and Aldershot legend Jason Chewins, who he knows well. Injury ended McGrath’s playing career when he was 27.

Melville chairman Wytse Bouma acknowledged the club had also interviewed other candidates for the role but felt McGrath was the right man for the job.

“When Sam Wilkinson and Michael Mayne stepped down the club went through quite a process and a lot of debate in settling on what we were looking for in terms of a replacement,” he said. “Signing somebody of Ian’s calibre has shown the exercise has been well worthwhile.

“I think Ian will be an excellent fit with the club’s culture.”

McGrath now works as a Group Manager at Gallagher’s, just across the road from Gower Park.

In terms of football philosophy, he sees flexibility and pragmatism as being important.

“I’ve always been competitive and like to win, but I like to do it in the right way, in terms of how my team always tries to play and how they conduct themselves on and off the park,” he said.

“But you also have to be pragmatic at times. I have been around long enough to know how important it is to be flexible and agile with both tactics and style of play. The players need to be confident in managing those variables on the pitch.

“I certainly like my teams to play through the thirds where we can. I also like to play with width and deliver attractive attacking football wherever possible. Off course, that needs to be balanced with a winning mentality, a willingness to work hard for each other and a team that his tough to play against.

“Hopefully we can combine all of those ingredients and continue the great traditions that have been set at Melville over a number of years and in particularly in the last two or three.”

McGrath watched Melville several times last season, and had an association with the club over many years when he used to bring Team Taranaki north for pre-season matches.

“We always enjoyed being hosted by Steve Williams. The teams were always competitive, the sense of football community around the place was obvious and the facilities are impressive.

“Since being in Hamilton for the past 18 months, I would be lying if I said that I haven’t kept one eye on what was happening at Melville and have definitely maintained a keen interest in the club’s progress.

“Through that previous association, I feel a genuine affinity with the club and I feel very comfortable here.

“I am proud to have the opportunity to work with everybody at Melville. As an extension of that I look forward to sustaining and building on what has happened here in the last few years.

“Continuity is important, so retaining as many good players and people is a priority for me to ensure that we sustain the platform already established, but perhaps there are others out there who are looking for an opportunity to get back involved and be part of the 2020 season. I look forward to that contact.”

“Managing the inevitable transition, which happens every year with every club will be important and I will get to work quickly to identify what we will need to support the team on and off the pitch next season.”

McGrath is married to Sharon with two teenage children. Club members should note he is also a long suffering West Ham fan.

# Melville United reported a small operating surplus at their AGM on Saturday, attended by about 30 club members. Chairman Wytse Bouma said it had been a successful year on most fronts, but the club did face challenges in terms of transitioning with new coaching personnel at the helm and investing in further facility development

2020 club officials:

President: Wytse Bouma
Secretary: Scott Clark
Treasurer: Rory Noorland

Committee: Antonia Timings (assistant secretary), Raj Naidu, Steve Williams, Phil Wheatley, Steve Wheatley, Laichyn Parkinson, Arran Clement, Steve Williams and Steve Owens (committee member at large).

# Melville West beat Melville East in the annual pre-AGM fixture. In her victory speech West spokeswoman Antonia Timings said her team was humble in victory, but did lament the number of “very judgemental people” in the club who had again erred this year with their pre-match predictions.

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