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Building a Football Club on the other side of the World

Building a Football Club on the other side of the World

Lawrie McKinna doesn’t have your typical football journey. How could you when you are born in Kilmarnock, Scotland; yet now sit across the other side of the world 54 years later as Gosford Mayor.

The popularity and profile required to become a Gosford Mayor was no doubt helped by McKinna’s role in establishing Central Coast Mariners, the regions first professional sporting club.

The consortium for the Central Coast began laying the foundations in March 2004. This was shortly after the demise of the NSL where McKinna had been manager at Northern Spirit FC for their last two seasons.

Central Coast Mariners gained the licence to be the designated regional side of the inaugural A-League season in 2005; McKinna was to be the Manager, though it was to prove to be a difficult task at the club.

‘There was never any money’ McKinna says.

‘We didn’t travel with a physio, we payed someone $100 when we went interstate’

‘Never travelled with a gear steward, myself, Ian Ferguson and Alex Tobin would pack all the kit and then my wife would wash the kit’

‘In 5 years we trained at 19 different venues’

Growing up in a family that never followed football, someone from a young age McKinna picked up a love for Rangers Football Club. At 16 he gave up on playing football instead choosing to watch Rangers games.

‘I followed Rangers games all over Europe, - Cologne, Eindhoven, Juventus, every Rangers game home and away for a few seasons’

The break from playing football didn’t last long though and McKinna was back with the local youth club team at 18.

The decision was to prove pivotal in his life, later gaining a trail with Kilmarnock where he scored 4 goals. They signed him to a contract. In 3 months he went from park football to the Scottish Premier League.

‘You see these two footed tackles now in the A-League, they are off the ground – well they were tame tackles in those days’

‘As a centre forward, you needed shin pads for the back of your legs’

Kilmarnock FC Squad 1983

After five years as Manager of Central Coast Mariners, McKinna stepped aside, a rare occurrence in the A-League. Manager roles at two clubs in China would follow, but managerial interference, cultural divide and politics all played a part in the relative short time he would spend at the clubs.

‘I put my hand up for local Councillor and then Mayor and got it – the first time in my life I felt out of my comfort zone’

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