Richie Blackmore is returning to the Auckland first division in 2019, taking up a new role as head coach of the Mangere East Hawks. We sat down with him to talk about the year ahead.
Passion for the game doesn’t go away. Coaching runs through my blood, and I guess while I am not doing it there is some pain and that desire to do it. The way things have worked out, having some time away hasn’t been a bad thing.
As a player agent I am a little restricted now at representative level, but not so at club level. I have helped with a number of teams over the last couple of years, the Otahuhu women’s team, younger age groups, but only one and off, not regularly. Those invitations mean you can get involved without all the emotion and time it requires.
You mentioned your new job as a player agent, will that continue while you are at Mangere East?
That’ll continue for sure. Mangere East at grassroots level is a passion for me. The agency work is something long term as an employment opportunity. At the moment it’s going well, we are understanding how the industry works, and hopefully we can make a success of it. Coaching does little to slow it down, and I think it’s an opportunity to earn some respect in terms of your integrity with players.
You must have had a number of offers on the table for 2019, so talk us through your decision to choose Mangere East.
It wasn’t so much about shopping around and looking for opportunities. Mangere East was a club I had watched from a distance and admired and was one that always appealed. They have got some big things going on at the club with the revamp and a lot of facilities that provide for the whole community. The club has contributed significantly to the Auckland game. there’s a lot of players who have come out of that club.
Do you know much about the squad you’ll be taking through the season?
I didn’t see a lot of them last year, so I am running blind somewhat on that front. But the schools in the area have been successful, there’s a strong amount of raw talent there that most clubs admire. Unfortunately most of them end up plying their trade elsewhere right now. Hopefully we can wake the sleeping giant.
You’re last official game as a Fox coach was when you won the title with Papakura. That was a pretty experienced squad back then, so how will your coaching style have to change to suit the more youthful Hawks?
It wasn’t always like that. I went to Papakura when they were young, and we got a lot of players from the Sharman. When we won the Fox title it was the first for most of them. Every challenge I had – at Papakura, Manurewa and Otahuhu – were all different challenges, and Mangere East will be no exception.