STRATHMORE Community Bank Division 2 missed Keilor Park in 2018.
While the club did a great job with fielding its inaugural EDFL Women’s team, its men’s setup went into hiatus.
The Devils needed a year to reboot themselves after losing too much of their playing list following a 1-17 campaign in 2017.
It was a sharp drop off from the 10-8 campaign of 2016 that landed Keilor Park in the finals.
In October the club announced John Mangos as its new senior coach.
It’ll be his first senior coaching gig after spending time at Moonee Valley, Maribyrnong Park and Pascoe Vale, but he’s excited about the monumental challenge that lays ahead of him.
Adem Saricaoglu caught up with Mangos ahead of what is going to be Keilor Park’s most important pre-season ever.
AS - These are some pretty unique circumstances, so what enticed you to take this on in the end?
JM - Over the past few years I think I’ve deserved a senior gig in some way. I looked at a couple of options but when I looked at Keilor Park, I thought I’d have a crack and see how I go. I saw a challenge and I know it’s a massive challenge, but that's the kind of person I am. I know I can build teams. With Pacco’s women, I built them and they ended up with two sides, and then they won a flag. At Marby, we built up from Under 16s and 17s and then all of a sudden, Mo (Kaakour) took them to a flag. That’s what we’ve been able to do and I see this as another challenge. And I want to have a crack at it.
You’ve probably already ticked some of this off with that previous answer, but what did you initially present to the club and what do you think you can implement here?
I think the whole club’s struggling and needs a bit of help. It’s not just about me being the senior coach, it’s about me developing the young kids as well. I’m taking the Under 17s and 19s on-board, I’m going to take training sessions with the girls, and so on. There are a lot of things that I think I can improve on and that starts with having someone that’s the face of the club, and as you can see with the social media I’ve done already, it’s already starting to go that way. Now some of the boys are starting to say they’ll come over, so that’s a positive. It wasn’t about money because I know the club hasn’t got it.
Can you give us an update on how the list build is coming along and how confident you are about getting Keilor Park back on the park come Round 1 next year?
We will have a team in Round 1 and I’m pretty confident with the boys that we’ve already spoken to. I can’t mention names yet, I’ll wait for their names to come up on clearances… but I know we’ll have a side in Round 1 and if things go well enough in the next six weeks, by January or February we’ll know if we’re going to have a reserves side. It is going to be tough because you’ve got to find 55 blokes in a short time, which makes it hard. Some of the blokes don’t want to come back because they’ve already found success somewhere else, so it’s very hard to bring them back to a club that’s starting up again, but we’re definitely going to have a side running out in Round 1.
Tell us about the support crew you have around you. I’d imagine Marcus Barclay is playing a key role in all of this…
Marcus is my key man at the moment and I’ve got others ringing up some of the older boys to see if they can come back. Robbie Castello’s one I have been speaking to, asking if he can give me a hand, whether it be some coaching trials or just coming down to see how everything’s going and maybe give me some tips about what I could do better and so forth. I think he’ll definitely be happy to come down, so it would be good to have him on the track.
Is there a possibility of Robbie playing a couple of games next year?
Well… we can always try. It doesn’t mean he’ll say yes.
So you’re not ruling it out completely?
Definitely not. I’m talking to anyone and everyone that I know. I’m talking to kids from Marby, Strathmore, East Keilor, (Essendon) Doutta Stars, you name it.
What’s the ‘sell’ when you’re talking to potential players?
The sell for me is young kids. What happens to these kids once they’re too old for Under 19.5s? They go and play twos or play thirds… but you’d hope not. Hopefully they want to come and play at 2:15 on a Saturday, playing senior football, and seeing how they go. Some of these 19-and-a half-year-olds are who we’re after. But I’ve been open and honest, we might have 30 new blokes on the track to begin with, so we’ll have to come together and get onto the same page.
Is there a level of patience we all need to have with Keilor Park when it comes to next year’s on-field success?
It’s too early to tell. Look, finals isn’t anywhere near my thinking. As a coach you don’t tell the players that, but we know that every club plays football to make finals. If we win four to five games, I think that would be a success given what we’re coming back from.