Speaking to community radio 5RTI’s Soccer on 531 program, McKinna said: “I’ll do what I can to stir up that rivalry because [it] used to be a big derby game. We [Central Coast] used to travel up to Newcastle with up to 1500 – 2000 fans; they used to do the same.”
“Over the last few years there’s been a few hundred. We need to change that. There’s not even a bad tackle in a derby game. Can you imagine that? John Hutchinson used to nail somebody in the first tackle – I would tell him to do it.”
McKinna’s last involvement with the Gosford-based Mariners ended in December 2014: “I resigned. I got an email from the chairman saying … they wanted me to come out and support the club moving four to six games a year to North Sydney Oval so, as the mayor [of Gosford], as the [club] ambassador and as a fan, I told them ‘shove your money – I can’t do that’.”
With the Newcastle Jets now under the ownership of the Shenzhen-based Ledman Group, the club wants to bring in at least one Chinese player but skyrocketing wages are stymying its efforts: “I met two boys, one I coached at Chongqing and one at Chengdu. These boys would probably be in the top 14 or 15 in the squad – they’d be [on the] fringes … in one week, out the next week. They’re on US$500,000 net. That’s marquee status here.”
“We’re negotiating with a few [Chinese] clubs at the moment – the bigger clubs who have got big rosters [so] we can get a young one who can’t get in the first team … that we can get on loan for a year or two,” McKinna said.
“We’re needing someone who we can develop a bit and work out a package where we can get some compensation for bringing them on. It’s going to be hard but we’ve got two – we’re looking to bring two out in the next two weeks to have a look at them.”
With the club’s stated aim being Asian Champions League qualification in three years, McKinna would be happy for the Jets just to reach the A-League finals in the 2016-17 season: “Our goal is [to] scrape into the finals in year one, establish ourselves in the finals in year two and knock on the door of Asia in year three.”
“There are nine teams from Australia; three spots, or two and a half spots [for A-League teams in the ACL]; there’s one chance in three of getting a gig. So it’s not being unrealistic if you’re planning and building a team.”
A biography of McKinna entitled Political Football: Lawrie McKinna’s Dangerous Truth – described by Fox Sports’ Andy Harper as “very readable, but not for the PC at heart” – will be released in October.
Paul Marcuccitti is InDaily’s regular soccer columnist and a co-presenter of 5RTI’s Soccer on 531 program, which can be heard from 10am on Saturdays. The full interview with Lawrie McKinna can be heard here.
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