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Terry McFlynn: “I’d like to see clubs have stand-alone facilities”

Terry McFlynn played over 200 games for Sydney FC, second only to Alex Brosque. After retiring from the game, he joined the staff at Sydney FC before heading west to be Perth Glory’s football operations manager, and he is also a Executive Committee member of Football Coaches Australia. Terry spoke to Soccerscene about his career, how the A-League has improved and where it can continue to grow.

Q. How did you become involved in football?

McFlynn: “Well, obviously it was back when I was living in Northern Ireland. I was an avid watcher of the game, and my uncle Mark who was a big influence on my career all the way through, I’d go visit him and just play on the street. At the age of 12 or 13, he took me to my first team in the next village to where I lived in Swatragh. So I got involved in the game at an early age.”

Q. How did the opportunity to play for Sydney FC arise?

McFlynn: “I left Northern Ireland when I was 15 to go to QPR, and I was there for 5 years. I dropped out of the Football League into Non-League and conference with a few various clubs and ended up with Morecambe, who had just got promoted up to League 1 now. During that period living in London, I met my wife Emma who is an Australian from Perth. She wanted to come back to Australia after being in England for a few years, at that time the A-League was just starting, so I sent an email to all the clubs asking for a trial and Sydney FC was the only team that replied to me and offered me one, so that’s how it all came about.”

Q. What were your impressions of Australian Football after joining?

McFlynn: “I’d come from the conference so I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest. We had a lot of very good players at Sydney FC in season 1, like Steve Corica, David Zdrilic, Ufuk Talay, Mark Milligan, David Carney, Robert Middleby, and then after some time, we signed Dwight Yorke. We had a lot of very established Australian internationals and the standard was high. The coach at the time was Pierre Littbarski with Ian Crook as his assistant, so the intensity of training was very high. We had a fitness coach named Darren Welsh who previously worked in the AFL so the fitness levels were high too throughout the whole group. It was a really pleasant experience when I first joined the club, because of the professionalism, intensity of training, and quality of players I was training with every day.”

Q. Was the challenge of transitioning into a backroom role a challenge?

McFlynn: “It did have its challenges. I was fortunate because four years before I decided to retire I started studying a master’s of coaching education at Sydney University. I was preparing myself for retirement, and life after football. When I finally did retire I had a few different conversations with Scott Moore, the chairman of Sydney FC, and then had a meeting with Graham Arnold. Frank Farina had left the club and he was coming in as the new coach. We discussed life, football, the A-League, we hit it off and Graham offered me a position in his staff. It was difficult initially to make that transition from getting up for over 20 years to the training ground with a focus on a game on the weekend, to just a normal 9-5 job. Even though in football no job in 9-5. I was very fortunate to have people around me to help with that transition. People at the club helped me a lot.

Q. Do you think the A-League has improved in terms of professionalism since season 1?

McFlynn: “Yeah definitely. If you look back at season 1 of the A-League there were a lot of marquee players and younger players, unknowns. Off the field clubs have made a lot of improvement in terms of facilities, they’ve done a great job with the CBA (Central Bargaining Agreement) negotiations in terms of minimum medical standards, travel, and all the other things that add layers to professionalism in what we are trying to achieve. I think the level of coaching has improved, as the A-league has progressed, and the quality of recruitment has improved. We aren’t seeing older European or South American players coming here for a payday, we are seeing the likes of players like Marcos Flores signing for Adelaide, who was unknown, and they come and lift the league upwards. Melbourne Victory with Fred, Milos Ninkovic, Diego Castro at Perth Glory. In terms of professionalism and recruitment, it has improved since season 1. 

Q. Where could it continue to improve?

McFlynn: “I think something that if you ask anyone in around and the Football department of all clubs, its facilities. If we can get to the point where we all have our own stand-alone facilities because I think a lot of the clubs, not just in the A-league but sport in general across Australia, share facilities. I know that is a bugbear for many people in football departments because they don’t have access to gyms, recovery centres, and pitches when you need them. That is something I’d like to see across the board, similar to the MLS, where clubs have access to stand-alone training facilities and stadiums, which contributes to the revenue-raising part of the football business as well.”

Football Coaches Australia and XVenture announce ‘Play it Forward’ support

XV FCA

Football Coaches Australia (FCA) welcomes all Australian advance licence and community football coaches to the FCA XVenture College and the Essential Skills ‘Play it Forward’ program.

In a world first opportunity for all Australian football coaches, FCA and XV are offering a program which connects directly with FCA and XVenture’s DNA. A global mentoring (or buddy system) program which will allow for Australian coaches to help a fellow coach from around the world to undertake their own FCA XV Essential Skills study as a result of their helping hand.

The program supports football coaches in Australia and other countries who will be able to influence their community immensely as a result of our help.

XVenture Founder and CEO Mike Conway:

“For every coach who undertakes this program with Football Coaches Australia, we will “Play It Forward” by providing a coach who can’t afford the program full access to this body of work too. Imagine – coaches around the World helping the next generation! Improving lives and growing the game. Surely that’s what it’s about? There are no barriers.”           

This program is also in line with the FCA mantra of “Promoting and strengthening the reputation of football in Australia and the reputation of Australian football on the world stage”.

Glenn Warry FCA CEO:

“During the ongoing impact of COVID on world sport we at FCA, along with our valued partner XVenture, are just so proud to present the ‘Play it Forward’ program.

In 2020 FCA worked hard to lead in connecting the coaching community via an extensive coach PD webinar program for community and accredited coaches.

“The FCA XV College Essential Skills ‘Play it Forward’ Program is an incredible opportunity for Australian coaches to enhance the continuing education of every coach’s journey around the world no matter what level they are working at or what their circumstances are”.

How will the FCA XV ‘Play it Forward’ program work?

For every FCA XV Essential Skills full program undertaken by an Australian football coach a complimentary program will be provided to a coach from around the world who can’t afford the program to allow you both to work through the completion of the program together.

Initially FCA and XV will offer this program to coaches nominated by their current football network partners:

  • Association of Indian Football Coaches
  • John Moriarty Foundation
  • RISE Football Academy

FCA is also engaging with the Nepal Football Association, other Asian Football Coach Associations and the Oceania Football Confederation regarding the provision of support for coaches who meet the criteria.

As the program grows FCA will be looking to expand their network to provide this unique opportunity to coaches from all around the world, by connecting with organisations such as ‘Coaches Across Continents’.

The series of FCA XV College modules are delivered completely online, in a revolutionary virtual world environment which aims to develop the ‘essential skills’ of coaching across 5 modules – Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Resilience, Culture and Communication Skills.

Phil Moss, President of FCA, introduces the course to participating coaches as they make their way through the virtual world of the FCA XV College foyer. View here.

XVenture Founder, Professor Mike Conway provides an Essential Skills Introduction which can be viewed here.

Find out how you can be part of this coaching revolution by visiting FCA XVenture’s College

Will Melbourne City eventually move all of their games to the south east?

Melbourne City were the benchmark in the A-League last season, lifting the Premiers Plate in May and eventually the Championship in late June.

It was their first taste of A-League success after years of hard work on and off the pitch.

The club has invested heavily since City Football Group (CFG) took over the Melbourne Heart in 2014, initially building a $15 million City Football Academy in Bundoora, in the city’s north, which has housed the club for the past few years.

In what seems like a strategic investment however, the club revealed late last year that they will move from their Bundoora headquarters and relocate to Casey Fields in Melbourne’s south east.

Earlier this month, the club announced construction had begun on the new elite City Football Academy facility within the 84-hectare Casey Fields Sporting Precinct.

“The first stage of construction includes the central elite training pitch, with its 115m x 115m hybrid grass surface, and is due for completion by the end of 2021. The new pitch is adjacent to the site’s existing four full-sized pitches – one grass and three synthetic – which will be primarily used by the Club’s Academy teams and for City in the Community programs, as well as for City of Casey school and club programs.

“The next stage of construction will see the development of Melbourne City’s new two-storey administration and high-performance building at Casey Fields, currently in detailed design phase. Construction on that phase of the facility is due to commence in the coming months, with completion estimated for mid-2022,” a Melbourne City FC statement read.

Stage three of construction will look to implement a 4000-capacity mini stadium in a significant space in the precinct.

With the club’s A-League players to officially begin training in the facility in August, recent developments in regards to the possibility of a 15,000-capacity stadium in Dandenong may see the end of the team playing all of their games at AAMI Park, in the years to come.

The Victorian Government has already pledged $100,000 in funding for a feasibility review and development of a business case to build the 15,000-seat boutique stadium, with the City of Greater Dandenong also set to match that contribution.

According to Cranbourne Star News, The Greater Dandenong Council is lobbying for $110 million to build the stadium, which will also host festivals, concerts, rugby matches, alongside hosting future Melbourne City games.

While of course at this stage there is no guarantee the stadium will be built, Melbourne City head honchos may have to grapple with the idea of permanently leaving AAMI Park behind, the stadium they have hosted games at since their inception.

With Victory ditching their deal with Marvel Stadium to move all their games back to AAMI Park next season and Western United set to play the majority of their games at AAMI for at least the next two seasons, the 30,000-capacity rectangular stadium is not short of regular football content.

If the proposed stadium does get the go-ahead, City may look to move all of their home matches to Dandenong, and alongside their new academy location, this can prove to be beneficial in establishing a clear geographic identity.

They will have a stronger presence in the local areas and will have the chance to better connect with the local football community and grow their membership base.

City should also still have a reasonable chunk of members who live in the south and south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, with a report from 2018 stating 28% of their members came from those areas.

Adversely, a move away from AAMI Park has the possibility to alienate members and fans who may not want to travel to the proposed stadium for reasons such as proximity.

Sharing the home games between the stadiums could be a viable option, but also brings on the challenge of not having a singular home ground, as well as match scheduling conflicts.

A big call from City administrators may need to be made in the end and not all members and fans will be pleased.

Knights Stadium: More than just a home ground

Knights Stadium is one of the most iconic venues in Australian football – for many it is more than just a stadium.

The ground was built in 1989 with storied history. Melbourne Knights, formerly known as Melbourne Croatia SC, were two-time National Soccer League (NSL) champions and four-time minor premiers at the ground during the 1990s.

The Mark Viduka Stand can seat up to 3,000 people, while another 12,000 can stand around the pitch. The ground represents the largest football-only sporting ground in the state of Victoria – testament to the history and strength of Melbourne Knights FC.

Knights Stadium in 2002 with the Mark Viduka Stand.

Former Melbourne Knights president Andelko Cimera says he was part of the club while Knights Stadium was becoming a reality.

“We were playing at the old number two pitch at Olympic Park, where the dog track was, and that was virtually our home. We were looking for alternatives and a couple of properties came up – a drive-in in Altona and a drive-in at North Sunshine,” he said.

“We settled on Sunshine because it was a little bit cheaper. I think we paid $180,000 at that time in 1984. 12 months later we started developing the stadium.”

Melbourne Croatia at the time tried to secure the rights to play at Heidelberg United’s home ground Olympic Park and several other venues, before a decade-long donation drive allowed them to raise the money to purchase the land and develop a facility at the current site of Somers Street.

94/95 NSL champions

Melbourne Knights FC President Pave Jusup says that much of his childhood was spent at Knights Stadium.

“We only saw the stadium for games. We would always strive to go there, and sometimes the juniors would have an important game that’d let us on the second ground, even the main ground,” he said.

“If you walked into the wrong part of the ground the groundskeeper would grab you and make you be a ball boy, and you’d get a hotdog and drink after the game. It was a whole childhood for a lot of us.”

Jusup adds that Melbourne Knights and the stadium serve as a key pillar within the Croatian community.

“There are a lot of memories that have been created there. A lot of people are tied to the physical place and it is a hub of the Croatian community along with the Croatian club in Footscray and the original Croatian church in Clifton Hill. We are the three constant and long-term fixtures in the community,” he said.

Cimera explains that there were both positives and negatives towards the stadium being community ran and operated.

“There were advantages and disadvantages. It was our property, it was our ground. It was up to us whether it was Sunday night, Saturday afternoon, or Friday night game. It was always available to us,” he said.

“The disadvantages were that everything was up to us. The maintenance of the ground was up to us. The facility became a burden to the Croatian community, which involved all our payments, all our rates which were paid for by the community.”


Both Jusup and Cimera agree that the biggest games were always against South Melbourne.

“It became a fortress for us in the 90s. It was difficult to take points away from our ground for teams,” Cimera said.

“I think our record crowd was when Hadjuk Split was here, that was close to 15,000. I remember when we played South Melbourne we had 12,000 people. The games between South Melbourne and us were always the biggest crowds.”

During the 2000 National Soccer League season, over 11,000 people descended upon Knights Stadium to watch Melbourne Croatia vs South Melbourne Hellas.

“Around 2001, they were top of the table and unbeaten, while we were mid to low-end of the table. We beat them 4-0. That is one game that sticks out in my mind,” Jusup said.

For both Cimera and Jusup, they acknowledge that the supporters and members of Melbourne Knights want to see Knights Stadium and the club feature in a second division.

“It’s not only the Melbourne Knights. It’s the juniors too because they can have a career path. Right now they can’t see a career path. Without promotion and relegation, it makes it very difficult,” Cimera said.

“We’ve got a lot of latent fans who are disappointed in the situation we find ourselves in. There are a lot of people who would put their hands up and into their pockets to help propel the club if given the opportunity. We’ve gone through a period of consolidation, but there’s a new generation of people who want to propel the club into the limelight as their parents and grandparents did,” Jusup said.

If the opportunity to join a second division does arise for Melbourne Knights, then their home ground won’t look out of place on the national stage.

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