Clubs in the north have been busy over the summer with new coaching appointments and some exploring the benefits of partnerships with other clubs.
With the 2022 Northern League season looming, here’s Friends of Football’s round-up of what’s been happening at clubs in Auckland and the Waikato:
Main photo: Chris Milicich (centre) leads the coaching line-up at promoted Takapuna.
Auckland City (last season: 1st)
Auckland City have extended their collaborative approach to football having partnerships in place with Central United, Mount Albert Ponsonby and Metro FC.
In December, they appointed one of their greatest players, Albert Riera, as their head coach.
Riera (37) made 142 appearances for City over a 10-year spell.
Auckland United (last season: 2nd)
José Figueira (39) joins Northern League club United after compiling an impressive coaching record with national age-group teams and champion club Auckland City.
His CV includes three NZ National League titles, two Oceania Champions League titles and two campaigns in the FIFA Club World Cup.
Figueira replaces Hiroshi Miyazawa who has joined the coaching staff at India Super League club Mumbai City (click here for more details >>>>)
Eastern Suburbs (last season: 3rd)
Hoani Edwards (47) leads a highly-qualified group of coaches at Eastern Suburbs, working with Technical Director Darren Bazeley, who is the All Whites assistant coach. Bazeley also holds a Technical Director’s role with Fencibles United.
Edwards played more than 500 senior games, of which more than a hundred were for the Lilywhites, in a playing career that included representing New Zealand at U-17 and U-20 levels.
As well as coaching Suburbs’ first team in the Northern League, he’s also the club’s Director of Youth football.
Birkenhead United (last season: 4th)
Head coach is Paul Hobson (55) again but his assistant from last year, former All White Chad Coombes, has left to take up a head coach role at Northern League rivals West Coast Rangers.
Late last year, United announced a three-way partnership with Scottish Premiership club St Mirren and Nelson Suburbs.
The partnership has already paid dividends for St Mirren who signed Birkenhead United’s top scorer, Alex Greive, in the January transfer window.
Western Springs (last season: 5th)
Chris Zoricich, who played 57 games for New Zealand in a 21-year professional playing career, is head coach at Northern League club Western Springs.
Zoricich (52) has coached Springs first team for the past three seasons and last October was appointed the additional role as the club’s Head of Men’s Football.
In November, Springs announced a partnership with Wellington’s Waterside Karori AFC. The Wellington club has almost 1,000 players and 100 teams, with the first team playing Central League football.
Bay Olympic (last season: 6th)
Olympic will have a fresh face in charge of their 2022 Northern League campaign as Liam Mulrooney (43) takes over from the experienced Paul Marshall, who has stepped down after three seasons.
Mulrooney was Marshall’s assistant throughout his term in charge and has played 87 games for the club at top level.
Mulrooney has appointed James Pritchett as his assistant coach. Pritchett has retired from playing after 132 games for Olympic.
Hamilton Wanderers (last season: 7th)
Welshman Joe Hinds (35) takes over as head coach at Hamilton Wanderers, replacing Kale Herbert (29) who has moved south to be head coach at Central League club Wairarapa United.
Hinds and Herbert are both coaches with the Ricki Herbert Football Academy whose founder, former All Whites player and coach Ricki Herbert, is Director of Football at the Waikato club.
Manukau United (last season: 8th)
Manukau United have appointed Rudy Mozr as their Technical Director and head coach for the club’s Northern League first-team “for 2022, and beyond”.
Mozr joined the South Auckland club at the start of 2021, and took over the first team coaching reins from former All Whites coach Kevin Fallon during the Northern League season.
North Shore United (last season: 9th)
United have appointed Valerio Raccuglia (47) as the club’s head coach.
After a playing career in Italy, England and Denmark, he emigrated to New Zealand in 2011, working as Head Coach for Miramar Rangers (2012-2014) who won the Central League twice.
He then spent three years as part of the Wellington Phoenix coaching staff before working with the Samoan U-19s and women’s national side, the New Zealand men’s U-20 and U-23 squads and serving as Bay Olympic’s Director of Football (2019-2021).
Melville United (last season: 10th)
In the Waikato, Sam Wilkinson goes again as Melville United’s head coach. It’s his second spell in charge.
He was first appointed as co-coach in 2017 with Michael Mayne and the pair took the club to the Chatham Cup final in 2019.
Soon after, Wilkinson moved to Wellington to take up a role at the Phoenix academy. When COVID-19 disrupted his work in Wellington, Wilkinson rejoined Melville.
Though finishing 10th last season, the club was comfortably clear (by a 10-point margin) of the relegation zone.
Waiheke United (promoted)
The Hauraki Gulf islanders won last season’s Lotto NRFL Division 1 to earn promotion to the Northern League.
Scott Woodford continues as coach of the team that arguably has the most passionate supporters in the north.
Takapuna AFC (promoted)
The experienced Chris Milicich returns for his second season as Director of Football and as Head Coach of the club’s Lotto NRFL team.
New Zealand Coach of the Year in 2003, he has since coached at Waitakere United, Fencibles United, Ellerslie and has coached the national U-20 squad.