Close, but no cigar

A SEASON of wasted ability at Woolgoolga has been thrown into further disarray with the announcement this week that captain-coach Michael Close has stepped down from the leadership role leaving the Seahorses frantically searching for someone to fill a caretaker position for the rest of the Carlton Mid Group 2 season.

Recruited to the club this year, Close has sighted personal reasons for his decision and it's one that club secretary Paul Dwyer accepts but from a selfish club point of view is disappointed with.

"Michael has sought a release from his coaching contract and by way of explanation he sighted family reasons," Dwyer explained.

"He's got another young bub and his work demands and when he took the job on he did so at a time when we weren't attracting any other interest in the position and he didn't fully realise the amount of time that it would consume.

"When we recruited Michael, we recruited him as a player only and then approached him later about taking on the coaching duties which he willingly did and it just hasn't been able to work out for him."

Even in the short time that Close has been in the area, he has already established himself as one of the nice guys of the Group and it is for this reason that so many at Woolgoolga are sorry that Close couldn't make a greater fist of the position.

"He's given it a very good shot and we're quite pleased with the effort that he has put in and the club thinks that he's done very well for a first-time coach," Dwyer added.

"It was always going to be a tough call coming in on the back of John Cross."

The Seahorses must now make the long trek down the Pacific Highway tomorrow to take on reigning premier Port Macquarie without an actually appointed coach to take the reins.

Team manager Peter Byrne will be barking the orders tomorrow but the club's most urgent business upon returning will be finding someone to take over the coaching role at the club.

As it is past the June 30 registration deadline, it is impossible to recruit someone from outside the club so in all likelihood a current senior player willing to lead his teammates into battle will be given the nod.

While most within the club were aware that Close was a reluctant coach to begin with, Dwyer did admit that the announcement through the week has left the playing group stunned that their coach won't be alongside them this week.

"Obviously the players were surprised by it and I'd be lying if I said that it didn't cause some concern and disruption to our preparation this week," he said.

"But they've taken it on board and trained quite strongly on Thursday night after we had a club meeting with all the players and we go down to Port Macquarie this week for probably the toughest game of the season for us.

"If we've got any ambitions of making the finals then we've got to start winning a few games, starting this week."

Close will not be leaving the club altogether though.

Nothing should be read into the fact that his name is missing from the playing list for tomorrow's clash as this has been the case for several weeks due to a badly broken finger.

It is expected that once the former North Sydney Bear makes a full recovery then he will be returning to the line-up to play alongside his Woolgoolga mates.

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