FOOTBALL: A new era dawns

EVOLUTION is the new buzz word around The Showgrounds.

New boss Oran Kearney is busy rebuilding his squad ahead of the forthcoming season and there has also been a significant change at boardroom level.

Long term chairman Hugh Wade has stepped down from the role due to his growing commitments with the Irish Football Association.

Hugh though will stay on as Vice-Chairman under the new man at the helm, Colin McKendry.

Speaking to Times Sport Colin said he was ‘delighted and extremely proud’ to take the role in what is an exciting era at The Showgrounds.

“I’m very proud to be chairman of Coleraine FC,” he said.

“It’s something I never set out to do so to be even considered means a lot to me.

“Having had a think about it, I was honoured to accept the post following backing from the rest of the Board.”

McKendry and the rest of the directors have shown they are not frightened to make the big decisions if they feel it’s for the benefit of the club.

“We have a great board who are all working for the same thing,” he said.

“I know we have taken a bit of criticism for some decisions this season, but I am absolutely certain that each of those big decisions have been correct and made with the best interests of the club at heart.

“That will always be the motive for us. There will be no rushed decisions or rash statements, but we will continue to plan the way forward for the betterment of Coleraine FC.

“Obviously everything is driven by first team success, but we are looking to off-field schemes to develop this club even further.

“Coleraine FC must be a community-centred club. There’s no doubt that the Coleraine Academy has a crucial role play in this aim and indeed the staff have made great inroads into making the Academy an integral and indispensable part of the club.

“Three or four years ago we didn’t have those 500 kids wearing the Coleraine strip week in week out.

“We want to ensure that local kids see the club as the ideal place to develop their football skills, fulfil their dreams and form lasting friendships across the whole community.

“The aim is to allow local parents to see their children progressing from the Academy to the Colts, Reserves and right into the first team.

“To develop and enhance local kids’ progression through the various levels we want to provide better training facilities within the Showgrounds complex.

“Ultimately we would like to see a purpose-built full 3G training pitch, a five-a-side 3G pitch and new changing facilities. These would be used not only by Academy players but also right up to the first team, plus other community groups.

“That is a big thing for me. The playing side will look after itself.

“Oran is an ambitious manager and we are an ambitious club and we want to be challenging for honours and competing against the top teams.

“We are excited where we are going.

“Success breeds success and it will bring more people through the turnstiles.

“We have a vibrant, enthusiastic management team in Oran, Trevor, Gregg and Wes to make progress.

“Progress has to be the key word and in the immediate future a top six position will go some way to fulfil that.

“However, that is not, nor should it be, the limit of our ambitions.

“Trophies are the name of the game and I would like nothing more if Coleraine FC could add further to our role of honour under my chairmanship.

“It’s challenging times though because of the economic climate. We have set our stall out and the club runs as a business.

“You can’t pay out more than you are bringing in and you have to be honest with players, which we have been.

“If players don’t want to buy into that then so be it, but there are exciting times ahead here.

“The manager is working hard to bring quality players in who I have no doubt will help bring this club forward.”

In closing Colin paid tribute to his predecessor.

“When Hugh approached me about taking over from him I said I would do it if he stayed on as Vice-Chairman,” he revealed.

“The board that brought this club from its knees to where it is today are fantastic and Hugh is at the very pinnacle of that.

“You mention Coleraine Football Club anywhere and immediately they’ll mention Hugh Wade.

“The reason why he is so highly thought of is the way he carries himself and conducts his business.

“He is doing a fantastic job at the IFA, and it’s fantastic for Coleraine to have a man of Hugh’s standing at the IFA.

“He is destined for even bigger and better things and one of the reasons he stepped down was because of his commitments with the IFA.

“I will certainly be drawing on his experience as I take on the role of Chairman.”