City's star heads across the harbour

  22 January 2014   Hutt News   Senior News

A former top striker in the national football league aims to head Petone in the right direction next season.


As the newly-appointed Director of Men's Football, Graham Little will coach the Petone club's Central League and Under-19 teams.


It's not that Petone were unhappy with his predecessor. Club chairman Craig Deadman said Mark Forster had coached the top team for the last nine years, and was assistant the year before that.


"I'm pretty certain that's the longest [tenure] of a coach in our more than 100-year history."


"Fossie has been a bloody good coach for us... but he's involved in Team Wellington in an assistant role and he didn't apply this time [for the Petone role]."


Deadman said of our four good applicants, Little stood out.


"He's got that Central League experience - he coached Miramar to a league win [in 2008], and he got Wellington United back into Central."


"And of course he's a fabulous player, with that Team Wellington experience."


Petone also intends having a new reserve team coach in place by the end of this week, "so I guess you could say it's a bit of a fresh start," Deadman said.


"With that playing pedigree, we think Graham will also attract some quality players to the club."


Most of the 2013 squad look like returning.


"We've also had some contact with two or three good players from in and outside the region, and some ex-Petone players wanting to come back as well," Deadman said.


Little said there had been good discussions "but it only matters when they sign on the dotted line."


Asked about his approach to coaching, Little was succinct: "I want to win."


Little, 40, said his aim was to sign a couple of new experienced players, as well as bring on young talent.


With young players, he said it was a matter of "changing their mentality" and getting them to lift their sights, and strive for Team Wellington selection.


"Once you're 18 mate, your career is nearly done. They don't realise that in this country."


Players have got to get a move on, and put in the work early to get to the top.


"It's too easy for them at college. They come into the men's league and it's often a big shock to them, a big step up."


Little said Petone was a "strong, family-focused club" with loyal support and a talented squad. He agreed with Deadman that the 7th-place finish in Central League last season was disappointing, and Petone had the team to do better.


While Petone's Hilton Cup tournament starting mid-February will be a chance to get formations going, Little and Deadman said the real crunch is the start of the Central League mid-April, "we want to hit the ground running."