Almanac Soccer – A-League: When Harry met the Mariners… or not.


Having eked out nine points from nine games to start their A-League campaign the Central Coast Mariners are better placed than this time last season which saw them on five points entering week ten before eventually finishing well adrift of the other nine sides on 13 points with only three wins all campaign.

New coach Paul Okon has got off to a reasonable start in his first senior club management role and several of the side’s draws could have been wins such has been the nature of their games.

Given the various competitive disadvantage the Mariners operate with (such as having no big name marquees) it’s not a surprise that striker Roy O’Donovan has called for more recruits and this is where the club’s wider network comes into play. However it seems the club’s most well-known off-field name is missing in action with one-time England coach aspirant and football consultant Harry Redknapp not speaking much about the great work he is doing at the club when given the chance recently.

Back in April when he was appointed to the role Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth said of Redknapp, in part “In the interest of assisting our coaches and staff, assisting the Mariners commercially and help to put them on the global map we’ve just made one of our biggest signings and that’s Harry himself joining the Mariners on a part time basis.

“Just like Peter Storrie, Harry will be visiting the Coast on at least two occasions during the season and hopefully more during the off season and I think this great news and another huge step forward in the club’s development,” Charlesworth concluded.

However Redknapp (when speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live in late October) fluffed his lines somewhat when given the opportunity to promote the 2012/13 A-League championship winners and outline what exactly he has done since been appointed as a football consultant eight months ago.

When questioned by Danny Baker, on what was the most recent episode of The Danny Baker Show, about his current roles as a consultant at the Mariners and a non-league team local to Redknapp. The exchange went as follows. (NB I’ve cleaned up Redknapp’s stumbles before he gets to certain points.)

Baker: “What is this that you do with Wimborne Town and Central Coast Mariners?”

Redknapp: “Wimborne is not far from where I live, I live in Poole and Wimborne is a little local club up the road and they were struggling and the people who took over the club asked me if I would (help).

“So I said if I can help in any way (I would) ‘I’m busy, I’m not going to be coming to the games or going that often but I sort of stuck my name out.

“If I can help them in anyway I do. It’s a good little set-up”.

No mention of the Mariners.

It should be noted that the style of program Redknapp was on (when he was promoting a book) is an irreverent light entertainment show notionally about sport and that he wasn’t followed up on about his apparent air-brushing of his role with the A-League side.

The ‘good little set-up’ he refers to in Wimborne currently reside in Division One of the Southern League Division which forms part of the eighth tier of the football pyramid in England. The Mapgies are the first ever club from their county of Dorset to win a Wembley decider having triumphed in the FA Vase final in 91-92. Similar to the Mariners the club has had recent financial issues with Redknapp coming on as a director at the club since January when it was revealed the club was in danger of folding over debts worth £110,000

Back to Australia, Redknapp was appointed largely due to his relationship with Peter Storrie (who recently left the club) and he famously said he wasn’t keen on travelling to Australia that much, if at all, in his role which contradicted some of Charlesworth’s comments. Whilst getting the name wrong of the club (a forgivable error as he is from the south coast of England) Redknapp wasn’t that specific about his role and he added to the intrigue but telling Baker nothing about his relationship with the Mariners.

Given Tony Walmsley was axed as the coach since Redknapp’s appointment perhaps Charlesworth hasn’t followed up with his fellow Englishman much and is leaving former Young Socceroos coach Okon to make his own mark

Also, if Redknapp wasn’t going to travel the 12 kilometres or so from Poole to Wimborne very often (despite the fact he has other commitments) I wonder if he even travelled to other part sof the UK to meet with Charlesworth.

If he has, how often has to spoken to Okon? Does he have an opinion on the Mariners young brigade such as Liam Rose and the recently re-signed Trent Buhagiar? Can he find a guest player to meet O’Donovan’s request?

Maybe the one-time Jordan interim coach will come up with a surprising guest player in the coming weeks, ala. Charlesworth’s recruitment of Luis Garcia last season, but his recent comments, or lack thereof don’t inspire confidence.

Which does leave the question… when will Harry meet the Mariners? Or will Mariners fans need to buy a plane ticket to catch him at Wimborne’s home ground The Cuthbury?

This piece first appeared on From the sideline of sport

About Hamish Neal

Born in Lower Hutt New Zealand Hamish is forever wedded to all things All Black, All Whites, Tall Blacks and more. Writing more nowadays in his 'spare time' (what is that anyway?) but still with a passion for broadcasting. Has worked in various sports development roles in England, Northern Ireland and Australia.

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