LOCAL coaching legend Gus Macleod is the new gaffer of ambitious State 4 outfit Chelsea.
Macleod ended a five-year senior coaching hiatus when he agreed terms with Chelsea a fortnight ago.
He was last in charge of a senior team in 2018 when he completed his 20th straight season at Langwarrin.
Since then he has worked as a technical director at Lawton Park but the lure of the Chelsea post was impossible to ignore.
“I never lost that itch that urge to coach senior players,” he said.
“I enjoyed coaching the coaches at Langy but the Chelsea job just felt right.
“Their facilities are spot-on, the people are ambitious and they’ve got lots of juniors, women’s teams and thirds – they’re a very progressive club.”
Recently appointed Chelsea technical director Stuart Munro made initial contact with Macleod about the possibility of him coaching at Edithvale Recreation Reserve.
Macleod is expected to be assisted by Ronnie Whitton while also mentoring a couple of coaches already at Chelsea.
“There’s a good feeling about the place and it reminds me of Langy back in the day so let’s see where this takes us.
“We haven’t talked about specific targets but I’m hoping we win the league to be honest.
“That’s my aim anyway.”
Macleod has noted that last season Chelsea finished eighth conceding 55 goals and scoring 37 and that gives him a starting point.
“The top scorer only scored seven so these are stats that help you get an idea of what we might need but let’s see.”
The seniors and reserves will play each other in a bounce game on Saturday 2 December and there will be four other sessions before the Christmas and New Year break.
Macleod will arrange practice matches against some quality opposition and start training again on Tuesday 23 January so he’ll have ample opportunity to assess the quality of his squad.
“I think we’ll do what we did at Langy and arrange a weekend training camp as part of our preparation.
“We’ve discussed a budget and I think it’s okay at this level but I really don’t want to say too much until I can assess the players.
“I’m told they are dedicated to the club which is important and I want to get that winning mentality into them because that goes with everything else that you set up.
“I’m really impressed by what I’ve been told so far and I’m really looking forward to this.”
And so ends Macleod’s official ties with Langwarrin where he was in charge for 447 league games, a feat that seems destined to stand the test of time.
He’s won multiple promotions and league championships with Langwarrin, Dockerty Cups with Fawkner and Green Gully and a State League Cup and Division One title with Springvale City.
His CV has winner written all over it and it made a huge impression on Chelsea president Carlo Bellino.
“We were absolutely shocked and proud that a person of his stature in the football community would want to come to a great club like ours,” Bellino said.
“To have a local football legend on board is really exciting for us and our senior men and reserves squads can only benefit from a coach who has such a wealth of football knowledge.”
Macleod takes over from Carlo Melino who stepped down from the post after six years due to family reasons.
And Melino gave his successor a resounding endorsement.
“Well it’s an amazing appointment that makes me feel humbled that a man of Gus’s standing will take the torch from me and lead Chelsea in an exciting new chapter along with Stuart (Munro),” Melino said.
“I feel so proud of what we have achieved at Chelsea with big-name coaches applying for the senior role in fact I’m overwhelmed by the response.”
Melino and Macleod share a link first formed decades ago.
“Gus coached me in the National Youth League over 20 years ago and he inspired me to get into coaching,” Melino added.
In other coaching news Mark Larner has firmed as the next head coach of Chelsea’s State 4 rival Somerville Eagles.
It’s understood that Larner was one of four candidates interviewed by Somerville last week and club insiders say they were impressed by his presentation.
Larner finished his first stint as senior coach of Mount Martha this year taking over from Chris Sanderson who may return to the role at Civic Reserve.
Larner coaches one of Somerville’s MiniRoos teams in which his son plays.
Meanwhile Mount Martha held its presentation night last weekend.
Senior best and fairest winner was Corey Riddle who doubled up with the players’ player of the year award while the coach’s player of the year winner was Derren Elliott.
In State 1 news star midfielder Rhys Craigie has left Mornington and agreed terms with Malvern City.
The Scottish import joined the Seagulls in February 2022 and previously played with Beaumaris.
“I loved my time at Mornington,” Craigie said.
“I made some mates for life and felt welcome from the day I landed.
“I wish nothing but the best for ‘Jamo’ and the boys.”
Mornington continues to pursue some big-name signings and is believed to have held talks with former Casey Comets and Peninsula Strikers star John Prescott but the English striker has elected to remain at Eltham Redbacks.
In State 2 news Peninsula Strikers have signed Hamraz Zenoozi from Beaumaris.
The former Langwarrin and Frankston Pines winger was part of Beaumaris’s State 1 championship side in 2022 and played 15 games for the club in NPL 3 this year.
The 22-year-old is the sixth addition to Strikers’ senior squad during the current off-season after the club recently signed Ethan Goulding and Tom Wood (from Langwarrin), Charlie Gunning and Ben Symonds (Mornington) and Taylan Geylan (Dandenong South).
Huss and Moey Chehimi, Ahmad Tabbara and Andrew Goff have left Strikers.