Cossey, Comber to coach Claudelands

Mark Cossey has landed on his feet and is excited about the journey that awaits him at Claudelands Rovers.

He has joined the east Hamilton club as their new director of football, and will coach their men’s northern league team, alongside Shane Comber.

Claudelands have had a strong presence in the Northern Premier Women’s League in recent years – winning it in 2012 and 2015 – but in the men’s game they have mostly sat near the bottom of the table in the third-tier second division.

The men’s sixth-place finish this year was their highest since 2000, and club president Mike Dore said that Cossey and Comber would be the perfect duo to help them build on that going forward.

“We’ve done well over the past seven or eight years in the women’s league, and we want to progress in our youth and in our men’s football, and Mark’s going to bring that to the club, we believe.

“We’ve got a lot of growth opportunities, especially in that youth area and that men’s area. It’s something we want to concentrate on and develop … and I think we can do that with Mark and Shane.”

After more than a decade coaching at Hamilton Wanderers, Cossey was left looking for a new job in May, when the club decided to consider applications for a new coach for their national league team, after an inaugural season at that level where they finished ninth out of 10, and didn’t win a game after Christmas.

Cossey was taken aback by how quickly the mood for change took hold at Wanderers, especially as he had to rely heavily on young local talent in the second half of the season, with experienced players injured or departed, but his focus is now squarely on what lies ahead.

“I’d just like to wish them all the best,” said Cossey of Wanderers, who have brought in former All Whites coach Ricki Herbert as his replacement.

“There’s some really good people at the club. They thought maybe it was time to change and work in a different direction, and that’s fine, but from my point of view, regardless of where I go, I’m going to try to do the best I can at the club where I am at.

“I’m glad to get Shane on board as a co-coach, doing the northern league. We’ve got a good understanding, and a passion for youth and keeping them in the Waikato. If we concentrate on developing the youth and getting them stronger, then Claudelands are going to reap the benefits of it.”

Comber helped coach Wanderers’ northern league premier division team during the winter just gone, as they narrowly avoided relegation, and he said he was looking forward to getting started in the new role.

“Mark and I are on the same page as far as the dynamics that we like in teams, and the energy we like in teams, so it’s a good fit for me. It’s an opportunity to start a little bit of a journey.”

Cossey agreed that it was a good chance to start down a new path, even if it was at a lower level than what he has been used to of late.

“It’s still a good league, it’s still northern league, and we’ll get together soon and go over what we’re trying to achieve over the coming year. I think between me and Shane we’ll be able to change a few things.”

Claudelands were the only Waikato club in the northern league second division this year – Ngongotaha from the Bay of Plenty were their closest neighbour – but they won’t be next year, after Cambridge won promotion.

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Photo courtesy Phototek NZ